The Nikon D4s Versus Canon 1DX – Battle of the Full Frames!

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The Nikon D4s and the Canon 1DX represent the best professional grade full frame cameras currently being offered by Nikon and Canon.  While most cameras today are capable of capturing high quality images, the thing that sets the D4s and the 1DX apart from other cameras is the high technical specifications, as well as the incorporation of a tough build, which allows both cameras to withstand abuse in a wide variety of diverse environmental situations that the professional photographer will encounter.

In a hurry? Here’s my quick summary:

Nikon D4S Advantages Canon 1DX Advantages
“Newer” Technology, released in 2014 (vs. 2012) Ability to store custom “C” settings (quick recall)
Slightly lighter than the 12.4 ounce 1DX Over $1200 Less expensive (only around $4,599 here)
Sealed against electromagnetic interference Dual CF card slots
Durable, weather sealed
Higher total effective Megapixel count (18.1)
Slightly faster FPS (12/14 FPS vs 11 for the D4S)
More autofocus points (61 vs 51)

Canon EOS-1D X 18.1MP Full Frame | Amazon

Its full-frame 18.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor and all-new Dual DIGIC 5+ Image Processors deliver high-quality image capture at up to 12 fps (14 fps in Super High-Speed Mode) and a powerful ISO range of 100 - 51200 (up to 204800 in H2 mode) provides sharp, low-noise images even in the dimmest low-light conditions.

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Similarities Between the D4S and 1DX

While both the Nikon D4s and Canon 1DX are full frame professional grade cameras utilizing CMOS sensors, they are very different cameras, but share several similarities, including build quality, image format, shutter speed, LCD size, viewfinder coverage and the ability to shoot high definition video.  The most significant similarity found in both cameras is the high quality build found in both cameras beginning with a magnesium alloy shell that covers the entire camera body.  In addition, both cameras offer extension moisture and dust resistant sealing to prevent damage to the internal components of the camera.  This feature is what separates professional grade cameras from consumer grade cameras.

Both cameras have the ability to capture still images in RAW or JPEG files, which are recorded on the memory cards quickly, due to the advanced processors found on both cameras.  The also have the same shutter speed range of 1/8,000 to 30 seconds, making both cameras very popular with sports and action photographers.  Other similarities include the use of a fixed rear LCD screen, which is 3.2” wide when measured on the diagonal from corner to corner.  This screen provides a “live view”, as well as a means to view the camera’s menu.  Both cameras have bright viewfinders allowing 100% coverage, meaning what you see in the finder is what is going to be seen in the image captured.  In addition both the D4s and the 1DX are capable of shooting high definition video in .MOV format at 1,920 x 1,080 and at a variety of speeds up to 60 frames per second.

Nikon D4S | Amazon

D4S is designed to keep you shooting wherever the story brings you, even after others have packed their bags for the day. Its increased ISO range means you'll be able to capture brilliant photos and videos in whatever light is available. Enjoy improved ergonomics and operability as well as flagship levels of durability and reliability—key for those who spend all day with a camera around their neck. 

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03/09/2024 05:27 pm GMT

Differences Between the Canon 1DX vs Nikon D4S

The differences between the D4s and the 1DX are significant and include total megapixel count, autofocus points, ISO settings, memory card format, speed, custom settings and weight.  While the newer D4s has 16.2 megapixels, the older 1DX has a total effective megapixel count of 18.1.  In both cases each camera is capable of capturing excellent images that are virtually indistinguishable from each other despite the difference in megapixel count.

There is a significant difference in the total number of autofocus points found in both cameras, with the Canon 1DX having 61 points compared to the 51 points found in the Nikon D4s.  In both cases the autofocus points are evenly distributed in the viewfinder and provide outstanding performance.  The ISO range between the two cameras is also significantly different, with the 1DX having a normal range from 100 – 51,200, while the D4s “only” has a normal range of 100- 26,600.  The Nikon can be expanded downward to 50 and upward to 409,600, while the Canon can only be expanded upward to 204,800.  In both cameras, the image quality at high ISO settings is very good.

Another difference between the two cameras is the memory card format used.  Both cameras have dual memory card slots, the D4s uses a single CF card and a single XQD card, while the Canon 1DX uses two CF cards.  The Canon1DX is also slightly faster at between 12 and 14 frames per second compared to the D4s at 11 frames per second.  The 1DX also has the ability to instantly recall the photographer’s customized settings thru the C1, C2 and C3 settings accessed thru the cameras mode function.  The Nikon has the ability to recall settings, however it must be done via the camera’s menus and is not as fast or convenient.   While the two cameras are very similar in size, the 1DX is significantly heavier than the D4s, with the 1DX weighing 54 ounces, compared to the 41.6 ounces of the D4s.

Canon EOS-1D X 18.1MP Full Frame | Amazon

Its full-frame 18.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor and all-new Dual DIGIC 5+ Image Processors deliver high-quality image capture at up to 12 fps (14 fps in Super High-Speed Mode) and a powerful ISO range of 100 - 51200 (up to 204800 in H2 mode) provides sharp, low-noise images even in the dimmest low-light conditions.

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Pros and Cons of the 1DX and D4s

As one would expect, each camera has a number of “pros” and “cons” and each photographer will need to determine the role that these pros and cons will play in their decision making process when choosing which camera to buy.  One big “pro” that both cameras share is the access to excellent quality professional grade lenses offered by both Nikon and Canon.  Lens quality is in many ways more important than body selection, as any camera body capable of capturing high-resolution images will show the flaws in cheaper lenses.

D4S Pro: The biggest “pro” of the D4S is that is the technology used in the camera is more advanced since the camera was introduced in 2014, while the Canon 1DX was introduced in 2012.  That being said, digital camera technology is constantly evolving and both manufacturers typically will offer firmware updates during the life of the camera body to correct any issues or improve performance.

D4s Con: The biggest “con” of the D4s is the cost and value associated with the newest technology found in the camera.  While newer, in most cases the technology advancements from one camera model to another is small at best and does not represent the best “value” in most cases.  The Canon 1DX is $1,200 cheaper than the D4s and this is a significant amount of money!

1DX Pro: The biggest “pro” to the 1DX is the incorporation of the C1, C2 and C3 settings, which allow the photographer to store custom settings in the camera that can be recalled via the camera’s mode dial.  This saves time and effort, as the user of this camera can access these settings without the need to navigate the camera’s extensive menu system.

1DX Con: The biggest “con” of the Canon 1DX is weight of the camera, which is 12.4 ounces heavier that the D4, although the cameras are relatively close to each other in size.  Carry the 1DX around all day and you will feel it, especially with an L grade lens!

Just the Facts, A side-By-Side Comparison

While most serious photographers look at image quality over technical specifications, many feel that the specifications are equally important.  The Nikon D4s and the Canon 1DX both have excellent image quality, as well as technical specifications, which are shown in the table below.

Item Nikon D4S Canon 1DX
Year Introduced 2014 2012
Format Full Frame Full Frame
Megapixels 16.2 18.1
Sensor Type CMOS CMOS
Processor EXPEED 4 Dual Digic 5+
Image Format JPEG, RAW or TIFF JPEG or RAW
Sensor Size 23.9 mm x 36.0 mm 24.0 mm x 36.0 mm
Sensor Cleaner Yes Yes
Auto-focus Points 9, 21 or 51 61
Modes Manual, Aperture Priority, Shutter – Priority Manual, Aperture Priority, Shutter – Priority
Metering 3D Color Matrix Metering III 252 – Zone Metering
View Finder Coverage 100% 100%
Live View Yes Yes
Frames Per Second 11 12-14, Depending Upon Mode
ISO 100 – 25,600 100 – 51,200
Lowest / Highest Expandable ISO LO-1 (ISO 50) and Hi-4 (ISO 409,600 H-2 Mode (ISO 204,800)
Shutter Speed Range 1/8,000 – 30 Seconds 1/8,000 – 30 Seconds
Built In Flash No No
Card Slots 2 Total; 1 CF And 1 XQD 2
Card Type CF and XQD CF
LCD Size 3.2” 3.2”
LCD Fixed or Swivel Fixed Fixed
Video Yes Yes
Video Format .MOV .MOV
Video Type Full HD 1,920 x 1.080; 24-60 FPS.  HD and VGA Formats As Well Full HD 1,920 x 1,080; 24,25 and 50 FPS.  640 x 480; 25 FPS As Well
Internal Autofocus Motor Yes No
GPS Optional Accessory Optional Accessory
Wireless Optional Accessory Optional Accessory
WIFI Optional Accessory Optional Accessory
Battery EN-EL 18a LP-E4N
Unique Features Magnesium Alloy Body, Weather Sealing Against Dust, Moisture and Electromagnetic Interference Magnesium Alloy Body, Weather Sealing Against Dust and Moisture.  Direct Printing To Select Printers, C1, C2 and C3 User Defined Custom Settings
Size Without Lens 6.3” x 6.2” x 3.6” 6.2” x 6.4” x 3.3”
Weight Without Lens 41.6 Ounces 54 Ounces
Manufactured In Japan Japan
Body Only or with Kit Lens Body Only Body Only
Included Accessories Camera, Battery, MH-26a Battery Charger, UC-E15 USB Cable, AN-DC11 Camera Strap, BF-1B Body Cap, BS-2 Accessory Shoe Cover, DK-17 Eyepiece, BL-6 Battery Chamber Cover, USB Cable Clip, HDMI Cable Clip, UF-2 Connector Cover For Stereo Mini Plug Cable, ViewNX 2 CD-ROM Camera, Battery, Rg Eyecup, LC-E4N Battery Charger, LY Wide Neck Strap, Cable Protector, AVC-DC400ST Stereo AV Cable, IFC-200U USB Interface Cable, EOS Digital Solution Disc, Software Instruction Manual
Cost, Body Only Around $5,996.95 here Around $4,599.00 here
Cost With Kit Lens (Lens Varies) N/A N/A

*Information from Nikon USA and Canon USA websites.

Overall Recommendation – Which Would I go With?

The Nikon D4s and Canon 1DX represent the top of the line full frame, professional grade digital cameras, with both cameras having a strong following.   The typical person purchasing either one of these cameras is typically a very experienced photographer, who is looking to upgrade to a professional grade camera body.  Ultimately the decision as to which of these two cameras to purchase may be driven by the photographer’s previous investment in either Nikon or Canon lenses.

That being said I prefer the Canon 1DX to the Nikon D4s for several reasons including build, price, dual CF card slots and the ability of the camera to store custom settings.  The first time I saw a Canon 1DX was in Thailand a couple of years ago during the annual Songkran festival, which is a water festival lasting days.  During the festival, people throw large amounts of water on each other and I saw a guy shooting the action with a Canon 1DX with a 24-70mm L grade lens.  The photographer and the camera were soaked, but the camera kept shooting and the photographer was not concerned at all about the camera being wet.  I was amazed and it made a lasting impression on me in regards for the build and weather sealing of the camera!

Although the Canon 1DX is a few years old now, it is still a very advanced professional grade camera and is significantly cheaper that the newer Nikon D4s.  The difference in price between the two cameras is enough to buy a decent lens or two. For example, I was able to buy the 1DX here for just around $4,599, well below retail.  Also, CF cards are my preferred storage medium and any camera with two CF card slots is a clear winner in my opinion.  Finally, I use the user defined custom settings all of the time on my Canon and Nikon cameras and find this feature a real time saver instead of navigating the camera’s menu system.

At the end of the day, both cameras are excellent and it comes down to personal preferences as to the importance of each camera’s features, as well as the photographer’s collection of glass.  The Nikon D4s and Canon 1DX are professional grade cameras that will provide years of service to experienced photographers.

Canon EOS-1D X 18.1MP Full Frame | Amazon

Its full-frame 18.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor and all-new Dual DIGIC 5+ Image Processors deliver high-quality image capture at up to 12 fps (14 fps in Super High-Speed Mode) and a powerful ISO range of 100 - 51200 (up to 204800 in H2 mode) provides sharp, low-noise images even in the dimmest low-light conditions.

Buy at
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

The Camera Guide Team

The Camera Guide Team is a group of writers, shutterbugs, and professional photographers. We know the challenge of looking through different cameras or accessories. We want you to learn everything about cameras. We provide honest reviews, detailed guides, and helpful comparisons. We have everything you need. We are here to help you find the perfect click.

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