The long-awaited flagship DSLR arrives just in time for the 2012 Olympic games. In our Canon EOS 1D X review we put the Canon EOS 1DX through its paces to see if it is an award-winning contender.
AF, LCD and viewfinder
The autofocus system is without doubt the most fascinating part of this camera. The large amount of customisation available allows the user to tailor the camera to their own needs, and should you want to get an overview of just what is possible, try flicking through the 47-page EOS-1D X autofocus guide available in PDF at http://cpn.canon-europe.com/content/news/eos_1d_x_af_settings_guidebook.do.
The 61-point AF system includes four different types of sensors: 20 standard (horizontal) f/5.6 sensors, 20 cross-type (f/4 vertical, f/5.6 horizontal), 16 f/5.6 cross-type (both horizontal and vertical) and five dual cross-type (f/2.8 cross and f/5.6 cross-types). The points available vary depending on the lens being used, with the sensitivity broadly representing the maximum aperture that must be available from the lens.
For instance, to use all 61 points in their full capacity requires an f/2.8 lens or faster, while even some f/2.8 lenses are unable to use all the dual cross-type points fully, including the 24-70mm f/2.8L. Lenses with smaller maximum apertures such as the 17-40mm f/4L are still able to use all 61 points, but the dual cross-type units will only function as single cross-types at f/5.6.
Canon only lists a few select lenses that are able to use fewer than the 61 points, such as the 800mm f/5.6L IS USM (47 points) and the 180mm f/3.5L Macro (33 points). While most systems will support AF up to f/8, any lenses with apertures smaller than f/5.6 will not be supported by the 1D X. This will only really affect the use of superzoom or non-constant aperture lenses with a 2x converter, neither of which is likely to be used with such a high-grade camera.
I tested the camera with the 50mm f/1.2L, 16-35mm f/2.8L, 24-70mm f/2.8L, 400mm f/2.8L and 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses and found the focusing extremely impressive. Single focus locks on effortlessly even in low light, and is claimed to work down to -2EV, or the equivalent of moonlight.
The servo mode, for continuous focusing, opens up all the tracking options, although how to engage the multi-point tracking is not obvious. The focus point select button must be pressed and the M.Fn button used to cycle through the focus modes. This is handy when shooting, but it would have been nice to have as an option in the menu as well. The tracking options are impressive and even with the default settings the 1D X locked on to the main subject with ease and held focus as it moved around the frame. When the tracking is used with a smaller-aperture lens, such as with the 70-200mm f/2.8 plus 2x teleconverter (giving an f/5.6 aperture), the tracking is less effective but still successful.
LCD, viewfinder and video
The LCD monitor is a large 3.2in unit with a 1.04-million-pixel resolution. This makes reviewing images very easy, and the zoom functionality allows enough magnification to really pixel-peep and fully assess the focusing. Some have questioned the lack of a vari-angle bracket, but due to the size of the screen and its extensive viewing angle, it isn’t really missed for still shooting and the required hinge bracket could cause issues for the water and dust sealing.
The viewfinder provides full 100% coverage and a large 0.76x magnification, equal to those on the 1D Mark IV and 1Ds Mark III, remains clean and clear with simple shooting information in green LEDs below and to the right of the frame. The viewfinder projects the grid and AF points onto the screen, allowing the user to choose how much or little is displayed.
Video functionality has also been expanded on the 1D X, recognising the importance of video for many professional shooters. Full HD (1080p) video can be recorded at 30/25/24fps for PAL and NTSC varieties (50/60fps at 720p). The 1D X circumvents the 4GB limit for video clips by automatically starting a new file when the limit is reached. This means that constant recording up to 29.59mins is now possible, although it is saved in 12min sections to be spliced seamlessly together. For serious videography there are timecode options and a 3.5mm external mic input. It lacks the audio monitor jack of the 5D Mark III and the clean HDMI output of the Nikon D4, but videographers will probably opt for the dedicated EOS-1D C version of the camera.