Mak­ing Movies

ProPhoto - - ON TRIAL -

GIVEN THE EOS-1D X MARK II ALSO re­places the EOS-1D C, it has some heavy-duty video ca­pa­bil­i­ties, although it’s still a bit hard to see it be­ing pre­ferred to the EOS 5D Mark IV for videog­ra­phy un­less the ex­tra dura­bil­ity is needed. And this could well be the rea­son why -1D C isn’t con­tin­u­ing as a stand-alone line… es­pe­cially as Canon also of­fers the hugely ca­pa­ble ded­i­cated Cin­ema EOS mod­els.

As it hap­pens, the -1D X II was ac­tu­ally Canon’s first D-SLR to of­fer 4K video record­ing fol­lowed by the 5D IV, although the lat­ter ended up in many re­view­ers’ hands be­fore it. And, un­like the 5D IV, it can record the Cin­ema 4K res­o­lu­tion of 4096x2160 pix­els at the higher frame rate of 50 fps which rep­re­sents a mas­sive bit rate of 800 Mbps. There’s also the choice of 25 or 24 fps speeds, both de­liv­er­ing a healthy 500 Mbps. Like the 5D IV, the 4K frame di­rect 1:1 crop from the mid­dle of the sen­sor so there’s no scal­ing in­volved (elim­i­nat­ing re­lated arte­facts), but there is a fo­cal length mag­ni­fi­ca­tion fac­tor of just over 1.6x… i.e. close to ‘APS-C’ (but Canon’s EF-S lenses can’t be used on this body).

DCI 4K video is recorded in the MOV for­mat with Mo­tion JPEG com­pres­sion which is eas­ier to han­dle in post­pro­duc­tion, but means very big files and the need for speed hence Canon rec­om­mends us­ing a CFast 2.0 mem­ory card (ac­tu­ally it’s es­sen­tial at 50 fps). Like­wise for shoot­ing Full HD video at 100 fps (we’re just quot­ing the PAL speeds here, but the NTSC frame rates are also avail­able) for quar­ter-speed slow-mo­tion footage which ob­vi­ously has ap­pli­ca­tions when shoot­ing sports ac­tion. Full HD footage at the stan­dard frame rates can be recorded with the choice of ALL-I in­traframe com­pres­sion or the less space hun­gry IPB in­ter­frame regime. There’s also the op­tion of us­ing the MP4 for­mat for Web-based ap­pli­ca­tions. There’s no 4.0 GB file size lim­i­ta­tion so the the­o­ret­i­cal max­i­mum clip length is 29 min­utes and 59 sec­onds at the stan­dard speeds, and just un­der seven-and-a-half min­utes for the slow-mo clips. As with the EOS 5D IV, the HDMI con­nec­tor only de­liv­ers a 2K out­put (8-bit 4:2:2 colour) while the cam­era records 4K in­ter­nally, but not the other way around. Canon of­fers a ‘4K Frame Grab’ func­tion which de­liv­ers an 8.8 megapix­els still from the 4K footage, ef­fec­tively giv­ing you 50 fps con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing, but there isn’t the same scope to ex­ploit this as Pana­sonic pro­vides with its ‘4K Photo’ modes.

The built-in mi­cro­phone is mono – pre­sum­ably on the ba­sis that no­body is likely to use an in­ter­nal mic for se­ri­ous shoot­ing – and there’s both a stereo in­put for con­nect­ing an ex­ter­nal mic and an out­put for mon­i­tor­ing head­phones. Au­dio lev­els can be man­u­ally ad­justed and both a wind-cut fil­ter and an at­ten­u­a­tor are pro­vided.

Most of the pro­cess­ing func­tions for still photography are also avail­able for video record­ing, in­clud­ing the ‘Pic­ture Style’ pre­sets, the ‘Auto Light­ing Op­ti­miser’ dynamic range ex­pan­sion and ‘High­light Tone Pri­or­ity’. Ex­po­sures can be preset via any of the ‘PASM’ con­trol modes and the Auto ISO range is 100-12,800 for 4K shoot­ing, 100-25,600 for 2K. Nei­ther the ISO 50 nor 409,600 ex­ten­sions are avail­able.

Con­tin­u­ous aut­o­fo­cus­ing is via the ‘Movie Servo AF’ mode with the op­tions of face de­tec­tion and sub­ject track­ing. Fur­ther­more, the track­ing speed and sen­si­tiv­ity can be ad­justed as per still photography and the ‘Dual Pixel CMOS AF’ is im­pres­sively fast… es­pe­cially in con­cert with the later ‘STM’ (step­ping mo­tor) lenses. Con­ve­nient fo­cus pulling can be per­formed via the touch­screen, but again un­like the 5D IV, no other ad­just­ments – although a ‘Quick Con­trol’ screen can be con­fig­ured to al­low for faster on-the-fly ad­just­ments to key set­tings. Man­ual fo­cus as­sist is via a mag­ni­fied im­age (ei­ther 5x or 10x), but there isn’t a fo­cus peak­ing dis­play or, for that mat­ter, any ze­bra pat­terns. No flat pic­ture pro­file or time­lapse record­ing ei­ther. Th­ese are quite se­ri­ous omis­sions as far as the pro video-maker is con­cerned and given that both Pana­sonic and Sony of­fer su­pe­rior mirrorless pack­ages, Canon’s big gun will strug­gle to com­pete. What’s more of a pity is that the still pho­tog­ra­pher who’s drawn to EOS-1D X Mark II’s con­sid­er­able ca­pa­bil­i­ties as a still cam­era – es­pe­cially in the ar­eas of sports and news gath­er­ing – will find it less com­pe­tent if they then want it to work as a video cam­era.

one each for the hor­i­zon­tal and ver­ti­cal grips – which are used for man­ual se­lec­tion of the fo­cus­ing point and var­i­ous nav­i­ga­tional du­ties.

The menu sys­tem is the same ti­died-up ver­sion that has been in use since EOS 7D Mark II with, pri­mar­ily, a more man­age­able cus­tom menu, although the -1D X II still has a to­tal of 35 func­tions packed in there. Cu­ri­ously, although touch­screen con­trols are pro­vided, they’re only avail­able in live view so, for ex­am­ple, nav­i­gat­ing the menus is still done con­ven­tion­ally via a com­bi­na­tion of the in­put wheels and the multi-con­troller. Canon is stick­ing doggedly with a non-scrol­lable ar­range­ment which means if you want to progress from one page to the next, you have to use an­other con­trol. It’s also nec­es­sary to first press the ‘Set’ but­ton in or­der to bring up sub-menus and set­tings rather than the more con­ven­tional right-click.

Un­like with the 5D IV, touch oper­a­tions also aren’t avail­able with the ‘Quick Con­trol’ screen. Per­haps Canon thinks users of the EOS-1D X II are likely to be more con­ser­va­tive, but again it’s a fea­ture which would seem tai­lor-made for this cam­era given it pro­motes more ef­fi­cient con­trol in the heat of bat­tle. On the plus side, the ‘Quick Con­trol’ screen is cus­tomis­able so it only needs to in­clude what’s re­ally needed… but nav­i­ga­tion is con­ven­tion­ally via the front in­put wheel. In­ci­den­tally, a to­tal of 11 ex­ter­nal con­trols are cus­tomis­able.

The mon­i­tor it­self is fixed – to pre­serve struc­tural in­tegrity – and is an 8.1 cm TFT LCD panel with a res­o­lu­tion of 1.62 megadots. It’s ad­justable for bright­ness, but un­like on the 5D IV, not for colour bal­ance. In ad­di­tion to the ‘Quick Con­trol’ screen, it can be set to show cam­era set­tings (in var­i­ous con­fig­u­ra­tions) or an ‘ar­ti­fi­cial hori­zon’ dual-axis level in­di­ca­tor.

The live view screen can be con­fig­ured to in­clude a real-time his­togram (for ei­ther bright­ness or RGB chan­nels), the grid pat­terns, level in­di­ca­tors, a set of sta­tus in­di­ca­tors, or just the im­age alone. The re­view/re­play screens in­clude a high­light alert, ba­sic cap­ture info or a thumb­nail im­age with ei­ther a lu­mi­nance his­togram or the RGB his­tograms. The play­back modes in­clude pages of four, nine, 36 or 100 thumb­nails, zoom­ing up to 10x and a slide show func­tion with ad­justable im­age dis­play times plus a re­peat func­tion. No touch­screen con­trols here ei­ther.

Speed And Per­for­mance

Loaded with a SanDisk Ex­treme PRO 128 GB CFast 2.0 mem­ory card, the EOS-1D X Mark II is ca­pa­ble of de­liv­er­ing its max­i­mum speed ca­pa­bil­i­ties and is in­deed im­pres­sive. A se­quence of 202 JPEG/large/fine files was all over in 14.288 sec­onds – and sounds like noth­ing you’ve ever heard be­fore – giv­ing a shoot­ing speed of 14.13 fps… and this is ac­tu­ally with con­tin­u­ous AF/AE ad­just­ment.

The typ­i­cal file size in this test se­quence was 6.0 MB. It’s fast, but it’s noisy too, given how much the mir­ror is belt­ing up and down in that time so what about the si­lent con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing op­tion? Well, it isn’t com­pletely si­lent, but it’s much, much qui­eter and here the cam­era is still rea­son­ably quick too – a se­quence of 122 best-qual­ity JPEGs cap­tured in 24.464 sec­onds giv­ing a shoot­ing speed of 4.98 fps… a cou­ple of full-35mm D-SLRs aren’t much quicker over­all with­out try­ing to keep the noise down. In­ci­den­tally, the live view shoot­ing isn’t all that quiet ei­ther be­cause the fo­cal plane shut­ter is still rat­tling away at up to 16 fps.

As with the Nikon D5, aut­o­fo­cus­ing is the EOS-1D X Mark II’s party trick and it’s in­cred­i­bly re­spon­sive, fast and un­err­ingly ac­cu­rate. It doesn’t need much of a con­trast edge to lock onto a sub­ject and there’s plenty of scope for ad­just­ing the selec­tiv­ity. The track­ing is very re­li­able, even with er­rat­i­cally mov­ing sub­jects and the low-light sen­si­tiv­ity is ex­cep­tional. That you can shoot at 14 fps with con­tin­u­ous AF is also re­mark­able, and Canon has added fur­ther prac­ti­cal­ity via a de­cent-sized buf­fer mem­ory… be­cause at this speed it doesn’t take long to gen­er­ate a sub­stan­tial amount of data. Our test se­quence of 202 bestqual­ity JPEG rep­re­sented 1.2 GB and the cam­era will shoot longer… ac­tu­ally up to around 300 be­fore slowing down. Bet­ter still, the ‘strike rate’ of sharply fo­cused frames is very high. And it’s also worth not­ing here that ex­cel­lent AF per­for­mance con­tin­ues when shoot­ing

in live view. You can’t help think­ing that the ‘Dual Pixel CMOS AF’ tech­nol­ogy has set Canon up nicely for the big move into high-end mirrorless.

There’s no ques­tion the var­i­ous sen­sor sizes have a res­o­lu­tion ‘sweet spot’ – around 16 megapix­els for Mi­cro Four Thirds, 20 MP for ‘APS-C’ and around 35 MP for full-35mm – but 20 MP also works just as well on the big­ger sen­sor ar­guably giv­ing a bet­ter bal­ance of sharp­ness, sen­si­tiv­ity, dynamic range and noise lev­els. The higher sig­nal-tonoise ra­tio de­liv­ered by the big­ger pix­els gives the -1D X II a sig­nif­i­cant boost in terms of its high ISO per­for­mance – an­other big plus for sports shoot­ers who still need fast shut­ter speeds and lots of depth-of-field even in low-light sit­u­a­tions – so even at ISO 6400, images still ex­hibit plenty of def­i­ni­tion and de­tail­ing with great colour sat­u­ra­tion and con­trast. You can push on to ISO 12,800 or 25,600 and still get very use­able files, es­pe­cially for mag­a­zine work or on­line us­age. At the lower ISOs, best-qual­ity JPEGs look very crisp with a wide dynamic range and ex­cel­lent colour fi­delity across the spec­trum. And it helps here that the new 360k pix­els RGB me­ter­ing sys­tem is also very re­li­able in any light­ing con­di­tions. Of course, the ‘Cre­ative Style’ pre­sets al­low for the tweak­ing of sharp­ness, colour and con­trast.

Im­por­tantly too, JPEG per­for­mance isn’t the ‘poor cousin’ here be­cause Canon un­der­stands that high- vol­ume shoot­ers don’t often use RAW… es­pe­cially if images are be­ing trans­mit­ted di­rectly from the cam­era.

The –ID X II’s JPEG per­for­mance is su­perla­tive, but RAW cap­ture goes a step fur­ther in terms of dynamic range, high ISO per­for­mance and noise lev­els… which can all be fur­ther ex­ploited when there’s time for post-pro­duc­tion.

The Ver­dict

In to­day’s mar­ket, the EOS-1D X Mark II is much more of a spe­cialised cam­era with high-speed photography ap­pli­ca­tions clearly its forte, but here it is with­out peer. Ev­ery­thing works co­he­sively to this end. It’s a pity the touch­screen im­ple­men­ta­tion is so lim­ited given the ef­fi­cien­cies it could bring to in-the-field oper­a­tions, and this is re­ally now more about conservatism in the de­sign depart­ment rather than in the mar­ket­place. That said, the con­ven­tional con­trol er­gonomics are pretty good and the cus­tomi­sa­tion op­tions al­low for the cam­era to be con­fig­ured for rapid ad­just­ments and con­fir­ma­tion.

AF per­for­mance, con­tin­u­ous frame rates, buf­fer size and high ISO im­age qual­ity all com­bine to give the -1D X II awe­some ca­pa­bil­i­ties as a sports/ ac­tion cam­era with all the rugged­ness needed to deal with the de­mands of shoot­ing in often chal­leng­ing sit­u­a­tions. It’s the D-SLR equiv­a­lent of putting an F1 rac­ing engine in a Land Rover De­fender. There’s also no get­ting away from its size and weight (or cost, for that mat­ter), but given it’s likely to spend a lot of time on the end of a big tele­photo lens, this is prob­a­bly less of an is­sue for its tar­get au­di­ence than for oth­ers. For the time be­ing. It’s hard not to see mirrorless even­tu­ally mak­ing more sense here, but right now the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II rep­re­sents the ul­ti­mate in pro-level D-SLR de­sign.

... aut­o­fo­cus­ing is the EOS1D X Mark II’s party trick and it’s in­cred­i­bly re­spon­sive, fast and un­err­ingly ac­cu­rate. It doesn’t need much of a con­trast edge to lock onto a sub­ject...

The EOS-1D X Mark II is much more of a spe­cialised cam­era with high­speed photography ap­pli­ca­tions clearly its forte.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.