Canon EOS-1D C Preview
by Mike Tomkins and Shawn Barnett
Preview posted: 04/12/2012
Late last year, Canon announced the EOS-1D X, an interesting model that merged the company's earlier 1D and 1Ds-series model lines into a single product. As well as its fairly-impressive still imaging capabilities, the EOS-1D X courted professional videographers, with a movie capture feature-set that was significantly uprated from those of earlier models. Just a couple of weeks later, it went a step further, revealing that it was working on an EOS-series model capable of recording Motion JPEG 4K video at a rate of 24 frames per second.
The Canon EOS-1D C is the fruit of that development work, and as promised, brings 4K video capture to the table for the first time in an EOS-series camera. It also features reworked internals designed to combat the heat generated during lengthy video capture sessions, and offers a stereo headphone jack for audio monitoring, in place of the EOS-1D X's flash sync terminal. In other respects, the EOS-1D C is quite similar to its still image-oriented sibling.
If you've read our EOS-1D X preview, a lot of the following will seem very familiar. That's testament to how closely-related these cameras are. Physically, the Canon 1D C doesn't veer much from earlier Canon DSLRs, but with a few notable differences. Like the 1D X, it sports a new infrared port on the front of the grip, a feature first seen in the company's Rebel cameras.
Just inside the grip--both the regular and vertical grips--are a pair of programmable function buttons, duplicated for the horizontal and vertical grips. Since there's no longer a Depth-of-field Preview button, we presume that's one of the functions available. The monaural microphone lies behind the three holes just below the EOS-1D logo (a stereo mic jack is available on the left side of the Canon 1D C).
Most of the controls on top are the same as past 1D models, with the exception of the Multi-Function button, which first appeared on the Canon 7D, and the addition of a White Balance button just in front of the top Status LCD.
Most of the controls also remain the same on the back, but with several important and well-conceived additions. First, there is now complete duplication of the multicontroller, now offering the same thumb-driven controls in the horizontal and vertical positions. The exception to this is the new Live View toggle button, which is only available in the horizontal orientation. The new Quick Menu button is also not duplicated, unsurprisingly. For its part, it offers easy adjustment to settings via the rear LCD and Scroll wheel.
The CF card door release is moved down to make room for the new multi-controller. It works like a turnkey, releasing the door to reveal dual CompactFlash slots.
To the left of the Playback button is a new LAN light, indicating when the camera's LAN port is active. Finally, the LCD is a 3.2-inch design with a 3:2 aspect ratio. More on that below.
Although there's been some rearrangement, the left side of the EOS-1D C still offers up most of the same connectivity as was found on the 1D Mark IV and 1Ds Mark III. There's one important difference, though, as noted previously: there's no longer a dedicated flash sync terminal, removed in favor of a stereo headphone jack for audio monitoring, a choice that makes more sense on a camera largely aimed at video use. The mounting hole for the wireless file transmitter has moved further up to almost level with the shoulder strap lug, and is now nearer to the front of the camera. Beneath, an unlabeled cover conceals a relocated system extension terminal. To the right of this is the brand-new gigabit Ethernet RJ45 jack, whose cover is separate from that of the HDMI and A/V Out / Digital ports beneath. Finally, the stereo microphone, headphone, and wired remote ports share the last remaining compartment cover.
The only other feature of note on this side is the battery compartment at the base of the camera. The battery pack has the same form-factor, and is backwards compatible, but it's actually a new part with slightly higher charge density.
Canon EOS-1D C Tech Info
Sensor. Canon has selected a high-performance full frame CMOS image sensor for the EOS-1D C. Effective resolution is 18.1 megapixels, from a total count of 19.3 megapixels, and pixel pitch is 6.95 microns. It's not immediately clear whether it differs from that used in the EOS-1D X, which largely seems to have the same basic specifications. Although its 4K video capability will be taxing on the sensor, the amount of data being read off is only about 80% of that achieved by the EOS-1D X in a 14 fps burst, and that data is read out from a smaller APS-H 'window' cropped from the center of the sensor, rather than from the full sensor area as is the case with still imaging.
Imaging pipeline. Like the 1D X before it, the EOS-1D C still features no less than three DIGIC-branded image processors, although only two are used for image processing. The processors used for imaging are both DIGIC 5+ types, while the third image processor is a DIGIC 4 type, dedicated specifically to metering and autofocus processing. Although the total amount of data to be handled during 4K recording is, as noted, a little less than that during a burst at 14 frames per second for still imaging, the EOS-1D C must manage this for much longer than a still image burst in the EOS-1D X, and for that reason we understand that Canon needed to rework the camera's internals to reduce the likelihood of overheating.
Sensitivity. The Canon EOS-1D C retains the exceptionally wide sensitivity range of the EOS-1D X. The base sensitivity is ISO 100 equivalent, and ordinarily the 1D C tops out at ISO 51,200 equivalent. This range can be extended at both ends, reaching a minimum of ISO 50 equivalent at the bottom end, and a whopping maximum of ISO 204,800 equivalent in the H2 setting.
Performance. Although it's primarily intended for video use, the EOS-1D C serves double-duty as a very swift still image camera, sharing the same capabilities in this area as the much more affordable EOS-1D X. Burst shooting is possible at a very handy 12 frames per second using either One-Shot or AI Servo AF. This can be increased by another two frames per second, if you're willing to lock up the mirror, shoot in JPEG mode, and restrict your sensitivity to ISO 32,000 or below. In this case, it's possible to shoot at up to 14 frames per second.
Optics. Like the 1D X, the full-frame Canon EOS-1D C accepts Canon EF, TS-E, or MP-E lenses, but not the EF-S lenses designed for the smaller APS-C sensor format. Canon uses lens-based optical image stabilization in its interchangeable-lens cameras, so the availability of stabilization depends on the specific lens model in use.
Lens correction. Canon has retained its latest-generation in-camera optical correction functionality, first seen in the 1D X. As well as the peripheral illumination correction capability that was introduced in the Mark IV, which corrects vignetting / light fall-off, the EOS-1D C provides for in-camera chromatic aberration correction. As with the vignetting correction, the availability of chromatic aberration correction depends on the lens in use, and we understand that the camera ships with around 30 lenses preprogrammed for the new function. Canon's EOS Utility software can be used to register additional lens types, as needed. The CA correction can correct for both lateral and axial aberrations, and does so for both JPEG and RAW image types. In addition, it's possible to correct for lens distortion, although this correction is made during processing of RAW data, and hence is applicable only to JPEG images.
Viewfinder. The viewfinder design shared by the EOS-1D C and 1D X is optically very similar to that featured in the previous 1Ds Mark III and 1D Mark IV models. Coverage is approximately 100%, with 0.76x magnification, and a 20mm eyepoint. However, unlike those of the older models it includes an information overlay LCD similar to that seen in the EOS 7D, and also shows more information, including an AF status indicator that shows when the camera is actively focusing, as well as a shooting mode indication, and an additional digit on the ISO sensitivity indication.
Displays. As well as the information available in the optical viewfinder, the EOS-1D C includes two monochrome information LCDs (one each on the rear and top panels), plus a 3.2-inch color LCD panel on the rear panel. As you'd expect, this being a camera aimed at pros who tend to seek out designs that abide by the "hammers in tent pegs" mantra, the LCD panel is fixed in position. Viewing angles should be good (about 170°), though, as it's still a ClearView II panel, which uses a resin filling to eliminate air between the LCD itself and the cover glass, reducing reflections and glare. Resolution is quite high, at 1,040,000 dots, or somewhere in the region of 347,000 pixels.
Like any modern SLR, the Canon EOS-1D C includes live view capability, so it's possible to frame images either through the viewfinder, or on the rear-panel LCD. (And obviously for movies, shooting with the LCD is your only choice.)
Video. The Canon 1D C's greatest differentiation from the 1D X is in the area of movie capture. While it's still an impressive still camera--you'll be missing out on a lot of it capabilities if you use it only for video--it's clear that the latter is its main purpose. The 1D C offers 4K (4,096 x 2,160 pixels) video capture with an APS-H crop. You can also opt for a Super 35mm crop mode, as well as Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels), 720p (1,280 x 720), and VGA (SD) options, and a healthy selection of frame rates.
At the maximum 4K resolution, videos are captured at 23.976 frames per second. At Full HD resolution, recording rate options are 59.94, 50, 29.97, 25, or 23.976 frames per second. At 720p (1,280 x 720 pixels), there's a choice of either 59.94 or 50 fps recording. Finally, there's a standard-def mode which offers 30 or 25 fps rates suited for either NTSC or PAL display. For 4K capture, the EOS-1D C uses Motion JPEG compression, which typically offers higher image quality and lower processor requirements, but is going to be very hungry for storage space. (If you assume similar compression levels to Pentax's K-5 digital SLR, which offers 1080p Motion JPEG video, that would likely equate to somewhere around 2.5GB/minute.) At lower resolutions, the EOS-1D C opts instead for more space-efficient H.264 compression.
As you'd expect the Canon EOS-1D C provides a lot of control over how videos are captured. Both automatic and manual audio level controls are available, with the manual mode offering a fine-grained 64-step control. It's possible to adjust the levels during capture, and sound recording can also be disabled altogether. There's an optional wind filter function, and sound can be recorded either with an internal, monaural microphone, or an external stereo mic. An important difference from the EOS-1D X is the addition of a stereo headphone jack, allowing monitoring of audio as it's captured.
The videographer can also control the H.264 compression system used by the camera for video at Full HD resolution or below, opting either for ALL-i intraframe compression, or IPB interframe compression. The latter considers multiple frames when compressing the video, allowing higher compression levels and more efficient file sizes, but also increasing the burden of post-processing. Intraframe, meanwhile, is similar to Motion JPEG capture in that compression is restricted within each frame, making for higher file sizes but easier editing.
There are also two methods of embedding timecode in the 1D C, with one tracking timecode only during capture of video, and the other including timecode across an entire capture session, including periods where the camera wasn't recording.
Another very important feature is the ability to automatically span videos that exceed the maximum 4GB clip length across multiple files. Canon notes that no frames are lost in this process, and so the files can be joined back together seamlessly in post processing. No information was available at press time regarding maximum capture length, but early signs are that Canon may have decided to lift the 29 minutes and 59 seconds limit of the EOS-1D X. (That limit is one that's artificially imposed on cameras from a variety of manufacturers, to avoid taxes applied to camcorders and similar devices.)
Focusing. Canon developed a brand-new autofocus sensor for the 1D X, its first since the older 45-point design was introduced in 1998. The High Density Reticular AF sensor is retained for the EOS-1D C, and has a handy 61 AF points that cover a greater portion of the image area than in older cameras. Working range is from -2 to 20 EV.
Of course, the phase detect autofocus system is only available for still image shooting; without the mirror down, the sensor receives no light. For its target audience, that is likely of next to zero importance, as pros will prefer to manually focus anyway.
Shutter. Another change inherited from the Canon EOS-1D X that's of limited importance for video shooting is its new shutter mechanism with lighter, more durable carbon fiber blades, and a new motor design and shutter motion. These both reduce vibration and allow a one-third increase in rated shutter life, to some 400,000 cycles.
Exposure. You may be spotting a trend here; there's quite a bit of Canon's latest hardware in the EOS-1D C that will never see use unless your camera is doing double-duty as a still image shooter. Another such item is its RGB metering sensor, with an effective resolution of some 107,250 pixels, said to offer greater exposure accuracy than in earlier models, thanks to both color and face detection capability. Matrix metering considers the image frame as 252 separate zones by default, and in low light, the matrix metering system switches to a 35-zone view of the image frame. Subject recognition functionality is used not only for focus and exposure control, but also by the Auto Lighting Optimizer and Automatic Picture Style functions.
Flash. As is standard for professional SLRs, the EOS-1D C doesn't include an internal flash, but instead offers up a standard hot shoe. Note, though, that there's no built-in sync terminal; this had to go to make way for a headphone jack. The 1D C's maximum flash sync speed is 1/250 second.
Creative. Like its sibling, the EOS-1D C offers in-camera multiple exposure capability. It's possible to combine up to nine separate exposures into a single composite image, in-camera. Four compositing methods are available: Additive, Average, Bright, and Dark, and the results can be reviewed on the LCD monitor. If you're not happy with the results of the most recent exposure, there's a helpful single-step Undo function. In addition, it's possible to use an existing RAW image as the foundation for a multiple exposure stack.
Environmental sealing. The EOS-1D C is fully weather-sealed like the company's other professional SLRs, although no specific information on the number of seals was available at press time.
Dust reduction. While the weather-sealing hasn't changed significantly, the dust reduction functionality inherited from the EOS-1D X is a newer generation than that in earlier EOS-series models. Canon's new, second-generation UWMC (Ultrasonic Wave Motion Cleaning) dust reduction system doesn't simply shake the IR cut filter, but is said to do so with an underlying, carrier wave motion that's intended to help dislodge smaller particles. There's also a new fluorine coating on the cut filter glass, which aims to help repel dust from adhering in the first place.
Connectivity. The Canon EOS-1D C includes built-in gigabit Ethernet connectivity (1000BASE-T) in the camera body itself, providing for wired network data transmission. If the attached network connection goes down, the 1D C will queue and attempt to resend data once the connection is restored. It's also possible to mark files for transfer when not connected to the network or a USB port, and then have them transferred automatically when a connection is established.
Storage. The Canon EOS-1D C stores images in RAW, JPEG, or RAW+JPEG formats. Like the EOS-1D X, it includes dual CompactFlash card slots (Type I or II, compatible with UDMA 7), with the ability to back up images to each card, switch cards by file type or when filled, etc.
Power. The Canon 1D C comes bundled with an LP-E4N battery pack, the same as that used in the EOS-1D X. Information on battery life wasn't available at press time.
Pricing and availability. The Canon EOS-1D C is scheduled to ship in the US market later this year. Body-only estimated retail pricing is expected to be in the region of US$15,000, fully 220% of the list pricing for the closely-related EOS-1D X model, which lists at US$6,800.00.