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Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II

1dsmarkii
Review Date: Mar 28, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Build quality that inspires confidence, processing speed, large, detailed files, relatively low noise, good battery life
Cons:
It's certainly expensive, however it does have a lot to offer. My MAJOR gripe is that although it excels in perfect front lit conditions it REALLY struggles at times in non standard/moody lighting. AF can be a bit sketchy

There's no question that I'm a perfectionist and to that end I'm very difficult to please, particularly when I have high expectations for a camera with a gargantuan price tag... I have owned two of these bodies and as digital SLRs go the 1Ds mk 2 is the pinnacle of technology and build quality rolled into one. The key to that last sentence is 'technology' and that's where the shortcomings lie. My first issue with the Canon arose as a result of compatibility problems whilst using Lexar cards (back in winter 2004/5). Many of you will have heard the stories of lost images etc. Well I lost a great deal of money as a result of that and I have to say having shot film for many years my first foray into the digital arena was going anything but smoothly, as most will know the more complicated a system is, the more likelihood of a failure... My second issue is that I am now making photographs with a very compact and complicated high powered computer. This requires maintenance and some of this is particularly tricky, so much so that Canon no longer warranties their own sensor cleaning - I never had problems like that when I was having my 1V Hs serviced! The third issue which occurrs even when I have exposed manualy and have selected only the centre AF point is the tardiness of the AF. Admittedly if you want a body for fast action then really the 1D mk 2 N is the one to go for, but the AF has proved woefully inadequate and therefore untrustworthy so, as a result I spend the majority of the time manually focusing in situations where I would normally have employed AF. My fourth and most important issue centres around image quality and, which for me is the most important consideration when buying cameras/lenses. I have been highly impressed by the 1Ds mk 2s performance under controlled lighting, in fact the results when shooting on Canon's finest glass are phenominal, however in non-standard lighting, or shall we refer to it as 'interesting lighting' I have encountered problems. In short I own what many regard as the finest digital camera available and yet I still reach for a film body when the conditions are moody. I hate to say it but I just can't get as excited about the results from the 1Ds mk2 as I still get from a well exposed, thoughtfully composed, crisp tranny shot on oneof my favourite emulsions. The images produced from this camera, although fantastic by digital standards are lacking and I think the element they lack is depth. Denounce me as an analogue purist, but here we are in 2006 approximately 117 years after the first photographic film was loaded into a Kodak camera, we have transparency and black and white films that yield near perfect renditions of reality and yet in the short time digital cameras have become more widely available image quality seems to have devolved rather than evolved, the illusion of speedier, less complicated workflow has ultimately led to quality being compromised and photographers spending more time in front of a computer screen than out making pictures. I will continue to shoot 120 and 35mm tranny alongside my 1Ds 2 for as long as I see (photographic) magazines displaying images showing all manner of aberrations including 'artefacts' and 'banding' across smooth, graduated tones. Roll on tri-tiered sensors (that rumour has it fuji are working on) that bring us closer to the day when digital offerings are truly on par with film. If you've reached this point, I hope I haven't pontificated too much and I hasten to apologise for being so long-winded!