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Canon 1D X Mark II Preview: Better than Nikon D5?

The camera every pro Canon shooter has been waiting for has finally been announced with the Canon 1D X Mark II. My preview is simple; I’ll review the main specs, reflect on them, and then describe who its potential users are (click here for my Canon 1D X Mark II/Nikon D5 comparison).

While at CES 2016, I had a chance to play with the new 1D X Mark II for a few minutes. Bear in mind that I had eight Canon employees standing around making sure I didn’t do anything I wasn’t supposed to do; I couldn’t take pictures with a card in the camera, I couldn’t take pictures or videos of the camera itself, but it is what it is.

Main Specs for Stills

Priced at $5,999, the 1D X Mark II will cost $500 less than the Nikon D5.

20.2 MP Sensor (18.1 in Mark I). From what I’ve been told, this sensor has excellent dynamic range and reduced color noise. You would assume after four years of waiting, the new camera would have a much better sensor. Of course, we will only know this once we take it out into the wild.

2 Card Slots. You would think Canon would put two of the same cards into this camera. Well, they didn’t. You have one CF and one CFast 2.0 card. In my opinion they should have gone with two CFast cards and been done with it.

14 FPS with Auto Exposure and Auto Focus, 16 FPS in Live View and 5 FPS in Silent. This is a blazingly fast shooting camera and there is no doubt about it.

You can shoot 170 RAW images in a row to the CFast 2.0 slot and 73 with the CF. This means if you put two cards into the camera you’re going to most likely get the slower 73 to both cards.

ISO 100-51,200 (expandable down to 50 and up to 409,600). The native ISO is the same as you would find in the original 1D X but keep in mind this is an entirely new sensor. You will have much cleaner images when using ISO’s that in the past would have had issues.


Dual Digic 6+ and 360,000 RGB+IR metering sensors.

Improved 61 points AF with 41 being cross-type. The big deal with this new AF is all 61 points are usable and supported up to F8 for those who shoot super telephoto lenses with teleconverters.

Continuous Red Illumination of the AF points. Canon finally changed this feature with the 1D X Mark II. This is something that had always bothered me in the Canon lineup–the fact that the red focus points blinked but didn’t stay on while shooting. Now, they do.

AF Sensitivity in low light has been doubled from -2 to -3EV. I’m still unsure how that’s doubling, but I’ll take their word for it.

The 1D X Mark II has built-in GPS for geo-tagging, syncing of cameras for sports shooters, and Atomic Clock time setting.

It has a markedly improved grip and feel in your hands. This camera does feel better than its predecessor, though it still feels like a brick house. It feels big in the hands compared to the Nikon, which has a less boxy design. This is something you’ll just get used; not a deal breaker.

3.2 Inch Touch Screen along with a new battery.


Main Specs for Video

This is where the 1D X Mark II crushes the competition: its video.

DCI Cinema 4K motion JPEG at 60 FPS. This is a HUGE deal. We’re talking about true cinema 4k with huge bitrates at 60 FPS. On the flip side, the Nikon is doing UHD; not cinema (only 30 fps for only 3 minutes at a clip). The Canon 1D X II will do 29:59 to it’s CFast slot, which will account for roughly 192 gigs of data.

At 1080, you will be able to record up to 120 FPS, which will be great for anyone looking to capture solid slow motion. These specs are a huge deal and really put this camera’s video capabilities far beyond its competitors.

There is Dual Pixel AF which is most likely borrowed from the Canon 70D, C100II and C300II. I love this feature. Hands down–it’s amazing.

Because you have a 3.2-inch touch screen, you can now do touch AF. Being able to touch the screen for smooth autofocus is a huge deal.

Now, there is a headphone jack in addition to the audio input.

If you would like to pull a frame grab from the 4k video, you can do so at 8.8 megapixels right in camera.

Overall Impressions


As you can see, the specs on this camera are impressive. You have one of the most well-rounded pro cameras ever made. This camera is for the professional sports shooter, the photojournalist, the wedding photographer, and even for serious video shooters. All of this comes at a $6,000 price tag, but if you’re a working professional, that’s the cost of doing business.

Would I buy one? Yes, I would buy one, as it would be great for stills and video alike. If I was someone new to the pro game who shoots stills and video, I would find it hard to pass up the 1D X Mark II in favor of a Nikon D5. The 4K alone is worth the price of admission.

Of course it always comes down to personal preference. I have already ordered a Nikon D5 being that I am glasses up and love the feel of the Nikon’s. But in no way does that mean I wouldn’t be able to get fantastic results with this 1D X Mark II. It is a very tempting camera that we may pick up as a business because of the stills and video capability.

Fast, Formidable, and 4K, All-in-One Camera
CANON U.S.A. IntroducES the EOS-1D X Mark II Professional Digital Camera
Delivering Precise and Reliable Performance with Versatility for Any Photo or Video Professional

MELVILLE, N.Y., February 1, 2016 – Rising to meet the rigorous and evolving demands of professional photographers and videographers, Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging, is proud to announce the new EOS-1D X Mark II DSLR camera. With a new 20.2 megapixel 35mm Full Frame Canon CMOS sensor and Dual DIGIC 6+ Image Processors, the EOS-1D X Mark II professional digital camera delivers stunning image quality and speed. Combining the ability to capture high-resolution still images at speeds up to 14 frames per second as well as stunning high-definition video up-to-4K 60P featuring Canon’s proprietary Dual Pixel CMOS Autofocus (AF) technology, the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II camera becomes the ideal camera for any professional image creator.

The new flagship Canon EOS-1D X Mark II features several firsts for EOS cameras including:
Newly developed 20.2 megapixel 35mm Full Frame Canon CMOS sensor;

Continuous shooting speeds of up-to-14 frames per second (fps) with Auto Exposure (AE) and predictive AF for viewfinder shooting and up to 16 fps1 in Live View mode;

Dual DIGIC 6+ Image Processors that transfer image data at extremely high speed for extended bursts during continuous shooting – up-to-170 consecutive RAW images at 14 fps. When shooting JPEG images you’re only limited by memory card capacity 2;

Capable of shooting 4K 60P and Full HD 120P video with Dual Pixel CMOS AF;

Enhanced wireless functionality (with the optional accessory Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E8) that supports the new high-speed IEEE 802.11ac standard and the ability to easily transfer photos and videos to compatible smartphones using Canon’s Camera Connect app*;

Digital Lens Optimizer to help correct aberrations in-camera (a feature that previously required post-processing on an external computer);

Improved 61-point viewfinder AF with expanded coverage and all AF-points selectable and supported to a maximum aperture of f/8;

Improved AI Servo III+ predictive AF algorithm for better accuracy;

Continuous red illumination of all AF points within the camera’s Intelligent Viewfinder II.

Compatibility with both CF and CFast memory cards for optimal performance and versatility.

The Ultimate EOS Camera: Continuing a Legacy of High Speed and Performance

Building on the success of the Canon EOS-1D X professional digital camera, the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II camera is designed to deliver high-performance, speed, and image quality, with improved comfort for professional photographers.

In addition to the new 20.2 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor and Dual DIGIC 6+ Image Processors, the new EOS-1D X Mark II DSLR camera includes an improved 61-point High-Density Reticular AF II system with all AF points selectable by the user (and up to 41 cross-type points depending on the lens in use).

The improved AF system includes expanded coverage that supports AF at maximum apertures up to f/8 with all 61 points for high precision autofocus even when using EF super-telephoto lenses with an EF extender. The camera also boasts excellent dynamic range and reduced color noise compared to its predecessor throughout its standard ISO speed range of 100 – 51,200. Expansion ISO speeds of 50, 102,400, 204,800 and 409,600 are also available.

A first for the Canon EOS-1D series, this camera also features a 360,000-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor with enhanced precision and performance compared to its predecessor, improving facial recognition and tracking, as well as nature scenes. Additionally, the advanced AE system can detect and compensate for flickering light sources such as sodium vapor lamps that are often used in gymnasiums and swimming pools. When enabled, this anti-flicker system automatically adjusts shutter release timing to help reduce disparities in exposure and color especially during continuous burst shooting.

For filmmakers and photographers looking to do more than still photography alone with a DSLR camera and EF lenses, the EOS-1D X Mark II camera offers high resolution DCI 4K video at frame rates up-to-60p, with smooth movie recording to an in-camera CFast 2.0 memory card. An additional card slot supports standard CF memory cards up to UDMA 7. The built-in headphone jack supports real-time audio monitoring. Two additional EOS ‘firsts’ include 4K Frame Grab and 120p Full HD recording.

The camera’s 4K Frame Grab function allows users to isolate a frame from recorded 4K video and create an 8.8 megapixel still JPEG image in-camera. When combined with the EOS-1D X Mark II’s high-sensitivity full-frame CMOS sensor, the new camera’s ability to record Full HD video at frame rates up to 120p will allow videographers to produce high quality slow motion video even in extremely low light. To make video shooting even more intuitive, the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II camera’s touch-screen LCD allows videographers to select the camera’s AF point before and during video recording with Dual Pixel CMOS AF, which provides responsive, accurate and quiet camcorder-like video autofocus to DSLRs.

“The innovations within Canon’s new EOS-1D X Mark II DSLR camera clearly set a new standard for professional cameras,” said Yuichi Ishizuka, president and COO, Canon U.S.A., Inc. “In developing the EOS-1D X Mark II camera, we looked to incorporate user-requested performance enhancements to bring professional photographers the ultimate EOS camera, a camera that has matured and been developed to meet their evolving needs.”

“Having f/8 capability on all 61 AF points is a tremendous benefit to wildlife photographers,” noted nature photographer and Canon Explorer of Light Charles Glatzer. “In order to capture tight shots of animals without disturbing them, I frequently have to use very long lenses—sometimes with an extender attached, which further diminishes the aperture. The improved AF allows me to frame the shot exactly the way I envision it, without having to compromise.”

“This camera is a huge step forward,” remarked acclaimed photographer and Canon Explorer of Light Damian Strohmeyer. “Shooting sports in a gym at 8,000 ISO, it looked as good as 800 ISO from a generation or two ago. The images are tack-sharp, and the autofocus just doesn’t miss. I’ve been amazed by what I’ve seen so far.”

“The autofocus was awesome,” agreed Peter Read Miller, sports photographer and Canon Explorer of Light. “The higher frame rate coupled with the speed of the CFast card was a definite advantage. It just never buffered out, even shooting RAW.”

The new EOS-1D X Mark II camera also offers a built-in GPS** receiver with compass for precise geo-tagged information of latitude, longitude, elevation and direction. This is especially valuable to wildlife photographers and photojournalists who need to track their locations, as well as providing sports photographers the ability to sync a multiple-camera setup with extreme accuracy and precision. It is also possible to use the camera’s built-in GPS to automatically sync the camera’s time to the atomic clock, an invaluable feature to professionals.

An improved grip also makes the camera easier for photographers to hold and maneuver while shooting. In response to feedback from professional EOS users, the AF points in the EOS-1D X Mark II camera’s Intelligent Viewfinder II can be illuminated in red for improved visibility, especially when shooting in dark locations. AF sensitivity in low light has been doubled from EV -2 to EV -3 at the center AF point when the camera is set to One-Shot AF, enabling the camera to autofocus in extremely dark shooting conditions such as a moonlit nightscape. Viewfinder AF coverage has also been increased for greater compositional flexibility.

As with all EOS-1D series cameras, the EOS-1D X Mark II’s rugged construction and magnesium alloy body is weather resistant. The camera also features improved controls and more in-camera image quality enhancements than ever before, including a Digital Lens Optimizer function offering high quality aberration correction which can now be achieved without an external computer. This feature makes it easier for professional photographers to deliver finished files to their clients, especially in situations when access to a personal computer is impractical or inconvenient.

The estimated retail price for the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II is $5999 (MSRP) for the body or $6299 for the Premium Kit which includes a 64 GB CFast memory card and card reader. The new camera is scheduled to begin shipping to authorized Canon USA dealers in April 2016***. For more information and the full list of product specifications, visit:

About Canon U.S.A., Inc.

Canon U.S.A., Inc., is a leading provider of consumer, business-to-business, and industrial digital imaging solutions to the United States and to Latin America and the Caribbean (excluding Mexico) markets. With approximately $31 billion in global revenue, its parent company, Canon Inc. (NYSE:CAJ), ranks third overall in U.S. patents granted in 2014† and is one of Fortune Magazine’s World’s Most Admired Companies in 2015. Canon U.S.A. is committed to the highest level of customer satisfaction and loyalty, providing 100 percent U.S.-based consumer service and support for all of the products it distributes. Canon U.S.A. is dedicated to its Kyosei philosophy of social and environmental responsibility. In 2014, the Canon Americas Headquarters secured LEED® Gold certification, a recognition for the design, construction, operations and maintenance of high-performance green buildings. To keep apprised of the latest news from Canon U.S.A., sign up for the Company’s RSS news feed by visiting and follow us on Twitter @CanonUSA. For media inquiries, please contact