on July 23, 2012
This is a summary of my experience with the Canon 1DX. Skip to the bottom of this review if you want final impressions of the camera after the honeymoon period. My previous camera was the 5DII, mainly for weddings and portraits. I look for low light performance.
1st Day 7/20/2012 I took several photos of my 13 year old daughter in dark incandescent light at 6400 and 25,600 ISO with an 85/1.2II lens at f/2.0. I ran both photos through LR4 with +10 noise reduction. I shoot in RAW. Here's what I noticed. At 6400 ISO, I could see the downy blond baby hairs on her forehead and there wasn't much noise in the dark areas, just grain. At 25,600 ISO, the dark areas had grainy noise and those little downy hairs disappeared. But, the image was totally usable. My wife really liked it. I noticed that at these high ISO's underexposure results in a significant increase in noise in the dark areas. So, overexposing a little minimizes noise at the higher ISO's. The autofocus is blazing fast in good light, and in dim light it slows down, taking 1 to 3 seconds to focus. This is a 1/3 stop improvement over my 5DII, which was a solid low light focuser (because I had sent it in to have AF tweaked). I was expecting more improvement, but I'll take it. One deficiency is that in Manual mode, the exposure indicator does not show up on the top LCD, only when looking into the viewfinder. It does so on the 5DII and 40D. I called Canon and it turns out this is unique to 1D's. I relied on this as a quick light meter check without having to look into the viewfinder. Customers expect me to start snapping photos once I start looking into the viewfinder.
7/26/2012 I did an experiment to see how quickly the camera buffer might fill up using a high speed UDMA card. I held down the shutter and took 200 images without letting up. The camera quit working and showed error code 30, which was a locked shutter. I returned it for a new unit. Canon CPS said I should have been able to take as many images as I wanted without the shutter locking up. I won't try this again.
7/30/2012 I received the replacement and snapped photos for a half an hour. When I put the lens cap back onto the 85/1.2II I mistakenly pressed the shutter button halfway and got an error code 80. It went away after taking the cap back off. Canon said error code 80 was software-related.
8/8/2012 I photographed my daughter swinging using the 85/1.2II lens. This is probably Canon's slowest focusing lens because of the way it moves the entire heavy internal glass. It's meant for portraits, not for sports. With my daughter coming toward me, the AF tracked her in AIServo. To give some perspective, this is something I have never been able to do with the 5DII and 40D. The glass takes 1.5 seconds to move from one end to the other. Looking at them in LR4, I had a 50% keeper rate, which is excellent given that the 5DII would have had none. This camera has more power in the AF to move the glass faster. Very nice. What I'm not liking? The AF point doesn't light up when I press the shutter halfway down until it locks focus. That means in very dark conditions, I have to guess where the AF point is. I could press the AF selection button to light it up, but that's a delay which defeats the element of speed and it also lights up all the AF points like a Christmas tree. It took several calls to Canon CPS for me to realize that this feature, which was on the 5DII, is now gone. Some of Canon's CPS techs were convinced it was there and it just needed to be turned on. It's really gone.
8/13/2012 Two weddings. One was very dark and went late into the night. I did some portraits of the couple walking around the gardens in the dark as I experimented with off camera flash. These images are usually my clients' favorites because of the dramatic light effects. But, it's usually the end of the day and clients are tired. I have to work fast. The AF not blinking with a half-press of the shutter button was a problem. It took nearly 10 to 20 seconds to lock focus versus 3 to 5 seconds with the 5DII. After a few of these, the couple wanted to head back. With the 5DII, I half press the shutter button and the AF point blinks to let me know where it is. Then, I move this AF point to focus on a high contrast area of the face or edge of the white dress, recompose, and take the shot. Then, it's off to the next pose or location for another shot or two. With the 1DX, I was unable to locate a high contrast area without knowing exactly where the center AF point was. It was grayed out. As a workaround, I tried using the AF point selection button on the back. It lit up all the AF points and blinded that eye to the dark. Using this camera in low light slows me down compared to the 5DII. I'm baffled as to what Canon was thinking when they decided to eliminate lit up AF points.
8/28/2012 Another wedding in fairly good light. I did the formals at 1600 ISO, as I generally do with the 5DII, using a tripod and dragging the shutter. This gives images that are sharp, yet with balanced light. At 1600 ISO the 1DX was 1/2 stop ahead of the 5DII in terms of noise and detail rendition. I expected it to be 2 stops cleaner, like 400 ISO on the 5DII. Also, 4000 ISO images weren't much different than at 1600 ISO. Noise was fairly constant in this range. Auto white balance was very accurate. Only a few images got overly yellow due to mixed light. After 1200 images the battery was still at half charge. New issue: Three separate times, the AF froze and quit working with the 85/1.2II and 16-35/2.8II lenses.
8/29/2012 Installed new firmware. Canon's bulletin said it fixed error code 80 (which I experienced on 7/30/2012).
9/4/2012 Two more weddings. The wedding party had very dark skin. There were 16 groomsmen. I used f/11 to get adequate depth of field with a 35mm/1.4. I used 8,000 ISO for the first time (for a paying customer) and these looked fine with +25 noise reduction (in LR4). Conservatively, I would not hesitate to blow these up to 11x14. I bumped it to 12,800 ISO, which came close to looking like 8,000 ISO with more noise reduction applied. Another photographer thought they were clean enough to blow up larger than 11x14. I overexposed these images by 1/2 stop for the darker areas, then brought exposure down by 1/2 stop in post processing and dodged exposure back into the groomsmen's dark skin. This helped a lot with noise.
Conservatively here's how I see the noise levels on the 1DX compared to the 5DII (for example, noise at ISO 4000 on the 1DX looks roughly like noise at ISO 1600 on the 5DII). These comparisons are AFTER noise reduction was applied in LR4 on RAW files.
1DX noise looks more like film grain and cleans up better than 5DII noise. At times I can get ISO 6400 on the 1DX to look like ISO 1600 on the 5DII by overexposing and bringing it back in post processing. The 1DX's noise performance is very impressive.
9/24/2012 Wedding this past Saturday. AF froze twice, once with an 85/1.2II and the second time with the 35/1.4. With the 35/1.4, the bride threw her bouquet and I missed it completely. The only way to get it working again was to turn the camera off twice.
10/3/2012 Two more weddings. Off-center AF points are 1 stop less sensitive than the center AF point. In dim light, they tend to hunt, so I use the center AF exclusively, and then recompose.
10/13/2012 Three more weddings. AF froze twice. It happened very reliably with the 70-200/2.8 IS II, right about the time the bride was coming down the aisle. This is also my slowest lens in low light. It will simply not work on low contrast areas, so I have to aim it dead center at the hairline on their faces. I now rarely use the 70-200/2.8 IS II except in good light due to its AF locking up on the 1DX in addition to it already being a sluggish lens in low light.
There is an issue with AI Servo in low light - it lags the action by 3 seconds. AF will not lock onto people dancing in reception low light unless I go back to one shot mode. No AI Servo until it gets fixed.
Another issue is that about 20% of the time, when pressing the playback button the image flashes for a fraction of a second and then goes away. The only way to get the playback button to work again is to turn the camera off and on or hammer the playback button multiple times. This makes it difficult to show images to the client on the back of the camera.
10/21/2012 Canon released firmware update v1.1.1. This fixed the grayed out AF point for AI Servo , but not for single shot mode, which is what wedding and portrait photographers use. I called Canon CPS and they said that AF on all their new cameras is being grayed out. This has me contemplating switching to another brand. It really slows me down with just slightly darker scenes.
8/8/2013 I had to take it in for its second shutter cleaning at the local camera store in Indianapolis. Oil gets onto the shutter. This cleaning cost me $75 because the tech had to spend extra time getting the oil off. There was a lot of it. Even after this cleaning I can see spots when photographing blue sky.
2/9/2014 Upgraded to firmware 2.03, which fixed AI Servo sluggishness in low light. AI Servo is snappier in low light now and I can use it like I could on my 5DII. The new firmware also improved the image playback locking up issue I was experiencing. It still locks up occasionally, but it is better than it was. I also sent the camera in for a recall that was related to the AF freezing up. Turns out that this issue was specific to a range of production serial numbers that included my camera. This improved things somewhat, but AF still freezes up once in awhile. In the future, I will rent a camera before purchasing it. This is a great camera for sports, but for weddings, I doubt I will get my $6700 worth from it. My 5DII was a much better value for the money.
on February 18, 2013
My first camera was the 7D. I used it originally for recording videos of me playing an arcade game. I eventually started to take photos with the kit lens it comes with and began to fall in love with photography. After a few months of shooting random things, I invested in the Canon 70-200mm 2.8 IS mark ii. I started to shoot sports and began falling in love with sports photography. I then sold my arcade machine to purchase the canon 400mm 2.8 IS mark i. After a year or so, I began to get frustrated with the 7D's limits. I kept getting out of focus/soft focus images non stop. At first I had thought it was a user error, but after taking it to Canon Service THREE times, the issue kept happening. So after months of hard work, I eventually purchased the Canon 1DX and sold my 7D.
Enough story telling though, let me just try to make this as clear as possible for you. This camera, is by far the most amazing thing I have ever held and used in my whole life. I have messed around with the 1D Mark IV and Mark III and the 5D Mark II and Mark III before, but none of these come close to this camera.
I have used this for soccer, football, baseball, softball, tennis, track and field, night shots of city lights, portraits, and more. Is it worth $7,000? Yes.
Why? Because the autofocus system alone blows me away. It is so precise every single time, I can't even believe it. With my 7D for sports I was lucky if I got a sharp image out of a burst sequence. With the 1DX, I am lucky if I get a single image that is out of focus during a burst!
This has a whole autofocus menu dedicated for AI Servo that you can change depending on the scenario you are in, which is VERY helpful for you action//sports photographers out there.
Now if you are debating on this or the 5D Mark III, then I vote on this. The only reason you should get the 5D over this would be if you are shooting weddings and want overall better image quality. However, this camera does have better image quality with higher ISO's, and a lot of weddings have plenty of situations where there is very little lighting.
The best combo would obviously be purchasing both the 5D and 1DX, but we aren't all made of cash. The biggest difference between the two cameras really is the auto focus system. You get way more useable images with this camera against any other camera I listed before.
Perfect Body Design
Superb Image Quality
Amazing Auto Focus System
Very Easy to Get Use To
Long Shutter Life (400,000)
Dual CF Card Slot
Very Good in Low Light
Weight (Heavier Than Normal)
The ISO on this camera is ridiculous too by the way. Ya I am sure you are thinking well who the hell will use 204k ISO? Well not really anyone haha, but people use up to 25k ISO though.
I can't show you the ISO on this sucker, but I can try to compare it to the 7D since I used it so much before owning this.
The 7D ISO was good for what you pay. You can use images that had 6,400 ISO, but you do see the grain at that high of an ISO on the 7D. The 1DX can be used up to 25,000 ISO for usable images.
I shot a concert at 16,800 ISO and I literally couldn't see grain on the subject I shot, just a bit in dark areas. 6,400 ISO on 7D images are like 16,800 ISO on 1DX image basically.
You just really need to either borrow one from a friend, or rent one from borrow lenses to really get what I am trying to explain. Reading this does not do any justice for this amazing piece of equipment. It really doesn't.
If you are really serious about photography and need a camera that is going to last you for a very very long time, give you superb images, can handle very low light situations, and can take a beating, then this is your camera.
Also, I have shot in pouring rain and snow with this along with the 70-200 and 400 2.8's without being covered and both the body and 2 lenses worked just fine without any issues at all.
I purchased this camera, because I needed the fast as hell dead on autofocus system this camera has and I needed top notch image quality for my sports photography side. If you shoot for max preps, then you know how strict they are with image quality! They demand that you also crop as tight as possible, and when you crop images that came from this camera with an L lens, you really can't see a loss in image quality!
My conclusion is this,
Think really hard before making the purchase. If you have a load of cash sitting around and it doesn't effect you to spend that, go for it. If you are tight on money and don't really NEED what this camera has, then either wait it off and keep saving until you are okay, or go for the 5D or even a 1D Mark IV if you need a fast burst for action. If there is any way for you to be able to purchase this camera, then do it.
on August 24, 2012
Although I didn't purchase my 1DX through Amazon, I'm posting this review. My local retailer obtained my camera before it became available on Amazon...regrettable!
I was never really a 'full frame zealot' and liked the 1.3 crop of the Mark IV. Gave me that extra bit of reach when I needed it, but conversely I was sometimes frustrated that I could not get as wide a shot as I wanted because of it. I purchased a 5D Mark III earlier this year since the 1DX was so delayed. I figured I would sell the 5D once the the 1DX came out. Bought the battery grip for it because I really missed the portrait grip and it had the extra joystick I was SO looking forward to on the 1DX. Then I got use to a full frame camera. The bokah on them is really stunning. Never really missed the extra reach losing 30% bought me with the Mark IV. Loved the new autofocus points too. Gave me more places to put my single focus point since I'm not a big focus and recompose guy. I find that technique for many of the apertures I shoot at caused me to lose DOF and as a result out of focus shots.
I also compared the ISO performance of the 5DIII with my Mark IV. Not a lot better on the 5DIII in what I shoot so I was a bit concerned about how much better the 1DX would be when it was released. Remember that I OFTEN shoot at high ISO for live theatrical performances. The average is around 6400-12800. If the scene has 'good' light I'm down around 1600-3200. In that 6400-12800 range the 5DIII was on par with the Mark IV.
The menu layout on the 5DIII is the same as the 1DX so when the 1DX was finally available I was better suited to get into the 1DX right away. What I really appreciated were the new AF menu layouts. Rather than having to go through all of the trial and error of figuring out how to configure AI Servo situations reading through the menu examples really helps me out. I'm not sure how often you use AI Servo, but I use it about for about 20% of my work both in studio and during live performances depending on the subject matter. Dance is one area where I find AI Servo to be very useful. I especially like the expansion point options on the 1DX, Zone expansion that was not available on the Mark IV.
The part that I absolutely HATE about the 1DX focusing versus the Mark IV is the elimination of the constant red illumination of the focus point. Let me explain. On the Mark IV even when you have not depressed the shutter or back focus button the focus points remains illuminated red. On the 1DX (and 5DIII too) unless you have pressed either focus button the focus point remains black. In the heat of the moment (where I am always at!) it's almost impossible to know where your focus point is at the time before pressing the shutter halfway or the back focus button. I have missed several shots because of this. Apparently Canon is working on a 'fix' but it's not as easy as it sounds. Apparently the exposure will change based upon the red illumination points and vary again depending on where that point is in the viewfinder. In my world I would gladly give up a slight change in exposure which can be fixed in Post versus having an out of focus shot. I hope they resolve this since it's my biggest bitch with the camera. (both of them)
I have found that with the 1DX ISO 25600 is VERY usable and about on par with the Mark IV's 12800. 25600 is better than the 5DIII's 12800, so for double the price you get 1 stop better low light performance. I rarely used 25600 on the Mark IV because it was just too noisy for my needs. My personal comparison is the 1DX's 25600 is on par with the Mark IV's 12800. BUT what I like is the ability to move up from 25600 to 51200 in 1/3 stop increments. I have used 32000 with great success when needed. But for me that's just one part of the overall equation.
I have not been able to print very large format images yet from the 1DX. I just finished an assignment up in Seattle and will report my findings once the billboards are printed. I can say this, with the Mark IV my images have been used on five billboard campaigns without any up-sizing through programs like Genuine Fractals or such with great success.
Now this area is VERY hard to explain, quantify, etc. When I was using the 5DIII in both a studio and live performance environment it just felt 'sluggish' to me compared to my Mark IV. Now don't assume I'm talking about the FPS difference as I rarely use that mode since I tend to be a single shooter. Most experienced action shooters including myself will tell you that anticipation and timing is the BEST way to get the 'moment' and although the high frame rate is great, it will never guarantee (and often miss) that defining moment we all strive to capture. No what I'm talking about is the absolute IMMEDIATE reaction from me thinking about pressing the shutter to actually having it 'click.' The 5DIII almost seemed like a point and shoot compared to the Mark IV and the 1DX makes the Mark IV feel sluggish! My best comparison is the feeling of driving a Porsche to a Lexus. There is a sharpness of turn in and handling that Porsche just seems to have down pat in my view. It's almost intuitive really. The 1DX feels like a Porsche Cayman in my hands.
Having that extra joystick in portrait mode is a real godsend. I don't know how many cuss words I've uttered having to span my short thumb across the back to the Mark IV to get to the single joystick. And it's as perfectly positioned as the one in horizontal position. I haven't had time to configure all of the other buttons on the camera, but am looking forward to using those features.
I own and use Canon's 85mm f1.2 II L lens for portraiture, but rarely used it for performance shooting. The reason is it's just too slow to focus quickly enough in low light theatre or dance. BUT the 1DX now drives autofocus on all lenses much quicker than the Mark IV or 5DII. Fast enough that I am now able to use the 85 for certain live performance sessions. Not sure what Canon did, but it's a welcome improvement.
Image quality on the 1DX is superior to the Mark IV in terms of dynamic range and the Mark IV was no slouch! For web work it's impossible for me to tell the difference between the Mark IV, 5DIII or 1DX. BUT in high quality print in large format both the 5DIII and 1DX have such a richness in color and color depth over the Mark IV.
Haven't been on assignment with the 1DX yet, but I am going to assume it's just as if not better weather sealed than my previous 1D bodies. When I've returned from harsh weather sessions in full rain, salt water or severe dust, I routinely held the camera under my sink's faucet to remove mud, dust and salt without ever worrying about moisture getting into the internals. I will do the same with the 1DX when the need arises.
Ethernet and WFT-E6A
I was both happy and sad that the 1DX utilizes dual CF card slots. Sad because I like to shoot wirelessly tethered to my iPad during client studio sessions using Eye Fi cards. No it wasn't the fastest on the Mark IV or 5DIII (the 5DIII is actually faster in transmission because it has a dedicated Eye Fi optimization) but it served me well. What I did love with the 1DX is the gigabit Ethernet connection which I'd use to replace the Eye Fi option for my clients. I was shocked at how fast the transmission from shutter press to the image appearing on my laptop screen transmitted. Less than a second with a 25 foot CAT 6 cable. But the more that I thought about going to a wired tether the more I worried about people tripping over the wire. You see in my studio sessions I have all kinds of folks around from Marketing types to Art Directors, hair and makeup, set people, etc.
So I figured I'd buy the WFT-E6A module and try it out for my session. If it didn't work well I thought I'd just return it and go with the wired option. I tested the performance before I left for the assignment. Keep in mind I'm using the smallest JPG size along with RAW files to my cards. I am only sending the JPGs to the laptop wired or wireless. I was shocked to find that the performance using those parameters was about the same as my wired option using Canon's EOS Utility software. Now for those who like to pixel peep or just 'have to be right' (like an old girlfriend I had to get away from!) I am not sure the actual time difference between wired and wireless transmission, but in human terms it is negligible. My client had started to complain that my camera to iPad to Shuttersnitch through Eye FI was a 'bit slow' during the sessions, so I was hoping he'd like this solution better. He was shocked and very pleased at the immediate performance of the new setup and felt it helped our workflow immensely and made our studio sessions even more efficient. So much for returning the transmitter after the session.....
Which leads me to being irritated with Canon for NOT including a wireless option in a 7K camera! Granted the WFT-E6A is weather proof and very small, but come on $600.00 for a wireless option that's not built in? Geesh. On personal work I missed not being able to wirelessly transmit small JPGs to my iPad like I can with my 5DIII and Mark IV using Eye Fi cards. So I searched several sites and found a way to do so with my new 1DX using the WFT-E6A WITHOUT a router using its Ad Hoc mode. YAY!
That's it for now, more after I have more experience with The Beast!
on March 31, 2014
This is the best digital SLR camera in production right now. We finally have a full frame high frame rate camera that has excellent dynamic range, great resolution, and a compact flash card write buffer and write speed capability that has never been exceeded in my use of this body.
The price of this camera body is higher than the other camera bodies for sale by Canon today. I think the questions I can answer in this review are: 1. How good is this camera in practice? 2. What can it do that other camera bodies can't do? 3. How much better is it than the other professional body offered by Canon, the 5D III, or older 1 series bodies? 4. Is the price justified, is it priced too high, or is the price a deal? I'll answer these questions in this review.
In practice, this camera dominates. I am upgrading from a 5D II and a 1D III. It's substantially better than either of those. The addition of the multi controller for the vertical grip is the best usage improvement. I have used this for fast moving hummingbirds, and professional sports. Ergonomics on this body are winning. The multi controllers make the selection of autofocus points extremely fast, and with the new autofocus system on this camera, you will be selecting specific points all the time now because you have autofocus points all over the viewfinder. I don't focus and recompose nearly as much as I used to. The autofocus system is extremely customizable and you will find a responsive servo mode for just about everything that you will shoot. The metering system also seems to be more accurate. I recently started working in evaluative for the first time in about 5 years and I think I might stick with this for a while instead of spot. The autofocus and metering sensor work together now in full auto servo autofocus mode, and it does track very well. I tested how automated I can go, and I am getting perfectly exposed shots of football and baseball with very little involvement on my part. It's very cool. And even though I don't use it too much, can't complain about 12 FPS. The low light photography ability of this body is also incredible, from an image quality perspective as well as a focusing perspective. I am nailing autofocus with no AF Assist at night on poorly contrasted subjects with only street lamps. I tried the experiment with my 5D II and the 5D would focus on subject matter beyond the test subject where the lighting was brighter. The 1D correctly focused on the less bright closer object. Usable ISO is also mind blowing. I published shots that were taken on a baseball field, without flash, at night, using 12800 ISO and a 1/1000 shutter speed at f/2.8. I couldn't believe I could ever freeze action without flash at night. Minor noise reduction and sharpening required, but it looks perfect for 8 x 10 prints. The response time of the shutter from when you press the button is faster than any other camera I have used as well. It's so fast, I can hardly notice the mirror close off the viewfinder now and it is shocking that it happens RIGHT when the shutter is pressed. It may only be a few shorter milliseconds on a technical sheet, but it is noticeable. A side effect of this is that while in Servo mode, you can more easily follow the action through the viewfinder at 12 FPS between mirror flaps. So useful.
What can this camera do that others can't? The 12 FPS is still the fastest frame rate of any other camera available right now. The autofocus system is shared with the 5D III, but the focus system is the best I have ever used. The metering system is great and accurate in evaluative mode. It's an upgrade from the prior 1D series to 100 zones from 63 zones. Like I mentioned above in the usage paragraph, the metering system is linked with the autofocus system because the metering system uses an additional image sensor that processes color, contrast, and luminescence. It made perfect sense to combine the imaging sensor with the focus processor, and it does allow this camera to track extremely accurately. The usable ISO is up to 12800 in my opinion, but I can grab shots at the maximum 51200 and they aren't bad at all. For smaller prints like an 8 x 10, my opinion is that ISO 51200 is acceptable for sale after noise reduction and sharpening.
How much better is this than the 5D III? It has better weather sealing than the 5D and is built like a tank. You can drop it and it won't even dent. It has a much better metering system, and the linked autofocus system with the metering system makes the 1D X better in Servo Mode. It also comes with the integrated vertical grip, and even though my 5D III has a very solid feeling battery grip, the integrated vertical grip of the 1D means you can really handle the camera by the vertical grip and apply torque while holding it. Additionally, the placement of the multi controller and the CF card slots is improved because there is no separation along the body where the camera body ends and the battery grip begins like on the 5D. The multi controller on the vertical grip is slightly more accessible as a result, and so is the compact flash card door (it appears to be better weather sealed as well.) there is also an additional multi-function button that can be programmed on the 1D X body that the 5D III doesn't have. I will be honest: I really wish the 5D had that extra programmable button, and that the 1D X had a third programmable multi-function button. I love those multifunction buttons - they are extremely useful at customizing the camera for specific applications (ex. Setting multifunction 2 to switch between servo and one shot instantly, setting multifunction 2 to toggle registered autofocus point, setting multifunction 2 to toggle spot metering.)
Improvements over the 1D IV are in the autofocus system, the metering system, and the addition of the vertical grip multi controller.
Finally, is price appropriate? I believe it is. It was a little hard to swallow almost $8,000 to buy this tool, but it really pulls through in terms of utilizing very good technology to it's fullest potential. I am very happy with this body. It can do more than I imagined it would, and I find that having used it for a while, I notice the inadequacy of my old bodies. That's probably the biggest indication of improvements over the prior technology. The autofocus system is first rate, the ISO is jaw dropping, it's very customizable, and it fires off so fast that you really want to keep it in high speed continuous shot mode just to get off a little bit on that machine gun sound. When I use my older equipment now, I have been slightly frustrated with the lack of customization and responsiveness that I am used to on the 1D X.
The bottom line is that this body is above the cut in every metric I can assess a camera with. I have converted one friend who bought a 5D III to upgrade to the 1D X. I'm sure that anyone who tests it for more than a week will strive to do the same.
on November 30, 2012
This will be an ongoing review as I've only had the camera a short while and just getting to know it and strengths and weaknesses- First off let me say the images at high ISOs like 6400,8000,even 10,000 are very very good- I had a canon 7d and anything over 800 ISO would look quite noisy, but with this 1DX the images at high ISO look fantastic. I've taken photos in nearly dark conditions where it was even hard to see the subject- (And when I say 'hard to see the subject' I literally mean that all I could see was a sillouette outline of the subject, and could not make out details and features at all, due to the darkness- situations where I never thoguht it possible to shoot without a flash) and the photos look like they were shot in good light during the day- honest- This camera has opened up evening shots that were out of the question with my 7D due to low light-
Second, let me say that the speed of the shutter is fantastic and sounds just awesome- I shoot birds in flight quite a bit, and getting the right frame during a landing needs at least 8 frames a second sometimes for fast moving ducks and such- this delivers 12 frames a second- more than enough really, but really nice to have just the same. Most of the shots come out in focus thansk to the great focusiing system of the 1DX which just seems to lock on and not let go. I'm experimentign with the different focus choices, but so far using the exanded spot metering with evaluative seems to be working very well. It may miss a few shots here and there, but my goodness, this is blistering off 12 frames a second and nailing almsot all of the shots at this speed? Quite an accomplishement if you ask me.
Third, The weight and feel of this camera are just outstanding. After using it for a week, and then taking up my 7D again, the 7D feels like a toy now- I had liked how the 7D felt before, but now, I really like how the 1DX feels- it just feels solid, rugged, and comfortable in the hands- I also like the portrait shooting with the buttons on the side instead of having to twist like a pretzal to get portrait shots like I do with the 7D (I don't have the battery grip for the 7D). The weight is a little much for some, but I like the extra weight really- I find that I can steady it well, and with a smaller lens, it's very comfortable to use for longer periods of time- but some might find it a bit heavy I suppsoe- I use it with my Sigma 50-500 OS and the combo is quite heavy- and it's not something I'd want to use all day long without many breaks, but for short periods, it's not too bad even with this lens- The camera fits my hand like a glove- it's such a comfortable hold- I thought the canon 7D was a good feel ergonomically, but the 1DX is even better thanks to it's improved ergonomics- and the rubber casing has a great feel to it too- the camera feels secure while holding, and if you couple the camera with a lens like the Bigma 50-500 OS, you'll develop into Arnold Swartzenagger in a little under 6 months top.
Fourth, I love the two card slots- I'm using the Lexar Professional 1000x 32 GB CompactFlash Card 2-Pack LCF32GCTBNA10002 which I find to be very fast, large buffer, and holds lots of photos, especially when shooting jpg's (holds about 2000 large jpg's I believe per card). I saw a video review of a similiar card on Youtube showing the differences between a fast card like this one and the slower cards, and it was quite a difference between the buffer fill time of both cards- The faster card just kept going and going and going while the person held the shutter button down- and the recovery from buffer fill (that period when the camera can't do anything because it's too busy writing to the card) was much much faster with the faster card. I haven't done any tests between this card and my older sandisk 8 gig 32mg/second? (I think that was the speed), but I would imagine that the difference is like night and day- I've not run into buffer fill with this card yet, and I've done a few longish action shots sequences- so far, no problems with the card-
Fifth, This truly is a weather sealed camera- everything locks down tight and securely, sealed well against the elements- unlike the 7D which had kinda flimsy closures for the card and cables areas on the camera- I've already been caught in a bit of a downpour, and I really was less worried about this camera than I would have been with my 7D in those conditions.
I'll be adding more positives soon as I learn them, but for now I have to mention a couple of negatives
First, The camera gives a "Caution 02" warning (if you go to the menu, 4'th sector in the wrench settings, down to 'Status Update Display, then click on info, then info again, you'll find all your camera's warnings- I've gotten 3 warnings about 'unexpected drop in battery power' "Caution 02" warnings- I'm currently in email correspondence with Canon services about the issue- I've spoken with others about the issue, and they have the same warnings in their 1DX's- not sure what's going on here as there is very little info about this warning on the internet that I can find
Second, My camera arrived with a very filthy sensor filter- and the filth is not simply dust it would appear- I was able to dislodge some of the larger dust particles (which actually looked like dust particles when viewing shots of the sky at small apertures like f/22) but there appears to be splatters of something across the whole sensor filter which can not be taken care of with just air cleaning. I've noted on several forums that this appears to be a somewhat common problem with the 1DX? I'm also corresponding with canon about this issue as well- which I';m sure they will want me to 'send it in for inspection' which will mean being without a camera for probably several weeks- yay- I spend nearly $9000 only to have to have it serviced almost immediately? There seems to be something about Canon's new second generation dust removal system that makes the sensor filter less strong and more susceptible to damage if the owner tries to clean sensor filter themselves? Not sure if this is true or not, but it's got me a little worried about attempting a cleaning myself until I learn more- I was almost convinced that cleaning sensors wasn't too big a deal before I got my 1DX, and figured I could simply clean my sensor myself without much problem, but after reading some postings on the issue after researching the dust/filth on 1DX sensor issue, I'm not as confident anymore after learning about this supposed new sensor issue? Someone correct me if I'm wrong please- But back to the actual dust issue- it was pretty disconcerting to see the issue in my sky shots- and after looking it up online, it looks like others are having the same issue with this camera- I've seen photos of other folk's sky photos, and they look exactly like mine- A little actual dust is fine, no big deal, but I'm talking about so much filth that the photos are pretty unusable if they are small aperture and have sky in them
as I said, this will be an ongoing review- I'm no pro, so I don't know all the tech terms and functions and settings yet, so this will be a quite informal review by an average Joe- this is all a learning experience for me too- to shwo that I'm no pro, I used my canon 7d for what? 3 years and never knew about the exposure lock button until just recently- and now that I know about it, I wonder how I got along without it for those 3 years (Manual? What's a manual?)
Quick update- just tried with my Canon 85mm 1.8 and wow- this lens really shines on this camera- the detail was fantastic- showing even the fine hairs on a face from about 10 feet away or so- even at 1.8 the detail was fantastic, aqndf the bokeh was smooth and fantastic looking- the lens was good on the canon 7D too, but it really shiens o nthe 1DX- I'm really likign hte results- I couldn't beleive how much sharper and how much more detail was seen with this lens compared to my 50-500 on the 1DX- I wish I knew how to post photos to show the differences- anyways- the contrast is also quite good too- More review to come Lord Willing
Update Dec 11/12: Still getting the 'Caution 02' warnings- there doesn't seen to be any set reason as to why it's happening- I've spoken with many who are experiencing this issue too- Also, many of us with the 1DX are coming to the conclusion that the dirt is most likely excess lubricant that is splattering around inside the chamber when taking photos. The site "the-digital-picture" . com has an excellent review of the 1DX and talks about the 1DX and the sensor dirt somewhat too- It's just frustrating spending this amount of money, begin excited about getting the camera, then having to send it back in almost immediately- On a cheerier note, I just received my canon 35mm 1.4 lens- tried it on the camera, and wow! What a lens! What a combo! it really shines on the 1DX (and will make a nice 50mm or so equivalent on my canon 7D too). With the 1DX and it's high iso capability, and the 1.4 of the lens, I'm taking shots with very little noise that I could never have dreamed about with my 7D, and am able to shoot much later into the evening outside with available, or lack thereof as the case may be, light. The camera is locking onto subjects that I can barely even see with my eye because it's so dark out, and the focus acquisition seems fairly quick and accurate with the camera lens. I also did a series of tests through the different F stops right up to 22 for sharpness contrast etc, and this is one fine lens and camera combo- photos are very sharp- even down to f/1.4 (which is obviously 'softer' but still much much sharper than any lens I've had to date). I'll be going out today to get some environmental shots and landscape shots to test for sharpness and detail/resolution- I suspect I'll be more than pleased with the results judging from my previous sharpness/contrast test. As I update this review, I will be more specific as to the functions of the camera, IE: Focus strengths/weaknesses, low light capabilities or lack thereof, menu functionality, etc.
UPDATE 10/6/13: Just foudn out that the "Caution 02" was fixed via a firmware update, and also just found out that the filthy sensor is apparentyl due to insufficient lubrication in the mirror box assembly- evidently the 'symptom' is 'specks i nthe upper left corner' (buy my whole sensor is covered in these specks, and has been since day one- only it';s gotten worse over the months)
Also- when I turn camera to portrait orientation, the portrait orientation scroll wheel that changes the aprature sometimes won't work- I have to turn camera to landscape orientation, move that scroll wheel to change aperature, then I can again use the portait orientation scroll wheel and the aperature will now change as needed- This issue cropped up shortly after gettign hte camera- only I thought perhaps I was doign somethign wrong- but now I think it's a problem with the camera- I'm having Canon check it out when I send the brand new camera in for their recall/checkup/repair- yippie-
Feb 18 2014 UPDATE:
Now Apparently The seriel number 8, along with 0-7 (basically the entire lien of 1DX's) is also affected- it seems Canon KNEW abotu htis defective mirror box assembly and yet sold the products anyways- My camera arrived with an absolutely filtyh sensor- splattered with oil and debri- it was so bad the photos were basically useless- no amount of spot healing was enough to fix the large amount of spots- I sent hte camera in, they lubricated it and apaprently that is suppsoed to 'fix' a defective part- yet 4 months after service, the same spots are showign up again due to excessive part wear and tear in the mirror box assembly. I can't beleive Canon hasn't issued a recall to all affected owners of defective 1DX's (of which there are quite a large number from the looks of it) to REPLACE the defective part with one that will NOT cause excessive soiling of the sensor. I'm very upset that Canon KNEW abotu htis problem beforehand and yet sold these cameras with DEFECTIVE parts- NO amount of lubrication is goign to 'fix' a defective part that casues plastic pices to rub against metal parts- at best it will only slow the wear and tear down for a coupel of months until the lubrication begins to wear off again-
For htose that want to know if their camera shows the same crud o nthe sensor, take a photo of clear sky at f/22 - take it into photoshop, increase contrast, and look especially in the corners- upper left and right seems to be the hardest hit spots- although mine was so bad the filth was compeltetly coverign hte whole sensor-
The portrait orientation scroll wheel also didn't work properly fro mthe beginning, and Canon supposedly 'fixed' the issue, but it too is not workign again the way it shoudl be- So far Canon has refused to issue a recal to replace the DEFECTIVE Mirror Box assembly, and basically is just issuing bandais for their top of thel ine model- so basically thsoe of us facing the issues caused by this FAULTY mirro box assembly pretty much got screwed- Very disheartenign hwen the camera cost so much-
UPDATE MARCH 19 2014: My camera, 1 year and 3 months old, has died- Won't turn on any longer- Can't get it to power on- no matter what I try- Tried different genuine Canon batteries, tried reseating batteries, tried taking battery out with the power switch in on position etc etc etc- Nothing- Camera is dead- Come to find out, several folks o n the net are experiencing the same issue- and the camera has to be returned, at MY expense, to replace the PBF board which controls the power from the battery to the camera apparently- So basically the bottom line is- Buy a $7000 camera that has a defective mirror box assembly, has a scroll wheel that doesn't work, corrupts Raw files regularly to the tune of about 20 per 300 raw shots or so- and which will die a year later needed an expensive fix- I sure wouldn't want to have to rely on this camera for important shots- as there's no telling when it's going to just up and die on you-
I'm lowering my rating because this camera has been a nightmare for me- I've only had one major purchase in my life, and it's turned out to be a lemon. It's been a very disappointing experience for me. I'll give it two stars only because the camera works great when it's working- hitting the exposure and focus almost spot on most of the time with great speed- I maybe should give it three stars, but I'm a little upset over the fact that Canon rushed this camera to market and very likely knew it had defective mirror box assembly, and possibly even knew about the power issues/defective PBF boards- and that they won't stand behind their flagship camera by actually replacing the mirror box assembly with one that is NOT defective, (i.e.: won't wear out prematurely due to wear and tear fro m the poor design of the defective box assembly)but I'm giving it a 2 star rating based on MY experiences with this camera- For those who might not be having any of these issues, I'm sure the camera is fantastic- however, that has not been MY experience
on February 13, 2014
Bottom Line, Holy Cow it's $6800, but Holy Cow it's that good. I have been shooting Motorsports for about 4 years now with a 7D as my primary camera. Auto focus speed and accuracy is important to me. Image quality is also important but when your subject is going 100mph getting them in focus is your number 1 priority as great dynamic range means nothing if the photo is blurry.
None the less, I became a CPS (Canon Professional Services) member a year or 2 ago and as part of that program I "evaluated" this Camera. I now own this camera. That could basically be the end of the review, WARNING, if you don't want to part with $6800 then don't try this camera out.
I considered and rented the 1D mk4, and shot with a friends 5D mk3, both great cameras, in the end I still went with this camera. This should also tell you something.
Why you ask? Well, 12FPS (yes there is a noticeable difference from 10) makes getting that perfect shot way easier, and it gives you more usable images. The 61 point AF system and more importantly the sophisticated AI servo tracking is insanely good. The color and overall image quality is on another planet and lastly the 400,000 click rated carbon fiber shutter is great for me since I shoot 8-10k images per event during the summer. This thing is a beast. Feels good in your hand, does everything exactly as it should. It has more features than I care to list but it just is what a pro camera should be.
Then there is the other part, and I'm sure the 5D mk3 is pretty similar for this part. The low light capability. On the 7D I avoided high ISO like the plague. The noise was terrible. Not on the 1Dx, ISO 1600, images are wedding usable, 3200, still great, and when you go up from there I could not believe how well things held together. You literally get grain like in film. Sure your image quality breaks down but you don't get that ugly purple color spec stuff that the older camera's give you. I've shot as high as ISO 25,600 and sure, it's pretty grainy, but the color still looks decent, apply some Noise reduction in post processing and you still have an interesting and somewhat usable image. If you shoot ISO 25,600 and go to black and white I would liken the image quality and grain to something maybe a bit grainier than the old Kodak T-MAX 3200. So sure it's grainy, but it's also using 3x less light to make the same image, which means you have hand held shutter speed in low light situations that make it tough to use auto-focus. Maybe I'm freaking out because this is my first full frame camera, Maybe all you 5D guys are laughing but I am absolutely blown away by what you can do with the ISO on this camera.
To get back to reality what this really means is, ISO1600 or less is fair game for useable images for almost anything. It's hard to put a price on being able to get a shot that other camera's just can't. This is that camera, the combined package of raw processing power, frame rate, Autofocus and low light capability mean you can literally shoot in a whole new way.
My only gripe, and it's a small one, I wish this camera had the dual pixel live view AF like the 70D, and I wish it had built in GPS and wifi so you can use it with the remote app out of the box. Not because I'm dying for these features but because you can get them on the 70D and 6D and this camera is the current flagship. I don't want to pay $600 for a wifi module. That's silly.
on March 21, 2014
I have had this camera for about a year now. It has not failed me. I have specialized in photographing stage shows. This requires rapid fire, bouncing around stage pits, shooting on stages with weird lighting and moving fast. It is a heavy camera. I use a Cotton Carrier hand strap and the Cotton Carrier Camera System (a sort of vest holding my 1DX and my Canon 5 D.) In the past year there was one recall. I sent the camera back to Canon and they said "preventive measures have been applied. Product functions were confirmed." I did not notice any problem but Canon saw a need for preventive intervention. I'm happy they are on top of these things. While expensive, the fact of its sturdy, solid build gives confidence that it will take rough wear. The complexity of the camera is demonstrated by the 2.5 inch thick print out of its manual which has recently been updated due to a firmware update. My one complaint is the lack of wireless ability. It has USB, ethernet & HDMI which I find kludgy in trying to use them. Canon is good at cameras but somewhat late at the technology table. Having said that, I would not trade in my 1Dx for any of the new wizbang cameras. If you're going to shoot where the action is, this is the camera for you.
on July 17, 2013
I've been shooting digital for about 15 years, I've owned both 35mm and medium format digital cameras, plus I've own a digital camera rental boutique in Manhattan, and this one is my favorite.
I'm a pro, which means I make money with my camera, not weddings, not portraits, but commercial advertising, fashion, editorial. I shot a video at 12800 ISO, could not believe that the image had no noise, and I was shooting in very near dark environment.
I read a couple of other reviews about this camera here on Amazon, most had really useful things to say, but the guy that give it one star because it did not come with a lens, is a moran. He saved up 5 years to buy this camera. This camera is only less that a years old, so I'm wondering what he's talking about. Canon never sells it flag ship cameras with lenses, this is the Pro side, not the non-Pro side of the camera world, and this is where gear gets expensive, because they are better. This is not 5D world, this camera is way beyond that, and those that but this camera without knowledge is insane.
Finally the the pros out there, this camera is for you. For the sports shooter working in pro sports, this is amazing, for the commercial fashion catalog shooter, this camera is for you, clean images, and fast, combat photographers, this camera is tough, I know because I dropped mine hard, it looked like hell, but it still shot pictures (thank you Canon CPS, camera looks brand new again). This is the best camera I ever owned, and to you 1 star reviewers, don't buy a Ferrari if you live in a town without paved roads, you'll never enjoy the full experience.
on October 8, 2012
I shoot sports, mostly football. I own the 1Dx and the 1D mark IV. I am shooting at ISO 4000, 3.2f, speed 500 with a 70-200 2.8 L IS II lens. I have shot about 30,000 pictures with the 1Dx since I got it in July.
This is a great camera and I view the bugs as something canon will fix; everything else about the camera is amazing.
This is not a point and shoot camera and will require you to actually read the manual. I believe most photographers bought this camera because it is a must have when shooting in low light. I can shoot at ISO 4000 and get much better pictures than my 1d mark IV at ISO 2000. It allows you to up the speed and f-stop when you are shooting in low light so you get more photos that are keepers.
Having said that it appears to have an Issue in low light with AI Servo on high shutter speed, I have not tested it on lower shutter speeds but I will this weekend. I shoot at the high frame rate and mostly at night, if I shoot in the day I have not seen this issue.
It seems like the autofocus locks up or stops tracking. When the subject is running I will get groups of pictures that are in perfect focus and groups of pictures that are not in focus. At first I thought it was the AI-servo case I was using but I have tried several AI Servo cases it doesn't seem to matter. I shot 2 soccer games during the day with full sun and I did not notice the issue. I went back and reviewed the photos and the focus point is on the subject and it is clearly blurry even on the camera.
The other thing I checked was my distance from the subject; with this lens you have 2 settings 1.2 and 5 meters. I set it on 5 meters and I am never that close.
The other minor issue is the focus points are black, and most sports photographers use spot focus. The challenge is you want to keep the focus point on your subject when they are moving, if it is low light and the focus point is black it makes that very difficult to see were the focus point is. It would be better if they made the focus point red like it was on the 1D mark IV. The red focus point helps you concentrate on shooting the game; it is a common problem to start watching the play and not thinking about the shot.
I am a photographer not a parent with a player.
I am not an expert tester but I am an experienced photographer.
on April 9, 2013
I started out with the Canon 40D, but rapidly felt its limitations, so upgraded to the 7D. My 7D was a camera I loved except for noise, which seemed to be a very weak point. The 1DX feels like it is 2 full stops more sensitive than the 7D, and the high ISOs that on other cameras would make my ears bleed, do not even cause the 1DX to break out in a sweat. If you are a photographer who captures action of any kind, or you absolutely, positively have to get the shot, this is your baby. I havent been in the studio with it yet, but I am guessing its performance there will be about what you would expect in controlled lighting conditions. As for handling and feel, it took me a couple weeks to get used to my 7D, but about an hour to feel completely comfortable with the 1DX. It is a big box, certainly, but the heft and grip just feel right after a short time. Battery life is less than optimal, so count on bringing a second battery to your typical model shoot... you get a little over 1100 pics per fully charged battery pack. All in all, this is a phenomenal camera, and now I have no excuses not to get the most outstanding images.