Could 2012 be the year where Canon makes a serious comeback in the professional photography industry? Well, from the looks of it, it’s going to get very exciting for photographers using Canon equipment.
For the last 4 years I’ve been bashing Canon here on my blog for their poor quality control, poor product releases (50D, 5D Mark II, 7D, 60D) and questionable business practices (5D Mark II, 50mm f/1.2L). I’ve also often mentioned how it seemed like Canon was out of touch with the market and didn’t listen to what professionals were asking for. But with the announcement last year of the EOS 1DX, I think I’m starting to see the long awaited change we’ve been asking for.
On paper, the 1DX is a dream camera. Just reading the specifications will get you high in seconds. The most important thing to note, in my opinion, is the sensor size. Canon actually went back from 21 megapixels on the 1Ds Mark III to “just” 18 megapixels on the 1DX. If you’ve been keeping in touch with the industry, you’ll know that this was one of the important things photographers were asking for around the world: less megapixels and better image quality, especially at higher ISO values. To be sure, the priority was more on better image quality. And reducing the amount of megapixels is an easy way to achieve that (because of the photosites becoming bigger). While Canon appeared very stubborn in the past with regards to this issue and kept pushing the megapixels up at the expense of image quality, now all of a sudden even Canon acknowledge the fact that “there’s more to image quality than just resolution”:
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.’
For years I’ve been having heated discussions in some of the posts here on my blog with many people about megapixels and noise in images, and I have to say that I’m happy to see that even Canon admit this now. More resolution in images is pointless when there’s also more noise present. Using any kind of noise reduction on those images eliminates the extra resolution you had in them as well. So I would rather have less megapixels with cleaner images that also have better dynamic range and colors.
I’m happy to see that Canon has finally listened to all the professionals who were asking for this, and after so many years, has finally made a camera that I can honestly say that I seriously, seriously want. In fact, I think this may be my dream camera. I just like everything about this camera. The sensor that promises (at least from the specs) great image quality, the insanely high frame rate of 12-14 frames per second, the 61-point autofocus system which is able to focus in EV -2 (equivalent to shooting under the light of the full moon!!), ISO range of 50 – 204800, 7D style viewfinder upgrades, built-in Ethernet port etc. etc. For a detailed overview, check out the technical information on the Canon Europe website. Pay attention especially to the capabilities of the Dual Digic 5+ processors and the functionalities that they enable such as being able to stack multiple exposures and correction of chromatic aberration, color fringes and halos. Image quality is taken to new heights with the 1DX.
And what’s crazy about this is that Canon actually announced the 1DX on my birthday on October 18th, 2011. What a strange coincidence. I mean here I was consistently bashing Canon for more than 4 years, and I mean seriously bashing them, and then they go ahead and announce what I consider a dream camera on my birthday – almost 6 months before it will really be available. Perhaps this is the present they’re giving me after all the effort I put into providing them with all the valuable feedback in the last 4 years.
But seriously, Canon has me excited again to be using Canon equipment and I’m hoping that with the 5D Mark III (if that’ll be its name) they will surprise us all again. With the announcement of the new EOS Cinema line (the C300 camera and the EOS C DSLR) things are looking to get very, very exciting in the near future for Canon users. I love the fact that we can use our L lenses on the C300 camera, for example. And of course, I also love the fact that the image quality of the C300 is currently the best out there in low light situations. This is why I chose Canon 5 years ago; they were the king of image quality and it looks like they’re on their way again to reclaim that title. Because when it comes down to it, all the bells and whistles on these cameras are nice to have, but nothing is more important than image quality. Nothing. And closely related to image quality is of course a working autofocus system. Because a clean image that’s out of focus is also bad image quality (poor resolution). So it’s image quality and great autofocus (in terms of speed and especially accuracy) that really matter in the end. And Canon appears to have nailed that with the EOS 1DX. I hope that this will also be the case with the next 5D camera.
Let me also mention that at this point I haven’t yet seen sample images from a production 1DX, so my assessment of the image quality is solely based on the specifications of the sensor, which theoretically should provide exceptional image quality. I’m hoping that this will be the case once the camera is released. Let us also hope that this camera won’t be plagued by quality control issues like the 1D Mark III (autofocus issues) and 5D Mark II (noise and banding in images, autofocus issues).
The only negative thing I can say about this camera is that the price is a bit too high at $6800. Many people have complained about this. Nikon recently also announced their D4, which is at least as good as the 1DX, with a price of $6000. In my opinion the 1DX should cost around $5800. Considering that the 1D Mark IV was priced at $5000 when it launched, and that the 1DX is essentially a 1D Mark IV with a full frame sensor, a price of $5800 for the 1DX would have seemed more reasonable to me. And as you can see, Nikon is closer to that price point as well with their D4. Even with the C300 camera Canon appears to have been overconfident with their pricing. Many people also complained that the price of the C300, though it is an excellent camera, isn’t worth the $16000 Canon wants for it.
However, I’ve read somewhere that the price of the 1DX at $6800 is not a final price, so here’s hoping that Canon will lower the price to something more affordable, especially now since Nikon is selling the D4 at $6000.
The bottom line is that I’m very impressed and very satisfied with the 1DX and I look forward to being equally as impressed with the next 5D. I hope Canon continues to listen to us and keeps impressing us from now on.