High-end cameras like the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II don’t come around every day. In fact, the latest iteration of Canon’s pro high-speed, high-end DSLR has been a long time coming. In my experience so far, it’s well worth the wait.
On paper, the camera is impressive with its new 20-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor, dual DIGIC 6+ image processors, 4K video, and improved AF functionality. You can read all the details on the EOS-1D X Mark II product page. In actual use, the things that impress me most are the camera’s continuous shooting speed, its AF speed, and its accuracy and image quality.
Also notable are the camera’s dual CF/CFast card slots. I tested the camera with several different SanDisk Extreme CF cards and Lexar CFast cards. (See the product advisory on SanDisk CFast cards.) And, although it's not a critical detail, I was really pleased to see that the EOS-1D X Mark II now features continuous red illumination of all AF points through the viewfinder.
The camera handles well, and Canon shooters will have no problem transitioning from one Canon DSLR to the mighty EOS-1D X Mark II. Yes, it’s hefty at 53.97 ounces (3.37 pounds) fully loaded, but it’s well balanced and, like other Canon DSLRs, easy to handle even with a long lens.
Although this is just a first look (a detailed review will be coming in the future), in the weeks I’ve shot with the camera, its speed is immediately noticeable. Combined with a variety of lenses, including the Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L USM and the EF 500mm f/4L IS USM (and 1.4X teleconverter), the EOS-1D X Mark II was fast and agile, capturing up to 14 frames per second (fps) in full resolution raw (CR2) or JPEG, using the viewfinder while maintaining excellent autofocus performance. In Live View, continuous shooting is rated up to 16 fps with the ability to capture up to 170 raw images.
Wandering around Newport, Rhode Island, on foot and by boat with other photojournalists, I found the EOS-1D X Mark II to be the perfect companion. Out on the water, sailboats, yachts, large ships, and land-based lighthouses, and yacht clubs were perfect subjects. Canon arranged for a speedboat to race by several times at about 80 mph, which really put the camera’s speed and AF to the test. (See Image Gallery below.) The EOS-1D X Mark II kept up with ease, delivering series upon series of shots that were well-exposed despite bright, reflective conditions. Good exposures aren’t worth much without sharply focused images, and the speed boat could not outpace the EOS-1D X Mark II’s speed and agility.
I’m not a wildlife photographer, but I was thrilled to have the EOS-1D X Mark II when a family of hawks took up residence in a neighbor’s yard, especially given the camera’s beautiful handling of high ISOs. While I had to wait for the hawks to perch, this camera is more than capable of tracking fast-moving birds of prey.
Personally I favor heading to the studio with some dancers, but the EOS-1D X Mark II is perfect for any photographer who needs or wants an extremely capable and responsive DSLR, whether you’re a wildlife photographer or assigned to shoot the Olympics in Rio.
PRODUCT ADVISORY: SanDisk CFast Cards
On July 6 Canon issued an advisory about an issue with some SanDisk CFast cards when used with the EOS-1D X Mark II, noting that the card—not the camera—was causing the following problems:
“If a SanDisk CFast card is inserted into the camera or a card reader, the bottom part of still images recorded may be corrupted. This phenomenon is confirmed in images recorded in both the raw and JPEG formats. In the raw file, the image corruption may appear in the bottom right corner of the image. In the JPEG file, the image corruption may appear in the lower third area of the image.”
Canon is considering issuing a firmware update for the problem. You can find more details on Canon’s product advisories page.
Theano Nikitas is a full-time freelance writer and photographer.