The Canon 1dX II. I bought it and it’s just what I needed! By Steve Huff

The Canon 1dX II. I bought it and it’s just what I needed!

By Steve Huff

First off, take a look at the video below to hear my explain the things I get from the Canon 1dX II (for my video needs) that I can not get from anywhere else…

The Canon 1dX II  – What I get from it that I do not get from other cameras (for video)

So I needed a camera dedicated for video…

This past week has been eventful for me for sure. I ordered a Canon 1dX II from Amazon, got scammed, then refunded and purchased one from B&H Photo instead. 

Yes, me…a hardcore Mirrorless guy for 11 years buying not only a DSLR, but the biggest and heaviest one on the planet! Lol. There is a method to my madness though as this was not a decision made lightly or even from the heart. While everyone has been switching to mirrorless from DSLR’s over the years (and I have been on the front lines of the mirrorless movement for years) why did I go buy a DSLR? It’s huge and heavy for sure but for my video needs, it fits the bill perfectly.

This time around the size of the camera does not matter as this camera was not purchased to be used as an everyday stills camera, street camera, or well, for stills in general.

This was bought exclusively, or about 95% for video work and I will use it for photos from time to time as well. 

24l II on the 1dX II before I dialed in the lens using the FoCal Software. 

But you own a Sony Steve! Why not use that?

GREAT (and valid) QUESTION!!

I am well aware that the Sony’s I have been using for years shoot video (as I have shot hundreds of videos using them). Also, my new Canon M50 (see my thoughts on the M50 HERE) I have here does as well. In the video above I explain why those just do not work for me, for my upcoming needs. Even though that is the case, I recommend wholeheartedly that anyone looking for great video and photo take a serious look at the best combo camera on the market to date, the Sony A7III. 

At $2000 the Sony A7III is an incredible buy for those who are going to video, even 4K, and still like to shoot photos. There is a reason the A7III has been sold out ever since it was released.

So the question remains…if I am recommending the Sony to everyone else, why did I buy a Canon 1dx II, a two year old camera, for just video? Why didn’t I go with a Canon cinema camera for a little bit more? Why didn’t I just use my Sony or even a Panasonic GH5S? Why not a dedicated video camera from Canon or Sony? All of that is answered in the video above directly but I will also state the reasons why here, below for those who are not into watching videos.

This time, I did my research and tested MANY cameras for MY exact needs that are coming up…

  1. I needed a camera that can do 1080 HD with great skin tones and color out of the camera. No need for S log or  C log or any LOG. Out of camera results is what I needed more than anything else.
  2. I needed a camera that was built to pro standards. Tough as nails, weatherproof and if needed, even used as a weapon, lol. This camera will be in rain, snow, on the ground and in 115 degree desert heat.
  3. The camera must NOT OVERHEAT! (My A9 failed me twice in AZ shooting video, shut down mid recording even with new firmware)
  4. I needed a camera with blazing fast, best in the business AUTOFOCUS (with face tracking) with video. This means Nikon, Fuji, Panasonic, Olympus, and everyone besides Sony and Canon were out of the running. Canons dual pixel AF for me, is slightly better than even the Sony A9 for video use. For photos, I think Sony takes the prize, but they are about tied in reality.
  5. I needed the ability to swap lenses, and use fast aperture glass. I wanted a full frame sensor for that specific look. My upcoming projects needs this.
  6. It also had to take great photos for the times I needed still at locations and did not have my other gear.
  7. I needed VERY GOOD low light abilities. APS-C wouldn’t cut it here.
  8. I had no need for stabilization. This will be almost always on a tripod, or used handheld at times with wide angle glass.
  9. I had no need for 4K at this time.
  10. I needed GREAT battery life and ease of operation. Reliability as well.
  11. I hoped for 1080P 120 FPS with AF
  12. Budget was up to $6000.

So away I went to find my next camera dedicated for full frame video work that would be used in ALL KINDS of scenarios. I tested Panasonic, and they failed due to the slow AF (I need AF). I tested the Fuji XH1 and the battery life was horrendous and the AF tracking not close to S & C. I own a Sony and have used it hundreds of times for video work, but two problems with the Sony’s so far to date, for MY needs. The A9 has overheated twice on me here in Arizona when shooting out in 115 degree days, JUST RECENTLY and with the new firmware update. Also, I just can not get to LOVE the color coming from the Sony’s for video work. Skin tones have a cast and I just never could get it right. That is down to me though, as I am no color grading pro. I am not blaming the Sony but rather, myself. To those saying “Buy a dedicated video camera from Best Buy”..well, none of those offer much of anything on my list of NEEDS.

Canon 1dx MKII, ISO 8000, 50 L 1.2

I even tested a cinema camera for a while, the Canon C100 MKII. Focus was there, color was there but it is not full frame and did not give the desired look I was going for though it did put out a nice file. Also, the C100 MKII was big, bulky and awkward in use at times when not on a tripod. It also did not feel very pro in build when compared to something like a 1dX MKII. Wasn’t feeling the mojo at all from the C100 MKII though the color and AF was perfect. I also needed a big awkward bag to carry it and it could not take stills for those times when I would want to use it for double duty.

Truth be told,it was not until I tested the small Canon M50 that my brain awoke and made me remember there is a camera called the 5D MKIV. Back in the day I owned and used and enjoyed the 5D MKI and MKII. By the time the III came around I was all in with Leica and mirrorless so had no interest in DSLR’s. Also, back then I was using my cameras strictly for photos, not video. While I now own several camera systems (my line of work here sort of requires it) like Leica, Olympus, Hasselblad, and Sony (and the little Canon M50 and M6) the only one that was impressing me all the way around with video was the little M50. It had perfect AF and color. So I decided to test the 5DIV but before I did, I did more and more research. I read all I could about the 5DIV and found it did not have the most weather sealed build (not up to 1dx standards) and that in low light the 1dx II beat it (supposedly). It also did not record 1080 120FPS, only 720p (which could have worked). But at $3099 it was well under budget. I just had to decide if it would be “good enough” for my needs and use over the next 2-3 years.

After sleeping on it for a few days I decided that this was a decision that is not from the heart or passion, but more of a business decision. I did not really “want” either of these cameras, but I needed one for work, and for projects that I have to complete. Seeing that my “want” list described one camera and only one camera perfectly, I decided to go all in and have no regrets.

That camera was and is the 1dx MKII.

It just had all I needed and nothing I did not need or want. It had the build over the 5DIV all day long, better low light performance, 120 FPS at 1080 with full dual pixel AF. So I bit the bullet and ordered the 1dX MKII (first from Amazon, and if you saw that fiasco, you would know I ended up buying it from B&H photo in the end).

1dx MKII, ISO 25,600, 50 f1.2 L, 1/250s (Pretty amazing low light performance)

So it arrived, and I was overwhelmed the first day with it. New controls, pro body, and new territory for this 11 year mirrorless only guy.

Keep in mind though, for photos…I am still mirrorless through and through. My daily drivers will be Sony or Leica for stills. I am eyeballing the new Nikon and Canon mirrorless as well (and will have some thoughts on that soon) because I think Canon and Nikon HAVE TO come out with a knock out punch patented move on Sony or else there will be trouble ahead for them. I believe both Nikon and Canon have what they THINK to be the knock out Punch, and both are VERY interesting indeed. Some will ask me why I did not just wait for the new mirrorless Canon before making a major purchase. Well, I am waiting for it as I may buy it to add to my stable if it is what I think it should be. Now that I own some killer Canon glass (and I think the new Canon mirrorless may somehow take their current lenses without the need for an adapter) it would be a no brainer, unless Canon screws it all up. I do not think for a moment though that it will fill all of my needs above in version 1.

Nikon will be nice as well but they have a not so good track record for AF with video, and well, it’s not Canon color. Though the Nikon and new 58 f0.95 Noct sounds AMAZING for low light photography (told you they were aiming for low light)!

In any case, I now have had the 1dx II camera for a week or so and am truly loving it for the reasons I bought it for. So far I have been testing it and getting to know it so when I need to really put it to work I can do so with confidence. For 1080 HD, many have said this camera is awful. I disagree! It’s beautiful as it does not put out that overly sharp video look that other cameras do. Instead, the Canon puts out gorgeous color straight from camera with a more cinematic vibe. I am old school and love 24FPS, so that’s it for me. It also has amazing autofocus with video that for me, slightly, ever so slightly surpasses the Sony A9 for performance as it never loses lock and never focuses behind me (the Sony has done this a couple of times). The low light performance shocked me. I was expecting it to be subpar from what others have said. Well, it is not and does very well in low light for stills or video.

1st Image with the Canon 24 F1.4 L MKII. Rest with the 50 f/1.2 L 

So the Canon 1dX MKII fills my needs perfectly and with the trio of lenses I went with (16-35 III, 24 1.4 L II, and 50 f1.2L) I could not be happier. But I hated it the 1st hour…

Something interesting also happened when I went out to test it by taking images. I hated it for the 1st hour. It was huge, heavy and ridiculous. I almost felt embarrassed shooting with it as I am so used to Sony and Leica size cameras. But after I started feeling the flow, the instantaneous focus lock, the lightning quick shutter and ultra rapid response with the auto focus, even using a slow to focus 50 f1.2 L…I was very impressed. Even my son, who was hating on it all day…shot with the 1dX II. At the end of the night he said “That thing is beautiful”. He appreciated what it could do, regardless of the size.

1dx MKII, 16-35 III at 2.8, ISO 20,000 (yes, 20,000. Exif is there if you right click, download)

So I have a double treat here. It blew me away for my intended use (video) and surprised me with the stills. Being a 2 year old camera, and the way tech progresses so fast these days with imaging I was expecting to dislike the dynamic range, the ISO noise, the usual things we gain with current tech. Sony no doubt has the better sensors for dynamic range, and they offer the best value for the money hands down. The A9 is THE SONY that competes with the 1dX II, and at $4099 (reduced from $4500) the a9 is NOT cheap. For $1400 more, which is what the 1dXII will set you back, you do get better build, better ergonomics, just as good if not better battery life, better color out of camera, better weather sealing, a different viewfinder experience (OVF vs EVF). You also lose things the Sony offers like EVF with no blackout, smaller size, and silent shutter. I think the sweet spot in the Sony Lineup is actually their cheapest A7III as it offers SO MUCH to us and creators for SO LITTLE. 

ISO 25,600 – click it for larger

But for me, again, my focus was on video and I had a set list of needs (not wants) that had to be there. The only camera that made the cut is what I went with and I am happy to say I am thrilled with the decisions. So much so I may add a 6DII for run and gun video and vlogging (over the M50) so I can use these beautiful lenses (the 24 1.4II and 50L are gorgeous and not so large) how they were meant to be used (full frame). I never thought I would be back with a Canon. But that Canon out of camera color, or as most call it “color science” truly sold me along with that dual pixel AF, which is simply outstanding. You can see an example of it in the video above using the 50 1.2L, wide open. 

So that is why I bought a big, bulky, fat and heavy DSLR ; ) It does what I need it to do, and will do it very well. I will still use my Sony, my Leica and my other cameras for stills and when I want to truly enjoy photography. But this beast will be the one that earns its keep.

WHERE TO BUY?

You can check out the 1dx II at B&H Photo HERE. (DO NOT EVER buy one from Amazon)

I went with these lenses:

Canon 16-35 III

Canon 24 1.4 L II

Canon 50 L 1.2

(soon) Canon 85 1.4

 

 


PLEASE! I NEED YOUR HELP TO KEEP THIS WEBSITE RUNNING, IT IS SO EASY AND FREEE for you to HELP OUT!

Hello to all! For the past 8 years I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has over 200,000 visitors and because of this I need and use superfast dedicated web servers to host the site. Running this site costs quite a bit of cash every single month and on top of that, I work full-time 60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (I receive 100-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I could use YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis. 

To help out it is simple, and no, I am not asking you for a penny!!

If you ever decide to make a purchase from B&H Photo or Amazon, for ANYTHING, even diapers..you can help me without spending a penny to do so. If you use my links to make your purchase (when you click a link here and it takes you to B&H or Amazon, that is using my links as once there you can buy anything and I will get a teeny small credit) you will in turn be helping this site to keep on going and keep on growing.

Not only do I spend money on fast hosting but I also spend it on cameras to buy to review, lenses to review, bags to review, gas and travel, and a slew of other things. You would be amazed at what it costs me just to maintain this website, in money and time (250 hours a month, and about $3000 per month).

So all I ask is that if you find the free info on this website useful AND you ever need to make a purchase at B&H Photo or Amazon, just use the links below. You can even bookmark the Amazon link (not the B&H) and use it anytime you buy something. It costs you nothing extra but will provide me and this site with a dollar or two to keep on trucking along.

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

B&H PHOTO LINK – (not bookmark able) Can also use my search bar on the right side or links within reviews, anytime.

Outside of the USA? Use my worldwide Amazon links HERE!

You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. 😉

One other way to help is by donation. If you want to donate to this site, any amount you choose, even $5, you can do so using the paypal link HERE and enter in your donation amount. All donations help to keep this site going and growing! I do not charge any member fees nor do I (nor will I ever) charge for reviews, so your donations go a long way to keeping this site loaded with useful content. If you choose to help out, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

 

Related Post

26 Comments

  1. I could only imagine how comfortable that Canon is to hold on the hand! I remember some years back when you tested a 6D I believe with the dreamy 85 1.2L and for some reason I always remember this photo of some tiny butterflies you took with it because it had just the creamiest bokeh and just such a magical look to those batch of photos you posted. That’s a legendary lens to say the least

  2. wow surprise surprise! I visit this website every 2 years approx and it cost me $1500 every time…lol
    But his time I was looking through “best camera of 2018” youtube reviews…
    All famous vloggers decided 1dxII is the best in 2017, and all of a sudden – Steve with Canon 1DxII ! is it gonna cost me $6000 this time? I’m devastated

    • Well, I would not say it is the best camera today. It is a fantastic tool, that does what I need it to do for video 1st and foremost, and it happens to be a killer camera for stills as well. But it is big, heavy and much different from any mirrorless. Never said it was the best as there really is no best for everyone, just for what you need it to do for you ; )

    • Noooo, it was bought (as I state clearly) for outside projects I am doing. I will use it for YT though, when I can since I have it. But as I said, it will be used at many locations, in bead weather, good weather, and all kinds of lighting. I needed a tough camera with fast AF and good battery life as well as good out of camera color. I will use it as much as I can to get my money out of it.

  3. I’m a bit like you at the moment Steve, been a fan of mirrorless for a long long time, but actually enjoying my M10 and 1DC more and basically dumped all the mirrorless stuff except for the little M50. Hard to decide between 1DX II and 5D IV, but I think I would get the 5D for the smaller size and C-Log.

    Interesting fact: get a Blackmagic Video Assist (5” version is nice and compact and cheap) and use that off the 1DX II’s HDMI. Now set the camera to 4K, but the VA will record in 1080p and that will give you way better 1080p than in camera, plus a really nice (but still quite small monitor). The output is down sampled from the 4K off sensor, rather than the pixel binned / line skipped 1080p OOC. Plus ProRes is super easy to edit with and SD cards are cheap.

    • Thanks Matt. I use a small HD and am 100% happy with what I get out of it. I find no need to spend more to get better quality, and I have no interest in setting it to 4K and getting that 1.3 crop. I am thrilled with what I get as I want it a tad soft. I much prefer what I get out of this in 1080 to what I was getting from my Sony (any of them) in 1080. Thank You!

      • No problem Steve. The Blackmagic is actually less expensive. Yes there is a small crop, but hardly an issue. I think you’ll find the quality of the Canon isn’t in it being soft, but that it has more attractive motion and colour etc. The image I talk about doesn’t become ‘video’ like, it’s just a much better version of the image that you can normally get out of it. Plus you get ProRes and to more affordable SD cards. Plus there is no recording time limits. You can of course record the normal full frame 1080p output as well, but the 4K downsampled mode is much nicer.

        Is it something worth trying on a return policy? I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. On my 1DC it goes from being soft and a bit rubbish to being some of the best 2K images I’ve ever seen (I’ve shot plenty of Alexa) while also not having to deal with 4K file sizes etc. Plus the footage is absolutely edit-ready.

      • Hey Ben,

        This is something I’ve not been able to confirm as yet and haven’t been able to find references to others trying it. I’ve certainly seen people record externally the 1080p mode, but not the 1080p from the 4K mode.

        In theory all the Canons that do 4K seem to work basically the same, which makes sense. The sensor can’t do two different types of readout so it has to be doing the 1:1 pixel 4K crop mode and downsampling that to go out through the 1080p HDMI feed. They have the ability in the 1DC and 1DX II, so guessing the same is true if the 5D IV.

        BTW the M50 is their first camera to output 4K over HDMI, so that’s a feature we can hopefully expect to see in newer models too. Equally they are finally able to record compressed 4K to SD cards (something they couldn’t do with the 5D IV and 1DC etc, so had the silly and enormous MJPEG codec), so expect to see that in the mirrorless models that are upcoming. M50 still uses a crop, so hopefully they can finally get around that particular issue.

          • Would like to hear the results. I have had someone have a go at checking it out and have reported that yes, it appears to be nice clean downsampled 4K on the 5D IV as well. Which is literally all I need (have no use for 4K other than to get better 1080p).

            So now to get a 5D IV and ship it to Canon to get C-Log…

            Seems like a lot of stuffing around to get something that could have so easily been in camera to start with.

          • Should have been in the camera 100%. No idea why Canon does some of the things they do. They always seem afraid to hurt the sales of their cinema line. Sony knows it is two different markets anyway, and includes the good stuff inside the A series bodies.

            I will say that I just added a 6DII to my 1dXII and I am very disappointed. NOT in the camera, but in all of the reviewers who said it was no good. I am shocked at how good it is for the $1500 I paid. Build feels fantastic, weather sealed, full frame, AF almost as fast as the 1dXII for video, low light about the same or better, flip screen, dynamic range is VERY good and while not Sony good, who exposes their photos so out of whack they need 15 stops of DR? In any case, all that is missing from the 6DII for many is 4K, which I do not need (though some do). I tested the 1080P and for my needs it looks very good. Even the electronic IS works much better than Sony’s 5 Axis IS (for video). So this will be my out and about run and gun for video, the 1dXII will be for the more serious stuff I spoke of. Great combo that for me beats my Sony just due to the color output, IS, Af and ease of use. Skin tones for video with the Sony by comparison look like they have a cast over them, and are also much too sharp giving off that old video look. I love my Sony (many call me the Sony fanboy after all) but these Canon DSLR’s have surprised me as I have always heard things that were negative about them. Also, the 24L II is now one of my fave lenses ever. Gorgeous lens, which I will review soon using the 6DII and 1DXII. I am rooting for the new Canon mirrorless as well. Competition is GOOD.

  4. Very nice reviews. I like how you truly go in-depth with these.
    One tip: maybe add a bitcoin donation link at the bottom? I am sure there is possible that would rather donate via there 😛

      • The 1Dx looks like a real workhorse.

        And there’s still the FF Nikon mirrorless and rumored 58mm F1.2 at Photokina and the FF Canon rumored to be announced after to get clear air.

        Plus there’s a Canon EF-M 32mm F1.4 that you could use on the EOS M5 to go with the 22mm F2 and the 50mm F1.2L with an adaptor.

        Good thing you have the 1DX II to film it all on.

        One more lens you might like to have a look at is the Panasonic 35-100mm F2.8 which is about the same size as the Olympus 12-50mm and like that lens doesn’t extend while zooming. It’s much smaller and lighter than any FF 70-200 mm F2.8 lens as you can see in the link below –

        http://www.wlcastleman.com/equip/reviews/pan_35-100/index.htm

        Weight = 357g vs 1480g for the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS III USM

        • The Nikon is rumored to be a 58 0.95 ; ) It will be expensive and large. But I think the new Nikon and Canon mirrorless cameras coming this year will be special, both of them. The Nikon with its large mount and low light abilities and ergonomics to the Canon which I think will be allowed to use current Canon EF lenses without an adapter. I don’t really have any more interest in Canon M lenses, as I will be phasing out the M in favor of a 6DII for on the go video, using the 1dX II for certain scenarios. I have tested the Panasonic 35-100 but I am leaving Micro 4/3 as I just do not use it anymore. I have some amazing fast f/1.2 glass for M 4/3 but for what I do these days it’s not working for me (low light and video). Great system but you need light if you want to avoid ugly noise. I shoot a lot in very low light. For my needs, for the next 2-4 years it will be Canon full frame along with Sony and Leica for stills. Unless the new Nikon slaughters the Sony for stills, then I will buy one of those for the ergonomics and that new 58 0.95! Good times ahead.

  5. New Nocf/t coming out? Wish SLRmagic was still making fun fast lenses.

    If the Canon allows you less time in post processing and more shooting time it will pay for itself quickly because of the time saved.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.