Flagship cameras are essential tool for professionals as well as photo enthusiasts and I figure a lot of users order the EOS 1DX regardless of ratings in multiple reviews. According to the pre-release specification, the number of pixels is lower than the previous model 1Ds (but practically high enough) and the operating speed is as quick as the 1D, meaning Canon has integrated the two models with different characters. In the history of the advancement of digital cameras, there was a time when everyone was excited over having more pixels. Then, there was a time when they focused on improving the elements that didn't remain paramount (e.g. high-sensitivity performance). And now, we live in the time when hardware and software are ideally synchronized to further improve the capability of digital cameras. In such a time, I'm sure Canon did more than just combining the 1Ds and the 1D.

( Photography : A.Inden / Text : K )

Flawless and congenial image quality

First, when I grabbed the body, I felt it's more condensed than the previous models. It's like, if the previous models were molten, the 1DX is wrought as if it were hammered with pressure. It's like the high-precision parts were densely packed together rather than being combined together to result in the shape and weight. Yet, it doesn't feel heavy. There's a difference between the actual weight and how "heavy" people feel. Personally, I believe a body with an extreme difference between them can be either masterpiece or rubbish to be a tool. As soon as I grabbed the 1DX, I felt so certain about its reliability and image quality. And, I was right. Because of the resolution which I feel even at pixel level and the natural tonal reproduction, the image quality is one step or two steps higher. Let's check the sharpness (resolution and the balance with other elements). Click here to view the 100% crop of the shot above. I'm sure the users of previous models would be shocked and moved by the sharpness and absence of ambiguity. Even with the lowpass filter, the 1DX is almost as sharp as the model without the lowpass filter. Perhaps, a lowpass filter is a very expensive part among all parts composing a camera body. And, I guess the cost of the resources to develop it and for producing it is also at flagship level. Below you can view some shots to check the excellent nature of image quality at pixel level.

When the majority of cameras had 6-megapixel Bayer sensors, they couldn't beat films because they could neither resolve objects in distance minutely nor render them naturally. In other words, digital cameras back then didn't have sufficient actual resolving power. But after few years, they acquired higher actual resolving power than films. Furthermore, the latest ones don't just resolve better, but express better. If a camera only resolves, it tends to lack of good tonal reproduction capability. But, recent ones have good resolving power and express realistically (e.g. expressing edgelines, reproduction of contrast that is closely related to tonal reproduction). When I look at films now, I feel their "looseness." But, it's just one aspect of resolution and films still have a great expressive power. Of course, I know digital and films are completely different. But, I feel the rendition of this camera is a fusion of sharp digital resolution and sweet film rendition.

The railing and window bars around the terraces look so realistic. The realistic rendition of the glasses, deep shadow, and reflection cannot be realized just by resolution and tonal reproduction. I attribute the high clarity also to the excellent lens performance. Anyway, the improvement of this camera is great that I even wonder if it might better exhibit my lack of skills...

It realistically reproduced the clear air and contrasty light unique to a highland. The resolution around the focal peak at F4 is wonderful. It didn't just resolve, but also separated each grass clearly.

The tonal reproduction capability is high enough to capture humidity

Next, let's talk about tonal reproduction. I felt it has improved just as the 5D Mark III did. While the previous models couldn't discriminate the difference of distance between near and distant objects, this camera does it by clearly reproducing the shape and texture of the near and distant objects. In other words, it realizes the contrast of distance and this cannot be realized without rich data. Even though the amount of data hasn't increased from the previous models (the number of pixels is even lower than the 1Ds Mark III), this camera realizes it and I find this very interesting. I can only guess, but perhaps this is due to the improved data readout, processing, and arranging. In addition, the improved hardware and the operating logics may have allowed more room for better image generating including better tonal reproduction. Of course, manufacturers have already been trying their best to pursue tonal reproduction and I think now their diligence are bearing fruit. You'll understand what I'm talking about when you get the D1X and look at the images for the first time.

Looking at the back of the woman, I feel the air of summer which is slightly heavy without being too humid and too dry. This is the kind of rendition wanted by experts, I suppose.

It's not wet, but humid. And, the camera faithfully expressed the atmosphere. With an older camera, I would hesitate to shoot a scene like this because it used to lack of enough contrast. Also, I would shoot way under relying on the shadow reproduction capability of a digital camera in order to raise the tone curve with software. But with this camera, I could determine the exposure straightforward just looking at the entire frame. And, I would shoot medium format if I had to use films.

Experience how this camera behaves to feel its true capability.

The high-sensitivity performance has also improved and this isn't just about the lower noise level. I had an impression that previous models had fallen behind the middle-class because of the cycle of upgrading and I figure there were many people who used the 1Ds Mark III and the 5D Mark II together. The 1DX, however, renders very naturally even at super high sensitivity, which used to be just for emergency use with the previous models. As for white balance, the EOS series has a reputation of its excellent white balancing. But, I feel white balancing of this model is even better because of a shot like this one which looks natural under a tungsten light. The correction is so perfect that I can feel their effort to fine-tune it. I've been using hundreds of cameras and I can even feel the warmth of the developers... maybe it's just my imagination...

As a photographer who used to shoot films, I'm already surprised by the fact that I can shoot with ISO6400. And, I'm so happy with the image quality, even considering the reduction of the image size. If it just painted the noise, the cat&s hairs didn't look this sharp. Of course, this is also because of the lens, but I'm satisfied with the minute reproduction of the coat of fur.

At even higher ISO12800. It's naturally noisy, but this image quality further expands your shooting opportunity. Yes, the tonal reproduction is less smooth, but at least, the image quality is higher than "emergency use just for recording."

Literally much awaited renewal further perfected the flagship model

The 1DX couldn't be developed without developing the ground to integrate the 1Dx and the 1D. I think it's an amazing thing and with this camera gives me the confidence to shoot just about anything except in some extreme cases. And, the image quality is one step or two steps higher because of the sophisticated integration of various elements. To be honest, not many people need this camera, but I'm curious to know when they release the high-megapixel version although the photographer for this report said it's difficult. I think he meant that it's hard to realize the almightiness, which means the camera does its job without fail regardless of condition. Anyway, this camera will satisfy the potential users who had been waiting for it. Are you using a middle-class body? Try this camera with lower number of pixel. This is the best camera that Canon releases now. This is a flagship camera with the best response and viewfinder. And, you can choose to experience the distinction.