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Canon EOS 1D X Digital Camera Review$6,800.00
Low Light Performance
The Canon 1D X offers a lot of advantages to shooters who want to take the camera into a low light environment. The camera's high ISO performance is an obvious advantage in this regard, as it keeps noise to a minimum even over very long exposures. In general, though, if you're comparing the 1D X to the Nikon D4, low light performance is going to be the Nikon's territory. The performance metrics (high ISO noise as well as focus sensitivity) are largely a draw, but the ergonomics of the D4 make it better for one reason: backlit button labels.
While both cameras can light up their secondary LCDs when necessary so you can see what your shooting settings are, the D4 makes adjusting those settings much easier. It's a small thing, but when both cameras perform so well in a low light environment, it's the little details that a professional is going to be frustrated by.
The Canon 1D X offers an ISO range that extends from 100-51200 natively, but can be expanded to 50-204800 if the user needs. In order to keep noise down at those higher ISOs, shooters can use the camera's built-in high ISO noise reduction, which is available at the low, standard, or high settings. More on how we test noise.
The Canon 1D X offers immediate ISO control via the top plate of the camera, letting users set ISO anywhere from 50-204800. The standard range is just 100-51200, but that can be expanded in the menu to the full range. The low ISO of 50 doesn't effect exposure settings, but it does preserve highlight detail better than ISO 100 in very bright situations where parts of the scene would otherwise become saturated and blown out.
We found the Canon 1D X's 61-point AF system to be quite sensitive, even in low light. We test focus at two light levels—40 lux and 10 lux—and found the camera was able to easily lock onto the high contrast subject with great accuracy and generally quickly. When using the rear LCD to focus with contrast detection autofocus the system was much slower, but that was also true in bright light as well. We also found the contrast detection autofocus had trouble locking in at the 10 lux level, as a few times it would get close, but give a red box indicating focus wasn't achieved.
Video: Low Light Sensitivity
As we saw with the Nikon D4, the Canon 1D X can practically see in the dark. We found that with auto ISO set (max of ISO 25600) the camera produced a 50 IRE image at a light level of just 6 lux. When you allow the camera to use its maximum video ISO of 204800, you get a much noisier image, but sensitivity improves dramatically. Our luxometers don't differentiate light levels between 0 and 1 lux, but both the Nikon D4 and the 1D X produced a 50 IRE image easily after the luxometer stopped registering even a single lux. Since we don't have the ability to differentiate between the two, we gave the 1D X and the D4 the same maximum score, as both were capable of easily capturing video in light conditions where our eyes could barely see.