Released in 2016, the EOS-1D X Mark II is ranked the highest-end flagship model among Canon’s digital cameras. The following is a detailed report on how this camera has evolved from its predecessor, the EOS-1D X, in terms of appearance and functions.
(Reported by: Koichi Isomura)
Designed for use by professional photographers under extreme conditions
The EOS-1D X Mark II is ranked the highest-end flagship model among the digital cameras released by Canon. Designed mainly for use by professional photographers, it is a highly reliable camera, offering excellent robustness that is capable of withstanding extreme shooting conditions, drip- and dust-resistant performance, as well as a shutter durability of up to 400,000 cycles. This camera can be regarded as the true successor of the EOS-1, Canon’s flagship model during the film SLR camera era.
While it is equipped with a 35mm full-frame CMOS sensor, the same as its predecessor, the EOS-1D X, the pixel count has been upgraded to approximately 20.2 megapixels, compared to approximately 18.1 megapixels on the EOS-1D X . It is also the first full-frame DSLR camera to come with a Dual Pixel CMOS sensor (Read more about this in Part 3 of the Interview with Developers). Not only so, it also offers a high AF speed during Live View shooting.
More powerful AF function and wider AF area with the use of a new sensor
The AF function on the EOS-1D X Mark II has also been enhanced compared to the EOS-1D X. The use of a newly-developed AF sensor, coupled with a restructuring of the optical design and algorithm, have contributed to a significant improvement in the basic performance of the camera.
The number of AF points remains at 61 as before, but the AF area has been expanded both upward and downward. The AF area inside the viewfinder is widened by up to about 24% for the peripheral AF points and by about 8% for the centre AF point with respect to the EOS-1D X, so users can enjoy greater flexibility in composing a shot.
Evolution of the AF function can also be seen in the maximum lens aperture that enables AF. For the EOS-1D X, only the centre AF point supports AF for lenses with a maximum aperture of f/8 (firmware version 1.1.1 or later). In contrast, all the AF points on the EOS-1D X Mark II support AF for lenses with a maximum aperture of f/8. This comes in handy in cases such as when we combine a lens with a maximum aperture of f/4 with a 2x extender to increase the widest effective aperture to f/8. Also, the 21 AF points at the centre enable cross-type focusing at f/8, while the centre AF point now supports AF up to a low light limit of EV-3 (up to EV-2 on the EOS-1D X).
In addition to the AF area selection mode options that are already available, which include Manual Selection: Spot AF, Manual Selection: 1 point AF, Expand AF area (Left, Right, Up, Down), Expand AF area: Surround, Manual Selection: Zone AF and Auto Selection AF, the camera also offers a Manual Selection : Large Zone AF option that divides the AF points into three zones (left, centre and right).
For the inside story about the improved AF functions on the EOS-1D X Mark II, read the Interview with Developers (Part 2).
Examples using high speed continuous shooting and AI Servo AF
Illustrated in the examples below is a racer going at full throttle down a straight slope in a bicycle road race. He was probably travelling at a speed that was as fast as 60km/h. Here, I captured the subject with AI Servo AF as well as a continuous shooting speed of 14 fps. The camera was able to capture 16 shots in slightly more than a second’s time. It was also able to track the subject and maintain the focus during the process. The AF area I selected was Large Zone AF (Center ).
For more on how the EOS-1D X Mark II performs on the field, check out:
Live Action Review (Part 1): Stunning Focus Accuracy and AF Tracking Performance
Live Action Review (Part 2): Dual Pixel CMOS AF - Perfect Focus Even in Dark Scenes
Besides the greater flexibility in selecting the AF area, as illustrated in the examples above, the EOS-1D X Mark II is also equipped with mechanisms for more effective focusing by identifying and distinguishing the subject. One of them is the EOS iTR AF, which gives priority to recognising the colour of the subject and the face of a portrait subject.
The EOS iTR AF recognises the colour and shape of the subject or face of the portrait subject that is detected by the EOS iSA System, and maintains focus on this subject by moving the AF point according to the subject’s movement.
The EOS-1D X uses a 100,000-pixel RGB metering sensor for such recognition, but this has been upgraded to an RGB+IR metering sensor with a resolution of approximately 360,000 pixels on the EOS-1D X Mark II. This new metering sensor is capable of detecting faces that are smaller in size than before, and comes in extremely handy when combined with Auto selection AF, Large Zone AF or Zone AF. If a face cannot be recognised, focus will be established by detecting the colour and shape of the subject.
In addition to the metering sensor, the AI Servo for driving AF according to the movement of the subject has also been upgraded from AI Servo AF III to AI Servo AF III+. The AF drive algorithm of AI Servo AF III+ has been revised so that it can continue tracking when a subject that is approaching the camera suddenly moves away rapidly.
Furthermore, when a Canon lens that comes with the Image Stabilizer (IS) feature is attached, the acceleration sensor for the vibration gyro of the IS moves the AF point by determining whether movement of the camera is caused by the photographer tracking the subject or otherwise. This is an ideal example showing that professional photographers’ feedback based on their on-site experience were taken into account for design considerations.
Other features include an Auto (Ambience priority) white balance option that utilises the warm colour cast of light sources such as incandescent bulbs, as well as an Anti-flicker shooting feature that reduces unevenness in exposure or colour by detecting flicker in the fluorescent light when shooting under light sources such as a fluorescent lamp.
Superimposed AF point lights up in red when focus is established, easing identification at dimly-lit places
The viewfinder offers a coverage of approximately 100% and a magnification of approximately 0.76 times. In addition to information at the edges of the viewfinder as well as in the LCD at the bottom, such as image type, shooting mode and exposure value, you can also display the grid lines, settings, AF frame and selected AF point in the built-in transmissive LCD. When focus is established, the AF point is superimposed on the image and lights up in red. This feature used to be available on models up to the EOS-1D Mark IV, but was omitted on the EOS-1D X. Having it makes it easier to identify whether focus is achieved when you are shooting at a dimly-lit location, so I am glad that it has been reinstated on the EOS-1D X Mark II. There is some vignetting in the viewfinder image in the above example, but this is because I photographed it with a different camera for illustrative purposes.
You can alter the settings for shooting mode, metering mode, white balance, drive mode, AF operation and flicker detection through the viewfinder display.
The LCD monitor adopted is a large-sized and wide-angle 3.2-inch Clear View LCD II monitor with a high definition of approximately 1.62 million dots. It is also the first EOS-1D model to be equipped with a touch-sensitive rear LCD monitor. However, the touch screen function can only be used to move the AF point and enlarge the display during Live View shooting, or to move the AF point to another position within the AF area while in the [FlexiZone – Single] AF mode. It does not function as a touch shutter.
The EOS DSLR with the highest continuous shooting speed
While the EOS-1D X boasts a maximum continuous shooting speed of 12 fps, the EOS-1D X Mark II has yet again achieved a breakthrough, raising the maximum speed to 14 fps with AF and AE tracking enabled (the maximum continuous shooting speed during Live View shooting is 16 fps with AF and AE fixed on the first frame). This breakthrough can be attributed to the lavish use of advanced technologies on the camera, which include the newly-developed low-shock mirror drive method, high-speed signal reading from the CMOS sensor and the use of two DIGIC 6+ image processors.
The continuous shooting speed can be set freely to any frame rate between 2 to 14 fps during viewfinder shooting, and to 16 fps or between 2 to 14 fps during Live View shooting.
Video: Illustrating the continuous shooting process
The shutter sound is also relatively quieter than the EOS-1D X during continuous shooting. Despite the high speed, vibration that can be felt through the hand holding the camera is minimal. The speed of writing to a CFast 2.0 card during RAW+JPEG simultaneous recording is amazingly fast. If you are only writing in the JPEG Large format, you can keep releasing the shutter with no disruption until the capacity of the memory card is full.
(To test the continuous shooting performance, I set the camera to the Manual mode, MF, maximum aperture, ISO 100 and a shutter speed of 1/2,500 second.)
Changes made to the shape of the grip and the upper end
The external dimensions and weight of the EOS-1D X Mark II are approximately 158.0 × 167.6 × 82.6mm and 1,530g respectively. These are almost the same as the measurements of the EOS-1D X, which are approximately 158.0 × 163.6 × 82.7mm and 1,530g (in accordance with CIPA and inclusive of battery and recording media). When held in the hand, both cameras feel almost the same in weight and size. However, the grip of the newer model has been made slightly slimmer, thus allowing users with smaller hands to hold the camera more firmly.
Although the grip may still seem large for those with smaller hands, such as female users, it is capable of providing a firm and steady hold, good for balancing out some of the heavier lenses. For me, I did not feel tired even when I had to hold the camera for long hours of shooting.
The biggest change in the appearance would be the square-shaped and greater protrusion at the top of the camera, which houses the built-in GPS antenna. While the EOS-1D X required an external GPS Receiver, this is no longer necessary for the EOS-1D X Mark II with the built-in GPS antenna.
Built-in GPS antenna
The built-in GPS antenna is compatible with three types of systems, namely GPS satellites (USA), GLONASS satellites (Russia) and Japan’s Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS) MICHIBIKI. Highly-precise positional information can be obtained by capturing multiple signals from these satellites, which is then written into the image captured in the Exif format. (You can also choose to disable the setting for obtaining positional information.)
The GPS logging function consists of two modes. In Mode 1, GPS signals are received at periodic intervals even when the power of the camera is turned off, and information is stored once the power of the camera is turned on. In Mode 2, the GPS logging function turns off too when the camera is powered off. When the GPS Logger feature is enabled, positional information is acquired at regular intervals, enabling you to display the route covered by the camera on a map using the Map Utility software.
Live View shooting/Movie shooting switch now has a lever for switching between stills and movies
As with the EOS-1D X, the EOS-1D X Mark II comes with buttons such as the Main Dial, Quick Control Dial and shutter button, which provide direct access to the different features. Users therefore will not find its operation confusing when they upgrade from the previous model. Also, the Live View shooting/Movie shooting switch now comes in the form of a lever for switching between stills and movies, the same as on models such as the EOS 5D Mark III. Meanwhile, the shape of the Multi-controller joystick has also been changed from one with a pointed tip to a flat surface that allows closer contact by the ball of the finger.
The control dials and buttons on the same side as the vertical grip. The shape of the grip where the fingers rest on has been modified, and the M-Fn button is now located in front of the Main Dial. Also, the Vertical-grip On/Off switch has been moved downward with the Remote control terminal (supporting N3-type remote controls) above it.
Although the Vertical-grip AF start button, Vertical-grip AE lock button and Vertical-grip AF point selection button are arranged in the same order as before, the Vertical-grip AF start button is now placed slightly further away from the other two. Such a layout bears a closer resemblance to the distance between the three corresponding buttons in the horizontal orientation, so users are able to operate the camera in a similar manner regardless of whether they are holding it horizontally or vertically.
The rear LCD panel as well as buttons below the rear LCD monitor remain mostly unchanged, except that the Card/Image size selection button has been moved up slightly.
The dioptric adjustment knob and eyepiece shutter lever come into view when you remove the eyecup. Among Canon cameras, the EOS-1D models are the only class that comes with an eyepiece shutter for shutting out external light coming from the viewfinder.
The EOS-1D X Mark II comes with two card slots, one of which is a CF slot that is compliant with UDMA Mode 7, while the other is a CFast 2.0 slot that supports high-speed writing. Each of the card slots can be configured to [Standard], [Auto switch card], [Rec. separately] or [Rec. to multiple] when writing images. The CFast 2.0 slot is not compatible with CF cards and vice versa, so only one CF card and one CFast 2.0 card can be inserted at a time .
The different interfaces on the camera – Ethernet RJ-45 terminal (IEEE 802.3u), HDMI mini OUT terminal and USB 3.0-compatible digital terminal (SuperSpeed USB Micro B).
System extension terminal (Wireless File Transmitter for WFT-E8B/WFT-E6B), Φ3.5mm Headphone terminal, Φ3.5mm External microphone IN/Line input terminal and PC terminal.
The camera comes supplied with an LP-E19 battery. It is also compatible with the LP-E4N/LP-E4 batteries that are used on models such as the EOS-1D X.
The Battery Charger LC-E19 supports simultaneous charging of two batteries. The lamp indicates the charging status as well as the estimated usable time. In addition, the charger also offers a calibration feature for discharging residual charge, as well as a feature that checks for deterioration in the battery. It can also be used for charging LP-E4N/LP-E4 batteries.
Photos shot with the support of the 8th JCBF Gunma CSC Road Race
Born in 1967 in Fukuoka Prefecture, he graduated from a vocational school for photography in Tokyo and became an independent photographer after working in advertising production. He shoots a wide variety of subjects from people to products, architecture, theatre, etc. In recent years, he has held exhibitions in various places with a focus on the themes of nature and human activity.
Delivers daily news related to topics such as digital cameras and peripheral devices, and imaging software. Also publishes articles such as reviews on the use of actual digital camera models and photo samples taken using new models.