Below you'll find our standard studio test scene tool, where you can see the 1D X II's full ISO range and compare it to its peers. On the last page, we showed the benefits on-sensor analog-to-digital conversion brings to low ISO performance, but here we focus on high ISO performance, as well as JPEG quality. Have a look, and read our in-depth analysis below the widget. In-line links change the state of the widget below.

High ISO Performance

Although the 1D-X II shows significant increase in dynamic range at low ISOs in our dynamic range tests, high ISO Raw performance remains fairly similar to its predecessor, which is actually impressive considering the 1D-X II gains dual-pixel architecture for decisive video AF. Noise performance falls slightly behind the Nikon D5 (and even the Sony a7R II when normalized) at very high ISOs. At these very high ISOs, JPEGs suffer a bit as well, with the a7R II showing the most detail retention in grey tones and in low contrast greenery, despite all cameras starting off with similar detail in Raw. Sony's clever sharpening and context-sensitive noise reduction help it establish its lead, but the Nikon D5 isn't too far behind. Canon's noise reduction is, in comparison, less aggressive overall, but smudges away low contrast detail. While on the surface this may not seem an ideal combination, it's a fair choice in the sense that it avoids obvious noise reduction artifacts.

Color

Color-wise, saturation is dialed down slightly from the 1D X, and considerably from the 5D Mark III, yielding less saturated blues, greens, and yellows - even compared to the Nikon D5. The decreased saturation is a trend we've noted in recent Canon DSLRs, but with the 1D X II it leads to somewhat less pleasing skintones in our studio scene, surprising given our general preference for Canon skin colors. At default settings, warmth is preserved under tungsten lighting. We'll be examining our real-world JPEGs closely to see if these observations are borne out in real-world shooting.

Sharpening

Canon's latest JPEG engines have opted for fairly large radius sharpening of JPEGs - like the Nikon D5 - and can lead to some obvious sharpening halos around edges. Interestingly, these halos appear less obvious in 5DS images viewed at common viewing size, because the same large radius sharpening proportionally affects less of the photo with the higher resolution sensor of the 5DS. Sharpening halos are completely absent in Sony a7R II JPEGs, because of a more refined sharpening engine. Ultimately, large radius sharpening is accompanied by a fine detail cost relative to the Raw file, or when compared to the finer radius sharpening of the Sony a7R II or a7 II - both of which retain most of the fine detail available in the original Raw.

Summary

While the EOS-1D X II shows big improvements in base ISO dynamic range relative to previous Canons, high ISO performance remains stagnant, falling behind the Nikon D5, and showing no benefit over the higher resolution Sony a7R II at common viewing size. This is actually more impressive than it sounds: it's highly commendable that Canon has achieved this level of sensor performance while splitting photodiodes to achieve dual-pixel AF, which enables groundbreaking video autofocus. JPEG colors are muted relative to predecessors, while sharpening is a bit heavy-handed, sacrificing fine detail for punch. Noise reduction is well-controlled, but the lack of context-sensitivity and smudging of low contrast detail mean that high ISO JPEGs are neither the cleanest, nor retain the most detail, when compared to peers.

It's important to keep these findings in context: the 1D X II produces very pleasing, nearly class-leading Raw and JPEG images for the most part, but it falls slightly behind in certain respects when compared to its best-performing peers.