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change focus screenCanon 1Ds Mark III image misalignment

A problem with viewfinder/sensor alignment?

I've seen a couple of DPR posts over the last few days mentioning that the view that you see in the viewfinder is not matching up with what's taken. There is a noticeable tilt in the viewfinder

Canon now acknowledge this and will fix it as a warranty adjustment.

I decided to do a quick test with my 1Ds3... (608xxx)

I've also written a page with comparisons between my 1Ds and 1Ds3, along with my thoughts and impressions about using the 1Ds Mark 3 -- Main 1Ds3 info page

Also, for the avoidance of doubt - tilt or no tilt, this is the best camera I've ever regularly used!

Canon 1Ds Mark 3 cameraLatest news

21st August 08

Shipped back by UPS, the camera is back with me.

So, Kudos to Canon Service UK for their very prompt and efficient return of my camera!

FULL REPORT of repairs

18th August 08 I've just taken the camera in to Canon UK Service in Elstree. I was told there was a chance it would be back this week. We'll see ;-)

This is my first ever contact with Canon service, so I'm keen to see how they do... you can rest assured that when it's back I'll be giving the camera a careful check.

In the mean time, the batteries are freshly charged and my 1Ds gets its week or two in the sun. With no jobs requiring high ISO or really high resolution booked for a few weeks, I thought it best to get the camera fixed before heading off to Colorado at the end of September.

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7/4/08 in the latest UK 'EOS magazine' (April-June 08) there is a mention of 'Viewfinder misalignment'

"Canon told EOS magazine that it is aware of some issues to do with the viewfinder misalignment and the situation is currently under investigation. If customers are experiencing such issues Canon is asking them to take their camera to their local service department for checking"

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15/2/08 Several people asked about any error in my old 1Ds - I'd never noticed any, but I checked and after a series of measurements reckon it's pretty much dead on.
I keep seeing people say that it's not worth bothering about - I guess they also don't notice pictures hanging on the skew on walls ;-)

14/2/08 In a comment on DPR, the supposed cause of the viewfinder alignment is revealed:

"The problem is a mask in the viewfinder. It's fitted with four screws, that should be tightened in a certain order to fix it correctly, just like the bolts on the wheels of a car. Apparently, some guy used the wrong order on a certain batch of cameras, and the result is that the mask shifted a little. It explains why only some cameras have this problem, and why the degree is different in each one."

23/1/08 While it appears that in the UK and in Australia, Canon have got their act together on the alignment problem, in the US I'm hearing a much worse story. A couple of people I've heard from today, have both had their camera at Canon's service centre at Irvine for over two weeks and are still waiting. One called only to be told that it had just been looked at and some parts were needed. In the little information that they were able to get it seems that the Irvine service centre is extremely busy.

15/1/08 - It's a 'Prism assembly realignment' that's needed. I've now heard from someone who's had it done by Canon (24hr turnaround)

8/1/08 - I've added a pair of images from another 1Ds mk3, which show the effect even more

3/1/08 Canon UK have suggested that the camera is sent back to them for adjustment. I'll have to see how much irritation it is in real use, but they've said it would be covered by warranty, so I've got a while to decide :-)


Since I do a fair bit of architectural, landscape and interior photography I've fitted the EcD ruled focusing screen to my 1Ds3 (it's the one I've used very sucessfully with my 1Ds for a few years)

This is the test setup. I'm using my 90mm TSE lens (very sharp and very little distortion)

It's fine graph paper, with a single line ruled in black to make things easier to see.

test setup

I'd fitted the EcD ruled focusing screen

change focus screen

I checked the seating of the screen several times and there was no variation in results.

1ds3 viewfinder view

Here's the resulting image

resulting image

Do note that this is not exactly a precise measurment setup, I'm really just looking for any rotation at the centre of the frame... I'm not trying to do a test of my TSE-90mm ;-)

Using Photoshop I get an estimate for the tilt of about 0.4 degrees

0.4 degree tilt

Since I generally reckon I can see a tilted horizon on a print if it's more than ~0.25 degree out, then it just isn't good enough... :-(

Just for good measure, here's the liveview view, and in the original, that 0.4 degree tilt is easily visible

1Ds3 liveview

In the month I've had the camera, this hasn't been a problem, but that's connected with the types of work I've done over the last month...

Given I put the ruled screen in place to minimise the amount of 'fixing' I'd need to do in PS, I'll be on the lookout for a solution. I'm not yet read to try and file down the edge of the EcD screen though...


8th January

This is someone else's 1Ds3 which shows the effect even more than mine above.

Canon in the US said to send the camera back for adjustment. Not something I'd expect to have to do for a camera this price...

1ds3 viewfinder tilt at 0.8 degree


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