Canon announces 1D X Mark II: 400k ISO, 14fps, 4k/60p, HD/120p

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The game is on! On February 2 2016, Canon announced its new flagship camera: EOS-1D X Mark II, the camera that is meant to rival the Nikon D4 S and win the hearts (and wallets) of professional photographers.

Canon 1D X Mark II front

Canon 1D X Mark II Key Features

  • 20.2MP Full-Frame Sensor
  • Native ISO up to 51,200, Extend: 409,600
  • 4K DCI Video Recording at 60 fps
  • Video 1920 x 1080p at 120 fps
  • Video 1280 x 720p at 120 fps
  • 14 fps Shooting for 170 raw shots with AE/AF
  • Dual DIGIC 6+ Image Processor
  • 3.2″ 1.62-m-Dot Touchscreen LCD
  • 61-Point (41 cross-type) AF System
  • 360k-Pixel RGB+IR metering sensor
  • Uncompressed 1080p HDMI output


It features a newly designed 20.2 MP sensor with Dual Pixel AF and native ISO of up to 51200 (which can be expanded to 409600). The focus of this sensor, just like the ones found on the Nikon D4 S and D5, is the best possible performance at high ISOs which is useful for sports and low-light photography, rather than a crazy resolution.

No camera oriented for sport photography can have slow performance or bad autofocus and the 1D X Mk. II truly excels in these. It can shoot continuous bursts of 14 frames per second in normal mode and 16 fps in “live-view” mode with the mirror locked up. But what’s truly excellent is that Canon can, if using CompactFlash UDMA 7 card or CFast 2.0 (both of which are supported ), offer you virtually unlimited buffer shooting JPEGs or 170 shots buffer while shooting RAW or 81 for RAW+JPEG.

The autofocus system that was class-leading even in the first generation of 1D X, now has gotten even better. It now offers 24% more coverage (making a total impressive 80% of sensor coverage available for phase-focusing using patented Dual Pixel AF technology) with central points area that are capable of focusing down to -3 EV, expanded by 8%. This now works down to f/8, which is also a considerable improvement.

Furthermore, because of the updated metering system that now uses 360,000 pixel RGB + IR sensor, it’s capable of even better subject (including faces) detection and tracking, even with through-the-viewfinder shooting. The improvements are noticeable but the tracking system as a whole is still inferior to Nikon’s world’s best 3D tracking system.

These features were not made possible simply because of new sensors and cards.  The processing unit itself now consists of dual DIGIC 6+ processors and a separate unit responsible for in-camera RAW conversion which also stores and applies lens correction profiles for reducing such optical imperfections as distortion, chromatic aberration, vignetting and color blur.

Canon 1D X Mark II top

As for usability features, it now offers a built-in GPS with compass, touchscreen for autofocus, 3.2” 1.62 million dots LCD, all of which are in the incredibly tough magnesium alloy body that is water-sealed and is shock and vibration tested with a shutter life graded for about 400,000 cycles.

Needless to say, this camera has great ergonomics similar to those of its predecessor, which is a desirable thing in the professional camera world, as photographers need to be able to switch from one camera to another during the upgrade as seamlessly as possible.

Also, despite the fact that 1D X Mark II uses a new battery LP-E19, it still is capable of making use of the LP-E4 batteries used by it predecessor, so if you happened to build a collection of batteries with your first generation 1D X you won’t have to get rid of them. However, keep in mind that with older generation batteries, not only will you get fewer shots compared to natives’ LP-E19 whooping 1210 pictures, but your continuous shooting rate will also drop to the same rate as that of the older camera: 12 fps or with 14 fps in live view.

On the connectivity side there is everything you need. Apart from slots for CompactFlash and CFast cards, it has a USB 3.0 (5 Gbit/s) and a gigabit Ethernet port for tethering with a computer. Additionally you can buy an optional Canon wireless transmitter WFT-E8A ($600) which will give the 1D X Mark II a Wi-Fi supporting 802.11ac protocol.

The video capabilities have also gotten a whole lot better. It’s the first non-video-oriented Canon camera capable of capturing 4k video at 60 frames per second and 1080p video at 120 frames per second. It might not seem like much since even your smartphone has better slo-mo capabilities, but keep in mind that with this camera you can eventually capture useful footage even at night whereas your smartphone would be finished at the first glance of dusk. That is of course because the noise performance at high ISO in full-frame DSLRs is better by orders of magnitude.

Canon 1D X Mark II back

The touchscreen also comes in handy when shooting video, as it allows you to refocus with a simple touch. Having said that, and noting the fact that even though you will be able to do quite a few things with the footage during the post-processing due to a high bitrate, it’s still not a great option for professional videographers. Canon probably did this intentionally to avoid competing with the movie oriented 1D C and the yet-to-be released 1D C Mark II. So, you don’t get the zebra exposure warnings, focus peaking or the Log Gamma options. Furthermore, 4k video is captured in wider than 16:9 DCI aspect ratio (1.9:1 with 4096x2160 resolution) which is a rather specific format and the codec used for this is somewhat unconventional –Motion JPEG.

However, the use of this codec allows the 1D X Mark II to take 8.8MP pictures even when shooting a 4k video, which is definitely a nice feature to have. Some event photographers that enjoy silent picture taking can use this mode to achieve their desired outcome, but although the shutter here has been modified and the “silent drive mode” was added in the same manner as in the 5DS R, it’s still does not offer completely silent photography.

So, to sum it up: Canon 1D X Mark II is definitely a very capable camera for low-light and sports photography and will definitely give the Nikon D4 S and newly released D5 (current leaders in this segment) a run for their money. I would even suggest that the Canon is superior in terms of video capture.

It will be available for purchase in April for the price of $6000 for the body only and $6300 for a bundle with 64GB CFast card and a reader.

Canon EOS-1D X Mk. IINikon D5
Dimensions158 x 168 x 83 mm (6.22 x 6.61 x 3.27″)160 x 159 x 92 mm (6.3 x 6.26 x 3.62″)
Weight1530 g (3.37 lb / 53.97 oz)1415 g (3.12 lb / 49.91 oz)
Sensor sizeFull-Frame (36 x 24 mm)Full-Frame (35.9 x 23.9 mm)
Resolution5472 x 3648 (20MP) 5588 x 3712 (21MP)
Video resolution4096x2160 60p, 1920x1080 120p3840 x 2160 30p, 1920x1080 60p
Continues shooting 16fps14fps
Number of focus points (cross-point sensitive)61 (41)153 (55)
Buffer size JPEG/RAWunlimited/170-/79
Price$6000 $6500
   

About the Author

Denis ProtopopovLandscape, lifestyle and product photographer for the past 3 yearsView all posts by Denis Protopopov →

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