Spec sheet: Nikon D5 vs. Canon EOS-1D X Mark II

by | Feb 2, 2016 | News, Opinion, Products

This spring, both Canon and Nikon will begin selling new flagship cameras. These are the top o’ the line, crème de la crème, best of the best of the best, sir, latest and greatest products that they have to offer. It’s an exciting year for photographers, or at least for pseudo-photographer camera geeks happy to have something to write about that’s not new PowerShots.

Both the Canon 1D X Mark II and Nikon D5 offer some incredible technology, and they may be more similar than they are different, but that won’t stop the Canonite and Nikonian camps from making their opinions known by sounding off in online message boards about which camera they think is better.

Which is why I’m here to beat them to the punch.

In this extensive comparison, I’ll break down these two cameras feature by feature to determine, definitively, which is the superior machine.

Product Name

Canon – EOS-1D X Mark II

Nikon – D5

You can say “D5” 3.5 times in the time it takes to say “EOS-1D X Mark II,” but saying the latter makes you sound more impressive. Then again, the Canon will likely get shortened to just “Mark II,” which will only serve to make things really confusing since it will be the, oh, I donno, twenty-seventh “Mark II” that Canon has ever released.

Point: Nikon.


Canon – 20.2MP

Nikon – 20.8MP

Hmm, well this one is close, and it really depends on if you’re a “glass half full” kind of person, or a “glass half empty” one. There are basically two ways of looking at the difference in resolution: 1) a paltry and insignificant 0.6MP, or 2) a whopping 600,000 pixels. Either way, if you concede that more is better, both cameras are losers.

Point: Canon. For the 5DS R.


Both cameras are gargantuan behemoths. Both are probably wicked heavy. Both are not retro at all.

Point: Olympus PEN-F

Esoteric Memory Card Formats

Canon – CFast 2.0

Nikon – XQD

To be fair, both of these cameras offer the option of using good old, survived-the-washing-machine-only-to-be-brought-down-by-a-bent-pin CompactFlash cards. The 1D X Mark II has one CF and one CFast slot, whereas Nikon gives you the option of buying a D5 with either dual XQD or dual CF slots to fit your preference. With either brand, CF is the more boring of the two formats, while CFast/XQD will offer maximum sustained shooting power.

But, which is the rarer? The most sought-after? The future legend? Perhaps neither.

Point: Kodachrome


Canon – Black

Nikon – Black

Point: Tie


Canon – $5999

Nikon – $6499

This one may look easy, but hold up—did you just move to Portland? Did you pay sixty grand above asking price for your home? If so, $500 is nothing to you; in fact, you’ll probably get the more expensive camera because it’s more expensive. But that’s silly, because both of these cameras back up their exceptional cost with exceptional functionality—if you want to buy on price alone, you need to look in another direction entirely.

Point: Leica M-P Typ 240

Product Intro Video



Point: Shut up and take my money!!!


It’s impossible to pick a winner between these two cameras. The Nikon D5 has the better name, but now that we’ve had a chance to calm down, we’re going to go ahead and award Canon a point for best Product Intro Video thanks its incredibly over-the-top use of CGI to demonstrate a “drip test.” It would have been more impressive and cheaper to show real water falling on a real camera, but why should Canon settle for reality? Why should you?

In all seriousness, though, both of these cameras are high-end, professional products that will undoubtedly make for the best DSLR you’ve ever used, regardless of which one you choose. If you’re the type of photographer who needs this type of camera, you’ll be happy either way. In time, we may put up a “real” comparison between the two, but not until we’ve had a chance to actually play around with them in person.

For now, remember that it’s the photographer that makes a photograph—sure, these new cameras will help you get there, but specs certainly aren’t everything.

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