The 1Dx vs. the 5DM3
As I mentioned in my last newsletter/blog I had ordered a Canon 1Dx camera since Canon updated the firmware to allow it to autofocus with lenses of f/8 as the largest aperture, thus allowing me to use my 100-400mm with my 1.4 extender and my 500mm with my 2x extender. I have not had time to use it in the field but I did put it through a barrage of tests in my yard and house. So this text will not be a review of the autofocus system but more a review of the quality. I was in a quandary as to which camera to take with me on an upcoming trip to India. I already knew I was taking a trusty 1DM4 for the tiger portion of the trip since I will only have my 100-400mm lens with extender and I want the extra reach the 1.3 crop factor would give me. My dilemma was which other body should I carry for my primary camera the 1Dx or the 5DM3? (nice dilemma to have!)
Canon 1Dx ISO 5000 at 1/500 sec f/5.6 500mm L lens with some noise reduction in LR
It was virtually dark out and I was able to shoot at 1/500 of a second and get great images!
In the past I always carried the 1DsM3 as my primary with the 1DM4 as my longer lens camera. But on trips such as this I find I take 80-90% of the images with my 24-105mm on my primary camera. So I was used to a 21 megapixel camera and I wondered if the 1Dx would be enough or if I needed the 5DM3. So I began testing the 2 cameras side by side at different ISOs and I found the 1Dx is 1- 1.5 stops better at high ISO than the 5DM3. This will be important because at the Pushkar camel fair, I plan to go out early and catch the traders setting up and lighting their fires for morning tea, etc and it will be fairly dark. So the 1Dx won that test.
I also tried focusing in low light to see which was better. I found that neither of them can focus in low light if you are in Servo Mode, but if you switch to Single Shot they can. In this test the 1Dx was noticeably better. Another win for the 1Dx.
Next was printing large files, because most any camera looks good on the web, the real test is making big prints. I have a Canon ipf6300 24 inch printer and I typically print 16 x 20 prints but my largest common size that I can print is a 24 x 36 which actually I print at 22 x 33 so I have a border. I found that with the 5DM3 I can print a 25.6 x 38.4 with no interpolation (I print at 150PPI on my Canon printer but that is a whole other article!), with the 1Dx I can create a 23 x 34.56 print with no interpolation. That means I am downsizing either file to make the largest print I make on my printer. I was surprised that in a real world printing situation there was not much size difference between the two. I printed a 22 x 33 inch print from each camera and they were identical. So in this case it was a tie!
Canon 5DM3 at 100 ISO - It too takes great images!
I also wanted to compare image quality at 100 ISO because to be honest I take 95% of my landscape images at 100 ISO. Here again it was a tie. If printed a section from each camera at its native file size with no interpolation I could not see a difference in the print.
So I found out they are both great cameras making beautiful prints but the fact that the 1Dx is 1- 1.5 stops better at high ISO, has twice the frame rate as the 5DM3 and a slightly better autofocus system, better low light focus ability, and is better weather and dust sealed (India is a dusty place!), stronger overall build, and the 1Dx has an amazing set of options for programming the camera and its buttons, I decided there was no benefit of owning the 5DM3 for me since I have the 1Dx.
This doesn’t mean the 5DM3 is not a fine camera, it is! It just means that these two cameras are so close in quality that there is no need to have both. It comes down to needs, uses and of course money, which one is best suited for you. I hope this may help any of you that were considering either one as a purchase. Either way you can’t go wrong!