Rock Solid: Canon 1D X Mark II Review
The EOS-1D X Mark II is Canon’s newest flagship DSLR aimed at pro-level photographers. A quick glance reveals the camera’s 1D-series heritage, but under the hood there are some exciting upgrades going on. The 1D X II is built around a new 20.2MP full-frame CMOS sensor, now with Canon’s Dual Pixel autofocus system, includes an expanded 61-point autofocus system with 24% more coverage and a 360,000-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor, and is one of the first Canon DSLRs (other than the somewhat niche 1D C) that captures 4K video. Predictably, it’s also built like a brick and performs like a Formula 1 race car.
Canon 1D X Mark II Key Specifications
- New 20.2MP CMOS full-frame sensor with Dual Pixel autofocus
- 14 fps continuous shooting (16 fps in live view)
- 200+ shot buffer with Raw+JPEG (CFast 2.0)
- 61-point AF system with 41 cross-type sensors and 24% more coverage
- 360,000-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor
- Native ISO from 100-51,200 (expandable to 50-409,600)
- 4K/60p video in DCI format (4096 x 2160 pixels) using Motion JPEG
- 1.62 million dot LCD touch screen
- Flicker detection
- CFast 2.0 card support
- USB 3.0
The 1D X Mark II is a camera that anyone with previous 1D series experience can probably pick up, dial in their favorite settings, and start shooting right away — though as we'll see on the following pages, in doing so one might overlook advancements that Canon has made in this newest edition. There are a few minor tweaks to the body - all for the better in our opinion - and it takes very little effort to adapt. This conservative approach to design is a testament to the fact that the basic form factor works well. It’s no surprise that the designs of both the Canon 1D and Nixon Dx series are quite similar and haven’t seen many changes to the basic design over the years.
Conservative changes to the body notwithstanding, the 1D X II is full of new and updated technology designed to make the camera one of the top performing models in the world. The new AF system, although still utilizing 61 AF points, now covers 24% more of the frame and is, predictably, extremely fast. There’s also a new 360,000-pixel RGB+IR sensor for face recognition and subject tracking, which Canon refers to as iTR (Intelligent Tracking and Recognition).
The jump to 20MP (vs. the 1D X’s 18MP) isn’t exactly Earth shattering, but this is a completely different sensor than any found in Canon's previous flagship models. The 1D X II is the first full frame EOS DSLR to include Canon's Dual Pixel autofocus system, a feature we've praised on other cameras. Additionally, Canon has moved to a design that uses on-chip analog to-digital-conversion, which should result in improved dynamic range of the sensor.
Compared to the Nikon D5
The obvious point of comparison to the 1D X II is the Nikon D5. A quick comparison reveals a lot of similarities and a few differences. On the surface it appears that Nikon takes the prize for high ISO and AF specs, while the 1D X II wins on continuous shooting speed and video. On the following pages we'll try to give you a sense of how they stack up in the real world.
|Canon EOS-1D X II||Canon EOS-1D X||Nikon D5|
|100 - 51,200
(50 - 409,600)
|100 - 51,200
(50 - 204,800)
|100 - 102,400
(50 - 3,280,000)
|Viewfinder spec||0.76x mag
|AF points||61 (41 cross-type)||61 (41 cross-type)||153 (99 cross-type)|
|Live view/video AF||'Dual Pixel'
|Contrast detection||Contrast detection|
|AF working range||-3 – 18 EV||-2 – 18 EV||-4 – 20 EV|
|RGB metering sensor resolution||360k pixels||100k pixels||180k pixels|
|LCD||3.2" 1.62M-dot touch-enabled||3.0" 1.04m dot||3.2" 2.36M-dot touch-enabled|
|Burst rate||14 fps
(16 with mirror up)
|12 fps||12 fps
(14 with mirror up)
JPEG / Raw / Raw+JPEG
|Video||DCI 4K/60p||1080/60p||UHD 4K/30p|
|HDMI Out||1080 8-bit 4:2:2||1080 8-bit 4:2:2||4K/30 8-bit 4:2:2|
|Card format||1x Compact Flash
|2x Compact Flash||2x Compact Flash or 2x XQD variants|
|Battery life (CIPA)||1210 shots||1120 shots||3780 shots|
|Dimensions||158 x 168 x 83mm||158 x 164 x 83mm||160 x 159 x 92mm|
|Weight||1530 g||1530 g||1405 g (XQD)|
We doubt that many people are going to seriously contemplate a switch between Canon and Nikon over a few specs on one model or the other unless it's something absolutely mission critical. Most shooters utilizing this type of camera are likely heavily invested into a system, including lenses, strobes, and even institutional support. At the same time, it's instructive to see just how advanced both flagship models are getting. We expect that most pros or advanced amateurs could produce great results with either one.