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Canon announce EOS-1D X Mark II

02 February 2016

Canon announce EOS-1D X Mark II

Well we heard leaks from the Far East yesterday but this morning, as of an hour ago, it became official - Canon have announced their new flagship - the EOS-1D X Mark II.  Was anyone too surprised?  Not really considering the Olympics are on their way - Canon was bound to chose this year to showcase its talents.  Remember the EOS-1D X was launched right back in 2011, with the EOS-1D C appearing some 18 months later.

So what's new?  


Quite a lot as you would expect but not on the outside.  The body is almost identical to its predecessor - good news for current EOS-1D X owners - the only differences noticeable being a thicker grip, new Liveview button and slightly changed joystick.  To be honest, there was very little wrong so why change it?  The magnesium alloy body features the same dust and drip-proof construction with a total of 76 seals.

Canon EOS-1D X Mark II

The sensor is now a 20.2 megapixel full frame CMOS offering a top ISO speed of 51,200, expandable up to ISO 50 to 409,600.  The EOS-1D X Mark II features new Dual "DIGIC 6+" processors for high speed signal processing.  The camera offers a scarcely believable 14 fps with full AF/AE tracking.  If you shoot in Live View, this rises to 16fps although focus and exposure are fixed.  It will capture up to 170 full resolution 14-bit RAW files in one burst.

The AF system still features 61 AF points of which 41 are cross-type and 5 dual cross-type (does depend on the lens) but the big news for wildlife and sports photographers has to be that even at f/8, you now have up to 61 AF points of which 21 are cross-type (this compares with the 1-point f/8 AF system of the EOS-1DX).  Canon were asked to expand the coverage of the AF area and have done so, offering up to 24% more vertical expansion in the peripheral area.  

Improved face detection and tracking is made possible by the new EOS Intelligent Tracking and Recognition System (EOS iTR for short!).  This uses improved algorithms for greatly enhanced subject tracking, either a face (in face priority mode) or just a subject that is not a person.

There's also a new AI Servo AF III+, which combines with the EOS iTR to improve tracking sensitivity in scenes where subject movements occur suddenly.  As with its predecessor, the camera features AF Case study settings which are of course customisable (I have to admit I never bothered on the EOS-1D X!).

Lastly the AF low-intensity limit has been improved down the EV-3, meaning it can pretty much focus in the dark (though this is using one central AF point - still impressive though).

As with Canon's most recent camera launches, the EOS-1D X Mark II also features Flicker Detection, eliminating inconsistency in exposure and colours due to light source flicker frequency.  It adjusts the shooting timing to capture the image near to peak brightness to reduce this effect.

So it's a powerhouse but the thing with the EOS-1D X was the unbelievable image quality for the sensor size.  Canon has improved on this.  The Mark II now has a Digital Lens Optimizer function built into the camera (rather than having to use post software).  This uses algorithms to correct optical aberrations and loss of resolution caused by the camera's low pass filter and applies the inverse function to create a detailed, high-quality image that is close to what is seen with the naked eye.  This is applied during in-camera RAW processing.  The EOS-1D X Mark II also features a new diffraction correction for JPEGs (in addition to the existing CA correction and peripheral brightness corrections first seen on the Mark I).  This allows photographers to work at smaller apertures without worry over a drop in quality over diffraction.  The big difference is that this processing is now done in-camera removing the need to use the EOS Utility.  Obviously this will apply to all lenses - I am trying to establish what the list is.

Like the recent EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R, the EOS-1D X Mark II features 'Fine Detail' picture styles to give more control over in-camera processing of JPEGs.  Automatic White Balance now has two modes - Ambience Priority is similar to a conventional AWB where warm tones are retained.  White Priority, as its name implies, eliminates most of the warmth from tungsten lighting to give a more colour-neutral image.

The EOS-1D X Mark II still has dual memory slots but this time it has Compact Flash and CFast 2.0 slots.  I realise that they had to keep one CF slot for backwards compatibility but I would have been happy to wave goodbye to bent pins once and for all!!  We'll be sending ours out with CFast 2.0 cards.

The LCD is still 3.2 inches but resolution is now up to 1.62 million dots.  The big news is it's a touch screen allowing selection of AF points and magnified view for Live View and Movie shooting.

The EOS-1D X Mark 2 is the first Canon full frame sensor camera to have Dual Pixel AF, as seen on the EOS 7D Mark II (oh and EOS 70D - edit - forgot that one!).  I am sure most are aware how it works by now but basically it allows on-chip phase detection AF across 80% of the image area in Live View.  You can change the transition speed between subjects and you can select them using the LCD touchscreen (finally!).

Canon have included what they call Intelligent Viewfinder II on the camera.  The idea is that no longer do you have to take your eye away from the viewfinder to change modes as settings for shooting mode, white balance, metering mode and drive mode are now shown in the viewfinder.  I've always found a level useful and it's good to see Canon have included a dual axis level in the camera - pitch and roll are detected in 1 degree increments with the level shown on the LCD and in the viewfinder.  Another thing to mention, Canon have brought back the AF frame being displayed in red.


4K was always going to be on the agenda - this time it's proper 4K (4096 x 2160) at up to 60p (24p, 25p, 30p, 50p as well) with a 120p slow mo feature in Full HD (maximum continuous recording in slo mo is 7mins 29 secs).  4K uses the central section of the sensor, capturing video with no pixel binning, giving an approximate crop of 1.3x.  Clearly this is to eliminate moire and aliasing issues.  You can also 'frame grab' an 8.8 megapixel JPEG from your footage.

Footage is recorded onto a MOV file using Motion JPEG compression with 4:2:2 colour sampling for internal recording in 4K (4:2:0 in HD) at up to 800 Mbps.  On the subject of recording video, one thing that used to cause an issue was heat - it was possible to overheat the sensor if recording for too long, especially in warm climates.  Canon have worked hard on the new heat dispersal system enabling a maximum continuous video recording time in 4K on up to 29mins 59 secs.  There's also no 4GB file limit with exFAT CF or CFast 2.0 cards.

The slightly strange thing is in the specification it states that HDMI output is Full HD recording only, uncompressed YCbCr 4:2:2, 8-bit.  I'll be honest, that's a bit of a surprise - I had expected a 4K output.

Obviously we need to mention that now you have the Dual Pixel AF capability which means Face Detection and Tracking AF and manual selection using the touch LCD screen.

Wifi isn't included - you'll need a WFT-E8 Wifi adaptor for that but the camera does feature built-in GPS, adding Geotag information to the metadata.

The EOS-1D X Mark II will be available in May and our order is already in!