Brent Ramsey
Brent Ramsey

Brent Ramsey has spent over thirty years in the cinematography field where he has worked on television programs, films and commercials. He is currently a Canon Technical Advisor for our motion picture equipment.

10 Things You Need to Know About the Video Features in the EOS-1D X Mark II

February 01, 2016

Chances are, if you carry any model of DSLR in your bag, you’ve already been asked to shoot both stills and video for a project. Shooting video can sometimes be a challenging task, especially when you shoot it only on an occasional basis, and especially when it comes to holding focus on a moving subject with a full-frame sensor.  Well, the unique advancements in video capture found in the new Canon EOS-1D X Mark II are going to make you feel just as comfortable shooting high-quality video as you do capturing great stills — especially with the implementation of 4K video capture supplemented with the precise focusing capabilities of Dual Pixel CMOS Autofocus.

Sure to takes its place as Canon’s flagship still camera, the EOS-1D X Mark II builds substantially upon Canon’s professional top-end DSLR series, which already includes the EOS-1D X, and its Cinema EOS counterpart, the EOS-1D C. However, the point of this article is that the EOS-1D X Mark II offers some huge video capture enhancements over its predecessors, and these enhancements will be a distinct complement to its great still shooting specifications. 

Here are my “10 Things You Need to Know” about the enhanced video features in the EOS-1D X Mark II:

1. A new 20.2 MP 35mm full-frame 24x36mm sensor

This CMOS sensor developed by Canon increases the number of recording pixels from the original EOS-1D X, while achieving better high-sensitivity performance, allowing expanded ISO settings, and supporting both 4K video recording and up to 119.9 fps recording at the Full HD (1080p) setting.

2. Two DIGIC 6+ imaging processors

Inside there are 2 new DIGIC 6+ imaging processors — the highest-performance processors to date in a Canon EOS DSLR — so you can expect some serious imaging enhancements, improved video recording capabilities, and improved AF tracking capabilities.

3. Shoots DCI 4K (4096x2160) High-Resolution Video Recording Up to 60P

The EOS-1D X Mark II captures DCI 4K high-resolution video — which is 4096x2160 resolution recorded at 23.98p, 24.00p, 29.97p, and 59.94p.

DCI resolution is formatted for cinema delivery and differs only slightly in size from UHD 4K video (3840x2160), which is primarily intended for UHD television delivery. Besides having a cinema-ready acquisition format with DCI, if you’re delivering for UHD 4K, you’ll have a little side-to-side repositioning to play with.

The 4096x2160 pixels of the 4K recording are derived from the center of the 5472x3648 total pixels contained in the full-frame image sensor. The area just outside the 4K image area is masked.

The 4K files are recorded as 4:2:2, 8-bit Motion JPEG, the same codec used for 4K acquisition in the EOS-1D C. Motion JPEG essentially produces a separate JPEG image for each frame of video. It’s a very high quality file and delivered at very high bit rates – up to approximately 800Mbps for 4K movies shot at 59.94p!

Notably, 4K movie clips are recorded without limitation in regards to the length of the clip  – subject only to the following two exceptions:  1) the size of your recording media, and 2) the traditional 29:59 minute time limit on the length of continuous DSLR video recording. Therefore, the EOS-1D X Mark II has the capability to keep recording 4K 60p video up to 29 minutes and 59 seconds under normal temperature conditions, providing, of course, that you have enough memory card capacity.

Heat from the sensor is a concern with many DSLRs during video recording. However, EOS-1D X Mark II has a new internal heat duct pipe design, that conducts and transfers sensor heat away from the CMOS imaging sensor and processors, and dissipates it to the outer case section of the camera.  While the camera still includes safeguards in the event of extreme internal heat build-up, this new heat duct pipe should minimize problems for users who envision extended video recording sessions.

4. 4K JPEG ‘Frame Grabs’

Why are 4K frame grabs so important? A 4K video file will potentially give you thousands of Jpeg stills from which to choose.  When you shoot 4K, you can save  ‘frame grabsright from the video — in-camera! This is something new to the EOS-1D series, but we first saw it in the Canon XC10 camcorder. During in-camera 4K playbacks, you simply scroll back and forth through the clips to select and save JPEG stills directly to the memory card.

These frame grabs are full 4K-size stills, 4096x2160, about 8.8 million pixels each, and relatively compact in file size. From just one second of 4K video, you could extract up to 60 JPEG stills, any one of which could conceivably produce that magic micro-moment you might miss when still shooting. They could also be useful to punch in on and check critical focus of a movie recording. They’re perfectly good quality JPEGs, and yet small enough to share right from the camera to other devices using Canon’s Camera Connect app, or one of the compatible Wi-Fi® accessories -- either the WFT-E6A or the WFT-E8A.

If you add one of the Wi-Fi® accessories to the camera (sold separately), it will not only allow you share JPEG image files but also MP4 movies, and allows for remote camera operation. This can transfer camera functions — including start/stop, white balance, exposure, ISO, picture styles, and autofocus to name a few — to Wi-Fi networks, tablets, computers or smartphones, using a simple browser window, from up to several hundred feet away.

5. Full HD Recording and a High Frame Rate recording mode of 120fps!

The 1D X Mark II shoots (1920x1080) Full HD video at 23.98p, 24.00p, 29.97p and 59.94p in either MP4 or .MOV format, and it adds a Full HD High Frame Rate movie shooting mode of 120fps in the .MOV format — so you’ve got a great, high-quality, slow-motion speed with which to work. Sound is not recorded in this mode, and the maximum clip duration at 120fps has a limit of 7 minutes and 29 seconds (this is to prevent it from exceeding the 29:59 limit when converted to 25fps or 29.97fps).

Being a true global camera, the equivalent PAL frame rates of 25.00p, and 50.00p are available as MP4 or .MOV, and a High Frame Rate recording mode in PAL of 100.00p as a .MOV. PAL frame rates are available for 4K recording, as well.

A special 24.00 fps frame rate is also available, for users who need to match digital video files with actual film footage.

As a note, Full HD files are recorded with MPEG4 AVC/H 264 compression with variable (or averaged) bit rates. They’re “wrapped” as either .MOV format or as MP4 files. While the MP4 compression method is the same for .MOV files, .MOV files can be recorded as either ALL-I (INTRA-coded-frame) or IPB (INTERframe), while the MP4 files are recorded only as IPB. The main difference is that with ALL-I files, each frame of video is captured as a key frame, a single separate image, whereas IPB breaks video down into key frames and subsequent predictive frames.

The bottom line is, ALL-I .MOV files will be better for frame-accurate editing, while MP4 files are considered superior in compatibility for playback across numerous platforms, offer slightly longer recording times, and are easier to share — even right from the camera. The good news is that all of these options are available in-camera, so the choice is yours, whatever your project’s needs.

6. Dual Pixel CMOS Autofocus

I considered leading the article with this item because I consider it such an important advancement, but I wanted to get the specs out of the way first. If you’ve shot video with one of the Canon’s full-frame DSLRs — you may be thinking, ‘Yeah who doesn’t love the look?, but holding focus is always a challenge, and so much of my footage ends up soft’. While may have been the case, now for the first time on the EOS-1D series — and the first time for one of Canon’s 35mm equivalent full-frame sensors — the 1D X Mark II is equipped with Dual Pixel CMOS Autofocus. DPAF gives the EOS-1D X Mark II a unique power to fluidly acquire, hold, and shift focus as you shoot, while letting YOU stay in control.

This system is much improved over the contrast based AF that you may have been used to in the previous EOS-1D X, and into sensor technology that employs split photodiodes to accomplish true phase difference detection AF.  Phase difference detection AF surveys the scene, and can instantly detect not only whether a subject is in-focus or not, but if not, in which direction — and by how much — to drive the lens to achieve sharp focus. This excludes unwanted searching and accomplishes precise, natural focus acquisition with speed and reliability. And, perhaps more importantly, with user controls and adjustability.

Dual Pixel CMOS AF works for either 4K or Full HD recordings — even for high speed shooting! So, when it comes to shooting 4K or HD video with the EOS-1D X Mark II’s full-frame sensor, you can expect reliable focus control in any video mode, using any auto-focus-capable EF lens!

Dual Pixel CMOS AF is a proven technology having already achieved tremendous success in the Canon Cinema EOS line of pro cinema cameras like the EOS C300 Mark II, but until the new EOS-1D X Mark II, only been available in DSLRs with the APS-C sized sensors like the EOS 70D and EOS 7D Mark II — and with those cameras, only for HD recording.  However, just like those two cameras, and the EOS C300 Mark II, the EOS-1D X Mark II makes continuous focus acquisition possible for movie shooting over approximately 80% (horizontally and vertically) of the sensor’s image area.

There are two AF methods to choose from with the EOS-1D X Mark II:

First, there is Flexi Zone AF, which displays a single square that you can move around the DPAF image area to switch to or set focus.

While you’re in Flexi Zone AF you can also adjust the Movie Servo AF speed, provided you are using an STM or USM lens released since 2009. Movie Servo AF Speed alters the sensitivity of drive speed for the lens. Do you want focus relatively quick, or prefer it to roll in softly? There are ten settings for AF speed

Movie Servo AF tracking sensitivity offers additional settings that add flexibility in determining the responsiveness with which the camera acquires new subjects, or ignores subjects crossing through the frame. There are six settings for that.

The other AF method is Face Detect and Tracking AF. This setting helps you acquire, shift and hold focus on human faces as they move through the frame. There’s also an improved algorithm that will recognize a human body well enough so that it can track focus on a face even when the face is not recognized, which could come in handy sports, for instance. There’s another improvement to the algorithm of color detection that enhances the tracking capability on moving subjects. So stable tracking of live subjects and even inanimate objects is possible as they move laterally or up-and-down around the frame — not just human faces.

There’s also One Shot AF, which locks focus on a stationary subject.  This works with Face Detect and Tracking AF or Flexi Zone AF. You can set this up as an assigned custom control button, configure it to work at a half depress of the shutter button, or simply use the AF-ON button on the back of the camera. When the shot’s in focus the white focus box turns green to confirm the camera’s status.

One Shot AF is great for a quick focus confirmation or adjustment before or during shooting, and great for situations where you don’t want or need continuous auto focus.

Another way to control continuous AF, especially in hand-held or uncontrolled situations, is to assign an external camera button to temporarily disable/enable Movie Servo AF.  This performs like AF LOCK on a Cinema EOS product — temporarily disable Continuous DPAF — hold the focus mark you just had – and press the button it again activate continuous DPAF again when you’re ready.

7. Touch panel monitor display

As an aid for using Dual Pixel AF, the EOS-1D X Mark II includes a high-resolution touch panel monitor display, which allows you to simply touch the screen to acquire focus on a precise area of the image, a face or an object in the frame.

You can also select the sensitivity of the touch (Standard or Sensitive), or disable it all together to prevent an unwanted accidental change. If you turn the touch panel sensitivity off, you could still get a solid focus control with the 8-way Multi-controller, in which case you can manually navigate the focus area around the frame in all four directions.

8. Improved Ergonomics

First of all, for the basics, there’s now a switch to go between Live View still shooting and Movie Shooting. While this switch has been available on several other Canon DSLRs, this marks the first time this convenience has been added to the EOS-1D series.

The body is a tough magnesium body — totally pro — offering a dust proof and drip proof design, making it one of the few movie cameras with dust and water-resistant performance. It’s built to endure the elements and keep you working.

The grip has been improved by reducing the diameter, so it’s easier to hold, even for smaller hands. Several buttons have been reworked, making identification easier by touch, and new camera functions have been added to some, making assigning different camera functions more customizable.

9. Recording media has been upgraded

The camera’s card slots now accommodate one CFast 2.0™ card, along with a slot for a CF card. The CFast card is what makes possible the recording of 4K frame rates of 50P or 60P, or Full HD at 100 or 120fps (although 4K video at the lower frame rates and High Frame Rate movie shooting is still possible with higher quality UMDA 7 CF cards having write speeds of 100MB/sec or faster).

Additionally, exFAT format support removes the 4 GB file size limitation for CFast cards of any size, and for CF cards 128GB or larger, doing away with the necessity to merge files when recording movies.

So, now you have reliable and larger capacity drives capable of capturing high data rates with the CFast 2.0™ cards, while you will still be able to make use of your previous investment in CF cards for a large portion of your work.

*Canon is an authorized licensee of the CFast 2.0™ trademark, which may be registered in various jurisdictions.

10. TEN More Items

OK. This is a little bit of a cheat, but there are ten more items I think bear mentioning, as well.

1. Picture style
None of these upgrades would matter much, if you couldn’t get great color tone, so all the customary Canon picture styles that you’re used to are included in the EOS-1D X Mark II. However, there is a new addition that we first saw in the EOS 5DS and 5DSR, called Fine Detail. With Fine Detail the contrast is set lower than Standard, so that detailed textures and gradations come out better. By default Fine Detail has the same saturation level as Standard and basically assumes that the image will be used ‘as is’ -- without post processing -- unlike Neutral and Faithful.  (Note that unlike with still images, when recording video, fine-tuning sharpening with the Fineness and Threshold settings is not possible with the EOS-1D X Mark II.)

2. Ambience Priority
There’s a White Balance feature that I’m growing fond of mainly because digital cameras have gotten so good at it, and that’s Auto White Balance (AWB).  If you’re in a dynamic situation and moving through locations right and left, AWB can really help when shooting video. The transitions are smooth and this setting keeps you from having to stop shooting to make adjustments on the fly.

AWB in the EOS-1D X Mark II also offers you a couple of white balancing options first introduced in the 5DS and 5DSR; when you use Auto White Balance and shoot under tungsten or low color temperatures, you can select Ambience Priority to retain some of the warm color tones, or White Priority to eliminate most of the warm tones.

3. Built in GPS
A Built in GPS includes automatic time and position updating. GPS logging can be recorded in movies at the start of recording, or saved off as log data and reviewed later. This could come in really helpful for identifying different camera units or locations where footage was acquired.

4. Headphone jack
The EOS-1D X Mark II includes a Headphone jack for monitoring sound recording. It also has a 3.5mm mini-jack line in for an external microphone, or a Line Input setting for an audio source input.

5. Uncompressed 4:2:2 8-bit Full HD from the HDMI
The 1D X mark II offers clean, uncompressed YCbCr 4:2:2, 8-bit, 1920x1080 video data plus audio from the HDMI port. This output is customizable — camera information can be superimposed, or monitored clean. This enables the use of an HD monitor, or recording the output to external recorder, which would conceivably offer longer recording times with additional choices of video formats, containers, compression, and codecs. HDMI out for 4K will be in Full HD.

6. Expanded ISO ranges
As you might expect, there’s great low-light sensitivity in the EOS-1D X Mark II, and it includes expanded ISO ranges. Standard range ISO speeds for video are from ISO 100–12800 in 4K, and ISO 100–25600 in Full HD. Of course, these are expandable when necessary to as high as ISO 204,800 in Movie Shooting Mode — and in still mode, can be expanded all the way to ISO 409,600!

7. Peripheral Illumination correction 
This improves image quality by maintaining evenness of illumination from corner to corner across the frame.

8. Chromatic aberration correction
This setting removes color fringing and halos around high contrast edges, which improves the overall image quality and maximizes the performance of Canon lenses.

9. Automatic Exposure Control
When you absolutely have to get the shot, the EOS-1D X Mark II offers these automatic modes for exposure control during movie shooting with which still shooters will be most familiar; take your pick from Program AE for Movie Shooting, Movie Shutter Priority AE, and Movie Aperture priority AE. 

10. USB 3.0 port
This upgrade improves movie transfer speeds to a computer, and precludes the use of a card reader.

OK, that’s an overview of the video features in the EOS-1D X Mark II. Ultimately, you’re going to have to try one yourself to get a feel for what this camera can do. Be sure and visit the Canon website for more information.

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

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