In 2016 it's the year of the pro DSLR once again: the Canon EOS 1D X Mark II follows hot on the heels of the Nikon D5, which was announced a month earlier at CES 2016, but how does this full-frame pro-spec DSLR compare to its 1D X original?
We handled the Mark II model ahead of its official announcement to get a feel of the camera, but also break-down the key areas of difference between new and old.
Canon 1DX MkII vs 1DX original: Design
Expecting to see much new in the design department? Of course you weren't. The 1D X Mark II is almost identical to its predecessor (which it replaces, along with the 1D C), so it's still a big beast, but with a few nips and tucks here and there.
Principal to those are redesigned thumbsticks to the rear, with a more pronounced textured grip on each; a subtle "bump" on the top of the camera ahead of the hotshoe where the new built-in GPS unit features; open the card port via the lock and you'll find one CompactFlash port and one CFAST slot for super-fast write speeds.
For a full gallery of hands-on pictures and details, take a look at our 1D X MkII preview, link below.
Canon 1DX Mark II vs 1DX: Autofocus
Unlike the Nikon D5, which went all-out in terms of number of focus points with a new 151-point AF module, Canon has stuck to the same 61-point arrangement in the 1D X Mark II as found in the original 1D X.
However, it's not exactly the same system. The continuous autofocus system gets an upgrade to Ai Servo III+, which utilises the gyros in image stabilised lenses to help gauge your movement when tracking subjects. So if you're slowing down when panning to, say, counter a bend in a road, the camera can take this movement information on board to assist with its focus prediction.
All of the 61-points are sensitive to f/8 too (21 cross-type) - which will be handy if you're using a 2x converter and are forced to use a smaller aperture. In the original model only the centre point was sensitive to f/8.
New Canon 1DX vs old 1DX: Speed
Speed is what the 1D X Mark II is all about, with a burst mode of 14fps. That makes it the fastest full-frame DSLR out there, surpassing the Nikon D5's 12fps maximum. Lock the mirror and the Canon can cater for 16fps (also in live view mode).
Even at full speed the 1D X MkII can shoot 170 raw & JPEG shots consecutively without pause (that's why you'll want a 3200x CFAST card, then). Even if you do hit the buffer's limits (which we doubt) the pipeline will clear entirely in just a few seconds; prior to which there will be enough space for another burst of shots in next to no time. It's super-fast. Unless, that is, flicker is detected at 100/120Hz, whereby the camera will counter such light sources by delaying its shutter actuation to the right moment.
Quiet mode is a touch quieter than in the original 1D X, and also capable to 5fps in the Mark II.
Canon 1DX Mk2 vs 1DX Mk1: Sensor
New year, new sensor. The 1D X Mark II has a full-frame (36 x 24mm) sensor, but this time it's loaded with 20.2-megapixels, up from the original 1D X's 18-megapixels. It's not a huge resolution boost, but that's typical of these pro cameras, with models such as the 5DS and its 50-megapixels catering for such markets.
There is some interesting information about the new sensor, which has on-sensor analogue-to-digital conversion for a shorter circuit path, which, in turn, Canon claims, means less heat and lower image noise - specifically at the lower ISO sensitivities rather than the higher ones.
High sensitivity is certainly available, though, with ISO 100-51,200 being the standard range. Push that into extended mode and ISO 409,600 is possible - which is one stop greater than the original 1D X. It's not quite ultra-high-sensitivity like the Nikon D5's ISO 3,280,000 extended option (yep, over three million). But how that translates in the real world is yet to be seen.
Exposure is said to be more accurate too, thanks to a new 360,000 pixel RGB and IR sensor with 216 metering zones. So many pixels can be used to decipher shapes of colour to help determine the scene/subject using Canon's EOS Intelligent Subject Analysis system. Ohh er. There are the usual four types of metering options, adjustable as per other pro Canon cameras.
Canon 1DX MkII vs 1DX original: Live view / movie capture
That new sensor is also the first full-frame one to feature Dual Pixel CMOS AF autofocus. That means it has phase-detection photodiodes that can be used to focus in live preview (it's not used when shooting via the viewfinder). And, as live view systems go, it's as quick as them come in the DSLR world.
Pair that with a touchscreen that's also only available in live view / movie mode - and there's a toggle switch and button to the rear, which shows why the Mark II is the replacement for the 1D C in addition to the original 1D X - and the 1D X Mark II is well set for movie shooting.
Why? Because it can capture 4K at up to 60fps for 29-minutes and 59-seconds (at 800Mbps in MOV format; 1080p at 120/100/60/50/30/25/24fps is also available at lower bitrates). And if you're worried about overheating then you needn't be: a "heat pipe" in the camera body draws temperature away from the sensor to help prevent overheating.
There is a 3.5mm jack for mic in and a second for headphones monitoring. However there is no clean HDMI out for recording in 4:4:4 (it's 4:2:2 8-bit colour on-card for 4K; 4:2:0 8-bit colour for 1080p) so that might make 10-bit 4K movie-makers look elsewhere, such as to the Canon C300.
Canon 1DX Mark II vs 1DX Mark I: Price & availability
The Canon EOS 1D X Mark II will set you back £5,199 body-only when it launches in May. That's actually £100 less than the original 1D X was at launch some four years back, and it's on the nose compared to the Nikon D5.