Canon EOS-1D X overview

The Canon EOS-1D X is the latest in the company's professional range of DSLRs. Its job is to replace both the sports-orientated 1D series and the high-resolution, studio-focused 1DS range of cameras. As is usual for upgrades in this class of camera, the changes are incremental and subtle but aim to raise the bar of what is possible.

The biggest specification change to the 1D X is its new sensor - an 18MP full-frame CMOS chip capable of shooting at 12 frames per second. This represents a big change over the 1D Mk IV (it represents a move away from the smaller APS-H format that Canon has previously used in its sports cameras), and a decrease in pixel count compared to the 1DS series. However, as Rick Berk, Technical Specialist in Canon USA's Pro Engineering and Solutions Division says: 'there's more to image quality than just resolution.'

The move from APS-H up to full-frame is enabled by a sensor with faster data readout explains Chuck Westfall, Technical Advisor in Canon USA's Pro Engineering and Solutions Division: 'The new sensor has 16-channel, dual line readout, compared to 8-channel, single line designs in the previous generation of chips.' This lets the company offer a large sensor (and the low-light capability that brings) for 1DS users, with the fast capture speeds that current 1D Mk IV users need. 'It's clear the time has come for the 1DX to replace the whole 1D series,' says Westfall.

Under the skin, the big change is the more sophisticated metering sensor. A move from the 1D Mk IV's sensor to a new 100,000 pixel unit affords the camera a much better understanding of the scene and this information is fed into the camera's autofocus system to improve the quality of its AF tracking. This isn't a new idea (Nikon's sports cameras have done something similar for several generations), but it's a sensible way of improving what's already an impressive system.

Autofocus changes

The other big change to autofocus is simpler configuration. The 1D X does away with the complex inter-related network of custom settings that defined AF behavior in previous models, instead offering six presets for different shooting situations (see table below). Each of these can be adjusted for 'Tracking sensitivity' (which defines how doggedly the camera attempts to stick with the originally chosen target or whether it will re-focus on nearer subjects if they cross in front of the target), 'Acceleration/Deceleration tracking' and AF point auto selection (how readily the camera should move off the selected AF point).

Westfall acknowledges the complexity of the previous systems could prevent users getting the most out of previous cameras: 'A common response to the 1D III and 1D IV was that people loved the idea of a high spec AF system but they wanted an easier way of get the most out of it. The improvements from the 1D III to the 1D IV were substantial but also incremental - to make a bigger step forward this time we needed to start from scratch.'

Canon EOS-1D X AF mode presets, defined by subject behavior:
1. Versatile multi purpose 4. Subjects that accelerate or decelerate quickly
2. Continue shooting, ignore obstructions 5. Erratic Subject Movement
3. Instantly refocus suddenly with obstructions 6. Subjects that change speed and move erratically

In addition to making the system more accessible, the 1D X has the first entirely new AF arrangement since the launch of the (film-era) EOS 3 in 1998. The new 61-point AF sensor has 21 cross type AF points at the center, which are sensitive enough to be used with lenses with maximum apertures as slow as F5.6. The central five of those points also have diagonal AF elements that are active with F2.8-and-faster lenses. All other AF points are sensitive to horizontal detail with lenses faster than F5.6, while 20 of these (in two flanks towards the outer edges of the sensor), act as cross-type points with F4 maximum aperture lenses or faster.

As with the EOS 7D, the AF point selection can be narrowed-down to a series of sub-sets of local AF points. It's also possible to adjust what factors are considered during AF tracking: AF info only, AF and color information or AF and face detection information.

Getting a sense for the sensor

When asked to for the biggest improvement in the new camera, Westfall stresses that every aspect of the camera has been re-assessed but finally concludes: 'If you had to highlight just one thing, I'd say the sensor. It's a new level for us in terms of image quality.'

'There's a couple of things that we consider when we think about IQ: number one on this sensor is noise. It's clear the noise level is better than in the 1D Mk IV or the 1DS III. The pixel size is larger than in the 1DS III or 5D Mark II (6.95 microns, versus 6.4) and the difference is even more striking compared to the 5.7 micron pixels in the 1D Mark IV. That helps us in terms of light capturing ability and increases the signal to noise ratio. In turn, that does nothing but help the dynamic range of the camera.'

And its this improvement in image quality that Westfall believes will make the 1D X appeal to 1DS as well as 1D users. 'I think the factor that's going to make that a reality is the noise level is better than anything we've seen before. With cleaner images, people are going to feel much more comfortable up-rezing an image. Not many people need a 21MP file to begin with, so they're going to love the IQ of this camera and the quality's good enough that those people who do need those huge files will find the images clean enough to use them.'

Changes to the body

The body of the 1D X closely resembles previous 1D cameras, but close examination reveals a series of changes. The most significant is perhaps the addition of a second joystick on the rear of the camera, to ensure all functions remain available when using the portrait orientation grip. The camera also features twin buttons next to the lens, in either orientation. These are customizable, allowing you to access features such as the electronic level gauge or jump to registered AF point.

Beyond this, the camera gains a direct live view button, a 'Q' button to jump to the 'Quick' function menu, and has had its flash exposure lock button re-dedicated as a customizable function button.

Processing power

As you'd expect, the camera's processing has received a considerable refresh, Westfall explains: 'You've got dual Digic 5+ processors, which our engineers are telling us are 17x faster than the Digic 4s used in the existing models.' In addition, the metering sensor, given its added complexity and the need to interpret its output to feed into the AF system, gets its own Digic 4 processor.

This processing power allows the camera to conduct a wider range of lens corrections. In addition to the vignetting correction that could be conducted by the 1D Mark IV, lens profiles can be uploaded using EOS utility and the camera will correct for geometric distortion and chromatic aberration (both lateral and axial) in real-time. These corrections are all optional and can be engaged separately.

Another benefit of more processing power, combined with an improved sensor is an expansion of ISO range, says Westfall: 'The ISO range on this camera, just the standard range, goes from 12,800 on the 1D Mark IV and 1600 on the 1DS Mark III, up to 51,200. And this can be expanded up to 204,800 - that's going to be an enabler of all sorts of new possibilities for a lot of people.'

The final processing option is the ability to shoot multiple exposure images. Four combination methods are available, which can be used to create composite images either from consecutive shots or from an existing Raw file and an additional exposure.

All about speed

The faster sensor and greater processing power are combined with a new carbon fibre shutter and revised mirror mechanism to allow 12 frame per second continuous shooting. The camera can shoot at 14fps if you're happy to lock the mirror up (and hence lock focus), and capture only JPEG images. The shutter has a rated lifespan of 400,000 cycles (a 30% improvement on before, despite the additional demands of the faster continuous shooting). The company also says it should be more accurate at high shutter speeds. It also offers an X-sync speed up to 1/250th of a second.

At first, the move from 10 to 12 frames per second doesn't sound terribly impressive - until you remember that the camera is now based around a larger sensor, so there's a much bigger mirror to move. Westfall is keen to stress this: 'The high-speed rate is greatly improved. Our full-frame cameras up until now have only been able to offer up to five frames per second, whereas this can shoot at 12fps, or 14 if you're willing to shoot JPEG. The 1D X means you can have full-frame quality and high speed.'

The EOS-1D X gains twin customizable buttons next to its lens mount - one set for each orientation

In the frame to be flagship

Of course it's no longer enough for a camera at this level to just be able to shoot stills, and the EOS-1D X is Canon's most capable movie shooter yet. Although the headline spec (1080p at 30, 25 or 24 frames per second), isn't exactly groundbreaking, it's clear that Canon has had movie shooters in mind.

The 1D X offers two compression options, including 'All-I,' a very low compression format that offers high image quality and editability but at the cost of immense files (a 16Gb card will hold around 6 minutes of footage). The alternative is a more standard IPB compression that takes up around 1/12th of the space. To prevent these large files limiting the camera, the 1D X is the first Canon to be able to split a single piece of footage into multiple files, overcoming the 4Gb limit of the card file system, and allowing videos of up to 29 minutes, 59 seconds to be recorded.

In addition the camera can keep track of how long it has been recording, using standard timecoding methods. There's also greater-than-ever control over the microphone input volume, with 64 manually selectable levels, auto and a wind-cut filter. It's also possible to mute sound recording while shooting.

Westfall believes the 1D X has the features that pro shooters will want: 'I think people are looking for a balance between cost and performance - the cameras offering 60P at the kind of bit rates that we can offer tend to be in a higher price bracket. And we can offer 720p at 60 frames per second,' he says.

'People we're dealing with are tending towards using 24 - to match the filmic look. There are cameras offering 60P in the consumer market but they haven't got the bit rate we're offereing. Many of them are limited to less than 30mbps while we're bumping up against 50. This is a clear difference - we think this product keeps moving the ball forward. With this product the focus was improving the compression. The other thing people were requesting was the ability to shoot longer clips and on this model we can shoot for up to nearly 30 minutes.'

'Within this range of products we offer, this is going to assume the flagship postition,' he says: 'It will be the most desirable product for people wanting movie shooting in a DSLR.'

Any other business

Beyond the big changes is a move to twin CF cards. As before these can either be set to duplicate images onto both cards or overflow from one to the next. You don't have the option of separately storing movies and stills, however. The upgrades to the camera also extend to a revised dust-reduction system for the sensor. The wave-motion of the shake system is being called 2nd generation dust prevention by Canon.

Another change to the 1D X's storage is the addition of an Ethernet 1000 Base-T network port. This allows faster transfer speeds and the use of longer cables (the limit is 100m, rather than around 3.5m for USB).

The final significant change is another gain from the EOS 7D - an electronic overlay on the viewfinder, allowing AF points and the level gauge to be shown in the viewfinder. Other than that, the camera retains essentially the same viewfinder specs as the 1DS Mark III - a huge 0.76x, 100% coverage pentaprism that 1DS users will be familiar with and 1D series owners will really appreciate after years of using cropped APS-H finders.


Total comments: 363
By l_d_allan (3 weeks ago)

At least, include NR values in the comparison widget (if you have them).

These NR values are available for the non-reviewed Nikon D4, which is helpful as a point of reference for a flagship DSLR.

Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (2 months ago)

the new Nikon D4s is unable to beat the 1DX.

shows what a great camera canon has produced years ago.

Jose A. Pacheco
By Jose A. Pacheco (3 months ago)

After more than two years of releasing this overview, I guess that Canon will release the 1D X Mark II before we see the full review of the 1D X here.

By burnaby (3 months ago)

Nobody will need to read a review before they buy a Ferrari!

By plevyadophy (4 weeks ago)


Well, they would need to read a review if that Farrari is anything like the Canon 1D Mark III with it's infamous autofocus flaws.

By JoeAmateur (3 days ago)

Anyone whose read a review by a site that cares enough to write one knows what an incredible focusing machine the 1D-X is, Plevy.

By 1300studios (7 months ago)

Very informative and non-bias review, I have read many others on different sites and found this one to be quite good in comparison. Thank you
1300 studios

1 upvote
By Iskra (8 months ago)

It's a pity you gave up on your users.
It's one thing that you don't have enough competence to properly review any pro-bodies from Nikon and Canon, and have to do quick previews based on those few minutes before the big guys come and rip the good gear out of your hands and directs you over to the point-and-shoots.

The really bad and ugly thing is that you totally ignore serious users, and think that the problem with demanding users will go away if you just ignore us. Here's a clue for you: It's not the problem that goes away, it's goodwill, your reputation and your users that goes away.
You probably don't care...

If you think this little comment was full of sarcasm, then you're totally right.

By Alexloyola (9 months ago)

talk about The pixel size, especially when compared with the nikon d4.

Carlos C
By Carlos C (9 months ago)

Where is the review?

By jeffreyf (9 months ago)

I'm a long term reader of DPreview but the delay reviewing the 1Dx is baffling. It reminds me of the time it took to release a review of the 1D Mark IV.

This is a flagship camera and it gets treated like an outlier. What gives?

By SundanceXY (10 months ago)

it would be nice if you could at least let us know if a full review of this camera is planned before 2015... 385 comments and most of these are just people asking about the full review yet you rather review cheap point & shoots which will be irrelevant within a few months while this camera is revolutionary and likely to be state of the art for the next few years.

By CG2013 (10 months ago)

why no review?!

Jim 123
By Jim 123 (11 months ago)

I kindly request your review of this camera.

By thomas2279f (11 months ago)

Hey Dp....

Where is the review of this camera and the D4 ?

By Allioth (11 months ago)

As with many other cameras, I think we'll never see the review...
I remember waiting for the Samsung NX20 review for months before giving up and looking in another website... I know, completely different camera, but same outcome :(
I think the guy who got the D1X to review it ran away with it! :D

By SimonDN (11 months ago)

Agreed with all the comments about delay.
Perhaps website typo: should be DPPreview.

Maybe a payoff by Nikon? Maybe a payoff by Canon?

whatever, 15months delay in a review - once the staple ofthe website - is just silly. not like the old days. Sigh!

1 upvote
Peet van den Berg
By Peet van den Berg (Apr 29, 2013)

Dear Mr Butler - quick question. Are you still going to REVIEW this camera? At all? Ever? Please respond at your convenience.

By tar4heel2 (Apr 20, 2013)

WHERE is the full review???

1 upvote
By nwardrip (Apr 17, 2013)

Please review, or at least give us the standard studio samples!

1 upvote
By KAllen (Apr 16, 2013)

My review. No idea what/how dxo rate this camera, more to the point I don't care.
It's the best digital camera I've owned. It would be difficult to think of a task this camera would not excel at. Noise at high iso is very good, I've used it at 12800iso, opened it in Aperture and never thought it needed any other treatment. The buffer is huge, I've never hit the stops yet.
Handling is good, focus accurate and reliable.
Picture quality top notch.
A great camera.

1 upvote
By drissised (Apr 3, 2013)

The way I see it, D4 is the only reason they wouldn't review 1dx.

By RHinNC (Mar 25, 2013)

I find my EOS 1D is the best camera for my uses. This camera can record up to 30 minutes of video using the twin CF cards. No more SD card and CF, just CF now.

As to why DPReview hasn't done a review yet, guess we will find out eventually.

1972 snr
By 1972 snr (Mar 24, 2013)

I think they are hiding something, that this is the best D=@^#& camera in 35mm format on the #^@ market, lol.

Stephen Scharf
By Stephen Scharf (Mar 22, 2013)

So, folks at about a review of this camera? Are you listening to your customers?

Jim 123
By Jim 123 (Mar 13, 2013)

Review por favor.

1 upvote
By SundanceXY (Feb 21, 2013)

is it DPReview or dPREVIEW?

By premsaggar (7 months ago)


By SundanceXY (Feb 19, 2013)


1 upvote
By ncsakany (Feb 16, 2013)

So about the review... anyone home?

Peter KT Lim
By Peter KT Lim (Feb 1, 2013)

I am very happy with the Canon 1DX.

By SundanceXY (Jan 15, 2013)

still no review of this camera!? It's 2013! Is DPReview still in business?

By Kifananyi (Jan 10, 2013)

A review of the 1Dx some time this year would be nice :-).

Jim 123
By Jim 123 (Dec 30, 2012)

I am still waiting for your review of this camera. Will there ever be one?

Mark Bochkovskiy
By Mark Bochkovskiy (Dec 29, 2012)

DPReview is a site for Nikon users. There is no more objective comparisons.
Here it is:

By 06m1r3m86 (Feb 12, 2013)

I've felt that way for a long time about DPReview. They seem to skew towards Nikon products, reviewing them faster and with preference over everything else. I would like to see comparisons between cameras in similar categories and especially from brands other than just the big two.

The other thing that I find interesting is how anytime they review a Canon camera they remark how good it is compared to its Nikon rival (for instance 5Dmk3 vs D800). When the Canon is as good or better they are ALWAYS surprised, as if Nikon is the only company that can make a good camera. I have seen so many comparisons between the 5Dmk3 and D800 where the Canon is better in every regard except resolution (including DPReview) and it seems like no one thought there was any chance of this happening.

I love ya DPReview, but I miss the old days when there was more objectivity to your reviews.

Pierre Moeremans Photography

Thanks for this info!

Denis James Evans
By Denis James Evans (Dec 29, 2012)

So I have changed my view: your website is basically useless to camera purchasers.

Denis James Evans
By Denis James Evans (Dec 29, 2012)

If DP "review" wants to remain useful to camera buyers, the HAVE to get the 1dx review out ASAP. Otherwise people like me will go elsewhere. It's simple stupid!

Denis James Evans
By Denis James Evans (Dec 27, 2012)

Or are you just a preview site? Reviews need to be prompt to be useful. You have become far too slow. If I was a pro wanting to upgrade my Canon gear what use are you to me? I need the camera fast and your reviews are soooo slow. So what is your purpose? Do you just want to pass judgement on cameras when they are discontinued? That is a useful role but it doesn't help the purchaser. So make your mind up about what you want to do and just do it!

Denis James Evans
By Denis James Evans (Dec 27, 2012)

By the time this review is complete, there will be a new 1d. Come on guys!

1 upvote
By TonyKona (Dec 8, 2012)

First, if handheld, we are humans and we can rarely hold a camera still. That being said:

I shoot sports in jpg.

Have had Canon EOS-1D, EOS-1D Mark II, EOS-1D Mark III and EOS-1D Mark IV. For me, Mark III and IV focusing were problematic. Max two images out of 10 in a sequence would be sharp. For instance, when shooting a cyclist, I would focus on the face and less than half of the shots would be in-focus. Should the cyclist bring up hand to face, the camera would go out of perfect focus rendering virtually all shots worthless.

This is not the case with the EOS-1DX. Regardless of what the cyclist does, the camera stays perfectly in-focus on the face (or whatever other focus point chosen). Tack sharp on some 80%. Popping! (Attribute the 20% to the human factor.)

Furthermore, the EOS-1DX generates in-focus images in sub-optimal lighting.

The best body I'v ever had, by a long shot. The camera does what I ask of it. That has never happened before.

By TimR-Niagara (Nov 21, 2012)

you're not alone awaiting the big review for the Canon 1Dx... even the Nikon D4 has been on hold far too long too grrrr many of the newest cams that just came out all getting their reviews sooner.. Seems to me the DPR reps rather play with the little toys leaving the big guns dusting on the shelves :-( Wish Mark Harmon of NCIS would go over there and tell them to quit screwin around and give them a smack upside their heads ;-)

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 10 minutes after posting
By ishootbirdswithacanon (Nov 8, 2012)

Whatever the reason for no review of the 1DX, there is no excuse. I've been a faithful reader of your site for years but, your losing me and probably many other readers of your site looking for accurate AND up to date information. For those looking for a first rate review on the 1DX, check out if you haven't already. This website is excellent and may be my website of choice from now on for digital photography.

By SergioSpain (Dec 16, 2012)

So what's the excuse of for not having a review of not only the D4, but of ANY Nikon body? That website may be fine for Canon shooters but it's hardly a replacement for dpreview

By aayjay (Oct 22, 2012)

Total agree with the previous posts. Come on DPR...Why is it taking so long for you to fully test and review the 1DX? I have to assume that there has been friction between you and Canon for the past few years. It seems that ever since the 1D Mark III, you guys have taken your sweet time in reviewing Canon's flagship cameras. I don't understand it and I believe it is undermining your reputation as an independent reviewer.

By hiplnsdrftr (Oct 17, 2012)

So the dpReview "preview" is now a year old. 38 cameras have been fully reviewed since then. Most of which are mediocre "me too" cameras that many more people will purchase than the Canon 1Dx. (So kinda understandable I guess?)

In any case, it would be nice to read an official DPR review before dropping my $7,000 at B&H.

I know what the review will conclude. But at this point in time, by the time the review will be out it will be old news. Not the best way to stay relevant as a review site in the digital age.

By Freezer (Oct 12, 2012)

I just upgraded from a 5D Mark III to the 1DX, and I love it. The major benefits compared to the 5DIII are: ergonomics, much faster AF, spot metering linked to AF point (big deal), and lower chromatic noise. My keeper rate is much higher than with the 5DIII. On the intangible side, physically using the camera is really enjoyable, so I find myself using it more.

1 upvote
By MisterMouse (Sep 27, 2012)

I wonder why it lasts that long to test this amazing camera. Was Nikon so clever to build a gap at your schedules? ;-)
Meanwhile we hear different things about AF, about the diff. of 2MP between D4 and 1Dx, about the necessity of video etc. but nothing from dp... it's a pity

... and there is the burning question why it is not possible to include GPS (my iPhone has it since 'decades') and no WiFi (nearly every smartphone has it...) in a camera at about 6T€ ... well I think we could give the answer by ourselves .. we will get it with the 1Dx Mk II ... and have to pay 7T€ !?

By Zerg2905 (Sep 29, 2012)

GPS: Because of the 100% magnesium alloy housing. And indeed: where is the 1DX review? Come on dpr, it is on the market now! Cheers! :)

Jim 123
By Jim 123 (Sep 25, 2012)

I have been waiting for a review of this camera..............for a long time. Please give us some information......thank you!!!

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
the watcher
By the watcher (Sep 10, 2012)

I wonder is any problem with reviewing 1Dx?
Still no reliable comparison to D4 ...

By Yukihyo (Aug 7, 2012)

I have both a 1D Mk 1V and a 1Ds Mk111, and I can't see any reason why I should change these two reliable marvels of technology for a (supposedly) more sophisticated pseudo-movie camera! We're too quick nowadays to jump on the newest bandwagon, and tend to forget that, just a few years ago, cameras (such as the two mentioned) were considered the epitome of technology.
Just to give you an example; a store here in Tokyo currently has 24 used ID Mark 1V and 17 1Ds Mk111 bodies, mostly in first-rate condition that have been traded on the 1DX....... bloody madness if you ask me! I'll stick with my two until something really worthwhile comes along.

By Khizer (Aug 13, 2012)

If I find a bargain deal on the 1Ds Mark III, I would happily pick that over the 1Dx!

Peter KT Lim
By Peter KT Lim (Aug 22, 2012)

The grand old ladies always cannot match with the new beauty, I am so hearten you still love the two old ladies. Go ahead and in love with them, be careful your competitor say you still use old cam - of course you can say is the man behind the cam not the cam, good luck !

By Spurtz (Sep 24, 2012)

No one is asking you or requesting you to buy it.

It's a strange comment - what's your point?

By dbeeler (Jul 20, 2012)

Just recieved my 1dx from B&H

By Khizer (Aug 13, 2012)

Give us your first impressions please. Is the image quality (at base ISO) better than 5D3 and D800?

By king131975 (Jul 6, 2012)

who know were possible buy now canon 1Dx ?

By Khizer (Jun 15, 2012)

EOS 1DX.... where art thou?

X Faktor Photo
By X Faktor Photo (Jun 15, 2012)

Thou art only 5 DAYS AWAY!!!, June 20th is the official release date!!

By Khizer (Jun 16, 2012)

Sample images on the below site lack sharp focus:

Zal Escobal
By Zal Escobal (Jul 5, 2012)

Couldn't agree more with Khizer...extremely bad sample photos at the website...really really lacks sharp focus on a high end high price camera...i wouldn't buy 1 if i have the money if i see those samples

By Khizer (Jul 8, 2012)

Doesn't someone from Canon read these posts? I wonder why they are so mum about the delay in bringing this camera to the market.

By l_d_allan (Jun 2, 2012)

I'm REALLY looking forward to the 1D-X review. For what I do, the 5d3 doesn't warrant an upgrade from my existing 5d2. I'm reluctant to "pull the trigger" on a purchase/pre-order before seeing the actual review from

By KAllen (May 11, 2012)

It's all a bit quiet regarding the X don't you think. I will certainly not rush to be the first to have one, to discover a problem that has not quite been fixed. The delay gets my suspicion radar upto red alert.
I hope it's a fantastic camera I'm pinning my hopes on this machine, I've never liked the DsmkIII I have and the 5DIII well not sure about that either.
I like that Canon claims as a positive that the X has the same resolution as the DsIII. I kinda was wishing for an upgrade in that department. But if this focuses and has a significant DR, noise and colour depth improvement, it could make me happy. Or a Nikon 800 is on the cards.

Total comments: 363