Canon 1D X Hands-On

by on October 27, 2011

in Canon

Canon 1D X

I spent a few hours at the Canon EOS & PIXMA event this evening.  The core of the event was promoting the new PIXMA PRO-1 and the fact that it was built in conjunction with the EOS camera system – to take full advantage of what these cameras are capable of.  Seeing several of the large prints from the PIXMA PRO-1, it’s clear that this new printer delivers on the quality.  The bigger attraction for me, however, was the fact that there were several Canon 1D X’s to put in my hands.

All of the cameras were pre-production models and apparently had the CF card doors sealed shut so there was no chance for me to grab some sample images.  However, I spent a good while with the camera and am really impressed with its potential.  I shot several images at a variety of sensitivity settings, including all the way up to ISO 204,800.  Even on the small 3.2″ LCD, it’s easy to tell that these ISO 204,800 images look like crap.  I can’t see where they would be usable in any circumstances – just tons of mush and chroma noise.

Back it down to ISO 12,800 and you’ve got another story.  I shot a few frames at ISO 12,800 that looked clean at first glance.  I zoomed the image into 100% and, sure, there’s noise there, but it’s mostly fine grain luma noise with just a hint of chroma noise mixed in.  It looks like Canon has nailed the noise control on the 1D X though, because ISO 12,800 may become the new ISO 3200.

That’s a big judgement to make from looking at the back of camera’s LCD; however, you know how you develop a sense of what the final image looks like based on chimping, particularly when you zoom in to 100% to check for focus and noise issues…  So, we’ll see how the production models turn out, but I don’t think I would feel too worried about taking basketball shots up to ISO 6400 with the 1D X.  I was pretty comfortable working around ISO 3200 with the 1D Mark IV and D3S; however, the 1D X is looking like an entirely different ball game (pun intended).

Of course, the one of the biggest features of the Canon 1D X is the new AF system.  If you thought the 1D Mark IV had some intense customization, wait until you see all of the potential tweaks available in the 1D X.  The AF options have their own menu tab in the 1D X.  It’s not a series of custom functions tucked away like the 1D Mark IV.  On the 1D X, the AF menu options are front and center with a ton of options in the main menu.

Canon also appears to have made an effort to simplify the descriptions used when setting release and focus priorities on the 1D X.  Additionally, there are several AF presents, which tunes the AF release and tracking priorities to a predefined action circumstances.

One of the things I recall reading when the 1D X was first announced was that the new ALL-I compression method for video capture would chew up memory so fast that a 16GB card would only hold something crazy like 6 minutes footage; however, that does not appear to be the case.

I shot several 1-minute clips at the various compression rates for the 1D X.  The 30p footage at ALL-I was 481MB, while the same length IPB compression footage was 225MB.  For 24p footage, the sizes were 350MB for ALL-I and 225MB for IPB.  Likewise, the 720/60p footage yielded file sizes of 313MB for ALL-I and 194MB for IPB compression.

IPB Compression Info

IPB Compression Info for 24p File at 1:00 minute length and 225MB

ALL-I Compression Info

ALL-I Compression Info for 24p File at 1:00 minute length and 350MB

So, there are marginal file size benefits for the IPB compression; however, the file size situation for the higher quality footage is not near as dire as I had previously feared.

That’s about all I’ve got for the 1D X for right now.  You can check out more of the images of the menu system and 1D X in general below. Feel free to ask any questions and I’ll do my best to answer them or find someone who can answer them.

This PhotoPlus 2011 coverage is sponsored by B&H Photo, which Photography Bay proudly recommends as the number one source for all your photographic needs.  B&H Photo is located online at and in New York City at its 70,000+ sq. ft. SuperStore.




1 alamond October 27, 2011 at 8:09 am

oh my …

2 Tim L October 27, 2011 at 11:56 am

Eric, Did Canon USA say anything about the availability of the Pixma Pro-1?

3 Eric Reagan October 27, 2011 at 4:55 pm

I’m meeting with Chuck Westfall tomorrow, so I’ll find out what I can.

4 Eric Reagan October 29, 2011 at 1:15 am

The PRO-1 ships this week with limited US availability. Price is $999.

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