Canon Launches Stunning New EOS-1D X

The long awaited successor to the EOS-1D Mark IV.  As predicted by many, the new EOS-1DX brings with it a full frame sensor, something which many pros have been asking for and something which Nikon have had for some time in the D3 and D3s.  It had been rumored that the camera would be an amalgamation of the 1D and 1Ds lines.  We can now confirm that the EOS-1Ds Mark III is discontinued.  I guess we might be seeing the EOS 5D MarkIII taking over the reigns more officially as the large megapixel camera in the lineup (when it gets announced that is…..)  This new camera really does seem to be heavily targeted at the sports photography market with features like 12/14 fps shooting and built in Ethernet cable.  Perfect for the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in London 2012.  The previous 5dMKII stole the majority of the 1Ds sales so it makes sense to merge 1d and 1ds now.

Important Specifications

  • Full Frame
  • 18.1MP
  • Dual DIGIC 5+
  • ISO 100-51200 Native
  • iso 102,400 and 204,800 available with H1/H2 iso expansion
  • 100,000 Pixel RGB Metering Sensor
  • EOS iSA (Intelligent Subject Analysis)
  • 61 Point AF
  • DUAL CF Cards slots
  • 21 f/5.6 Cross Type Sensors
  • 20 f/4 Cross Type Sensors
  • 5 f/2.8 Cross Type Senors
  • EOS iTR AF (Intelligent Tracking & Recognition Auto Focus)
  • 12 Frames Per Second
  • 14 Frames Per Second JPG Only
  • 400,000 Shot Rated Sensor
  • Ethernet Connection
  • March Availability, $6,800.00
  • Dual vibrating dust removers
    • MPEG-4 AVC/H.264
    • 1920×1080 30p/25p/24p
    • 1280×720 60p/50p
    • 640×480 30p/25p
    • SMTPE Timecode !!!

Full Frame Sensor

A full frame sensor will delivery greatly improved low light performance over the EOS-1 D Mark IV .  Will it suit everyone ?  Maybe not.  Yes your wide lenses will be wider, but your long lenses will be shorter.  I use a 300mm f2.8 a lot in my line of work.  On a 1dMKIV that’s a 390mm equivalent.  To get the same reach with a 1DX is going to take an upgrade to a 400mm lens which is much more expensive and hugely more cumbersome to carry around.  Something to consider!  I have made a small table to show what I’m talking about.  If you are a long time user of a 1.3x crop camera and you are used to, and happy with the field of view that your lenses provided you it might be time to start changing things up a little bit.  It’s not so relevant in the middle of the scale but at both ends of the spectrum things are going to look different through a full frame camera.  I shoot a lot of motorsports where reach is at a premium, for people who shoot similar things it’s going to be a consideration.

UPDATE: Clearly some of you are scratching your heads saying ‘why not just crop in?’.  Two things, if you are a sports photographer shooting thousands of images a day you DO NOT want to have to perform a crop on all you images. Time consuming! Secondly, for my work at least, I often have to deliver untouched RAW files to the magazine.  I won’t go into details why, but just trust me that it does happen.  So again, in that circumstance I can’t crop in to the image.

It’s also impossible to accurately frame an image if you intend to crop it later.  It might be ok for some things where you just lock the subject in the center of the frame, but actually composing an image before shooting it cannot work if you plan to crop into it later on.

Low light Performance

18MP is a relatively modest size for a full frame sensor these days.  Could this be an end to the megapixel wars ?  Canon’s goal was clearly to go for high iso performance and dynamic range instead and a native ISO of 100-51,200 is mind blowing.  I’ve no doubt that this will be the best performing camera we’ve ever seen in low light conditions.

Dual CF Card slots

Built In Ethernet

Built in Ethernet connectivity is a huge bonus which was no doubt asked for many times by Getty, AP and other such wire services.  When it comes to photo delivery, time is money these days and many large sporting events like the Olympics and recent Rugby World Cup have cables everywhere to instantly transmit the images to a waiting editor in a trailer nearby.  Images can be online with a couple of minutes of being shot but now Canon shooters will have no need for the additional adapters that were previously needed to accomplish this.  This factor alone ought to see agencies scrambling to equip their shooter for the upcoming London Olympics in Summer 2012.

This connectivity will undoubtedly be put to use in many other ways as well.  Events photographers can set up print stations much faster and even downloading photos to your computer via the dual CF card slots will be lightning fast.

User Assignable Buttons

You’ll notice on the front view of the camera that there are four entirely new buttons.  These buttons are totally assignable which is fantastic news.

GPS Unit

Continuous Shooting Speed

The news Canon EOS-1DX delivers an astonishingly fast burst speed of 12 frames per second, or even 14 frames per second in s special JPEG mode in which the shutter remains locked in the up position.  My mind is boggled by this kind of speed, my current 1D Mark IV achieves 10FPS and that seems fast ! Honestly I’m not sure why they needed to go so fast, bragging rights?  The data that will be collected at 12FPS RAW 18MP files will be absolutely insane.  64GB memory cards will be a necessity !!

Redesigned Autofocus System

The sensor includes 21 f/5.6 cross-type sensors, 20 f/4.0 cross-type sensors, and 5 f/2.8 dual cross-type sensors.  This means that the camera offers the same precision at f4.0 as the Mark IV did at f2.8.  It also introduces a new system called EOS iTR AF (Intelligent Tracking and Recognition Auto Focus).  This allows the camera to lock onto a particular color or even a face to aid tracking ability.

Canon EOS 1D X Focus Points


It looks like this camera is not going to be available for quite some time. Canon is saying the tail end of March 2012! Why would they announce it so far ahead of time ?  I’m not sure, perhaps they are preempting a Nikon announcement which they know to be coming soon.  There’s also the possibility that they wanted to get the jump on all the rumor websites.  Whilst many of them have been reporting suspected information for some time, nobody really got a handle on anything solid or any photos of the camera.  The risk of that happening would sure increase exponentially as you get close to the launch or production date so it’s possible they just wanted to beat them to it.

GPS Finally Comes to Canon

With the launch of the new GP-E1 Accessory Canon shooter finally have a way to embed GPS data right into the metadata of the images while being shot, something which Nikon shooters have been able to do for some time now.  The GP-E1 fits into the slot on the side of the camera which means you are still free to use the hotshoe which is great!  With built in Ethernet now, instead of using the previous plug in accessory, you’ll be able to stay cabled to the network AND use the GP-E1.


Video Mode

This should be the new king of the castle when it comes to DSLR video.  Since the introduction of the 5dMKII many film makers preferred to use it over the 1d Mark IV because of the full frame sensor.  Now they finally have the pro build quality of a 1-series camera and the beautiful depth of field afforded by a full frame sensor.  Canon makes special mention that development has gone into the video function to address moire and artifacting,  something which has always been problematic in the pixel binning processes used to downsize a large sensor like this 18MP one into an image only 1920×1080.

On top of this , and this the camera will now use the industry standard SMTPE timecode!! This is huge news for people shooting multi camera productions!

Still the development is somewhat disappointing in the area as they still do not offer 50/60p in full 1080p resolution.  I must admit, with all the on board power of dual DIGIC 5 , why not ?

Full Press Release

LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y., October 18, 2011 – Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging, is proud to introduce a completely revolutionized EOS-1D series camera, the Canon EOS-1D X Digital SLR camera.* As the new leader in Canon’s arsenal of professional DSLRs, the EOS-1D X will be a high-speed multimedia juggernaut replacing both the EOS-1Ds Mark III and EOS-1D Mark IV models in Canon’s lineup. Enhancing the revolutionary image quality of the EOS-1Ds and speed capabilities of the EOS-1D series, the EOS-1D X DSLR features an 18-megapixel full-frame Canon CMOS sensor, Dual DIGIC 5+ Imaging Processors, 14-bit A/D data conversion and capable of shooting an incredible 12 frames-per-second (fps).  Canon’s EOS DSLR cameras and accessories have a long-standing legacy of providing high-quality results to professionals in a wide range of markets, including sports, nature, cinematography, wedding and commercial studios. The addition of this new model will help take this tradition to a whole new level.

The EOS-1D X announcement comes on the heels of Canon’s recent manufacturing milestone with the production of the Company’s 50-millionth EOS-series SLR camera in September of 2011. Furthermore, Canon will achieve yet another milestone at the end of this month producing the 70-millionth EF lens.

“The EOS-1D X represents the re-invention of the EOS-1Ds and EOS-1D series, combining new proprietary Canon technologies with the culmination of customer feedback and requests from the field. We are proud to introduce this camera to the worldwide community of professional photographers and cinematographers with the features and capabilities they need to capture the great moments that display their talent,” stated Yuichi Ishizuka, executive vice president and general manager, Imaging Technologies and Communications Group, Canon U.S.A.

The Camera With Three Brains

The EOS-1D X features three DIGIC processors, including Dual DIGIC 5+ image processors capable of delivering approximately 17 times more processing speed than DIGIC 4, and a dedicated DIGIC 4 for metering and AF control. In conjunction with the newly developed high-performance 18-megapixel full-frame Canon CMOS image sensor, the Dual DIGIC 5+ processors provide high-speed continuous shooting, lower noise, and a significant increase in data processing speed than previous EOS-1D models. This new level of data processing speed allows the EOS-1D X to perform many functions including chromatic aberration correction for various Canon EF lenses in-camera instead of through post-production software. The DIGIC 4 processor utilizes a new 100,000-pixel RGB Metering Sensor for enhanced exposure accuracy with color and face detection, and works together with the camera’s new EOS iTR (Intelligent Tracking and Recognition) AF.

The EOS-1D X employs a completely new imaging sensor, producing the lowest noise of any EOS digital camera to date for stunning portraiture and studio work.  The new 18-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor utilizes large pixels – 1.25 microns larger than those in the EOS-1D Mark IV sensor and .55 microns larger than those in the EOS 5D Mark II sensor  – together with gapless microlenses to achieve enhanced light gathering efficiency, higher sensitivity and less noise at the pixel level.  The new sensor has improved on the already very high signal-to-noise ratio of sensor output of earlier EOS models for outstanding image quality, even in extremely low light.  When combined with the Dual DIGIC 5+ imaging processors the results are stunning.  The images produced with the EOS-1D X camera’s new sensor are so clean that files can easily be up-sized if necessary for even the most demanding high-resolution commercial applications. The EOS-1D X will also feature new Ultrasonic Wave Motion Cleaning (UWMC), Canon’s second generation self-cleaning sensor unit, which utilizes carrier wave technology to remove smaller dust particles from the sensor and it includes a new fluorine coating on the infrared absorption glass to help repel dust.

The low-light capability of the EOS-1D X is evident in its incredible ISO range and ability to photograph in extremely low-light conditions. Adjustable from ISO 100 to 51,200 within its standard range, the new model offers a low ISO 50 setting for studio and landscape photography and two high settings of 102,400 at H1 and 204,800 at H2, ideal for law enforcement, government or forensic field applications.

New 61-Point High Density Reticular AF

The EOS-1D X includes a brand new 61-Point High Density Reticular AF, the most sophisticated DSLR AF system Canon has ever released.  The 21 focusing points in the central area are standard precision cross-type and effective with maximum apertures as small as f/5.6, depending on the lens in use. The center five points are also high-precision diagonal cross-type points for maximum apertures as small as f/2.8.  All 61 points are sensitive to horizontal contrast with maximum apertures as small as f/5.6 and 20 of the outer focusing points function as cross-type points with maximum apertures as small as f/4.0. Other innovations of the new 61-point High Density Reticular AF include expanded AF coverage area, superior focusing precision and low light sensitivity, and greater low-contrast subject detection capability compared to earlier EOS AF systems. (See image below for AF point configuration)

All AF functions now have their own menu tab for quick and easy access (formerly AF custom functions in previous EOS models).  A new AF Configuration Tool allows for customized setting of tracking sensitivity, the acceleration and deceleration of tracking subjects, and AF point auto switching, all of which are easily accessed and adjusted via the new AF menu tab. A built-in Feature Guide advises photographers on which settings to use according to subject matter.

Similar to the AF point selection options offered in the EOS 7D Digital SLR camera, the EOS-1D X offers six AF point selection modes: Spot, Single Point, Single Point with surrounding four points, Single Point with surrounding eight points, Zone selection and Automatic AF point selection. (See image below AF point selection options.)

EOS iTR AF: Intelligent Tracking and Recognition Enhances AF Performance

The Canon EOS-1D X features incredible new EOS iTR (Intelligent Tracking and Recognition) AF options ideal for wedding and event photography as well as sports and photojournalism. The default AF mode for the EOS-1D X uses phase detection AF information, while a new second option uses Face Detection technology to track recognized faces in addition to color information, ideal when shooting events such as tennis or dancing where facial recognition of the original subject will help keep that person in focus throughout the scene.

Exposure Control

For the first time in a Canon DSLR camera, a DIGIC processor is used exclusively with the metering sensor for fast, accurate exposure control. The Canon DIGIC 4 processor takes advantage of the EOS-1D X’s 100,000-pixel RGB Metering Sensor and utilizes 252 zones for general metering or 35 zones for low-light metering to help ensure accurate evaluative ambient or flash exposure.  The new subject recognition capabilities enhance nearly all of the camera’s automatic functions, helping to adjust exposure, autofocus, Auto Lighting Optimizer and Automatic Picture Style to the scene being captured for enhanced image quality.

Multiple Exposure Modes

The EOS-1D X is the first EOS Digital SLR to feature Multiple Exposure capability. The camera can combine up to nine individual images into a single composite image, with no need for post-processing in a computer. Four different compositing methods are provided for maximum creative control, including Additive, Average, Bright and Dark. Compositing results can be viewed in real time on the camera’s LCD monitor, and there is a one-step Undo command that allows photographers to delete an image and try again if desired. The EOS-1D X’s Multiple Exposure mode even allows photographers to specify a previously captured RAW image as the starting point for a new Multiple Exposure composite image.

Super High Speed Mode

The Canon EOS-1D X camera breaks new ground in the world of digital SLRs, offering a Super High Speed Mode which increases shooting speeds up to 14 fps at full 18-megapixel resolution in JPEG mode[i]. The new camera is also capable of shooting RAW, JPEG, or RAW+JPEG at speeds up to 12 fps in One Shot AF or AI Servo AF for enhanced performance in sports photography and other applications requiring high-speed digital capture. This new level of performance is made possible by the combination of the EOS-1D X’s 16-channel readout CMOS sensor, Dual DIGIC 5+ image processors, and a completely new reflex mirror mechanism that has been engineered by Canon to combine high-performance with exceptional precision and reliability.

Enhanced EOS HD Video – New Compressions, Longer Recording

Centered around an all-new full-frame CMOS sensor with larger pixels than those found on the EOS 5D Mark II image sensor, the EOS-1D X utilizes new HD video formats to simplify and speed up post-production work.  The two new compression formats offered on the EOS-1D X include intraframe (ALL-i ) compression for an editing-friendly format and interframe (IPB) compression for superior data compression, giving professionals the options they need for their ideal workflow. Answering the requests of cinematographers and filmmakers, the EOS-1D X includes two methods of SMPTE-compliant timecode embedding, Rec Run and Free Run, allowing multiple cameras or separate sound recording to be synced together in post production.

Canon’s all new full-frame CMOS sensor ensures that video footage captured on the EOS-1D X will exhibit less moiré than any previous Canon model, resulting in a significant improvement in HD video quality. A desired feature for many documentary filmmakers using Canon DSLRs was to enable recording beyond the four gigabyte (GB) file capacity and the EOS-1D X is the answer. The new camera features automatic splitting of movie files when a single file exceeds 4GB.  The new file splitting function allows for continuous video recording up to 29 minutes and 59 seconds across multiple 4GB files; no frames are dropped and the multiple files can be seamlessly connected in post production, providing filmmakers the recording time they want in the same convenient DSLR form factor. The camera records Full HD at 1920 x 1080 in selectable frame rates of 24p (23.976), 25p, or 30p (29.97); and 720p HD or SD video recording at either 50p or 60p (59.94). SD video can be recorded in either NTSC or PAL standards.

The Canon EOS-1D X also includes manual audio level control, adjustable both before and during movie recording, an automatic setting, or it can be turned off entirely. A wind filter is also included. Sound can be recorded either through the internal monaural microphone or via an optional external microphone through the stereo mic input.

Enhanced Ergonomics & Optimized Design

Photographers familiar with Canon’s EOS 1D-series of cameras will notice the control configuration of the EOS-1D X takes a different approach to button placement.  The re-designed exterior and ergonomic button configuration feels comfortable in your right hand, allowing seamless navigation through menu options.

The Live View Button has been conveniently placed near the user’s thumb for one-touch switching between Live View and Viewfinder shooting. The Quick Control Button and menu navigation controls will allow users to change camera settings using only their right hand, for fast, simple one-handed control using their thumb on the scroll wheel. The new multi-controller is positioned by the right hand thumb when the camera is held for vertical shooting and enables the same level of control to camera operators when shooting vertically as they have when shooting horizontally.  On the front of the camera are four user assignable function buttons, two for vertical shooting and two for horizontal shooting, allowing customizable button control when shooting in either position.  The camera also features a level of weather resistance equivalent to earlier professional models such as the EOS-1D Mark IV.

Canon has answered the request of many professional EOS photographers and incorporated Dual Card Slots into the new EOS-1D X DSLR camera. The dual CF card slots will allow photographers to carry only one memory card format and still achieve instant image back-ups and enhanced storage capacity.

This camera also features a new shutter design with even greater durability and precision. Rated to 400,000 cycles, the new carbon fiber shutter blades are more lightweight and durable, allowing the EOS-1D X to achieve over 100,000 cycles more than the shutter of the EOS-1D Mark IV.  A new shutter motion and new motor help further reduce vibration in the camera. The EOS-1D X also features an electronic first curtain, new to the EOS-1D series DSLRs, for minimal in-camera vibration during image capture.


For professional photographers who prefer a wired workflow and transfer system, Canon has included a built-in LAN connection in the EOS-1D X DSLR. The built-in LAN connection features a gigabit Ethernet Jack capable of 1000BASE-T transmission speeds, offering photographers a stable wired connection for ultra-fast data transmission.  If the network were to go down, the camera will attempt to resend images until the files are sent.  The EOS-1D X also features a direct image transfer function whereby images can be selected for transfer, and only sent once a LAN or USB connection is established.


Designed exclusively for the EOS-1D X, the new Canon WFT-E6A Wireless File Transmitter* features wireless LAN support for 802.11n network transfer rates providing users with increased communication speed when compared to previous models.  With this new dust and weather resistant model, professionals can synchronize clocks on multiple cameras and use the unit to support linked shooting when utilizing multiple cameras.  In addition, Bluetooth-compatible equipment can be easily linked to the device as well.

The EOS-1D X also offers an optional Canon GP-E1 GPS Receiver*, which can be easily integrated into the camera’s body.  Powered by the camera, this GPS receiver provides the same weatherproof resistance as the EOS-1D X, even at the connector. With an electronic compass on-board, the GP-E1 will log movement – latitude, longitude, elevation, and the Universal Time Code – and allow viewing of camera movement on a PC after shooting.  The receiver will also record camera direction when shooting, even when shooting vertically.

Pricing and Availability

The Canon EOS-1D X Digital SLR camera is scheduled for March 2012 availability and will be sold in a body-only configuration at an estimated retail price of $6,800.00. The compact, lightweight WFT-E6A Wireless File Transmitter is scheduled to be available in March 2012 and have an estimated retail price of $600. Availability for the GP-E1 GPS receiver is expected in April 2012 with an estimated retail price of $300.

**Super High Speed Continuous shooting at 14 fps requires mirror lock and JPEG mode at ISO speeds less than 32000.

Photo of author

Dan Carr

Founder of Shutter Muse, full time photographer and creative educator. Dan lives in the Canadian Yukon, but his wanderlust often sends him in search of images all around the world to meet the needs of clients and readers alike.

Featured Posts

The Best All-In-One Tripod Head for Landscapes and Wildlife