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What You Need To Know About the Canon 1D X

by Chris Gampat on 10/18/2011

Canon Rumors picked up the press release early, and today we hear about the new EOS 1D x (or 1Dx and 1D-X depending on what the search engines are all saying). While you can get the press releases everywhere else, here’s a quick analysis of the camera and what all the new features mean to you in practical terms based on the information we have so far.

Editor’s Note: This post will be updates as more information comes in. EOSHD has some info as does Photography Bay.

My good buddy Mitch over at Planet 5D also has more info that you won’t find in the press release.

 

It’s Full Frame (Is That a Good Thing?)

The Canon 1D X features a full frame 35mm sized sensor. Plus, it’s 18MP; which is less than the Canon 5D Mk II (the company’s previous darling camera; and in many ways still is at the time of publishing this story.)

At 18MP and a large sensor combined with 2 DIGIC 5+ processors, the camera is destined to have extremely low noise and excellent dynamic range and color depth abilities.

Though you won’t be able to get as much detail from your images as the Canon 5D Mk II, it’s a compromise that many photographers can live with; especially with 12fps and 14fps in a super fast mode (Super High Speed Continuous shooting at 14 fps requires mirror lock and JPEG mode at ISO speeds less than 32000.) The lack of extra detail may not be a selling point for some photographers despite how well the Canon line of lenses resolve.

Now consider this:

- The Canon 7D has an 18MP APS-C sized sensor

- The 1D X has an 18MP Full Frame Sensor

- This was just like Nikon when they released the D3 and D300. The D300 was able to deliver more detailed images due to the pixels being packed into a smaller area vs the D3 which allowed for better low light abilities due to having bigger pixels.

Indeed, we’re seeing history repeat itself in a different way.

Wireless Lan Ethernet Connection with the WFT-E6A (Protection for Photographers, Especially Against Police)

This is a huge one: this seems to be the first DSLR ever made with a built in wired gigabit ethernet connection. Previously, one would have to use one of the attachments that Canon offers or use an Eye-Fi card in the Canon 1D Mk IV. The 1D X has a dual CF card, so it can’t use the Eye-Fi unless you buy the adapter. But now, a photographer will potentially be able to upload images at a much faster rate and speed up the entire workflow process providing that they have a modem/router with them in their bag. I say potentially because this varies on signal strength and other environmental factors.

In real life use, this means:

- Wedding photographers can all shoot and make prints right there on the spot much faster and easier for sale to attendees.

- Event photographers don’t have to lug around as much equipment if they want to set up photo booth sessions or sell prints.

The newsworthy: Slutwalk was actually very popular amongst the New York City blogs

- Photojournalists can shoot and send to the office. It also means that the photo editors will perhaps see a lot more potential screw ups. By that, consider the fact that many people (even photojournalists) don’t nail the shot the first time around. These images will come in to the editors in addition to the desired exposures depending on how they editor, photographer, and department all set up the workflow.

- Landscape photographers can go out into the field and carry a mobile hot spot with them to upload straight to their computer at home. No need to lug a laptop around with you and there is also no need to carry extra memory cards. Once the images are uploaded you can delete them quickly.

- Photographers in troublesome areas (such as protests or war zones) that are harassed by authority figures can ensure that their images are safe because they will be uploaded and sent back to their computer at home. Now when a cop does something illegal, like take your card or ask you to delete the images, you can do so and have them backed up already at home.

This is also probably a very good reason why the camera has two DIGIC 5+ processors. Plus it has 14-bit RAW Capture w/ M-RAW at 10MP & S-RAW at 4.5MP. If you’re not shooting at full resolution then transmission will be faster.

New Sensor Cleaning System

I learned the hard way that larger sensors are more prone to dirt due to them just being larger; even if you switch your lenses quickly. In practice, my 7D’s sensor has rarely needed a cleaning but my 5D Mk II often has and I’ve even seen dirt show up while on a gig.

Canon has recognized this and created a new sensor cleaning system that they are claiming to be more effective. Let’s hope that it works in practice.

Multi-Exposure Capability (HDR?)

According to the press release, “The EOS-1D X is the first EOS Digital SLR to feature Multiple Exposure capability. The camera can combine up to nine individual images into a single composite image, with no need for post-processing in a computer. Four different compositing methods are provided for maximum creative control, including Additive, Average, Bright and Dark. Compositing results can be viewed in real time on the camera’s LCD monitor, and there is a one-step Undo command that allows photographers to delete an image and try again if desired. ”

It sounds like the new 1D X can create in-camera HDRs if needed. What isn’t stated is if the created image will be a JPEG or a RAW.

ISO 100-51,200 Native

Maybe it’s just me, but that’s an insanely high ISO level. The result is that you’ll be able to shoot at faster shutter speeds, especially with F4 lenses like the 24-105mm f4 L IS. For the record, the camera can only shoot at up to ISO 25600 in video mode.

In real life, I’ve never run into a situation where f1.4 and ISO 6400 haven’t been good enough.

Plus if you want, it can go even two stops higher using the Hi setting modes. At that point though, you might as well just get multiple strobes.

Which brings us to our next point…

What Is the Intelligent Subject Analysis System? (And Does the System Still Underexpose?)

Basically, the new ISA system is a new metering and focusing system that works together to help deliver better performance and images and will be one of the big steps to potentially winning back photographers that switched to Nikon over the past couple of years.

- There is a 100,000-pixel RGB metering sensor and DIGIC 4 processor dedicated solely to this system.

- 61 point autofocus system (the old school photographers will still use the middle focus point and then recompose)

- From the press release, “The sensor includes 21 f/5.6 cross-type sensors, 20 f/4.0 cross-type sensors, and 5 f/2.8 dual cross-type sensors. Equipped with 20 f/4.0 AF points, the new camera offers the same level of precision as the EOS-1D Mark IV at f/2.8. Additionally, working in tandem with the new AE system, the camera’s EOS iTR AF (Intelligent Tracking and Recognition Auto Focus) function is capable of tracking a subject’s face or target color to maintain focus on a moving subject.

So apparently this new camera may have face detection and color tracking abilities. The latter will be extremely useful when shooting something like tennis (and other sports), wildlife (unless the animal is camouflaged) and depending on how good it is, brides coming down the isle.

It will be interesting to see how the new ISA works with the camera’s video capabilities of 1920 x 1080 at 30p/25p/24p; 1280 x 720 at 60p/50p. Previously, I’ve felt that the older system has underexposed my images, and I’m not the only one.

The Canon EOS-1D X Digital SLR camera is scheduled for March 2012 availability and will be sold in a body-only configuration at an estimated retail price of $6,800.00. The compact, lightweight WFT-E6A Wireless File Transmitter is scheduled to be available in March 2012 and have an estimated retail price of $600. Availability for the GP-E1 GPS receiver is expected in April 2012 with an estimated retail price of $300.

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