Canon EOS Works Wonders for
Powerful but Underutilized Focusing and Lighting Features
By DENIS REGGIE, Denis Reggie Photographers
Some of my favorite features on the Canon EOS-1v and EOS-3 camera systems are particularly well suited for wedding photojournalism. Yet, for some reason, they are frequently overlooked by photographers. See what you're missing.Canon's ST-E2 Speedlite Transmitter slides onto the newest generation EOS cameras, becoming a wireless controller for one or more flash units. Photos (Upper and lower) were shot with the ST-E2 Speedlite Transmitter perched atop the Canon EOS-1v, permitting super-accurate E-TTL flash metering.
FUSS-FREE FOCUS-POINT SELECTION
One of the challenges of fast-paced wedding photography is maintaining sharp focus on subjects walking toward the camera. Many photographers have mastered the "human back-pedal" maneuver to capture the excitement of the newlyweds as they briskly head down the aisle toward the chapel doors—and the photographer's camera!
In available-light settings, particularly outdoor ceremonies, I
rely on fast zoom lenses—Canon's 70-200mm f/2.8 L and 28-70mm
f/2.8 L lenses are my favorites—and some amazing technology
to assist me in tracking the couple in razor-sharp focus, while I
follow the action from a distance.
My Canon EOS cameras feature 45 focus points. During evenly paced moments, like the reception, the manual focus-point selection method works well. I simply illuminate the desired "red box" by using my thumb to rotate the large wheel on the camera back, after programming the Custom Functions to activate the wheel—actually called the Quick Control Dial. I have my cameras set to give me manual selection of nine well-targeted focus points. This method seems ideal for much of the wedding.
However, with difficult-to-predict, fast-moving subjects, I set the camera to AI Servo mode for continuous focusing and activate Automatic Focus Point Selection, so the camera's own internal computer automatically selects which of the 45 focusing points to use, based on its light-speed analysis ofthe ever-moving target.
Unbelievably, the system even measures the speed of the subject just prior to exposure and compensates for the anticipated movement while the mirror is moved for the exposure, perfectly adjusting the focus. The accuracy is nothing short of amazing, as the camera tracks and focuses on the subject anywhere within the large field of 45 focus points without fail!
This system has significant advantages over older technologies limited by far fewer focus points, and often sidetracked by open background areas between the bride and groom, occasionally missing focus by several feet.
Compared to selecting the focus point manually, even with the thumb wheel, the automatic selection feature wins out for tracking excited, fast-walking newlyweds.
SUPER-ACCURATE E-TTL FLASH METERING
Another Canon gem is the ST-E2 Speedlite Transmitter, designed for the newest generation EOS cameras, including the EOS-1v and EOS-3, when used with EX series (not EZ) flash units.
I use the top-of-the-line 550EX on my 1vs. This device slides onto the camera's hot shoe and becomes a wireless controller for one or more flash units, giving you super-accurate E-TTL flash metering. You can easily establish a specific lighting ratio between multiple flash units by setting the unit.
VIRTUALLY LIMITLESS FP FLASH SYNC
Another on-board feature of the ST-E2 is FP flash synchronization, which allows users to, in essence, circumvent the 1/250 second sync speed limitation and use Canon Speedlites at virtually any shutter speed—quite a plus for outdoor flash-fill photography.
More typically, I use the ST-E2 during dark wedding receptions when I want my flash raised above the lens on a bracket for improved shadow placement. Rather than emitting the focus-assist beam from the elevated flash unit, where proper aim would be difficult, the shoe-mounted ST-E2 weighs in with its own assist beam that emits whenever the camera needs help.
And by using those peppy, rechargeable NiMH batteries in my 550EX flash unit, my entire rig is self-contained and totally wireless. I've said goodbye to those unwieldy coiled cords and side battery packs of years past. Isn't technology grand!