New Gear: 1D X or 5D III – Decisions Decisions…

I always chuckle a bit when new gear gets announced. The forums get flooded with lots of questions about nit-picky details that can't possibly get answered until the camera is out and someone has some hands on time with them. People seem to love to debate and or disparage the manufacturer (no matter if it is Canon or Nikon) as to why they didn't do "x" or why the felt they had to do "y" or why they couldn't just add in the feature from the top of the line camera to that mid-range product… I think what most people fail to understand is that (no offense) they are not making the camera for you, they are making the camera for the masses.

So it is funny to see posts about how many stops better will the RAW support be (sort of subjective, isn't it?), or which is better for me the 1D4 or 5D3 (um, more than happy to point out differences, but you need to be comfy with your own decision, I'm nobody's scapegoat), or complaints about the price of the 5D3 being more than the D800 (um, very different beasts – IMHO, the prices shouldn't be the same).

To me it comes down to more pragmatic decisions. What will it cost and how will it benefit me?

I wish I had a limitless budget and could have closet full of gear. A pair of 1D4 bodies, a pair of 1DX bodies, a 5D3 and a 7D would be great… along with every lens Canon makes. Yeah – that should just about fit the bill… I could load up with whatever I needed and get the best for whichever client I was shooting for… but that is not the case.

For me, I've loved the IQ, fps, ISO performance, and 1.3 crop (for that little extra reach) of the 1D4, and I've been okay with the 5D2's performance while loving the full frame 21mp images. I do wish it had a better AF system (well, and since it was my main "event" camera, better low light performance is always appreciated) but the other functions have been great for what I (and more importantly, my clients) have needed it for.


Enter the 1DX – Back in October when the 1D X was announced, I'll admit I was enamored, I wanted one – and put in a quick pre-order and should receive one in that dealer's first order. I wasn't happy about the price though… Not that I didn't see the value in it – I do think that $6,800 is a great price for all that Canon have packed into that body – but with the 1D4 doing such a great job – I didn't want to feel like I had to give up my 1D4 to have a 1DX. I wasn't longing for a new pro sports body – I was only looking for the improved AF for a FF body. At the time, sure – there were rumors about a 5D2 replacement, but I didn't think they would be announcing it and releasing it so soon. I loved the thought of lots of rich FF images, but my main FPS need is sports and to be candid – the subtle differences between FF and 1.3 crop bokeh in a rip-roaring sprint finish wouldn't have me selling any more images than I do currently. For a sprint – I just need to capture the critical moment with the rider(s) I want in focus… the 1D4 has been doing that for me just fine. Don't get me wrong – I still wanted one – higher ISO, larger files so you could crop a bit more – additional controls for ease of shooting either orientation – increased shutter longevity – improved smaller GPS unit… I could go on… 

So I figured the best bet for me would be to sell my 5D2, buy a 1DX and shoot it with the 1D4 – using the 1DX for scenics for the breadth of the FF, and then picking from two great choices for the sprints – using the 1D4 if I needed a bit more reach based on where I was allowed to be for a given finish…


Enter the 5D Mark III – Then the rumors started flying around in Jan/Feb that the 5D3 was on the way… well – it might have been called the 5DX – but suffice to say, a replacement for the venerable 5D2 was on the way.  I began to re-think my stra-tee-ger-ree. Another pre-order placed and my "need" for the 1DX started to wane just a bit.

In looking over the specs for both cameras, so much of the 1DX (that I really wanted/needed at least) was in the 5D3. Sure the metering system is zoned, not color sensor based; yes – the AF speed won't be as impressively fast since the battery isn't as big; sure it'll only do 6 fps… but I now have the AF and improved IQ that I needed/wanted (respectively). I think the 5D3 replacing the 5D2 in my bag – I'll not be feeling as much need for the 1DX as I had initially.

So I'm looking forward to my 5D3's arrival – and just to hedge my bets, I'll be keeping my pre-order in on the 1DX – with it not being released till later next month – this will give me some time to evaluate the 5D3. I can see how well it works as a slightly slower 6fps sports shooter.

So watch this space – I may either be extolling the virtues of the 5D3, or putting it up for sale to help fund the 1DX… and who knows – I may even end up buying them both.  But for now – I feel better that I don't feel like I'm goaded into buying the 1DX just to get the improved FF AF I've been wanting – I now have a choice with the 5D3.  After all, a combo of a 5D3, 1D4 and 1DX could be a hard bag full o bodies to beat!

Thoughts on this? What do you have on order – 5D3, 1DX, or both – and why?

Thanks for reading!

- Will