That sounds promising for a potential firmware hack, right? We discussed not too long ago that the Canon 1D X and the Canon 1D C were not exactly the same camera, but that the 1D C had some internal hardware changes -- at the very least a new heatsink, and probably some additions to the firmware to allow 4K recording. At the moment it's still not clear how much the two cameras share in common, but with a quote like above, there is no doubt that the 1D X is probably capable of a lot more internally than the company is allowing at the moment. Whether or not your camera will explode when enabling those features is another consideration entirely, but we're starting to get more details about these internals.
Here is what Canon Rumors had to say about the situation:
We had a chance to peer inside the EOS-1D C (No photos allowed) to find out how much it differed from the EOS-1D X. The differences are minimal, the biggest change is the heat sink inside the camera to keep the sensor circuitry cool during 4K video operation.
The EOS-1D X has some traces of the EOS-1D C firmware code and the features are locked. We don’t know how much of the firmware is the same.
I was told by someone at Canon that they would “bring the might of its legal team” to anyone that attempts to modify at the software level, the features of an EOS-1 camera body. So I think the firmware community out there today will probably leave the EOS-1D X alone.
Obviously that quote is coming from behind the scenes and not from a source we can cite, so while it certainly may have been said, it is tough to say whether that is the company's official stance at the moment (considering they haven't said much publicly about the firmware of their cameras being hacked).
The big reason that people might want to mess with the firmware of the Canon 1D X is because at the moment, that camera only costs $6,800 vs. $12,000 for the 1D C. A $5,000 difference would be a hefty savings for people who wanted the 4K functionality of the 1D C, while still retaining all of the other great features of the 1D X. The other possible changes that could happen in firmware could be related to the HDMI output of the 1D X, which, to my knowledge, cannot be recorded cleanly without cropping (if at all). Another slight difference between the two cameras is a missing headphone port on the 1D X.
Canon is probably trying to save a few dollars on R&D by producing almost the same camera twice for two different markets, but charging much more for the other one (which is a common practice by most companies). We can't say which internal hardware parts are different yet other than the added heatsink, because a proper teardown has not been conducted of both simultaneously. Even if we did find out that they are mostly identical hardware-wise, going by the above information, there could be serious consequences for providing such a hack.
At this time, the folks over at Magic Lantern have not tried to modify the firmware of any of these 1D cameras, so we'll just have to wait and see how this shakes out, and if any other adventurous hackers want to take up the reigns for these specific cameras -- and possibly risk some lawsuits from Canon. We do have to take the company stance with a grain of salt at the moment, but I've never heard anything like that before related to the firmware hacking on their cameras. We'll see if the cease and desist notices start flying if people successfully decode the firmware on the 1D X or 1D C. Magic Lantern actually responded earlier today on twitter:
Magic Lantern will never touch the 1D series of cameras. http://t.co/pmIowRgl— Magic Lantern (@autoexec_bin) January 9, 2013
It's also worth mentioning that plenty of other companies are doing what Canon is doing with two separate models and similar hardware. For example, RED's SCARLET and EPIC cameras contain identical hardware inside, but the internal boards on SCARLET, according to RED, are not up-to-spec to handle the increased data rates of EPIC -- though we don't have much choice but to take their word on that as no hacking has been done thus far on RED firmware.
It will be interesting to see how the 1D C sells. Canon knows they aren't going to sell as many as the 1D X, and that's part of the reason for the price difference. I can't help but think that a firmware hack for the 1D X would help sell a ton more cameras and actually be beneficial to the company in the end -- but then again, I can't see their financials, so it's hard to know what they spent on R&D for both and how many cameras they need to sell at a specific price to recoup that.
This is definitely not the end of this story, and we'll keep you updated as more information comes out.
Do you think Canon should allow hacking just as they've always done, or do you believe they have a business to run, so they should be able to make some money in the process and recoup development costs? Would you consider buying a 1D X if the firmware was modified to allow 4K or clean HDMI? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.