Pros: Rugged build, great handling, and high-speed continuous capture at 8.5fps. New larger screen and simplified image parameter control.
Cons: Pricey, and too few improvements put it head on with the higher-resolution Nikon D2X.
The EOS-1D Mark II N is the second upgrade to Canon’s action-orientated EOS-1D professional digital SLR. The first update saw Canon introduce an 8.2-megapixel CMOS sensor in a pro camera for the first time, replacing the 4.1-megapixel CCD of the original EOS-1D. Although the EOS-1D Mark II was highly regarded, it wasn’t a completely unqualified success.
Many photographers bemoaned the loss of the handy 1/500sec flash sync for balanced fill-flash in bright, high-contrast lighting. However, that and the loss of the top 1/16,000sec shutter-speed, was a consequence of the simpler CMOS sensor without a built-in electronic shutter.
Images straight out of the 1D Mark II model looked less saturated and softer than the original EOS-1D’s, although files were very clean at 800 ISO and above. With little time for post-capture sharpening let alone RAW-conversion, most of the targeted users would be shooting JPGs, so image quality was a little disappointing.
While less of an issue when using RAW capture, Canon’s update to the 1D Mark II has brought with it a simpler and more effective method of fine-tuning the cameras parameters on the fly. Now called Picture Styles, a set of six presets – standard, portrait, landscape, neutral, faithful, and monochrome – give the user an immediate interpretation of the settings for an optimized colour response. Each preset allows the user to fine-tune saturation, sharpness, and colour tone. You can download more presets from Canon’s Web site.
Images are acceptable to ISO 800, but above that saturation and colour tone suffer. Noise levels don’t look appreciably different to the Mark II. The camera supports both CompactFlash and SD cards, along with simultaneous JPG and RAW capture, but now each format can be written to separate cards, performing in-camera backup if necessary.
However, while the marginal updates are welcome, the 12.4-megapixel Nikon D2X offers a fantastic alternative for around the same price. If you’ve already invested in a Canon system, the Mark II N is a great choice, if not, the D2X is arguably the better camera.