If you thought the design and hardware specs of Canon’s upcoming 4K-capable 1D C are strangely similar to the company’s flagship 1D X, you’re right: the two models feature identical hardware loaded with different firmware. At Photokina 2012, DSLR filmmaking blog EOSHD spoke to Canon representatives, who confirmed this fact to be true. They write,
The 1D C is a 1D X with a 4K firmware update. Canon’s man told me that the only hardware change was to do with the flash sync jack [...] So essentially the 1D X hardware – sensor, processor, everything – is capable of 4K video, 100%, no heat or bandwidth issues either.
What’s crazy is how much the difference in firmware affects the camera’s price. With a suggested retail price of $15,000, the 1D C more than doubles the 1D X’s price tag of $6,800.
The fact that the hardware in the two cameras are identical means that 1D X owners could potentially one day use their devices for 4K video by simply downloading and installing a firmware update.
When EOSHD asked the rep whether or not a paid update might be in the company’s plans, the answer was no. One of the factors in this decision is how tax works in certain countries. Video cameras require much higher import taxes, so the ability to turn a 1D X into a powerful video camera with a software tweak wouldn’t sit well with government regulators.
Another is the fact that Hollywood studios with deep pockets are more than willing to pay heftier prices for a solid 4K video camera, while the hamstrung version of the camera would still be popular among photographers when priced much lower.
Still, having such big differences in camera functionality be due solely to firmware differences means that the camera could potentially be hacked to provide these features for free. The Canon 7D has just been cracked to run Magic Lantern, giving it fancy new features. Perhaps we’ll soon be saying the same about the Canon 1D X.
Update: New reports are casting doubt on EOSHD’s story. There may be some hardware differences after all.