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Canon 1D X vs 7D

The Canon EOS-1D X and the Canon EOS 7D are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in October 2011 and September 2009. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (1DX) and an APS-C (7D) sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 17.9 megapixels.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon 1D X versus Canon 7D
Canon 1D X Canon 7D
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Canon EF mount lenses
17.9 MP, Full Frame Sensor 17.9 MP, APS-C Sensor
1080/30p Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 100-51,200 (50 - 204,800) ISO 100-6,400 (100 - 12,800)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.2 LCD, 1040k dots 3.0 LCD, 920k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
14 shutter flaps per second 8 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
1120 shots per battery charge800 shots per battery charge
158 x 168 x 83 mm, 1551 g 148 x 111 x 74 mm, 860 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS-1D X and the Canon EOS 7D? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

The physical size and weight of the Canon 1D X and the Canon 7D are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon 1D X vs Canon 7D
Compare 1DX versus 7D top
Comparison 1DX or 7D rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 7D is considerably smaller (38 percent) than the Canon 1D X. Moreover, the 7D is substantially lighter (45 percent) than the 1DX. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor (as in the 1DX) will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, while more compact options are available for the smaller-sensor camera (7D). You can compare the optics available in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the 1DX gets 1120 shots out of its LP-E4N battery, while the 7D can take 800 images on a single charge of its LP-E6 power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the 1DX has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the 7D, Canon provides the BG-E7 vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay).

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon 1D X 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.7 oz 1120 Y Oct 2011 6,799i
 
Canon 7D 5.8 in 4.4 in 2.9 in 30.3 oz 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699i
 
Canon 1D X Mark III 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 50.8 oz 2850 Y Jan 2020 6,499 i
 
Canon 1D X Mark II 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.0 oz 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999i
 
Canon 7D II 5.9 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 32.1 oz 670 Y Sep 2014 1,799 i
 
Canon 70D 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199i
 
Canon 1D C 6.2 in 6.5 in 3.3 in 54.5 oz 1120 Y Apr 2012 14,999i
 
Canon 5D Mark III 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 33.5 oz 950 Y Mar 2012 3,499i
 
Canon 6D 5.7 in 4.4 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 1090 Y Sep 2012 2,099i
 
Canon 60D 5.7 in 4.2 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 1100 Y Aug 2010 1,399i
 
Canon 5D Mark II 6.0 in 4.5 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 850 Y Sep 2008 3,499i
 
Canon 50D 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 800 Y Aug 2008 1,299i
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III 5.9 in 6.3 in 3.1 in 48.9 oz 1800 Y Aug 2007 7,999i
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 42.9 oz 1200 Y Sep 2004 7,999i
 
Nikon D4S 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.6 in 47.6 oz 3020 Y Feb 2014 6,499i
 
Nikon D4 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.6 in 47.3 oz 2600 Y Jan 2012 5,999i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The 7D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 75 percent) than the 1DX, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

Sensor comparison

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 1D X features a full frame sensor and the Canon 7D an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the 7D is 62 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.6. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

In terms of chip-set technology, the 1DX uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC 5+ (Dual)) than the 7D (DIGIC 4 (Dual)), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Canon 1D X and Canon 7D sensor measures

Even though the 1DX has a larger sensor, both cameras offer the same resolution of 17.9 megapixels. This implies that the 1DX has a lower pixel density and larger individual pixels (with a pixel pitch of 6.95μm versus 4.31μm for the 7D), which gives it a potential advantage in terms of light gathering capacity. In addition, the 1DX is much more recent (by 2 years and 1 month) than the 7D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time.

The Canon EOS-1D X has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 51200, which can be extended to ISO 50-204800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon EOS 7D are ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-12800.

1DX versus 7D MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under review, the 1DX provides substantially higher image quality than the 7D, with an overall score that is 16 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.8 bits higher color depth, 0.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.7 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
 
Canon 1D X Full Frame 17.9 5184 34561080/30p23.811.8278682
 
Canon 7D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.011.785466
 
Canon 1D X Mark III Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.214.5324891
 
Canon 1D X Mark II Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788
 
Canon 7D II APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.411.8108270
 
Canon 70D APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668
 
Canon 1D C Full Frame 17.9 5184 34564K/24p........
 
Canon 5D Mark III Full Frame 22.1 5760 38401080/30p24.011.7229381
 
Canon 6D Full Frame 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.812.1234082
 
Canon 60D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.581366
 
Canon 5D Mark II Full Frame 21.0 5616 37441080/30p23.711.9181579
 
Canon 50D APS-C 15.1 4752 3168none21.811.469663
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744none24.012.0166380
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II Full Frame 16.6 4992 3328none23.311.3148074
 
Nikon D4S Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/60p24.413.3307489
 
Nikon D4 Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/30p24.713.1296589

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/30p).

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 1DX and the 7D are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the 1DX has a higher magnification than the one of the 7D (0.76x vs 0.63x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 1D X, the Canon 7D, and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
 
Canon 1D Xoptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 14.0 n n
 
Canon 7Doptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0 Y n
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIIoptical Y 3.2 2100 fixed Y 1/8000s 20.0 n n
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIoptical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 1/8000s 16.0 n n
 
Canon 7D IIoptical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 10.0 Y n
 
Canon 70Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 7.0 Y n
 
Canon 1D Coptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 14.0 n n
 
Canon 5D Mark IIIoptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 n n
 
Canon 6Doptical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5 n n
 
Canon 60Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel n 1/8000s 5.3 Y n
 
Canon 5D Mark IIoptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 3.9 n n
 
Canon 50Doptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 6.3 Y n
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIIoptical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIoptical Y 2.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0 n n
 
Nikon D4Soptical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
 
Nikon D4optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 7D has one, while the 1DX does not. While the built-in flash of the 7D is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the 1DX and the 7D write their files to Compact Flash cards. The 1DX features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the 7D only has one slot.

Connectivity comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS-1D X and Canon EOS 7D and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Canon 1D XYmono-Y-mini2.0---
 
Canon 7DYmono-Y-mini2.0---
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIIYmonomonoYYmini3.1Y-Y
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIYmonomonoYYmini3.0---
 
Canon 7D IIYstereomonoYYmini3.0---
 
Canon 70DYstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
 
Canon 1D CYmonomonoYYmini2.0---
 
Canon 5D Mark IIIYmonomonoYYmini2.0---
 
Canon 6DYmonomonoY-mini2.0Y--
 
Canon 60DYmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Canon 5D Mark IIYmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Canon 50DY----mini2.0---
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIIY-----2.0---
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIY-----2.0---
 
Nikon D4SYmonomonoYYmini2.0---
 
Nikon D4YmonomonoYYmicro2.0---

Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.

Both the 1DX and the 7D have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 7D was replaced by the Canon 7D Mark II, while the 1DX was followed by the Canon 1DX Mark II. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon website.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 1D X or the Canon 7D – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS-1D X:

  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (16 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.8 bits more color depth).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.7 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC 5+ (Dual) vs DIGIC 4 (Dual)).
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.76x vs 0.63x).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 920k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (14 vs 8 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1120 versus 800) on a single battery charge.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 1 month of technical progress since the 7D launch.


Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 7D:

  • More compact: Is smaller (148x111mm vs 158x168mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 691g or 45 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (75 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2009).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 1DX is the clear winner of the match-up (12 : 5 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

1DX 12:05 7D

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 1D X and the Canon 7D place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 1DX and the 7D in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon 1D X....4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2011 6,799i
 
Canon 7D+ +84/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2009 1,699i
 
Canon 1D X Mark III+ +........ Jan 2020 6,499 i
 
Canon 1D X Mark II..89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999i
 
Canon 7D II+84/1004/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 1,799 i
 
Canon 70D+ +83/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199i
 
Canon 1D C.......... Apr 2012 14,999i
 
Canon 5D Mark III+ +82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2012 3,499i
 
Canon 6D+ +83/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099i
 
Canon 60D+79/1004/55/54.5/5 Aug 2010 1,399i
 
Canon 5D Mark II91/10079/1004/55/5.. Sep 2008 3,499i
 
Canon 50D+ ++ +4.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299i
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III..+ +4.5/5.... Aug 2007 7,999i
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II..+ +...... Sep 2004 7,999i
 
Nikon D4S....4.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2014 6,499i
 
Nikon D4....4.5/5..4.5/5 Jan 2012 5,999i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Canon 1D X:
Check Ebay offers
Canon 7D:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon 1D X vs Canon 7D

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Canon 1D X Canon 7D
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Canon EF mount lenses
    Launch Date October 2011 September 2009
    Launch Price USD 6,799 USD 1,699
    Sensor Specs Canon 1D X Canon 7D
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 24.0 mm 22.3 x 14.9 mm
    Sensor Area 864 mm2 332.27 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.3 mm 26.8 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.6x
    Sensor Resolution 17.9 Megapixels 17.9 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5184 x 3456 pixels 5184 x 3456 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.95 μm 4.31 μm
    Pixel Density 2.07 MP/cm2 5.39 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 51,200 ISO 100 - 6,400 ISO
    ISO Boost 50 - 204,800 ISO 100 - 12,800 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 5+ (Dual) DIGIC 4 (Dual)
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 82 66
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 23.8 22.0
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.8 11.7
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 2786 854
    Screen Specs Canon 1D X Canon 7D
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.76x 0.63x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.2inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 1040k dots 920k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 1D X Canon 7D
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 14 shutter flaps/s 8 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy400 000 actuations150 000 actuations
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards CF cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Canon 1D X Canon 7D
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port External MIC port
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 1D X Canon 7D
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type LP-E4N LP-E6
    Battery Life (CIPA)1120 shots per charge800 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 158 x 168 x 83 mm
    (6.2 x 6.6 x 3.3 in)
    148 x 111 x 74 mm
    (5.8 x 4.4 x 2.9 in)
    Camera Weight 1551 g (54.7 oz) 860 g (30.3 oz)

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