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Yesterday Canon has announced its new flagship DSLR: the full-frame EOS-1D X Mark II, less than a month after the announcement of Nikon of its new full-frame D5 - see our article here.

Let's see in detail the main differences with some comparison with the latest Nikon D5 (label Canon / Nikon when one of the two wins).

  • Sensor: new 20.2MP CMOS with Dual Pixel AF (the one introduced with Canon 70D that enables faster focusing with live view by splitting each pixel in two). The native ISO range of 100-51200, expandable to... 409600 (remember in the old film days when 1600 ISO was an extremely high sensitivity....).
  • New autofocus system: the battle in the latest months between camera manufacturers is often on speed, precision and frame coverage of the auto-focus, it's the new field of competition after the megapixel race (not yet finished since we see models with 40-50 MP but it's no more the point of marketing). Nikon technology is sometimes regarded as superior in focusing
    • AF points: latest Nikon D5 exhibits extraordinary figures: 153 AF points, but with just 55 selectable, with 99 cross-type (sensitive to both vertical and horizontal lines) and spanning to all frame width! Canon had to respond in some way with its flagship. Well, the new Canon 1D X Mark II shows 61 AF point, all selectable, with 41 being cross-type with 24% more coverage of the frame with respect to previous 1D X, much less than Nikon with regards to total points, but figures are not everything, we will need to see real field tests for precision and moving objects tracking. Nikon
    • In Canon the center AF point is said to be able to focus down to -3 EV in single shot (not on continuous focus where focusing must be quicker and so less precise) that means focusing almost in dark situations. Nikon goes down to -4 EV. Nikon
    • improved continuous focus system (AI Servo III+).
    • ability to focus with lenses with f8 as maximum aperture. This is very useful to use AF with focal multiplier that reduces the maximum aperture by a stop (1.4x) or more. Also Nikon offers this possibility.
  • Metering:
    • new system with 360k pixels RGB + infrared sensor, that should improve tracking and face detection. Here Canon has doubled the count of metering pixels with respect to Nikon D5. Canon
    • new feature of shooting in light flickering conditions (fluo, sodium, mercury vapor lamps as in indoor arenas/stadiums) where you can easily get a dark / fake colors shot (if the shot is done in the fraction of second when the light is low during flickering); it is a Canon only feature. Canon
  • Body: of course we have here a very rugged body, fully weather-sealed and with a shutter with a lifetime of at least 400'000 shots. Large optical viewfinder with some surprise: the AF point illumination is configurable in intensity and can remain lit after the first focusing (half-press shutter button) to help reminding where the focus point was - it was a request to Canon specifically from the wedding event photographers. 2 card slots: one for Compact Flash and one for CFast, that is the new high speed format evolution of the Compact Flash.
  • Rear LCD: bigger than previous version - now 3.2 inches - and features 1.6 megapixels, the difference is very noticeable but it has much less resolution than Kikon D5's, which has 2.4 megapixels. It is strangely partially touch-enabled: tapping to set the focusing point works (the most useful function for touch screen) but not on swiping or zooming images on play. Sadly, still no focus peaking nor zebra peaking when shooting, but they are visible if using an external recorder. Nikon
  • GPS: yes! The new flagship camera includes a GPS (without a magnetic compass). Very useful to avoid tracking the position with another device (also a smartphone) and having to merge data. This is not available in Nikon D5. Canon
  • Burst rate: 14 fps with autofocus, more than 10 fps of Nikon D5, up to 170 RAW with the CFast card! Great buffer, but here Nikon wins with 200 RAW shots. Actually the Canon can go up to 16 fps with mirror lock up (the optical viewfinder remains dark during the burst). The Canon 1D X is definitely a sport camera. Canon
  • Video:
    • debut of 4K! As Nikon in D5 but better in Canon - Nikon has a limit of 3 minutes in progressive 4K and Canon provides also 60 fps; of course you need a CFast 2.0 card. The format for 4K is M-JPEG that enables easy extraction (also in-camera) of each frame as a normal shot, it is as having a 60 fps burst rate with 8.8 megapixels. The 4K recording are done taking the center of the frame: this is very interesting since not needing interpolation, we expect no moirè; using the center frame will also imply that the focal lenght will be multiplied (it becomes a crop sensor camera in this case). Just two final notes on 4K shooting: at 60 fps it eats storage very very quickly...up to 6 GB per minute, sadly there is no HDMI output! Canon
    • Also there is full-HD mode with 120 fps. Canon
  • Image processor: two DIGIC 6+ processors, since video at 4K and fast burst rate need so much processing power. The raw processing has been deeply improved allowing many of the lens corrections that are done on Canon DPP software on PC (distortion, vignetting, chromatic aberration and color blur). A new interesting feature is a partial correction for loss of sharpness for diffraction when shooting at very small apertures.
  • Ports: HDMI, Ethernet (!), USB 3.0 (finally), microphone, headphone...
  • Weight: 1530 gr (3.37 lb / 53.97 oz) included battery, not a feather (but Nikon D5 weights only 115 gr less).
  • Battery life: 1210 shots, but Nikon claims even 3780 shots at CIPA standard. Nikon
  • Price: the 1D X Mark II will be available from next April with an intial price of 6000 $, while Nikon D5 is about 500 $ more. Canon

There is no wifi, neither in Nikon D5.

The Canon Digital Learning Center has posted some interesting articles describing in detail specific features in the new camera, here you have some of the links:

  • Referenced brands in this article: Canon