Canon EOS 1D X Review: 18MP of Quality

Canon EOS 1D X Image

The Canon EOS 1D X has had numerous firmware updates since its initial release has been superseded, but is still an absolute solid performer. With a top-flight model you’d expect everything thrown into the tin and this is exactly what you get with the 1D X. Traditional Canon users can think of this as an upgrade for both the EOS-1Ds Mark III and EOS-1D Mark IV in one bundle, making it an attractive upgrade from this point alone.

Design

The reason why professionals opt for the likes of the Canon EOS 1D X is that it has to be not just a workhorse but also a thoroughbred, pit pony and every other analogy of that four-legged creature. Reliable performance in all conditions is key and although the 5DS or 5D Mark III may have similar image quality or general use, a 1D X will get you the shot no the matter what you throw at it. This is why full-time news, sports or outdoor shooters who need critical images on a daily basis relying on a flagship camera.

Fully weather sealed, 12 FPS and a fast autofocus, very similar to the 5D Mark III. You don’t get everything your way with some features lacking like you cannot view the histogram when zooming in, Auto ISO cannot automatically shift up and down from focal length speed, no GPS or highlight and shadow optimization. Also, no tiltable touchscreen on the rear. There is also no built-in Flash, but you kind of don’t expect one with this level of camera. The Viewfinder gives 76% magnification with the ability to use interchangeable screens.

The Canon EOS 1D X’s ergonomics are big and chunky as you would expect from the 1D line. Lots of buttons and usually two hands needed for most operations. The full set of controls are duplicated when the camera is held vertically. The rear B&W text LCD is antiquated by now, but it’s there is you need it. Overall, it feels very comfortable in the hands, just maybe not as smooth as previous models.

Two CF slots allow up to 128GB of image and video storage, most likely enough for a heavy days worth of images. Power comes from LP-E4N or LP-E4 Li-ion batteries providing around 1,120 shots. As per usual, always carry a few spares with you.

Everything is wrapped around an 18 MP full-frame (24 x 36mm) CMOS sensor with 14-bit analog to digital conversion and new Dual DIGIC 5+ image processors, ISO 100 to 51,200, with L1-ISO 50 and H2-ISO 204,800. The previously mentioned 12 FPS works when the shutter speed is at 1/1,000 or faster with a low ISO, with an average of 10 FPS. However, you can get 14 FPS with the mirror up.

Autofocus is handled with 61-Point High Density Reticular AF. Twenty-one central focusing points being standard precision cross-type with apertures down to f/5.6. Five center points are high-precision diagonal cross-type for apertures down to f/2.8. Lots of options here with this AF system having its own set of menus and configurations. Autofocus is split into six different categories with Spot, Single Point, Single and four Adjacent Points, Single and eight Adjacent Points, Zone Selection and Automatic. EOS iTR (Intelligent Tracking and Recognition) is also incorporated which does a good job of tracking moving objects, just maybe not as rapid as the Nikon equivalent. Up to 41 cross-type AF points are available depending on which lens you use.

Canon EOS 1D X Image 2

Video

Top sizes available are 1,920 x 1,080 at 29.97p, 23.976p or 25p at the highest with embedded timecode, HDMI output and Analog PAL or NTSC video formats. There’s a stereo mic jack which allows auto and manual audio recording and a headphone jack. If you want to use Live View you have to first enable it in the menu. This is also helpful to stop you accidentally enabling it while shooting.

Image Quality

Quite a few comparisons here against the 5D Mark III firstly, starting with the autofocusing system. The Canon EOS 1D X may not operate faster or better in low light, but it’s much better tracking moving objects within the frame. The AF sensors only cover a small area of the finder, but this is definitely help with the AF mode you use. These can also be called up when the camera rotates.

With low light operation the AF system copes reasonably, but that’s when you start to up ISO count. You can go to ISO 204,800, but this is more for capturing ‘something rather than nothing’ scenario. As far as higher ISOs go there are virtually no artifacts up to ISO 400 and an acceptable amount to ISO 3,200. Auto ISO works quite well, allowing you to set the slower shutter speeds, but only in full stops. This you can do depending on your focal length, but doesn’t do it automatically with a slow shutter speed as per a Nikon.

Colors look exceptional with JPEG and raw formats, with great highlight and shadow optimization. Sharpness is exceptional and looks great through the different picture styles. You can set different levels of JPEG compression depending on your needs, but this will also depend on how many images you want to squeeze onto your memory card.

Speed is definitely the key here with the AF-area tracking and frame rate, allowing you to capture quality images, no matter the situation. It’s probably why the cameras is used so often for news, sports and action photography. Overall, excellent quality especially with moving objects.

Canon 1D XCanon 5D Mark III
Resolution18MP full-frame22MP full-frame
Speed12FPS6FPS
Weight1551950g
ISO100-204800100-102400
Price5,184.992149.00

Conclusion

If you’re living is dependent on the reliability and quality of your tools, then the Canon EOS 1D X makes total sense. It’s a camera that is designed to take the knocks and wear of daily photography life in all conditions and still is able to get exceptional quality. The external layout and functionality will be familiar to existing Canon users, with a plethora of autofocusing options ways to capture your image.

You could opt for the 5D Mark III if the ultimate price is top of your list and/or you needed a lighter camera body, less weatherproofing or not as much an emphasis on action photography. Like any camera body, the images are ultimately down to the photographer’s skill, but the 1D X give you as much functionality as possible to capture those all-important shots in any condition.

The basic image quality maybe on a par with the 5D Mark III, but this is where the similarity ends as the Canon EOS 1D X has much more range and scope in versatility. This is a professional level imaging tool which you can be confident to use in any situation and still get outstanding results.

The Review

Canon EOS 1D X

9
The Canon 1D X is a worthy flagship camera body that builds on previous models with the same build quality and ability to capture images in any situation. A solid, everyday workhorse camera body, fit for any professional.

Pros

  • Build quality
  • Speed
  • All-round functionality

Cons

  • AF system is complex
  • Needs a variable angle touchscreen

Review Breakdown

Design

Performance

Camera

Battery

Price

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