The rugged new 1DX Mark II sets a new benchmark for still photography and produces strong 4K 60FPS in challenging conditions.
We were airborne for less than 45 minutes and descended over a rich green tapestry of palms. Director, Gaspar Gonzalez, editor, Jorge Rubiera and I stepped off our charter flight onto the tarmac of Havana, Cuba. In tow, a few backpacks strategically packed with the necessary essentials for our second Cuban documentary, Havana House. Canon Professional Services equipped our production with two C300s, a complete set of Canon tilt shift lenses and an 11-24mm f/4.0 lens.
I was most excited about the new Canon 1DX Mark II that rounded out our kit. Solidly built and rugged, this camera evoked the familiar weight and feel of the 1D pedigree I had known since shooting with the original 4mp body as a young photojournalist in 2001.
- DCI 4K Video (4096x2160) up to 60FPS (MJPEG, ALL-I, IPB video compression options) recorded internally to CFast 2.0 Media
- Full HD up to 120 FPS
- Dual Pixel CMOS AF during all recording modes
- 3.2’’ Touch Screen LED for Touch focus
There’s something to be said about a tool that is built upon an established legacy. However, I wondered if any new drawbacks would surface with this camera. Canon’s pace of releasing cameras with various levels of benchmark specs have been scrutinized in the past, slow motion being one of those topics, but I have to say that I’m very happy with the video quality of the 1D X Mark II.
“Without Canon Log natively available as a picture profile option to allow for the most latitude and match the C300s, we were hesitant.”
The bulk of our short documentary focused on illustrating the tale of our main character and her historic home through dozens of ethereal images. Our footage had to match as closely as possible in the field because we didn’t know if color correction was an option at that time and the footage had to have a delicate aesthetic and lower contrast ratio.
Off the bat, I would have been more inclined to utilize the 1D X Mark II throughout the video shoot, but without Canon Log natively available as a picture profile option to allow for the most latitude and match the C300s, we were hesitant. This is my main complaint with the camera. We didn’t have the time to load a 3rd party picture profile, but instead loaded a user defined cocktail of: sharpness off, contrast off, and saturation -2, to get us closer to the C300’s tried and true Canon Log image.
Our interview lasted for about 2 hours of continuous shooting, and I shot one more hour of b-roll that night. The camera battery hardly showed any depreciation.
I was thoroughly impressed with the selective autofocus on the camera. In the test video, you see the AF at work with the 11-24mm on the Ronin stabilizer during our driving shots. The compact, brick like design of the camera made balancing the camera on the Ronin a breeze. At first, we used an HDMI SmallHD monitor with the Ronin, but later resorted to the large LCD screen on the back of the camera. Foregoing the necessary rigid HDMI Y-cord enabled a smoother result from the Ronin.
“As a stills camera, the 1D X Mark II is kinda like the karate juggernaut in Michael Jai White’s Blood and Bone: You just don’t want to mess with him.”
The video low light capability of the 1D X Mark II is good (12,800 in 4K and 25,600 in HD), but not mind-blowing. Because the camera records in 8-Bit, the blacks and shadows start to get a bit noisy around 8,000 ISO. You can get a perfectly usable image at 8,000 but it’ll need a bit of post-production love. I’ve attached frame grabs at 4096 × 2160 60P from various scenarios to examine. I did not use the camera’s native ability to capture the 8.8 mp still frames while recording, but I wish I did.
I should also acknowledge that we used the Zeiss 21mm f/2.8, 50mm makro-planar f/2.0, and 85mm f/1.4 ZE lenses for the majority of our shoot. Following these lenses, we utilized the Canon tilt shift lenses that do not use AF. Therefore, apart from the b-roll captured on the Ronin using the Canon 11-24 f/4.0, where it did very well, we did not use autofocus for the bulk of our film.
I also did not get a chance to test the uncompressed HD video signal exported via HDMI to my Odyssey 7Q+, test the Wi-Fi functionality, or touch screen follow focus as much as I would have liked.
Finally, the 1D X Mark II can make still pictures. In fact as a stills camera, the 1D X Mark II is kinda like the karate juggernaut in Michael Jai White’s Blood and Bone: You just don’t want to mess with him. As mentioned, I owned the original 1D body in 2001 and after 15 years of evolution, I’m still impressed.
The auto focus mode is ridiculously fast. In fact, it’s so fast, dependable, and accurate with its 61AF tracking points that it really removes the notion of “focusing” when using Canon AF lenses. The 14 frames per second with the new battery is almost comical; Even while shooting full RAW images, you might giggle each time you press the shutter, as the camera keeps on clicking at a phenomenal rate. The impressive battery lasted for the entire day shooting stills and motion
To Wrap up…
- 4K 60P
- Dual Pixel Auto Focus Tracking
- Weather Sealed, Compact, and Solidly Built Camera Magnesium Body
- High ISO range for still photographs and a respectable range for video
- Extremely minimized rolling shutter effect
- No Canon Log
- No Time Lapse / Interval Recording Option
- MJPEG Video Compression (I QUICKLY filled up the 64gig CFast card using this compression on 60FPS)
- 8 Bit Video Recording
- -Fast Cards are expensive and go very quickly while shooting 4k due to the compression
At $6000, the camera is not inexpensive, but that was also the price of my extremely dependable original 4MP 1D back in 2001 and it still works today. If you are in the market for a top of the line DSLR that can shoot very reliable 4k 60P video and also have the option to shoot a barrage of 14 fps RAW still images, you’re getting an amazing tool.