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Canon 1D X Mark II vs Nikon D5


The Canon EOS-1D X Mark II is an exceptionally strong, full-frame DSLR flagship camera that was introduced on the market in February 2016, and thanks to its enormously big capabilities and blazing-fast processing speeds, it received numerous positive critiques by the photographers which definitely has to mean something!

On the contrary, the Nikon D5 is also a full-frame, flagship DSLR camera that simply shines with its top-notch performance that allows the user to taste the beauties of shooting with a versatile camera and what’s also interesting is that it was released a month before the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, so, there isn’t a huge difference between both cameras which will surely make this overview be nothing but entertaining!

Which one wins the race? Well, keep reading until the end and after that, the end decision will be entirely up to you!

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Head To Head Comparison

Canon 1D X Mark II

The Canon EOS-1D X Mark II is a fairly big and heavy camera that measures 6.6 x 6.2 x 3.3″ (HWD), weighs around 3.4 pounds without a lens, but at the same time, this camera does really look stylish with its all-black aesthetics! What makes it be heavy and large is that its construction is made of a tough magnesium material which is then furtherly protected by a weather-sealing, which allows you to have an undistracted shooting experience under a variety of different weather conditions, because splashes and dust will never cause you a problem!

In addition, the controls are intuitively designed to provide you an opportunity to easily reach each of them and make numerous adjustments depending on your preferences.

The top plate, employs 3 dedicated buttons located on the left, a hot shoe that sits on the middle, and yet four more dedicated buttons that site above the information LCD screen, which are meant for setting the White Balance, EV Compensation level, ISO, and activating the backlight of the information screen. Above the dedicated buttons, you can also find an M-Fn button and a shutter release button that sits on the usual position – on the grip.

Before I start talking about the controls on the rear, I would like to inform you that the grip is nicely done, since it has a twin-grip design that consists of a vertical grip which is set to the body as an addition to the standard horizontal grip. Hence, your shooting experience is going to be comfortable and you can rely on the vertical or on the standard horizontal grip!

On the rear, although there are multiple controls and 2 screens, I kind of like the way Canon managed to organize all of them. For instance, on the top left there is a Menu and Info button, a viewfinder that sits on the middle, yet 4 more buttons that sit to the right of the viewfinder.

Below viewfinder, in-between the main LCD screen and the other, monochrome Information LCD, there are 4 dedicated buttons, while on the right-handed side, you can notice even more buttons that are spread all the way to the bottom.

Moving on, optical viewfinder is indeed big, has a pentaprism design, magnification ratio of 0.77x and 100% coverage which is awesome if you ask me, due to the fact that it covers a vast area and when we add the fact that it is also large, without thinking twice I can say that the convenience you’ll have while shooting through it is going to be definitely overwhelming!

The main, 3.2″ LCD screen has a 1,620k-dot resolution is very crisp and you can find this particularly useful for shooting and previewing your content even if you’re situated under a daylight, however, I really think that Canon could have made its touch support better because all you can only use it to set a focus point, nothing more.

In terms of the connections options, the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II packs a micro-USB 3.0 port, Ethernet port, microphone and headphone port, PC sync, an HDMI-mini port and has a built-in support for Wi-Fi and GPS!

Speaking of the performance, this model is armed with dual DIGIC 6+ image processors, has a tremendously good 61-point AF system with 41 cross-type points, burst shooting speed of up to 16 fps (in Live View mode), ISO range of 100-51,200 which is expandable down to 50 – 409600, and a 20.2MP full-frame image sensor that will promise you excellent results!

What makes this camera different from the others is the way it handles the occurrences of noise. To be more precise, JPGs look sharp and are filled with nearly excellent color accuracy up to ISO 25,600, but of course, if you opt to shoot through ISO 51,200 be prepared of the situation where the blur simply overtakes the image, and it reaches its peak at the highest ISO level. That’s why try to avoid it as much as possible.

In order to get the best possible results, I’d recommend you shoot in RAW format, because starting from ISO 6400 and all the way below ISO 102,400, images are usable, and filled with strong-defined details. Once again, avoid the ISO 102,400 because noise appears more than the details themselves.

To have the best experience with this camera, i would recommend you take a look at our guide of the best camera straps for heavy lenses, because this camera is very heavy and hard to carry around.

Aside from capturing photos, the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II captures 4K videos at 60 fps, Full HD videos at up to 120fps, and thanks to its Dual Pixel CMOS sensor, footages are more than breath-taking, and you can freely try yourself capturing videos even if you’re not a videographer!

Canon 1D X Mark II Sample Images:

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Nikon D5

The Nikon D5 is also a large DSLR camera, in fact, it belongs to the range of the largest DSLR cameras that you can encounter on the market. This unit measures 6.2 x 6.3 x 3.6″ (HWD), weighs approximately 3.1 pounds without a lens, and as was the case with its opponent, this one also employs an integrated vertical shooting grip which allows you to have a truly convenient shooting experience, and that makes it a great safari photography camera.

There’s one more similarity shared by this camera with the EOS-1D X Mark II, and that’s the black-finished aesthetics, and the presence of the weather-sealing that makes this camera strong enough to withstand a use in different environments under different weather-situations.

The material that Nikon used throughout the manufacturing process is a magnesium which is set in the chassis, and a textured rubber spread across the areas where you would usually position your hands in order to shoot.

Speaking of the control layout, on top-center, there’s a hot shoe, a Mode dial on the left with embedded labels such as BKT which stands for bracketing, Mode, and a Metering Pattern button, while on the right, you can find a dedicated Record button, ISO button, and a shutter release button with an On/Off switch located above the monochrome information LCD screen.

If you flip this unit over, the rear part is neatly-organized, because even though there are numerous controls, a viewfinder, main LCD screen yet one more information LCD screen, each button can be accessed directly without putting effort at all!

Namely, the whole left-handed side is spread with buttons, while on the right, there aren’t numerous buttons, Nikon played it simple.

Below the tertiary screen, there are 4 more dedicated buttons, and what’s also interesting is that even on the front, there are strategically positioned function buttons that will serve you as a quick point for switching between various autofocus modes.

Now, let’s briefly explain the capabilities of the viewfinder and the main LCD screen. Well, the viewfinder is bright and clear, has a magnification ratio of 0.72x covers up to 100% of the field, and as was the case with its opponent, the viewfinder has a pentaprism design as well. If you ask me, I think that you will like shooting through it because it sits nicely to your eye and it helps you easily lock onto a specific target.

The main LCD screen is large, measures 3.2″, packs a resolution of 2,359k-dots, and although it helps you have a clear view over the things you wish to shoot, it somehow fails with its touch sensitivity, because you will be unable to navigate between menus, and the only thing you could do would be to preview photos.

Furthermore, the D5 holds a good number of connection ports, including a micro USB 3.0 port, 3.5mm headphone and microphone jack, mini-HDMi port, Ethernet port, PC sync, remote control connector, and dual memory card slots that support dual XQD or CF slots depending on the version. This one has XQD support. Unfortunately, this model lacks Wi-Fi, and it is only Wi-Fi-enabled.

Performance-wise, the D5 incorporates an EXPEED 5 image processor, a 20.8MP FX-Format CMOS sensor, continuous shooting speed of 12fps, 153-point AF, and a native ISO range of 100-102,400 which is expandable to 50-3,280,000, this is insane, right!?

JPGs shot all the way up to ISO 12,800 look pleasing for the viewer, and until you reach this point, the presence of noise will be very well controlled. However, starting from ISO 25,600-51,200 blur starts to become heavily pronounced and beyond the expandable settings 204,800 and upwards, images are unusable, and I don’t really think that you will benefit a lot by shooting through these stages.

The results are kind of different with RAW images, due to the fact that even up to ISO 51,200, images are usable, and details are nicely preserved, if you opt to go beyond, the similar scenario will happen as the JPGs.

Finally, the D5 records 4K videos at 24/25/30fps, and both, 1080 /720p videos at 60 fps with a superb quality, that can grab the attention even of the most demanding photographers/videographers on the market! In fact, we ranked it as one of the best cameras for photojournalists in our roundup.

Nikon D5 Sample Images:

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Canon 1D X Mark II vs Nikon D5 Feature Comparison

  Canon 1D X Mark II Nikon D5
Camera Type DSLR DSLR
Megapixels 20.2 20.8
ISO Range 100-51,200;50-409600 1-256000
Flip-Out Screen No No
AF Points 61 AF Points 153 AF Points
Viewfinder Yes Yes
Touchscreen Yes Yes
Video Recording Yes Yes
Sensor Size Full-Frame Full-Frame

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Before we announce the winner after such an intense battle, we have to go through one more thing, and that’s the areas where one camera shows itself as better opposed to the other and vice versa.

For Portrait photography, the result is nearly identical, although the D5 may output a bit better performance because of its 21MP sensor opposed t0 the opponent’s 20MP, while for Street photography, the result remains the same as it was with the Portrait photography.

The results of Sprots photography are superb by both cameras, however, the EOS-1D X Mark II is slightly better with its faster fps speed, whereas, for Daily and Landscape photography, the EOS-1D X Mark II is yet again better.

The areas where D5 beats its opponent is at its 100% higher max ISO, because it has 92 more focus points ( 153 vs 61), 45% higher resolution screen (2,359k vs 1,620k), due to its lighter body, the stronger battery life ( ~3780 vs ~1210 shots), and also because of its higher color depth.

On the contrary, the EOS-1D X Mark II has a GPS, something that the D5 lacks, has a higher dynamic range, and it is by 2 fps faster than the D5.

Therefore, I’d go for the D5.

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