Canon’s new professional digital SLR – the EOS-1D X – is a sports photographer’s dream. It shoots a dizzying 12 pictures per second, features a 61-point autofocus system, and pushes the upper limits of light sensitivity with a marketed ISO range of 100 to 51,200 (we’ll be sure to test the camera’s ISO for accuracy).
Its industrious design and weight of 1.34 kg make it a tank. So does its asking price of about $6,800 (US).
Much of this extra cost is being attributed to the EOS-1D X’s added brain power, which includes not one, but three processors!
But is the extra brain function worth the cost? Here’s a look at how the EOS-1D X compares with its predecessor, the EOS-1D Mark IV; its little brother, the EOS 5D Mark III; and its direct rival, the Nikon D4.
The newest generation of Canon’s professional reporting SLR has undergone a change, and not a small one, either. In fact, the EOS 1-D X abandons the APS-H sensor of its predecessor, the EOS-1D Mark IV. This change has two important and significant consequences:
The Canon EOS-1D X brings a number of improvements to the already high performing EOS-1D Mark IV.
There is, however, one change that is really going to negatively affect photojournalists and full-time photographers: the battery life of Canon EOS-1D X’s is sharply reduced compared to the EOS-1D Mark IV’s, which itself was already quite modest for a pro SLR (1500 shots). With only 1120 images per charge, the Canon EOS-1D X’s new battery seems to fizzle at keeping up with the high-energy needs of the dual DIGIC 5+ processors, in addition to all the various automatic features and motors.
The price of professional cameras continues to increase – the EOS-1D X is no exception. Canon’s newest iteration will set you back $6,800 (US), nearly $1,800 more than the EOS-1D Mark IV.
Rarely have these Canon and Nikon rivals gone so directly head-to-head:
The Nikon D4 is very similar to the Canon EOS-1D X — more than Canon and Nikon professional SLRs have ever been before. The retail price of the Canon EOS-1D X, however, is 500 euros higher than that of the Nikon D4.
The complete comparison is available here: Canon EOS-1D X vs Nikon D4
The DxOMark comparison is available here: Canon EOS-1D X vs Canon EOS 5D Mark III
We’ve already said that the EOS 5D Mark III can be considered a baby-EOS-1D X, because it utilizes some of the same up-to-date technologies, such as 61-point autofocus and measuring exposure via a 100,000-pixel, 63-zone iCFL color sensor. But a baby-EOS-1D X is not an EOS-1D X: the EOS 5D Mark III’s autofocus, so close to that of its big brother, is not as fast (a double Digic 5+ processor for the former versus a single DIGIC 5+ processor makes a big difference), nor does it couple color measurement to exposure, as does the EOS-1D X’s.
Although the EOS 5D Mark III has nothing to be ashamed of in terms of its burst shooting rate (6i/s) when compared to its predecessor or to the Nikon D800, the EOS 1-D X still claims the lead with burst shooting at 12 i/s (and even 14 i/s without exposure meter or autofocus, mirror raised).
And while the sensor definition is fairly close for the two cameras (i.e., 18 and 22 megapixels, respectively), one can quite naturally assume that the EOS-1D X’s sensor has the upper hand. Short of surprising test results, the EOS-1D X will most likely further cement its position as an excellent camera for reportage, for field work, and for quality photos in low light.
Finally, the finish, the tropicalization, and the overall robustness of the EOS 1-D X are still a notch above those of the EOS 5D Mark III, despite the progress Canon has made with its third generation of 5D cameras. More professional, the EOS-1D X retains certain exclusive features in the Canon reflex line that allow it to insert itself better into one’s workflow — for example, its RJ45 ethernet port.
Still, the EOS 5D Mark III has quite a few things in its favor, including portability and discretion (when in silent mode), its greater affordability, and a headphone jack for video mode — an important refinement, especially if shooting video is a priority for your work.