With the Olympics and the European Football Championship just a few months away, oh and the small matter of the Nikon D5, it was inevitable that Canon would be updating the Canon EOS 1DX, and now it is official. We have already had our hands on the Canon EOS 1D X Mark II DSLR camera and have spoken to Canon about its video capabilities.
What’s New and Key Features
Although from the outside the weather-sealed body of the Canon EOS 1D X Mark II looks virtually identical to it’s predecessor, there is a lot of new features inside. Perhaps of no surprise is the fact that the 1D X Mark II shoots 4K video, much like the EOS 1D C. With this in mind Canon has announced that the new EOS 1D X Mark II will replace both the 1D X and the 1D C.
At the heart of the new features of the 1D Mark II is a new 20.2-million-pixel sensor. The sensor has an extended sensitivity range of ISO 50-409,600, but more interesting is the fact that the camera does its analogue to video conversion on the sensor. According to Canon this cuts down on circuitary, which can be one of the main causes of image noise. The result is reduced levels of noise, most notably in the shadow areas of low sensitivites, which should produce really clean blacks and shadows. All of this adds up to good news for videographers hoping to colour grade their footage.
The 4K video is full 4096 x 2160 resolution, rather than the UHD 3890 x 2160 resolution that is more commonly found on most cameras. Impressively the EOS 1D Mark II can capture 4K at 60fps. 4K footage is taken using a native crop, from the centre of the sensor. This means that there is a slight crop, around the size of a Super 35mm frame, when shooting 4K footage, which means you’ll need to pick a slightly wider focal length to achieve the same field of view as when shooting full HD footage.
Richard Sibley with the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II
Obviously the EOS 1D Mark II can also record Full HD footage, and at frame rates of up to 120fps. Oddly sound isn’t recorded when shooting at this frame rate, which will disappoint those who want to shoot at 120fps so they have the option to use standard speed or slow motion footage in post production.
Another thing that is odd, and will also disappoint many users, is the fact that 4K footage cannot be output through HDMI, only Full HD. If you want to record 4K Pro Res in 4K, the EOS 1D X Mark II isn’t for you.
The good news is that the quality of the internal 4K footage is, on paper, of very high quality. It is recorded at a data rate 800Mb/s, with 4:2:2 colour sub-sampling with a BT601 colour standard, with 8bit encoding. Although 8-bit depth isn’t a huge amount, with the 800Mb/s data rate and 4:2:2 colour, there should be enough information for all but the most extreme colour correction. We’ll be testing just how far you can push the footage, and what most videographers can expect to get from the camera when we test it in the coming months.
Canon EOS 1D X Mark II Versus Nikon D5
After the excitement of the announcement that the Nikon D5 would have internal 4K recording for the first time in a Nikon DSLR, it was somewhat disappointing to then find out that the camera can only record 4K for 3mins. Thankfully, the Canon EOS 1D Mark II has a 4K record time of 29mins 59secs (except when high speed shooting where the speed is 7mins 29secs) so at first glance is a clear winner. However, the D5 does have the advantage of being able to record 4K via an external recorder, which obviously will enable a longer record time (providing the camera doesn’t overheat) and also will mean that Pro Res or raw footage can be captured. Again, we’ll look at this when we can get our hands on both cameras.
Personally, given the target audience of sports and wildlife photographers, and photojournalists, I feel that the internal 4k recording time is going to be more important that the external output. For filmmakers it is a different story, but again, there are plenty of other 4K options out there for the same price or cheaper, that will do just as good a job. It is also worth remembering that the Canon EOS 1D X Mark II will shoot 4K at 60fps, which is more in line with the refresh rate we can expect to see used in the next generation TV production.
With such a high data rate for both 4K and stills photography, the EOS 1D X Mark II requires CFast memory cards to realise its maximum potential. If you don’t require the full 800Mb/s 4K data rate then there is the option to shoot at a reduced data rate at 30fps and save footage to a UDMA 7 Compact Flash card. These are now relatively cheap and readily available. Of course these CompactFlash cards can also be used to record Full HD footage.
With the 1.6-million LCD being a capacitive touchscreen, the EOS 1D X Mark II is capable of touch focusing when in Live View and video mode. Simply touch the area onscreen you wish to focus on to switch the point of focus. You can even change the speed of the touch focus for when a slow or fast focus pull is required. Thanks to the EOS 1D X Mark II using the worlds first Dual Pixel Full Frame sensor, the camera is able to focus quickly and accurately across 80% of the screen when in Live or Video mode.
As you would expect there headphone and external microphone sockets, a Mini HDMI socket, as well as Ethernet and USB 3.0 for fast data transfer.
If there is anything that is quickly going to ruin video footage it is dust on your sensor. Thankfully Canon has improved the in-camera sensor cleaning. If this works, this is some more good news for videographers. We’ll give this a test when we have a full production camera.
The Canon EOS 1D X Mark II will be available from May for £5199
We will be testing the Canon EOS-1D Mark II is the coming months, so check back for our full test and sample footage.