Canon 1DX Preview

Hands On With The Canon 1DX

A pre-production Canon EOS 1DX. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

I’m fortunate to have had two opportunities to try out the new Canon EOS 1DX in private (thanks to Canon Europe for organising this) during the Pro Photo Solutions show earlier this week.

I need to firstly make it clear that as this was a pre-production camera, I wasn’t allowed to use my own CF cards for evaluating the images or video (which is fair enough as by the time the camera is released in March 2012, the firmware will have gone through several changes).

What I did get to do was try the camera fully, for both stills and video (checking results on the rear LCD screen), check out the completely redesigned menu system and chat at length with the extremely knowledgeable Graham Smith and Mike Burnhill from Canon.

I must say that I’m very impressed with this flagship camera. It carries on the 1D line and is a rugged workhorse of a machine which has been designed to be even more durable than it’s previous versions (I once stood in torrential rain on assignment for around 6 solid hours with a couple of Canon 1D MkII cameras and ‘L’ lenses. Although my Berghaus Gortex jacket leaked, the cameras carried on working perfectly and never gave any problems).

It’s fantastic having a full frame and fast drive camera, all in one. The 12 fps is just astonishing as is using the 14 fps (with mirror lock up – all of this at 18 megapixels). It’s something I have wished for, for years! The controls on the camera are new, with quite a few being fully programmable. The design and placement for all of these is pretty much spot on (the only problematic one perhaps being having the magnify button which is set low down, below the screen – perfect for reviewing stills, but is a problem for when shooting video and wanting to check focus beforehand (initially spotted by Dan Chung, with whom I’m in full agreement) – I’m sure by launch perhaps one of the more convenient buttons can be programmed via firmware to act as magnify if needed for video).

Shooting up to 51,200 ISO was just astonishing; extremely clean with accurate looking colours. Magnifying in to 100% on an 8000 ISO image made me double take as it looked clean enough to have been a 100 ISO shot! Absolutely amazing. I need to remind readers again though, these were all judged on a pre-production camera using the rear LCD screen.

The AF system is completely new and feels very responsive. The new modes and selection methods with overrides certainly impress.

Another hugely impressive fact is for video shooting the camera has a better file system and no longer drops lines when down sampling to HD. Another massively important addition is adjustable audio meters which display during shooting. Canon have stopped just short by not including a headphone jack. If the AV out port can stream during recording, then perhaps a headphone adapter could be fitted to monitor audio? Who knows!

As far as is the Canon EOS 1DX perfect, we shall have to wait and see. November 3rd is due to see a video product announcement by the company and the rumour sites are buzzing with the launch of the 5D MkIII some time next year.

This certainly seems like a perfect DSLR. Personally, I’d love (as would every single one of my colleagues) a lighter pro body, with a removable grip. Apart from this gripe, it really is an impressive DSLR and ticks almost every box. I can’t wait to test it out properly and see what it’s capable of, both in terms of stills and for video.

13 responses to “Canon 1DX Preview

  1. Thanks for the post Edmond, I got burned by Canon last time they brought out a ‘flagship’ top of the range camera, the 1dDSMKIII that cost me £5500 for them to bring out the 5dMkII just a few months later with virtually the same specs for half the price. The 1Dx sounds good but I wouldn’t invest early on like I did last time, I’m like an Elephant, i don’t forget.

    Canon don’t take care of their loyal customers in the way that other manufacturers do. It looks like they are about to do the exact same stupid thing again with the 1DX and the 5dMKIII….maybe.

    • Pleasure 🙂
      Well, thankfully the rumours seem to all say the same thing so at least we are more certain of the 5D MkIII being announced next year. This and the video product announcement in a few days means that exciting times are ahead, not just photographically but for video as well. The video spec on the 1DX is stunning – I do hope that & a better focusing system are to be implemented in the 5D MkIII – then, for me, that will be the perfect DSLR!

    • What does “virtually the same specs” mean to you? The 5DII has the same sensor as the 1DsIII, but shares absolutely nothing else. If you can’t see the difference between the two, you probably shouldn’t have bought the 1Ds. Perhaps a 500D would have been wiser.

      • I feel you can make your point but still be a little respectful. I don’t want to write on behalf of Nick, but knowing his type of photography (which I suggest you check out; then, perhaps you wouldn’t suggest a 500D), the biggest things would have been the high res sensor, and faster than the 5D AF system. What we look for in a camera is absolutely relative; a sports photographer and a features photographer would be miles apart in their requirements.

  2. I have to laugh at that statement, Canon does’t take care of it’s loyal
    Customers like other manufactures do.
    Have you spoke to Leica R users lately.
    After more then 45 years, Leica has abandoned their loyal R users.
    Like an Elephant, I don’t forget either.

    • Back in the days of film I did love having an R6.2 on assignment along with my M6 and M4-2.
      Canon did a similar thing to Leica by dropping the FD mount when it went to AF by creating the EF mount for the EOS range. Infuriated a lot of users but as time has shown, it was the correct move.
      I too wish there was a current digital Leica R camera to use alongside the M9 for long lens and macro work, but it was obviously not economically viable to keep making R equipment as it was not selling compared to the M equipment. I’d rather Leica stayed in business and kept making the wonderful M range, than to continue with the R range and cause itself issues.

  3. I just bought a 50mm summicron-R and so images look fantastic. I’m using it via an (expensive) mount change on the lens. AF confirmation on the D700 seems to work well.

  4. Canon need to price themselves back in the market, the pro DSLR market was lost to Nikon some time ago and it has taken Canon 5 years to produce a camera to match the D3, the only chance to keep the loyal professional users they have is to price this camera back in to the market.

    • Whilst I agree that the price is steep, I’m hopeful the street price come March will be more realistic. The market this camera is aimed at just do not have the budget to spend over £10,000 on two camera bodies. Shift rates aren’t rising, repro rates are shrinking and commissions are down – it simply isn’t possible to charge this amount for a workhorse DSLR.
      As to you second comment about losing the pro market to Nikon, I don’t agree, although Nikon did at long last make a great camera in the D3 and better still in the D3s, after the disasters of the D2 range.
      My thoughts are that Canon’s pro DSLRs have always had the edge since the 1D. The 1D MkIII did drop the ball until the sub-miror and firmware fix, and the 1D MkIV is superb. It did take Canon 5 years to put both features together in one body; full frame and fast drive – however, at a much higher megapixel count than Nikon’s offering. One huge thing to also consider is the range of fast ‘L’ prime lenses offered by Canon – a must for me personally, although again, Nikon are catching up by their recent releases.

  5. Salah Uddin Tito

    In Canon 1Dx the the display illuminating color is red. It is a disgusting color and will make you hot tempered to see the RED in your working mood. Canon must change the red color.

  6. Are you talking about the viewfinder display? I’ve shot over 300K photos on the 5D / 5D Mark II and can’t tell for sure what the color of the LCd on the viewfinder is – but if I were to guess I would say a yellow – green, not red. Again the fact that I’m not sure at all shows how unimportant this is…

  7. I think what I’m most excited about with this new camera is that Canon didn’t get caught up in the pixel count contest but finally decided on enlarging the pixel size instead. 18 Megapixels is plenty for just about any purpose and the increase in pixel size will help a lot with low light photography and hdr. I’ve blogged about this a bit here:

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