Canon 1D X Mark II vs. Canon 1D C – Which One Shoots Better Video?


The Canon 1D X mark II is Canon’s latest flagship DSLR and it also shoots video. We were curious to find out how good its 4K capabilities really are: after all, it shoots up to 60p in full resolution. Johnnie reviewed the camera a few days ago, and here’s our Canon 1D X mark II vs. Canon 1D C lab test.

It is Canon’s first official “photo camera” that shoots 4K video. The company has been quite reluctant to offer high quality video in their photo products since they separated the professional cinema video segment a few years ago. Ever since then, we have seen Canon’s cinema line cameras like the Canon C300 mark II popping up at very high prices, making many entry level enthusiasts switch to Sony.

Canon 1D C vs Canon 1D X mark II

Comparison: Canon 1D X Mark II vs. Canon 1D C

From the outside these two cameras look very much alike, and basically all buttons are in the same position. You might wonder: why does the 1D C (“C” as in Cinema Line) have the same layout as the 1D X (a stills camera). But this article is about the X, a photo camera that might, yet again, take the place of a video camera.

On its own, we know by now that the Canon 1D X mark II produces some very nice 4K video. But how good is it really? With the 1D C as a benchmark, let’s put it to the test. We will also throw the popular Sony a7S II into the mix as a second reference.

Dynamic Range

This is an attribute that is often overlooked, and that is difficult to measure properly. A good dynamic range rating allows us to capture more shadows and highlights in high-contrast scenes. We’re testing with a DSC labs XYLA-21 transmissive test chart and the Zeiss 50mm Cp2 macro (more on how we test HERE).

Our software measured about 11 stops of usable dynamic range on the Canon 1D X mark II. This is very similar to the rating of the Canon 1D C, and just under the 12 stops of the Sony a7S II. You can observe the two Canon shots side by side in the image below.

Dynamic Range of Canon 1D X mark II vs Canon 1D C

Dynamic Range of Canon 1D X mark II vs Canon 1D C

11 stops is a good rating for a camera. Most professional cinema cameras nowadays get between 10-13 stops in our tests. For example, the Canon C300 mark II is a camera that, in addition to us pointing out the horizontal strip that appears on overexposed portions of images, we rated at about 12 stops of usable dynamic range. This is about 2 stops weaker than the Arri ALEXA, which we rated at about 14 stops, as does the manufacturer.


Directly related to dynamic range is lowlight performance. The Canon 1D C performs quite well in that regard, and we could see that the Canon 1D X mark II did not keep up at the same ISO speeds. However, if you look at the image above, you will see that in order to film the test chart the Canon 1D C had to be set to F/5.6, while the 1D X mark II needed F/11.0. In other words, the ISO rating is in favour of the 1D X mark II.

Everything taken into consideration I would say the lowlight performance is quite similar. The Canon 1D X mark II should be used with caution beyond ISO 6400 and produces a bit more colour noise than the 1D C.


Image is 1 stop underexposed, to see the difference

The image above is about 1 stop underexposed. Notice how the different ISOs give us more or less the same results. This might also be due to the picture profile I used. I used C log on the Canon 1D C, which Canon decided to leave out of the 1D X mark II. In order to get a good flat image for better colour grading, I installed the Technicolor Cinestyle on the 1DX.

Lowlight performance is very similar, but the 1D C seems to have a slight edge over the 1D X. In comparison, the Sony a7S II has better lowlight performance.

Image Quality


Here is a blown-up shot of a tube test chart, in which the fine lines get closer and closer together to show when aliasing kicks in. In other words, it serves to analyse the point where sensors can no longer resolve detail correctly on the vertical and horizontal axis. What we see is that the Canon 1DX mark II resolves similar fine detail as the Canon 1D C, possibly slightly better and is also very close to the Sony aS7 II. In terms of compression, the Canon cameras are much better than the Sony. The Sony a6300 would be more in line with Canon in terms of compression artefacts.

Unfortunately, the HD mode of the Canon 1D X mark II is really disappointing. Aliasing is strong and the image is very soft. It can hardly be considered an HD image and is barely suitable for an old tube television. The Canon 1D C, on the other hand had a S35 crop mode that delivered a very nice HD image.

There is not much more to be said: the image of the 1D X and 1D C look very much alike. But with a proper Cfast card, the Canon 1D X mark II supports up to 60p 4K video, which probably makes it the only usable DSLR capable of 4K video in 50p or 60p. Other cameras that support higher frame rates are the Sony FS7 or Blackmagic URSA Mini 4K. The 60p video of the 1D X has no quality loss over normal frame rates.

Rolling Shutter

The Canon 1D C suffered from a very severe rolling shutter effect (A phenomenon also referred to as “jello”). Fortunately, the Canon 1D X mark II performs better here. Twice as good, in fact, making the 1D X mark II’s 14ms of rolling shutter performance one of the best among 4K DSLRs, alongside the Panasonic GH4.

Spot the difference (1 of 1)

Canon 1D X Mark II vs. Canon 1D C: Conclusion

If you thought that the Canon 1D X mark II was Canon’s next big failure in terms of video, then you would be wrong. With a beautiful image, good quality codec, good lowlight performance and good rolling shutter performance, as well as 50p and 60p video modes in 4K and good autofocus, the 1D X mark II is surely a camera to consider for the video and film enthusiast.

However, if you thought the Canon 1D X mark II was the next step in video evolution after the Canon 1D C, then you’d be disappointed. It looks as though the video features of the 1D C have been carried over to the 1D X mark II, the valuable log gamma was left behind and HD mode is now useless (Why, Canon, why???). At the end of the day there is little difference between the two cameras.

In summary, the Canon 1D X mark II is a good video shooting camera and considering its current price tag of $6000, it is certainly more affordable than the 1D C priced at $8000. So if you want 60p video at 4K, or good rolling shutter performance with overall great image quality in an APS-C sensor (crop of the camera’s full-frame sensor), then this camera might be worth the money. Photographers who are also into video will certainly appreciate the Canon 1D X mark II.

However if you just want a great 4K camera, then those $6000 might be better spent elsewhere. Maybe on a more ergonomic, video oriented camera that also offers HD, or even the Sony a6300 (review here), which can get you to 4K wonderland for under $1000.

For more on the 1DX check out: Johnnie’s hands-on Canon 1DX 2 review

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Evan Shaw June 6, 2016

sheesh! its is a mystery to me why Canon did not go further. This is really hardly any improvement. And still 8 bit HDMI out and NO 4K HDMI out. With HD being so meh, this is really not acceptable in a flagship.

I think the DSLR combination photo video ability and the small form factor has great value still. As we see Sony realizing this with several improving products and even the FS5 showing us the smaller form factor that is wonderful.

Shame, its is a mystery. Pushes us to Sony for more and more both photography and video.

 Michael Royle Reply
Michael Royle June 7, 2016

The 1D X is really a stills camera – it’s not targeted at the video market and it’s a bloody phenomenal stills camera. This article is akin to testing the C300’s stills quality. That said, it’s strange that Canon seems to intentionally “cripple” their products by omitting features that people come to expect – especially when forking-out $7K. I have a 1st gen 1D X and it doesn’t even have a clean HDMI out – seriously Canon? If they’re going to add the hardware, why cripple it?

Evan Shaw June 7, 2016

Michael we know about its photography attributes. Actually we agree in the main here. Sony has a flagship stills camera that blows away this camera being as good if not better in both photo and video. Yes no dual pixel sensor but that said very good face detection. So as you say indeed they are either deliberately crippling or perhaps they don’t have the engineering anymore to compete. Beats me but I think they are blowing it.

 Michael Royle Reply
Michael Royle June 7, 2016

“Sony has a flagship stills camera that blows away this camera being as good if not better in both photo and video.”

I know SONY is really killing it with their cameras, but I’m not sure I’d put the A99V or A7 series cameras in the same league with the 1DX and/or Nikon D5. I’m sure the image quality is exceptional, but there’s more to it than that: ergonomics, speed, ISO sensitivity, AF ability, available lenses (without using adapters), weatherproofing etc. SONY is in an interesting position b/c they were late to the game. They have the resources, but they also seem to listen to what people want/need.

The 1DX isn’t a video camera – it just isn’t. It can shoot video, but so could my 2005 Motorola Razr. It’s designed for pros shooting stills in demanding conditions. Why do they add 4K video with so much potential and then cripple it? I can’t answer that, I suspect it’s b/c it might cannibalize their C300 mkII sales, but that’s 3x the price. I would never say “oh the 1DX doesn’t meet my 4K needs, guess I’ll buy a C300.” I’d probably buy a FS7. I could totally live with a stripped-down 1DX capable of 4K video. Focus assists, peaking etc can easily be added with aftermarket viewfinders or monitors. But, eliminating key features like 4K HDMI out and c-log leaves me confused. Canon is the biggest camera manufacturer on earth … they can make it happen, this was a conscious decision. They even omitted wireless connectivity – you have to add a giant, $700 wart of a thing to the side which affects the ergos. Even their entry-level cameras have wireless connectivity. I don’t understand these decisions.

As I mentioned before, my 1DX (first gen) has no audio out, no clean HDMI, and uses USB 2 – why? These are not complex things to engineer into a flagship body and people expect them to be there. It is however an incredible stills camera – utterly mind-blowing. I accepted it’s short-comings as a video camera and bought a C100 mk II. Maybe this is exactly what Canon wanted. In the 4K arena a Canon user is stuck – throw down $20K for a C300 or jump ship.

BOUNCE June 7, 2016

I have both the A7Rii and the 1DX Mkii, and I can tell you the Sony does not come close to the Canon. Not in stills and definitely not in video. Rent both, and give them a try, you will instantly understand. The Canon is a professional product, while the Sony is Prosumer/Consumer grade. Not in the same league at all.

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber June 7, 2016

Could you elaborate on that? do you mean the way it feels.
I know someone who switched from the C to the a7sii. At the end the ergonomics and quality is what counts.

Nick WB June 7, 2016

“Could you elaborate on that? do you mean the way it feels. I know someone who switched from the C to the a7sii”

Sebastian, I still use my 1Dc on a daily basis for stills and sometimes film (I normally use a Sony F5). Quite unbeatable and incredibly robust.

I rented a Sony A7SII with the intention of buying + an A7RII, but as Bounce says, these are prosumer toys. They are capable of making great images and film too, but the ergonomics are terrible, menus look they have been designed by kindergarten kids and battery life is appalling. Where are the easy access controls, the weather proofing, and reliability (think over-heating issues). I would not trust my professional rep with a Sony DSLR right now – perhaps in a couple more generations?

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber June 8, 2016

I understand. Yes those are definitely the weak points of the a7 cameras. Canon is better at that and lets you work faster. There are pros and cons for each camera, but at the end of the day the a7 cameras let you get good results where the Canon’s can’t keep up. For most this end result is more important than the troubles on the way.

Luke Wen June 7, 2016

The testing methodology regarding DR seems to be flawed, two cameras have different exposure (f5,6 vs f11). I know C-Log appears to be darker but it’s just that it maps midtones lower and should be brought back in grading. Also, C-Log base ISO of 400 was not used which was bizarre.

Did you use IMATEST to judge noise level/SNR in the shadow stops? In other test, 1DX II showed slightly more noise in the shadow than 1D C.

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber June 7, 2016

Hi Luke,

The image is exposed so that the left white squares are overexposed in exactly the same way on all cameras. If we were to shoot both cameras at F5.6, one of them would be overexposed. It’s as simple as that. Cameras and camera sensors react differently to light, however the testing methods are always standardized and the process is repeated for each ISO speed.
Furthermore we always use the highest possible ISO speed and on the 1DC the results were identical throughout the lower speeds. So while ISO 400 may be the “base ISO” in theory, in practice the camera is doing fine at 800 as well.
Yes, we use Imatest.

Dave Roberts June 7, 2016

Canon truly boggles my mind. This camera includes great video features absent from their best cinema camera (touch-screen autofocus and 4K 60p) but is crippled and has actually regressed in every other way: horrible HD, no log mode, no zebra/peaking, etc. Why even include the 4K/autofocus?

This was going to be my next camera but now I will be looking elsewhere, and it won’t be at the $16k C300 Mark II that they were apparently “protecting”. Such a bogus strategy…at least for where I’m coming from.

Sven Henig Reply
Sven Henig June 7, 2016

For me a totally sensless test – I do not even think of Canon becoming my next camera ;-)

Undi Lizer Reply
Undi Lizer June 7, 2016

For me a totally senseless comment.

Sven Henig Reply
Sven Henig June 7, 2016

THX – love those strong Canon Fans ;-)

Oman Mirzaie Reply
Oman Mirzaie June 7, 2016

pro cameras like this should be priced just above cameras like the canon 5d, not several thousand dollars higher! If it was more competitvely priced, l don’t see why it would make good a pro stills & video camera good for 99% of the applications out there?

Oman Mirzaie Reply
Oman Mirzaie June 7, 2016

for me l have tried them all, but still waiting for Fujifilm to get there video right, before fully committing to their system! They have superb lenses, great aps-c camera system, focusing, huge EVF, real camera feel & incredible color science, as they should, they made film for several decades & still make professional lenses for broadcast cameras and such! My Xt1 is the most fluid & enjoyable digital camera l have used to date, looking forward to the 4k video on the upcoming xt2!

Oscar M Reply
Oscar M June 7, 2016

The Canon mystery continues.
Instead of giving old bodies new letters they should consider changing
some of these instead.

David Wilson June 7, 2016

Canon appear to acting like Lotus 123. When Windows came out they had about 98% of the Spreadsheet market, they ignored Windows for a few years and a new product called Excel. Clearly a mistake and one Canon should learn from with Sony clearly setting the pace.

Javier Lopez June 7, 2016

Hey, just as an idea, I think that it could be helpful if you create a chart of cameras/test section on your site where you can compare quickly the features and dynamic range offered by different cameras, all based on your test. Similar to what DxOMark does but with cinema cameras. I think that would be great and it could be also a new source of web traffic to your site IMHO. But again this is just a constructive idea :) Best!

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber June 7, 2016

Yes, thanks, this is an idea we’ve been playing with too, but it is all work and time. it is definitely on the roadmap.

Nicholas Lam June 7, 2016

I think we need to stop giving Canon the benefit of the doubt by saying they “cripple” their hardware.

“Cripple” implies they have the capability but chooses not to use it.

Instead we need to start to assume companies like Canon are 100% incapable of engineering such features.

So to re articulate the 1DX Mark II lacks industry standard HD and C-Log because the engineers at Canon were incapable of fitting these features into the hardware and software design.

We need to stop saving face for them and let them know that decisions like these will hurt the way we perceive their competencies.

 Michael Royle Reply
Michael Royle June 7, 2016

I highly doubt they’re incapable – unless you know something we don’t. They put these features in other products so it appears intentional to me. But like a lot of big companies they seem content to rest on their laurels so incremental upgrades are “fine”. SONY had to innovate to gain recognition in the prosumer arena. The 5D mk IV will be an interesting product – will they meet our expectations or will it succumb to the same oversights.

Nicholas Lam June 8, 2016

My point is we need to start reasoning the other way around and quite giving them the benefit of the doubt by saying they are crippling their hardware.

If Canon wants to play this game, we can too by defaulting our reasoning to them being incapable.

So headlines need to start to look like this: “1DX Mark II: Canon incapable of building upon the previous 1DC”.

This should bruise Canon’s ego enough to force them to finally give us a more well rounded camera.

 Doug Laurent Reply
Doug Laurent June 8, 2016

I own both the 1DC and 1DX2 since day one. The 1DC is clearly and surprisingly better in lowlight and ISO 12800 is acceptable. With the 1DX2 I would not go higher than 6400. Other than that, the image is identical.

Unlike what Canon says, the 1DX2 can record 4K 25fps with the old CF 1000x cards and doesnt need the ultra expensive CFAST cards. 4K 60fps is possible for app. 8 seconds with CF cards as well.

Old 1DC batteries can be used on the 1DX2, but the new 1DX2 batteries don’t work with the old 1DC charger!

4K 60fps and the video autofocus on the 1DX2 are excellent, but the CLOG they have removed intentionally to protect the cinema line is bad.

When compared to working with the A7R2 or A7S2, using the 1DC or 1DX2 is absolutely no fun because of missing EVF, tilt screen, focus peaking, crop modes, in body stabilization etc.

For me the 1DX2 will be the last camera with mirror I will have ever bought, and if Canon and Nikon don’t come up with serious mirrorless EF- and F-mount offerings, it’s unlikely I will buy new cameras by them.

The only reason to buy the 1DX2 was the 60fps in 4K already, as that’s something Sony doesn’t offer yet. If Sony comes out with an A9 at photokina that solves some of the missing DSLR advantages, Canon will have a serious problem.

David Wilson June 8, 2016

100% agree – Without an electronic viewfinder don’t even waste your time with an SLR video camera. The last Canon I bought was the 5D II, I currently own the amazing Sony A7R II. It’s no contest, and as you say, when Sony add 60p then it’s game over.

BOUNCE June 8, 2016

The Sony A7 series is let down by it’s motion cadence, which looks very video. Frame rate, shutter speed makes no difference either… it always looks video. The Canon has a much more filmic motion cadence. Also the Dual Pixel Auto Focus on the 1DX Mkii is the first auto-focus system I would actually use in a serious production. Additionally the A7 series cameras codec is not as robust as MJPEG. Yes the files are big, but they stand up pretty when color grading. More care must be taken with the Sony files, and that is part of the problem, as pleasing in camera colors are harder to obtain from the Sony. Whereas Canon in camera colors can be quite pleasing.

Lastly, I will stay that the colors you see in the view finder do not match the colors you see on the rear LCD on the Sony. So for color accuracy you need to use the view finder on the Sony. As for the Canon lacking an EVF… I did miss it at first, but I am now use to not having it. And honestly could care less that it is gone. If if really feel the need for an EVF, I can just add a LCD viewfinder.

David Wilson June 8, 2016

Well you are who Canon rely on. My money is on Sony.

Nick WB June 8, 2016

David, I think you make a mistake in your perception. When you have used a company’s products for number of years (25 for Canon / 10 for Sony), you get to know a little more about the organisations, their background and their decision making process. There are undoubtedly pros & cons to both products. Canon’s greatest strength is over-development, bullet-proof reliability and robustness, usually at the expense of ‘the latest fashion’. Sony make excellent cameras, but they are definitely at the ‘fashionable’ end of the market.

David Wilson June 8, 2016

I like Canon for Stills but Video is my first love and for that Sony are currently running ahead IMO. I always hope Canon will stop re-issuing the same camera ( almost ) with a different name on it and start providing leading edge products again. I have a lot of Canon lens and I would like to use them without adapters.

BOUNCE June 8, 2016

I have both the A7Rii and the 1DX Mkii. Just an honest opinion from my experience with both cameras.

Johnnie Behiri June 13, 2016

BOUNCE, thank you for your user opinion. Appreciated!


Heshan De Silva June 19, 2016

very useful article to, who are interesting with DSLR. Thanks a lot Mr.Sebastian Wober.
Best Regards,

 Daniel Waghorne Reply
Daniel Waghorne August 27, 2016

Just a thought, you can get a used 1Dc for under $4,000.00. I’ve seen some go for $3,500 on eBay. That’s pretty much a steal, especially now that it’s basically on par with the 1Dxii.

BOUNCE August 27, 2016

No DPAF… No 4K@60P… No 14FPS stills. No GPS… On par?

Ronen Doron August 30, 2016

So what do you buy if you have a $6K budget and want a camera that shoots both video & stills? We shoot 70% video and 30% stills, but want the cinema quality that DSLRs offers. Just sold 5D Mark III and trying the 1Dx II out, but this article doesn’t make me feel comfortable.

Nick November 16, 2016

Hi Ronen,

I understand your hesitation. I played around with this and the 1D-C for a while because I was very sceptical, and yes the lack of Cine Log and especially peaking is a drag.

As someone who has professionally used the 5Dmk3, C100 mk1 and 2, C300, A7S and occasionally the FS7, here’s why I was even interested to begin with: I’m “mostly” done shooting video on stills cameras. For serous work the smaller Sony’s really need an external recorder (which defeats the purpose of the small form factor) and the use of a lens adapter for Canon glass is annoying for stills. I agree with many users here that after switching back and forth I prefer Canon color and motion science. As much as I love sneaking in shots with the A7S, I find it a bit video-y, and underwhelming with artificial light. Having worked with film-stock before that, I find Sony’s super-crisp sharpness to be a bit off-putting.

Where Sony have crushed Canon is in the frame-rates and stabilization departments. No question there. But for me the other factors I mentioned take priority.

I think of the 1DX-mk2 as a modern little Bolex fused with a fantastic stills camera. The 4K is great, and the MJPEG codec, while requiring transcoding, can be pushed way further than H264. A lot of that underexposed area can be saved, getting you almost 3/4 way to Log by using curves if you’re careful. The data requirements are big, but the image is worth it, and that auto-focus system is every bit as cool as people would have you believe. I’m also a bit baffled by people calling the slow-motion video “garbage”.

Anyway, up to you, but using it in action and watching this is what made up my mind: