Canon 1D Mark II vs Nikon D2Xs
The Canon EOS-1D Mark II and the Nikon D2Xs are two professional cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in January 2004 and June 2006. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-H (1D Mark II) and an APS-C (D2Xs) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 8.2 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 12.2 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS-1D Mark II and the Nikon D2Xs? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 1D Mark II and the Nikon D2Xs is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D2Xs is somewhat smaller (4 percent) than the Canon 1D Mark II. Moreover, the D2Xs is markedly lighter (18 percent) than the 1D Mark II. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (1D Mark II) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D2Xs).
Concerning battery life, the 1D Mark II gets 1200 shots out of its NP-E3 battery, while the D2Xs can take 3800 images on a single charge of its EN-EL4a power pack. As can be seen in the images above, both cameras have a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Canon 1D Mark II||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1535 g||1200||Y||Jan 2004||4,499||ebay.com|
|2.||Nikon D2Xs||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Jun 2006||4,699||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 5DS||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon 5DS R||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon 1D Mark IV||156 mm||157 mm||80 mm||1230 g||1500||Y||Oct 2009||4,999||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon 1D Mark III||156 mm||157 mm||80 mm||1155 g||2200||Y||Feb 2007||4,499||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||150 mm||160 mm||80 mm||1385 g||1800||Y||Aug 2007||7,999||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon 1D Mark II N||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1565 g||1200||Y||Aug 2005||3,999||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon 5D||152 mm||113 mm||75 mm||895 g||400||Y||Aug 2005||3,299||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1215 g||1200||Y||Sep 2004||7,999||ebay.com|
|11.||Canon 1Ds||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1265 g||600||Y||Sep 2002||8,999||ebay.com|
|12.||Canon 1D||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1585 g||500||Y||Sep 2001||6,499||ebay.com|
|13.||Nikon D3||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1300 g||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999||ebay.com|
|14.||Nikon D300||147 mm||114 mm||74 mm||925 g||1000||Y||Aug 2007||1,799||ebay.com|
|15.||Nikon D200||147 mm||113 mm||74 mm||920 g||400||Y||Nov 2005||1,699||ebay.com|
|16.||Nikon D2X||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Sep 2004||4,999||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 1D Mark II was somewhat cheaper (by 4 percent) than the D2Xs at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 1D Mark II features an APS-H sensor and the Nikon D2Xs an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D2Xs is 32 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.3 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the D2Xs offers a higher resolution of 12.2 megapixels, compared with 8.2 MP of the 1D Mark II. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 5.52μm versus 8.17μm for the 1D Mark II). However, it should be noted that the D2Xs is much more recent (by 2 years and 4 months) than the 1D Mark II, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D2Xs implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D2Xs for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 21.4 x 14.2 inches or 54.5 x 36.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 17.2 x 11.4 inches or 43.6 x 28.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 14.3 x 9.5 inches or 36.3 x 24.1 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 1D Mark II are 17.5 x 11.7 inches or 44.5 x 29.7 cm for good quality, 14 x 9.3 inches or 35.6 x 23.7 cm for very good quality, and 11.7 x 7.8 inches or 29.7 x 19.8 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS-1D Mark II has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 50-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D2Xs are ISO 100 to ISO 800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 800-3200.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under review, the 1D Mark II has a notably higher overall DXO score than the D2Xs (overall score 7 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.1 bits higher color depth, 0.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|1.||Canon 1D Mark II||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||none||22.3||11.1||1003||66|
|3.||Canon 5DS||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.7||12.4||2381||87|
|4.||Canon 5DS R||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.6||12.4||2308||86|
|5.||Canon 1D Mark IV||APS-H||16.0||4896||3264||1080/30p||22.8||12.0||1320||74|
|6.||Canon 1D Mark III||APS-H||10.1||3888||2592||none||22.7||11.7||1078||71|
|7.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||none||24.0||12.0||1663||80|
|8.||Canon 1D Mark II N||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||none||22.3||11.2||975||66|
|9.||Canon 5D||Full Frame||12.7||4368||2912||none||22.9||11.1||1368||71|
|10.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||Full Frame||16.6||4992||3328||none||23.3||11.3||1480||74|
|11.||Canon 1Ds||Full Frame||11.0||4064||2704||none||21.8||11.0||954||63|
|13.||Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 1D Mark II and the D2Xs are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the D2Xs has a higher magnification than the one of the 1D Mark II (0.57x vs 0.55x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 1D Mark II and Nikon D2Xs in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Canon 1D Mark II||optical||Y||2.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3/s||n||n|
|2.||Nikon D2Xs||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|3.||Canon 5DS||optical||Y||3.2 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|4.||Canon 5DS R||optical||Y||3.2 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|5.||Canon 1D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||n|
|6.||Canon 1D Mark III||optical||Y||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||n|
|7.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||optical||Y||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|8.||Canon 1D Mark II N||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.5/s||n||n|
|9.||Canon 5D||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0/s||n||n|
|10.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||optical||Y||2.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0/s||n||n|
|11.||Canon 1Ds||optical||Y||2.0 / 120||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0/s||n||n|
|12.||Canon 1D||optical||Y||2.0 / 120||fixed||n||1/16000s||8.0/s||n||n|
|13.||Nikon D3||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0/s||n||n|
|14.||Nikon D300||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|15.||Nikon D200||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|16.||Nikon D2X||optical||Y||2.5 / 235||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
The 1D Mark II writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SD cards, while the D2Xs uses Compact Flash cards. The 1D Mark II features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the D2Xs only has one slot.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS-1D Mark II and Nikon D2Xs and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon 1D Mark II||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|2.||Nikon D2Xs||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 5DS||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Canon 5DS R||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Canon 1D Mark IV||Y||stereo / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon 1D Mark III||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Y||mono / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon 1D Mark II N||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon 5D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Canon 1Ds||Y||- / -||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
|12.||Canon 1D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
|13.||Nikon D3||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Nikon D300||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Nikon D200||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Nikon D2X||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
Both the 1D Mark II and the D2Xs have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The 1D Mark II was replaced by the Canon 1D Mark II N, while the D2Xs was followed by the Nikon D3X. Further information on the features and operation of the 1D Mark II and D2Xs can be found, respectively, in the Canon 1D Mark II Manual (free pdf) or the online Nikon D2Xs Manual.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 1D Mark II or the Nikon D2Xs – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS-1D Mark II:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (7 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1 stops ISO advantage).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8.3 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in January 2004).
Advantages of the Nikon D2Xs:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (12.2 vs 8.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 22%.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.57x vs 0.55x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.5" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 283g or 18 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (3800 versus 1200) out of a single battery charge.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (2.0 vs 1.1).
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 4 months of technical progress since the 1D Mark II launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D2Xs emerges as the winner of the match-up (7 : 5 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 1D Mark II and the Nikon D2Xs place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 1D Mark II or the D2Xs. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Canon 1D Mark II||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Jan 2004||4,499||ebay.com|
|2.||Nikon D2Xs||..||..||..||..||..||..||Jun 2006||4,699||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 5DS||..||+||..||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon 5DS R||5/5||+||..||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon 1D Mark IV||5/5||..||..||89/100||..||..||Oct 2009||4,999||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon 1D Mark III||..||..||..||..||..||..||Feb 2007||4,499||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||..||..||..||+ +||4.5/5||..||Aug 2007||7,999||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon 1D Mark II N||..||..||..||..||..||..||Aug 2005||3,999||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon 5D||..||88/100||..||+ +||o||..||Aug 2005||3,299||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2004||7,999||ebay.com|
|11.||Canon 1Ds||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2002||8,999||ebay.com|
|12.||Canon 1D||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2001||6,499||ebay.com|
|13.||Nikon D3||..||..||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||4,999||ebay.com|
|14.||Nikon D300||..||+ +||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,799||ebay.com|
|15.||Nikon D200||..||+ +||..||+ +||o||..||Nov 2005||1,699||ebay.com|
|16.||Nikon D2X||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2004||4,999||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
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- Nikon D2Xs vs Panasonic LF1
- Nikon D2Xs vs Panasonic ZS100
Specifications: Canon 1D Mark II vs Nikon D2Xs
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon 1D Mark II||Nikon D2Xs|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2004||June 2006|
|Launch Price||USD 4,499||USD 4,699|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 1D Mark II||Nikon D2Xs|
|Sensor Format||APS-H Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||28.7 x 19.1 mm||23.7 x 15.7 mm|
|Sensor Area||548.17 mm2||372.09 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||34.5 mm||28.4 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||8.2 Megapixels||12.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3504 x 2336 pixels||4288 x 2848 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||8.17 μm||5.52 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.49 MP/cm2||3.28 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 3,200 ISO||800 - 3,200 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||66||59|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.3||22.2|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.1||10.9|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1003||489|
|Screen Specs||Canon 1D Mark II||Nikon D2Xs|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|Rear LCD Size||2.0inch||2.5inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 1D Mark II||Nikon D2Xs|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||8.3 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or SD cards||CF cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 1D Mark II||Nikon D2Xs|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 1.1||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 1D Mark II||Nikon D2Xs|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1200 shots per charge||3800 shots per charge|
156 x 158 x 80 mm
(6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1 in)
158 x 150 x 86 mm
(6.2 x 5.9 x 3.4 in)
|Camera Weight||1535 g (54.1 oz)||1252 g (44.2 oz)|
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