Canon 1D X Mark II vs 5D Mark III
The Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III are two professional cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2016 and March 2012. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The 1DX Mark II has a resolution of 20 megapixels, whereas the 5D Mark III provides 22.1 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 X Mark II and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III? 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 X Mark II and the Canon 5D Mark III is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side 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 Canon 5D Mark III is considerably smaller (34 percent) than the Canon 1D X Mark II. Moreover, the 5D Mark III is substantially lighter (38 percent) than the 1DX 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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the 1DX Mark II gets 1210 shots out of its LP-E19 battery, while the 5D Mark III can take 950 images on a single charge of its LP-E6 power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the 1DX Mark II has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the 5D Mark III, Canon provides the BG-E11 vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay).
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Canon 1D X Mark II||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1530 g||1210||Y||Feb 2016||5,999|
|2.||Canon 5D Mark III||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||950 g||950||Y||Mar 2012||3,499|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark III||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1440 g||2850||Y||Jan 2020||6,499|
|4.||Canon 6D Mark II||144 mm||111 mm||75 mm||765 g||1200||Y||Jun 2017||1,999|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark IV||151 mm||116 mm||76 mm||890 g||900||Y||Aug 2016||3,499|
|6.||Canon 80D||139 mm||105 mm||79 mm||730 g||960||Y||Feb 2016||1,199|
|7.||Canon 5DS||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|8.||Canon 5DS R||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|9.||Canon 6D||145 mm||111 mm||71 mm||770 g||1090||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|10.||Canon 1D X||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1551 g||1120||Y||Oct 2011||6,799|
|11.||Canon 5D Mark II||152 mm||114 mm||75 mm||850 g||850||Y||Sep 2008||3,499|
|12.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||150 mm||160 mm||80 mm||1385 g||1800||Y||Aug 2007||7,999|
|13.||Nikon D5||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 5D Mark III was launched at a markedly lower price (by 42 percent) than the 1DX Mark II, which puts it into a different market segment. 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 size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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.
Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the 5D Mark III offers a higher resolution of 22.1 megapixels, compared with 20 MP of the 1DX Mark II. This megapixels advantage translates into a 5 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the 5D Mark III has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 6.25μm versus 6.57μm for the 1DX Mark II). Moreover, it should be noted, that the 1DX Mark II is much more recent (by 3 years and 11 months) than the 5D Mark III, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of individual pixels.
The resolution advantage of the Canon 5D Mark III implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 5D Mark III for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 28.8 x 19.2 inches or 73.2 x 48.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 23 x 15.4 inches or 58.5 x 39 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 19.2 x 12.8 inches or 48.8 x 32.5 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 1D X Mark II are 27.4 x 18.2 inches or 69.5 x 46.3 cm for good quality, 21.9 x 14.6 inches or 55.6 x 37.1 cm for very good quality, and 18.2 x 12.2 inches or 46.3 x 30.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The 1DX Mark II has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Canon EOS-1D X Mark II has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 51200, which can be extended to ISO 50-409600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon EOS 5D Mark III are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-102400.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 1DX Mark II has a notably higher overall DXO score than the 5D Mark III (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, 1.8 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.5 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.
| DXO |
|1.||Canon 1D X Mark II||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.1||13.5||3207||88|
|2.||Canon 5D Mark III||Full Frame||22.1||5760||3840||1080/30p||24.0||11.7||2293||81|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark III||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.2||14.5||3248||91|
|4.||Canon 6D Mark II||Full Frame||26.0||6240||4160||1080/60p||24.4||11.9||2862||85|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark IV||Full Frame||30.1||6720||4480||4K/30p||24.8||13.6||2995||91|
|7.||Canon 5DS||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.7||12.4||2381||87|
|8.||Canon 5DS R||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.6||12.4||2308||86|
|9.||Canon 6D||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||23.8||12.1||2340||82|
|10.||Canon 1D X||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||23.8||11.8||2786||82|
|11.||Canon 5D Mark II||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79|
|12.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||none||24.0||12.0||1663||80|
|13.||Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the 1DX Mark II provides a higher video resolution than the 5D Mark III. It can shoot video footage at 4K/60p, while the 5D Mark III is limited to 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 1DX Mark II and the 5D Mark III 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 1DX Mark II has a higher magnification than the one of the 5D Mark III (0.76x vs 0.71x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 1D X Mark II and Canon 5D Mark III along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Canon 1D X Mark II||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||16.0||n||n|
|2.||Canon 5D Mark III||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||n||n|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark III||optical||Y||3.2||2100||fixed||Y||1/8000s||20.0||n||n|
|4.||Canon 6D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.5||n||n|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||7.0||n||n|
|8.||Canon 5DS R||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|10.||Canon 1D X||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||14.0||n||n|
|11.||Canon 5D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.9||n||n|
|12.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The 1DX Mark II has a touchscreen, while the 5D Mark III has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.
The 1DX Mark II writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or CFast cards, while the 5D Mark III uses Compact Flash or SDXC cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.
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 X Mark II and Canon EOS 5D Mark III and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|1.||Canon 1D X Mark II||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Canon 5D Mark III||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark III||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|4.||Canon 6D Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark IV||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||-|
|8.||Canon 5DS R||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon 1D X||Y||mono||-||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Canon 5D Mark II||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Y||mono||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that the 1DX Mark II has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
Both the 1DX Mark II and the 5D Mark III have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 5D Mark III was replaced by the Canon 5D Mark IV, while the 1DX Mark II was followed by the Canon 1DX Mark III. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon website.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 1D X Mark II and the Canon 5D Mark III? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (7 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.8 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.5 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/60p vs 1080/30p).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.76x vs 0.71x).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1620k vs 1040k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (16 vs 6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1210 versus 950) on a single battery charge.
- Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 11 months of technical progress since the 5D Mark III launch.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (22.1 vs 20MP), which boosts linear resolution by 5%.
- More compact: Is smaller (152x116mm vs 158x168mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 580g or 38 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (42 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in March 2012).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 1DX Mark II is the clear winner of the match-up (14 : 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 X Mark II and the Canon 5D Mark III 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 incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 1DX Mark II or the 5D Mark III perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], 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 X Mark II||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||5,999|
|2.||Canon 5D Mark III||..||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2012||3,499|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark III||..||+ +||..||4.5/5||4/5||Jan 2020||6,499|
|4.||Canon 6D Mark II||4/5||+||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2017||1,999|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark IV||4.5/5||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||3,499|
|6.||Canon 80D||4/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||1,199|
|7.||Canon 5DS||..||+||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|8.||Canon 5DS R||5/5||+||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|9.||Canon 6D||5/5||+ +||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|10.||Canon 1D X||5/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2011||6,799|
|11.||Canon 5D Mark II||4/5||91/100||79/100||4/5||..||Sep 2008||3,499|
|12.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||..||..||+ +||4.5/5||..||Aug 2007||7,999|
|13.||Nikon D5||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
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. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Canon 1D X Mark II vs Canon 5D Mark III
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 X Mark II||Canon 5D Mark III|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Canon EF mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2016||March 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 5,999||USD 3,499|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 1D X Mark II||Canon 5D Mark III|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 24.0 mm||36.0 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||864 mm2||864 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.3 mm||43.3 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20 Megapixels||22.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5472 x 3648 pixels||5760 x 3840 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.57 μm||6.25 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.31 MP/cm2||2.56 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/60p Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 51,200 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 409,600 ISO||50 - 102,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 6+ (Dual)||DIGIC 5+|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||88||81|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.1||24.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.5||11.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||3207||2293|
|Screen Specs||Canon 1D X Mark II||Canon 5D Mark III|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||1620k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 1D X Mark II||Canon 5D Mark III|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||16 shutter flaps/s||6 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||500 000 actuations||150 000 actuations|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or CFAST cards||CF or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 1D X Mark II||Canon 5D Mark III|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 3.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Geotagging||GPS built-in||no internal GPS|
|Body Specs||Canon 1D X Mark II||Canon 5D Mark III|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1210 shots per charge||950 shots per charge|
158 x 168 x 83 mm
(6.2 x 6.6 x 3.3 in)
152 x 116 x 76 mm
(6.0 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||1530 g (54.0 oz)||950 g (33.5 oz)|
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