Canon EOS-1D X vs. Nikon D4s sensor review: Consummate performers

By Kevin Carter - Friday June 20 2014

Sensor Review
Introduction | Canon EOS-1D X Versus Nikon D4s: Nikon has the advantage | Conclusion
Canon EOS-1D X vs. Nikon D4s sensor review: Consummate performers

Now that the World Cup is underway in Brazil we thought we would turn out attention to well-known two teams battling at the side of the pitch. In the white strip we have the Canon EOS-1 D X and the Nikon D4S are sporting all black.  Read on to see for yourself how these two teams compare and how well they perform when put to the test. 

Specification and Features

Introduced in late 2011, the 18-Mpix Canon EOS-1D X was the first full-frame model from the firm aimed at sports and press photographers as was a direct replacement the 16-Mpix APS-H format EOS-1D Mk IV.

Although maintaining the familiar design and control placement with a few exceptions the new model is extremely quick, with continuous shooting at up to 12 fps and with a completely new AF system - built from the ground up.

Canon are remarkably candid about the AF system – it’s a more powerful version of that found in the Canon EOS 5D Mk III - boasting a dedicated Digic 4 processor and linking to the RGB AE sensor in the viewfinder to provide additional subject tracking.

The Nikon D4s is almost as quick shooting at up to 11 fps with a huge buffer for high-quality transmission ready Jpegs, much like its opponent. In contrast, while AF system has a new group-focusing mode, allowing more control over the size of the AF area the 51-point MultiCAM 3500FX module is the same as that found on its predecessor the Nikon D3s.

Still the D4s can put up more of fight with the new, faster Expeed 4 processor over the older tech Expeed 3 of the D4. It’s already responsible for the faster maximum burst rate (up from 10fps on the D4), and is the reason behind the new higher ISO 409,600 extended sensitivity, improved battery life and 1080 50/60p video with simultaneous recording to the internal card and an external recorder via HDMI.

Not that video capture is likely to be allowed at the games by the photographers - more useful for them will be the improved AF lock on abilities of the D4s and reduced viewfinder blackout. As many as 11 cross-type AF sensors are compatible when using lenses and teleconverters with an f8 effective maximum aperture, which is better than the Canon’s capabilities (it has a single center cross-type sensor that’s compatible with f8), but anything longer than a 600mm lens at the side of the pitch is likely to be too narrow.

Key specifications Canon EOS-1D X

  • 18-Mpix full-frame 36 x 24mm CMOS sensor
  • Dual Digic 5+ processors, plus dedicated Digic 4 for AF system
  • ISO 100-51,200 (ISO 50 – 204,800 expanded)
  • 12 fps (180 jpegs / 38 Raw 14-bit), 14 fps with mirror up, AF locked
  • 61-point AF (with 41 cross-type sensors, f8 supported by central dual cross sensor)
  • 30 sec – 1/8000 sec, X-sync 1/250th
  • 3.2-inch 1.04m dot LCD screen
  • WiFi terminal and built-in RJ-45 (gigabyte ethernet) port
  • 1920x1080 (30, 25, 24 fps) movies
  • 1120 shots per charge
  • 1540g body with battery

Key specifications Nikon D4 S

  • 16-Mpix full-frame 36 x 23.9mm CMOS sensor
  • Expeed 4 processor
  • ISO 100-25,600 (ISO 50 – 409,600 expanded)
  • 11 fps (200 jpegs / 104 Raw 14-bit) with AF
  • 91k-pixel RGB Sensor
  • 51-point AF Multi-CAM 3500FX (with 15 cross type sensors, f8 supported by 11 sensors) 30 sec – 1/8000 sec, X-sync 1/250th
  • 3.2-inch 921k-dot LCD screen
  • WiFi terminal and built-in RJ-45 (gigabyte ethernet) port
  • 1920x1080 (60, 50, 30, 25, 24 fps) movies
  • 3020 shots per charge
  • 1350g body with battery

Canon EOS-1D X Versus Nikon D4s:  Nikon has the advantage