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Philip Bloom Reviews the Canon 1D X, Big Brother of the Mark III. Is It Worth the Money Just for Video?

The Canon 1D X was announced all the way back in October of 2011, and only now is it starting to get in the hands of shooters. We reported on the increase in resolution between the 1D X and the 5D Mark III, but that increase comes at a price. Canon has decided to try to separate its Cinema EOS line with its DSLRs, but interestingly enough the new Canon 1D C DSLR (which is capable of 4K) is basically the same camera as the 1D X (sans 4K), yet it costs twice as much. Either way, it’s looking like the 1D X is the DSLR that most people wanted the 5D Mark III to be (at least in terms of resolution).

Here is a music video that Philip Bloom shot partially with the 1D X (all of the narrative portions were shot with the DSLR, the rest was the C300). The 1D X was sharpened slightly according to his post:

This is what he had to say:

So getting back to the camera. Is it worth the extra money? Yes and no. As a stills camera, it is second to none. Video wise, the video is much better than the Mk3, it’s better than the D800. Is it that much better taking into account the price? Yes and no. The Mk3 is still great and much smaller, lighter and cheaper. I wish the Mk3 image looked as smashing as this…I really hope Canon bring out a 7D replacement and a 60D replacement with All-I and the video quality that this camera produces.

The 1D X seems to have a bit more clarity than the Mark III, and everything else in terms of functionality is about equal. The one interesting thing is that Philip just shot with the camera — no external monitor or anything else connected to the camera. This is really the benefit of DSLRs — exceptional image quality for their size and portable nature. It’s looking like the 1D X is more like the Nikon D800 except it doesn’t feature the same recordable 8-bit 4:2:2 HDMI.

So what does this really mean? For one thing, you could buy a lot more for $6,800 than what this camera is offering. If you’re looking for that full frame look, and you want the resolution and clarity that you feel the Mark III is lacking, the Nikon D800 makes a lot more sense at half the price (and you could get an external recorder and get 8-bit 4:2:2). Obviously lenses matter, and if you’ve got tons of Canon lenses, moving to the Nikon system might be a little difficult. Even though the D800 isn’t as good in lower light (the 1D X and Mark III are both exceptional), with a little post processing you can still shoot in lower light.

Of course, if you don’t really care about the full frame look or what you can get out of lenses designed for that format, there are a couple interesting options that will be released at half the price of the 1D X and should actually be similar or better sharpness (and have far better recording formats): the Blackmagic Cinema Camera and the Digital Bolex. I personally am putting my money on the Cinema Camera, but it all depends on your personal workflow and whether you really need stills photography (something both Canon cameras and the Nikon excel at). Crop factor with full frame lenses will hurt those cameras a little bit, but if you want a bigger sensor and can spend a little more money, the Sony FS100 is still a great option.

What do you guys think? Is the 1D X worth the extra money just for a clean, decently sharp image without moire and aliasing?

Link: Review of the Canon 1DX/ Music video for Olly Knight – Philip Bloom


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Description image 33 COMMENTS

  • Not really an in-depth review, need to see a bit more analysis here. But I find it quite funny how he says that the D800 ‘suffers’ from moire and aliasing – ‘suffers’ is a very strong word here and quite misleading.

    • Agreed. I’ve shot all these cameras. 1DX is very nice no question, but the margin over a D800 is TINY, and no 422 out. Which yes, I use.
      If I were a sports stills shooter, and had Canon glass, I’d buy one.
      But the Mk3 is very nice for video, and I love my D800. For the money you’d be better off buying a a MK3, or a D800 and a few lights (drama) or faster lenses (doco).

  • Check it this direct comparison we did at Gizmodo between video on the 1DX. 5D Mark 3, and T4i.

    IMHO, the D800 is immediately disqualified from being a serious option for video because of the moire / aliasing. The 1DX is not terribly better than the MK3 in terms of resolution, only slightly better when viewed really large.

    • Canon fanboy. Yesterday I shot for a $500k network doco on a D800. The moire is not a factor if you know what you’re doing. We managed fine with the 5D2 for a LONG time and there’s a 60D still in my kit.
      The DR and lens switch trick is worth it alone.
      Having said that I agree – the 1DX is not worth the extra cash for video. If I still shot primarily Canon I’d be a 5D3 owner.

    • Wow, that 1DX is indeed sharper. If only it weren’t seven grand!

    • The 5d3 uses pixel binning to downsample, the T4i (and D800 and 5d2) use line-skipping, while the 1DX has a better downsampler. Though in your example the 1DX may exhibit just a touch of moire in the bricks on the left (downsamplers have an inherent tradeoff between sharpness and moire). There’s no reason I can see for them to use binning on the 5D3 they could have used the same algo in the 1DX although they may claim it was due to the dual Digic5′s or better power or heat management or some other excuse. Or as we suspect, further crippleware from Canon insistent on wringing money out of the market.

      The 5D3′s core advanatge for video is the headphone jack that the 1DX lacks. If you want to avoid dual-system audio. I always use dual system though, just syncing with the on-camera mic via FCPX auto alignment.

      I agree that the 1DX’s core advantage is stills and anyone who is video-only would be better served by something like a BMCC or FS700. I shoot as much stills as video so the 5D3 was sensible and I like the look and low light even if low-res. I don’t like the look of the D800 video, and see no benefit to clean HDMI out on a stream already destroyed by line-skipping, though I do salute that sensor for stills.

      • I was with you until you sang the praises of the FS700. Then I understood why you didnt like the video of the D800. 5D3 an excellent camera though, and I would love to try one with the AA filter ripped out. It might tempt me to upgrade the Canon I still carry for compatibility. At the end of the day these are still DSLRs: they’re hybrids. This is why I love the BMDCc and why it will change the industry at the prosumer level. It’s not for taking stills, it’s not for shooting ENG/events (although obviously you can) its not for music videos, it’s a drama camera.

        • The physical OLPF anti-aliasing filter on the 5D3 operates at the native 22MP level, and is not relevant to the downsampling that produces the 2MP 1080p image in the 5D3. This was one of the most severely discrediting moments I’ve seen from Mr. Bloom when he irresponsibly publicized his assistant’s experiment with removing the 5D3′s OLPF, which is very costly both to do and to reverse. They never bothered to shoot an actual resolution chart to see what the net effect was before making tons of noise about it, which quickly went viral and I see still needs to be stamped out. Some people lost a lot of money trying this experiment only to have to reverse it; glad I wasn’t one of them. Mr. Bloom has yet to apologize publicly from what I’ve seen, in the linked article he still crows about it.

          The 5D3 video is crippled not optically (you can confirm that easily by viewing the awesome native resolution in 10x live view) but in the digital processing, specifically the 3×3 pixel binning downsampling approach. Pixel binning is much better than line skipping in that it harvests all the light hitting the sensor and doesn’t manufacture intense moire and aliasing, but it lacks the dynamic range benefits and sharpness benefits a proper modern downsampling algorithm offers as we see on the 1DX.

          • I wasn’t aware of Mr Blooms attempt to do it. Shockingly perhaps I don’t read him very often. I was forwarded a video from someone else who did it, and it looked good to me. We had a doco project where we shot 2 D800s and a 5D3. Before we went in to grade you could literally sit there and pick the difference, and it was not in the Canons favour, even with the same lenses. I love the ergonomics of the Canon, and I’m not saying that the D800 is perfect by any means. But there is definitely a realworld difference in colour handling and clarity. Put the same CP2 on both cameras and have a look. However, they are both great cameras for the money: just I didn’t see enough out of the standard 5d3 to justify binning my emergency 60d.

          • Be aware of the “false sharpness” effect of aliasing. Things may appear more defined but that is an ugly form of definition.

          • RANT MODE ON!

            Bloody hell Peter. this is going to be strongly worded but bloody essential.

            WTF!? I should apologise for James Miller’s guest blog post of his SOLO attempt at removing the OLPF?? I clearly and STRONGLY discouraged anyone from doing the same (did you even read that part mate?) and I also crow about this even though i had NOTHING to do with it apart from showing how insane James was?!

            Jesus do I need to hold your hand every step of the way when reading something so you can actual make an informed educated comment? Just pisses me off reading dumb as hell comments directed at me. Make an attempt to read a post fully before posting nonsense. Makes my life a lot bloody easier and less stressful which would be GREATLY appreciated.


            RANT MODE OFF! :)

          • Here is the link to the blog post. Please read it and feel free to apologise for your utterly inaccurate comment :)


    • BTW I saw your video with 14fps from the 1DX stills mode. It looks like it is strobing quite a bit, if you chose a shutter angle nearer 180 you might get better results (i.e. a shutter release time of 1/30 or 1/25).

  • Is the dynamic range on the 1DX comparable to the 1DC?

    • john jeffreys on 08.25.12 @ 2:07PM

      We’ll find out when the comparison videos come in. Nobody has used the 1DC except for shane hurlbut (who pretty much works for canon) and some australian guy who managed to get one early and posted a photo of it in his car.

  • The 1DX and 1DC are obviously too expensive, the film industry just like the photography business are deliberately made expensive so a select few can operate in this space, the canon 5D was never intended for filmmaking, therefore canon ratified this by introducing newer yet far more expensive gear to fit in this bracket, you’d have to be craze to no see that the blackmagic cinema camera and the digital bolex are far superior to anything canon has ever released in the film market

    • If you earn you’re living from stills they are not that expensive. You would be nuts to buy one for video. You can buy a used Red One for that money.

      • john jeffreys on 08.21.12 @ 11:54PM

        Pretty much what I am planning to do once I get a little more money. The other day I saw a used red one mysterium body with accessories go for 5k on the reduser forums.

      • not to beat a dead horse but the 1DX and 1DC are still to expensive, even if you have a profession as a photographer,there is no need to purchase a new DSLR when your current one is working fine, especially if its valued that high, both for video and still is not logical to every purchase this camera

  • vinceGortho on 08.21.12 @ 2:25PM

    Make the 1dc down convert 4k to 1080pthe only, charge $8k, ill buy one.

  • A used Red One…

  • mikko löppönen on 08.22.12 @ 10:08AM

    I used both the 5d Mark III and the D800 on a shoot. After that shoot I got rid of the D800 and am very pleased with the 5d Mark III.

    D800 had a very nice looking image but I really disliked the colors. Especially skin had an odd tendency to turn grey. It was slightly sharper than the mark III but the difference wasn’t big. Also 720p was quite unusable on the D800 but on the 5d mk III it’s quite usable. Also the all-i codec on the 5d was considerably better, especially when doing 720p and fast motion stuff.

    Low light difference was also profound and I do a lot of low light.

    Shooting both stills and video on the D800 was harder because the settings did not keep track. 5d was much easier.

    That’s why I find it odd that people constantly talk about the D800 instead of the 5d. D800 did very good stills though, 36 mp and great dynamic range there.

  • Canon looks like the way to go NOKIA….
    Yes down the road with plenty new cameras…much
    and no one is left for me… i still use CANON ( and P+S and ARRI and others..)
    but now?

    10bit ( maybe 12)
    real 2k image
    50 60 frames ( 100…yes but $$$)

    body:: 2400 grants… no cent more.NO

  • TylerBreeden on 08.23.12 @ 3:45PM

    A little off topic, and not trying to plug Sony, but “rumors” are out there that the new a99 shoots better video than the MKIII and is significantly faster in AF all around. That being said, unless the Sony is even better than rumored, I’d take the D800e, deal with moire, and record to ProRes422. Looking at the Nikon’s sensor specs on DXo just blows me away.

  • I am eagerly waiting for the 1D C. Wish Canon lowers the price of that camera and makes it available immediately. For certain situations, this form factor is very nice, despite the lack of bells and whistles. The Hight ISO is really helpful, especially for wildlife situations.

  • I don’t really get the 1D C

    If you want a great photo camera, get the 1DX, fine. If you want a cheaper video/photo camera, get a Lumix GH3. If you want a really good video camera, get a Scarlett or one of the Sony large sensor cameras.
    But why would you spend a lot of money on a more or less dedicated video camera that has all the downsides of a DSLR for video?

    • One exceptional use for it are for wildlife video where you need to take the camera to harsh weather and stay mobile at the same time. The 1DX short film Shattered is a great example of a need for a weather sealed video camera in filming very difficult conditions.

  • Sir, for my upcoming film I want to use DSLA camera, which camera you will recommend, canon 1dx or 5d mark 3. I have canon 1dx and my DOP have 5d mark3. Thank you sir.