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EOS-1D X Mark II Review (2): Testing the Image Quality with 4 L-series Lenses

The EOS-1D X Mark II is Canon’s latest flagship DSLR model. In Part 1, we tested its AF tracking and continuous shooting functions. Here in Part 2, we verify the image quality of the camera by pairing it with four popular L-series lenses to photograph different subjects.(Reported by: Koichi Isomura)


Matching with Canon lenses

L-series lenses are commonly employed by professional photographers for actual shooting. In this review, I tested the true strength of the EOS-1D X Mark II by pairing it with various L-series zoom lenses ranging from wide-angle to telephoto focal lengths, including the EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM, which is among one of the most frequently used lenses by professional photographers.

EF11-24mm f/4L USM


EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM


EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM


By using these Canon lenses with the EOS-1D X Mark II, correction for peripheral illumination, chromatic aberration, distortion and diffraction are enabled. These can also disabled.

This is the menu for correcting any influences caused by the optical characteristics of the lens. Peripheral illumination correction, chromatic aberration correction and diffraction correction are set to [Enable] by default while distortion correction is set to [Disable]. 

Images that are applied with distortion correction would be slightly cropped at the edges, and apparent resolution may deteriorate slightly in some cases, so it may be better to enable it only when necessary.


Image quality and AF response time

For this review, I used the EOS-1D X Mark II in scenarios that were almost identical to an actual shoot, and was able to feel its true potential. By taking a close look at the following works which I have selected from the shoot, you too can grasp the excellent performance of the camera.

In the example below, I released the shutter after composing a shot of a group of racers who suddenly appeared from a blind corner in a road race. By setting AF Configuration Tool to "[Case 3] (Instantly focus on a subject that appears suddenly)", the AF was able to respond sensitively.

EOS-1D X Mark II/ EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM/ FL: 200mm/ Manual exposure (f/2.8, 1/1,000 sec., EV±0)/ AI Servo AF/ Large Zone AF (Vertical, Upper)/ ISO 400/ WB: Auto


I got my camera ready, positioned it a few dozen metres after the finish line, and waited for the racer who emerged from the bunch sprint. I started releasing the shutter when the racer was a few metres away from the goal, and captured the instant he crossed the finish line with high-speed continuous shooting. I set AF Configuration Tool to "Case 1 (Versatile multi purpose setting)", which allowed me to capture the decisive moment while placing emphasis on the composition, at the same time using the inactive AF points in Large Zone AF to ease focusing.

EOS-1D X Mark II/ EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM/ FL: 200mm/ Shutter-priority AE (f/2.8, 1/1000 sec., EV+1)/ AI Servo AF/ Large Zone AF (Centre)/ ISO 400/ WB: Auto


I used high-speed continuous shooting to track the bicycles that sped past in front of me. Generally, Continuous AF excels at capturing subjects that are approaching the camera, but does not perform as well for those that are moving away. In comparison, AI Servo AF on the EOS-1D X Mark II was able to maintain the focus on subjects that were moving away from the camera.

EOS-1D X Mark II/ EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM/ FL: 400mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/5.6, 1/160 sec., EV+0.3)/ AI Servo AF/ Large Zone AF (Centre)/ ISO 100/ WB: Auto


The following action-packed shot of racers cycling past the finishing line was captured at a wide angle of 11mm to create a strong perspective effect. I selected One-Shot AF and set focus on the upper part of the gate. The shutter speed was reduced to 1/400 second to create motion blur in the bicycles. I composed the shot in advance using the Live View function, after which I turned off the function and pressed the shutter button without looking through the viewfinder.

EOS-1D X Mark II/ EF11-24mm f/4L USM/ FL: 11mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/5.6, 1/400 sec., EV+1.3)/ One-Shot AF/ Zone AF (Centre, upper)/ ISO 100/ WB: Auto


The next example was taken at a live performance in an old jazz club. Playing on a stage with a relaxed atmosphere, I captured the musicians at a high ISO speed of 12800. Setting white balance to “Auto (Ambience priority)” helps to retain the ambience of the colour of the tungsten spotlight. The drive mode was set to “Silent single shooting”.

EOS-1D X Mark II/ EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM/ FL: 123mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/2.8, 1/800 sec., EV-0.3)/ One-Shot AF/ Spot AF/ ISO 12800/ WB: Auto
(Tenor sax: Shigeru Ukon; singer: Kanoko Kimura) 


As I took the shot from a location in the jazz club that was close to the audience enjoying the performance, I set the drive mode to “Silent single shooting” to minimise the shutter sound. The shutter sound of the EOS-1D X Mark II is relatively quiet compared to other full-frame DSLR cameras.

EOS-1D X Mark II/ EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM/ FL: 200mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/2.8, 1/800 sec., EV-0.3)/ One-Shot AF/ Spot AF/ ISO 12800/ WB: Auto
(Bass: Jumbo Ono)


Conclusion: The long-awaited model for users seeking ultimate performance

In this review, I used the EOS-1D X Mark II to photograph subjects in different scenes. The result it produced shows the extremely high potential of the camera, and also proves that it is one of the most competitive cameras at present. I am certain I will see a large number of white telephoto lenses at the Olympics and Paralympics this year.

While this DSLR allows users to capture the world’s top athletes as illustrated in the examples above, it is by no means a camera that is designed exclusively for professional photographers. For camera enthusiasts who are seeking ultimate performance, this is also the model you have been waiting for. Indeed, anyone who holds the EOS-1D X Mark II in their hands will instantly fall in love with how comprehensive it is. 

Road racing photos shot with the support of the 8th JCBF Gunma CSC Road Race


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EOS-1D X Mark II

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EF11-24mm f/4L USM

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EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM

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EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L 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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