Basic Specifications
Full model name: Canon EOS-1D X Mark II
Resolution: 20.20 Megapixels
Sensor size: 35mm
(36.0mm x 24.0mm)
Kit Lens: n/a
Viewfinder: Optical / LCD
Native ISO: 100 - 51,200
Extended ISO: 50 - 409,600
Shutter: 1/8000 - 30 seconds
Dimensions: 6.2 x 6.6 x 3.3 in.
(158 x 168 x 83 mm)
Weight: 54.0 oz (1,530 g)
includes batteries
Availability: 04/2016
Manufacturer: Canon
Full specs: Canon 1D X Mark II specifications
20.20
Megapixels
Canon EF 35mm
size sensor
image of Canon EOS-1D X Mark II
Front side of Canon 1D X Mark II digital camera Front side of Canon 1D X Mark II digital camera Front side of Canon 1D X Mark II digital camera Front side of Canon 1D X Mark II digital camera Front side of Canon 1D X Mark II digital camera

Canon 1DX Mark II Review -- Now Shooting!

Updates:
02/01/2016: Downsized pre-production gallery images posted
05/02/2016: First Shots with a production model posted
06/06/2016: Gallery Images with production model posted
: Performance page posted

06/22/2016: Field Test Part II posted

We've now completed part 1 of our Canon 1D X Mark II Field Test, where we put this new flagship EOS camera to the test on the sidelines of some fast-paced sporting events. Here, we look closely at the 1D X Mark II's autofocus performance, shooting speed as well as its image quality at higher ISOs. We also look at the camera's design and ergonomics and how this big, robust camera handles out in the field. Dive in for all the details below, and for anyone wanting to jump straight to our Canon 1D X Mark II Overview, please click here.

 

Canon 1D X Mark II Field Test Part I

Big & bulky but oh so fast: The 1D X II hits the sidelines

by | Posted

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Sample Image
Canon 400mm f/2.8L IS II: 400mm, f/2.8, 1/1600s, ISO 12,800

Getting reacquainted with Canon's flagship 1D-series cameras

As a long-time Canon user, I've had a chance to use a number of different Canon cameras, including a brief time with a beat-up, old 1D Mark II N that I purchased as a backup camera. Most of the time, though, I've stuck with smaller cameras, like the 7D and 5D Mark II. The old 1D Mark II N was big, heavy, had an outdated battery and tiny, low-res LCD screen, but it was built like a tank, had fantastic autofocus and still took excellent photographs for what was then about a six year old camera.

Since that time, I sold off that trusty 1D and haven't had the need for a $5-6K 1D-series professional DSLR for my personal, non-professional photographic pursuits. As a now-hobbyist photographer, a 1D-series camera is way more camera than I need, but when it came time for us to review the new 1D X Mark II camera, you better believe I jumped at the chance.

Being Canon's latest and greatest flagship camera, one designed for lightning-fast performance and speedy AF, I wanted to test the 1D X Mark II under more appropriate conditions than what I typically go for. Cue a handful of emails requesting media credentials for a variety of local sports teams. So, for this first installment of our Canon 1D X Mark II Field Test, in addition to discussing my take on the camera's handling and design, I put the 1D X Mark II to the test photographing both soccer and rugby, which offered a variety of fast-paced, fairly unpredictable subjects.

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Sample Image
Canon 400mm f/2.8L IS II: 400mm, f/2.8, 1/1600s, ISO 800

Big & heavy, but the 1D X Mark II is built to take a beating

Before we get to the sports, let's begin with the exterior and how this "beast" of a camera feels in the hand. If you're accustomed to large, gripped DSLRs, then the Canon 1D X Mark II will probably feel like familiar territory. I, on the other hand, now use the compact Olympus E-M1 as my primary camera or otherwise grab the smaller Canon 7D. Turns out it's easy to forget just how bulky and heavy these all-metal, weather-sealed 1D-series camera can be, especially when you mount a sizable lens like a 70-200mm f/2.8! It was definitely a full-on different experience hand-holding such a setup for multiple hours of shooting.

With the exception of the weight, the Canon 1D X II feels fantastic in the hand thanks to it's excellent ergonomic grip. The contoured handgrip fits in my hand perfectly without being overly bulky, and the deep finger-shaped indention really adds a nice feeling of security while gripping the camera. I would guess that my hand size is rather average, and I find that non-gripped DSLRs fit in my hand very nicely. In fact, I own a battery grip for my personal Canon 7D and rarely find the need to use it for ergonomic reasons -- heck, I don't even have a grip for my E-M1. However, when it comes to the 1D X Mark II, its inherent gripped design is very welcomed. You have a much fuller, more secure grip, plus the added benefits that come with a grip, including the portrait-oriented controls as well as the handy secondary info screen. When using hand-holdable lenses like the 70-200 f/2.8, this combo is still quite heavy, and having that extra full grip that a 1D-series offers is great.

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Product Image

Typical controls, only minor differences to other EOS models

In terms of controls, the 1D X Mark II is, more or less, very similar to Canon's other high-end EOS models. Overall, there's perhaps a bit more spacing available between a number of buttons around the camera, and some, like the multi-directional joystick button, are slightly larger on the 1D X Mark II compared to other EOS models. However, the overall layout of buttons and dials are very similar and should pose very little confusion to seasoned EOS users.

Perhaps the most noticeable difference to a 1D-series camera compared to other EOS models is the lack of a traditional round mode dial. The shooting modes on the 1-series cameras are fairly straightforward, with just Program Auto, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual exposure modes. For one, there's not much need for a mode dial for just four shooting modes. Furthermore, the simplicity of buttons rather than a movable dial mechanism helps with the camera's overall durability and weather-sealing. Usability-wise, I'm not sure if there's a clear advantage one way or the other, as I'm simply more accustomed to a traditional mode dial.

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Product Image
Canon 1D X Mark II (top) vs. Canon 5DS/R (bottom): Besides the obvious lack of a traditional mode dial on the 1D body, note the differences in the arrangement and function of the four buttons above the LCD.

One small difference, compared to other EOS cameras, is that 1D models have a simpler set of functions assigned to the four buttons in the front of the top-deck LCD, whereas on many other EOS cameras, three of these four buttons serve a dual purpose depending on which control dial you rotate. On the 1D X II, the settings for metering mode, drive mode, AF mode and flash exposure compensation are instead located on the left side of the camera next to the primary mode button. This is, of course, an extremely minor detail, that's for sure, but for those with a deep-set muscle memory, who can remember these buttons' positions without looking, it might take a bit of adjustment going to a 1D-series camera. Thankfully, the 'ISO' button on the 1D X II, just like other applicable Canon DSLRs, features a small but noticeable extra bump to help differentiate it from its three neighbors just by touch.

Lastly, the 1D X Mark II sports an all-new feature never before put on a 1-series body: a touch screen. Now, for day-to-day still photography, the touchscreen here might not be of much use, as it's only "activated" while in live view for photos or video recording. For instance, as I photographed sports, I only used the optical viewfinder. If you do want to use live view, the touchscreen works great. It's responsive and provides accurate tap-to-focus capabilities, but that's pretty much the extent of the touchscreen functionality on this camera. That being said, for shooting video especially, the touchscreen is a very handy feature for making quick, on-the-fly focus adjustments and to initiate AF subject tracking (which works quite well thanks to the Dual Pixel CMOS AF).

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Sample Image
Canon 400mm f/2.8L IS II: 400mm, f/2.8, 1/1600s, ISO 1000
This image has been edited. Click image for full-res edited version, or click here for the original photo.

The Canon 1D X Mark II offers lots of control customization

In terms of customization, the 1D X Mark II is highly configurable to suit your shooting style. The camera offers 11 primary customizable buttons, all of which can be re-programmed from a single menu. This Custom Control menu is also accessible via the Quick ('Q') menu on the back of the camera, making it quite easy to configure your controls practically on the fly. For example, I much prefer to use to back-button focusing, especially when shooting subjects like sports or wildlife, and the streamlined access to the Custom Controls menu let me do this in just a few moments.

Hefty, yes, but the 1D X Mark II is a fast, flexible pro-level tool

Overall, from a usability standpoint, apart from the, um, impressive weight, the 1D X Mark II can be very easy and straightforward to use. Given its focus as a professional-level tool, the 1D X II is very streamlined with no extraneous shooting modes or funky filters and creative effects. It's much more a "pure" camera, if that makes sense, which I quite appreciate. On the other hand, the sheer amount of customization, either to the control scheme itself or the various minutiae of performance settings, AF tweaks, numerous exposure-related settings and much more, can feel a bit overwhelming, especially to a non-pro such as myself. Of course, you don't need to spend hours tweaking this setting and that. Right out of the box, the Canon 1D X II can capture amazing photographs, but, as I said, this camera is a professional tool, and it offers an amazing range of fine-grained customizations that pros can use to help get the job done depending on the need.

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Sample Image
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II: 70mm, f/2.8, 1/3200s, ISO 250, +0.3EV

Sports Photography: Home sweet home for the Canon 1D X Mark II

Sports photography is one of the main use-cases for a camera such as the Canon 1D X Mark II. As someone who's photographed sports many times, as I worked for a local newspaper company, I was eager to try my hand again at this fast-paced, difficult subject matter. With its super-fast 14fps burst rate, high-performance AF system, a new 20MP full-frame sensor and updated dual processors, and improved high ISO sensitivities, I knew testing the 1D X II on the sidelines would be an excellent way to get a feel for not only its speed and AF performance, but also how the camera handles higher ISOs.

Photographing soccer with a 400mm f/2.8 lens

My first outing was an evening soccer match for the Atlanta Silverbacks. My personal selection of Canon lenses weren't appropriate for this sporting event, so my lens of choice was a 400mm f/2.8L IS II from our IR's headquarters. To be honest, a 1-series and 400mm f/2.8 lens was a combo that I've always wanted to use to photograph sports of some kind. Now, I had my chance!

Right off the bat, you guessed it, the weight of this combo is rather daunting. The lens is obviously massive with a very large barrel of a lens hood. Add the 3.3lbs (1.5kg) 1D X Mark II on the end, and you have a rather bulky rig. But this is a rig you use with a monopod, and once up and running, it works great. The tripod collar plus the gripped design of the 1D body made it very easy to flip back and forth between vertical and horizontal orientations as well as compensate for any monopod tilting as I maneuvered the camera around to get my shots.

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Sample Image
Canon 400mm f/2.8L IS II: 400mm, f/2.8, 1/1600s, ISO 2000, +0.3EV
This image has been edited. Click image for full-res edited version, or click here for the original photo.

As expected, the Canon 1D X Mark II has fantastic autofocus

The autofocus performance is fantastic, and even with the very shallow depth of field you get with a 400mm lens at f/2.8, the 1D X II kept up with the fast-paced action shot after shot. As with the predecessor, the 1D X Mark II's autofocus and metering system uses its own dedicated DIGIC image processor -- this time its own DIGIC 6 rather than a DIGIC 4 chip in the Mark I -- which should help provide increased speed and accuracy. Based on my experience, the 1D X Mark II does indeed perform extremely well with both fast and precise autofocus.

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Screenshot

The 1D X Mark II, like a number of recent EOS models, offers a range autofocus presets, or "Cases," with various adjustments to different AF performance parameters depending what types of subjects are being photographed. For this first soccer match, I didn't do much tweaking in terms of AF performance fine-tuning, except for setting it to "Case 4," which the camera specifically mentions is appropriate for soccer. Here, the camera increases the AF tracking responsiveness to +1, which helps the camera adjust focusing for erratic subjects that move quickly at various speeds. Given my understanding and experience with 1D-series cameras, I wasn't all that surprised to find that the 1D X Mark II's AF system performed very well in keeping up with the fast-paced soccer players as they ran and weaved across the field. I also felt that the camera did a great job at maintaining consistent tracking on my intended player despite other players darting in and out of view between the subject and me.

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Sample Image
Although to capture this photo clearly involved a good amount of luck, it's a great example of how the Canon 1D X Mark II, with the appropriate AF settings, was able to maintain decently sharp focus* on my intended subject as I tracked him through this play. (*If you zoom in, you can see that the player's face is a bit soft, as the sharpest part in focus is, in fact, the bottom of his shoe.)
Canon 400mm f/2.8L IS II: 400mm, f/2.8, 1/1600s, ISO 10,000
This image has been edited. Click image for full-res edited version, or click here for the original photo.

As for the AF Area mode I used, for the most part, I set it to the 9-point 'Expand AF Area: Surround' mode, which, as the name suggests, offers a single manually-selected AF point surrounded by eight helper AF points. I also tried the 9-point 'Zone AF' mode, which utilizes a block of nine AF points for focusing. Very rarely did I end up with mis-focused shots, which I'm almost inclined to chalk up to operator error, such as failing to keep the AF point(s) on my intended subject; the use of the AF point expanding and Zone AF area modes, I feel, helped maintain a good keeper rate of focused images, since it would have been quite difficult keeping a single AF point on a fast-moving soccer player, especially while using the 400mm supertelephoto lens.

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Sample Image Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Sample Image

What buffer limits? The 1D X Mark II easily chews through frames

When it came to burst speed and buffer performance, it was definitely something I didn't even have to bother worrying about. The 1D X II, at 14fps, simply fires off frames like there's no tomorrow. Using a new super-fast CFast memory card, you can shoot frame after frame with no noticeable slow down, and you can instantly begin reviewing images on the camera with out any apparent delay, in my experience. The 1D X II even lets you limit the number of continuous shots to a still staggering 99 frames, but I got no where near filling the camera's buffer capacity of around 70 or so frames with RAW+JPEG enabled. I mainly found myself needing to only shoot sequences in short, quick bursts, but I did capture a few moments with a burst of around 10-20 continuous frames, and the 1D X II handled those with ease.

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Sample Image
Canon 400mm f/2.8L IS II: 400mm, f/2.8, 1/1600s, ISO 10,000

A quick aside about the memory card situation in the 1D X Mark II: Unlike the predecessor, the Mark II takes a page from the 5D Mark III's playbook in that it offers dual card slots, but of two different types -- one CF and one CFast. If you're chock-full of "classic" CompactFlash cards, you'll probably want to budget for some of the new CFast-format cards (along with a new card reader). CFast is, well, fast. As mentioned, the buffer performance is amazing, especially when using the new CFast card. Also, off-loading images using a CFast card reader is impressive as well. As a quick test, I timed a full memory card dump using a Thunderbolt CFast card reader. I was able to copy around 36GB of image files directly onto a USB3-connected hard drive in a little less than seven minutes.

Personally, I would have liked dual card slots of the same type and format. Not only would that be much simpler in terms of what kinds of memory cards you need to carry around, but it would also allow for two memory cards of the same read/write speed and capacity, which might help avoid any potential performance issues (for instance, Canon recommends using CFast cards for 4K video capture). For shooting sports, I did try a dual card setup -- with JPEGs written to the CF card and RAWs to the CFast one -- but I never experienced any issues or slow-downs.

OK, back to shooting…

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Sample Image
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II: 200mm, f/2.8, 1/3200s, ISO 320, +0.3EV

From a different perspective: Capturing sports with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II

For a bit more manageable setup, I got the chance to see a second Silverbacks soccer game as well as rugby match the following day using the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II, and a 1.4x TC II at times. This combo performed rather well, though I did miss that sweet super-shallow depth of field and subject isolation I got with the 400mm. However, you gain a more flexible, lighter rig that's much easier to maneuver quickly, which is great when photographing fast-paced events such as these. That being said, I was still rather surprised at the heft of this combination. Toward the end of matches, I was thinking to myself, "boy, an E-M1 and 40-150mm f/2.8 sure would nice right about now!"

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Sample Image
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II + 1.4x TC II: 280mm, f/4, 1/2500s, ISO 200, +0.3EV

When needed, it's very easy to tweak AF performance parameters

While the performance of the camera itself obviously didn't change, I did notice the AF performance was just a touch slower, especially when using the 1.4x teleconverter, which was to be expected. However, even without the teleconverter, the 1D X Mark II and the 70-200mm sometimes missed focused completely during a burst of shots, despite what I thought was a good effort on my part to keep the AF point(s) over the subject. In addition to the various AF presets, you can individually tweak the various parameters of each AF "Case" as needed. While using the 70-200mm, I ended up modifying the Case 4 AF preset, tweaking the Tracking Sensitivity to -1 with the aim of increasing the ability to maintain focus on subjects even if they move out from under the AF point. I also experimented with increasing the Servo AF's tracking responsiveness from Case 4's default +1 to a +2 factor. This was to help track subjects that move much more erratically, which I felt was needed especially during the rugby match as players juked and weaved around each other very quickly. Overall, while I didn't do a scientific test or anything, I do think the AF performance with the 70-200mm was improved after my tweaking, though despite that I still got a few missed shots, as you can see in the example below.

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Sample Image

Here is a sequence of three frames shot using the 70-200mm f/2.8 (200mm, f/2.8, 1/3200, ISO 125), where even after tweaking the tracking sensitivity and responsiveness, the camera and lens still managed to miss focus on a few frames.

(Images here are screenshots from Canon Digital Photo Professional with AF point display enabled.)

Don't worry, be happy: Crank the ISO all you want.

Capturing sports often necessitates fast shutter speeds of at least 1/1000s, which usually results in needing higher ISOs. Both soccer matches I covered began in the early evening with early summer sunny conditions, to the late evening with nighttime conditions and rather dimly lit artificial stadium lighting. As such, I was able to capture shots at the wide range of higher ISOs. The rugby match, on the other hand, took place on a bright sunny afternoon, during which I never needed an ISO above 640, even with shutter speeds reaching 1/2500s or faster.

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Sample Image
Canon 400mm f/2.8L IS II: 400mm, f/2.8, 1/1600s, ISO 20,000
This image has been edited. Click image for full-res edited version, or click here for the original photo.

Given Canon's long history and the high marks given to its predecessor, it's no surprise that the Canon 1D X Mark II can capture excellent images. Though not a big jump in resolution from the 18MP 1D X, the new 20MP 1D X Mark II captures terrific images at lower ISOs. Detail is nevertheless very good, and allows for a decent amount of cropping, if needed. Color reproduction at default settings looked pleasing and realistic, and dynamic range was quite good in my experience, letting me uncover shadow details and pull back bright highlight areas. However, the metering performance was very good, and I rarely found myself needing to adjust exposure compensation all that much or do any heavy exposure changes to RAW images in post. Using Evaluative metering, the camera's default mode, I did find that in scenes with lots of contrast, such as with the foreground subject in shadow and a brightly lit background, images needed some positive exposure compensation or a bit of shadows adjustment in post in order to get a properly exposure subject. In these cases, as you can seen in the example shot below, the camera had a tendency to expose more for the background.

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Sample Image
In this shot, you can see that a good swath of the field is in shadow, while the stands in the background are in bright sun. This is a tricky scene to expose for, and I needed to boost up the exposure compensation a bit in order to at least somewhat better expose for the shaded players. If I were to edit the RAW file for this shot, I would still boost up the shadows a bit more.

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II + 1.4x TC II: 240mm, f/4, 1/2000s, ISO 1000, +0.7EV

The Canon 1D X Mark II captures excellent high ISO images

The real story here, however, for the subject matter I've shot, is the camera's high ISO performance, which, suffice it say, is very good. The two soccer games I photographed ended up needing very high ISO sensitivities towards the latter half of the game. I decided to set the camera to manual exposure mode and use Auto ISO, in order to maintain not only a fast shutter speed of around 1/1600s-1/2000s but also lock the aperture to the fast f/2.8 aperture.

Towards eight o'clock, the ISO was hovering around ISO 2000, but once the sun had fully set and the artificial stadium lighting was on, the ISO climbed up to around 12,800 and even sometimes up around ISO 20,000 and beyond. Overall, I was very impressed by the high ISO performance of the 1D X Mark II. Images in the "mid-range" of higher ISOs, such as ISO 2000 or even 6400, are quite clean and still show a lot of fine detail. Sure, by zooming in to 100 percent, you can see evidence of noise (and NR processing with JPEGs), which isn't unexpected. You're not likely to print photos at 100% magnification, though, and at normal print sizes or image resolutions, the photos are crisp, clean, and display vibrant colors.

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Sample Image
Canon 400mm f/2.8L IS II: 400mm, f/2.8, 1/1600s, ISO 25,600
This image has been edited. Click image for full-res edited version, or click here for the original photo.

At the more extreme ISO levels, noise is, of course, much more of an issue and is more noticeable. Image softness is apparent to some degree, but, again, at normal resolutions, the images look very good to my eye, especially if you get the exposure right in-camera so as not to need any major exposure boosting in post. I was rather impressed with the amount of fine detail I could see even while at ISO 25,600. Although I never needed to shoot at any higher ISO sensitivities, I feel that the camera could surely handle, especially with careful RAW processing and noise reduction techniques.

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Sample Image
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II: 70mm, f/2.8, 1/3200s, ISO 10,000, -0.3EV

Part I Summary: Flagship performance from a flagship camera

All in all, I found the Canon 1D X Mark II to be a solid winner in the image quality department, at both low and higher ISOs. The camera's autofocus performance is also top-notch right out of the box, and yet also allows for lots of fine-tuned adjustments depending on the subject at hand. And, as a professional tool, it offers the wide array of features and customization to both the imaging pipeline and to the external controls in order to get the job done comfortably and reliably. Given the pedigree of the 1D-series, this is perhaps not all that surprising for what is Canon's 10th EOS 1D-series camera. This is Canon's flagship camera, after all, and one should expect flagship-level results. Thankfully, the 1D X Mark II delivers.

 

 

Canon 1DX Mark II Review -- Now Shooting!

by
Preview posted: 02/01/2016

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Product Image

In the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics, Canon debuted their latest professional DSLR, the 1D X. Now, here we are on the eve of another summer Olympics, and Canon once again is pulling out the stops for its massively powerful, top-of-the-line EOS camera, the aptly-named Canon 1D X Mark II.

Describing 1D-series cameras usually conjures up adjectives like "beast," "monster" or "king," and the 1D X Mark II is no exception with top-notch specs for both still shooters and video creators alike. Historically, the straight 1D-series cameras (as opposed to the "1Ds" models) were more about speed and performance than sheer resolution, and the 1D X Mark II is a continuation of that trend, though there's a bit more image resolution to go around this time.

Ultimate EOS: new sensor, faster processors & more

Sporting a newly developed 20.2-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor, the 1DX II offers a slight bump up from the 18MP resolution of the original 1DX and is similarly spec'd in that regard compared to its major competitor, the 20.8-megapixel Nikon D5. The Canon 1DX II features a fixed optical low-pass filter on the image sensor to help guard against moiré patterns and other aliasing artifacts. Coupled with a pair of all-new image processors, the new DIGIC 6+ to be exact (up from the dual DIGIC 5+ setup of the 1D X), the new "Mark II" version can chew through full-resolution images at up to 14 frames per second (up from 12fps) with auto exposure and predictive autofocus when using the optical viewfinder. And photographers can push the speed even faster up to 16fps when using Live View (an increase from 14fps on the original model).

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Product Image

This new sensor and processor setup also offers improved expanded ISO capabilities. While the native sensitivity range remains unchanged at ISO 100-51,200, the Canon 1DX II offers a higher expanded ISO up to ISO 409,600. According to Canon, a priority was put on capturing and resolving better shadow detail with higher ISOs, so we're anxious to see how a production version tests in the lab. According to Canon, the new sensor and processor should exhibit better dynamic range and color noise characteristics over its native ISO range than the original 1DX.

The Canon EOS-1D X Mark II also brings over the flicker detection system of the 7D Mark II, which helps avoid differing color and exposure within a frame, or during a burst of frames. Though usually imperceptible to the human eye, cameras can often catch the on/off cycle of certain types of artificial lighting, especially when shooting a fast burst of continuous frames. The Canon 1DX II can detect and subtly adjust the timing between each continuous frame in order to capture shots at the optimal lighting level. For sports photographers, particularly those shooting indoor sports under artificial lighting, being able to avoid poor exposures due to flickering lights is a very helpful feature.

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Prototype Gallery Image

400mm f/2.8L IS II USM: 400mm, f/5, 1/160s, ISO 200
Note: Image was shot with a pre-production sample.

(Downloads of high-res versions are not yet available. Click for a larger, but not full-resolution image)
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61-point AF with improved tracking, better in low-light and at f/8...

Top-notch autofocus performance is a crucial feature of Canon's 1D-series cameras, and the new 1D X Mark II offers a number of improvements, including the reintroduction of a past feature thanks to user demand. The Canon 1D X Mark II builds upon the 1D X's 61-point AF system with an expanded AF point coverage area. And similar to the earlier Canon 6D, the 1D X II's central AF point is sensitive down to -3EV -- an increase from -2EV of its predecessor -- which allows the 1D X II to autofocus in exceptionally dark conditions (think moonlight-level of darkness).

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Product Image

In the original Canon 1D X, all 61 of its AF points were sensitive down to apertures of f/5.6 and only a center AF point (with four expansion points) was sensitive at f/8, but now the new 1D X II offers focusing down to f/8 for every AF point -- excellent news for users of long telephoto lenses and teleconverters! The Canon 1D X II AF system has a total of 41 cross-type AF points in its array with five dual cross-type AF points, 20 cross-type AF points down to f/4-5.6, 21 cross-type AF points at f/5.6, and 20 horizontal-line sensitive AF points at f/5.6.

The camera also features a new and improved AI Servo III+ predictive autofocus algorithm, which aims to improve speed and accuracy for fast-moving subjects. Additionally, the EOS iTR (Intelligent Tracking and Recognition) system has been improved thanks to the 1D X Mark II's all-new 360K-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor (a first for a 1D series camera). The refined iTR system, which uses face recognition and color information to enhance AF tracking, should offer improved precision and better tracking performance compared to the earlier 1D X.

There are a total of seven AF point selection modes, including two AF point expansion options with either four points surrounding a central point or eight surrounding AF points. There are also two Zone AF configurations, a smaller nine-segmented mode or a Large Zone AF option with all points divided into three large groups of active AF points.

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Product Image

...and red AF points in the viewfinder are back!

Though it may seem like small change, many pros clamored for their return and Canon obliged -- red AF points are back! Through the viewfinder, red-colored AF points can now be set visible at all times, and at two adjustable brightness levels. The original 1D X had visible yet black-colored AF points in the viewfinder (they only illuminated red when adjusting the AF point). The AF point(s), however, remained black or non-illuminated during normal shooting, which could make them difficult to see, especially in darker shooting conditions. The reintroduction of red illuminated AF points is, therefore, a welcomed change.

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Prototype Gallery Image
24-70mm f/2.8L II USM: 24mm, f/5, 1/800s, ISO 200
Note: Image was shot with a pre-production sample.
(Downloads of high-res versions are not yet available. Click for a larger, but not full-resolution image).

Robust in-camera RAW processing with Digital Lens Optimizer

Normally reserved for post-processing after the fact on a computer for Canon EOS cameras, the new 1D X Mark II has a built-in Digital Lens Optimizer function. Borrowed from Canon's Digital Photo Professional imaging software, the 1D X II can now apply lens-specific diffraction compensation as well as chromatic aberration correction, distortion correction and peripheral illumination correction in-camera. This is potentially a big time-saver for the professional photographer, especially news and/or studio photographers who often rely on delivering finished files directly from the camera and soon after capture. As part of the 1D X II's in-camera RAW processing, DLO corrections can be applied during JPEG conversions, which is a much faster workflow than dumping memory cards of images, sorting and then converting RAW files into images using a computer. All four types of lens aberration corrections can also be applied to JPEG files as the images are being shot.

The 1DX II also features Canon's Fine Detail Picture Style as first seen on the 5DS and 5DS R. This real-time option lets you sharpen JPEG images similar to how unsharp mask works in Photoshop, with much superior results than the default Canon sharpening algorithm.

Shooting fast with CFast

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Product Image

In an interesting shift compared to the 1DX, the new 1DX Mark II features one UDMA 7 CompactFlash Type 1 slot and one CFast 2.0 slot rather than dual memory card slots of the same type. The newer CFast-format memory cards, according to Canon, are seeing faster adoption rates in the marketplace compared to other high-performance storage formats, such as XQD memory cards for example. The use of CFast 2.0 memory cards in the 1D X Mark II, given their much faster read- and write-speeds, therefore allow for increased performance for stills and video capture.

While using either a CF UDMA 7 card or CFast 2.0 card, the 1D X Mark II has an unlimited buffer capacity for JPEG files -- in other words, the buffer is limited only by the capacity of the memory card. However, for RAW or RAW+JPEG modes, buffer capacity differs depending on memory card type. With a CFast 2.0 card, the RAW buffer is a very generous 170 shots, according to Canon's numbers, while a UDMA 7 CF card "only" allows for 73 shots. RAW+JPEG offers an 81-shot buffer with CFast 2.0 and 54 frames with CF UDMA7 cards.

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Prototype Gallery Image
400mm f/2.8L IS II USM: 400mm, f/2.8, 1/2000s, ISO 200
Note: Image was shot with a pre-production sample.
(Downloads of high-res versions are not yet available. Click for a larger, but not full-resolution image).

First full-frame camera with Dual Pixel CMOS AF

The updated 20-megapixel full-frame sensor in the 1D X II is more than just a standard CMOS chip with a higher resolution; it's the first full-frame sensor with Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology. Dual Pixel CMOS AF with its on-chip phase-detect autofocus sensors not only helps for super-quick autofocusing for Live View still image shooting, but also for quick, accurate and smooth AF operation for videos.

If you're not yet familiar with Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology,
jump over to our special in-depth look this technology from our Canon 70D review.

During our brief hands-on time with a Canon 1DX II prototype, Live View focusing was blazingly quick thanks to the Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology. For still shooting, autofocus felt nearly instantaneous upon half-pressing the shutter button, and for video, focus adjustments appeared smooth and cinematic.

4K video makes its way to a more affordable EOS camera

Video recording has been a staple of EOS cameras for years now, and despite being a flagship EOS camera, the original 1DX was still lacking on a few sought-after video features. A prime example being, if you needed video resolutions beyond 1080p, you needed to jump to the pricey Cinema EOS line with either the similarly-sized 1D C or the top-of-the-line C500 video camera to get 4K video recording.

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Product Image

With the Canon 1D X Mark II, you can now shoot Cinema 4K video (4096 x 2160 aka DCI 4K) at up to 60fps, which is great for high-resolution footage of not only action, sports and other moving subjects, but also pretty much anything else. The camera also offers DCI 4K video at 30fps (29.97), 24fps (23.98) and true cinema-centric 24.00fps. (PAL frame rates of 50p and 25p are also available.) Interestingly, there's no UHD (3840 x 2160) option.

4K video is captured in Motion JPEG format, for all frame rates, and offers a high-quality bitrate of approximately 800Mbps for 60p and 500Mbps for the lower framerates, according to Canon's specs. Given the high data rates for 4K/60p footage, Canon recommends using CFast memory cards for 4K capture. The 1DX II also offers a 4K Frame Grab option in Playback mode, which allows you to pull 8.8-megapixel still images from a 4K video.

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Product Image

For 1080p video, the Canon 1DX Mark II is capable of a slow-motion-friendly 120fps, making it an even more capable camera for a variety of filming scenarios. The 1080/120p video mode is only offered in .MOV format with ALL-I compression for the best possible image quality (approximately 360Mbps bitrate). All other 1080p video framerates in MOV mode are offered in ALL-I or the space-saving IPB compression schemes.

Full HD video is also available in the standard array of slower framerates, from 60fps (59.94) down to 23.98fps (and true 24.00fps for cinematic work, as well as PAL options). Mobile device- and web-friendly .MP4 video is also offered at 1080p resolution in a variety of frame rates from 60p to 24p (and PAL) with IPB compression. IPB Light compression (approx. 12Mbps) is also available for 1080/30p (or 25p) video.

Although some pro-level video features like focus peaking or zebras are still not available, and video recording to an internal memory card has a maximum time limit of 29:59 per clip, the Canon 1DX II does offer clean, uncompressed 4:2:2 -bit HDMI out with audio (with no time limitation when not recording internally), but only at Full HD resolution. Simultaneous internal recording at up to 4K and 1080 HDMI streaming is however possible. Plus, in addition to the stereo microphone input seen on the original 1D X, the "Mark II" now also features a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack, which can be used to monitor audio during video capture.

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Prototype Gallery Image
24-70mm f/2.8L II USM: 24mm, f/11, 1/160s, ISO 200
Note: Image was shot with a pre-production sample.
(Downloads of high-res versions are not yet available. Click for a larger, but not full-resolution image).

Hands-on with the characteristically big & beefy 1D X Mark II

As with other 1D-series cameras, the Canon 1D X Mark II is as rugged as they come for an EOS DSLR, and the build quality is top-notch. The camera is built around a durable magnesium alloy chassis that features the highest level of dust and weather-sealing that Canon offers on an EOS camera with higher-grade environmental protection than the 5D- and 7D-series cameras. The Canon 1DX II even has a mag-alloy mirror box, and its shutter mechanism is rated for 400,000 actuations -- with a built-in shutter counter like the earlier 1DX.

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Product Image

The look and feel of the Canon 1DX Mark II is classic 1D-series quality. Yes, the camera is heavy at about 3.4 lbs (1.53 kg) body-only, but its characteristic "built-like-a-tank" construction ensures it can withstand the wear and tear of daily use that a professional photographer or videographer will throw at it. This camera is built to last.

And though it may look like another 1D-series camera, there are a few small but notable new features that are making their way to a 1D-series for the first time. One minor tweak to the external design is a slightly thinner handgrip. The camera's characteristic full-size handgrip with integrated vertical grip can make for a rather thick handgrip, which can be a bit cumbersome for users with smaller hands. Canon tweaked the design of the grip to be slightly thinner, making it easier to wrap your hand around the camera. It's a very subtle change, but when comparing the 1D X II to the original side-by-side, the new design is noticeable and quite nice -- it's not drastic enough to negatively affect users with larger hands, in our opinion, but it simply makes the camera all the more secure in the hand.

Moving to the rear of the camera, the Canon 1D X Mark II is the first 1D-series model to feature a touchscreen LCD. The 3.2-inch TFT LCD display features 1.62-million dots of resolution and seven levels of brightness adjustment. The display is fixed, and not articulated in any way for the sake of durability (we're told the touchscreen capability itself has no effect on durability of the screen). In use, the touchscreen works very well. It's very responsive and tap-to-focus to select new focus points and set subject-tracking all works smoothly and easily.

While many other touchscreen-capable cameras, including Canon models, usually allow for the use of the touchscreen to operate a number of functions including navigating menus and changing settings, the 1D X II opts for a much more simplistic approach. The touchscreen is only active when selecting an AF point during live view shooting or in movie mode, otherwise the touch functionality is disabled. For long-time 1D owners, the standard Canon menu system and UI are operated just as before with physical controls -- so picking up the 1DX Mark II should feel right at home for those accustomed to its predecessor.

Brought over from the 5DS and 5DS R cameras, users of the "Q" Button for Canon's Quick Control interface now gain the ability to customize this layout and what settings and other information are displayed.

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Prototype Gallery Image
24-70mm f/2.8L II USM: 24mm, f/7.1, 1/640s, ISO 200
Note: Image was shot with a pre-production sample.
(Downloads of high-res versions are not yet available. Click for a larger, but not full-resolution image).

Wi-Fi has yet to be built-in on a 1D, but GPS now comes standard

Looking at the top of the camera, one will certainly notice the small "hump" at the top of the pentaprism housing. This is for the 1DX Mark II's new built-in GPS receiver. In a professional workflow, GPS functionality can be quite useful. For instance, for wildlife photographers and photojournalists, GPS metadata can help keep track of locations. Sports photographers can sync multiple cameras more easily and accurately. Users can even automatically sync their cameras' time with the GPS system's atomic clock. In professional shooting scenarios, such as press and event photography in particular, where metadata is critical for editors, wire services, and for simple organization, the addition of GPS functionality can be a nice benefit.

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Product Image

Though there isn't built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, the 1D X Mark II debuts with an updated wireless transfer accessory called the WFT-E8 (seen in the above image). This small optional accessory now offers 802.11ac wireless connectivity for faster transfers of photos and videos to connected mobile devices using Canon's Camera Connect app (iOS/Android). For wired connectivity, there are upgrades in this area as well, as the camera now includes a USB 3.0 port rather than USB 2.0. There's also a built-in 1000BASE-T Ethernet port.

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Product Image

Other minor exterior tweaks include a wider, easier to operate multi-direction joystick button on the rear of the camera and a new Live View/Movie Mode toggle switch, which is similar to that on the 5D-series and 7D-series cameras.

New battery offers lots of shooting time

The Canon 1D X Mark II comes with a new rechargeable lithium-ion batter pack, the LP-E19. Similar in shape to the 1DX battery pack, older batteries from earlier 1DX cameras are compatible in the 1DX II, but not vice versa. According to CIPA testing, when using the optical viewfinder, the 1DX II's battery should allow for between 1020-1210 or thereabouts (depending on the ambient temperature). Battery life drops dramatically though for Live View shooting, with approximately 240 shots per charge at 32°F (0°C) or 260 shots at 73°F (23°C).

Pricing & Availability

As with the previous 1D X, the Canon 1D X Mark II is being sold body-only. Set to become available in April 2016, the Canon 1D X Mark II has an estimated retail price of US$5,999, which is a sizeable reduction compared to the original 1DX's $6,799 launch price. Canon is also offering a "Premium Kit" configuration for an MSRP of US$6,299 that includes a 64GB CFast 2.0 card and card reader.

Canon 1D X Mark II Review -- Product Image

 

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