AS A FILMMAKER, NO CAMERA HAS THRILLED ME MORE THAN THE CANON 1D X II. PERIOD.
The Canon 1D X II is a very expensive camera. But if you work as a full time filmmaker the cost can be quite worth it for many reasons. I have owned a Canon XH-A1, Canon 7D and a Canon C100, but the 1D X II image quality beats them all. So if you love Canon cameras, like I do, there is no more time to lose.
The main reasons for spending 55.000 kroner (about 6.000 dollars) on a camera is that I finally can shoot 4K up to 50p with a Canon camera. That gives me amazing slow motion, great resolution and extremely clean images when using a low ISO.
I recently shot a documentary for the Norwegian state channel NRK on my C100. That camera is awesome when recording externally to Prores 422. But with the Canon 1D X II I have a great recording codec without using an external recorder. And the image quality is even nicer. On top of that I can strip it down to a small camera body when traveling. Weather proofing for both splash and dust is a big plus too.
TESTING THE CAMERA
The first thing I did after receiving the camera was to go out and test it. I didn’t have any rig og support system at the time, so I just put it in my camera bag and headed out into the great Norwegian nature.
I dont have the steadiest of hands, and even with the image stabilization in the Canon 100mm 2.8 IS lens I struggled to keep it steady. Of course I didn’t notice this before I came back and looked at it in the editing suite. So after a lot of research I ended up using the built in stabilizer effect in Final Cut Pro X. Works great, but you have to push it to the max to get good results. On the top of this page is the video that I ended up with after the first day of testing.
4K IN SLOW MOTION
Of course I had to try out the 100p in HD for slow motion. The foot stepping into the water at 00:07 is filmed this way and upscaled to 4K. I think it worked great, but I wouldn’t film very complicated or long scenes this way. It is noticeable that it is lower resolution and quality than the full 4K.
The 50p in 4K though is amazing. The same quality as 25p in 4K, and it is just enough frames to give it a smooth cinematic look. This was used in the walking scenes at 00:14 and 01:16.
BUYING A CAGE
From my days using the Canon 7D as a videocamera I have learned that proper rig/support and audio solution is necessary. But I also learned that the most expensive rig is not always the best thing. I bought everything Zacuto the last time around, and even though their things are nice, they are expensive.
After a great deal of research I ended up with a ProMediaGear adjustable video cage. This is just about tall enough to fit the Canon 1D X II, but you will have to attach the side rail with only 1 screw instead of 2. Not ideal, but it seems solid enough.
GREAT AUDIO SOLUTION
The cage gives me a whole bunch of different mounting options for spare parts. The most important for me is a converter from XLR to mini jack so I can use a good shotgun mic.
For this I bought a Saramonic SmartRig+ and this audio solution is simply amazing. It gives crystal clear sound recorded directly into my Canon 1D X II, and in my brief tests it even beats my Zoom H4n and SoundDevices PIX220 (!!) for sound quality.
I was so happy with it that i made a video review of the Saramonic SmartRig+ that you can read by clicking here.
I guess its no surprise for anyone that I definitely recommend the Canon 1D X II, if you can afford it. If you dig Sony, Panasonic, Olympus or another brand, there are tons of great alternatives out there, but if you are like me, and love Canon cameras, then this is what you have been waiting for.
An alternative is the C300 II that has even greater image quality from what I have seen online. But that is nearly double the price and it doesn’t have 4K 50p. And also what I love is the ability to take the camera in a camera bag and shoot without having to carry a lot of gear. And when I need it, I just strap on whatever I need.
I also own the Canon C200. I will say that the 1D X II compares nicely against it, but the C200 has XLR-connections, built in ND filters and can record RAW. It all depends on what you need really.
I dont do reviews for a living, so I guess there are many things I haven’t mentioned. But drop me a question in the comments below, and I will do my best to answer. Hope this was useful to you! Marius.