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Andrew Reid

Canon 1D X Mark II review part 1 - why superior colour means it's game over for my Sony A7S II

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I'd just like to add you don't have to be a gourmet chef to be a food critique or a pro athlete to commentate sports. I fully trust Andrews expertise in the subject.

Nevertheless this is his blog and these are just his subjective views.  Everybody is free to agree / disagree with him but I think that's what most people have always liked about this place. It feels genuine no matter how harsh the critique. Most other places always have this safe tone that feels somewhat "sponsored".

I think what caught a lot of people off-guard and perhaps even got some folks heated is the sudden "switch" back to Canon. It's true that up until recently Andrew had pretty harsh views on Canon and was kind of becoming a Sony guy.. which really only reflected what many videographers were feeling and shifting towards. But now with the 1DX2/5D4 Canon are back in the game and it is Sony who at the moment seems to be catching flack as they are taking baby steps in their mirrorless line-up and still need to address a number of issues (battery life, ergonomics, AF..).. so it's just the way the industry grows shifting back & forth.. 

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

Colour..

Ken Rockwell ...  Extract from his review of the Sony RX100 mk. V.
"The Sony's images are optimized for places and things; people pictures are OK but skin tones aren't as magnificent as they are on a DSLR or a Fuji".


Obviously no camera has everything ... so when choosing a camera/system a lot of things need to be weighed up, since your not going to get everything right, there's no such thing as a perfect camera/system, each individual needs to prioritise and focus on the attributes that are most important to him/her and select accordingly.  It can become a subjective thing really, not so cut and dried, also based on what they already have in their arsenal, to fit best.

Auto focus, colour science, 4K, data rate, codec, ergonomics, price, size, weight, run time, overheating or not, viewfinder, tilt screen, sensor size, ISO capabilities, existing lens, etc etc etc, all come into play when deciding.  Or .. maybe you just buy in the moment because you like the camera/lens!

It's an individual thing mostly, maybe less so for business people.

So why all the criticism?

Ok, so Andrew did have a few harsh words to say about Canon, agreed, and I believe they still stand.

If it's not purely a business buying decision then purchase what gives you enjoyment, buying purely on specs. is sometimes a mistake, some cameras are more than the sum of the individual parts, thats the one to go for, imho.

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2 hours ago, Andrew Reid said:

To those critics in this thread - that you see my opinions as unworthy because I'm not inside the film industry doesn't surprise me, because most of the same people just voted for a US president based on how rich he was. It's a bit of a sad situation in 2016 where such a consumerist mindset exists that only pros shooting paid gigs are considered experts. Time and time again in Berlin I have turned down paid work to focus on my own creative projects and self-employment. It's my choice. EOSHD has been a success. I could have been slaving away, climbing the ladder professionally shooting one advert after another and being bossed around by clueless clients. Again, I have chosen a different path. I'd much rather be doing my own thing day in day out. It doesn't take much to click through to Vimeo and see my last 5 years of cinematography and personal work. And even if that isn't to your taste, your taste is not the universal blueprint by which everything film-related is judged.

This article comes from the heart. Maybe I didn't get across the capabilities of the 1D X Mark II in one go, maybe I'm rusty. The footage isn't my best. It is 120fps with a heavily stylised grade shot handheld on holiday. It isn't meant to be Citizen Kane. It was just to show the 120fps. The way some people are going on about the image quality of that video as some way indicative of the overall quality from the 1D X Mark II is really stupid. The 4K looks very different. That is coming next in part 2. I also have shot with the X-T2 and G80. Great alternatives for less money. The 1D X Mark II was meant as a replacement for my 1D C and it succeeds in doing that. I paid £5k for the 1D C used back at the start of 2015 and even though it came out in 2012 the image is still better than the A7S II, Sony FS5, etc. No it is not a £500 camera. I never said it was good value for money in that respect. Pretty obvious really.

The skintones -

I think side by side with the Sony picture, the Canon one looks too extreme and you cannot really judge either image from the web or blog post page.

In isolation at full 20MP resolution on a large print or a large 4K monitor, the Canon looks more natural and true to nature, whereas the Sony looks dead. Also the Canon flatters skin, whereas the Sony exaggerates any imperfections even on a very good looking subject. See the following 2.8K JPEGs instead, full screen -

1DX_0571-Good.JPG

Sony-DSC03262-Good.JPG

 

Hey Andrew,

I agree with almost everything written in this article, however the examples I find a little strange. I believe this is a custom profile that you created for that canon but its so hard to compare when the black levels are sitting so high and the skin seems blown out (at least the red channel is incredibly close) I understand what you mean though that she was in the light of the setting sun so it should have that warmth, but I would guess 9/10 people would choose that sony image as the Canon looks a little early days instagram filter like.

Also quick note, I don't think it's fair to say the majority of American's voted for trump because of how rich he was. I'm sure he got some votes that way but  that is a painful oversimplification of what happened. 

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Why are people angry? I've always liked Canon (even versus the ancient 5d iii) better than those sony variants ;) 1DxII definitely ticks a lot of boxes, one of my friend is shooting with it and it makes considerably better videos/stills than sony/Panasonic models.

On ‎11‎/‎17‎/‎2016 at 8:12 AM, VanWeddings said:

While it's true the 1D X II is ahead in several areas, such as PDAF. By the time its successor comes out, which will be a few years, I have no doubt Sony and Panasonic would have matched or surpassed in these areas.

Depends. For me Sony hasn't even passed the 5dmarkIII yet. And that's a gazillion years old. They've passed it specs wise but ... not image quality wise. Gimme a 5d mark III and an a7sII and I'll get better results with the 5dmkIII - aslong as I have magic lantern and unless it's a very, very bright day, slog works wonders in keeping highlights.

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3 hours ago, Andrew Reid said:

To those critics in this thread - that you see my opinions as unworthy because I'm not inside the film industry doesn't surprise me, because most of the same people just voted for a US president based on how rich he was. It's a bit of a sad situation in 2016 where such a consumerist mindset exists that only pros shooting paid gigs are considered experts. Time and time again in Berlin I have turned down paid work to focus on my own creative projects and self-employment. It's my choice. EOSHD has been a success. I could have been slaving away, climbing the ladder professionally shooting one advert after another and being bossed around by clueless clients. Again, I have chosen a different path. I'd much rather be doing my own thing day in day out. It doesn't take much to click through to Vimeo and see my last 5 years of cinematography and personal work. And even if that isn't to your taste, your taste is not the universal blueprint by which everything film-related is judged.

This article comes from the heart. Maybe I didn't get across the capabilities of the 1D X Mark II in one go, maybe I'm rusty. The footage isn't my best. It is 120fps with a heavily stylised grade shot handheld on holiday. It isn't meant to be Citizen Kane. It was just to show the 120fps. The way some people are going on about the image quality of that video as some way indicative of the overall quality from the 1D X Mark II is really stupid. The 4K looks very different. That is coming next in part 2. I also have shot with the X-T2 and G80. Great alternatives for less money. The 1D X Mark II was meant as a replacement for my 1D C and it succeeds in doing that. I paid £5k for the 1D C used back at the start of 2015 and even though it came out in 2012 the image is still better than the A7S II, Sony FS5, etc. No it is not a £500 camera. I never said it was good value for money in that respect. Pretty obvious really.

The skintones -

I think side by side with the Sony picture, the Canon one looks too extreme and you cannot really judge either image from the web or blog post page.

In isolation at full 20MP resolution on a large print or a large 4K monitor, the Canon looks more natural and true to nature, whereas the Sony looks dead. Also the Canon flatters skin, whereas the Sony exaggerates any imperfections even on a very good looking subject. See the following 2.8K JPEGs instead, full screen -

 

 
 
 
6

I think you've got it half right.

When it comes to judging different cameras usability, functions and image quality... I'd definitely go by your word above many professionals as at the end of the day you've tested and experimented with more cameras than the majority of Pros could ever wish to. You've put your thousand hours in to be called an expert ...no doubt.

Regarding Canon having better color science - pretty much everyone would agree with this. The 1D seems to have been a major leap in the right direction, and if you say its a better camera I'm happy having you do the research for us... as you've done with so many cameras. At the end of the day, I'd always look at your opinion first before making a new purchase.

Yes, criticism of the attached video may be premature. If its not representative of the 1D in all its glory, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. Yes, you've made a great career for yourself on EOSHD and as a cinematographer. You're a Pro. You don't need "paid clients" to be a Pro... being a Pro is about making the field of expertise your profession. So I wouldn't dispute your credibility on that front.

Now heres where I disagree. The "consumerist mindset" you ironically criticize, is really defined by this site. Best you claim it and own it. You have owned, bought and sold cameras and lenses to the value of thousands and thousands of pounds. More than 90% of posters here would ever dream to. That's a huge luxury. The majority of people whether amateur or Pro cannot afford to swap systems so flippantly. As soon as a new flavor of the month camera arrives on the market, to pack up and sell all your Sony gear to go for the latest Canon models is out of question for many of us who are in fact satisified with our set ups. The post comes as a bit temperamental... especially after having criticized Canon and having sung praises to Sony for so long.  Maybe there's a little childlike envy that our neighbour received the latest, better remote control car for Christmas... while we're still playing with last years model. 

At the end of the day, it's your opinion. People can take it or leave it. But its the fact that your opinion IS in fact respected, that makes the flippant consumerist "selling all my brand X gear to buy brand Y gear" attitude so controversial. You're probably correct with your conclusions... but in the way you wrote the article, I don't see how you can be surprised in how a polarizing post as this one has had, well a polarizing effect.

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24 minutes ago, jessekorgemaa said:

Hey Andrew,

I agree with almost everything written in this article, however the examples I find a little strange. I believe this is a custom profile that you created for that canon but its so hard to compare when the black levels are sitting so high and the skin seems blown out (at least the red channel is incredibly close) I understand what you mean though that she was in the light of the setting sun so it should have that warmth, but I would guess 9/10 people would choose that sony image as the Canon looks a little early days instagram filter like.

Also quick note, I don't think it's fair to say the majority of American's voted for trump because of how rich he was. I'm sure he got some votes that way but  that is a painful oversimplification of what happened. 

I also preferred the picture taken with the Sony camera in that particular example. Sony seems to have a higher resolution and the red color in Canon is too strong (to my taste). Andrew's comment regarding the US election was unnecessary. By the way, the majority of people in the US voted for Clinton.

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34 minutes ago, jessekorgemaa said:

Also quick note, I don't think it's fair to say the majority of American's voted for trump because of how rich he was. I'm sure he got some votes that way but  that is a painful oversimplification of what happened. 

OK, people voted for him because they just LOVE racism.

Joking aside, I think our western society is verging on having a dangerous love affair with celebrity and consumerism.

That's why, when a well known blogger insults your favourite camera brand, people flip out.

People need to realise that it's ok to disagree.

I was watching the US election closely and know exactly what happened. Trump won due to a depressed voter turn out for Clinton and a wave of popular support in the rust belt states from mainly working class white voters who felt left behind and distrustful of the mainstream media to give them objective information. So they sourced their information from a Facebook echo chamber instead and from fake news articles, all the while believing Clinton was corrupt and Trump as a 'successful' businessman = the answer to the US's economic problems. If anything it is they who are painfully oversimplifying the world and politics, not me. And it is the same with cameras. I can give you my opinions, and the facts, but people already have their own conspiracies of information from the pro-Sony or pro-Canon echo-chambers online, and it is becoming increasingly hard to put good information out there in the face of such indifference. Click-bate and heavily biased camera review sites would not exist if the audience wanted for better, or knew any differently, and it is the same with Trump.

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1 hour ago, Andrew Reid said:

OK, people voted for him because they just LOVE racism.

Joking aside, I think our western society is verging on having a dangerous love affair with celebrity and consumerism.

That's why, when a well known blogger insults your favourite camera brand, people flip out.

People need to realise that it's ok to disagree.

I was watching the US election closely and know exactly what happened. Trump won due to a depressed voter turn out for Clinton and a wave of popular support in the rust belt states from mainly working class white voters who felt left behind and distrustful of the mainstream media to give them objective information. So they sourced their information from a Facebook echo chamber instead and from fake news articles, all the while believing Clinton was corrupt and Trump as a 'successful' businessman = the answer to the US's economic problems. If anything it is they who are painfully oversimplifying the world and politics, not me. And it is the same with cameras. I can give you my opinions, and the facts, but people already have their own conspiracies of information from the pro-Sony or pro-Canon echo-chambers online, and it is becoming increasingly hard to put good information out there in the face of such indifference. Click-bate and heavily biased camera review sites would not exist if the audience wanted for better, or knew any differently, and it is the same with Trump.

To be honest, I love your reviews Andrew, even though you change your mind after a while like for example with the XC10, this new Canon camera looks really nice, and if i had the money I will certainly get one, for now, a XC15 is what I can afford, and I choose that over any other Sony new camera, color is very important to me and the dead skintones from Sony is unbearable.

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Glad you're back. I realized this the same day I got my A7s II, and sold it couple of months later after hardcore wrestling with the camera and it's image. And than that hyperproduction chinese style just confirmed my decision. Now I'm on C100 mark II and enjoying every shot with it...

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I think it's a little spurious to say the 1DX II is "game over" for the A7S II when the latter is half the price. A $3000 price difference is no small matter, and puts the Canon in a very different price bracket.

That said, it's a rock-solid and very powerful tool. Those with the budget for it would be hard-pressed to do worse. Then again, you could get an F3/Red One MX/C300/C100 II and a 1DC used for the same or less.

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7 hours ago, Andrew Reid said:

In isolation at full 20MP resolution on a large print or a large 4K monitor, the Canon looks more natural and true to nature, whereas the Sony looks dead. Also the Canon flatters skin, whereas the Sony exaggerates any imperfections even on a very good looking subject. See the following 2.8K JPEGs instead, full screen -

1DX_0571-Good.JPG

Sony-DSC03262-Good.JPG

This is a joke, right?
The Canon picture looks terrible. Blown out red channel, banding, no detail in dark areas, out of focus etc...

Looks like DR was crushed before pushing black into higher level.

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I agree  on the EOS 1DX mark II is a great camera and video capable ! but i seriously think canon should have followed with the Canon line EOS 1D C line mark II ? since they miss on that and instead they focused on C 300 for 14k and up that is not selling/renting well and getting creamed by the Sony fs7 for 8k that is selling/renting in much greater quantities . i think its a great miss and it hurts the market of the 5k dslr movie camera its still not to late?  the 5d mark4 is a flop as far as video. let see if canon will grow up and make their customer happy? or they are waiting to declined further more and wake up when its to late or 4k becomes an absolut! Red is now selling the 8k sensor ahead of the market its exactly what a healthy company should do .

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I am too enjoying the 1DX mark II with log profiles (including the EOSHD C-Log which I purchased). It has the best Canon sensor and the mjpeg codec at that bit rate is such high quality that I traded my Blackmagic for it. It is only eight bit but still about as good as Prores if bit depth is left out from consideration. I test drove Sony A7SII but starting from body, ergonomy and controls, Sony had no chance, wanted 1DX2 and as an engineer I suspected from the beginning that the 1DC vs 1DX2 fuss was just imaginary and 1DX2 isas good as1DC or better in video mode. We kept GH4 as secondary light camera but the quality from 1DX2 is so much higher in both video and stills that I don't use the GH4 very often and in fact might trade it for DJI Inspire 2 with Zenmuse X5S MFT-camera which seems to be a GH4 killer (5.2K CinemaDNG raw or Prores).

Sony shoud come with ten bit camera and it would be again at winner position.

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36 minutes ago, Matthew19 said:

We've been using the 1DXII for weddings for the past month. Skin tones on a bride are always important, and I think they are great with this body. I don't have any full films completed but here is one of our teasers : 



Matt // www.thefilmpoets.com

Looks great! I could see it being a fantastic wedding cam. What do you use for a stabilizer? 

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Andrew, thank you for explaining why we don't see any commercial work from you here. You don't need to justify your choices and this doesn't make your opinions any less interesting. I'm still a little confused as why anyone who doesn't have to would spend quite so much money on cameras, though. Outside of what I might need for jobs, what excites me most at the moment is what can be done using very simple equipment... My ambition is to own as little as possible.

As far as your test goes, it looks to me as if the portraits were made in direct, late in the day, autumn sunlight.  In my experience, this kind of light is treacherous : it's attractive to the eye but I've never managed to use it for a flattering picture of a human being. At the least, you would really need to put a big silk between the subject and the light source. Even then, colour correction is hard because the light is so very orange. Whatever camera is used, it would be difficult to make an attractive "normal" image in this situation.

When I test cameras, my first concern, before creating any "look" is whether I can get an image that reproduces the scene as I (or my client) have seen it. This is my starting point. I pay careful attention to not losing information in the shadows and highlights because clipping of either does not correspond to normal vision. Being able to film in lower light than I can actually see in doesn't interest me much in most cases ; below a certain level of illumination we just have to accept that we're in the dark. Often I find myself looking from the camera to the scene, asking myself "Does it really look like that?".

Similarly, I want a camera that lets me get my picture sharp before I worry about "filmic" shallow depth of field. 

Once I establish a "normal", baseline image, then I can think about tweaking it towards a particular effect.

This is why the images you posted to accompany your article made me react so strongly ;  because they weren't  the best to show the relative capabilities of the cameras concerned. As an example, wedding videos are generally not very interesting, but they can be informative in the sense that we have critical skin tones, important blacks and whites, low light, some action. You can learn a lot about how a camera behaves from watching them. Holiday movies, less so.

Finally, with a budget of 6000 €, I would think (more than) twice about buying just one camera (for my purposes). However good, one camera will only give you one point of view. I would rather have several cheaper cameras with, perhaps, a slightly less good image and have more angles to edit from that one single point of view. My Sonys are useful here because it's easy to match cheaper and more expensive models.

As to the projected life of the Canon, I suspect that within the next couple of years we're going to see more and more 4K delivery. This means that the possibility of reframing in post (my main use for 4K) will be reduced. Higher resolution cameras will be introduced and lower prices to compensate for this, limiting somewhat the resale value of 4K cameras. That's just my prediction.

But what's really got me thinking this week, far beyond high-end camera tests and choices, was being on a job with Canon and Sony shooters and also a young reporter from a French TV station that has equipped its journalists with iPhones   . His broadcast piece was maybe not "filmic" but he could work with a speed and discretion that no one else could match, Canon or Sony... 

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7 hours ago, dbp said:

Looks great! I could see it being a fantastic wedding cam. What do you use for a stabilizer? 

This was just a glidecam 4000hd. The touch screen on a glidecam is very freeing. You can tap lightly and not throw off the balance. 

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