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Canon EOS-1D X review (1 Viewer)

Michael Daniel Ho

The Wildlife Ho-tographer
Ever since the introduction of the Canon EOS-1 series camera in 1989, I have made this body my main piece of equipment and have upgraded to almost every new model through the decades. I am not the type who craves the 'latest and greatest' gear but once in a while, a new camera introduction can fill a gap in my equipment lineup. So when the EOS-1D X was announced, it seems to be the camera I am looking for so I placed my order and anxiously waited for the delivery. It's finally here and I have put it through some real world, wildlife photo shoots in Alaska and Canada using the Lexar 1000X UDMA 7 memory cards to take full advantage of the 12-14 fps burst rate. My review will not have charts and graphs and this article will not cover all the camera's features, just the major new improvements, and assumes the reader is already familiar with the functionality of the current 1D cameras. It is intended to help those trying to decide whether to upgrade their present 1D bodies by sharing my impression of the new camera from the stand point of a wildlife and travel photographer out in the field. I will be using the 1D MK IV as a reference point. Below are the major features and functionalities of the new camera.

Canon EOS-1D X Features :
  • Full Frame 18-megapixel CMOS image sensor
  • New mechanical shutter rated up to 400,000 cycles thanks to carbon fiber blades and new drive motor
  • Dual DIGIC 5+ imaging processors
  • 2nd Gen EOS Integrated Cleaning System
  • Third DIGIC 4 processor for RGB Metering
  • 100,000 Pixel RGB metering sensor
  • Sensitivity settings from ISO 100 - 51,200; expansion available with Low (50), Hi 1 (102,400) and Hi 2 (204,800)
  • Advanced new 61-point High Density Reticular Phase Detection AF system with 21 cross-type focusing points in the center of the frame; 5 of which are diagonal cross-type sensors for smaller apertures
  • New intelligent EOS iTR AF Tracking and Recognition options
  • Burst shooting at 12fps with AF (JPEG and RAW), or up to 14fps with no AF (JPEG only)
  • Full 1080p HD video with new ALL-I and IPB compression format options
  • Automatic video file splitting when 4GB is reached; video keeps rolling, while new files is created
  • 3.2-inch wide LCD with 1,040,000 dots
  • Subject Recognition system (AF, Exposure, Auto Lighting Control, AUto Picture Style)
  • Optical Correction functions for peripheral illumination, Distortion correction, and CA correction
  • Enhanced intelligent OVF with 100% frame coverage, .76x magnification, 20mm eye-point, and expanded ISO indicator; now 5 digits
  • Built-in USB 3.0 and gigabit Ethernet ports
  • New WFT-E6 Wi-Fi unit (802.11 a/b/g/n)
  • New GP-E1 GPS unit
  • Dual CF (Compact Flash) card slots
  • New Li-ion battery pack
In line with previous EOS-1 series cameras, the 1D-X is designed for use in harsh environments. The camera is slightly taller, the egornomics is the same and retains the dust and drip-proof construction of the Mark IV, using a total of 76 seals around buttons and body joints to help keep water and dust out. When combined with Canon L-series EF lenses, the entire package is sealed and weather resistant. The Magnesium alloy body shell stands up to heavy-duty professional use. There is a new charger (LC-E4N) and more powerful battery (LP-E4N) but the LP-E4 battery of the MK IV and the new battery are forward and backward compatible but the chargers are not. The 1D-X has a rear LCD screen that is slightly larger and crisper than the MK IV and features a built-in RJ-45 connector for cabling directly to a LAN network. This is similar to the connector found on the Mark IV, but it is a Gigabit Ethernet port, allowing faster data transfer. The shutter durability is now rated at 400,000 cycles. There is an internal error log, which tracks all camera errors, including the number of shutter release cycles.
 

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Audubon

Well-known member
Great photos, especially the double breaching Humpback whale, incredible capture. Looks like the EOS-1D X did not disappoint. Like all new technology, one needs time to get used to it and then it will grow on you. ;)
 

Michael Daniel Ho

The Wildlife Ho-tographer
Just returned from an European Travel Photo Shoot and have put the Canon EOS-1D X's high ISO performance to the test. I was impressed by its results.
 

Dave Williams

Well-known member
Interesting to read your observations. I did briefly consider a 1DX but at a price of £5300 vs the £2100 for a 5D111 there was no justification for me to spend that amount of money.
I would be interested to read a direct comparison report to let me know just what I didn't get for the extra it would have cost. ( When I think about it, what I did get for the saving was my low shutter count second hand 1DMk1V plus a few hundred to spare).
I know the build quality on the 1D series is in a different league and it's sheer size makes it easier to use the selection buttons which are a bit on the fiddly side on the 5D.
Obviously you get the extra FPS but you loose out on pixels. How does the end image compare I wonder.
What I did notice more than anything though was that you don't seem to have anything bigger than a 400mm lens in your kit bag. As you have demonstrated it's superb for whale shots, it would be ideal for African safari's and the like but here in the UK I would find that really limiting for wild life photography as we don't have many species of a notable size.. Yesterday when I took out the 5D on test I was delighted with the IQ on near full frame shots of an Egret which is a fairly big bird for the UK but for more distant subjects I was back to the 1DMk1V on a 600mm with a 2.0TC attached because the 5D with the 600 and a 1.4TC wasn't nearly long enough.I could try manual focus but my eyesight isn't up to it.
 

Michael Daniel Ho

The Wildlife Ho-tographer
Yesterday when I took out the 5D on test I was delighted with the IQ on near full frame shots of an Egret which is a fairly big bird for the UK but for more distant subjects I was back to the 1D Mk IV on a 600mm with a 2.0TC attached because the 5D with the 600 and a 1.4TC wasn't nearly long enough.I could try manual focus but my eyesight isn't up to it.

Hi Dave. I share your sentiment about full frame cameras coming up short on focal length. That's why I am so interested in the EOS-7D MK II. The only drawback of the current 7D for me is its mediocre high ISO performance. I love the 1.6X reach, even more than the 1.3X reach of the MK IV.

I always travel light so the heaviest lens I normally bring is the 400mm DO but that will change once the 200-400mm f/4 is available. IMO, the 5D MK III and the 7D represent best values in their respective categories. The 1D X is the best overall camera Canon has made to date. It combines the best sensor, AF, frame rates and ISO performance. The incremental fps of 8, 10 and now 12/14 are a real boon for wildlife guys like myself.

A low actuation? 1D MK IV can be a great buy for anyone looking to save some money over the 1D X but I can recommend either camera without hesitation.
 

Jaff

Registered Member
What differences have you noticed in the AF from your MKIV to the 1DX Michael? IS it really that much better?

I'm used to using a MKIII and I've never really found myself lacking in the reach area but even with a 1D I still miss golden opportunities cos of the AF. I think I like many are pondering a 5DMKIII or the 1DMKIV but for me personally if the new AF in the 5DMKIII (which is identical to the 1DX bar one thing which I'll get onto) is a significant step up over the previous 1D ones then the choice is made for me, otherwise it'd be a MKIV.

Lastly then, I said almost identical, according to the specs on Canon's website the 1DX has predictive AF up to 8m and the 5D does not. Does the 1DX manual give any description of what Predictive AF is?
 

Dave Williams

Well-known member
What differences have you noticed in the AF from your MKIV to the 1DX Michael? IS it really that much better?

I'm used to using a MKIII and I've never really found myself lacking in the reach area but even with a 1D I still miss golden opportunities cos of the AF. I think I like many are pondering a 5DMKIII or the 1DMKIV but for me personally if the new AF in the 5DMKIII (which is identical to the 1DX bar one thing which I'll get onto) is a significant step up over the previous 1D ones then the choice is made for me, otherwise it'd be a MKIV.

Lastly then, I said almost identical, according to the specs on Canon's website the 1DX has predictive AF up to 8m and the 5D does not. Does the 1DX manual give any description of what Predictive AF is?

It's very early days , but in my limited experience so far the AF on the 5D is better than the 1DMk1V, everything I have attempted has been in focus but as yet always distant. There is a big drop in magnification when you loose the 1.3 crop, the effect is bigger than dropping from a 500mm to a 400mm lens.
Bearing in mind that to benefit from all the focus points available you need an f2.8 lens, the 5D still seems to lock on to subjects very easily with my 500mm f4. I also like the fact that you get better choices of the focus modes on offer with reassuring illuminated AF points to show you what's in operation.
I do find the body on the 5D a bit of a come down after the 1D series. I am glad there is a lock on button to stop you accidentally moving the main dial but I'm sure you wouldn't need that on the 1DX.
Given the choice I would have a 1DX over the 5D with out a doubt but not at the price they are asking. A 5D and an earlier 1D will compliment each other rather well.
I would be curious to hear about the difference in the 22mp's of the 5D and the 18mp on the 1DX.
 

Michael Daniel Ho

The Wildlife Ho-tographer
Canon USA has finally released a new Firmware update to the EOS-1D X to address the 'flaws' photographers like myself have been clamoring for. The following is the official Canon announcement.

LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y., October 17, 2012 – Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, today announced a new firmware update in response to user requests which further enhances the capabilities of Canon’s flagship EOS-1D X Digital SLR camera. The EOS-1D X will now be capable of AF point illumination during AI Servo AF and cross-type AF for maximum apertures as small as f/8. The new firmware update is available now at no charge from the Canon U.S.A. website and can be downloaded by end users or through Canon Factory Service Centers.

AF Point Illumination During AI Servo AF

To support the needs of wedding, portrait, sports, wildlife, and theatrical performance photographers working in low light, the new firmware allows AF points in the EOS-1D X’s viewfinder to be illuminated in red when the shutter button is pressed halfway during AI Servo AF, for easy viewing of the selected point. This valuable feature will enhance the photographers’ ability to aim the camera accurately in low-light conditions, and when photographing dark subjects. To preserve exposure-metering accuracy, illumination is intermittent, not continuous. Three choices will be selectable from the menu system – Non-illuminated, Illuminated (Normal) and Illuminated (Brighter).

Cross-Type AF Support at f/8

The EOS-1D X is equipped with an innovative 61-point High Density Reticular AF System featuring up to 41 cross-type AF points, depending on the lens in use. The cross-type AF points recognize a wide variety of subject matter, making them highly desirable for maximum autofocus performance. Until now, cross-type AF on the EOS-1D X has been limited to EF lenses and lens/extender combinations with a maximum aperture of f/5.6 or larger. The new firmware allows cross-type autofocusing with the center AF point even when the maximum aperture of a Canon EF lens/extender combination becomes as small as f/8. Ideal for wildlife photographers and others who often use EF super-telephoto lenses with extenders, this new feature greatly expands the range of EF lens/extender combinations that support autofocus when used with the EOS-1D X.

If AF point expansion is selected with an f/8 maximum aperture lens/extender combination, the four AF points surrounding the center point will act as AF Assist points. This option effectively expands the size of the AF detection area to enhance autofocus performance with subjects that are small in the frame and difficult to track, such as small animals and birds in flight. AF points above and below the center will be sensitive to vertical contrast, while points to the left and right will be sensitive to horizontal contrast.
 

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