New: 1Dx, first impressions

I picked up my new Canon 1Dx camera a few hours ago, and here are my very first impressions. There will be more review posts later on – but first impressions are very important. So in random order:

First the physical. I love the feel. Very good, better than any previous 1-body. And the shutter sound is better, too. The viewfinder is a marvel: bright. wonderful full frame-ness. Love.

The buttons are much better also: they stick out more and are differentiated. There is a new button to set image quality. A Quick button. The buttons next to the top LCD have only one function each, now. All perfect! Many new additions, like an Ethernet port (and options to connect WiFi and GPS equipment) make this a whole new camera.

There is now a separate joystick to move focus point etc. when you hold the camera in portrait (vertical) orientation, and other buttons are duplicated as well, even the DOF preview and function button. Niiice.

This camera now uses two CF cards, no longer a CF plus an SD. I like this – retrograde step perhaps in some views, but CF cards are more solid, faster, and better, and now I just need to worry about one type of card, not two.

I am less pleased with the “zoom in” function, but no doubt I shall get used to that also. Instead of a separate “+” and “-” zoom button, there is just ONE zoom button, and then you use the small command dial at the front to zoom in and out. Like on a point and shoot. Perhaps it is better – we’ll see what I think after a few weeks.

And then the menus.

They are clear as Canon menus always are. I am less pleased that the menu tabs are now divided into less intuitive “sub-tabs”, but that is minor and I am already used to it. The “Info for HELP text” function is cool.

I am delighted that AF functions have now all been grouped into one large tab, and am very happy with the presets (above), that take the thinking out of what I need to do to set up the little tuning paramaters to meet specific situational needs.

A few default setup options are wrong. For example, you really need to set the custom controls to allow the joystick to move the single focus point you have selected, without first having to press other buttons. That should have been the default. And you probably want to turn off rotating the image on playback so you get maximum benefit from that large, crisp, sharp LCD. And if you shoot RAW, turn off ALO (Auto Lighting Optimizer), so you don’t fool yourself into thinking your images are good when they are not. More about changes from default in a later post.

Now for how it works. First, as said, it is quick, responsive, and it sounds good. First: wow, I see no noise at 1600 ISO and acceptable noise up to very high ISO settings. 6400 ISO and a large print? Surely not? Yes, that is what I am seeing. This is a game-changer. That is why this camera has fewer pixels than the 1Ds Mark 3 – fewer, but still plenty, and much less noisy.  Roll on, next weddings!

12800 ISO, SOOC

51200 ISO, Noise Cancellation applied in Lightroom

Colour: Not that it matters for me as  RAW shooter, but auto white balance is spot on, much better than in previous 1-series bodies. Which means less post work for me! The improvements of the 7D and 5D Mark 3 have obviously been incorporated here, and I am delighted.

My greatest source of delight, however, is that – wait for it – this is a Canon SLR whose autofocus appears to me to be entirely reliable. I have so far shot around 100 images at wide apertures (up to f/1.2), and guess what: 99 out of those 100 are tack sharp, exactly where I want them to be.  Which is amazing – I have been jealous of Nikon shooters who have been able to take this for granted. I am still just getting to know my 1Dx, but so far it seems like its autofocus ability is truly amazing.

I think that as first impressions go, this is the best I have ever written. Canon has a winner here, it seems to me, and I look forward to shooting, and sharing, and reviewing as we go along.

PS: I do not need four cameras, so my 1Ds Mark III and my 1D Mark IV are both for sale. Perfect working order, low actuations, normal external wear, all complete. Interested? Let me know!

POSTSCRIPT: The 1D Mark 4 is sold; now just the 1Ds Mark 3 remaining.


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