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EOS-1D X Mark II Review (1): Testing the AF System and Continuous Shooting Performance

This article verifies, through shots of bicycle road races, the high level of coordination between the high-speed continuous shooting performance of the EOS-1D X Mark II and its AF system. (Reported by: Koichi Isomura)


Verifying high-speed continuous shooting and AF tracking in shots of bike races

The EOS-1D X Mark II is equipped with a 35mm full-frame CMOS sensor with approximately 20.2 megapixels. By adopting the Dual Pixel CMOS sensor, a first for Canon’s full-frame sensor cameras, the model offers faster AF response during Live View shooting.

While there is no drastic increase in the image resolution on this model, a higher resolution is always welcome since it is common for professional photographers to crop their sports and journalistic shots.

Yet, high image resolution also means a larger file size, which can slow down a camera’s response time and increase the total size of the saved files. It seems that consideration of this trade-off may have led Canon to keep the EOS-1D X Mark II at an image resolution of about 20.2 megapixels.

(For more information about and examples of the image quality the EOS-1D X Mark II is capable of, click here.)

I chose a bike race for testing the significantly enhanced high-speed continuous shooting function and AF tracking performance of the EOS-1D X Mark II. I aimed the camera at approaching racers through the optical viewfinder with the drive mode set to “High-speed continuous shooting”, and AF operation to AI Servo AF.

For my lens, I deployed the EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM, a lens commonly used by professional photographers. I adjusted the ISO speed so that the shutter speed and aperture would be 1/1,000 sec. and f/2.8 respectively. I pressed and held down the shutter button  after the AF system established focus on the racers, and moved the camera to keep the subject within the selected AF area to capture continuous shots until he closed in and moved out of the composition. For the AF Configuration Tool, which is used to adjust the AI Servo AF characteristics, I set it to the standard setting – Case 1.

Set the AF Configuration Tool menu to Case 1.


Test 1: Continuous shots of a single racer

In the example below, I used Zone AF (centre) to capture a single racer who was away from the group and approaching me. The nine central AF points took turns to focus on him, and managed to carry out tracking with him in focus all the way up to the 29th frame. In the 30th frame, the focus shifted to the background for a fleeting moment, but focus was quickly restored, in the 31st and 32nd frames. It was only in the 33rd frame that focus was significantly out, and the final (34th) frame shows that AF established focus on his thigh, which was further away from the camera than the body. After the 34th frame, the subject went out of view.

The following is a frame-by-frame movie created using Digital Photo Professional with the AF points displayed.


Test 2: Continuous shots of the front racer in a group

For this test, I tried using Zone AF (centre) to capture the racer who was leading a group.

Again, switching between the nine AF points at the centre, the front racer was kept in focus up to the 23rd frame. From the moment I pressed the shutter button to the 11th or 12th frame, the AF system seemed to track the shape and colour of his jersey perhaps because his face was not visible. Focus was placed in front of him in the 24th frame, but it moved back to his face in the 26th frame. Though focus was outside of the focus zone, the system managed to track the subject up to the 27th and 28th frames. The images for some frames appear a little blurry possibly because the camera was too close to the racer, thus causing subject blur.



Test 3: Continuous shots of a racer riding in parallel with the camera

In this third test, I used the camera to track a racer who was travelling in a direction almost parallel with it. For this test, I selected Large Zone AF (left) to focus on the racer in front of the group. Though obstacles came in between him and the camera four times during the process, the AF system continued to track the subject without shifting focus to them. It seems that the obstacles were ignored because the AF system determined that the camera was tracking the racer based on information obtained from the acceleration sensor that feeds information to the image stabilising gyros in the lens.


(Photos shot in collaboration with: 8th JBCF Gunma CSC Road Race)

For a field test of the EOS-1D X Mark II’s AF performance in wild bird photography, check out the following articles: 
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


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EOS-1D X Mark II

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EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM

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Koichi Isomura


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.


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