Canon EOS-1D X Mark II Review

  • The EOS-1D X Mark II joins the D5 in arriving with a wealth of upgrades over its acclaimed predecessor. Its 20.2MP pixel count is slightly lower than the D5’s 20.8MP (although this doesn’t make any significant difference in practice) and its 61-point AF system, which includes 41 cross-type points, might sound a little behind too. Yet, it offers a faster 14fps burst rate as standard that increases to 16fps in Live View, and also records both 4K and Full HD video to higher frame rates, the latter allowing for very pleasing slow-motion footage. The camera’s focusing system can be exhaustively configured to requirements, with focusing points and various AF area modes showing up clearly in the viewfinder. It works diligently when faced with a moving subject, doing well to keep up as it moves around the scene, and studying images afterwards shows a fine hit rate. It’s perhaps just a shade behind the D5 overall, but it’s certainly capable of producing just as fine results. The body is as solid as expected and, as with the D5, there are only a few minor things to fault with regards to handling. Turning on the camera, for example, is a little more awkward by comparison as the power switch is located towards the base of the back plate. The top-plate LCD lamp is also more awkward to access, which may bother those working in dark conditions. Yet, the rear control dial makes fast scrolling effortless and those used to the 1D-series bodies should be satisfied overall.

    The viewfinder appears very slightly brighter than the D5’s, although both are highly usable. Similarly, while the rear LCD screen can’t match the D5’s for resolution, it’s difficult to appreciate any difference between the two. The touchscreen shows good response and, thanks to the Dual Pixel CMOS AF system, this works impressively when selecting the focusing point in Live View and for video.

    The camera’s metering system does a decent job in different scenarios, although it’s clearly calibrated to produce slightly brighter exposures than the D5 as standard. This leaves some highlight lost in highcontrast scenes (though Highlight Tone Priority can be called upon here), but with darker subjects it helps to deliver more balanced exposures.

    This means that colours are usually brighter but not as saturated as those from the D5, although when exposures are at a similar level the difference is slight. Reds in particular are rendered very pleasingly by the Canon.

    With such a sparsely populated sensor, noise control is very good throughout the ISO range and sensibly tops out at a reasonable level. It’s just slightly behind the Nikon at its highest options, but the difference is only noticeable by comparison. Video quality is also strong, with plenty of detail and a clear, faithful reproduction of the scene, together with acceptable audio. The camera changes exposure a little more rapidly (and thus noticeably) than the D5, but its focusing system is far more discreet while recording.