February 22 2016
Canon’s improved MkII version of their EOS-1D X Digital SLR camera will soon be available.
Canon’s move follows Nikon’s recent announcement of the imminent release of their new D5 , a direct competitor for Canon’s top camera. Because photojournalists are the main users of these high-end digital cameras the specifications reflects their needs, rather than ultimate image quality.
Neither of the new cameras are available yet, but it seems both companies wanted to avoid comparisons between the other’s new model, and their older version. So it is useful to analyse the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II promised specifications with the Nikon D5 in mind.
Both new cameras have new 20 Megapixel full 35mm frame digital sensors. The Canon has a standard ISO speed range of 100 – 51,200 with extended ISO speeds up to 409,600 available. This falls short of the Nikon D5’s standard ISO range of 100 to 102,400 with an extended range up to ISO 3,280,000. While the extreme ISO ranges may sound impressive it is really a matter of digital noise performance in the normal ISO ranges that are important to most photographers. The DxOMark sensor testing will give a good indication of the relative noise performance over their ISO ranges.
Canon digital SLRs always seem to lack good dynamic range at low ISO settings. Canon says the MkII version now has “excellent dynamic range compared to its predecessor.” We will have to wait for the DxOMark tests to see the improvement in the dynamic range of the MkII version.
Another significant difference is the memory cards for storing the image files. Nikon offers a D5 version equipped with two XQD card slots offering faster and larger storage capacity, while the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II sticks with the more usual Compact Flash cards. Canon included dual DIGIC 6+ Image Processors to handle the large amount of image data created during continuous shooting bursts, with speeds of up to 14 frames per second.
Canon are stressing the video capabilities of the camera, highlighting the increasing use of EOS digital cameras as professional video production tools. Their comparative compact size and rugged construction compared to conventional professional movie cameras make them useful in capturing stunt scenes.
Part of the video innovations for the new Canon DSLR include 4K Frame Grab and 120p Full HD recording. Photographers use the 4K Frame Grab function to isolate a frame from recorded 4K video and then save it as an 8.8 megapixel still JPEG image in the camera.
Canon says that combined with the EOS-1D X Mark II’s high-sensitivity full-frame CMOS sensor, the new camera’s ability to record Full HD video at frame rates up to 120p will allow videographers to produce high-quality slow motion video even in extremely low light.
The specifications are interesting but how do the two cameras perform in use? One indicator will come when the camera sensors are tested in the independent DxO mark lab.
While the specs suggest the Nikon D5 may be better for photojournalists who may work in low light situations, the Canon specs suggest it may be more useful as a compact video camera, as well as a tool for photojournalist’s still images. Realistically most photographers who would consider either camera would already have a considerable investment in their collection of lenses for their current Nikon or Canon digital SLRs. The suggested differences between the two potentially excellent cameras is not enough for most photojournalists to change their whole photographic system from one manufacturer to the other.
The Canon EOS-1D X Mark II can be pre-ordered from Adorama now and the – manufacturer will start shipping this item on 15 April 2016