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Canon EOS 1Ds

21Ds
Review Date: May 22, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: great resolution, quick and powerful focusing logic, reliable metering (all much desired enhancements over my prior D60), full frame viewfinder/sensor
Cons:
propensity to collect dust on sensor, too much digital noise at higher ISO settings, cost

There has been a lot of wonderful things written about the 1Ds, and they are generally true. While very expensive, it is a high quality camera. The resolution is fantastic - I went out and bought a Espon 7600 so that I could print larger than 12x18 - the camera can deliver this.

There are two areas however that I am disappointed with that I hope Canon will address in their service programs, and perhaps in future cameras. This is not a balanced review - I think the praises have been repeated elsewere and I agree, but here are the real disappointments I see with the camera:

The first issue is the propensity for the sensor to collect dust - major problem for my use. I use this at horse shows, and need to change lenses in less than clean-room environments. Over a few weeks my camera collected an intollerable amount of dust on the sensor. There is no recommended user solution that works (forget blowers - they just wont clear the dust). Although not recommended by Canon, based on the advice of others I have tried the eclipse/swap method. This helps, but with the full frame sensor you mainly move a lot of the gunk to edges. The existing swaps cannot pick the stuff up very well.

This is a major usability issue for SLR digital cameras. The 1Ds in particular seems to attract more dust than my prior D60. In addition, the larger sensor is harder to clean. It has become an issue with the 1Ds.

I am willing to send my camera in to Canon for professional cleaning, but not willing to wait the few weeks it takes for turn around. This has got to be a common issue for many customers. Canon - here is a solution. Offer a quick turn sensor clean only service by appointment. I call Canon and reserve a date. I send in via fed-ex next day and they service and send out same day. I have my camera back and clean in three days. Go ahead and charge me for this service, just make it quick. By having a focused program that does only sensor cleaning and controlling the number of cameras per day there is no reason why Canon could not do this.

My second issue is digital noise. I have found the images not very satisfying above ISO 200. Yes, they work, but I like a clean image. The D60 was much lower noise, as is my backup 10D. In fact, I prefer to grab the 10D when I need to shoot in lower light. And ISO 200 renders even mid day marginal lighting when you need to shoot at 1000th+ for motion. I want a camera with clean images at ISO 400 or 800 - this is not it.

So this is more of an enhancement request summary than a general review, but for the future:

1. Solve the dust problem - by design of the camera, by design of a tool or system for the user to clean the sensor, or by a quick turn service to solve this problem.

2. Reduce the noise problem - this seems to be the next frontier for image quality improvements.

That being said, I would buy it again if stolen, but would not feel great about these issues and the value. Value is secondary however - just address my top two issues and I would be ecstatic about this camera.