Canon 1D X – An End To The Megapixel War?

Canon has officially announced the highly anticipated successor in the Canon 1D line – not just for the high resolution 1Ds Mark III or the fast sports shooting 1D Mark IV, but both. Introducing the Canon 1D X.

The 1D series has long featured a 1.3x crop, APS-H sensor and exceptional burst rates in contrast to the slower, full-frame, high resolution 1Ds. Based on the huge success of the Nikon D3 and D3s, it seems that Canon has responded with a full-frame, 18mp camera with some rather stunning specs.

Among the most interesting is the fact that Canon is positioning the new 18mp camera as a replacement to both current 1Ds and 1D cameras.

Here are my thoughts on Canon's latest release, a professional grade DSLR that may not only signal the end of the megapixel wars, but boast the best image quality we've seen yet in a full-frame DSLR.

Canon EOS-1D X Specifications

  • Full Frame
  • 18.1MP
  • Dual DIGIC 5+ (17x The Processing Power of DIGIC 4)
  • ISO 100-51200 Native, Expandable to 50 (L) and 102,400 (H1) and 204,800 (H2)
  • 100,000 Pixel RGB Metering Sensor
  • EOS iSA (Intelligent Subject Analysis)
  • 61 Point AF
  • 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 Shutter
  • Ethernet Connection
  • March Availability

Based on these specs, what I see is a low light photography beast, plain and simple. The Canon 1Dx is a camera directly attacks the low light supremacy that Nikon has held since the introduction of the Nikon D3 back in 2007. And it's going to dominate.

Quality Over Quantity

In terms of resolution, Canon has bumped up the to 18 from the 16mp 1D Mark IV, but takes a step back from the 21mp sensor of the Canon 1Ds Mark III. This isn't the first time we've seen Canon scale back resolution – their G series went from 15mp in the G10 to 10mp in the G11, which continued in the G12.

While the difference between 18 and 21mp isn't huge, it's a big psychological step, but also one in the right direction. It's a beautiful thing to see engineering trump marketing for once.

I think the true success of this camera will be whether or not we see a version of this sensor in the Canon 5D Mark III. Now that would be a coup.

18mp Sweet Spot

Canon is betting that 18mp will be the sweet spot between allowing for ample resolution, speed, and image quality. For low light photography, the new full-frame promises what I suspect is the best high ISO performance we've seen yet.

I think that the proof of this high ISO performance is in the native ISO range of 100 to ISO 51,200. Based on these specs, I think it's safe to say that the new 1D X will outperform the D3s by at least a stop. This is simply progress.

As a music photographer who is regularly shooting above ISO 1600 for concert photography, the ISO range of the Canon 1D X has be buzzing. This is one Canon DSLR that I will have to try out for myself.

Dedicated AF Processor

The note of a dedicated DIGIC processor for AE and AF functions seems to indicate Canon's dedication to nailing the AF issues that have plagued their cameras, from the infamous Canon 1D Mark III's unreliable AF to the weak, underpowered AF of the otherwise stellar Canon 5D Mark II.


As a successor to the 1D Mark IV, it's no surprise that the 1D X looks like a very fast camera, shooting up to 12fps in RAW and 14fps in JPG. The one interesting note here is that these continuous speeds are only achieved when the batter is at 50% capacity or greater.

With a dedicated AF processor, the response of the camera should also be quite quick as well. I would love to see Canon nail the AF on the new 1D X for some true competition to Nikon's D3 series.

Final Thoughts

Canon has long maintained that the 1.3x APS-H sensor has provided a sweetspot between image quality and reach, so it's an interesting move to move to a full-frame sensor, though not unexpected. But more than the sensor format, I love the fact that Canon has kept resolution modest.

The Canon 1D X might represent a huge slowdown, if not an end, to the megapixel race. While it does continue trend of increased resolution with each model, the incremental increase seems like a huge coup.

With the Nikon D3, D3s and D700, Nikon demonstrated that 12mp sensor that delivered superior image quality was more valuable than simply piling on the resolution. I think that with the Canon 1D X, we're going to see a camera that builds on this model to become the best low-light DSLR we've seen yet.

The only gotcha? The anticipated $6,800 pricetag.

Official Press Release

You can read the complete and official press release for the Canon 1D X on Canon's website.


So, what do you think about this release? Are you going to be pre-ordering?

Personally, this might be the one Canon DSLR that has me tempted enough to want to try it out.


My Camera DSLR and Lenses for Concert Photography

Nikon Z 7:
I use two Nikon Z 7 for my live music photography. A true do-it-all mirrorless camera with amazing AF, great speed and fantastic resolution.


Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8S:
The 24-70mm is my go-to lens. The range is ideal for stage front photography and the image quality is superb.


Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR:
A perfect pair to the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, I can basically shoot any job with the midrange and this lens. Superb image quality.


Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8:
Ultra-wide perspective, ridiculously sharp even wide open at f/2.8. I love using this lens up-close and personal, where it excels.

See My Full Kit for Concert Photography

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