Firmware Friday: Canon EOS 1D X firmware makes improvements aplenty


posted Friday, January 10, 2014 at 7:21 PM EDT


With the holiday season and the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show taking the focus lately, things have been rather quiet on the firmware front, but for the first time this year Firmware Friday is back -- and with a pretty impressive update for the Canon EOS-1D X digital SLR.

Canon 1D X firmware version 2.0.3 brings a whole raft of changes that were promised way back in late October, but there's also one change which wasn't forecast -- a fix for an intermittent bug where white balance could be incorrect when using E-TTL flash. In addition to that change, a wide variety of improvements to user interface and performance have been made, with regards to the EOS-1D X's autofocus, auto ISO sensitivity, exposure, and playback systems.

Courtesy of Canon, a full list of changes in the new firmware follows at the end of this article. The firmware update can be downloaded immediately from the Canon USA website. Those in overseas markets should check with their local Canon agent for more information. Customers are also recommended to upgrade to Digital Photo Professional 3.13.50 and EOS Utility 2.13.30 or later, at the same time as updating their cameras. An updated instruction manual is also available, taking account of the operational changes.

Without any further ado, the list of changes:

  1. White Balance Issue Resolved
    A phenomenon has been fixed in which the white balance may be disturbed by the timing of the shutter release when the drive mode is single shooting and a flash (E-TTL) is used.

  2. AF Performance with Moving Subjects
    For greater creative control, additional parameters have been added to AI Servo 2nd Image Priority, enabling users to adjust these settings for more accurate AF performance according to the situation at hand. Photographers can fine-tune the balance between prioritizing focus versus the framing rate for the second and subsequent shots in a burst.

  3. Enhanced AI Servo AF Performance in Low Light Conditions
    The AI Servo focusing algorithm has been improved to allow more time for light sampling during AF activation prior to shutter release, enhancing AF performance in low-light situations. Additionally, initial AF control is now based on the new "+2 focus priority" setting of AI Servo 2nd Image Priority, which has higher distance measurement capabilities under low-light conditions. Upon full depression of the shutter button, settings from AI Servo 1st Image Priority take over and then settings from AI Servo 2nd Image Priority are applied on any subsequent images in the burst. This increases the probability that the first image in a burst sequence will be as sharp as possible.

  4. Improved Acceleration/Deceleration Tracking Parameters
    To improve tracking performance of fast-moving subjects that fill the frame, additional parameters for acceleration/deceleration tracking in AI Servo AF have been added to provide photographers with more precise control when photographing rapidly moving subjects that accelerate or decelerate quickly or unexpectedly. In response to feedback from professional photographers, these new settings have been added to handle larger differences in speed (i.e., the rate of change in image magnification) compared to the previous firmware.

  5. Selection of Initial AF Point While Shooting in 61-Point Auto Selection AF
    This new option in the AF Menu provides more continuity when switching to 61-Point Auto Selection AF from any other AF Point Selection mode. The option maintains the AF point selected from the previous Selection mode as a starting point for 61-Point Auto Selection AF. It also maintains the ability to change to a pre-programmed AF point when changing the Selection mode. This time-saving option is designed to help eliminate the need to stop and think, and helps photographers to customize their individual shooting style.

  6. AF Point Switching According to Camera Orientation
    In addition to programming the EOS-1D X camera to automatically switch to a different AF point and area selection mode based on camera orientation, firmware version 2 adds the option of programming only the AF point according to camera orientation (horizontal, grip up and grip down). This new ability to select up to three different AF points according to camera orientation allows for greater customization of the camera to specific shooting styles.

  7. Expanded Minimum Shutter Speed in Auto ISO
    In response to user feedback, this improved functionality in Auto ISO enables photographers to select a minimum shutter speed as high as 1/8000th of a second to freeze moving subjects.

  8. Exposure Compensation in Auto ISO with Manual Mode Set
    This new function enables photographers to manually set a desired shutter speed and aperture, use Auto ISO to control the exposure, and use Exposure Compensation to adjust the exposure for challenging lighting conditions (e.g., a very dark or very bright background). This new function can be activated through the Quick Control Dial or by using the Main Dial while pressing the SET button.

  9. Toggling Between Alternate Camera Settings
    EOS-1D X camera users can now toggle between three groups of camera settings instantly by pressing the shutter button, AE Lock button [*] or the AF-ON button. Selectable settings that can now be assigned to the AE Lock and AF-ON buttons via Custom Controls include:

    With these new options, photographers can reconfigure their EOS-1D X camera on the fly, while keeping their eye on the viewfinder to maintain concentration on the shot they are trying to get. For example, the camera could be set up for One-Shot AF and single shot drive mode on the shutter button, AI Servo AF in Case 1 with high-speed continuous drive mode on the AE Lock button, and AI Servo AF in Case 4 with super-high-speed 14 fps continuous drive mode on the AF-ON button.

    • Currently selected AF point vs. pre-registered AF point

    • AI Servo AF configuration sets (Case 1 through Case 6)

    • One-Shot AF vs. AI Servo AF

    • Currently selected drive mode vs. 14 fps Super High Speed drive mode

  10. Same Exposure for New Aperture in Manual Mode
    This new firmware feature provides users with the ability to maintain consistent exposure levels in Manual mode when the aperture changes, for example when a photographer shoots at maximum aperture with a variable-aperture lens (such as the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM telephoto zoom) or when using a lens equipped with built-in extender (such as the EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X). The feature gives users the option to have the camera adjust the shutter speed or the ISO to compensate for the aperture change.

  11. Display Protected Images Only
    Users can now page through protected images only via an option on the main dial. This feature already exists with rated images, and is an expansion of that capability.