Canon EOS 1Ds Review - Intro

For anyone seeking something new when they pick up the 1Ds, don't be fooled by the looks alone. You could quickly be deceived into thinking that nothing has changed from the Canon EOS 1D to EOS 1Ds. The outer body (except for the logo) is virtually the same. It also seems to have the same weight and exterior design. You've got to hold the viewfinder up to your eyes to realize that the world comes in a full frame size and now Canon has finally delivered the tool you need to capture it.

I have to say that when the camera arrived I was excited. My anticipation was high and I had great expectations. The main thing I wanted to see was how well this camera would perform in the field. Canon claims that this camera is the answer to what "Professionals have been asking for." It boasts the 11.1 million pixels, and the full-frame CMOS sensor. But, what does that really boil down to, and is it worth the $8000.00 price tag?

I decided the only way to find out was to take this baby out for a spin. I trudged over to Death Valley to put the 1Ds to the ultimate test. Could it capture the vast landscapes and almost limitless skyline? Could it survive hiking up and down the sand dunes? Could I carry it around my neck for hours as I climbed through the badlands and artists canyon? Most importantly, would the results I see in the field, mirror what showed up on my monitor and ultimately onto my large size prints.



I've been a Canon digital shooter for quite some time and have extensively used the Canon D30, D60, and 1D. Although I also own a 1V film camera, and have played around with medium format, my experience with film is somewhat limited. Therefore, for the purpose of this review, I decided not to directly compare the new 1Ds digital body to MF (medium format) or 35mm film. Instead, I will give you my impressions as a professional digital photographer that revels in shooting landscape images, write about my field experience and then compare the 1Ds to the 1D.



I think it's best to leave most of the technical aspects to Canon to describe. I figured since they are the designers and experts they'll probably do a better job at breaking down the specifications in detail. In the meantime, there are just a few main differences between the 1D and 1Ds that I would like to point out.

There are three main features that are virtually identical between the two bodies when comparing the 1D and 1Ds side-by-side: Exposure and color, Flash Control, and Camera body.

  • Exposure and color: Including exposure metering (21-zone Evaluative), Auto-bracketing options, Set white balance in K and color space (sRGB and AdobeRGB)
  • Flash control: Including Compatibility TTL flashes, Wireless TTL possible, PC socket, and Manual flash metering
  • Camera body: Including viewfinder (100 percent accurate), Focus screens (Interchangeable), Custom functions, AF system, Body material (Magnesium alloy), weather resistance (extensive gasketing), dimensions (6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1 in), and weight (44.1 oz)

Below is a breakdown of some of the main differences:

Canon 1Ds
Canon 1D
Effective pixels
11.1 million 4.15 million 3x the number of pixels
RAW approx. file size
11.4 MB 4 MB 3x the file size
Shutter Speeds
30-1/8000 sec (+bulb) 30-1/16,000 sec. (+bulb) Performance advantage for 1D interline CCD sensor
Max Flash Syncronization speed
1/250th 1/500th Performance advantage for 1D interline CCD sensor
Focal length multiplier
Same as 35mm film approx. 1.3x Full-size sensor means lenses equal marked focal lengths
Sensor size
35.8 x 23.8 mm
28.7 x 19.1 mm

Full-size sensor means lenses equal marked focal lengths

Sensor type
Canon CMOS
Interline Transfer CCD

CMOS = same benefits as D30/D60

Pixel size

8.8 x 8.8 µm (micron square)

11.5 x 11.5 µm (micron square)
ISO sensitivities

ISO 100, 200, 250, 320, 400, 500, 640, 800, 1250

ISO expand: L = ISO 50

ISO 200, 250, 320, 400, 500, 640, 800, 1000, 1250, 1600

ISO expand: L = ISO 100, H = ISO 3200

1Ds = advantage for low ISO settings

1D = advantage for high ISO settings

Firewire speed

1Ds = faster firewire file transfer

Reduced resolutions
2032x1352 (3.0 million pixels) 1232x824 (1.0 million pixels)
Maximum fps rate
3fps 8 fps 1D is world's highest performance digital SLR
Magnified LCD playback
Yes (100% magnification)
via P.Fn 30
No available 100% magnification is not enough in most cases
Street price
$8000 $4300



Page 2 - Full frame with digital: The pros and cons