Canon EOS-1D X

Canon EOS-1D X

I was excited to read about Canon’s new flagship DSLR – the Canon EOS-1D X.

I will be updating this page with a more comprehensive review as soon as I am able to test out one of the new cameras. For now, here are some of my first impressions based on the published specifications.

It was a surprise to me that Canon’s new 1D camera doesn’t just replace the four-year-old Canon 1Ds mk III, but also the Canon 1D mk IV; like the 1Ds, the 1D X is a high resolution full-frame camera but surprisingly, it also sports an amazingly fast frame rate of 12fps in RAW, which surpasses the speed of the 1D mk IV (I hate to think how quickly that will fill up a memory card!). I always thought it was a bit messy having two top-end cameras so I welcome this consolidation. If nothing else, it now means I can travel with one 1D X and a small backup camera instead of lugging around both a 1D mk IV and a 1Ds mk III.

Studio, landscape and other photographers who are used to shooting at low ISOs might be slightly disappointed by the reduction in megapixels from the 21 megapixel 1Ds mk III to the 18 megapixel 1D X. However, as a wildlife photographer I was overjoyed by this megapixel reduction. This is because with 18 megapixels on a full-frame sensor, the 1D X has larger pixels than the 5D mk II, 1Ds mk III & 1D mk IV and this means it should have excellent low-light/high ISO performance (the maximum ISO is 51,200 but this is expandable to 204,800). This improved low-light performance is going to be very useful when I am using a long lens in gloomy conditions such as at dawn/dusk or in a shady rainforest.

After the sensor, the next most important thing to me is the autofocus system. The revamped AF systems sounds pretty awesome… it has 61 AF points, 41 of which are cross-type! The intelligence of the autofocus tracking seems much improved… for example it has a 2-axis gyro so that it can detect the motion of the camera and thus recognize the subject if you are panning. It is hard to say how good the AF intelligence is until I have tested it for myself. Hopefully it won’t be a disappointment.

The metering also sounds impressive; it is so advanced that it now needs its own dedicated Digic 4 processor. The Canon website says that at f/2.8, the camera can focus by the light of the moon! Again, I look forward to testing this out.

There are loads of other cool features, for example, multiple exposure mode, which can combine up to nine separate images into a single RAW file. Using this function I gather you can merge bracketed exposures to increase the dynamic range of the image or you can average several images shot at the same exposure to completely eliminate noise!

So those are some of the features that I am excited about. What do you think of Canon’s new offering? Feel free to leave a comment below…

Update: I recently got the chance to briefly play with a Canon EOS-1D X. I’ve cobbled together a quick hands on video to show you some of the new features. I also got to see one of the new 200-400mm f/4 lenses.

Canon EOS-1D X vs Canon EOS 1D Mark IV

I thought it would be helpful to summarize some of the pros and cons of the new camera versus the mk IV. First of all, the advantages of the Canon EOS 1D Mark IV:

  • The 1D Mark IV is significantly cheaper than the 1D X so you can save money if you don’t need the capabilities of the new camera.
  • The cropped sensor on the mk IV means that you can get 1.3x closer to your subject with the same focal length lens. Therefore, for wildlife or sports you can get closer to the action without having to use a teleconverter or a longer lens.

Now some of the major advantages of the 1D X:

  • Full frame, this means you have more control over depth of field (you can get shallower DOF). This is particularly desirable if you are want to shoot shallow DOF video. It also means your wide-angle lenses will be much more wide angle!
  • More megapixels (18 vs 16.1) so you can print your pictures bigger/crop them more.
  • Lower pixel density/larger pixel size plus a more advanced sensor should mean better high ISO/low-light performance with much less noise.
  • Incredibly, despite being full frame and having more megapixels, the new camera is faster than the 10fps mk IV, at 12fps in RAW and up to 14fps in JPEG! This is made possible by the dual Digic 5+ processors which are each 3x faster than Digic 5 and 17x faster than Digic 4. To be honest, 10fps was never too slow for me, but for very fast-moving action, the additional speed will be welcomed by some photographers.
  • Revamped autofocus and metering systems should make the new camera faster, easier to use and result in fewer missed shots.
  • Other improvements include an Ethernet port which lets you run your camera as an FTP server and an improved viewfinder (more like the 7D).

Canon EOS-1D X vs Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III

Given the 1D X is 4-years more advances than the 1Ds MK III and that they are both full frame cameras, there isn’t much that the 1D X doesn’t improve upon. As I mentioned earlier, some people may be disappointed in the reduction of megapixels from 21 to 18, however, Canon say that 1D X images are so clean that they can easily be up-scaled. Of course there is also the 5D line which has been cannibalizing 1Ds sales anyway and which I am sure will now take over from the 1Ds as the preferred high resolution Canon camera for photographers who do not require speed or low-light ability.

Comparison Table

1D Mark IV 1Ds Mark III 1D X
Megapixels 16.1 21.1 18.1
ISO range 100-12,800 100-1,600 100-51,200
Max expandable ISO 102,400 3,200 204,800
Image Processor Dual DIGIC 4 Dual DIGIC 3 Dual DIGIC 5+
HD Video Max 1080p None 1080p
Autofocus 45-point 45-point 61-point
FPS 10 5 12
Screen (dot resolution) 3.0″ LCD (920k) 3.0″ LCD(230K) 3.2″ (1,040K)
Weight 1,180g 1,210g TBC

Canon EOS-1D X vs Nikon D4

Nikon’s answer to the 1D X is the Nikon D4. Here is a comparison table showing the headline specifications of each camera side-by-side.

Canon 1D X Nikon D4
Sensor size Full-frame FX (Full-frame)
Megapixels 18.1 16
ISO range 100-51,200 100-12,800
Max expandable ISO 204,800 204,800
HD Video Max 1080p 1080p
Autofocus 61-point 51-point
FPS 12 10-12
Weight TBC 1.34kg

There is going to be a mouthwatering battle between these two cameras to determine which wins in the image-quality department!

Canon EOS-1D X Sample Images

I will post some Canon 1D X Samples as soon as I have them!

Link round-up

I have already read some great articles about the 1DX, below are some links to further reading. I will keep this up to date as more information becomes available. Feel free to leave links in the comments if you come across something I have missed.

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