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Canon EOS-1D X Digital SLR Announced as new Flagship but not until March 2012; November 3rd Looms

It’s exciting whenever a new camera is released and this one has been a long time in coming. Canon’s previous models have been out for quite a while now. The Canon EOS-1D X is poised to fill the space that both the EOS-1Ds Mark III and EOS-1D Mark IV occupied. Timing was somewhat of odd on this release but I believe there is a very good reason.

Announcing a camera a full five months before launch seems strange. There must be some method to this strategy. What we know is that Canon will be announcing something “historic” on November 3. “The Story Begins” or so their web site states. Not to be outdone, RED is going to announce their much anticipated and greatly delayed Scarlet camera on the very same November 3.

I expect that Canon is also leery of what Nikon is going to announce soon. The rumors have been swirling on that one as well. We’re excited to see what’s coming next from Canon but a little bit disappointed to have to wait until March 2012 to actually use it.

The major highlights of the new Canon EOS-1D X are as follows:
  • Three DIGIC processors, including Dual DIGIC 5+ image processors capable of delivering approximately 17 times more processing speed than DIGIC 4, and a dedicated DIGIC 4 for metering and AF control
  • New 18-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor utilizes large pixels – 1.25 microns larger than those in the EOS-1D Mark IV sensor and .55 microns larger than those in the EOS 5D Mark II sensor
  • ISO 100 to 51,200 within its standard range, the new model offers a low ISO 50 setting for studio and landscape photography and two high settings of 102,400 at H1 and 204,800 at H2
  • New 61-Point High Density Reticular AF
  • EOS iTR AF: Intelligent Tracking and Recognition Enhances AF Performance
  • Multiple Exposure Modes: The camera can combine up to nine individual images into a single composite image, with no need for post-processing in a computer
  • Super High Speed Mode: up to 14 fps at full 18-megapixel resolution in JPEG mode; RAW, JPEG, or RAW+JPEG at speeds up to 12 fps in One Shot AF or AI Servo AF

The part we are most excited about is the new video improvements (bold added for emphasis):

Enhanced EOS HD Video – New Compressions, Longer Recording

Centered around an all-new full-frame CMOS sensor with larger pixels than those found on the EOS 5D Mark II image sensor, the EOS-1D X utilizes new HD video formats to simplify and speed up post-production work. The two new compression formats offered on the EOS-1D X include intraframe (ALL-i ) compression for an editing-friendly format and interframe (IPB) compression for superior data compression, giving professionals the options they need for their ideal workflow. Answering the requests of cinematographers and filmmakers, the EOS-1D X includes two methods of SMPTE-compliant timecode embedding, Rec Run and Free Run, allowing multiple cameras or separate sound recording to be synced together in post production.

Canon’s all new full-frame CMOS sensor ensures that video footage captured on the EOS-1D X will exhibit less moiré than any previous Canon model, resulting in a significant improvement in HD video quality. A desired feature for many documentary filmmakers using Canon DSLRs was to enable recording beyond the four gigabyte (GB) file capacity and the EOS-1D X is the answer. The new camera features automatic splitting of movie files when a single file exceeds 4GB. The new file splitting function allows for continuous video recording up to 29 minutes and 59 seconds across multiple 4GB files; no frames are dropped and the multiple files can be seamlessly connected in post production, providing filmmakers the recording time they want in the same convenient DSLR form factor. The camera records Full HD at 1920 x 1080 in selectable frame rates of 24p (23.976), 25p, or 30p (29.97); and 720p HD or SD video recording at either 50p or 60p (59.94). SD video can be recorded in either NTSC or PAL standards.

The Canon EOS-1D X also includes manual audio level control, adjustable both before and during movie recording, an automatic setting, or it can be turned off entirely. A wind filter is also included. Sound can be recorded either through the internal monaural microphone or via an optional external microphone through the stereo mic input.

We are very happy with the specs of the EOS-1D X but not so thrilled with the $6800 estimated price tag. This will come down somewhat after launch but the level of features and improvements seems to worth the money.

You can read the original press release as well as Digital Photography Review’s overview at the DPReview site for additional details on the announcement.

Update: the Canon EOS 1D X is available for pre-order from Amazon.com.

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