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First-hand Review: Frame Grab and 4K Movie on the EOS-1D X Mark II

Following the launch of Canon’s flagship model, the EOS-1D X Mark II in February 2016, I share my first impressions of the camera’s movie shooting functions. Be astounded by the high quality images of fast-moving wild birds extracted from 4K Movies shot on the camera! (Edited by: Video Salon)

Shoot movies in 4K at 50p/60p, and in Full HD at 100p/120p

With the launch of Canon’s flagship DSLR, the EOS-1D X Mark II, movie shooting is now possible in 4K at 50p/60p, and in Full HD at 100p/120p. In terms of its functions, this is also the first time that Dual Pixel CMOS AF has been adopted in a 35mm full-frame DSLR. Even though focusing in 4K Movie Shooting is said to be difficult, Movie Servo AF has been realised, and AF tracking can be carried out across the frame even when shooting at a high frame rate of 100p/120p in Full HD.

4K movies are recorded in Motion JPEG, allowing for videos to be coded without compression between frames. This makes Frame Grabs possible, in which a single image frame is extracted from a 4K movie and saved (in JPEG) all on the camera itself.

Dual slots for CF and CFast 2.0. 4K and Full HD 100p/120p videos are recorded on CFast 2.0.

A cable protector is included among the bundled accessories to ensure that HDMI and other cables are kept in place. However, HDMI output is limited to Full HD.

First Impressions:

An “ultra-high speed still camera”—not a mere “movie shooter"

The 4K movie shooting function on the EOS-1D X Mark II is, in a certain sense, slightly different from that on other still cameras to date.

The burst shots taken at the continuous shooting speed of 14 fps (16 fps in Live View mode) on the EOS-1D X Mark II have a continuity that is sufficient to form an animation-like clip if you were to stitch them together. However, no matter how high the image quality is, individually, they are still more “movie-like pictures” than actual movies.

On the other hand, when it comes to 4K movies, those taken by the EOS-1D X Mark II are truly, conclusively movies. Indeed, the 50 fps/60 fps movies, which are a first for Canon’s full-frame cameras, turn out smoothly! If you were to break down the movies and look at them frame by frame, the quality of each individual frame is so high that, speaking as a movie footage creator, I would say that they are just as good as individually captured still photos. And it is because of this that I believe that it is more apt to describe the EOS-1D X Mark II as an “ultra-high speed still camera” rather than a “movie shooter”.

Amazing performance is evident even when shooting in Full HD 100 fps/120 fps, which the EOS-1D X Mark II also supports. You can capture even fast-moving wild birds at just the right moment—to the point where you would be able to extract the exact frame in post-production. You might only have had a 50% chance of doing so if you were shooting at the 4K speed of 50 fps/60 fps. In this sense, it can be said that this is a dream camera, which allows you to capture the perfect moment, rather than have to chance upon it.

This is probably what it all boils down to for the EOS-1D X Mark II. And with this, together with the dramatic improvement in AF capability, it’s small wonder that the camera has been launched in an Olympic year. (text: Yasushi Sugawara)

Frame grab taken from a 4K 60 fps movie. The camera is equipped with a more intuitive and practical AF function that even older lenses can benefit from.

4K Frame Grabs are of astoundingly high quality

Frame grab from a 4K movie (4096×2160)

Still image (5472×3648)

I put the above two images by the EOS-1D X Mark II side by side. One is a still shot while the other is a 4K movie Frame Grab. Comparing them, it was apparent that thanks to the high resolution of the Frame Grab, the resulting extracted image file (approximately 8.8 megapixels, in JPEG format) is of a high quality, beyond what is required for normal practical use. Hence, to professional videographers, the EOS-1D X Mark II is very much like a still camera that shoots approximately 8.8-megapixel shots (=frames) at a speed of 60 frames per second. This is due to the use of a compression format known as Motion JPEG in its 4K movie recording function.

*Do note that with the 4K Frame Grab function, saving a still image from a single movie frame does not result in the same image quality as a normal still image.

Different formats result in different angles of view, as the image above shows.
(Entire image area: Still (5472 x 3648); in green: HD angle of view; in red: 4K (4096 x 2160).)
In a 4K video, the angle of view becomes narrower as the pixels have to be more densely packed.


AF-related operations can be carried out with the LCD touch panel

From top: 1. Shooting a movie in Movie Servo AF mode; 2. Tapping the icon on the screen pauses Movie Servo AF; 3. Tapping the Servo AF icon again restarts Movie Servo AF.

The EOS-1D X Mark II allows Dual Pixel CMOS AF to be performed on the touch screen. Touch functions are available for the minimum level of operations required for focusing, such as specifying the focus points and turning the Movie Servo AF ON/OFF.

*The camera used in this article is a prototype made in Japan. As a result, please note that the results may differ from the actual product in terms of the exterior, image quality and so on.


Canon EF mount

Recording media: 
CF (UDMA7), CFast 2.0. 
Still image shooting at 16 fps, 4K/60p movie shooting and FHD/120p shots are supported on CFast 2.0. 

Image sensor:
35mm full-frame, approximately 20.2MP (equipped with Dual Pixel CMOS AF)

Video ISO Speed:
Normal ISO 25600 (ISO 12800 for 4K)

Continuous shooting speed:
Approximately 14 fps (viewfinder shooting), and approximately 16 fps (Live View shooting)

Video recording format:
4K: Motion JPEG, Full HD MOV/MP4: MPEG4 AVC/H.264

Maximum video recording pixel count/frame rate:
4K (4096×2160) 50p/60p, Full HD MOV (1920×1080) 100p/120p (High Frame Rate movie shooting without audio), 50p/60p, Full HD MP4 (1920×1080) 50p/60p

Recording time limit:
Approximately 29 min 59 sec (in exFAT-compatible CFast 2.0, there is no 4GB file size limit)

HDMI pass through:
Full HD only

Time code:
Allowed (rec run / free run selectable, Enable/Disable drop frame selectable)

LCD Monitor:
3.2-inch wide with approximately 1.62 million dots, touch operations are limited to AF frame movements and display magnification


External dimensions:
Width 158.0 × Height 167.6 × Depth 82.6mm

Weight (main body only):
Approximately 1340g


For details on the EOS-1D X Mark II, click here.



Yasushi Sugawara

Takes photographs of all sorts of living things, including birds, insects and plants, using special techniques such as time lapse, high speeds and three dimensional photography. Provides footage for TV, creates footage for exhibitions, writes for magazines and is active in many other areas. Member of the Society of Scientific Photography. Award recipient, EARTH VISION Global Environmental Film Festival (2000). Award recipient, Japan Wildlife Film Festival (2001).


Video Salon

Video Salon started publication in 1980, and is Japan’s only niche magazine on videographic equipment. Catering to readers who range from serious amateurs to professionals, it enjoys an established reputation not only for the information it provides on video cameras and editing software, but also on its drive-run reviews on videography with the latest DSLR cameras and its expert tips and tutorials.

Published by GENKOSHA Co., Ltd