This was truly the clash of the titans. And not just the long-term rivalry between Canon and Nikon, but the two representatives of the newly-revived digital medium format sector. Of course, in the end it did come down to a classic Canon-versus-Nikon stoush, mainly because cost is still the big issue with the DMF D-SLR systems – especially if you want 100 megapixels – and brilliant though they are on a technical level, they’re highly specialised products beyond the budgets of even many working photographers.
In truth, the EOS-1D X Mark II is also a specialised piece of equipment (as is the Nikon D5), so the EOS 5D Mark IV would potentially be the better choice for many photographers and video-makers, but we’re talking here about cameras where the capabilities come before – well before – any other consideration, including the cost.
It’s the pro-level video functionality which edges the Canon ahead of its Nikon rival (even after the latter’s all-important firmware upgrade), but there are other key superiorities such as the 14 fps continuous shooting speed (with full AF and AE adjustment) and the ‘Dual Pixel CMOS AF’ system. It’s not only super-fast, but gives excellent frame coverage which benefits the subject tracking. Being able to adjust the speed of the focus transitions is a big plus when shooting video, allowing for the linearity and smoothness to be fine-tuned. The Canon’s touchscreen controls are also most as limited as the Nikon’s, but it does have the convenience of touch focus which allows for very quick adjustments or easy setting of the start point for tracking. Incidentally, with the reflex mirror out of the picture in live view, the -1D X II can shoot full-res stills at a remarkable 16 fps. When using the ‘conventional’ 61-point AF system, every point is sensitive down to f8.0 – mainly to accommodate shooting with a teleconverter – and 21 of the 41 cross-type arrays are available at f5.6, the rest of them operating as horizontal line detectors. Also notable is the provision of ‘Digital Lens Optimiser’ processing. Converted RAW files are ready to go (as JPEGs) straight out of
While Canon has been careful to avoid the -1D X II trespassing too much on Cinema EOS territory – so there are actually some surprising little omissions – it’s still a video powerhouse with its exceptional durability obviously again an important asset.
If you really need more of everything in a D-SLR, the Canon EOS-1D X II is without peer… which is why it wins here.