Canon launch EOS-1D X – A new generation of HDSLR

By Dan Chung

So the wait is over. Canon have today taken the wraps off the first of their long awaited new line of pro DSLRs featuring the newer Digic 5+ processor. The EOS-1D X is a full frame 17.92 megapixel CMOS sensor camera aimed squarely at pro sports photographers, nature photographers and photojournalists. It shoots stills at a blistering 14 frames per second.

More importantly for me, it also promises improved advanced video features. Canon claim that the new camera will have significantly improved video image quality especially in low light. They say it should also reduce false colour and moire patterning, which plague the current Canon DSLRs like the 5D mkII. Also added is a choice of two new compression formats – intraframe (ALL-i ) compression for easier editing and interframe (IPB) compression for superior data compression.

According to Canon the dual DIGIC 5+ image processor is 17x faster than the previous Dual DIGIC 4 processor – this is what I believe allows for the improvements.
The camera has 1080P video at 23.98, 25 and 29.97 fps, 720P at 50 and 59.94 fps and low res 640×480 – why the 60fps mode is limited to 720P rather than 1080P is unclear.
The EOS-1D X also has a file spanning feature in video that automatically creates a new file when the 4GB file limit (due to the FAT file system) is reached. This means an end to the short record times in video mode – you can now go to 29 minutes 59 seconds uninterrupted.
The camera also now uses industry standard SMPTE timecode with Rec Run and Free Run options – a huge help to editors. And there is a gigabit Ethernet port built into the camera, which hopefully can be used to pull video files off a camera in a remote location. If so, this would be a welcome feature for news video shooters at big events.

There is also the addition of manual audio control which is adjustable prior to and during shooting is a huge bonus for news shooters.

What’s still unknown or missing? Well, it’s still not clear what audio functionality the camera has. There do not appear to be any XLR connections, simply the regular 3.5mm minijack connection. From the press release there is also no evidence of headphone monitoring and no information as to whether AF in video mode has been improved. I also want to know if you can magnify the video image while shooting to check focus?
I would like to see at least 4:2:2 chroma subsampled files recorded in this camera but again it is not clear what the camera records. There is also no info as yet on the maximum achievable bit-rate in VBR.
I am also interested to see if this camera can provide a ‘clean’ HDMI output to an external recorder and whether this would be 4:2:0, 4:2:2, or 4:4:4 colour sampling. I would also like to know if the rear LCD screen is disabled when using the HDMI – I’d like to have both at the enabled at the same time.

No sign of XLR sockets or SDI connections on the camera

Another important addition would be proper control of focus using protocols on the USB port. This has been shown to work with the 5D mkII and the Okii controller – hopefully Canon will have this functionality of the EOS-1D X. Also unclear is whether the camera has some sort of video crop/electronic zoom mode of the type in the EOS600D.

How well this camera actually performs in video mode is still to be tested; I hope to get my hands on it soon. The new camera will be available from March 2012, just in time for the London Olympics. Expect the price to be around $6800.

Canon Europe have a short video about the camera here.
Canon’s full press release is here.

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