A worthy upgrade for 1Dx, 1D C or 5D Mark III owners?
Post updated January 2018: I have to admit that the latest announcement from Canon, the Canon EOS 1Dx Mark II, has some pretty impressive features.
It looks like a superb camera but I am left wondering who they are for? Is it enough for existing 1D C ($8,000), 1Dx or 5D Mark III owners to upgrade. What about for videographers to switch to a DSLR?
Before I go into that, here is what is promised with Canon's new monster, high end, professional DSLR. I think it is important to mention that this is a DSLR stills camera first and foremost. The addition of video almost being a "bonus item" (though what a nice bonus item)!
I say that because the Canon 1Dx Mark II has some incredibly powerful video features such as 4K video at 60fps and 1080p @120fps but it is lacking in some other areas for film-makers:
....including the bulky shape which is not best designed for hand-held video.
Canon EOS 1Dx Mark II - Features
The first noteworthy notable is the autofocus. Canon have introduced a dual-pixel CMOS AF sensor which features an advanced, lightning fast 61-point system. It has High Density Reticular AF II focusing whilst shooting stills OR recording video.
The 1Dx Mark II has a new dual DIGIC 6+ which allows the camera to shoot at 16 frames per second. This also works whilst in live view mode and 14 frames per second through the viewfinder.
With the right CF card, you can keep shooting JPEGs at these speeds until the card is full or up to 170 RAW images. Nice.
The 1Dx Mark II now has a 3.2 inch LCD touch panel with 1.62 million dots. However, it doesn't appear to be articulated (a blow for videographers not using an external recorder no doubt).
The ISO on the 1Dx Mk II is 100-51,200 expandable to 409,600. Not quite the same as the new Nikon D5 but I am sure 400k is good enough for most people! Remember, even the best professional video cameras such as the Sony FS7 have a native ISO of 2000 and only go to around 8000ISO max.
It is all about lighting in photography/video. So for most "real world" professional filming, you should never have to use high ISO's such as 409,600. Famous last words. Perhaps super high ISO's are becoming a bit gimmicky like the megapixel race.
If manufacturers can make sensors that produce highly usable footage and stills at super high ISO's like the Sony A7S/II then fair enough, but raising the numbers for the sake of sales?
Sensor and Video
I am pleased to see that yet again, the big manufacturers have decided to keep the megapixel race at bay.
The 1Dx II's sensor is coming in at 20.2 effective megapixels. The sensor includes gapless micro lenses for enhanced low-light performance.
I always hoped that the manufacturers would concentrate more on image quality rather than pixel counting and it seems that is the way they are going.
I have heard so many people saying 36mp's on the Nikon DSLR's is way too much. The file sizes are huge and take up a lot of disk space for each outing.
All we (I) need to see now is what the quality of stills coming from this camera are like. Pin sharp detail and great low-light shooting should be a no brainer.
The video features on the Canon EOS 1Dx Mark II are second to none. Well, they are second to a few dedicated video cameras perhaps but for a DSLR, they are pretty good!
Thanks to the new dual DIGIC 6+ processors and advanced sensor, the 1Dx II can shoot 4K video (800mbps recording) at 60fps and 1080p video (360mbps recording) at a whopping 120fps.
Both great for slow motion video.
Note: With those specs for 4K video (60fps/800mbps), you are going to need a POWERFUL computer to handle those files.
Using the new touch screen, you are able to adjust focussing whilst filming. You can now grab 8.8 megapixel frame grabs to check focus and perhaps even use online or for prints.
Along with all the usual wireless features, super-rugged magnesium alloy body etc, this release looks like a veritable beast of a camera. I just hope the stills quality match what one would expect from a camera due for release at around $6,000.
The video from the aging Canon EOS 5D Mark II was, and still is, superb and tack sharp. Unlike the Mark III which needed a bit of TLC in post to get the best from it. If the 1Dx II can better that with all the extras, this could be a serious upgrade for a lot of professionals and rich amateurs.
Full Video Specs
The audio features of the Canon EOS 1Dx Mark II are not the best but that is only to be expected from a mirrored DSLR. There simply isn't the space to have dual XLR output terminals so you get an internal monaural microphone or stereo audio recording via an external stereo microphone jack.
Of course, there are ways and means to add superior audio but that will obviously increase the bulk of this camera.
Perhaps the LAN connection space below could have been given up for a single XLR audio output? Or maybe a reduced battery size would allow dual XLR ports in that area?
Still, it is like I said, this is a stills camera first and foremost with very attractive video capabilities coming a very close second IMO.
Who is it for?
So, back to my point of who this camera is for?
The usual professional photographers shooting weddings, sports events, commercial work and so on will no doubt love this camera. I do, on paper. Although the higher pixel count of the 5DSR may suit more for commercial photographers.
In my opinion, videographers may be better off spending an extra $1,500 or so on a dedicated, high end video camera such as the Sony FS7. You get all of the above and then some including 1080p recording at 180fps, superior audio connections, built-in ND filters and you can even use your Canon lenses via a Metabones EF Lens To Sony NEX Smart Adapter.
1Dx Mark I owners may not bother upgrading or may even go for the EOS 5Dsr if they don't need high speed shooting or 4K video but do need more megapixels.
For someone like me, if I had the money, I would love this camera for all my stills photography needs. Weddings, commercial, stock etc, and shooting stock video where audio isn't always important. I really like it but I don't $6k like it.
As it is though, my handy (and much smaller) Panasonic GH5 is currently perfect for my 4K 60p video and 1080p video at 120fps needs. Plus I can use my Canon lenses with it. I can even have dual XLR output on the GH4 if I were to opt for the audio unit.
What else will $6,000 get you?
Those with more money sense will realise that for a snip more than $6k, they could get the EOS 5DSR for $3,900 (for stills). Or a Panasonic GH5 for $1,900 (for 4K, 10-bit video) and a Metabones Speedbooster for $1000.
A superb camera but out of my price range right now. Oh well, I will just have to wait and see what the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV comes up with (unless the Canon EOS 1Dx Mark II is the 5D Mark IV).