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Canon updates its 4K blockbuster DSLR with the EOS-1D X MK II

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Canon/RedShark NewsThe EOS-1D X Mk II - the new pretender to the throne

Canon has just announced the EOS-1D X Mark II, an update for its four year-old flagship DSLR which both increases resolution and adds internal 4K video.

 New still camera introductions always bring with them greater video capabilities, and this is certainly the case in Canon’s announcement of the EOS-1D X Mark II DSLR, an update to its current EOS-1D X professional camera.

The 1D X Mark II retains the magnesium alloy body of its predecessor but increases sensor resolution from 18.1 megapixels to 20.2 megapixels. Key to many of the still and video improvements in the camera is the inclusion of dual Digix 6+ processors which improves not just still buffering but also allows the camera to shoot 4k 60p video and HD video up to 120fps. But more on those video features later.

The camera base ISO range is 100-51,200 with expanded ISO from 50 to 409,600 making the 1D X Mark II a low-light champion. The Mark II retains the 61 point AF system of the original 1DX but has a 24% increased top and bottom range. All of these 61 focus points can be used to a maximum aperture of f/8. All AF points are user-selectable.

Facial recognition and tracking is enhanced with inclusion of a 360,000-pixel RGB+IR metering system. And the AE system can detect and compensate for flickering light under light sources prone to flicker. This function can be turned on or off.

A built-in Digital Lens Optimizer recognizes the EF lens which is mounted on camera and performs optical and chromatic aberration corrections.

The Mark II introduces a new battery, the Canon LPE-19. The prior LPE-4 version will also work but the LPE-19 is required to achieve the maximum shooting rates of the camera.

New as well to the 1D X Mark II is a dual card slot storage system. One slot takes a standard CF card while the second slot is for CFast cards. The use of the CFast card enables the fastest possible data transfer rate for unlimited buffering of JPEG images and buffering of 170 consecutive RAW images to the camera’s maximum 14fps continuous shooting.

RAW shooters will appreciate not just the speed at which RAW images can be captured, buffered and written to cards but also the fact that the camera offers ability to correct RAW files within the camera.

Connectivity is an important feature in today’s cameras of all formats and price ranges and here the Mark II excels. Its wireless system is 802.11AC dual band and it also has built-in gigabit Ethernet connectivity. Likewise, GPS + compass is built in and may be enabled or disabled by user.

Canon will also offer the WFT-E8 wireless file transfer device as an optional accessory.

Video functionallity

The 1D X Mark II is designed as a working professional’s camera with its sturdy body, lightweight construction, connectivity and of course high continuous frame rate shooting. Sports and nature photographers in particular can take advantage of many of these features.

Yet no camera in any price range can overlook the video functionality also needed by professional shooters. The faster processors and CFast card enable the camera to achieve full 4K 60fps via a sensor crop to APS-H size. It can also shoot full HD at frame rates up to 120fps. The dual pixel CMOS autofocus system is similar to that found in Canon’s Cinema EOS cameras.

A particularly unique feature is the ability to grab a 4K frame as an 8.8 megapixel JPEG within the camera.

The touchscreen allows shooters to select the AF point both prior to and during recording.

It is disappointing to note that Canon has stayed with the MJPEG codec. While MJPEG is universally readable and retains high quality, MJPEG as a video acquisition codec is a little long in tooth and isn’t as efficient as contemporary codecs. Files sizes can be huge restricting the recording time on the CFast cards. I would hope that in future revisions of the camera, Canon would choose the XF-AVC codec found in the new EOS C300 Mark II digital cinema camera. This would certainly enhance the functionality of the 1D X Mark II as a video camera. HDMI out, however, does allow the camera to be used with external recording devices providing a viable acquisition option to those who do not wish to record internally.

[For an alternative viewpoint on this see Why would Canon use MJPEG for video in the new 1DX MK II?]

The EOS-1D X Mark II will ship in April at an estimated list price of US $5999. A Premium Kit estimated at $6299 includes 1 64gb CFast card plus reader.

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