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. 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 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. Lowlight 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. 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 reviewRead more
I would actually like to start my A7s article with writing about the Canon 1DC…Since it came out during March 2013, the Canon 1DC was my primary working tool be it for broadcast (when ever I could choose the equipment to work with), documentary, corporate, or any other narrative project. The combination of a clean full HD full frame video or 1.3 crop 4K internal recording plus what I consider to be “irresistible colour and general warmth” gave me the maximum flexibility to be creative and cater my customers with what needed best for the project. On the downside, the hefty price tag prevented it from becoming a popular camera and further more, it always felt to me like Canon was treating this camera like the “stepchild” of the “C” family, meaning, no real meaningful updates that could enhance and simplify shooting experience like “punch-in zoom” while recording, peaking, or good internal audio quality to name a few. Those shortcoming forced me to always work with an external monitor or EVF, external audio recorder, plus a rig when needed. Then came the Sony A7s. After purchasing that camera the first feeling I had was “liberation”…Now I could choose if I want to work with a rig or perhaps an external monitor/EVF, or “stay compact” and not defeat the purpose of its small size by using the build in excellent OLED EVF as my run&gun monitor. The key word was/is flexibility. Depending on the shooting scenario, I can now quickly adopt the camera to be “small” or “big”. Further more, Sony (unlike Canon) cleverly designed the camera to be part of a total solution for the documentary shooter. With the attached hot-shoe audio module XLR-K2M (or XLR-K1M if desired) or alternatively using Sony’s URXP03 (wireless solution) together with the SAMD-p3 adapter, one can now have high quality and up to 2 channel XLR audio solution connected directly to the camera. Additionally, Sony’s 28-135mm f4 stabilised ENG type motorised lens due to be release soon and will create a total working solution opposed to Canon ‘s “camera only” situation. Now regarding the above video. Together with Bethany Bell my BBC corespondent, we wanted to capture one of Vienna’s traditional art, the “Dudeln” (Vienna’s own indoor yodelling). Since I was visiting similar local places like this before, I knew that lighting will be challenging especially when I was required to minimise my disturbance to the restaurant guests and staff. For the task I opted for 3 800W redheads. Those allowed me to increase the restaurant’s light levels by pointing them indirectly to the white walls. Additionally, I could lit the dudler singer Agnes Palmisano from few meters away, again without disturbing her singing and her fellow guitar and accordion players. Next was sound. As I was alone without a soundman with Bethany in this assignment, it was rather challenging. Balancing alone and at times 2 audio channels (one of them with music) is not that easy…. For the opening sequence I’ve asked Agnes the singer to be aware of my queue signalling when Bethany is starting to talk and help me by lowering her voice to the point that Bethany’s voice is clear, then on my second queue, raise her voice again and continue singing. After 2-3 tries we were perfectly synced and able to execute a nice engaging opening scene. In order NOT to waste too much time and also keep simplicity, I’ve decided that the musicians won’t have their own microphone but rather be heard from Agnes’s one. A bit risky but here it worked perfectly!. My lens selection for that evening was all from Samyang. (14, 24, 35, 85mm). Those are modestly priced and perfect for lowlight situations work. When editing, I dropped the S-log 2 footage into Premiere CC 2014 (allows native XAVC-S editing) and after I was done, I’ve added 1 adjustment layer with “filmConvert” on it and chose the look I wanted. (Profile: Cine 1-Cinema, KD 5207 Vis3). On a second adjustment layer I’ve added 20% sharpness for enhancing the general look. Below you will find few “before” and “after” S-log shots: All in all, I had a very positive experience working with the A7s for broadcast. My next full length documentary feature is schedule for spring. I won’t hesitate using the camera again. The original BBC link to Bethany’s report can be found here. Many thanks to Bethany Bell and Agnes Palmisano Johnnie Behiri is a freelance documentary cameraman/editor/producer working mostly for the BBC and other respected broadcasters. He is also co-owner of cinema5d.comRead more
Shooting in 4K is just became popular then ever and certainly more affordable with the introduction of the Panasonic GH4. But how practical is it to shoot in a “real life production”? In episode number 6 of our successful “ON THE COUCH” series recorded at NAB and hosted by my friend and colleague Nino Leitner, Rodney Charters, ASC, is questioning the necessity of 4K filming in modern digital cinema and TV productions. I admire Rodney and find his thoughts very interesting and extremely helpful, but from my personal experience and after getting the chance to participate as a DOP in a low/no budget production, I came to the conclusion that shooting in 4K (regardless to your final full HD output be it TV or web) is a must. When the young and promising Austrian director Jan Woletz and his talented colleague Christof Dertschei (VFX effects specialist) asked me to join shooting the teaser for “Wienerland“, their up coming web series, we went into short discussion regarding the question, “which camera to use”?. As it was a no budget production, Jan was in favor of using his Canon C300 as our main camera, while I was suggesting shooting on my personal Canon 1DC. For many professionals using a 4K camera for a “web production” might look as an extremely “over kill” decision, nevertheless, my arguments for using the Canon 1DC were very clear: -We had only 3 shooting days. In those packed days (or should I say nights), we had to film a great variety of perspectives. One of the ways to overcome the shortage of time and give my director freedom while editing (freedom in the sense of deciding on a certain perspective taken from the 4K frame and also be able to “travel” within the frame” was to shoot in 4K and edit on a 1080 timeline. -In this specific production we were under staffed and short in equipment. There was no doubt that only a camera which can produce a nice, clean looking image at high ISO values would be an option. The Canon 1DC was chosen as the best available option. Now, a short pause from the 4K talk and a little bit about the “Wienerland project”. Actually, I will let Jan and Christof describe it best in a short 3 minute video they made exactly for this purpose. Back to our discussion, unlike other “fashionable” filming trends, I’m sure 4K shooting is here to stay. It is up to us the users to make the most out of it and make it serve us best in our productions. As more companies like Panasonic, Blackmagic and Kinefinity to name a few are now offering affordable 4K recording, I am sure more companies will follow with modestly priced solutions too. And what about “Wienerland”, where does the project currently stand? As this is a “web based series”, the creators are looking for a large fan based audience which will follow and support them during the different stages of the production. A crowdfunding campaign is also planned. Cinema5D will continue to accompany the project and share when progress is made. See the list below to find out which equipment was used for this teaser. Lenses: Zeiss ZF 21mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm – modified by LOCKCIRCLE (PrimeCircle) Main grading was done in DaVinci Resolve (no film look plugins used). Pre-grading & matching (respectively most of the grading of the shootout) was done in After Effects with Colorista II. Photos by: Daniel Nuderscher I would like to thank the most amazing dedicated crew. Without them any of it wouldn’t have been possible. A special thanks to my “Swiss army knife” gaffer Uli Neuburg and electrician Elias Jerusalem. Please stay tuned to cinema5D as we will soon post another episode of “ON THE COUCH“, where Nino Leitner hosted a very engaging discussion with Jan Woletz, Christoph Dertschei and the Bui Brothers, talking about exactly that subject: Is it worth shooting in 4K or not? The episode will go live in the coming days. A full actors/crew list of “Wienerland” can be seen here Making of and behind the scene:Read more
Shape is a small canadian company who’s VDSLR accessories I tend to use often. Their products are high-quality, reliable, built well but tend to be a bit heavy. The Canon 1DC cage is no exception. It’s robust, has a lot of accessory attachment holes and I like the 360 degree push button adjustable top handle. Unfortunately I can’t sugar-coat everything about it. The biggest drawback of this cage? It’s a great one until you run out of battery, then you’ll face a problem. There is no way to replace the battery while the camera is attached to the cage. The only solution I found is to swivel the camera a bit to the left and then take it out, which then leads to the second obstacle: Swivelling will loosen the screw and the access to tighten it up again is almost impossible to obtain while being on the run. it’s a very lengthy, time-consuming process. Hopefully a future similar product will be improved. Music: The music bed, Beautiful Day – Instrumental by Joshua RadinRead more
Canon’s European pro video product specialist Paul Atkinson explains what “approved for broadcast by the EBU” means. The big news is, that 100% content can now be shot on the Canon 1DC and be approved for broadcast. (the approved method is 4K content on a full HD timeline). For those who are not familiar with the EBU (http://www3.ebu.ch/cms/en/home) here is a short description of what it is: The EBU is the world’s foremost alliance of public service media entities, comprising 74 Active Members in 56 countries and 35 Associate Members from a further 22 countries. Members of the EBU are radio and television companies, most of which are government-owned public service broadcasters or privately owned stations with public service missions. Now that the camera is being officially recognised as a valid production tool for television, I hope Canon will take the time and add some functionality into it like adding peaking and the possibility to magnify focus while recording.Read more
When asked to produce/shoot and edit the promotional video for the 14th international Beethoven competition which will take place during June 2013 in Vienna Austria, it was clear for me that I will deploy my Canon 1DC for it and shoot a 4k master. The process of pre-selecting candidates for this competition is a worldwide effort. Distinguish judges in different cities had to listen to hours of music played by different candidates. Since I am located in Vienna that’s where I joined them. Two filming days, that’s what I got and due to “movements restrictions” while the candidates were playing, I was literally “stuck” in one position during each composition and could only silently change lenses to achieve a shot.Read more
Recently, Canon announced the availability of the long-awaited 25p 4K firmware for its filmmaking-focused DSLR, the Canon 1DC (watch my Canon 1DC review video here and our comparison to the Sony F55 here). So far, the camera was only able to record 24p in 4K, basically making it irrelevant for any TV production in Europe and other PAL countries around the world (which rely on 25p/50i workflows and broadcasting). This makes the camera a whole lot more interesting to filmmakers and production companies in said countries. However, if you think you can download the firmware update and install it yourself, you are mistaken: Canon requires you to hand your 1DC over to a Canon-certified service center to perform the upgrade.Read more
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