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Canon’s 1DX merges 1D Mk4 and 1DS Mk3, the DNA of Both Worlds ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

April 12, 2013

Canon’s EOS 1DX merges Precision high-speed of its 1D Mk4 Action Sports Camera with the High Resolution Color Accuracy of its 1DS Mk3 Studio Events Camera. The combination gives the best DNA of each, redefining Image Quality capture.

⚫ Several years ago, say 2008, it was rumored that Canon was going to come out with a cross-over model of the EOS-1D line that was to combine the two professional cameras, the EOS 1D action sports camera and the EOS 1DS designed for high-resolution event-wedding-studio. At the time we were shooting with Canon’s EOS 1DS Mark III, a 21.1 MP beauty priced at the time around $7,000 for the body. It was a dream come true digital camera; however, less than 5 fps, the sports journalists preferred the faster frame-rates of the 1D.

⚫ You may recall, in reading my review of the remarkable Canon EOS-5D Mark III, it was suggested that having two 5D3 bodies has advantages, as compared to owning just one 1Dx camera, for that $7000 budget. Here is a transition for you… In graduate school having taken several classes in the Law, one learns, to be an good "advocate" you must be able to take-on either side of a case with one’s advocacy. In this spirit, my support of Canon’s EOS iDx is now upon us.

⚫ The Canon EOS-1D X, although rumored in the halls of canon for a half-decade, is the latest in the company’s professional EOS 1D digital SLRs. This single digital camera replaces both the sports-orientated 1D series and the high-resolution, studio-wedding 1DS cameras.

⚫ This exciting new "combination" of very high resolution, coupled with very-high frame-rates, brings Canon to its creation of the 1DX, the result of which is very unusual for typical incremental upgrades in this class of camera.

⚫ Admittedly, once you have one of Canon’s Flagship cameras in hand, and use it for an hour or two, it becomes evident what its like to be using one of the very best digital cameras. As a point of reference, at the bottom of this article is an image of our first Professional Digital Camera acquired in 1997 for $28,000. In the professional photography business, we were of the first adopters of Digital. Most of the "Film" folks 15 years ago, thought we were crazy.

⚫ An important specification change to this new breed of 1D, to the 1D X body, is a unique new sensor – an 18MP full-frame CMOS chip, capable of shooting at 12 frames per second. This is a huge change from the 1D Mk IV, as it represents a permanent move away from the smaller APS-H format that Canon has previously used in all its professional sports cameras. Interestingly, this new imager contains a decrease in pixel count compared to the 1DS series, which peaked at 21.1MP.

⚫ It is well known from Chuck Westfall, Canon’s USA products spokesman, and Rick Berk, Technical Specialist in Canon USA’s Pro Engineering and Solutions Division, mentioning that "…there is more to image quality than just resolution." In other words, better pixels, may be better, than just more pixels. This change in engineering directives, marks a decade-long end, of "simply" creating great sensors with more pixels every iteration. Apparently, Canon is turning its engineering talents towards developing Full-Frame image sensors in the 18MP to 21MP spectrum.

⚫ The move away from APS-H sensors housed in previous 1D action-sports cameras, up to Full-Frame dimensions, 24x36mm, enabled by a sensor with faster data readout explains Chuck Westfall, Technical Advisor in Canon USA’s Pro Engineering and Solutions Division. The new sensor has 16-channels, dual-line readout, compared to 8-channel, single-line designs in the previous generation of image sensors. These factors enables Canon to offer a large high resolution sensor with excellent low-light capability provided to 1DS users, Combining with the fast capture speeds that current 1D Mk IV users are accustomed to expect.

⚫ Chuck Westfall announced, "It’s clear, the time has come, for the 1DX to replace the whole 1D series."

⚫ Beside the attention to the super-fast high-Res FF sensor, the really big change is with a totally re-designed sophisticated Metering sensor. This move to a totally new 100,000 pixel metering-unit provides to the 1DX camera, a much improved understanding of the subject-scene, where this information is delivered to the 1DX’s autofocus system to improve the quality of its AF tracking, an intelligent method of improving what’s already an impressive system.

⚫ Autofocus changes. Another big change to autofocus is a "simpler configuration." The 1DX eliminates the complex inter-related network of custom settings that defined AF behavior in previous models. Admittedly, we had difficulties in determining which combination of settings would be best for a particular shooting situation. Often times, these difficulties made me use the 5D2 camera instead of the 1D.

⚫ In sum, the 1DX offers Six-presets, suitable for Six different shooting situations as displayed below. Each of these can be adjusted for "Tracking sensitivity" which defines how doggedly the camera attempts to stick with the originally chosen target or whether it will re-focus on nearer subjects if they cross in front of the target, "Acceleration – Deceleration tracking" and AF point auto-selection, namely, how readily, (or persistent) the 1DX may move-off the selected AF point.

⚫ Chuck Westfall acknowledged the complexity of the previous systems could prevent users from getting the most out of previous cameras, self included. Apparently Canon determined it was better to scrap the precious settings matrix, where Canon needed to start the engineering from scratch. The 1DX has the first entirely new AF arrangement, since the launch of the (film-era) EOS 3 in 1998. The new 61-point AF sensor has 21 cross type AF points at the center, which are sensitive enough to be used with lenses with maximum apertures as slow as F5.6. The Canon EOS-1D X AF mode presets, defined by subject behavior are as follows:

  • 1. Versatile multi purpose
  • 2. Continue shooting, ignore obstructions
  • 3. Instantly refocus suddenly with obstructions
  • 4. Subjects that accelerate or decelerate quickly
  • 5. Erratic Subject Movement
  • 6. Subjects that change speed and move erratically

⚫ Similar to the EOS 7D, the AF point selection can be narrowed to a series of sets of local-AF points. It’s also possible to adjust what factors are considered during AF tracking: AF info only, AF and color information or AF and face detection information.

⚫ Canon says, there is a couple of things that Canon considers when thinking about Image Quality, Lets call it "IQ."
Number one factor is noise. Digital Noise level is better (lower levels) than in the 1D Mk IV and the 1DS III cameras. Number two factor is Pixel size. With the iDX’s imager, its pixels are larger than in the 1DS III and 5D Mark II (6.95 microns, versus 6.40 microns). This difference is more striking compared to the 5.7 micron sized pixels in the 1D Mark IV imager. These factors help IQ in terms of light capturing ability, and increases the signal-to-noise-ratio. In turn, this dramatically helps the overall dynamic-range of the camera, the number of f-stops the camera’s image sensor is capable of recording, like 10, 11, 12, 13 f-stops. (The more f-stops the better, from the darkest-dark to the brightest-bright.)

⚫ Processing power. The Canon 1DX camera’s processing has received a considerable refresh, Chuck Westfall explains, The 1DX contains dual Digic 5+ processors, which Canon’s engineers say its 17x faster than the Digic 4 processors used in the previous models. In addition, the metering-sensor, given its added complexity and the need to interpret its output, and feeding info into the AF system… this metering System has its own independent Digic 4 processor.

⚫ The 1DX overall processing power, permits the camera to compute a wider range of lens corrections. In addition to vignetting correction that could be conducted by the 1D Mark IV, lens profiles may be uploaded using a EOS software utility, permitting the camera to correct for geometric-distortion and chromatic-aberration (both lateral and axial) in real-time. These corrections are all menu-chosen, and engaged separately.

⚫ Canon states, another benefit of more processing power combined with an improved sensor, is an Expansion of the ISO range, says Westfall. The ISO range on the 1DX camera, the standard range, changes from a Max ISO of 12,800 on the 1D Mark IV, and 1600 on the 1DS Mark III, to the 1DX in-range ISO of 51,200. This ISO may be expanded up to 204,800 – this level of high ISO is going to enable of all sorts of new imaging possibilities for a lot of people.

⚫ Canon’s new EOS 1DX permits twin CF cards. As before, these can either be set to duplicate images onto both cards or overflow from one to the next. There is no option of separately storing movies and stills. Upgrades to the camera include an improved dust-reduction system for the image-sensor. The wave-motion of the imager-shake-system is now referred by Canon as its 2nd generation dust-prevention.

⚫ Like most all pro DSLRs these days, the EOS-1D X provides you with 1920 x 1080 HD video capture. The camera offers both ALL-I and IPB compression, supports H.264/MPEG-4 AVC High Profile, and automatically splits files greater than 4GB for extended recording up to 29:59 minutes without interruption. The camera also offers up Live View, a 64-step volume control, a sound recording level meter, and a Quick Control Dial which allows for silent adjustments – using the dial’s touch pad – during shooting.

⚫ For a whole new level of performance, the EOS-1D X uses Dual DIGIC 5+ Image Processors that include four 4-channel A/D converter front-end processing circuits and deliver speeds of up to 12 fps (RAW + JPEG) and 14 fps (JPEG). Compared with the predecessor, Canon’s DIGIC 4 Image Processor, the Dual DIGIC 5+ Image Processor offers approximately 17x faster processing speed, and feature new algorithms that promote greater noise reduction at higher ISOs. In addition to conventional image processing functions the Dual DIGIC 5+ Image Processors offer real-time compensation for Chromatic Aberration in both still and motion images. With the power of these two processors, speed improvements are noticeable from the instant the camera is turned on and the stunning results speak for themselves

⚫ Addressing the requests of the pros, the EOS-1D X captures HD video with an unprecedented level of sophistication for a digital SLR. It offers both All-I and IPB compression, supports H.264/MPEG-4 AVC High Profile, and automatically splits files greater than 4GB (FAT specifications) for extended recording up to 29:59 minutes without interruption. It offers the option of timecoding only during recording (Rec Run) or at all times (Free Run) – useful for multi-camera shoots. The EOS-1D X offers easy operation with the new Live View shooting/Movie shooting button. Menu options can still be set even when the Live View image is displayed. A dedicated menu tab for video capture allows functions to be changed quickly on the fly. Improved sound recording adjustment capabilities offer 64-step volume control; and a sound recording level meter that is accessible through the Quick Control screen during video shooting. With the Silent Control function, adjustments can be made quietly with a touch pad located on the inner portion of the Quick Control Dial. The built-in wind filter helps suppress unwanted wind noise that can distort or muffle sound. The CMOS sensor’s new drive system significantly increases image processor performance, reducing color artifacts and moiré.

⚫ The EOS-1D X combines fast 16-channel data readout from its 18.1 megapixel CMOS sensor and the supercharged processing capabilities of its Dual DIGIC 5+ Image Processors with a speedier shutter and mirror system to raise the performance bar for all digital cameras, capturing full-frame images and recording them fast to UDMA cards stored in the cameras Dual Card Slots. Ideal for fixed focus situations, the EOS-1D X’s can shoot up to 12 fps (RAW + JPEG). In Super High Speed Mode, high-speed shooting up to 14 fps (JPEG) is possible. Thanks to a more resilient design, shutter lag with the EOS-1D X is reduced to 55ms (down even further to 36ms via custom function). A redesigned mirror system, featuring a Quad Active Mirror Stopper, uses more effective material to absorb impact when moving up and down not only aids in speedy shot-to-shot times, but the reduced mirror vibration provides more stable shots at all times

⚫ The EOS-1D X’s 3.2" TFT LCD monitor has 1,040,000 dots, anti-reflective construction and features Canon’s Clear View II technology for bright, sharp display in any number of shooting situations. It’s ideal for reviewing settings and images, as well as for shooting in Live View mode. In Live View, grid lines can be displayed in 9 sections, 24 sections, or 9 sections with diagonals, as can the dual-axis electronic level, which helps ensure accurate level by displaying both roll and pitch in 1-degree increments. For image review, the EOS-1D X has a new, dedicated Magnify/Reduce button. While pressing the button, zooming in or out (up to 10x) is achieved simply by turning the Main Dial. Images can be protected or erased quickly, individually or in batches, and slideshows can be created with some or all images and can be sequenced by date, folders, movies, stills or rating. A feature guide can be accessed for the selected menu, providing detailed reference information whenever needed.

⚫ To complement the high-speed drive and record the maximum number of shots as quickly as possible, the EOS-1D X records solely to industry speed-leading CompactFlash cards and features Dual Card Slots. Supporting UDMA mode 7, with a maximum data transfer rate of 167 MB/s as well as exFAT maximum file sizes, the EOS-1D X can use Type I and Type II CF recording media. Three recording settings are available: Auto switch, wherein the camera automatically switches from one card to another when the first is filled, Record Separately where the same image is recorded to each card, but in different size or file type, or Record to Multiple, where the same image is saved to both cards in the same size (or sizes), providing an instant backup for added security. Additionally, images can easily be transferred from one CF card to the other.

⚫ Product Highlights for Canon EOS-1DX (Canon’s Part Number: 5253B002)
+ 18.1Mp CMOS Sensor
+ Dual DIGIC 5+ Image Processors
+ 3.2" LCD Screen
+ Eye-Level Pentaprism Viewfinder
+ Dual CF Card Recording Media
+ Canon EF Lens Mount
+ Magnesium Alloy Body
+ 1920 x 1080 HD Video Capture
+ Live View Still and Video Recording, silent shooting mode
+ 61-Point High Density Auto Focus

⚫ Canon EOS-1D X Digital SLR Camera (Body Only). What is in the BOX:
Eyecup Eg
LP-E4N Battery Pack
LC-E4N Battery Charger With Cable
Wide Neck Strap L7
Cable Protector
AVC-DC400ST Stereo AV Cable
IFC-200U USB Interface Cable – 6.9′ (1.9 m)
EOS Digital Solution Disc
Software Instruction Manual
Limited 1-year USA/Canada Warranty

⚫ OH, One more thing… I am a big believer in "Accident Service Contracts" as compared to warranty extension contracts. I learned 15 years ago, with my $28,000 digital camera, the imager became faulty with some pixels either Always-On or Always-Off or both, the imager needed replacement in 1999, the 2nd year of ownership. This was a $6000 repair, labor included. However, since I bought a $1700/year service contract, this replacement was fully covered.

⚫ Today the Canon EOS-1DX, at roughly a $6800 purchase, SQUARE TRADE currently provides 100% coverage for repairs because of equipment failure of Accidents, like dropping the camera in the pool. For a New Canon 1DX, a 2 Year service policy costs $709, a 3 year contract is priced at $924 about $308/year for full accident and product repairs. It is worth considering, particularly the Accident/Repair Contracts. If you drop the camera one time, this one repair costs more than the price of the 3 year contract. According to SQUARE TRADE Policies: Drop your camera in the pool? Get sand in it? Sit on it? No worries, you’re covered. Camera repairs can get expensive. Policy cover 100% parts and labor with no deductibles. Policy covers all normal-use mechanical and electrical failures−from broken buttons to broken lenses.

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DCS-560 / EOS D6000: The DCS-560 was a "joint-venture" camera , utilizing a Canon EOS-1N SLR body, combined with a KODAK 6 million pixel CCD imager. Service was performed by KODAK in Rochester, NY. Annual service contracts were $1,700/year. It was praised by many Professionals, self included, for its CCD sensor which delivered the first taste of competition for 35mm film SLR Cameras. Highest ISO was 500. The body was made from the legendary Canon EOS-1N "35mm film" body. The original list price of DCS 560 was US$29,900. The Canon 6000 was sold in Japan. We paid $28,000 in 1997. NiCad Batteries were $750 each; Memory Cards, called ATA Flash Cards were priced at $500 for 250 MB card (no GB cards in 1997).

Today Canon’s EOS 7D has 300% more pixels, better pixels, better color rendition, better noise performance, 5 more f-stops, 30% of the weight, and only 10% of the price. This shows what technological improvements provide. When I hear my students complaining about today’s digital Cameras… they should have seen from where we came, just 15 years ago. And I loved the DCS-560 and images it provided, the very best on the planet, then.

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