Canon’s EOS-1D X Mark II gets serious 4K video skills

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The EOS-1D X Mark II is the new flagship DSLR from Canon(Credit: Canon)

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Only last month Nikon treated us to a look at its professional-focused D5 DSLR. Now it's Canon's turn to reveal its own new flagship with the EOS-1D X Mark II, and it looks like quite the response. The 1D X Mark II is an action-shooting full frame DSLR which pairs speedy stills shooting with some serious 4K video skills.

As with its predecessor the EOS-1D X, the Mark II is aimed squarely at working professionals who need a combination of speed, accuracy and reliability. As such, you should expect to see this camera cropping up in media scrums and around sports fields later this year. It's no coincidence that the D5 and 1D X Mark II are both being released in an Olympic year.

A newly-developed 20.2-megapixel full frame (35.9 x 23.9 mm) CMOS sensor is paired with a Dual DIGIC 6+ image processor in the 1D X Mark II. This enables it to deliver high quality images with better dynamic range and reduced color noise compared to its predecessor. The camera also has an ISO range of 100 to 51,200 (which can be expanded to 50 to 409,600). So, while not quite matching the mind-boggling numbers of the D5, this means you are going to be able to shoot in almost any lighting conditions.

However, cameras like this are predominantly prized for their speed, and in this regard the 1D X Mark II is something of a beast. It has a continuous shooting speed of 14 fps (frames per second) which it can do for up to 170 RAW images. This should more than suffice for most shooting situations, though the speed can be increased to 16 fps in Live View mode. It's worth noting that these speeds are dependent on your memory card choice, which we'll get to shortly.

An improved 61-point High-Density Reticular AF II system with expanded coverage is on hand to deliver fast and precise autofocus. Because all AF-points are now selectable and supported to a maximum aperture of f/8, you'll still get solid autofocus performance, even when using EF super-telephoto lenses with an EF extender, which is good news for wildlife shooters.

Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS Autofocus (AF) technology will also help deliver video autofocus more akin to a camcorder than most DSLRs, and the camera features a 360,000-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor. This is said to be both faster and more accurate than its predecessor, improving features like facial recognition and tracking.

Indeed, its video recording options are another standout feature of the 1D X Mark II. It can shoot 4K DCI 4,096 x 2,160 footage at up to 60/50 fps, and for up to 29 minutes 59 seconds. This well and truly beats the 4K UHD 3,840 x 2,160 30/25 fps of the Nikon D5, which it can only shoot for 3 minutes. The Canon also benefits from a 800 Mbps bitrate and a 4K Frame Grab feature for grabbing a 8.8-megapixel JPEG from a 4K movie. If you are into video, the Canon looks like a winner.

Video shooters will be pleased to see that the 1D X Mark II features a built-in headphone jack (notably lacking on its predecessor) and uncompressed HDMI output. The combination of the Dual Pixel CMOS AF and a rear touchscreen can be used to select the camera's AF point before and during video recording. For getting slow motion footage, the camera can also shoot Full HD 1080p video at frame rates up to 120 fps.

Predictably the Canon 1D X Mark II is built like a tank, with a magnesium alloy body, and is weather resistant. It measures 158 x 168 x 83 mm (6.2 x 6.6 x 3.3 in) and weighs in at a mighty 1,340 g (49 oz) body-only. Storage options include one slot for a standard CompactFlash memory card and one CFast 2.0 slot. To make the most of the camera's speed, you'll need to be using the faster (but more expensive) CFast 2.0 option.

While the Canon looks much like its predecessor, an improved grip is said to make it easier to hold and maneuver while shooting. Around back there are a number of changes too, most notably the 3.2-inch monitor is now a touchscreen with 1,620K dots. As we said earlier, this touchscreen can be used during Live View shooting and Movie shooting for things like AF Point Selection, but can also be disabled if you like your shooting a bit more traditional.

The new camera features a built-in GPS receiver with compass, allowing users to tag latitude, longitude, elevation and direction. It's also possible to use the built-in GPS to sync the camera's time to the atomic clock. Unfortunately, there's no built-in Wi-Fi, though the camera can be used with the optional Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E8 to transfer photos and videos, and use the Canon CameraConnect app.

The Canon EOS-1D X Mark II will be available in April, priced at US$6,000 body-only, or $6,300 for a Premium Kit which includes a 64 GB CFast memory card and card reader.

You can check out a promo video of the EOS-1D X Mark II below.

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