Canon EOS-1D Mark II N Review

Canon EOS-1D Mark II N
Note: The Canon EOS-1D Mark II N has been replaced by the Canon EOS-1D Mark III.
In-Depth Review

After great debate, I have decided to not write a hands-on 1D IIN review. It is just me here and I have to prioritize what I am working on. Apparently some of the other camera review sites have come to the same decision.

There are just not enough enhancements in the 1D IIN over the Canon EOS-1D Mark II that I used as my primary body for many months to justify the time and cost to create a hands-on "N" review. I will however give you with my thoughts on this is excellent 1-Series body as it has a strong niche in Canon's DSLR lineup and consequently, this site's Canon Digital SLR guide. What I write is based on experience with the very similar 1D II, using the identical new features on other Canon Digital SLRs, and my at-least-average ability to visualize other simple improvements (such as buffer depth).

Are you photographing sports or other fast-moving action? There is probably no better camera available for this purpose. With an excellent 45-point, high sensitivity autofocus system paired to a rugged, weather-sealed body capable of firing 8.5 very high quality frames per second into a deep buffer, the 1D IIN is ideally suited to capture every moment of fast action.

The biggest improvement over the 1D II is, in my opinion, the 2.5" LCD. I have used the same 2.5" LCD on the Canon EOS 5D and now the Canon EOS 30D. And I like it. It is not perfect - I would like to have better visibility in bright daylight without adjusting the brightness (a menu option), but I consider the LCD a nice improvement.

The 1D IIN features a new "Magnified View From Any AF Point" option that sounds very useful for checking sharpness. Instead of zooming in (during review) and scrolling to the AF point used, you can now zoom in at the AF point used. Magnified view is now available during quick review as well.

The frame buffer can never be too large. I'll take any improvement offered to me in this area - especially when the frames go by at 8.5 per second. However, going from 20 to 22 frames will probably not make much difference to most photographers.

ModelFPSMax JPGMax RAWShutter LagVF Blackout
Canon EOS Rebel SL1 / 100D4.028/11407/875ms 
Canon EOS Rebel T5i / 700D5.022/306/675ms 
Canon EOS Rebel T4i / 650D5.030675ms 
Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D3.734690ms130ms
Canon EOS Rebel T2i / 550D3.734690ms130ms
Canon EOS Rebel T1i / 500D3.4170990ms130ms
Canon EOS Rebel T5 / 1200D3.0696  
Canon EOS Rebel T3 / 1100D3 / 28305110ms150ms
Canon EOS 70D7.040/6515/1665ms97ms
Canon EOS 60D5.3581659ms100ms
Canon EOS 50D6.3901659ms100ms
Canon EOS 40D6.5751759ms100ms
Canon EOS 30D5.0301165ms110ms
Canon EOS 20D5.023665ms115ms
Canon EOS 7D8.0110/13023/2559ms100ms
Canon EOS 6D4.573/125014/17<60ms 
Canon EOS 5D Mark III6.065/16k13/1859ms125ms
Canon EOS 5D Mark II3.978/31013/1473ms145ms
Canon EOS 5D3.0601775ms145ms
Canon EOS-1D X12/141803836-55ms60ms
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV10.01212840-55ms80ms
Canon EOS-1D Mark III10.01103040-55ms80ms
Canon EOS-1D Mark II N8.5482240-55ms87ms
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III5.0561240-55ms80ms
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II4.0321140-55ms87ms

The 1D IIN now allows "split recording". The camera can save the RAW file to one memory card (typically the CompactFlash card as CF generally has higher capacity per $ and overall at this time) and the JPEG to the other (typically the SD card). Retained is the ability to save the same image simultaneously to both cards (great for backup purposes) or to save images to one card until it is full and then continue saving on the other card..

Another recording enhancement on the 1D IIN is the automatic folder creation ability. When image 9999 was reached on the 1D Mark II, user intervention was required to create a new folder on the memory card. No user intervention is required when surpassing folder shot capacities on the 1DIIN.

The 1D IIN incorporates Canon's Picture Style controls - just like Canon's other recently-released DSLRs. I personally don't find the Picture Styles very useful, but they don't get in my way. I select Neutral and adjust my settings during post-processing. Everyone is different - and apparently many like this simple-to-use feature (or at least Canon thinks so). Users intending to do no post-processing may want to select the "Standard" style. What I do like is that Canon is standardizing the imaging parameters across its DSLR line.

The 1D IIN displays the ISO setting in the viewfinder during ISO adjustment. The photographer can now keep his/her eye in the viewfinder while making this change.

Burst frame rates on the 1D IIN can be adjusted from 1 to 8.5 fps. A custom function is utilized to select these rates. Did I mention that 8.5 frames per second is fast? Listen to the 1D Mark II ...

Canon EOS-1D Mark II 8.5 FPS Burst
Canon EOS-1D Mark II Single Shots

The 8.5 fps frame rate is the feature I would like to see added to my Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II more than any other. This rate is still the fastest for a Digital SLR.

While the 1D IIN improvements over the 1DII are nice, I don't expect many photographers will justify the cost to upgrade from their 1DII.

The 1D IIN retains the 1D Mark II's 1.3x Field of View Crop Factor (FOVCF) 8.2 MP sensor and DIGIC II image processor. The following table illustrates sensor and viewfinder differences across the recent Canon Digital SLR models.

ModelFOVCFSensorPixel SizePixels/MegapixelsViewfinderDLA*
Canon EOS M1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.3µm5184 x 345618.0  f/6.8
Canon EOS Rebel SL1 / 100D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.3µm5184 x 345618.0 .87x95%f/6.8
Canon EOS Rebel T5i / 700D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.3µm5184 x 345618.0 .85x95%f/6.8
Canon EOS Rebel T4i / 650D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.3µm5184 x 345618.0 .85x95%f/6.8
Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.3µm5184 x 345618.0 .85x95%f/6.8
Canon EOS Rebel T2i / 550D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.3µm5184 x 345618.0 .87x95%f/6.8
Canon EOS Rebel T1i / 500D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.7µm4752 x 316815.1 .87x95%f/7.5
Canon EOS Rebel T5 / 1200D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.3µm5184 x 345618.0 .80x95%f/6.8
Canon EOS Rebel T3 / 1100D1.6x22.2 x 14.7mm5.2µm4272 x 284812.0 .80x95%f/8.3
Canon EOS 70D1.6x22.5 x 15.0mm4.1µm5472 x 364820.2 .95x98%f/6.6
Canon EOS 60D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.3µm5184 x 345618.0 .95x96%f/6.9
Canon EOS 50D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.7µm4752 x 316815.1 .95x95%f/7.5
Canon EOS 40D1.6x22.2 x 14.8mm5.7µm3888 x 259210.1 .95x95%f/9.1
Canon EOS 30D1.6x22.5 x 15.0mm6.4µm3504 x 23368.2 .90x95%f/10.2
Canon EOS 20D1.6x22.5 x 15.0mm6.4µm3504 x 23368.2 .90x95%f/10.2
Canon EOS 10D1.6x22.7 x 15.1mm7.4µm3088 x 20566.3 .88x95%f/11.8
Canon EOS 7D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.3µm5184 x 345618.0 1.0x100%f/6.9
Canon EOS 6D1.0x35.8 x 23.9mm6.54µm5472 x 364820.2 .71x97%f/10.5
Canon EOS 5D Mark III1.0x36.0 x 24.0mm6.25µm5760 x 384022.3 .71x100%f/10.1
Canon EOS 5D Mark II1.0x35.8 x 23.9mm6.4µm5616 x 374421.1 .71x98%f/10.2
Canon EOS 5D1.0x35.8 x 23.9mm8.2µm4368 x 291212.8 .71x96%f/13.2
Canon EOS-1D X1.0x36.0 x 24.0mm6.9µm5184 x 345618.1 .76x100%f/11.0
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV1.3x27.9 x 18.6mm5.7µm4896 x 326416.1 .76x100%f/9.1
Canon EOS-1D Mark III1.3x28.1 x 18.7mm7.2µm3888 x 259210.1 .76x100%f/11.5
Canon EOS-1D Mark II N1.3x28.7 x 19.1mm8.2µm3520 x 23368.2 .72x100%f/13.2
Canon EOS-1D Mark II1.3x28.7 x 19.1mm8.2µm3520 x 23368.2 .72x100%f/13.2
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III1.0x36.0 x 24.0mm6.4µm5616 x 374421.1 .76x100%f/10.2
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II1.0x36.0 x 24.0mm7.2µm4992 x 332816.6 .70x100%f/11.5
* Learn more about DLA (Diffraction Limited Aperture)

As no changes were made in this area, the 1D IIN retains the 1DII's excellent, solid feel and includes the built-in portrait grip. Build quality is rugged and the body is weather-sealed. The shutter remains 200,000 actuation-rated. Though heavy compared to a DSLR without a portrait grip, 1-Series bodies are hard to give up after becoming used to them.

Since sports/action photography typically requires fast shutter speeds to stop the action, higher ISO settings are often required. Canon CMOS sensors deliver excellent low-noise performance at higher ISO settings.

While the Canon EOS-1D Mark II N is arguably the ultimate sports and fast-moving action body, not just sports photographers are employing this camera. If 8.2 megapixels of resolution are enough, this camera can capture them as well as any other. With its top-of-the-line features, the 1DIIN is deployed for a far range of uses including photojournalism, portraiture, weddings, wildlife, products ...

I get a lot of emails asking for help in deciding between the 1D IIN and the Canon EOS 5D. This is not an easy question to answer. In the 1D II N's favor are the frame rate, AF system, 100% viewfinder and weather-sealing. In the 5D's favor are the full-frame sensor, 12.8 megapixels of resolution and, if you are not using a battery grip, size/weight. The FOVCF is one of the noteable differences - makes sure you understand this when making your decision.

What don't I like about the Canon EOS-1D Mark II N? The name?

Read the 1D IIN white paper (linked below) for more detailed information including some additional minor improvements. The sample pictures are from the 1D II.

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Canon EOS-1D Mark II N
Canon EOS-1D Mark II N gives the Canon EOS-1D Mark II N an overall 4.0 rating
Review Date: 2005-11-25
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