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Hands on with Canon's EOS-1D X full-frame DSLR

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Dark matters

The entire camera is built to withstand photographing in the most appalling light possible. The testers available at Canon’s Pro Solutions event in London had their Compact Flash cards taped in (pre-production samples was the reason given) so it's a tricky thing to test, but the maximum ISO is 204,800, or a stop further than the Nikon D3s.

Canon EOS-1D X full-frame DSLR camera

Screen size has increased slightly

Test images on these pre-production models taken at ISO 204,800 showed a pretty vast amount of noise, even on the small preview screen on the back, but it’s the 1D’s performance at more practical higher speed ISO settings - say ISO 2000-6400 - that will be of most interest to professionals.

It's not just a whizzy sensor; there are no fewer than 41 cross-type autofocus sensors on-board, and 61 AF sensors in total. Of these, the cluster of five AF points in the middle of the frame are dual cross-type sensors, which should make focusing in normal light faster, and should improve focus performance in challenging conditions.

Canon EOS-1D X full-frame DSLR camera

Customisation options abound

In use, the huge number of AF points is a slight faff; if you’re trying to select a particular one from all 61 you’ll be scrolling for ages. The menu system allows you to cut down the number to choose from; you can opt to only have the cross-type sensors available for selection, for instance, or only the nine central points. As ever, if you don’t like something out of the box, there’s probably a custom menu selection for it.

Canon has moved the goalposts in terms of frames per second performance as well. It was already quick, with 10fps on the EOS-1D Mark IV, but it now offers 12fps as standard, with the maximum number of frames available yet to be confirmed. If you've ever found 9 or 10 frames a challenge to control, this is going to be another hurdle to master.

Canon EOS-1D X full-frame DSLR camera

At full pelt, the mirror stays up during continuous shooting

And, for those who are either photographing Really Fast Things or are Really Bad Photographers, a frankly berserk 14fps mode has been included as well. This comes with a few catches – it works by not returning the mirror to the start position after every shot, which will make tracking harder, and it only evaluates autofocus and exposure on the first frame.

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