The best Canon camera just got better. Welcome to the new flagship EOS camera, and fastest pro DSLR in the west…
The wait is over, and Canon has unveiled its brand-new flagship pro-level camera, the EOS-1D X Mark II.
Keen Canon watchers have long suspected a new top-of-the-ranks model was in the wings, but it’s only now that the specifications have become official. Even better, Canon invited us to a special one-on-one session to see the camera ahead of the official announcement.
The EOS-1 D X Mark II replaces not just for the ID X, but the ID C pro video camera too. In some areas it reads like a modest upgrade of the tech in the ID X, but in others it breaks whole new ground.
Canon says the new camera’s been developed following feedback from existing ID X users, and what may sound like minor changes to the controls and layout can be a big deal for professionals who use these cameras day in, day out.
But the big news is the Mark II’s amazing Continuous shooting mode, its improved autofocus system and its 4K video capability. Canon sets out to deliver “the ultimate combination of image quality, resolution and speed” in a camera designed to give pros a “competitive edge”. That edge is important for sports photographers, where a small improvement in their hit-rate can make a big difference.
The EOS-1 D X Mark II has a brand-new sensor, but it offers only a modest 2Mp increase in resolution over the old one. At 20.2 million pixels, it’s a long way short of the 50 million pixels of the EOS 5DS, but this is a different kind of camera aimed at a different market. The EOS-1D X Mark II is designed for high-speed shooting and low-light performance, and you can only achieve this with more modest pixel counts. That said, a 20-megaxpixeI camera is more than enough for most pro (or amateur) needs.
Many sports take place in less-than-perfect lighting, and the new sensor has a first innovation for Canon. The A/D converter circuitry, which translates captured light values into digital data, has now been integrated with the sensor itself. This shortens the signal path
and reduces image noise – not just at higher ISOs but also further down the ISO range. The standard range is ISO 100-51,200, which is the same as the ID X, but with expansion settings from ISO 50-409,600 – the highest setting is one stop higher than the old ID X.
The on-chip A/D conversion is not the only change. The new sensor also incorporates Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology, for the first time in a full-frame Canon. This uses phase-detection autofocus techniques for faster focusing in Live View and video mode.
The ID X Mark II has upgraded processing power too, featuring dual DIGIC 6+ processors for high-speed processing – and it needs it, given its amazing continuous shooting capabilities.
The EOS-1D X was designed for flat-out speed, and the Mark II takes it a whole step further, with a continuous shooting speed of 14 frames per second with full auto exposure and autofocus tracking. That’s an amazing feat when you consider the mass and complexity of a full-frame camera’s mirror and shutter mechanisms.
In fact it’s been made possible by a “refined” mirror construction and drive mechanism that ditches traditional springs in favour of a cam system. This gives much more control over the movement of the mechanical parts at high speeds and helps control vibration and noise.
Canon has also designed a new sensor cleaning system to cope with these high frame rates, which apparently can cause static buildup, which, in turn, attracts dust.
It doesn’t stop there. The EOS-1D X Mark II can go faster still in Live View mode, where the mirror stays locked up, hitting 16 frames per second. Both these speeds are 2fps faster than the EOS-1D X, and at this level that’s a substantial gain.
High-speed shooting is of limited value if the camera’s buffer capacity can’t keep up. The old ID X could shoot 180 JPEGs or 38 Raw files before the buffer filled up, but the Mark II is in another league, capturing unlimited JPEGs in a burst and up to 170 Raw files. That’s hugely significant for sports photographers who need to capture long continuous bursts and have the added quality of Raw files, too.
The big news is amazing Continuous shooting, improved autofocus and 4K video.
To put a burst of 170 Raw images at 14fps in perspective, this is continuously shooting for just over 12 seconds – that’s long enough to capture an Olympic 100-metre sprint race from start to finish!
This continuous shooting speed and buffer depth relies on the latest CFast 2.0 memory cards. The ID X Mark II has one CFast memory card slot and one regular CompactFlash slot. Interestingly, you’ll also need a healthy battery – Canon told us you won’t get the top shooting speeds if the battery level drops below 50%.
- The grip has a new. deeper profile for a better hold.
- This bulge houses a new in-built GPS for embedded location data in photos.
- You can plugin an external mic and now the Mark II has a headphone socket for monitoring audio while filming.
- Video can be saved to an external recorder, but only at 1080p resolution. 4K can only be saved Internally.
- The rear screen has a higher resolution of 1620K dots.
- This secondary rear display shows memory card usage and image quality.
- The thumb sticks gets a new surface to grip them easier: another small but key improvement.
The top LCD panel has a backlight for easier visibility in low light; an area the ID X Mark ll’s high ISO excels The AF sensor’s 61AF points work with apertures as low as f/8 – great for long lenses and teleconverters
We also learned that, when using the ID X Mark II at IS051,200, it will still shoot at 14fps, only dropping to lOfps at IS0102,400. Whereas the ID X drops to lOfps at ISO 51,200. Handy to know when shooting action in low light. In Silent mode the ID X Mk II can also still shoot at 5fps – but we found the silent mode isn’t that silent, and not nearly as quiet as the 5D Mk III in Silent Continuous mode.
It’s all very well having super-fast continuous shooting speeds, but you’ll need an autofocus system that can keep up. At first sight, the AF system in the Mark II looks the same as the 61-point AF system in its predecessor, with 41 cross-type sensors and 5 dual cross-type.
But Canon has made lots of changes under the hood, with an expanded AF area and a new AI Servo AF III+ system that improves the tracking sensitivity for subjects moving erratically. Canon’s latest adaptive 3D tracking system adjusts to your movements, as well as the subjects’, such as when you swivel to follow a subject moving past you.
Autofocus tracking is aided by a new 360,000-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor, which provides improved subject detection – an interesting example of how metering and focusing work closely together in the latest cameras.
One further improvement will be big news for photographers who routinely use f/4 telephoto lenses with 2x teleconverters – all of the 61 AF points now work at f/8.
The EOS-1D X Mark II can shoot stills faster, for longer, than ever before, but also introduces another major new feature – 4K video. This has been around on mirrorless cameras for a while, but it’s the first time it’s appeared in a stills-orientated Canon DSLR. This will appeal to the growing number of pros now commissioned to shoot video footage as well as stills.
The even bigger story is that the ID X Mark II doesn’t just shoot 4K at 30fps, it can shoot it at 60fps, too, for smooth 2x slow-motion footage. That requires serious processing power. Interestingly, the Mark II shoots ‘real’ 4K at 4096×2160 pixels, rather than the slightly smaller UHD format many other cameras refer to genetically as ‘4K’. The one possible complication is that this 4K video is slightly wider than the standard 16:9 ratio used by UHD, Full HD and Standard HD – it’s actually closer to a 17:9 ratio. Another anomaly is that the ID X Mark II can’t save 4K to an external recorder via HDMI – it’s restricted to 1920×1080.4K can only be recorded internally.
The Dual Pixel CMOS AF sensor allows fast and smooth touch-panel autofocus.
Canon has chosen the Motion JPEG format for video capture, because this stores a full image for each frame of data and allows the extraction of 8.8-megapixel stills. It means photographers can capture good-quality still images at 60fps, albeit not at the sensor’s full 20-megapixel resolution. Grabbing stills from video is being taken much more seriously with the advent of 4K.
The ID X Mark II’s new Dual Pixel CMOS AF sensor plays an important part in video recording, allowing fast and smooth autofocus during filming with the camera’s Movie Servo AF and touch-panel autofocus point selection.
The ID X Mark II takes another step forward with the addition of a headphone socket. Sound is a major part of any video production, and it’s important to be able to monitor the sound the camera is recording as you film in case you need to reshoot – if you only find out there’s a sound problem later, it’s too late to do anything about it.
Body and controls
Despite all the technology changes inside the camera, on the outside it looks very much like the old model. Professional photographers need to know their cameras inside out, so the closer the new camera is to the old one, the better.
The ID X Mark II is Canon’s top sportsaction camera, boasted by an amazing High-speed Continuous shooting rate and autofocus system
There are a few changes, though. Round the back, there’s a new 3.2-inch 1620K-dot touchscreen display with a new menu font for better on-screen aliasing (smoothing). The touchscreen is only for when you’re shooting in Live View, not for tapping the screen to adjust settings – which makes sense to us as the menu tabs and options are smaller on screen than most fingers, so it’s quicker to use the dials and buttons to change settings. The surface of the small thumbstick controllers have been modified to be easier to grip.
The rear screen now has touch-focus control in Live View mode, but it’s not used for menu settings adjustments
On the top of the camera, a small bulge in the pentaprism houses the camera’s new built-in GPS receiver – a popular feature with picture agencies, because it allows the auto-captioning of photos. Also the vertical grip has been improved and the dividing ridge between the function buttons next to the lens have been removed to make them easier to find with your fingertips.
On the side of the camera is a rubber flap, and underneath you’ll find the ID X Mark IPs wired Ethernet socket, HDMI port and USB 3.0 port – the original ID X uses a slower USB 2.0 interface.
SENSOR 20.2Mp full-frame CMOS sensor
IMAGE PROCESSOR Dual Digic 6+
AF POINTS 61 (41 cross-type, 5 dual cross-type at f/2.8)
ISO RANGE 100-51,200 (50-409,600 exp)
MAX IMAGE SIZE 5472×3648
METERING ZONES 216 (360,000-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor)
HD VIDEO 4K (17:9) 4096×2160 at 60fps, Full HD (16:9) 1920×1080
VIEWFINDER 100% coverage, 0.76x magnification
MEMORY CARD lx CompactFlash Type I and lx CFast 2.0
THE EARLY VERDICT
Canon has put a lot of thought- and tech – into the new ID X Mark II
Professional photographers are pretty conservative. They don’t like change for change’s sake, and Canon has been careful to keep the overall handling experience as consistent as possible with previous professional EOS cameras. But Canon has massively boosted two key features for sports and press photographers – the continuous shooting speed and buffer capacity, and the addition of 4K video at up to 60fps.
The EOS-1D XII was never going to challenge the mighty EOS 5DS for resolution – it’s not that sort of camera. But what Canon has built is a camera with blistering speed and immensely powerful video capabilities that will bring a grin to the face of every pro Canon shooter.
The EOS-1D XII was never going to challenge the mighty EOS 5DS for resolution - it’s not that sort of camera. But what Canon has built is a camera with blistering speed and immensely powerful video capabilities that will bring a grin to the face of every pro Canon shooter.