One of the other advantages of EOS 1DX over EOS 1D Mark IV is the customizable controls on the camera body. There are two buttons by the lens mount that are programmable to an extensive degree. The photographer can tie each of these buttons to specific custom functions including all available AF custom functions. I usually use expansion AF mode in AI-servo, however in some conditions it might be best to use single AF point, or reduce the number of expansion points. You can program each of these buttons to switch to single AF point or a different expansion pattern while pressed. It is now possible to switch between AF modes/settings while handholding a super-telephoto lens on the fly. This is a very useful feature.
The high ISO capabilities of the EOS 1DX opens new possibilities for high speed shooting late in the evening. ISO 6400 is perfectly usable for making high quality prints while ISO 3200 is so clean I would use it with no reservation.
One of the original complaints about the new AF system in both the EOS 1DX and the EOS 5D Mark III was the lack of AF at f/8. Since then, Canon have addressed this issue in the EOS 1DX with firmware 1.1.1. The center AF point is now active (and cross sensitive) plus the four surrounding AF sensors are used in AI-servo tracking if expansion is enabled. Given my limited time, I did not have a chance to try the EF extender 2X III yet but from what I have seen I am confident the AF performance will be a head and shoulder above the EOS 1D Mark IV. I will leave this for a future article.
The EOS 1DX is the new flagship professional DSLR from Canon and it well deserves the title. It is a solid improvement over the EOS 1D Mark IV in overall image quality, high ISO performance, dynamic range, speed of operation, buffer capacity, storage interface, controls and a surprisingly significant improvement in AI-servo performance for flight photography. In my opinion the advantages it brings to the table for experienced flight photographers far outweighs the slight disadvantage it may have in low ISO resolution compared to the EOS 1D Mark IV.
Of course the EOS 1DX is no cheap date, like the series II super-telephoto lenses. With an MSRP $6700 it is the most expensive “fast” camera Canon has ever made (note the ancient EOS 1DS Mark III was actually more expensive when it was introduced back in 2007). Of course one aspect of the camera I did not cover is its advanced video capabilities which I personally do not use and perhaps that is where some of the cost comes from. In addition to that the new camera is full-frame and has a larger sensor, prism and mirror box so it is understandable that the price had to increase relative to the EOS 1D Mark IV. I personally wish Canon offered a third version of the EOS 1DX with no video capability at all, for those of us who don’t use this feature while lowering the cost a little bit. However at the end of the day, in my opinion the EOS 1DX is the best body for flight Canon has made to this date. In retrospect the EOS 1DX can help you capture the killer frame that you might miss otherwise, and that frame is priceless. I highly recommend this body to all pros and enthusiasts who like to make the highest quality flight images.
★New AF system, excellent AI-servo performance for challenging BIF.
★Extremely fast super-telephoto servo drive even when extender is attached.
★Highly customizable AF functions that can be programmed to physical buttons for quick toggle between AF parameters.
★Excellent Full Frame sensor with very low read noise, low pattern noise, excellent color response, sharpness and exceptional high ISO performance.
★12 fps continuous shooting speed, does not slow down in AI-servo mode.
★Largest, brightest viewfinder Canon has ever made with electronic overlay.
★Large capacity buffer, can fire for more than 4 seconds at 12 fps in RAW mode while using the fastest CF cards
★Dual CF slot.
★Solid body with better controls and a larger LCD screen.
★Larger capacity battery.
☆More expensive than its predecessor.
☆At low ISO and focal length limited cases the EOS 1D Mark IV has some resolution advantage.
☆About 6 oz heavier than the EOS 1D Mark IV.
☆Some features add cost but are not useful for all wildlife photographers such as LAN or video function.
My verdict for flight photography: Highly recommended
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