Is the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II Still Worth Buying?

It's been more than three years since Canon first released their flagship camera the EOS-1D X Mark II. Since then, plenty of other cameras have been released, new flagship models from other manufacturers and even a whole new mount. Three years is a long tie in the world of technology so how does the current Canon flagship camera hold up to today's standards? 

With a price tag of $5,499.00, this is not a cheap, budget camera. I mean the 1D X Mark II is more expensive than some medium format cameras. Even a quick search on eBay shows how this camera seems to hold its value quite well; so what is it about this aging flagship model that still appeals to people? In a recent video by Eric Floberg, he talks about why he bought the 1D X Mark II. Personally I still think it's a brilliant camera that holds up incredibly well against all of the current cameras on the market. It's still the only camera on the market that offers 4k 60p with a 1.3x crop factor below $10,000. That extra sensor real estate is actually very useful and it means you can make better use of your full-frame lenses. I find it quite interesting that even after three years the 1D X Mark II is still the only camera that offers this feature from any photography specific camera. Although this camera wouldn't suit my needs, I still think it's one of the best cameras currently on the market.  

What are your thoughts on this camera, do you think it's still worth buying? 

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30 Comments

David Pavlich's picture

If it's in the budget and it suits the kind of shooting that you do, yes it is. It will last for a LONG time, it's built like an M1A2 Abrams, great in nasty weather, and works day in and day out.

Mentioning that it's more expensive than some medium format is true, but is a bit of a stretch. Would you shoot an NFL game with medium format camera? That blistering 3 fps would be great and how long before the buffer fills? Not many people buy this sort of camera for landscapes and portrait work. This is action capturing hardware.

Spy Black's picture

It's always been overpriced, but if it floats your boat, roll with it.

Usman Dawood's picture

I don't think it's always been overpriced. It's a little long in the tooth now but it's still one of the best cameras you can buy.

Spy Black's picture

"I don't think it's always been overpriced."

Well at least you have a sense of humor. :-)

"It's a little long in the tooth now but it's still one of the best cameras you can buy."

That's besides my point.

David Stephen Kalonick's picture

I wish Fstoppers would only allow comments from photographers that post photos and a website. These trolls that leave a comment acting as if they graced us with their supreme knowledge cracks me up.

Usman Dawood's picture

I think that could be detrimental to people just starting out and trying to learn about photography.

It's not overpriced if enough people are buying it. 1DX2 held its suggested price for years because plenty of people were buying it at that price. The 1Dc was launched at $12000, which quickly was adjusted to $8000. It never sold well and the inventory was eventually liquidated at around $4500 when the tech got less relevant. Now that was a camera that was always overpriced. The Sony a9 which launched at $4500 only held that price for a few months until it was adjusted to $3500 (it's the $1000 off sale that never ends). It's not the features that determine what is overpriced, it's whether the consumers are buying it.

Spy Black's picture

"It's not overpriced if enough people are buying it. "

If you want it, you buy it, and pay the price. The song remains the same however. If it's exactly what you need, then you get it. There simply won't be an extra round of drinks at the bar for you...

Usman Dawood's picture

Update: Wrote this article a little while ago, prior to Panasonic announcing the S1H.

thomas Palmer's picture

But 4K60P is on the S1 that is 2300 $ right ? And the Z cameras too with an atomos

Usman Dawood's picture

Ah yes, of course, you're right. I messed up on this one.

GLENN JOHNSON's picture

A friend of mine bought one on eBay for around $4,000. But he's a freelance photojournalist and was told by the agencies he works assignments for (AP etc.) that in order to get the sports assignments he wanted this was the equipment he had to be using.

The agencies, —or rather, the reps of the agencies,— are idiots. Yes, if I were shooting sports, I would probably get a camera that has more fps than my 8.3, but when Canon first released a “sports camera” back in the 1980s, it had a 5 fps rate, so I do not see the problem with a mere 8.3 fps.

On the other hand, I think my money is better spent with my 8.3 fps camera for US$1,000.00, plus about US$4,000.00 worth of lenses, than a 14 fps EOS-1D X mk II for US$5,500.00 plus about US$20,000.00 worth of lenses. It is not about the camera, but about the image. AP and other agencies will NOT discount an image just because the metadata does not say, “Canon” DSC. They will discount it because it was awful.

[EDIT prices]
Looked it up. The Canon three-lens kit I had in mind is actually US$27,100.00 (lenses only), so I up´ed the other lens kit to four lenses and US$6,500.00 (lenses only).
[/EDIT]

GLENN JOHNSON's picture

I agree with you completely. However, the point I was making about AP was that they were being dicks and insisting on the 1DX mk II in order to even get assignments. He already has the 300 2.8 and 400 2.8 (maybe the 600 2.8 but I don't remember) so it was a matter of buying the 1DXII body.

The agencies (Glenn was specifying AP) are just being practical. AP uses Canon gear, as well as Canon Professional Services and what the agency just wants is the flagship camera that can perform to the fullest potential in sports assignments.

3 years is not long, 5 years is the right cycle considering the dedicated camera market. 5 years cycle will bring real changes between each release and allow people slow down on camera purchase and focus on the skills, other accessories and of course shoot more.

Not all technologies require 3 years cycle.

Justin Punio's picture

I absolutely stand by mine, it's a tank, I can't be worrying about knocks, bumps, rain etc plus those colours...

I keep hearing people say that 18 months of no new camera is a long time in the camera industry. (Your article said, “technology,” but we are speaking strictly cameras, here). That is only true if your name is Canon.

Brands like Pentax tend to have only three models out at a time; novice, intermediate, & enthusiast. They rarely have five. Same is true for Olympus who, although currently has five models listed, three older models are on sale, as two have been replaced, and another is being replaced.

Even Minolta was the same way, with the α5x, α7x, & α9x lines for novice, intermediate and enthusiast, respectively.
Canon, on the other hand, hardly had fewer than nine concurrent offerings, with the number often closer to fourteen. With such a wide offering, camera refreshes happen quite regularly.

Case in point, going three or more years without a camera refresh is usual for Pentax. When the refresh comes, it usually hits the enthusiast level first, then the intermediate, and finally, the novice, (although Pentax has been known to do it Minolta style, releasing the new intermediate, followed by the new enthusiast, then the new novice).

But this long refresh cycle is also true for Canon, when it is broken down. When one examines the EOS 5D line, ones sees:

Mark I → 2005-08
Mark II → 2008-09 (3 years)
Mark III → 2012-03 (3½ years)
Mark IV → 2016-08 (4½ years)
Successor → only 2¾ years so far

The EOS-1Dx line is only slightly different:
1Ds Mark I → 2002-09
1Ds Mark II → 2004-11 (2 years)
1Ds Mark III → 2007-11 (1¼ years)
1D X Mark I → 2012-03 (4¼ years)
1D X Mark II → 2016-04 (4 years)
Successor → only 3 years so far.

This whole idea that Camera manufacturers take too long to release a new camera is nothing more than perception, than facts. When one looks at Pentax, this is what one sees:

[CURRENT MODELS]
K-1 II → 2018-04
KP → 2017-02
K-70 → 2016-06 (3 cameras in 3 years)

[FLAGSHIP MODELS]
K-7 → 2009-07
K-5 → 2010-10 (1¼ years)
K-5 II/IIs → 2012-10 (2 years)
K-3 → 2013-10 (1 years, 3 years since the last full model)
K-3 II → 2015-05 (1½ years)
K-1 → 2016-04 (<1 years, 2½ years since the last full model) [First F-type camera]
K-1 II → 2018-04 (2 years)
Successor → only 1 year so far, only 3 years since the last full model.

Although it has been three years since the K-1, it has only been one year since the K-1 II, so there is no panic needed. Additionally, the K-3 II successor, the new flagship APS-C, is rumoured to be coming in Q1 of 2020, (4½ years).

People expecting a new flagship model by tomorrow is an unreasonable expectation, for any of the Fab Five, (or six, with Fujifilm), and the industry track record is a three to four year cycle, give or take.

Usman Dawood's picture

Technology is assumed to be dated relative to the market not based on what happened previously. The gaps between releases were greater 20 years ago for all technology not just cameras. That doesn’t mean that things don’t speed up or become dated quicker now.

If people think that Canon and Pentax are slow then that’s a problem for a canon and Pentax. Market perception accounts for all value in all industries.

Sony Fujifilm and Panasonic are being quick to release new and exciting products, Canon needs to be quicker or they will fall behind.

Technology in general, particularly computers, has always been on about a two year cycle. Corporate America, (actually worldwide), tend to replace ⅓ of their computers every year, so no one has a computer older than three years, so as to keep their hardware compatible with their OS/application software. It has not sped-up nor slowed down since the first PC became a commercial offering.

The same is mostly true for home PCs also. As for Canon & Pentax, they are simply cases in point. The same is true for all the camera makers. I simply did not have time to do it for them all. If you like, do it for the Nikon flagship, (the exception of the rule, with often, only a 2 year timeline for its Dx flagship, but has not had a release since 2016-01), or the Olympus flagship, or the Sony flagship, (the α9x series, last updated 2017-05). It is pretty much the same.

The reason why the perception is that technology is «dated relative to the market,» is because, as hardware improves, OSes improve to take full advantage of it, then old applications can no longer run adequately on it, or are improved to take full advantage. It is not because the hardware necessarily dies, or is of no use anymore.

Likewise, the EOS-1D X II is still a useful DSC, and no great advances have occurred in the field of still sports photography which require still sports photographers to upgrade. Likewise for portrait, abstract, wedding, flora, fauna, landscape, product, fashion, architectural, travel, street, or journalistic photography.

Indeed, no great advances for Digital Cinema Cameras, either. Sure, the 8k and 16k standards have been established, but no HES, and only a handful of cinemas, are equipped for anything above 4k, (and those cameras are way above the US$25,000.00 line, and are rented when needed).

Photography is NOT driven by advancements in technology, but computers, OSes, and applications are so driven. Technological advancements force the tech world to NEED to upgrade, (including advancements in black hat hacking), but nothing actually forces photography gear to need to be upgraded.

That is the difference. Nothing forces camera manufacturers to HAVE to bring a new camera to the market, but computer makers, OS developers, and application publishers are forced to keep up with the CPU market, which still tends to follow Moore´s Law, improving about two-fold every 1½ years.

Usman Dawood's picture

Nothing forces camera manufacturers to have to bring a new camera to market except competitors, customer demand, new technologies, improving market position, the potential of increasing profitability. A bunch of reasons.

Computers were not one two year cycles when they were first released. This changed as things progressed and this is what we're seeing happen with cameras.

I disagree with almost all of your points but unfortunately, I don't have the time to continue this discussion.

«Nothing forces camera manufacturers to have to bring a new camera to market.»
If you had ended the sentence there, you would have been correct, regarding flagship products. The next three things you mention does not force anything, and the last two, as the DSC industry has proven, can be easily done without introducing a new flagship product.

Usman Dawood's picture

So why do camera manufacturers release new flagships? the original 1DX was a perfectly brilliant camera.

Keep it short, please.

Irrelevant. Why?

Because my argument was not that they do not have reasons to release a new flagship. It is that they are not being forced to release a new flagship.

They release a new flagship to add features which they think are beneficial to their target market, (or markets, as the case may be).

[That is the brief. Here is the elaboration and elucidation.]

«Competitors, Customer Demand, New Technologies»
Customers rarely make demands of their suppliers, and, when they do, they rarely get a response. This is because the manufacturers are pursuing their forte.

To illustrate, When Pentax came out with PixelShift™, no one actually demanded it from them, but fine art, and landscape, photography are two of Pentax's forte, so Pentax delivered. Only three competitors, with similar forte, followed with similar technology. Canon and Nikon were not among them.

When Sony went mirrorless, (also not by consumer demand), only Olympus & Fujifilm followed. Canon, Nikon, and Pentax, (until quite recently, despite that mirrorless is contrary to Canon's forte), remained solidly in the OVF market, as OVF benefits their forte, (or at least, EVF does not grant benefit, and has some drawbacks). A Pentax rep has recently released a statement which suggests that Pentax will not be going down that road again, (although, I do expect another D-type, similar to the K-01, but this time done right, and with an EVF, by 2021). [That may be just me].

Same is true for IBIS. No one initially demanded it. It came through manufacturers trying to make a better product. When Pentax released it, the crowds were saying how bad it was and that in-lens stabilization was superior. Customers did not want it nor demanded it. …At first. Eventually, the constant reviews which made its advantages clear, eventually had all the YTers clattering, “When is Canon & Nikon going to get on-board?” Maybe when Nikon finally brought IBIS to the Z6/7 line, it may have been due to market pressure, but the reason it waited until its new mirrorless line, is something you brought to light; potential of decreasing profitability.

For Canon/Nikon to bring IBIS to their DSLR flagships, they would have had to engineer it in such a way that it did not conflict with their in-lens stabilization, but complemented it, and at a reasonable cost. It was easier for Olympus to go from in-body only, to in-body with supplemental in-lens stabilization for two reasons. First, the lenses of similar fields of view have smaller elements, easier to shift, with less energy. Second, since they are supplemental, they do not have to shift by much, (just faster).

Doing something similar with Cankon may actually mean a new line of IS/VC lens, just for the IBIS cameras. With the Z6/7 line, Nikon now has that, and will probably not be bringing IBIS to their F-type DSLR market.

We can discuss this case by case with every new innovation since 2010 in the DSC space, but it will all come down to the last paragraph in the brief. Take video features, as a case in point. Non-Pentax owners keep saying that Pentax is so behind, because they do not even have one camera which films 4k (outside of interval video). Pentaxians disregard that as a negative against their cameras, as does Ricoh, because Pentax makes DSC, (Digital Still Cameras), and not cine cameras. A DSC without 4k video is NOT lacking a needed DSC feature. It is not their forte, (despite rumours of 4k video in their upcoming K-3 II successor).

Usman Dawood's picture

Sorry man too long. I did ask you to keep it short.

I did. The first three paragraphs. Four sentences.

Daniel Dallacasa's picture

14 FPS and low noise for less than desired stadium lights! Value of that one photo you were able to shoot? Priceless!!

If you are invested in the canon ecosystem of lenses. And you need the features it offers than absolutely. For working professional camera and lenses are tools and we should buy and sell equipment as our needs change.

For what it's worth, I bought a really old 1Ds mk. II (different camera, I know) on a whim last year because the price seemed right. I figured if I didn't like it I could resell it for about the same money. It immediately became my go-to camera for both work and hobby photography. At my modest skill level, a new Rebel would probably take the same quality pictures for less money, but I really like the extra size and how the controls work versus Rebels and point-and-shoots I've used. It's easier to hold steady and it's hard to change a setting by accident. Accidental changes are a constant problem when I use point-and-shoots. It's also obviously built to last a very long time, which I like. Every lens I have personally tried, including much newer ones, much older ones and lenses not made by Canon, works as it should on my camera. I'm not even considering a newer camera at this point. If mine ever breaks or gets stolen I will probably buy another older "1D" camera of some sort. The only major downside is it's surprisingly heavy, especially when I put a heavy lens on it, which is about half the time for me. I've never used a 1dx mk II but I expect it will have similar qualities, except the sensor. If it works for you and the price is right, buy it. It's a camera you can keep a long time.

The 1D ii N was my first EOS 1D series camera. When I later bought a 1Ds ii I used it almost exclusively for several years. When it failed with electronic gremlins in 2018 I used a borrowed 6D for almost a year. But when that had to go back to its owner I started to use my old 1D ii N again. What a joy! The instant AF, fast frame rate and responsiveness make it a pleasure to use, more so than either the 6D or the 1Ds ii. The 1Ds ii is sluggish in comparison and the 6D's advantages of usable very high ISO and light weight do not make up for the much inferior AF and slower frame rate. The only thing I really miss from the 6D is its quiet shutter.

But I do not really miss being able to shoot at ISO 12800. The 1DiiN's usable 1000 ASA is still a luxury to someone that spent the 35 years from age 10 to age 45 using film. What is more I prefer the look of the 8.2 Mp images from the 1D ii N to the 20+ Mp images of the 6D. When you look at the figures it means that the 6D has 3 pixels linearly for every two in the1D ii N. You have to make HUGE enlargements to see any extra detail. And that is only if your technique is perfect. Move the 6D a fraction during exposure and it will capture no more true detail than the older camera.

And there are more advantages. I have the peace of mind that comes with twin storage cards, much better weather sealing and bulletproof build quality.

At the time of writing you can find a used 1D ii or 1D ii N for as little as $125 if you take your time and shop around. That is a fantastic bargain. They cost $4,000 when they were released.