Published on October 18, 2011 3:33 PM

Canon EOS-1DX: Full-Frame Pro SLR For Sports Snappers

The Canon EOS-1D range was previously split in two: while '1D' cameras were mainly aimed at sports photographers, boasting a reasonable resolution and a 19 x 28 mm sensor, '1Ds' models were more suited to pro studio photography, making them less speedy but loaded with the highest-resolution 24 x 36 mm sensors around. Things are set to change with the EOS-1DX, however, as this new professional DSLR combines the speed of a '1D' camera with the 24 x 36 mm sensor of a '1Ds'.

Canon EOS-1DX
Canon EOS-1DX


Canon and Nikon both seemed to agree that the professional SLR market needed to be split in two. On the one hand, users working in reprographics, artistic photography, wedding photos etc. needed the highest possible resolution, so the Canon EOS-1Ds Mk II (21 MP) and Nikon D3X (24 MP) were just the ticket. On the other hand, reporters and sports journalists needed to make sure they could capture the action in all conditions and situations, even at night, and in the fastest burst possible, so the Canon had its EOS-1D Mk IV (10 fps) and Nikon its D3s (9 fps), shooting at up to 102,400 ISO.

Canon has now decided to bring us the best of both worlds in the EOS-1DX, fusing its two products into one new model.

This new professional SLR has a mere 18 Megapixels, which could puzzle (and disappoint) some EOS-1Ds Mk III users, but which could also please some EOS 5D Mk II owners, as with 21 Megapixels, their camera will have more pixels than Canon's very latest pro SLR! For users who need to work with very high resolutions, the choice will therefore be more clear cut, as the D3X will still be the best option ... unless you'd consider a mid-format model like the Pentax 645D.

Otherwise, the EOS-1DX has plenty of new features compared with the 1D Mk IV. First of all, there's the 24 x 36 mm sensor, which may not a appeal to all sports photographers (in a stadium, the 1.3x sensor was a clear advantage) but which will no doubt please reporters looking for nice wide-angle shots. This new full-frame model is more sensitive too, with a standard ISO range of up to 51,200 ISO that can be extended up to 204,800 ISO!

Designed For Sports Photography

The burst mode has been boosted to 12 full-resolution frames per second with active continuous autofocus and light metering (catching up with Sony's Alpha 77!), but peaks at 14 fps for Jpeg shots with the exposure and focus locked for the first frame.

Canon has finally adopted a more advanced system to improve subject tracking too, as the 1D Mk IV was pretty rustic on that front. The light metering sensor now works in colour and over 252 zones for 100,000-pixel RGB metering, in turn bringing a face-detection function to a camera with an optical viewfinder for the first time. This system is connected to the autofocus, which now has 61 AF points with 41 cross points. That in itself is another leap forwards, as Canon has edged ahead of Nikon, a leader in the field since the D300!

The autofocus now has all the same advanced modes as the EOS 7D, such as adaptable zone sizes, AF point grouping and custom tracking speeds. Plus, the autofocus finally has its own dedicated menu and a clearer set of settings.

The camera controls have changed for the better, as the customisable buttons on the front face and the multi-controller on the back of the camera are now doubled up on the vertical grip handle, making it a whole lot easier to use the camera in portrait mode. On top of that, the menus have been completely reworked, and Canon has succeed in making things a fair bit clearer. More information can be displayed superimposed on the viewfinder too.

This SLR has been equipped with wired network connectivity. So while the Wi-Fi and GPS modules are still optional extras, the EOS-1DX has an Ethernet port (RJ45) for a quick and easy way to transfer pictures to a computer or straight onto an FTP server. What's more, the network connection can be used to control the camera, as one EOS-1DX can be used to control up to ten cameras synchronised with the one master model. This can be handy for simultaneous shooting or for capturing the same scene from different angles.

Video Mode

The EOS-1DX obviously has a Full HD video mode shooting at 24, 25 or 30 frames per second—something already seen in the EOS 1D Mk IV. Some video pros will be pleased to hear that you can now select intraframe or interframe compression, the latter option giving smaller file sizes but requiring more processing power to decompress and edit the videos. Note, though, that the EOS-1DX only has a mono microphone, so you'll need to hook an external microphone up to the mini-jack if you want stereo sound.

All in all then, the EOS-1DX does more than just bring Canon up to date in the world of pro sports photography SLRs, as it also moves several steps ahead of Nikon's D3s. We were just disappointed to see that the 1DX doesn't have a built-in flash. Although that's certainly not uncommon in this type of camera (the Nikon D700 is still the only 24 x 36 DLSR with a built-in flash), we always find it's always a bit of a let-down. After all, a built-in flash can be really handy for quickly coping with backlit scenes without having to get out a huge external flash accessory, or for piloting slave flash units without having to invest in a special transmitter.

Prices for the Canon EOS 1DX haven't yet been announced as this new SLR isn't expected to be available before March 2012. If one thing's for sure though, it's that it won't come cheap!
> Digital Cameras: SLR, Micro 4/3 and Interchangeable Lens Reviews

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