The Canon 1Dx: the Bird Photography Point of View

This weekend, I spoke with 6 birding guys, and yes there were all guys. They all had big, monster L lenses. 4 had a 500L f/4 lens, 1 had a 600L f/4 lens and 1 had an 800L f/5.6 lens (and a 500mm f/4 in the trunk of his car.) The latest buzz about the Canon 1Dx is that you won’t be able to use the autofocus past f/5.6.

Their cameras are not too shabby either: 1 uses a Canon 5DMk2, 1 uses a Canon 1DsMk3, the last 4 use the Canon 7D. All the 7D photographers have migrated from the Canon 1DsMk3! That was for the improved focus for BIF (birds in flight) and for the 1.6x crop factor. In BIF, the most important (once you know what you are doing) is reach, the biggest gun wins.

  1. Price is not a problem.
  2. 3 of the 7D photographers plan to upgrade to the new Canon 600L f/4, with 2 having already paid the deposit.
  3. 1 7D photographer and the 1DsMk3 photographer plan to also buy the new Canon 200-400 when it comes out.

0, zero, none, of the 7D photographers plan on switching to the new 1Dx. They switched to the 7D for the crop factor, but are very interested in the 7DMk2 when…

For BIF, the most important feature is the reach (after skill obviously). A 600mm lens with a 1.4x converter on a 1Dx is the equivalent to a 840mm lens with f/5.6. A 600 mm lens with a 1.4x converter on a 7D is the equivalent to 1344mm lens with f/5.6.


  1. This sampling is completely unscientific and not representative of the birding photography world. It’s just some of the people that I met while birding on the weekend.
  2. In the “good old days” of my youth, the pros were using a 300mm f/2.8 on a full frame camera. I was struggling with a 200mm f/4. Nobody used a converter, it was too “crappy”, and everything was shot on Kodachrome 64.
  3. None of these comments apply to sport, fashion, advertising…
  4. I’m willing to sacrifice myself for the good of the community. So if somebody is willing to lend me a Canon 1Dx for an extended testing period…