New professional firmware for the EOS-1D X Mark II

August 25, 2016

Based on feedback from large photo organizations, news photojournalists, and so on, Canon has delivered a significant firmware upgrade for the EOS-1D X Mark II camera.  Firmware upgrade version 1.1 clearly targets professional users and organizations, but as you’ll see, some of these features may be useful to individual working pros or even serious photography enthusiasts.  The new firmware is now available for download here under the "Firmware" tab. We’ll examine what’s new in this firmware upgrade in this article.

In a nutshell: what’s new and different?

This new upgrade (version 1.1) addresses specific issues that professional news and photojournalism organizations have brought to Canon’s attention — we understand that not all of these will be important in more ordinary, everyday use to individual photographers. That said, the changes and new features that this firmware adds to the EOS-1D X Mark II camera are the ability to:

  • Install up to 39 items of IPTC information into the camera, and to add data (or deliberately not apply it) to images you take
  • Add set-up information for up to 40 new Wi-Fi® networks to a memory card, and load that data as a full set of possible Wi-Fi networks to select from for connection
  • Transfer only “protected” images via Wi-Fi
  • Retain GPS position data:  Continue to apply last known GPS location information to images subsequently taken, even if GPS connection is lost (photographer went inside a building, etc.)
  • Change LCD color tone (four pre-defined settings), to either approximate display from other cameras you’re working with, or to shift color tone based on ambient lighting as the LCD monitor is being used

The aim of these changes is to enhance a professional photographer’s workflow; improve on-location network and Wi-Fi operations (especially for photographers working at large events, with many Wi-Fi networks in simultaneous operation); and to smooth the process of transferring images and managing them with new embedded metadata.  We’ll take a brief look at each, to shed some light on what changes and potential applications have been implemented.

Keep in mind that the EOS-1D X Mark II differs from other Canon EOS models in that it not only permits network communication and transfer of images via Wi-Fi (using the optional WFT-E8A or WFT-E6A wireless file transmitters), but also via wired ethernet connection — there’s a dedicated ethernet port on the camera for this purpose.  This allows similar network connectivity, but without some of the variables users can encounter on-location with Wi-Fi transmission.  Firmware v. 1.1 doesn’t change this; we only want to remind users of it here.

Add IPTC Metadata

Initial versions of the EOS-1D X Mark II camera did not have this feature, often very useful to workflows in professional organizations.  IPTC (International Press Telecommunications Council) data has been used with digital photos in the news photojournalism field for many years.  It consists of text data which is pre-defined, and can apply additional, searchable information that can accompany an image file after it’s been downloaded to an organization’s storage and archiving system.  This can include captioning information and so on, so it’s potentially more expansive than simple keywording — although it can be used for that as well.

With Firmware v. 1.1 installed, the EOS-1D X Mark II will now be able to add up to 39 IPTC items of information, separately and in addition to the normal EXIF shooting information the camera normally applies for each image that’s taken.  Parenthetically, the EOS 5D Mark IV camera will have the same capability upon its release, with no firmware upgrade required.

IPTC information is pre-defined by the photographer, entered into a compatible version of Canon’s EOS Utility software, and then installed (uploaded) into the camera via USB 3.0 connection from a compatible Windows® or Macintosh® computer.  Once installed in-camera, a new menu setting allows the photographer to add this IPTC data to each shot he or she takes afterward, or to disable it and have no IPTC info added.  A few additional points about the IPTC data with the EOS-1D X Mark II:

  • IPTC data cannot be viewed or edited in-camera…once installed, to change it you must re-connect the camera to a compatible Mac or Windows computer with Canon’s EOS Utility software installed, and use EOS Utility to edit or change the IPTC information.
  • Once a set of IPTC data is entered, the same data is applied to each image.  Unlike the camera’s normal shooting data, the IPTC data does not change to reflect different camera settings and so on.
  • You can turn IPTC data on or off in-camera, using the Menu selection to enable or disable it.  Disabling it does not remove it altogether from the camera…it simply means it won’t be attached to image files until you turn it back on.
  • During image playback, you can see whether IPTC data is attached to an image, but you cannot see the actual IPTC data.  Regular EXIF shooting data (date/time, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and so on) is completely unaffected.
  • To completely remove IPTC data from the camera (for example, if you were loaning a camera to another photographer, and didn’t want to risk that he or she would accidentally have your IPTC data added to their pictures), you must re-connect to a computer, and delete it via EOS Utility.
  • Only one set of IPTC data can be registered and uploaded into the camera at a time.

Even though IPTC metadata is targeted at larger photo organizations, it has potential applications for individual photographers.  Especially interesting is that some third-party software programs, such as Adobe® Lightroom®, have the ability to read attached IPTC metadata.  Numerous possible tags and information could be used for searching, editing purposes, and so on.  It’s beyond the scope of this article for Canon staff to explain how various third-party software can use IPTC data, but there’s no doubt that intriguing options are out there for interested photographers working with the EOS-1D X Mark II, once firmware has been upgraded to version 1.1, as well as for customers buying a new EOS 5D Mark IV camera.

Another real-world application for IPTC metadata for individual users might be to add precise copyright info to each image taken with the EOS-1D X Mark II camera.  The IPTC input allows extended information, including the actual copyright symbol, to be part of the data that can accompany image files after they’re taken.

Similarly, the IPTC data could allow users to include not only their name, but contact information such as their personal or business web address (URL), which could have possible benefits not only for added copyright protection, but even encourage possible image sales to other viewers.

Increase number of network connection set-ups on memory card

With an eye toward high-end professional organizations at large sporting and news events, Firmware v. 1.1 for the EOS-1D X Mark II will now allow users to save set-up information for up to 40 different Wi-Fi set-ups, and store them on a memory card for future access.  

The EOS-1D X Mark II has always allowed users to create and save (register) set-up information for up to 20 different network connections, in the camera.  The idea, of course, is to allow a photographer to quickly access and begin working with a pre-established wireless (or wired, ethernet LAN) network — as is often required by press photographers upon arrival at major venues and events.  

And, users could store connection information (IP addresses, passwords, etc.) for 20 additional sites on a memory card, and access them independently.  

What’s new with Firmware v. 1.1 is that the EOS-1D X Mark II expands the number of network connections that can be saved and then accessed on a memory card.  Up to 40 separate networks can now be saved to a relatively low-capacity memory card, carried with the photographer in his/her camera bag, and quickly accessed as a full set of 20 networks any time he or she needs to work with them.  This could allow a user to store personal network information (home, office, and so on) in-camera, and allow his or her organization to supply updated network information ahead of time, copied to a CF (or CFast) card, for use at an upcoming major event.

Either a CF or CFast 2.0 memory card can be used to save this information…as a practical matter, it probably makes sense for most users to use a lower-capacity, inexpensive CF card for this purpose, and rely on newer, faster and higher-capacity cards for actual image storage.

Transfer only protected images to a network

Many EOS camera models have had a “protect” feature, which allows users to mark or tag images and prevent accidental erasure during playback.

EOS-1D X Mark II cameras with Firmware v. 1.1 installed now offer a new means of selecting images for transfer to a network — select protected images for transfer.  Pressing the little back button with a key icon will apply a “protect” tag to individual image files, one at a time, as they’re being reviewed during playback.  Once desired files are marked with the “protect” icon, EOS-1D X Mark II cameras that have been updated to Firmware v. 1.1 can now select all protected images via a new menu selection, and have them transferred in one batch.

This is a quick means of editing in-camera, and getting images ready to send to a wireless or wired network via FTP transfer.  It can also function via USB connection, directly to a compatible Mac or Windows computer, for FTP transfer of image files.

Extended time for automatic re-transfer of images that failed to transfer initially

With Firmware v. 1.1 installed, EOS-1D X Mark II cameras will now continue to attempt to re-connect and transfer images for longer periods of time, if and when there’s an interruption in network connections.  Previously, unless the camera’s Auto Power Off had been pre-set to 15 minutes or longer, the camera would stop trying to re-transfer after about 6 minutes.  

Now, with Firmware 1.1, it will continue to attempt to re-transfer for 10 minutes, even when Auto Power Off is set to a shorter time frame.  At Auto Power Off settings of 15 minutes, 30 minutes, and Disable (camera doesn’t go to sleep after inactivity), automatic re-transferring of images which failed to transfer will continue for the same duration as the Auto Power Off setting.

The benefit? One less thing for busy, working press photographers to concern themselves with, when transferring files while on-location.  Network interruptions, especially with Wi-Fi, are sadly a common occurrence at major events.  If they occur while a shooter is attempting to meet a deadline and transfer images, he or she can take a bit of comfort knowing that the process will continue for longer periods, once re-connected with a network.

GPS data retained, even if connection interrupted

Especially now that GPS is built into the EOS-1D X Mark II body, it’s a feature that working pros and even advanced enthusiasts may call upon frequently.  Until now, to put GPS location information onto images being taken, an active connection to GPS satellite data was required.  Unfortunately, GPS communication can be interrupted by environmental situations — primarily stepping indoors, after starting GPS up while outside.

In the past, if and when GPS was interrupted, the camera would stop putting any GPS location information with the shooting data for each image taken.  Now, Firmware v. 1.1 for the EOS-1D X Mark II changes this, and allows the last known GPS coordinates to continue to be added, even if actual GPS communication has failed.

The benefit is a shooter working at (for example) an indoor sports arena or a domed stadium can now set up his or her GPS outdoors, before entering the building.  Once indoors, they can shoot an entire event, and each image will contain the last known GPS coordinates as location data.  True, it won’t be completely precise if the photographer moves around a very large area, but at least he or she now has some record of approximate location, which can stay with their images.

And, there’s a new Menu setting, giving the shooter a choice of how long to retain previous GPS position information.  

If/when GPS communication resumes, the system will begin to add that new location information to new images, as they’re taken.

LCD monitor Color Tone

Firmware v. 1.1 for the EOS-1D X Mark II adds another requested feature — the ability to make subtle changes to the LCD monitor’s color tone. Four pre-set choices allow the photographer to use the factory-default setting, warm the display’s color rendition slightly, or cool it slightly (add a bit of a bluish tint), in two stages.

Two potential applications: one would be to allow users working with EOS-1D X Mark II cameras along with other Canon EOS bodies to more closely match the “look” of playback images and video on other EOS cameras.  (Keep in mind that as of late August 2016, the only other EOS model with adjustable color tone for the LCD monitor is the new EOS 5D Mark IV camera.)

In general, to match the display of cameras like the previous EOS-1D X or EOS 5D Mark III, you may want to try the Cool Tone 1 or Cool Tone 2 settings.

And the other might be to accommodate slight viewing changes to the LCD monitor, from differing ambient light conditions.

While it probably goes without saying, we’ll reinforce it here — this adjustment to the LCD monitor’s color tone has nothing to do with the White Balance or other settings of actual image and video files, and does not in any way change any files in-camera. It simply adjusts the look of the monitor screen they’re being viewed on.

Summary

Canon’s most professional digital SLR gets a user-installable firmware upgrade that’s clearly aimed right at high-end, institutional users — especially those in sports and news journalism fields. Individual professionals working in other areas, and our high-end enthusiast customers, can be forgiven if they feel that most of the new features and capabilities added are not directly targeted at them and the types of work they do.

But even for the individual EOS-1D X Mark II owner, there are some features that they may want to leverage. In particular the ability to add IPTC data, and then use that with third-party software for in-depth captioning and keywording, may be a valuable feature.

The firmware is a free upgrade, and adds features and functionality to the EOS-1D X Mark II camera. We certainly recommend that anyone remotely involved in the photojournalism market add this firmware to his or her cameras, and it may prove beneficial even to users who work in different markets, and in different circumstances.

One last point: this firmware applies only to the EOS-1D X Mark II camera. It cannot be installed in previous versions of the EOS-1D or EOS-1Ds, nor can it add these features to other models (EOS 5D series, EOS 7D series, etc.).

The CDLC contributors are compensated spokespersons and actual users of the Canon products that they promote.

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