Canon 1DX Mark II Image Quality Comparison

Below are crops from our laboratory Still Life target comparing Canon 1DX Mark II image quality to its predecessor, the 1DX, as well as to its closest competitor, the Nikon D5. We've also included the Canon 7D Mark II and Nikon D500, since they offer the top frame rates currently available from pro-level Canon and Nikon APS-C DSLRs (~10 fps), as well as the Samsung NX1, which is capable of 15 fps.

NOTE: These images are from best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction and using the camera's actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). All cameras in this comparison were shot with our very sharp reference lenses. Clicking any crop will take you to a carrier page where you can click once again to access the full resolution image as delivered straight from the camera. For those interested in working with the RAW files involved, click these links to visit each camera's respective sample image thumbnail page: Canon 1DX II, Canon 1DX, Canon 7D II, Nikon D5, Nikon D500, and Samsung NX1 -- links to the RAW files appear beneath those for the JPEG images, wherever we have them. And remember, you can always go to our world-renowned Comparometer to compare the Canon 1DX Mark II to any camera we've ever tested!

Canon 1D X Mark II vs Canon 1D X at Base ISO

100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon 1D X test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon 1D X test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon 1D X test image taken at ISO 100
Canon 1D X Mark II at ISO 100
Canon 1D X at ISO 100

The 20-megapixel 1DX Mark II captures a bit more detail than its 18-megapixel predecessor, particularly in the red-leaf swatch where some of the fine thread pattern is resolved, but the difference is pretty minor and otherwise the images are very similar here at base ISO.

Canon 1D X Mark II vs Canon 7D Mark II at Base ISO

100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 100
Canon 1D X Mark II at ISO 100
Canon 7D Mark II at ISO 100

Canon's top-of-the-line APS-C DSLR offers the same resolution, but its smaller APS-C sensor means that noise levels are a little higher at base ISO, which translates to slightly less detail thanks to noise reduction which has to work a little harder to produce similar noise levels.

Canon 1D X Mark II vs Nikon D5 at Base ISO

100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Nikon D5 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Nikon D5 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Nikon D5 test image taken at ISO 100
Canon 1D X Mark II at ISO 100
Nikon D5 at ISO 100

Image quality from these two rivals is actually fairly close, with the Nikon producing an ever-so-slightly crisper image in some areas, thanks to a slightly tighter sharpening radius and higher contrast, while the 1DX II appears sharper in others. Interestingly, the 1DX II shows a slightly higher amount of aliasing artifacts, which indicates it has a fairly weak AA filter. Colors from the Nikon are a touch warmer as well, but otherwise image quality is quite comparable here at base ISO.

Canon 1D X Mark II vs Nikon D500 at Base ISO

100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Nikon D500 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Nikon D500 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Nikon D500 test image taken at ISO 100
Canon 1D X Mark II at ISO 100
Nikon D500 at ISO 100

This comparison to the 21-megapixel APS-C Nikon D500 reveals the Nikon produces slightly higher noise levels as expected, but otherwise the differences are very similar to the D5, although this time it's the Nikon which shows slightly higher aliasing, thanks to the lack of an AA filter.

Canon 1D X Mark II vs Samsung NX1 at Base ISO

100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Samsung NX1 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Samsung NX1 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Samsung NX1 test image taken at ISO 100
Canon 1D X Mark II at ISO 100
Samsung NX1 at ISO 100

We decided to include the Samsung NX1 in this comparison because it is able to shoot at 15 frames per second and it has one of the best performing APS-C sensors to date. The resolution advantage of the 28-megapixel Samsung NX1 is easy to see here at ISO 100, as well as are much stronger aliasing artifacts, though sharpening halos are a little less obtrusive than the Canon's. Noise levels are similar, no doubt due to stronger noise reduction given the 1DX Mark II's pixel pitch is about 80% larger than the NX1's, but color and saturation are better from the Canon.

Canon 1D X Mark II vs Canon 1D X at ISO 1600

100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon 1D X test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon 1D X test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon 1D X test image taken at ISO 1600
Canon 1D X Mark II at ISO 1600
Canon 1D X at ISO 1600

The 1DX Mark II continues to resolve fine detail a little better than its predecessor here at ISO 1600. Luma noise appears to be a bit higher in the shadows from the Mark II, but chroma noise is better controlled which may be why the 1DX II doesn't do as well with our tricky red-leaf swatch (the fabric has probably also faded slightly since the 1DX was shot). Still, overall image quality is similar.

Canon 1D X Mark II vs Canon 7D Mark II at ISO 1600

100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600
Canon 1D X Mark II at ISO 1600
Canon 7D Mark II at ISO 1600

The advantages of a full-frame sensor with more modern tech (such as on-board A/D conversion) are more obvious here at ISO 1600. The 1DX II produces a noticeably cleaner image than the 7D Mark II, and it's more detailed as well.

Canon 1D X Mark II vs Nikon D5 at ISO 1600

100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Nikon D5 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Nikon D5 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Nikon D5 test image taken at ISO 1600
Canon 1D X Mark II at ISO 1600
Nikon D5 at ISO 1600

Again, fairly similar image quality from these two rivals at ISO 1600 apart from color and contrast, though the Canon image appears slightly cleaner in the shadows and dark areas.

Canon 1D X Mark II vs Nikon D500 at ISO 1600

100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Nikon D500 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Nikon D500 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Nikon D500 test image taken at ISO 1600
Canon 1D X Mark II at ISO 1600
Nikon D500 at ISO 1600

Compared to the state-of-the-art APS-C sensor of similar resolution in the Nikon D500, the advantages of the Canon 1DX II's full-frame sensor are not as stark as compared to the 7D Mark II, but they are still quite visible with lower noise levels and better detail.

Canon 1D X Mark II vs Samsung NX1 at ISO 1600

100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Samsung NX1 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Samsung NX1 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Samsung NX1 test image taken at ISO 1600
Canon 1D X Mark II at ISO 1600
Samsung NX1 at ISO 1600

The Samsung NX1's resolution advantage is quickly diminishing here at ISO 1600, thanks to much higher noise levels and stronger noise reduction needed to mitigate it. The Samsung continues to produce fewer sharpening halos, while the Canon produces better color and saturation levels.

Canon 1D X Mark II vs Canon 1D X at ISO 3200

100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon 1D X test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon 1D X test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon 1D X test image taken at ISO 3200
Canon 1D X Mark II at ISO 3200
Canon 1D X at ISO 3200

The newer 1DX Mark II does a little better with fine detail in most areas while continuing to produce similar noise levels, but the difference in images here at ISO 3200 is likely not enough to get anyone to upgrade for image quality alone.

Canon 1D X Mark II vs Canon 7D Mark II at ISO 3200

100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200
Canon 1D X Mark II at ISO 3200
Canon 7D Mark II at ISO 3200

Unsuprisingly, the advantages of the 1DX II's full-frame sensor are even more obvious here at ISO 3200, with much better detail and much lower noise.

Canon 1D X Mark II vs Nikon D5 at ISO 3200

100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Nikon D5 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Nikon D5 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Nikon D5 test image taken at ISO 3200
Canon 1D X Mark II at ISO 3200
Nikon D5 at ISO 3200

Once again, very similar image quality from these two rivals at ISO 3200 apart from color and tone curves, though the Canon does show slightly lower luma noise in the shadows.

Canon 1D X Mark II vs Nikon D500 at ISO 3200

100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Nikon D500 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Nikon D500 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Nikon D500 test image taken at ISO 3200
Canon 1D X Mark II at ISO 3200
Nikon D500 at ISO 3200

The 1DX Mark II pulls a little further away from the D500 here at ISO 3200, with lower noise, better detail and a crisper image overall. The Nikon continues to produce noticeably warmer colors.

Canon 1D X Mark II vs Samsung NX1 at ISO 3200

100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Samsung NX1 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Samsung NX1 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Samsung NX1 test image taken at ISO 3200
Canon 1D X Mark II at ISO 3200
Samsung NX1 at ISO 3200

The Samsung NX1 is working hard to keep noise under control here at 3200, but it can only do so much with a noisier sensor. The Canon 1DX II clearly outperforms it here in all respects, except in high-contrast areas.

Canon 1D X Mark II vs. Canon 1D X, Canon 7D Mark II, Nikon D5, Nikon D500, Samsung NX1

100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon 1D X test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Nikon D5 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Nikon D500 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Samsung NX1 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon 1D X test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Nikon D5 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Nikon D500 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Samsung NX1 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 1D X Mark II test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Canon 1D X test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Nikon D5 test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Nikon D500 test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Samsung NX1 test image taken at ISO 6400
Canon
1D X Mark II
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Canon
1D X
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Canon
7D Mark II
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Nikon
D5
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Nikon
D500
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Samsung
NX1
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Detail comparison. High-contrast detail is also important, pushing the camera in different ways, so we like to look at it, too.  Here, all cameras in this group do well at base ISO, though the higher-resolution Samsung NX1 is able to resolve more detail, though its contrast is the lowest. As expected, the full-frame models hold up the best as ISO rises. The 1DX Mark II does do a bit better than its predecessor, but nothing to write home about. The Nikons offer the highest contrast of the group, with surprisingly little difference between the full-frame D5 and sub-frame D500. The 7D Mark II trails the pack at higher ISOs, in both detail and contrast.

 

Canon 1DX Mark II Print Quality Analysis

High-quality prints up to 30 x 40 inches at ISO 50-400; Nice 8 x 10 inch prints all the way up to ISO 25,600; and a 4 x 6 inch print just squeaks by at ISO 102,400.

ISO 50/100/200/400 prints all look practically identical and altogether quite excellent up to a whopping 30 x 40 inches and beyond. Despite its 20-megapixel sensor, the Canon 1DX II is capable of making impressively large prints. At 30 x 40 inches, slight pixelation is visible upon close inspection, but at a normal viewing distance for prints of this size, they look great. Colors are very rich in this range of ISOs, as expected. We saw an ever-so-slight softening of very minute details in the ISO 400 30 x 40 inch print, but not to a degree as to impact print size, in our eyes.

ISO 800 images show just a hint more noise, but it's mostly confined to the shadows -- and even then, it's very minimal. Prints up to a sizable 24 x 36 inches are still very good, with lovely fine detail.

ISO 1600 prints look very similar to ISO 800 ones, with only a bit more shadow noise. Fine details are still crisp, and colors are vibrant and saturated. As such, we're happy to call the print size at 24 x 36 inches here as well, as the subtle increase in noise does not impact print quality all that much.

ISO 3200 images begin to display a slight drop in detail due to noise, though not to a very significant degree. The noise itself is increasingly visible in the shadows. Still, the camera is able to make nice, large prints up to 20 x 30 inches.

ISO 6400 prints show a bit too much noise for us to confidently call them at 16 x 20 inches, so we're playing it safe at 13 x 19 inches. A 16 x 20 inch print could certainly be used for less critical applications.

ISO 12,800 images display stronger, more visible noise, but detail overall, up to an 11 x 14 inch print, looks very good. Again, for less critical applications, you might be able to get away with bumping the print size up by one.

ISO 25,600 prints top out at 8 x 10 inches, as noise has become quite strong reducing fine detail at larger sizes.

ISO 51,200 images appear surprisingly clean when you stop at 5 x 7 inch prints. Noise, otherwise, is very much an issue at this ISO level, however colors still appear quite vibrant in our test prints.

ISO 102,400 prints are very noisy, but the 1DX II manages a usable 4 x 6 inch print. Any larger, noise and a lack of fine detail are very problematic.

ISO 204,800/409,600 images, while perhaps useful if you simply need to "get the shot," are just too noisy and lacking in fine detail for print making.

The Canon 1DX Mark II manages a fantastic showing in our print department, despite packing a modest 20-megapixel full-frame sensor that's obviously designed for speed rather than resolution. It certainly won't get any awards for sheer resolving power, considering the 36-50-megapixel full-frame cameras out there today, but it nevertheless manages some surprisingly large prints -- up to at least 30 x 40 inches -- at up to ISO 400. As ISO sensitivity rises, the 1DX II remains thoroughly impressive, even managing a nice 11 x 14 inch print all the way up to ISO 12,800. Even when the ISO reaches six digits, the Canon 1DX II is able to make a usable print, a 4 x 6 at ISO 102,400. However, the top two ISOs beyond this should be avoided for prints, as they are just too noisy.

 



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