On Oct. 11 2011, Canon Inc. introduced the EOS 1DX, their latest flagship professional DSLR camera. According to Canon the EOS 1DX was the successor for both EOS 1D Mark IV and the ancient EOS 1Ds Mark III that was long out of production, effectively unifying the 1D series into one full-frame body. The EOS 1 series are the camera of choice for many working professionals given their durability and performance. They also showcase the company’s latest achievements in image sensor, image processing and auto focus (AF) technology. Key features of the EOS 1DX include a full-frame 18.1 Mpixel CMOS image sensor with Dual Digic5+ DSP, 12 fps continuous shooting speed (14fps with limitation) and an all-new 61-point AF module with up to 41 cross-type sensors (with select lenses), plus various other software and hardware improvements.
The EOS 1DX keeps the traditional EOS 1 looks, sculpted from solid magnesium alloy and covered with thick rubber it feels chunky and substantial. As with all EOS 1 bodies, you know EOS 1DX means busniess as soon as you pick it up. There are various functional and ergonomic improvements. The grip is deeper and better sculpted compared to EOS 1D Mark IV. It fits nicely in your hand. My hands are not very large but I always found the EOS 1D Mark IV grip was somewhat inadequate when handholding 500mm and 600mm super-telephoto lenses, in particular, the vertical grip was very uncomfortable for me. On the EOS 1DX both grips have been substantially improved. The new camera is wider, taller and deeper than its predecessors, it is also about 6 oz heavier. The size/weight increase over the EOS 1D Mark IV is due to the larger prism and mirror box required to house the full-frame sensor. Overall the ergonomics is a major improvement over the 1D Mark IV, especially for people who handhold super-telephoto lenses.
In terms of functionality the EOS 1DX features three fully customizable buttons. Two on the front by the lens mount and one close to the shutter release button labeled as M-fn. These buttons can be programed for complex operations such as changing the number of AF expansion points or changing AI-servo tracking sensitivity on the fly. Fortunately handhold operation is possible since the front buttons can be pressed conveniently by the middle finger while the top button is easily accessible by the index finger. The photographer can execute various functions without the need to take their eyes off the view finder, a great advantage. In contrast, the EOS 1D Mark IV does not feature any programmable button that can be tied to AF custom functions for instance.
The top of the bodies are very similar, the EOS 1DX has a slightly larger LCD but the information layout is identical, it also has a dedicated white-balance button.
The EOS 1DX now features a RJ-45 (LAN) port for direct connection to wired networks, this feature has no use for me but I can imagine it could be very useful for studio shooters or applications where the camera is fixed. Unfortunately Canon have missed the boat on USB 3.0, and the EOS 1DX still uses the old USB 2.0 interface.
The EOS 1DX also features a sightly larger LCD (3.2″ vs. 3″) which also has more pixels, interface menus and images look crisp and color rendition is very good. It is wider than the EOS 1D Mark IV LCD. The numeric LCD has not changed much, a minor addition is that it can now display video format (HD or SD). The rear buttons are now larger and easier to press when wearing gloves. There is a dedicated live-view button. Canon have also redesigned the joystick, which now features a soft click. It takes some getting used to but it makes for easier and faster scrolling in magnified view. Unlike the EOS 1D Mark IV, the joystick is also duplicated for the vertical grip. Perhaps the most important difference on the back of the camera is the memory compartment. The EOS 1DX now features dual CF card interface while the EOS 1D Mark IV featured a CF and a SD card slot as if Canon were uncertain about the future of CF format. The dual CF interface is extremely useful compared to CF+SD, since the SD card interface is somewhat slow in all Canon cameras (does not support SDUHS). Therefore the SD slot was not usable for action shooting in the past. Now you can effectively double the capacity and not worry about running out of memory, kudos to Canon.
The EOS 1DX finder is much larger and brighter than that of the EOS 1D Mark IV given the full frame prism. Unlike permanent etch marks in the EOS 1D Mark IV, the 1DX has a transmissive LCD and can overlay various information given the settings and the state of the camera. There AF points are displayed in black instead of red, I had no problems with that.
The EOS 1DX also features a slightly larger capacity Li-ion battery pack battery pack (28Wh vs. 26Wh). Overall the new camera brings major ergonomics and functional improvement without being radically different from the older model, which is welcome.