by Nathan Lee Bush on October 18, 2011 on ARC BLOG

Canon has announced a new full-frame flagship to arrive in March 2012 to replace both the 1D and 1DS lines, consolidating its studio and sports flagships into one package: the 1D X. The Camera sports a new 18MP sensor (thank God they are bowing out of the megapixel race), which Canon USA Technical Advisor Chuck Westfall describes as the single biggest change on the camera, capable of much higher image quality and vastly better noise handling.

But it’s no slouch as a performance camera, with 12 fps burst mode shooting with continuous autofocus and 14 fps without and in JPEG mode. The camera boasts 61 AF points with 21 cross type points. The complex autofocus parameters have been redesigned and simplified, with six presets to handle six common shooting scenarios, such as one focusing on erratically moving subjects and another dealing with subjects that rapidly accelerate and decelerate. The processor is 17x faster than that found in existing models, and the more advanced autofocus and metering system gets its own separate processor. The standard ISO range now goes to 51,200, which can be expanded to a whopping 204,800.

On the video front, the 1D X offers two compression settings, one a new very low compression codec, ‘All-I,’ with the caveat of substantially bloated file sizes (16GB gives you about six minutes), and bit rates approaching 50Mbps. Other headline features include continuous shooting of 30 minutes, manually controllable  audio levels, and  SMPTE compliant timecode embedding. Unfortunately, in its quest for better compression quality, the camera maxes out at a 30 fps frame rate at full HD, shooting at 720p for 60fps recording, slightly disappointing when APS-C cameras a tenth of the cost and diminutive in processing power are serving up 1080p 60fps with decent bitrates. Still, it will be exciting to see what the advanced image quality can deliver at standard 24p. Presumably, it’s still shooting 8 bit video, which would be frustrating, given the processing power onboard.

All eyes now shift to Nikon. How will it counter? Is it developing the established specialized models or will it, too, be merging its flagship lines?

1001 Noisy Cameras has a handy coverage roundup.