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Canon EOS-1D X Mark II Review - Performance

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Canon EOS-1D X Mark II Performance

The performance section is where we look at the image quality performance of the camera. Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

Shutter Response <0.05secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.15secs
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response  0.15secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 0.38secs
Shot to Shot without Flash 0.2secs
Shot to Shot with Flash N/A
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
14fps (~ shots)
16fps live-view (~ shots)
Continuous Shooting - Flash N/A
Continuous Shooting - RAW 12fps (54 shots, CF)
14fps live-view (54 shots, CF)

Shutter response is very good and focus speeds are very fast as well. Continuous shooting is very impressive shooting at 14fps with AF/AE and 16fps with the mirror up in live view mode. The camera can shoot up to 170 raw images when using a CFast 2.0 card, less when using a CompactFlash card, and unlimited JPEG images. 

Canon EOS 1D X Mark II Sample Photos

Sample Photos - Exposure is reliable and colour is very good, with the camera producing pleasing images straight from the camera. With a number of different Picture Styles that can be customised, you can setup image output so that they are to your own personal tastes. Portraits taken with the camera are excellent, with pleasing skin tones and good levels of detail.

There are a number of Picture Styles available and you can customise the sharpness (strength, fineness, threshold), contrast, saturation and colour tone. Dynamic range is very good, with the camera producing excellent results straight from the camera. There are Auto Lighting Optimizer options of Off, Low, Standard and High which will increase the shadows and highlights to record more dynamic range in images and we have left this switched off for our images. To shoot HDR images, you can shoot raw and process the images, or shoot with the auto-exposure bracketing option but there is no built-in auto HDR creation. 

Canon EOS 1D X Mark II Lens test images

Lens Performance - Image quality from the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens is very good, with the lens performing well at the wide-angle and telephoto end of the lens and there is a wide range of Canon lenses available. There are a number of lens correction options in the camera to get the best out of your lenses and the options include peripheral illumination correction (vignetting), which we switched on, chromatic aberration correction (off), distortion correction (off), and diffraction correction (on). The lens is quite resistant to flare unless you're shooting with the sun in the frame. 

Canon EOS 1D X Mark II ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - The Canon's ISO range goes from ISO50 (Extended), all the way to ISO409600 (Extended). We took these shots with the default noise reduction settings, and auto white balance set to "White" results. High ISO speed NR settings are Disable (off), low, standard (default), and high. 

The big question is how the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II performs compared to the Nikon D5 for noise at higher ISO speeds. From ISO50 to ISO3200 there's not much difference between the two cameras. At ISO6400, there's a slight difference, with stronger noise reduction on the Nikon D5, which results in slightly more detail in the Canon image. At ISO12800, there's a slight drop in colour saturation on the Canon, with slightly coarser (larger) noise visible, compared to the D5 image. This is continued at ISO25600 with the Nikon D5 producing an image with less noise that is finer and images have better colour saturation. At ISO51200 noise increases for both cameras, and colour saturation drops. At ISO102400 noise gets a little uglier on the Canon, but colour saturation remains quite good, whereas it suffers on the D5, particularly the darker colours. ISO102400 may still be usable on the Canon but above this noise becomes quite ugly and it'd be best to avoid using an ISO setting above ISO102400. ISO204800 looks better on the Nikon D5 and whilst you wouldn't want to use ISO409600 on either camera, the results from the Nikon D5 are better with more definition in details. 

Ultimately, both cameras produce results that can be used happily up to ISO25600, or processed further at higher ISO settings, with reasonable fairly results up to ISO102400. Processing the raw files, or resizing images for use on the web would also reduce noise levels. 

Canon EOS 1D X Mark II White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - The Canon EOS-1D X Mark II has two different options for auto white balance, with default giving a warm result, and capturing the atmosphere of the scene, and alternatively you can select the "White" option, which will give a more accurate result. This is particularly useful if you plan on using the camera for product shots. This option is designed to work under Tungsten, but it also works under fluorescent and mixed lighting. This makes it possible to get good results in a variety of lighting conditions and means you shouldn't need to use the white balance presets. It also makes it possible to take pleasing portrait shots with warmer skin tones. 

Video - If you want to record hand-held video with the camera, then the use of a lens with optical image stabilisation (IS) is recommended, alternatively the use of a tripod or solid surface is recommended to keep video stable. There are headphone and microphone sockets on the side of the camera and you'll need to use an external microphone if you want to record stereo audio, as there is only a mono microphone built in. 

You have the choice of MOV or MP4 video options and the following compression options:

  • DCI 4K 4096x2160 17:9, 60/50/25/24fps, MJPEG, approx. 800MBps (60/50fps), approx. 500MBps (30/25/24fps)
  • FullHD, 50/25/24fps, ALL-I or IPB / IPB Light (MP4)
  • High frame rate, FullHD, 120/100fps, ALL-I, audio is not recorded

If you are going to be recording 4K video, then a large high-speed memory card is definitely recommended, as a 9-second video at 50fps creates a 900MB video file. There are options for timecode settings, silent control, and you can select clean HDMI output as well (Full HD resolution, 4.2.2 8-bit colour sampling). The ISO range can be manually set from ISO100 to ISO204800 (H2) for movie recording depending on mode, and there is a note in the 4K frame rate option on the camera telling you the maximum ISO is ISO12800 for Auto ISO (if you press the Info button). The maximum ISO speed for FullHD video is ISO25600 for Auto ISO. Shown below is the crop area recorded when recording 4K video, compared to FullHD video. 

Canon Eos 1dx Ii 2k Vs 4k Crop

8.8-megapixel photos are extractable in-camera from the 4K video footage. You can record 4K video internally and we used a CompactFlash card. High-speed video can be recorded in FullHD resolution up to 120fps (NTSC) or 100fps (PAL). Movie Servo Auto Focus is rapid and you can select the focus point with the touch-screen, with the Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology covering 80% of the sensor area.


Additional videos can be found on the ePHOTOzine YouTube Channel, including 4K (50fps) video, high-speed FullHD (100fps) video, and FullHD video recorded in low-light.

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Photographs taken using the Canon EOS 1D X Mark II

FetchMallard landingCuckooLilly trottingLonghornChick on the runMoorhen chickAbandoned Mallard nestNature's HelicopterMeaty SupperBee ApproachWrenTree CreeperSong of the LinnetChobe river crossing

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sasan 7 36 England
2 Feb 2016 8:32AM
WOWTongue King of Kings! 4K in 60 fps & full hd in 120fps !!
AlanWillis 11 67 England
3 Feb 2016 12:23PM
I am impressed with 4K at 60fps not sure if it has S-Gamut3.Cine/S-Log3, though like the A7Smk2 ?
joshwa Plus
10 927 1 United Kingdom
3 Feb 2016 1:52PM
Hi Alan, this isn't mentioned in Canon's specifications, and unless it's added at a later date, then I assume it's not available.
AlanWillis 11 67 England
3 Feb 2016 2:28PM
Canon have done well to overcome the heat produced by 4K especially at 60FPS, Sony manage this at 25fps, but to disperse the heat in a very small body is an enormous challenge. The beauty of 60 FPS it enables you to film slow motion. Most still photo cameras would have to switch to HD, which means the whole sequence is not 4K.
mirror less in my opinion produces good results except for sports and wildlife which seems to be preferred by majority of DSLR users because of tracking and focus speeds. A 1DX mk2 would seem to be an overkill for say a wedding shoot. .
30 Mar 2016 3:22PM
The original 1DX was plagued by oil and dust complaints. Any word, yet, if these have surfaced on the new model?
27 Apr 2016 11:46AM
This sentence seems to contain a contradiction: "At ISO102400 noise gets quite ugly on the Canon, but colour saturation remains quite good, whereas it suffers on the D5, particularly the darker colours. ISO102400 may still be usable on the Canon but above this noise becomes quite ugly"

The way it now reads, the review is saying that either the noise is "quite ugly" at ISO 102400, or "quite ugly" above ISO 102400, implying that ISO 102400 is OK. Which is it?
joshwa Plus
10 927 1 United Kingdom
27 Apr 2016 11:57AM
Hi Chuckles, we've updated this bit, and it should now read as ISO102400 is OK - of course this depends on what you're shooting, and what your intended destination is for the images. Thanks, Josh
27 Apr 2016 2:34PM
Thanks, Josh. I apologize for being so picky, especially about something as subjective as ISO ugliness, or the lack thereof. Count me as yet another victim of the "our ISO usability is much higher than your ISO usability" wars.
joshwa Plus
10 927 1 United Kingdom
28 Apr 2016 8:34AM
Hi Chuckles, no worries, thanks for the feedback, regardless, the ISO performance is impressive!!

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