Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III impressions
Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III impressions
Review of using the 1Ds3
There are full technical specs at the end, and we’ll add links to other more detailed reviews as we find them.
The page dates from when I first got the 1Ds mk3 in 2007, since when, I’ve used the camera to take many tens of thousands of photographs. It’s also the camera that was used in most of our experiments and articles.
After the initial adjustment required for the viewfinder, it’s never let me down, and performed superbly under a variety of conditions.
This page was written to cover some of my observations and thoughts about my own process of getting used to using a new camera for my everyday professional work. There are numerous other articles using the 1Ds3 on this site – it’s what has earned me my living since late 2007.
The original article was written in ‘blog’ fashion so the oldest items are mostly at the bottom.
Other 1Ds3 notes and articles
The 1Ds3 is now in the ‘used’ category – lots are still available.
In 2012 the 1Ds3 was superseded by the 1D X, although many (myself included) choose to keep using it. Not until 2015 and the 50MP 5Ds appears, is the 1Ds3 retired to back-up duty (still with original 2007 batteries).
The successor to the 1Ds3 is starting to ship and I’ve decided that my 1Ds3 is still the camera I like using – I’ve written a short article explaining why I decided to miss this camera update.
Latest pricing info is going on to our 1Ds3 News page.
September/October When I first got my 1Ds I went on a trip to the US, and wrote quite a few articles about the move to digital and using the 1Ds.
Well I’ve just got back from a trip to Colorado and apart from all those megapixels, the biggest improvement is that there is a lot less noise in the shadows, effectively capturing a bigger dynamic range. Of course thare are many other changes, but that was one that struck me when looking at some of the photos I took
21st August The 1Ds3 viewfinder has now been fixed under warranty by Canon – Full story
18th August – I’ve finally dropped off the camera at Canon UK to get the viewfinder tilt fixed (see below)
1st March – I’ve been trying out the AF microadjustment feature.
January. After hearing from some people with a viewfinder misalignment problem I tested my own 1Ds3 with the EcD ruled focussing screen. Unfortunately I do have a misalignment of about 0.4 degrees (see images in link below). This probably wouldn’t be an issues except for the fact that I use the EcD screen to try and get things accurate to start with. Not a serious issue (for me), but mildly annoying… 1Ds3 misalignment tests
- 1Ds3 first impressions – some very good points in a DPR post
- Diffraction and optimal aperture – by Bob Atkins
- Print size and diffraction
- 1Ds3 review – good article by Phil Holland
- Flickr 1Ds3 images
- 1Ds3 and D3 – thoughts and comparisons about high ISO at LL
- Canon PDF about getting the best out of the 1D3 and 1Ds3
- Reviews Photonet / P&L / EPZ
Buying the 1Ds Mk3?
We make a specific point of not selling hardware, but if you found the info on our site of help please consider buying a camera, or any other items at all, via our link with Amazon.
It won’t cost any more (nor less we’re afraid) but will contribute towards the running costs of our site.
Actually -anything- you buy through our links to Amazon contributes to the site – thanks!
Christmas started early this year… our camera came from Park Camerasin the UK
As you can see, a rather nice EF 14mm f2.8L II Lens turned up too.
This is primarily for my interior photography, but will be a useful addition for my landscape work as well.
Over the coming days I hope to get an idea about just how good it is against my trusty old EF 16-35 2.8L at the wide end, where despite some of the views you hear about its quality, I’ve taken some damn fine pictures, which printed well at 16×25 from my 1Ds.
When you’re reading what I’ve written, please do remember that I’m not someone who is naturally attracted to lens MTF charts, or that tiny bit (IMHO) of extra performance I’d get by using some expensive bit of third party glass via an adapter. I’m -really- not the person you’d ever want to do detailed methodical controlled precise testing either ;-)
BUT I’ll make sure to include links to any such testing I come across in the info section at the end of the page, since I know quite a few people do want that sort of information.
After reading an FM post I decided to see if image noise really was higher at the 1/3 stop ISO settings… I’ve got a page of the results, and as a result have turned off fractional stop ISO for my camera.
I do have to keep reminding myself that I’m using a different camera when using the 1Ds3. Canon have posted a PDF about getting the best out of the 1D3 and 1Ds3 – well worth reading.
After many more shots the battery finally needs charging. I’ve not used the camera enough to get a good feel for it, but I’m going to expect to easily fill (raw and jpeg) 2 8GB cards on a single battery and probably quite a few more beyond that…
I use Av mode quite a lot when shooting and have found the basic metering is much more difficult to fool than the 1Ds. Having the option of seeing individual chanels and luminance histograms at the same time is most welcome.
I used my Angle finder for some product shots and discovered that it didn’t fit. The camera eyepeice fitting is larger. Fortunately I vaguely remembered that it came with 2 adapters, and a visit to my ‘drawer of miscellaneous photo stuff’ found the right fitting.
Shadows and highlights – after trying out a few landscape shots (see below) I’ve noticed that clipped highlights are handled more gracefully and shadows, when lightened, just don’t show up much noise at 100-200 ISO. White balance is much better and the whole ‘look’ of colour shots just feels more vibrant (this from raw files). This was without using HTP mode.
The 1Ds3 raw file sizes vary quite a bit too. It varied between 19.3MB and 32.1MB in 128 pics I took the other morning (I’d estimate the median value to be ~24MB) For the door picture below, one of the raw files produced was 34.8MB
I’ve seen people start to ask more about the effects of diffraction, and what apertures to use for best results? I’ve taken the attitude that with a good lens (like the TS-E 90 used below) then f/8 is probably optimum, but with a lens with a bit more edge distortions (such as my quite good 24-70 2.8L) then f/11 will probably give better overall results. There is no hard and fast rules here, since I’ll often want to control DOF with aperture for creative purposes. If you are printing the image then the effect also varies depending on print size and viewing distance, so for example, if I’m producing a 4 foot print then at a viewing distance of a foot, the effect might show at f/4. For a more realistic viewing distance (6 feet) even f/22 wouldn’t be noticed as softer. Given I know that anyone who first looks at one of my big prints from a few inches away is not the sort of person who ever buys one, I’m fairly safe not worrying too much about diffraction problems. In fact my disdain for tripods means I’m much more likely to go for the larger aperture and faster shutter speed :-) I’ve added some useful links to info at the end of this page.
The on-off switch on the 1Ds has three settings – the third one was never used by myself since it enabled the beep. I also never used the disable switch above the main wheel. The 1Ds3 needs turning on to the third one to enable the dial – this caught me for a while when I couldn’t change things with the dial in manual mode.
You can just notice in the shot above, that the top of the 1Ds3 looks a bit more bulbous. The viewfinder is just better – bigger view, brighter view. I don’t wear glasses, but it’s noticeable that you don’t need to push your face into the camera quite so much.
As a result of looking at quite a few of the shots I took this morning [30th], hand held at 100 ISO, I’ve come to the conclusion that the 1Ds 3 shows up camera shake more – I also came to the conclusion that for most work where I’d shoot hand held, I really don’t care :-)
When it does matter, I’ll just have to remember to take a bit more care, and maybe a few extra shots… Fortunately the improved performance at higher ISO ratings means I can easily consider 400 ISO for jobs I’d previously only shoot at 100.
The 14mm lens works a treat (I should hope so too for that much cash!)
This is actually good … the 1Ds3 doesn’t feel much different than using the 1Ds. I’ve quickly gotten used to the changes in button and control layout. The screen (and proper zoom) shows so much more info, and liveview – well I think I’ll have a go with that tomorrow.
A few things about the AF caught my attention. It seems a lot more sensitive in low light than before. On the 1ds I rarely changed focus points, but the MK3 felt a bit more likely to grab something that you didn’t intend, so I’ll be keeping an eye on the focus selection. Not a problem, most likely an improvement when I get used to it.
Oh, the shutter sounds much crisper too :-)
Does the 1Ds3 obsolete lenses? Well, I tried the garage doors photo with my 24-70 2.8L and it shows up a slight lack of edge detail and softness that I just didn’t notice much with the 1Ds. That’s bad then? Well it depends – were the shots I took with the 24-70 sharp enough for the work I was using it for? – easily. So, will I carry on using it? yes, it’s a very useful lens for travelling round with. Will I be looking for Canon to bring out an even better 24-70 2.8L IS? most definitely :-)
Does that mean I’m now looking for some super pin sharp primes – well, not until I get some work that -really- needs it. Much as I enjoy it, the photography is a business, and funds are not unlimited ;-) Now, if Canon do bring out an updated TS-E 24mm, as I’ve heard suggested, I’d sign up immediately.
One thing I really don’t want is for the capabilities of the 1Ds 3 to start pushing my photography towards more technical perfectionism. As any regular readers of my articles and reviews know I have a distinct ‘good enough for what’s needed’ attitude to my photography. My standards are often very high, but they are attainable ones and sometimes surpassed ;-)
12th December 2007
I was asked about how well DPP corrects lens aberations
The screen grab from below shows the very corner of the Bradgate Park picture below – For a 14mm lens this isn’t bad performance at the corners (your opinions may vary, but it’s my 14mm and I like it :-) [See also 14mm 2.8L II info page]
Mouse over the image to see the changes that applying DPP lens corrections for Chromatic Aberation and Vignetting give
The distortion correction flattens the image even more, but with the amount of magnification, introduces a slight but perceptible softening of the image (in an unsharpened preview at 100%). Nothing I’d be concerned about if I needed that extra bit of geometric accuracy, but worth noting.
Unfortunately I won’t be able to compare this with DxO Optics Pro for some time since the latest version doesn’t yet support the 1Ds3, this lens or yet run on my Mac :-(
A comparison between no correction and CA+Vign.+Distortion …Note the shift of image content
Fixing CA makes for sharper conversions to black and white, which was often one of my reasons to use DxO Raw conversion for some of my B/W work. Since I’ve often made very large prints (from my 1Ds) I’ve found that attention to levels and types of sharpening right through from raw conversion to printing make all the difference when it comes to perceived sharpness in a large print hanging on a wall.
- Article about my (current) approach to B/W printing
10th December 2007
A week on and I’m still noticing just how much nicer the 1Ds3 is in low light conditions
This from near my house – 14mm II lens f/2.8 1/250 3200 ISO. It’s taken a bit of highlight recovery in ACR to get the neon phone number above the door to not burn out. Neon signs are tricky to get right, both because of their high surface brightness and intense pure colours
Sodium street lights are rarely optimal lighting, but this shot at 1/3 second (3200 ISO f/2.8) captures the bright dot of the planet Mars – nearing its closest approach in the next week or so (centre of pic)
Well actually, by doing a custom WB reading in ACR (with the eye dropper) I was able to get this, although it has bumped up the blue channel enough to show quite a bit of noise … hang on though, this is at ISO 3200!
OK, it’s out to do some serious night time shots (with a tripod!)
However I was actually going out for a friends birthday (Adam, left)
1/20, f/4, 3200 ISO – WB corrected in ACR
Note the 400D behind the glass. I tried the 14mm 2.8L II on the 400D and as was observed by its owner: “it’s so much brighter than the 18-55” – no surprise there then, with a lens costing nearly 4 times the cost of the 400D body :-)
Monday 3rd — I went out, to dodge the showers and see what the 1Ds3 was like handling wideer dynamic range shots.
The picture below has been processed with DPP and a custom tone curve used to bring out some of the shadow detail. I’ve then applied a (very slight) masked curve to the darker parts of the image to brighten the foreground a bit (mainly to make the image work better on the web, and give a better impression of what it looks like in Photoshop on my monitor). This is much more typical of the adjustments I’d think of trying for such a shot. the big difference is that here there is detail in those shadows, and at 200 ISO, any noise is not very obvious at all.
The 14mm lens shows no flare at all in this shot, and the detail around the tree branches is very sharp.
1Ds3, EF 14 2.8L II, 1/1250 @ f/7.1 200 ISO processed in DPP with lens correction
Bradgate Park, Leicester
From the top of the hill I got this shot as rain swept over the trees. In this shot you can pull detail out of the tree area if needed, while the brightest parts of the sky is only just clipping
Leicester from Bradgate
The 100% crop below shows the sort of detail you can pull out of the shadows (note the rain drops) after applying a very sharp curves adjustment.
100 ISO, 1/500 @f/8 14mm
Detail from picture above
Saturday 1st — Some updated detail shots (for what they’re worth ;-)
The picture is of some old garage doors near my home
Taken using a TS/E 90mm 1/15 @ f/8 with MLU 100 ISO
The detail shots below are 100% crops, processed using ACR default settings, but with no sharpening and no noise reduction
First the 1Ds
then the 1Ds3
However, I’d rarely ever convert a raw file without some slight sharpening, so here is a bit of the 1Ds3 file after a bit of sharpening
As ever, it is the use of various amounts of different types of sharpening at different times from raw conversion to pre print sharpening that gets the best final results. There is no one size fits all technique, but it often amuses me to see really detailed comparisons between different resampling software, when the differences will often be swamped in the printing process…
Last night (28/11)I went out to see what 3200 ISO looks like – remember I’ve been happily using a 1Ds for years and was often happy with results at 1000 ISO
All shots hand held and processed using ACR with default settings (because that’s often what I’d do )
14mm 1/25th 2.8 3200 ISO – as much to see how the 14mm handled the bright lights
Not at all bad IMHO – Is it good enough for me to use in my (paying) work – Yes easily
Today I went out for a walk round town and shot a few hundred images. Not the best lighting, but the contrasts in this one are typical of what I sometimes get in source images for my B/W landscape work (I dislike graduated filters and the ‘look’ many people get with them quite intensely :-)
14mm 1/250 f/5.6 ISO 100
This one shows some differences between using DPP and ACR for raw conversion
Note the Moire on the railings (100% crops)
This is why I’m happy to have AA filters despite some of the uninformed ‘discussion’ you get on some forums :-)
1/30 ISO100 f/4.5
I also tried out AI servo mode on some fast moving traffic – seemed to work, but then again I’ve never used it much before. I’m sure people in warm climates are taking pictures of people running around, as we speak. If there are issues, then expect to hear about them :-)
Heres a shot taken with an Olympus Zuiko 50/1.2 lens (3200, 50th @ f/1.2)
The ambient lighting is the colour of the reflections between the lens cap and the glass – converted using ACR with colour temp set as low as it would go… The 1Ds would have had problems with the very weak blue and green channels.
More to come I’m sure :-)
28th November 2007
I connected up the camera to my Mac via the nice long USB lead you get. My old copy of remote capture won’t work with the 1Ds3 so it was the EOS utility…
I don’t know what it is about Canon’s supplied software but most of it just doesn’t feel overly comfortable to use. Perhaps it’s just me or a Mac thing, but if klunky, then at least Remote Capture was simple to use.
Anyway here’s a screen shot showing various windows open including the liveview window at the back.
The lens is a 7″ Kodak Aero Ektar
…and here’s a 100% crop of part of the image (EF 24-70 2.8L @ 70mm f/13)
In this instance Liveview is interesting for the DOF preview you can get, but I’d probably not want to use it all the time.
27th November 2007
Just a quick check to show differences between my old 1Ds and the 1Ds3 at 100 ISO
PLEASE DO NOT POST THESE PICS ANYWHERE
They are ‘quick look’ samples only
literally the 3rd picture I took with the 1Ds3 – the doors example further up the page is much more representative
On a tripod, using the Canon TS-E 90 lens at f/8. Using a cable release (no mlu -have not read the manual yet!)
Raw files processed using ACR 4.3 in Photoshop CS3 – all settings at defaults. 100% samples are JPEGs at high quality.
Remember – this is not intended to be a scientific test – I’m doing it to get a feel for what features in the 1Ds3 are going to change how I work, and what sort of results I can expect from different techniques. I’ve been using the 1Ds for nearly four years, and still it gives stunning results.
This was taken in my street with the sun very low, but exposed so as not to clip the sky (1Ds)
At this size there’s no real difference with the 1ds3
Anyway here’s a few crops at 100% (1Ds shot first each time)
Yes, I know they’re not the sharpest images out!
And the difference in noise at ISO 1000 – remember both are at ACR default settings (so there has been some NR) also this crop was to look at noise, not critical focus
Anyway, enough of this!
Time to get on with some work ;-)
Having made sure that my insurance cover is OK, then it’s down the pub later :-)
|List price (body only)||US: $7,999|
|Body material||Magnesium alloy (exterior, chassis and mirror box)|
|Sensor||36 x 24 mm CMOS sensor|
Full 35 mm size frame
RGB Colour Filter Array
Built-in fixed low-pass filter (with self-cleaning unit)
21.9 million total pixels
21.1 million effective pixels
6.4 µm pixel pitch
3:2 aspect ratio
|Image processor||Dual DIGIC III|
|A/D conversion||14 bit|
|Image sizes (JPEG)||5616 x 3744 (L; 21.0 MP)|
4992 x 3328 (M1; 16.6 MP)
4080 x 2720 (M2; 11.0 MP)
2784 x 1856 (S; 5.2 MP)
|Image sizes (RAW)||5616 x 3744 (RAW; 21.0 MP)|
2784 x 1856 (sRAW; 5.2 MP)
|File formats||RAW (.CR2; 14-bit)|
JPEG (EXIF 2.21) – Fine / Normal
RAW + JPEG (separate files)
|File sizes (approx.)||JPEG L: 6.4 MB|
JPEG M1: 5.2 MB
JPEG M2: 3.9 MB
JPEG S: 2.2 MB
RAW: 25.0 MB
sRAW: 14.5 MB
|JPEG quality options||Each JPEG size (L, M1, M2, S) can be set to a quality level of 1 to 10 (1 high compression, low quality – 10 low compression, high quality)|
|Lenses||Canon EF lens mount (does not support EF-S lenses)|
No field of view crop (1.0x)
|Dust reduction||“EOS Integrated Cleaning System”|
Self-cleaning sensor unit (filter in front of sensor vibrates at high frequency at start-up and shutdown – can be disabled)
Dust Delete Data – Data from a test shot is used to ‘map’ dust spots and can be later removed using Canon DPP Software
|Auto focus||45-point TTL|
19 cross-type points, require F2.8 or faster lens *
centre cross-type point requires F4.0 or faster lens
26 assist points, require F5.6 or faster lens *
TTL-AREA-SIR with a CMOS sensor
AF working range: -1.0 to 18 EV (at 23°C, ISO 100)
|Focus modes||One shot AF|
AI Servo AF
|AF point selection||Auto|
Manual (all 19 or inner 9 / outer 9)
|AF assist||External Speedlite only|
|Metering||63 zone metering linked to 19 AF points *|
Metering range: 0 – 20 EV
Modes: centre, Linked to AF point, Multi-spot (up to 8 readings)
|Metering modes||Evaluative (63 zone linked to active AF point)|
Partial (8.5% of picture area)
Spot metering (2.4% of picture area)
|AE lock||Auto: One Shot AF with evaluative metering|
Manual: AE lock button
|Exposure compensation||+/- 3.0 EV|
0.3 or 0.5 EV increments
|Exposure bracketing||2, 3, 5 or 7 shots|
+/- 3.0 EV
0.3 or 0.5 EV increments
|Sensitivity||ISO 100 – 1600|
0.3 or 1.0 EV increments
ISO 50 (Enhanced L)
ISO 3200 (Enhanced H)
300,000 exposure durability *
30 – 1/8000 sec
0.3, 0.5 or 1.0 EV increments
Flash X-Sync: 1/250 sec
|Aperture values||F1.0 – F91|
0.3, 0.5 or 1.0 EV increments
Actual aperture range depends on lens used
|Noise reduction||Long exposure (1 sec or longer)|
Optional for High ISO (default Off) *
Custom (up to 5 can be stored)
Kelvin (2500 – 10000 K in 100 K steps)
Personal WB (up to 5 can be preset in software *)
|WB bracketing||+/-3 levels|
Blue / Amber or Magenta / Green bias
|WB shift||Blue (-9) To Amber (+9)|
Magenta (-9) to Green (+9)
User def. 1
User def. 2
User def. 3
|Custom image parameters||Sharpness: 0 to 7|
Contrast: -4 to +4
Saturation: -4 to +4
Colour tone: -4 to +4
B&W filter: N, Ye, Or, R, G
B&W tone: N, S, B, P, G
100% frame coverage
Magnification: 0.76x * (-1 dioptre with 50 mm lens at infinity)
Eyepoint: 20 mm
Dioptric adjustment: -3 to +1 dioptre
Precision matte screen Ee-C IV (interchangeable)
Eye-piece shutter available via lever
|Mirror||Quick-return half mirror (transmission:reflection ratio 37:63)|
Mirror lock-up (once or multiple exposures)
|Viewfinder info||AF points|
Focus confirmation light
ISO sensitivity *
Exposure compensation amount
Spot metering circle
Red-eye reduction lamp on
Flash compensation amount
Maximum burst for continuous shooting
|LCD monitor||3.0″ TFT LCD|
7 brightness levels
|LCD Live view *||Live TTL display of scene from CMOS image sensor|
100% frame coverage
Real-time evaluative metering using CMOS image sensor
Best view or exposure simulation
Grid optional (thirds)
Magnify optional (5x or 10x at AF point)
Aspect ratio masking for 6:6, 3:4, 4:5, 6:7, 10:12 and 5:7
Remote live view using EOS Utility 2.0 (via USB or WiFi/Ethernet using WFT)
Manual focus only
On (histogram via INFO button)
Display mode same as last used Play mode
2 / 4 / 8 sec / Hold
|Playback modes||1. Single image with exposure, file number, storage slot|
2. As 1 but also image count and quality
3. Detailed exposure information, thumbnail and luminance histogram
4. Less detailed exposure info., thumbnail, luminance and RGB histograms
|Playback features||Optional blinking highlight alert|
Optional AF point display
Magnified view (up to 10x)
2×2 or 3×3 thumbnail index
Jump (by 1, 10, 100 images / by screen, date or folder) *
Delete / Protect
Record audio clip up to 30 seconds
|Flash||No built-in flash unit|
E-TTL II auto flash / metered manual
Flash compensation +/-3.0 EV in 0.3 or 0.5 EV increments
X-Sync: 1/250 sec
High-speed flash with EX-series speedlites up to 1/8000 sec
Hot-shoe & PC Terminal
Silent (single frame) *
High-speed continuous: 5 fps * (adjustable 5 – 2 fps)
Low-speed continuous: 3 fps * (adjustable 4 – 1 fps)
Self-timer: 2 or 10 sec (3 sec with mirror lock-up)
|Burst buffer||Large/Fine JPEG: 56 frames|
RAW: 12 frames
RAW+JPEG: 10 frames
|Auto rotation||On (recorded and LCD display)|
On (recorded only)
|Custom functions||57 custom functions in 4 groups|
|My Menu||Up to six menu options can be customized|
|Wireless||Via WFT-E2/E2A (optional)|
|Connectivity||USB 2.0 Hi-Speed|
N3 type wired remote control
PC Sync flash terminal
|Storage||Compact Flash Type I or II (supports UDMA)|
SD card slot (supports SD/SDHC)
External USB hard drives (requires WFT-E2/E2A)
Canon Original Data Security Kit supported (“Original Image Data”)
|Storage options||Record to one memory card|
Record same image to both CF and SD cards (backup)
Record RAW image to CF and JPEG to SD card
Overflow (once one card becomes full camera uses next card)
Copy from one card to another
|Power||Lithium-Ion LP-E4 rechargeable battery * (supplied & charger)|
|Power information||Current power source|
Current shutter count on this battery charge
|Dimensions||150 x 160 x 80 mm (6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1 in)|
|Weight (no batt)||1205 g (2.7 lb)|
|Weight (inc. batt)||1385 g (3.1 lb)|
All the latest articles and photo news items appear on Keith's Photo blog .
We've a whole section of the site devoted to Digital Black and White photography and printing. It covers all the specialist articles and reviews written by Keith Cooper.
Buying anything from Amazon (not just what's listed) via any of the links below helps Keith and Karen keep the site going - thanks if you do!