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Canon EOS 1D Mark III

Review Date: Jul 18, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $4,499.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Upgraded battery system, typical 1 series build quality, improved spread of cross type sensors, much easier to navigate and read menus, overall speed. Canon truly has updated nearly every component, so in that respect I guess one could refer to the new model as evolutionary; of course in that same respect a P-51 was just an evolution of the Sopwith Camel. The totality of all the "incremental updates" results in a body that to me is a significant improvement. I'm glad they kept the 1.3x crop.
No way to switch to home focusing point in portrait grip, similarly, no way to reconfigure "AF-ON" button to function as on the II/II N as a "switch to registered AF" button. Multi-controller can't be used to navigate AF points as on 5D/30D. No way to display a full image on playback with a histogram overlay.

I purchased mine over 6 weeks ago now, and wanted to wait until I'd had considerable field experience before giving my review.

First, as this seems to be the current hot topic, I have had absolutely no issues with AF on my 503xxx body. This includes about 50/50 AI Servo and One Shot usage in a myriad of conditions from several 100 degree blazing sun days to 50 degrees and heavily overcast. I've shot equestrian events, canine events, nature shots, family photos, macro; pretty much a little bit of a lot of scenarios. When reviewing sequences in AI Servo and comparing them to my MKII, MKII N and DsMKII sequences, I actually believe I have a greater keeper rate from the MK III. I must admit I have absolutely zero cat photos, no brick walls, and no postage stamps propped on a 2 liter bottle shot at an angle in mixed incandescent/fluorescent lighting, so maybe that is part of the reason I haven't had any AF issues. That isn't to discount the fact that some people do seem to genuinely be having AF issues, but as I said, I am not one of them, and I can't help but wonder how many of the problems are those coming from a Rebel/20D/etc. and aren't up to speed on the learning curve of the AF system the MK III employs.

I've been extremely happy with the IQ from the MKIII. While my 1DsII files obviously have a sheer numbers advantage in the resolution dept., I feel the MKIII files are better in every other respect. Colors, in particular fine tonal gradations, have better definition from the MKIII, and I don't feel the MKIII needs the expose to the right technique many seem to use with Canon DSLRs. I shoot RAW only, and the out of camera sharpness is slightly better than the IIN. Fine shadow detail is also held much better on the MKIII than any other Canon body. I chalk that up to the 14 bit capture as there are simply more tones within the small ranges one captures in the shadow areas.

Coming from a IIN and 1DsII, the handling is similar, although the weight loss, due primarily to the battery, is noticeable. The larger screen coupled with the redesigned UI means navigating the menus and effecting changes is now much easier. I've never been a fan of the AF-On functionality on the rear buttons, so it is disappointing that Canon has chosen to not allow the buttons to be configured as on previous models. There is no way to make the AF-On button a "return to home AF point" button, and the result is that in portrait mode one must reach across the body to the multi-controller for that function.

The new viewfinder/focusing screen definitely seems brighter than the IIN. I only wish they offered the grid screen in the new surface as well.

Overall I am extremely pleased with the MKIII. It is not without fault, but then it is unrealistic to assume Canon would make the perfect camera for everyone. The issues I have are minor and the general performance is the best of what is currently available. My other half has the 5D, and with the 5D and the 1DIII, we have what for us is the perfect(or as close to it as is currently possible) combination. I thought I wanted to get a 1DsIII, but after seeing the 16x24 prints from the 1DIII, I just don't see that need anymore. If I didn't already have the 1DIII, I'd get on a months long waiting list for one knowing that it performs as advertised.

Canon EF-S 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM

Review Date: Apr 20, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $535.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: IS, range, weight
No hood included, EF-S mount

Bought this with a 350 for my Fiance. I've found the lens to be pretty good when evaluated fairly. It seems many of the negative reviews of this lens suggest getting the 24-70 or 16-35. That's flawed thinking; they aren't in the same market(weight, cost, loss of range).

I don't find the loss in sharpness or contrast so noticeable, but then again I'm going off prints, not viewing my monitor at 600%, which doesn't seem to be the norm.

The IS at the wide end allows for some really long shutter speeds.

This lens is an excellent compromise. If you compare it to a $1200 constant 2.8 lens of course it isn't going to come out on top. But what it is is a reasonably priced lens that covers a nice focal range and performs pretty darn good, and is much more comfortable to carry around all day on a 350 than a L on a brick.

Canon EOS 1Ds

Review Date: Jan 4, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $7,000.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: AF speed, control layout, lag times, FF
Ancient battery design with HUGE charger, best results with expensive glass(not really a - I guess), "only" 3 fps.

After selling my first 1Ds, and switching to a 10D for a short time, I quickly discovered I could not live with all of the shortcomings of the 10D. End result; bought another 1Ds. The AF system and speed are fabulous. The minimal lag time makes pet and hummingbird photography so much easier.

I wish the battery was a Lithium ion, with a more portable charger, something the size of the S50 unit with the folding prongs would be much easier to stuff in my bags.

FF sensor is demanding on glass, particularly WA as others have mentioned.

I would like the zoom capabilities of the 10D, as the 1Ds zoom accessed through the PF is not nearly as versatile.

For the price, I would have also liked ST-E2 functionality built in, and wireless remote receiver built in. I have always been amazed that some of the cheaper Canon's have had that capability through the years, but not the expensive models. So I have to pay $379 for an LC-4, while a digital rebel owner can buy a $25 wireless remote and the receiver is already built-in Uh, O.K.!

Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 EX DG HSM

Review Date: Apr 17, 2003 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,899.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: Fast focusing, even w/ Sigma 2X. Outer finish seemed more durable than L lenses. Great focal range, especially w/ 2X.
Poor fit between lens and Sigma 2X and lens and 1Ds. By the time I had both on, the stack-up of the tolerances resulted in a rattling assembly, not acceptable at this price. Poor sharpness and contrast both with AND without 2X.

On initial impressions, this lens seemed great. In the store, the lens focused very quickly both with and without extender attached, and seemed to be a great 600/5.6 equivalent on my 1Ds. However, once I got it home and took 847 images on a Sunday trying to figure out the problem, I returned it. Regardless of whether I had the extender on or not, I could not get sharp pictures at any ISO, aperture, or shutter speed. Mounted on a tripod, and even outdoors in bright sunlight, I could not obtain one sharp image. I will give Sigma the benefit of the doubt, and assume it was out of adjustment, but I expect better quality control at this price point.