Review Canon 1Dx

The Canon EOS 1DX is the latest addition to Canon’s 1D series of professional SLRs. It is a remarkable camera, because the Canon EOS 1DX is the successor to the Canon EOS 1D MkIV (for sports and action photography) and to the Canon EOS 1Ds MkIII (for studio work). This new Canon EOS combines speed with a full frame sensor and is therefore a true all-round camera, which is at the service of the professional photographer for a 100% in the heat of the studio but also under extreme conditions in the field. Canon-1dx-body


The design of the camera body of the Canon EOS 1DX will be familiar to a regular user of a professional Canon SLR. The body is designed in such way that grip and control are virtually the same when framing horizontally and vertically. Therefore, you can quickly and simply vary in frame. To this end, the EOS 1Dx has, for example, a second joystick for when you turn the camera a quarter turn.
Because the Canon EOS 1DX also has to function undisturbedly in all weathers, all covers and knobs are provided with a seal against dust and splash water. A big rainstorm or sandstorm should be no problem, provided you work with L lenses of course.
The ergonomics of the camera is very good and again slightly better than its predecessors. However, the Canon EOS 1Dx is a ‘big and heavy guy.’ Because of this, the camera is well balanced with the heavier and longer L-lenses. Personally, I prefer a smaller, lighter camera, with optionally a battery grip.
A major advantage of a large camera body, which many amateur photographers will not immediately think of, is that there is room for a large battery. It makes you having to change batteries less with a professional camera than with smaller cameras: with the Canon EOS 1Dx, you take one and a half times as many shots on 1 battery charge as for example with a Canon EOS 5D MK3.

Measurements for this review have been carried out with the aid of Imatest. The measurement results are shown in the Canon EOS 1Dx test report. For the review method and explanation of terms, see FAQ.

Canon EOS 1Dx versus Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III or Canon EOS 1D Mark IV

  • With the Canon EOS 1Dx, you take 40% more frames per second than Canon’s previous flagship for action photography: Canon EOS 1D Mk IV (14 fps vs. 10fps)
  • The Canon EOS 1D Mk IV has, due to the 1.3 crop factor, a smaller viewfinder (0.59x) than the Canon EOS 1DxX (0.76x)
  • The ISO range of the Canon EOS 1Dx goes 1 stop further than the Canon EOS 1D Mk IV (up to ISO 102,400) and up to 6 stops more than the Canon EOS 1Ds MK III (up to ISO 3200)
  • The Canon 1Ds Mk III offers no video, while the other two cameras do, with the Canon EOS 1Dx as the only one offering faster contrast detection AF for video.
  • The Canon EOS 1Dx has two Digic 5 + processors, for faster data processing, and image analysis and reproduction.
  • The 61-point AF system of the Canon EOS 1Dx has an RGB sensor and a Digic 4 processor. In addition, setting all AF options is now much clearer than with the Canon EOS 1D Mk IV and EOS 1Ds Mk III.
  • The photos of the Canon EOS 1Dx are stored on two CF cards (UMDA7), while the Canon EOS 1D Mk IV and the EOS 1Ds Mk III have had a CF and SD slot

Canon 1Dx versus Nikon D4

  • DeThe Canon EOS 1Dx has 12.5% more megapixels (18 MP vs. 16 MP) and is 27% faster with 14 fps than the Nikon D4 with 11 fps
  • The EOS 1Dx (1.34 kg) is 0.2 kg heavier, but is slightly smaller
  • The Canon EOS 1Dx has a larger standardized ISO range (ISO 51,200 vs. ISO 128,000, both are expandable to 204,800). The EOS 1Dx also has 50 ISO as expansion available.
  • The viewfinder of the Canon is 10% larger
  • The Canon EOS 1Dx has a 10% higher price

Viewfinder, display and menu

The viewfinder accuracy is 100%, the magnification is 0.76 and because of the crop factor of 1, the total magnification is 0.76. The viewfinder is bright and the information at the bottom of the viewfinder is extended, so you rarely need to take the camera away from your eye to get the current settings. This way, you literally never lose sight of your topic.
The LCD screen on the back of the camera has a diagonal of 3.2 inches (8.11 cm) and has a high resolution (1040k) with a wide field of view of 170°, both vertically and horizontally. Thanks to its high resolution and bright color reproduction, the display is ideal for Live view when taking pictures and recording video. The display information can be shown in different ways and for accurate manual focusing, the image can be enlarged up to 5x and 10x.
More and more LCD screens of consumer cameras are rotatable, tiltable and touch sensitive. Both features are missing in the Canon EOS 1Dx as this can lead to physical interference or unwanted settings. These matters should be avoided wherever possible with professional use.
The menu structure of the Canon EOS 1Dx is properly made over. On the one hand, more options are added. On the other hand, benefits for the user-friendliness have been added. If you now press the Menu button, you get a format as we first saw at the Canon EOS 5D MkIII: with six main menus divided into several sub-menus. With the Q button, we navigate through the menus and we go through the submenus with the joystick. This way, most options are quickly found and frequently used parameters can be stored in the so-called My Menu.
To further personalize the operation, it is possible to assign own functions to buttons with the Custom Control option. This way, you can assign changing the ISO to the Set button and by pressing the depth of field button, you can quickly switch between One Shot and Ai Servo or call the digital level in the viewfinder.


The Canon EOS 1Dx is a speed demon with which you are able to take 12 frames (RAW + JPG) per second. This camera will therefore also be used frequently for fast moving subjects, when the highest demands on the autofocus are asked. The AF menu offers a high degree of AF customization through a menu with 6 AF presets optimized for various types of photography. For a subject that rapidly accelerates or slows down (case 4), for example, you have another preset than for an irregular / unpredictable moving subject (case 6). I can imagine that you use option 4 at the start of a Formula 1 race, while option 6 may be better for a cheetah chasing an impala. We have no practical situations to investigate this difference, but further on this page we will return to the speed and accuracy of the AF. Canon1DxAF

Resolution Canon EOS 1Dx

The Canon EOS 1Dx has 18 megapixels, which is 20% less than the 22 megapixels of the Canon 5D Mk3. In practice, you do not see that difference of 11% more resolution, but you can measure it. The highest resolution we have measured for a Canon 5D MK3 was 8% higher than the highest resolution we have measured for the Canon EOS 1Dx. Even so, the Canon EOS 1Dx scores slightly higher in terms of resolution in our test than the Canon 5D MK3. This is caused by the improved signal to noise ratio on the Canon EOS 1Dx: at the highest ISO values, the Canon 1Dx hardly loses resolution thanks to the good signal / noise ratio.
In general, Canon cameras have a pretty constant resolution across the full ISO range, while the resolution decreases at higher ISO values with other brands due to noise reduction among others. The Canon EOS 1Dx delivers, with a good lens like the Canon 40 mm STM, a jpg file with an average resolution of 2,100 lines per picture height over the entire ISO range. With a standard processing of RAW files in Lightroom, a greater sharpness is obtained, which translates into an ISO 100 to ISO 6400 average resolution of just over 2,550 lines per picture height.
The Canon 40 mm STM pancake lens is a dwarf compared to a Canon EOS 1Dx body, but produces nice, sharp images as you can see in the image cropping above.


Click on the image above for a larger version.

Dynamic range Canon EOS 1Dx

If you put “only” 18 million pixels on a camera with a full frame sensor, you get in return for this – to modern concepts – modest resolution a high dynamic range and a better signal / noise ratio. With Imatest, we found a total dynamic range (without taking into account noise) of nearly 11 stops at the low ISO settings in a RAW file.
At 100 ISO RAW files, we found a usable dynamic range (while taking into account noise) of 7 stops and at a 6400 ISO jpg file still 6 stops! Unlike the Canon EOS 5D MkIII, the EOS 1DX has no built HDR mode. Nevertheless, the dynamic range of this camera is so great that in practice you almost never have to deal with clipping of both the highlights and the shadows in 1 shot, even at the higher ISO settings. If you see clipping in the highlights in the histogram, you can take the same picture again without fear for noise in the shadows, but then 1 stop underexposed.

Noise Canon EOS 1Dx

The sensor of the Canon EOS 1Dx is the first sensor in a professional Canon SLR with “gapless micro lenses.” This means that there is no space between the pixels, and as much as possible of the incident light is actually converted into signal. This benefits both the dynamic range and the signal to noise ratio. This actually shows. The Canon EOS 1Dx produces images with so little noise, that you can safely resort to high ISO values. Here you see a 100% image cropping of a 3200 ISO standard jpg file. 3200ISOjpgcrop
Comparison of the noise in jpg files with the measured noise in RAW files without noise reduction shows that the noise reduction of the JPGs is noticeable from ISO 400. Here are four 100% image croppings of RAW images without noise reduction from a photo of a gray card. If you apply a modest degree of noise reduction in the editing with Lightroom, you can still make a pretty good print on A4 format of an ISO 51200 RAW image.
If we compare the noise in RAW files of the Canon EOS 1Dx to those of the EOS 5D MkIII, the differences are small; the EOS 1Dx performs best (5D3: 39 μ2) with its large pixels (47 μ2). The improved image quality of the EOS 1Dx at higher ISOs is particularly evident when working in JPEG, with Digic 5+ processing and the more advanced noise reduction being crucial.


Click on the image for two 100% image crops of ISO 51,200 RAW images.


Color accuracy Canon EOS 1Dx

In the color reproduction in daylight, the differences between all modern cameras are small and the Canon EOS 1Dx delivers RAW files with excellent color rendition and white balance (Delta E 94 = 3.7 at 100 ISO) in daylight. Colors are faithfully displayed. The color differences of a test chart and a test image are only visible when viewed directly next to each other. It seems that the dark colors of the test card are reproduced slightly lighter. This is particularly seen in a gray card. It is possibly a deliberate choice of Canon: it allows you to see more detail in the shadows and highlights.


Move your mouse over the right image.

Jpg files can be stored as s-RGB or Adobe RGB. The sensor of the Canon EOS 1Dx is able to register more colors than s-RGB or Adobe RGB color spaces can describe. Therefore, you can sometimes encounter clipping in jpg files at very bright or saturated colors, while the RAW files in Lightroom or Photoshop show no clipping. If you convert a RAW file to a jpg file in Lightroom or Photoshop in the Pro Photo RGB color space, you have a jpg file that has no clipping just like the RAW file.

Although the automatic white balance of the last generation EOS cameras delivers increasingly better results, the white balance in RAW under tungsten can be technically improved considerably.


Built-in flash?

The Canon EOS 1Dx has no built-in flash. The main reason is that an internal flash would be “the Achilles heel” of the body and the probability of failure in extreme conditions would greatly increase. This is why a Nikon D4 therefore lacks a built-in flash too. If you still want to use flash with the EOS 1Dx, you could use the new Speedlite 600EX RT for the bigger work and if you only need a small fill out flash, a Speedlite 270EX II is a good choice, for example.

Autofocus speed and accuracy

A real critical test of the autofocus is done with a bright telephoto lens with very little depth of field in combination with a fast-moving subject. This is not that. We have reviewed the Canon 1D x with a 40 mm lens STM. The autofocus of the Canon EOS 1Dx is fast and accurate with this lens. When following a running dog (without AF tracking), the camera focused so fast that once the central focus point inadvertently was focused just above or below the dog, it yielded a blurred dog in the foreground with a sharp forest in the background. Thanks to the separate processor for the AF module and the many AF options, AF tracking delivers a much better result.
To try the AF tracking, we then set the AF of the camera to case 4 (a subject that quickly accelerates or brakes) and targeted a truck with a speed of 80 km / h. In no time, you have taken a series of 40 images at a speed of 12 frames per second. Moreover, all images are sharp. In the DPP software, you can see at what point the focus was. In this case, the AF quickly took a headlight of the truck in the series and followed it closely.
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Conclusion Canon EOS 1Dx review

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  • High image quality: nice resolution, low noise and high dynamic range
  • Built like a tank and additionally sealed against dust and water
  • Fast and accurate AF in combination with 12 frames per second
  • Bright viewfinder and long battery life
  • Not expensive for a professional camera
  • Large and heavy
  • No rotatable / tiltable screen
  • Expensive for most photographers

The Canon EOS 1Dx is truly the new flagship of the Canon professional SLR cameras. In terms of design, implementation, operation, speed and image quality, it is one of the most advanced camera in the total range of DSLRs. Its abilities only really come out when the camera is in the hands of the seasoned, professional photographer that forces this camera to its extreme. For every benevolent leisure photographer, the Canon EOS 1Dx will soon be an ‘overkill’ and shooting with this camera can be compared to driving 120 km / h in a Formula 1 car. The Canon EOS 5D MkIII or the Canon EOS 6D are an affordable alternative for many photographers.

The Imatest measurement results are listed in the Canon EOS 1Dx review test report.



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