Canon EOS 1D X Mark II Review – Camera that was revolutionary for its day

The EOS-1D X Mark II is the most recent version of Canon’s professional-grade single-lens reflex camera, which has the same name. The camera is obviously descended from the 1D series, but upon closer inspection, one can see that there have been some intriguing improvements made.

It features an expanded 61-point autofocus system with 24 percent more coverage and a 360,000-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor, and it is one of the first Canon DSLRs (other than the somewhat niche 1D C) that captures 4K video. The 1D X II is built around a new 20.2MP full-frame CMOS sensor, which now has Canon’s Dual Pixel autofocus system. To no one’s surprise, it also has the appearance of a brick and the performance of a Formula 1 race car.

Key Specifications of the Canon 1D X Mark II Camera

  • A brand new 20.2 megapixel CMOS full-frame sensor that features dual pixel autofocus
  • 14 frames per second in continuous shooting (16 fps in live view)
  • 200 or more frames in buffer, supporting Raw and JPEG (CFast 2.0)
  • 61-point autofocus system with 41 cross-type sensors and a coverage area that is 24 percent larger
  • 360,000-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor
  • From 100 to 51,200 ISO in its native form (expandable to 50-409,600)
  • Video captured at 4K/60 frames per second in DCI format (4096 by 2160 pixels) and encoded with Motion JPEG
  • LCD touch panel with 1.62 million individual dots
  • Flicker detection
  • Assistance with CFast 2.0 cards
  • USB 3.0

The Canon EOS-1D X Mark II is a camera that anyone who has previous experience with the 1D series can probably pick up, dial in their preferred settings, and start shooting right away. However, as we will see on the following pages, doing so may cause one to overlook the advancements that Canon has made in this newest edition of the camera. The body has undergone a few little changes, all of which, in our opinion, are for the better, and adapting to them requires very little work. The success of the fundamental form factor may be attributed in large part to the conservative approach to design that was taken. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the fundamental designs of the Canon 1D and Nixon Dx series haven’t seen many modifications over the years, considering both of these camera series have been around for a long time.

In spite of the fact that the body of the camera has undergone just minor revisions, the 1D X II is packed with cutting-edge technology that has been recently developed with the goal of making it one of the most capable cameras available anywhere in the world. The new autofocus (AF) system, despite the fact that it uses the same 61 AF points as the previous one, now covers 24 percent more of the frame and is, as one would expect, quite quick. In addition to that, Canon has included a brand new iTR 360,000-pixel RGB+IR sensor that can be used for both subject tracking and facial recognition (Intelligent Tracking and Recognition).

Even while the increase from 18 to 20 megapixels on the 1D X isn’t quite earth-shattering, Canon’s latest flagship camera utilizes a whole new sensor that isn’t featured in any of the company’s prior flagship models. The Canon Dual Pixel focusing technology is a feature that we have commended on earlier cameras, and the 1D X II is the first full-frame EOS DSLR camera to have this system. In addition, Canon has shifted to a design that incorporates on-chip analog-to-digital conversion, which ought to result in an increased dynamic range inside the sensor.

We have our doubts that many individuals are going to truly consider switching from Canon to Nikon because of a few specifications on one model or another unless it is something that is very essential to their work. The majority of photographers who use this style of camera have probably made significant financial investments into a system that may include lenses, strobes, and perhaps institutional assistance. At the same time, it is enlightening to observe how much both of the brand’s main models have progressed recently. We anticipate that the majority of professionals or more experienced amateurs will be able to achieve excellent outcomes with any option.

The body and its manipulation

The fact that the 1D X Mark II has a sturdy construction shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone. It has the same degree of construction and sealing that has been present in the 1D series for a good number of years now, which gives it a solid and reassuring feeling.

It just takes a moment to realize that the body has a shape that will be instantly recognizable to anyone who has used a camera from Canon’s 1D series, and that’s not necessarily a negative thing. The designs of cameras belonging to this category typically do not undergo significant transformations from one iteration to the next. Instead of placing an emphasis on consumer-centric features or innovative design approaches, these cameras prioritize efficiency and dependability.

In this vein, the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II marks a subtle progression of the 1D design ethos. It brings a number of tiny but substantial upgrades to a body that professionals will be able to pick up and start using right away.

Users who are already comfortable with the 1D series will have little trouble transitioning to the 1D X II. Because the buttons and how they behave are exactly the same as on the 1D X, it is quite simple to pick up and start using the camera.

The inclusion of a touch-sensitive rear LCD and the incorporation of a live view/video switch directly next to the viewfinder are the two most significant upgrades that have been made to the body of the 1D X II.

That touchscreen isn’t put through its paces that often. In live view, you can use it to adjust the AF point or enlarge the picture for manual focus. In video mode, you can use it to toggle servo AF. Other than that, it does not have any other functions.

This means that it will never anger shooters who are anticipating an experience similar to the one they are accustomed to having from their 1D X (and 1D IV, III, and…), but it does occasionally feel like a squandered opportunity. Why isn’t there an option in the menus that lets you use the touchscreen to access the Q Menu or set the AF point while you’re shooting through the viewfinder?

It is very evident that Canon intends to make the capability easily accessible, as seen by the live view/video switch, as well as the start button.

The live view/video switch is a very minor modification to the body of the camera; yet, it makes it abundantly evident that the manufacturer of this camera anticipates its customers will need to rapidly capture video clips. This adjustment also keeps the camera in line with previous Canon models. The use of the Motion JPEG standard (rather than ALL-I H.264 on more basic models or XF-AVC on the Cinema EOS), as well as the absence of a 4K output, leads us to believe that Canon is more concerned with the production of still frames than it is with the recording of video as a goal in itself.

Battery capacity

The Canon EOS-1D X II utilizes the brand-new LP-E19 battery, which allows for a maximum of 1210 photos to be taken on a single charge. In most cases, you will receive a greater number than this, but it is helpful for comparing cameras on a level playing field.

The camera is also compatible with the older LP-E4N and LP-E4 batteries, however doing so would reduce the maximum frame rate to 12 fps.


The menus on the 1D X II are going to feel quite comfortable to anyone who has used a Canon DSLR in the past, and there haven’t been any major changes made in contrast to the menus on the original 1D X. They are laid out in a manner that is rather sensible, with the fundamental and long-term camera settings located in the area of the menu under “Custom Function.”

As was the case in the past, the menus are context-sensitive, which means that you will only have access to the camera’s video settings when the switch that toggles between live view and video is in the video position. It is possible that you may need to temporarily switch the mode of the camera if you are attempting to set things up in preparation; however, this does imply that the menus can be made slightly smaller and more comprehensible, which can only be a positive thing.


When it comes to the level of personalization it offers, the 1D X II presents a bit of a conundrum. You have access to a large number of buttons whose functions may be customized, but the customization options that are available to you are limited and appear to be random. There is no option to customize either the top-plate buttons or the buttons that are located under the LCD.

Many of the buttons on the 1D X II may be customized, however, there isn’t a very extensive selection of available alternatives

It would be impractical to discuss the full breadth of the camera’s configuration options here; nonetheless, those options are laid out in a table at the conclusion of the user manual for the camera. In general, we are dissatisfied with the extent to which Canon restricts your freedom of movement because some functions may only be assigned to particular buttons and not others. It would be far more helpful to have a consistent and thorough list of assignable options for each and every button. The possibility of experiencing “overload” as a result of having each and every choice accessible for each and every button appears to be a less significant trade-off than the work required to keep track of what each button may be mapped to.

This criticism is not simply a disagreement in philosophies; for instance, the limitation of being able to only apply exposure compensation to the SET button (for use with Auto ISO) means that you are forced to use that setting, so you are out of luck if you wanted to use that button for anything else. In addition, functions can be easily missed due to the layered menu layout, which frequently needs users to hit the ‘INFO. Detail set.’ button in order to access further (yet again, nested) options.

Having said that, Custom Controls may be a very useful tool if you are able to configure the different buttons in accordance with your preferences. One button click allows you to do a variety of tasks, including fast switching between the autofocus, program, and metering modes, as well as choosing between one of three custom shooting modes. Speaking of Custom Shooting Modes, Canon’s implementation is still the most advanced in the industry. It enables you to instantly switch between all of the camera settings that you have previously dialed in, ranging from the autofocus area to the f-stop and all the way down to the minimum Auto ISO shutter speed setting.

(Q) Menu for the Quick Control

Access to a lot of fundamental options may be gained through the Q menu’s normal location, however the empty space

The ability to personalize the Q Menu is most likely going to be the most noticeable improvement in the handling of the 1D X II. You now have the ability, much as you do with a select few of Canon’s more modern DSLRs, to choose which options are displayed in the Q Menu, where they are displayed, and how much space they occupy. The process of designing your menu may be rather time-consuming, but it is likely not one that you will have to go through very frequently.

You have complete control over the settings, including their location and size, so that you only see and have access to the parameters that are relevant to you. Regrettably, the Q Menu does not support the usage of the touch panel on the camera.

The most frustrating aspect, of course, is that after customizing the appearance of the camera’s display and menu to your liking, you are unable to utilize the touchscreen to control the device. In light of the fact that the 1D X II was designed with continuity and backward compatibility in mind, it is a little strange that the company chose not to go for the easy win of offering an entirely optional extra way to control the camera after having already incorporated the necessary customization and hardware.

Auto ISO

Auto ISO is available on the 1D X II, and both the maximum and lower ISO settings may be set by the user. Additionally, the shutter speed threshold may be adjusted, and there is an “auto” option that lets you tie the threshold to the focal length. These adjustments can be made in increments of 1EV. It is a nuisance that in order to reach this setting, one must first go into the menu (or My Menu), which can be fairly laborious.

You have the option to utilize auto ISO when shooting in manual mode; however, you will need to assign the SET button to regulate exposure compensation or use the Q menu if you want the camera to take photos that are brighter or darker than the value measured by the camera.

It’s a bummer, but you can’t use the camera’s dedicated exposure comp button to alter the exposure comp setting when the camera is in M mode. Instead, the button is used to give access to the aperture value when the camera is in M mode, in case you’ve locked the rear dial.

It is the same situation while shooting video, so you may instruct the camera to utilize ISO to preserve the presently measured brightness while preserving your selected aperture and shutter speed; however, you will need to reassign the SET button to alter the exposure compensation.


The Canon EOS-1D X Mark II does a commendable job of continuing the legacy that was established by its 1D forebears. This camera is large and quick, and it has a battery that will easily last you through a day loaded with 14 fps bursts that are shot via a viewfinder that has exceptionally low blackout intervals. In other words, this camera is both huge and fast. Although none of this is actually news, it does testify to the enduring relevance of cumbersome DSLRs for photographers who want absolute performance, dependability, and longevity regardless of the conditions.

Overall performance

The Canon 1D X II turns on instantaneously and is always prepared to seize fleeting moments whenever they present themselves. If you are shooting with a CFast card, you will be able to take lengthy, continuous bursts if you need them, and the buffer will clear extremely rapidly.

However, there is a catch that is connected to CFast. The Canon EOS-1D X Mark II incorporates dual-card formats; however, if you choose to take overflow or backup photos, or if you send JPEGs to one card and Raws to the other, you run the risk of not making use of the camera’s full potential for performance. Even the CF cards that are now the quickest on the market will significantly slow your write rates, and as a result, your performance when shooting continuously will suffer.

However, we will discuss this topic in greater detail lower down the page. First, let’s have a look at one of the primary selling points of the 1DX II, which is its ability to shoot at 14 frames per second while maintaining a live view through the optical viewfinder.

14 fps

A mind-boggling burst rate is available on the Canon 1D X II, which is comparable to what we found with the Nikon D5 camera. However, the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II enables you to follow the action through an optical viewfinder while maintaining full autoexposure and expert-level autofocus capabilities. This may not seem all that exciting in light of the fact that there are a number of mirrorless cameras aimed at consumers and above that are capable of shooting many photos in a row at a speed that is comparable to (or even faster than) the outright speed.

The three photographs that are seen above are successive stills taken from a burst of fourteen frames per second that was taken as the bull and rider charged out of the gate. In order to reduce the amount of cropping that occurred, the lens was set to its maximum focal length of 174 millimeters. However, this comes at a cost: in the first picture, the rider’s hand is severed, and in the last picture, the posture of the rodeo clown causes the bull’s head to be partially concealed.

However, the camera’s ability to record at 14 frames per second made it feasible to seize that single time in the center of the image in which all of the significant details were visible. We can see the cowboy just behind the rider who had opened the gate but had not even had time to react or turn his head yet. The rider’s hand is still raised, but it has not been severed, the bull is motionless, but it is obvious that he is in the midst of rapid movement, and the rider’s hand is still raised, but it has not been cut off. Even though the left side of the rodeo clown is missing from the picture, at least the tip of his hat was able to fit completely inside the frame.

It is not difficult to achieve comparable results while using a camera that is more compact, less costly, and less focused on sports; but, you may need to pre-focus your shots and take a series of them. The important takeaway from this is that the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II makes it simpler than many other cameras to capture images in this manner. As a result, you can concentrate less on getting the camera to do what you want it to do and more on capturing the fleeting moments that are happening all around you.

What about a frame rate of 16?

When shooting with the mirror up on the EOS 1D X II, you have the ability to increase its burst rate, much like you can with the Nikon D5. The Canon, on the other hand, is far more useful in this mode than the Nikon since it displays you an almost live slideshow of the shots you are taking on the back LCD, whereas the Nikon only shows you images from the burst after you have completed taking pictures with it.

Having said that, you are still unable to track a subject as readily as you could at 14 frames per second, and you are unable to use the updated phase-detection autofocus system since it is obscured by the mirror. Both of these drawbacks are, however, acceptable compromises. However, it is likely to be a helpful capacity for users who are putting up remote setups or who are filming incredibly fast-moving objects in situations where every fraction of a second matters.

Measuring the length of continuous shooting

After conducting buffer tests on the 1D X Mark II, the “arbitrary” 200-shot restriction that Nikon places on the D5’s ability to shoot continuously starts to make a lot more sense. If you want to get the most out of it, though, you will need to carefully configure the camera so that it records to the memory cards in order to get the best results. We touched on this before.

It is important to point out that there was a great deal of diversity. During six separate tests, the 1D X II took anything from 205 to 282 pictures when shooting in Raw + JPEG at 14 frames per second (240 is an average). In addition, while shooting solely Raw files, the number of shots ranged from 514 all the way up to 1,321. (no, that is not a typo, and yes, that is a stupidly long burst).

This highlights one possible risk associated with the concept of mismatched card slots, particularly when there is such a significant gap in terms of their respective levels of performance. If you are using a Canon 1D X Mark II camera and both card slots are already in use, you need to ensure that the card-write behavior is configured in accordance with your preferences.

If you have it set to back up every image to each card, for example, you will only be able to shoot as quickly as the CF card allows. This turns out to be a significant limitation, despite the inclusion of CFast technology in the camera, because you will only be able to shoot as quickly as the CF card allows. On the other side, if you shoot Raws to one card and JPEGs to another, you won’t run into any issues if you set your JPEGs going to the CF and your Raws going to the CFast. This will cause your JPEGs to be written to the CF and your Raws to be written to the CFast.

Battery capacity

When compared to both other DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, our immediate reaction to the battery life of this camera may appear a little peculiar: ‘1260 shots? What, this is it?’ This is especially disheartening when compared to the Nikon D5, which achieves almost three times the rating from a battery with the same capacity but has a lower rating overall. But these are just numbers derived from standardized tests. While it’s true that values of this kind might be helpful for comparison, it’s also true that they aren’t always a fantastic alternative for testing in the real world.

In everyday use, we did find that the Nikon was more efficient than the Canon in terms of its raw output, but the gap between the two was not quite as large as one might anticipate it to be. Indeed, we are able to consistently log between 3,000 and 5,000 photographs on a single charge of the battery without experiencing any problems, whereas with the D5 we were often able to hit 4,000 to 5,000 images.

Of course, three thousand photographs is not a trivial amount, and we took lots of bursts while shooting, but we seldom ever used the live view or chimed the camera. As soon as you factor those into the equation, you can anticipate a reduction in the amount of time that your battery will last. However, when everything is said and done, the 1D X Mark II continues to provide pros with excellent stamina for shooting throughout the day.

Image Quality

The most recent version of our test scenario emulates photography in both daytime and low-light conditions. You may switch between the two by pressing the ‘lighting’ buttons that are located at the very top of the widget. In the daytime scene, the white balance is adjusted manually to produce neutral grays, but for the low-light testing, the camera is left in its default Auto setting.

White balance is adjusted by hand for raw files. We provide three distinct viewing sizes, which are referred to as “Full,” “Print,” and “Comp.” The latter two viewing sizes allow “normalized” comparisons since they use matching viewing sizes. The ‘Comp’ option selects the camera with the highest-available resolution that is shared by all of the cameras that are being evaluated.

JPEG photographs are captured using the parameters that are pre-configured on the camera, whereas Raw files are transformed in Adobe Camera Raw using a pre-determined workflow.

Performance at a High ISO Level

Although the 1D-X II demonstrates a significant increase in dynamic range at low ISOs in our dynamic range tests, its high ISO Raw performance only sees small gains over its predecessor. This is actually quite impressive considering that the 1D-X II gains Dual Pixel architecture for more accurate live view and video AF. Noise performance is just a little worse than that of the Nikon D5 when shot at extremely high ISOs, but it is more or less on par with the normalized results produced by the 42MP Sony a7R II.

Despite the fact that all cameras began with a comparable level of detail in Raw format, JPEGs suffer a little more when shot at these extremely high ISOs. The a7R II shows the best information preservation in gray tones and in low contrast vegetation than any other camera. Sony has established itself as the leader in this category thanks to its innovative sharpening and context-sensitive noise reduction, but the Nikon D5 isn’t too far behind.

In comparison to other brands, Canon’s noise reduction is less severe generally, but it obliterates detail in areas with low contrast. Although at first glance this may not appear to be the optimal combination, it is a reasonable option given that it prevents noticeable distortions that are caused by noise reduction.


When it comes to color, the saturation is toned down a little bit from the 1D X and a little bit more so from the 5D Mark III, which results in less saturated blues, greens, and yellows – even when compared to the Nikon D5. Recent Canon DSLRs have displayed a pattern of reduced saturation, which we have seen.

Under tungsten lighting, the warmth of the image is maintained when the camera is set to its defaults; however, you may change the settings to make the camera neutralize warm hues (which the 1D X tended to by default).


The most recent JPEG engines from Canon have chosen to sharpen JPEGs with a somewhat big radius, similar to what the Nikon D5 does. This choice can result in noticeable sharpening halos around the borders of images. It is interesting to note that these halos are less apparent in photographs captured with the 5DS when seen at common viewing sizes. This is because the same large radius sharpening impacts proportionately less of the photo when captured with the 5DS’s higher resolution sensor.

Because of a more sophisticated sharpening engine, sharpening halos do not appear at all in the JPEGs produced by the Sony a7R II. In the end, using a big radius sharpening results in a loss of fine detail in comparison to the Raw file, or when compared to the finer radius sharpening of the Sony a7R II or a7 II, both of which keep the majority of the fine detail that was there in the raw file that they were created from.


When compared to earlier Canon cameras, the EOS-1D X II exhibits significant advancements in terms of its dynamic range at the camera’s native ISO setting. However, the camera’s high-ISO performance only demonstrates modest improvements, coming in very slightly behind the Nikon D5 and exhibiting very little to no advantage over the higher-resolution Sony a7R II at typical viewing sizes. To put it another way, when it comes to noise in low light, there is not much of a difference between the flagship cameras of each firm.

This is actually more impressive than it sounds: it is highly commendable that Canon has achieved this level of sensor performance while splitting photodiodes to achieve Dual Pixel AF, which enables ground-breaking video autofocus. The ability to achieve Dual Pixel AF was made possible by splitting photodiodes.

At this point, the only way we are likely to see major gains in high ISO noise is either by expanding the size of the sensor or by switching to architecture with backside illumination (which helps the two-fold higher resolution a7R II to compete with respect to low light performance)

Although the JPEG colors are more subdued in comparison to those of its predecessors, the 1D-X II still has the lovely Canon colors that many people, including ourselves, have come to know and appreciate. The sharpening is done very roughly, putting less emphasis on minute details in favor of greater impact.

When compared to their contemporaries, high-ISO JPEGs are neither the cleanest nor do they maintain the greatest information despite having effective noise reduction. This is because high-ISO JPEGs suffer from a lack of context sensitivity and the smearing of details with low contrast.


Canon has improved its focusing capabilities with the release of the 1D X Mark II. It is identical to its predecessor in that it has 61 user-selectable points, but these points now have a wider vertical range. Five of the center points are of the dual-cross type, meaning that in addition to the conventional cross-sensitivity (both an x sensor and a + sensor), they also provide diagonal cross-sensitivity.

Because of their longer baselines, the diagonal cross sensors offer improved precision when used in conjunction with lenses that have an aperture of F2.8 or faster. And they do work; when paired with a calibrated lens, these five points enable almost contrast-detect levels of autofocus precision when used in conjunction with fast lenses. The sensitivity of the center point has been increased to -3EV.

If you have the correct lenses, all of the autofocus points can work at F8, and 27 of the center points will continue to be cross-sensitive. This is especially important for bird-in-flight photographers and wildlife photographers who shoot with long lenses and teleconverters (there are some restrictions).

In iTR (Intelligent Tracking and Recognition) mode, the camera makes use of an upgraded 360,000-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor in conjunction with the AF module. iTR stands for “intelligent tracking and recognition.”

Whenever you get the focusing mechanism dialed in for your particular circumstances, you will be rewarded with a large number of keepers once you use the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II camera. This is something you would anticipate.

On the other hand, like Canon’s other professional products, the focusing mechanism is very configurable. As a result, achieving the very best results requires a certain amount of fundamental understanding of all the settings, some experimenting, and some patience.

In order to ensure that they never miss a shot, it is only normal for an experienced Canon pro photographer to adjust the settings of their new camera to be as similar as possible to those of their previous model, or even to those of two or three models ago.

However, by doing so, there is a potential of losing out on some new advancements that might lead to alternative shooting philosophies as well as an increase in the number of keepers (better AF accuracy means better luck with wider apertures, as an example).

Adjustable Autofocus Settings

There are six different default settings for each of the AF system’s three fine-tuning parameters that Canon provides. If you keep the “info” button pressed, you’ll be able to see that each preset includes a description of the kind of activity that it is intended to cover. It is a helpful tool that may assist you in getting near the perfect autofocus configuration for the specific shooting circumstances that you have.

All users of the 1D X will feel comfortable making use of the 1D X II’s six presets. They are a method for obtaining somewhat near to the optimal configuration of the three tracking parameters, which varies depending on the sort of movement that you are attempting to capture on camera.

In spite of the (at first) intimidating complexity of the setup system, it is an approach that makes a lot of sense. There are three factors, each of which may have quite a large influence on your hit rate, and each variable has many options.

Regrettably, this results in a total of 75 potential combinations, which, as we’ve seen, can be tough to get right and easy to get wrong in the absence of any degree of direction, which further emphasizes how valuable the six cases presets are.

However, don’t forget that in order to help you further adjust the camera for the specific shooting scenario you’ll be encountering, you’ll need to pay some attention to the autofocus area modes, which are referred to as AF Point Selection in Canon lingo. This will help you further dial in the camera.

Choose Your Point of Focus Automatically

There are six ‘cases’ for autofocus that may be used to fine-tune the performance of the 1D X II’s autofocus tracking behavior. In addition, there are six different options for selecting the AF region that you can pick from.

You have the ability to manually choose a single point with Single-point Spot AF, and the camera will only focus on a very restricted region around that point. It is excellent for achieving pinpoint precision, such as when photographing a subject’s eye, even when looking through obstacles such as a motorbike helmet or while photographing a little bird that is surrounded by trees. When dealing with changing issues, you should avoid doing so.

The functionality of single-point AF is identical to that of the preceding mode; the only difference is that the focus area is wider. It is better suited for focusing on a still life or an eye while performing classic portraiture (Single AF), or for constantly focusing (AI Servo) on a subject that is easy for you to follow. This is the way of concentrating that is selected by default.

The AF Point Expansion feature allows you to choose between four and eight extra autofocus points to be placed around the point that you have manually selected.

If you accidentally let your chosen AF point slip off your subject, the camera will (depending on the case you’ve chosen) attempt to use the additional four or eight ‘helper’ points to intelligently determine whether you wish to keep the focus on that subject or re-focus onto a new subject. This mode is ideal for shooting sports because the camera can intelligently determine whether you wish to keep the focus on that subject or re-focus on a new subject.

It performs best when used with moving subjects in AI Servo since the system can become distracted when used for still life or portraiture in Single AF. For example, it may not acquire focus precisely on a person’s eye if the subject is moving and the camera is set to Single AF.

Again, continuous focus on moving targets is the goal of the Zone AF mode, which does this by segmenting the camera’s 61 autofocus points into nine user-selectable zones.

Because the camera selects where to focus inside the selected zone, Canon suggests using it for subjects that are either larger or moving across a greater region. This would make it helpful. It is not ideal for use in circumstances in which there may be obstructions in the way of your subject.

automatic selection based on 61 points You can probably figure out how autofocus works: it allows the camera to do the job for you. When you choose the Single AF mode, it will choose an autofocus point (or points) for you automatically, taking into account information from both the metering sensor and the AF module.

When you switch on AI Servo, the camera will continue to operate in the same manner, but it will make use of those same two modules to intelligently alter the AF point(s) in order to follow your subject as it moves (and the system will give priority to faces if you have this option enabled in the menus).

You may choose the starting subject yourself by changing one of the menu options, then picking an AF point and positioning it over the thing you want to concentrate on before beginning the focusing process. This is most analogous to how Nikon’s 3D Tracking works in the sense that it enables you to continuously reframe your composition without requiring you to shift the focusing points or manually track the action. In other words, it’s a lot like Nikon’s 3D Tracking.

As was said previously, this is a significant amount of information to retain when shooting. It is possible that you will find one or two modes that work well for you the majority of the time. However, you will need to have a good understanding of what exactly the adjustment parameters do in order to be able to adjust them if you notice that the AF system is having difficulty with the subject you are photographing. Reading the handbook is well worth your time.

Monitoring of subjects with iTR

As we mentioned in our review of the Nikon D5, the depth tracking capabilities (refocusing on approaching or receding things) of flagship DSLR cameras have been quite strong and highly dependable for a long time. This is the case as long as your case settings have been dialed in appropriately, of course.

We continue to test and shoot with these settings, but we devote a little more attention to something that is perhaps more fresh and more innovative, particularly for DSLRs: subject tracking through the viewfinder.

However, if you are fully capable of following the activity yourself, there is no reason to bother with subject tracking. It’s possible that you don’t actually require subject tracking, but having it may certainly open up some creative doors for you.

However, there is a counterargument that can be made in this situation: a more “seasoned” soccer shooter may have been able to better predict this play and move the cluster of AF points manually off to the left to get the same framing without having to rely on iTR. This would have allowed the shooter to get the same framing without having to rely on iTR.

But in the midst of the action, a camera may be far faster at doing so than you can, which is especially helpful if you are not an expert in the movement and methods of the subjects you are photographing. And in situations like this, iTR has some validity.

When you combine 61-point iTR with F8 autofocus, for instance, you have a powerful tool for focusing on and tracking birds in flight. This example comes from a realm other than the world of sports.

It may be difficult for a photographer to manually keep a single point centered over a fast or erratic bird when using longer lenses with teleconverters; however, it may be rather easy for a capable phase-detect AF system to understand that a subject that was 30 meters away and under the left-most AF point has now moved to the center point. This is because the left point is now registering infinity, while the center point is now registering 29m. This is because the

And this is the actual reason why subject tracking is crucial — it can lower the harsh need of maintaining an AF point strictly over your subject. Keeping an AF point firmly over your subject is one of the most critical requirements for proper autofocus. In addition, having greater compositional freedom will almost always result in a completely different shot, even when photographing things that are moving quickly.

However, as we witnessed with the D5’s 3D Tracking, Canon’s iTR isn’t a perfect system by any means. In the next pages, we’re going to go a little more into how well it operates in the actual world.

iTR versus Nikon ‘3D Tracking’

Canon’s iTR, on the other hand, operates quite differently when contrasted with Nikon’s 3D Tracking. While Nikon’s system chooses a single point that adheres to a subject with remarkable tenacity, Canon’s iTR uses almost a “cloud” of AF points that tend to be a little less “sticky” in regard to the exact spot on your subject where you initiated tracking. This is in contrast to Nikon’s system, which chooses a single point that adheres to a subject with remarkable tenacity.

We have found that Canon’s iTR works very well with subjects that are some distance away (shot with telephoto lenses) as opposed to subjects that are closer up (shot with wider lenses). This leads us to believe that the system is slightly more biased towards the AF module’s depth information as opposed to the pattern recognition that is theoretically possible via the high-resolution metering sensor.

We had hoped that the upgrade to a metering sensor with 360k pixels would result in a system with greater pinpoint accuracy; however, it still demonstrates the same lack of specificity that we saw with the 5DS. For instance, it is unable to track the eye of a subject on which you have initiated focus.

It also displays some weird behavior, such as periodically refocusing to such an extreme that the entire scene is out of focus, before subsequently focusing properly – something that we have a tendency to detect regularly across contemporary Canon DSLRs. This is something that the camera does.

Optimal configuration

The actual focus modes and area settings remain the same as they were in the first generation 1D X, despite the fact that the autofocus mechanism and metering sensor have been upgraded (or 7D Mark II for that matter). As a result of this, if you already have a favored set of parameters that works well for you, then dialing in the same settings on the 1D X II should function just well.

After some consideration, we decided to utilize the built-in guide on the 1D X II to assist us in determining what case to use as a starting point for what we were taking. After that, we did some fast Googling to see what area mode Canon suggests using.

We utilized Case 4 and AF Expansion with four additional points surrounding the user-selected point when analyzing soccer, for instance (we also used iTR for testing purposes as well). When taking pictures of a rodeo, we used Cases 1 and 4 with their normal settings. Additionally, we experimented with Case 6 by increasing the ‘Accel / Decel Tracking’ option by one notch (also with AF expansion).

We noted that without the ‘Accel / Decel Tracking’ adjustment, the AF system tended to lag somewhat behind very fast-moving subjects, particularly unpredictable ones. This was especially true when the subject was changing direction quickly. However, when we made that modification, the system had no issue keeping up with the new demands.

However, there is a drawback to this in that, once you have adapted the system to better deal with erratically moving things, the camera will start to behave in a jerky manner. This may be especially problematic when dealing with stationary subjects, as it can occasionally lead to photographs that are slightly out of focus. However, it can also be problematic when dealing with moving topics, as focus might suddenly stray off your subject entirely.

You can program a custom button to go from AI Servo to One-Shot AF, which dependably locks focus with a very high degree of precision, even if you haven’t altered the case settings you’re in. This option is available for shooting static subjects at the very least.

Because of the unreliability of the subject tracking system, which we alluded to earlier, it is also best to switch to single-point AF if you have the time to do so, as using the expansion settings (particularly 61-point iTR) on static subjects can also result in very slight misfocus. This is due to the fact that the subject tracking system is unreliable.

AF in Live View

Live view autofocus on the 1D X Mark II performs very similarly to how it does on the older 7D Mark II, which is to say that it is very, very good as a result of the inclusion of Dual Pixel AF in the camera. Touch functionality analogous to that of the 80D has been added to the 1D-X II. You may tap the screen to select a topic for the camera to follow as well as to change the region that is in focus.

Unfortunately, the focus will lock as soon as you press the shutter button, which means that you will not be able to follow a moving subject or achieve continuous AF when shooting bursts. A shame, given that Dual Pixel is so capable when it comes to subject tracking.

It is important to note that Dual Pixel AF in Live View is incredibly accurate. This is because it focuses using the very image sensor that is capturing the image, as well as the fact that on-sensor PDAF tends to generally be insensitive to residual spherical aberration. Both of these factors contribute to the incredible accuracy of Dual Pixel AF in Live View.

You can easily switch to Live View if you’re having trouble establishing proper focus at a wide aperture owing to focus accuracy concerns (lens/body miscalibration). Live view allows you to see what the camera sees as it actually is. Face detection in this mode is quite reliable, which is a great help.

Video Quality

Our very first demo reel features a collection of vignettes captured in 4K at 60 frames per second at the National Bison Range in the state of Montana. The majority of what you see is how it came out of the camera, with the exception of some very subtle modifications to the exposure and color grading. (Please excuse the little blurriness; this picture was taken handed at a focal length between 300mm and 400mm.)
The a7S II employs the entire width of its full-frame sensor, but the 1D X II and D5 use cuts of 1.3x and 1.5x from theirs, which results in greater noise and requires shorter focal lengths for wide-angle photography. This difference in sensor size and pixel count is where the two cameras vary.

The very tiny concentric circles produce more noticeable interference on the GH4 and D5, which is likely due to changes in AA filters and maybe sharpening algorithms. One place where we definitely detect a difference between these cameras is on the color resolution targets. It is fascinating to substitute the Sony a7S II in this comparison with the Sony a6300, which really shoots 6K video and down samples to 4K in-camera. As a consequence, the overall image quality is improved, with finer details and fewer artifacts.

When you switch to 1080p, everything starts to seem a little hazier. In the context of this evaluation, we have substituted the Canon EOS 5D Mark III with the Panasonic GH4. A cursory examination of the center target reveals that the two Canons appear to have very little difference from one another, however, the Sony a7S II appears to have a considerably cleaner appearance owing to its accurate 2X oversampling. However, a closer inspection of some other parts of the image, such as the sketch or the hair lock, reveals that the 1D X II is capable of eliciting marginally more detail than the 5D III. In the 1080 comparison, the a7S II routinely achieves better results than any of the Canon cameras, but the D5 also turns in a good performance and achieves a slightly higher resolution than the Canon cameras.

Our contemplations

The Canon 1D X Mark II is capable of recording exceptionally high-quality 4K video. Because of Canon’s image styles, the details are distinct without being too sharpened, and the color is aesthetically pleasing. It looked consistently nice right out of the camera, but sadly there was no flat or log gamma option, so we did very little color grading on any of the videos that we took. In fact, we performed very little color grading on any of the materials that we shot. Rolling shutter in 4K video may also be regulated extremely precisely. It is present, but in our experience with the camera, we did not find that it interfered with our day-to-day activities nearly as much as it does with other cameras.

The camera performs exceptionally well in comparison to its 4K contemporaries, which include full-frame models such as the Sony a7S II and the Nikon D5, in addition to the Panasonic GH4, which, despite not having a full-frame sensor, has become something of a de facto benchmark for many videographers working in 4K. Although the Canon has the potential to be somewhat softer than the other brands, in fact, it sharpens up rather nicely after being edited. The APS-C Sony a6300 resolves everything better than anybody else, which is a testament to the effectiveness of its oversampling process. Despite this, it is quite possible to record extremely high-quality 4K video with any one of these cameras, despite the fact that each of these cameras has both advantages and drawbacks when used as a video tool.

When it comes to video, we cannot place enough emphasis on the following point: it is not just about the visual quality. It is crucial that you have a solid understanding of how you want to use video and which video-specific capabilities would most effectively serve your use case.

This brings us to a very important point: one thing that the test chart does not account for in any way is the depth of video-specific features and customization options that exist between these cameras when they are used to shoot video, and the differences are significant. This is a very important point.

On the one hand, the Sonys provide an entire toolbox’s worth of video options, which movie buffs will like. On the other hand, Canon’s toolbox is not quite as extensive; yet, because of its touch interface and Dual Pixel focusing, it is the ideal camera to use when you need to follow the action and capture it perfectly. When it comes to video, we cannot place enough emphasis on the following point: it is not just about the visual quality. It is crucial that you have a solid understanding of how you want to use video and which video-specific capabilities would best serve your use case.

Finally, the 1080p video captured by the 1D X II has an appearance that is comparable to that of the 5D Mark III, despite the fact that the 1D X II is able to extract more detail and seems somewhat crisper than the 5D Mark III overall. In spite of this, I wouldn’t put it in front of the class.


Body typeLarge SLR
Body materialMagnesium alloy
Max resolution5472 x 3648
Other resolutions4368 x 2912, 3648 x 2432, 2736 x 1824
Image ratio w:h3:2
Effective pixels20 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors22 megapixels
Sensor sizeFull frame (36 x 24 mm)
Sensor typeCMOS
ProcessorDual DIGIC 6+
Color spacesRGB, Adobe RGB
Color filter arrayPrimary color filter
ISOAuto, 100-51200 (expands to 50-409600)
Boosted ISO (minimum)50
Boosted ISO (maximum)409600
White balance presets6
Custom white balanceYes (5 slots)
Image stabilizationNo
Uncompressed formatRAW
File formatJPEG (Exif v2.3)Raw (Canon CR2, 14-bit)
Optics & Focus
AutofocusContrast Detect (sensor)Phase DetectMulti-areaCenterSelective single-pointTrackingSingleContinuousTouchFace DetectionLive View
Manual focusYes
Number of focus points61
Lens mountCanon EF
Focal length multiplier
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCDFixed
Screen size3.2″
Screen dots1,620,000
Touch screenYes (for AF point selection only)
Screen typeTFT LCD
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeOptical (pentaprism)
Viewfinder coverage100%
Viewfinder magnification0.76×
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed30 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/8000 sec
Exposure modesProgramAperture priority shutter priorityManual
Built-in flashNo
External flashYes (via hot shoe or flash sync)
Flash X sync speed1/250 sec
Continuous drive16.0 fps
Metering modesMultiCenter-weightedSpot
Exposure compensation±5 (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)
AE Bracketing±3 (3 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)
Videography features
Resolutions4096 x 2160 (60p, 30p, 25p, 24p, 23.98p), 1920 x 1080 (120p, 60p, 50p, 25p, 24p, 23.98p)
FormatMPEG-4, H.264, Motion JPEG
Storage typesCompactFlash + CFast 2.0
USBUSB 3.0 (5 GBit/sec)
Microphone portYes
Headphone portYes
Wireless notesrequires WFT-E8
Remote controlYes
Environmentally sealedYes
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionLP-E19 lithium-ion battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA)1210
Weight (inc. batteries)1530 g (3.37 lb / 53.97 oz)
Dimensions158 x 168 x 83 mm (6.22 x 6.61 x 3.27″)
Other features
Orientation sensorYes
GPS noteswith e-compass

Final Verdict

Although it may not appear to be all that different from its predecessor, the Canon EOS 1D X II has significant advancements that are not visible to the naked eye. It receives an improved autofocus technology that makes it simpler to take images that are off-center. In addition to that, it comes with the most recent iteration of Canon’s iTR subject tracking technology, which, despite the fact that it is not as efficient as the one found in the Nikon D5, may be helpful if you become familiar with its quirks. When shooting with a CFast card, there is also an almost bottomless Raw buffer that clears itself immediately after each frame.

Canon has improved the overall image quality of its products by developing a new sensor that has a greater dynamic range than its previous models. It also outperforms the Nikon D5 in this respect, despite the fact that the D5 is superior when working with high ISO settings. It is also important to point out that in comparison to other manufacturers’ JPEG photos, those produced by Canon appear to have a flatter tone and a lower level of saturation.

The inclusion of a 4K video at 60 frames per second is most likely the most noticeable upgrade. And not just 4K footage, but an amazing 4K video. The video toolset isn’t as comprehensive as some video pros may need, but Canon appears to have struck the correct balance between the camera’s capabilities and its performance in order to appeal to the kind of photographers who will use this camera. A video of great quality and a natural appearance may be produced with very little work and in a very short amount of time.

In the end, Canon has delivered exactly what we would have anticipated from them in the form of the EOS 1D X II: a (literally) rock-solid successor to the 1D X that will get the job done for professionals, day in and day out, with improved performance and compelling new features designed to appeal to its target audience. This coming summer’s Olympic Games in Rio will likely feature a large number of them, and for good reason. Congratulations, Canon!

Canon EOS 1D X Mark II Price

Pros & Cons

Good For
  • CMOS sensor with 20.2 megapixels and dual-pixel autofocus on a full frame
  • With CFast cards, you have virtually infinite raw buffer space.
  • The industry’s quickest viewfinder blackout times
  • Taking a frame capture in 4K enables an effective burst rate of 60 frames per second, with AF.
  • 14 frames per second of continuous filming (16fps in live view)
Need Improvement
  • Practice and skill are required to achieve optimal results with the AF settings.
  • When utilizing two cards simultaneously, CF compatibility issues might reduce performance.
  • Live View does not support the use of AI Servo for still images (using Dual-Pixel AF)
  • iTR that is tailored for unsteady patients may result in sporadic lack of attention.
  • When compared to some of its competitors, iTR subject tracking is lacking in precision and dependability.

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