Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III Digital SLR

21 MP, 5 frames per second, EOS integrated "vibration" cleaning system…

Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III

The New Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III DSLR: Finally it has arrived!

Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III Review - 20 August 2007 - Canon have today announced the arrival of the new full-frame, 21.1 megapixel, Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III Digital SLR. Note: This is by no means an unbiased early review. This is exactly the camera I have been waiting for (BTW, I think I said that for the EOS-1D Mark II and EOS-5D also)!

Canon have pretty much dominated the professional Digital SLR market for 6 years with its professional 1D range. Now this new behemoth takes it to a whole new level. The Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II was a beast and held its own for years. The recent introduction of the sporty Canon EOS 1D Mark III marked a new era for DSLR's with its superb image quality. Especially it's quality at high ISO's, Digic III processor and blistering speed.

Now Canon has finally brought these two cameras together with a newer, faster, techno-pumped monster. One that rivals, if not betters, medium format film cameras.

So let's jump straight in with the main specs:

  • 21 Megapixel full frame (35mm equiv) CMOS sensor
  • Maximum 5632 x 3750 Resolution
  • 5 fps (frames per second) continuous shooting for up to 56 JPEG frames
  • 5 fps (frames per second) continuous shooting for up to 12 RAW frames
  • Dual "DIGIC III" processors
  • Highlight Tone Priority (Enhanced Dynamic Range over ISO 200)
  • Auto focus system with 19 cross type sensors and 26 focus assist points
  • EOS Integrated "Vibration" Cleaning System
  • ISO 100-1600 (expandable to L:50 H:3200 via custom function)
  • 3.0 Inch 230k pixel LCD with new "Live View" mode
  • Redesigned viewfinder is now wider and brighter
  • Shutter Durability 300,000 cycles
  • Compatible with wireless file transmitter WFT-E2A, extensive remote control accessories, and 15 interchangeable Ec-series focus screens

As you can probably see, just about everything on this list is new and/or improved. Most of these features are a huge welcome for wedding, studio and stock photographers. Just like me! Now let's look at some of these features in more detail.

Image Quality

The files produces by the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III's sensor actually surpass the required standard and size of file required by most of the top stock agencies. This is great news for us stock photographers as it means no more "rezzing up" images to reach that standard. This is also good news for stock photography buyers because their images will be that much cleaner and sharper.

The third generation CMOS sensor now features "on chip" noise reduction for total colour depth of over 16,000 tones per pixel meaning excellent colour reproduction and higher dynamic range. This is great for wedding photographers who find themselves unable to use flash as the images quality right up to 1600 or 3200 ISO will be highly usable plus the introduction of the silent drive mode is a bonus.

The new Highlight Tone Priority mode means you can further improve dynamic range for those contrasty landscape shots or tough-to-shoot wedding dress images.

Side Note: Are high megapixel counts good, bad or simply unnecessary?

There are many "measurebators" who argue that it’s not the pixel count that matters. However, for me it is in many situations. As stated earlier, this resolution is spot on for stock photography plus the fact that you can reduce wedding image files significantly (to reduce and compress noise) and still produce large prints is great.

Lastly, with this much resolution, I can pick out and print as many as 8 separate shots from one frame. If I wanted to of course!

LCD Screen and Live View Mode

As with its smaller cousin the EOS 1D Mark III, the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III now has a live view rear screen. This shows the viewfinder image in "real time" with a 100% field of view. It also has a selectable live histogram and grid overlay that simulates image exposure as you work.

The view now has a magnification range of 5-10x to ensure shot sharpness on the 230,000 pixel, 3 inch LCD screen.

From Canon's Press release:

"Live View is at its best during tripod shooting, particularly for close-up photography where precise focusing is imperative. As a side benefit, the Live View shooting mode helps to reduce vibration. It does this by lifting the reflex mirror out of the optical path well in advance of the exposure. Thus improving image quality at slow shutter speeds.

Additionally, as the release time lag is minuscule, even instantaneous movements like a bird taking flight can be readily captured. The shutter charge sound can be delayed and made quieter than normal in Live View mode to avoid spooking wildlife or disturbing people nearby with unwanted camera sounds.

If a user is going to be several feet away from the camera, such as in some studio settings, the EOS-1Ds Mark III can be connected by cable to a computer via its USB 2.0 High-Speed interface. The camera can also be operated remotely at distances up to 492 feet with the assistance of the optional Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E2A which allows users to view images directly off the camera's sensor in virtually real-time, with the ability to adjust many camera settings quickly and easily."

EOS Integrated "Vibration" Cleaning System

Another welcome addition is the dust management system. The New and improved CMOS sensor now has a light, infrared absorption glass cover that will vibrate for 3 ½ seconds when the camera is switched on or off (this can be cancelled at start up by pressing the shutter half way).

Shaken-free dust is cleverly and "adhesively" trapped on surfaces surrounding the sensor housing. This prevents problem dust particles from reattaching themselves later on. The new shutter, although producing less dust than before, still charges itself 3 times during "manual" cleaning so that dust is also shaken from the shutter curtains. The cleaning system uses very little battery power and can be switched off altogether via the custom functions.

There's more!

Canon has also introduced a new software solution to the dust management system that maps out dust remaining on the sensor after cleaning and saves it as "Dust Delete Data" which is attached to the image file. So, you take a test image with white background, the system records all dust particles which are loaded into the image data, and then during processing with the supplied DPP software, all dust particles can be removed in one foul swoop…brilliant!

Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III - First Impressions

Personally, just reading the press release from Canon has me reaching for my already groaning credit card and wishing it was November. With plans to concentrate on the high end wedding photography market next year and to produce many more and much better quality stock images, the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III is the one for me.

Canon never fail to impress me with each year that passes and each new major release, I actually wonder where it will all end. Whilst I have been happy with the Canon range to date, ever since the 10D, I always wanted more…it seems that the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III has it all (for now).

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