Canon EOS 1D Mark II SLR Review

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Canon EOS-1D Mark II Pro SLR

First Look posted 04/25/04
Conclusion posted 05/08/04

Click to take a QTVR tour of the EOS-1D Mark II

As of the time of this review, the Canon EOS-1D Mark II is the world's fastest pro-digital SLR camera. It combines a new 8.2 million pixel CMOS sensor with Canon's DIGIC II imaging engine and captures eight-megapixel JPEG images at 8.5fps in continuous bursts of up to 40 frames and RAW images up to 20 frames. Canon took their popular 4.1 megapixel EOS-1D and doubled the resolution of the imaging sensor, doubled the size of the high speed buffer memory and reevaluated, redesigned and in some cases, actually reinvented the technology that makes the new Mark II camera the most reliable and responsive professional digital SLR on the market.

The Mark II is not only fast, it's built to take the daily punishment that photo journalists and sports shooters often subject their cameras to. The camera's exterior and chassis are constructed of a rugged yet lightweight and weather-resistant magnesium alloy. Its shutter is durability-tested to 200,000 exposures, the body is highly weather-resistant with more than 70 gaskets and seals, and the camera's lens mount is made of stainless steel (and is fully compatible with all Canon EF, TS-E and MP-E lenses).

Exposure modes include Manual, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority, Program and Bulb and the ISO range extends from 100 - 1600 in 1/3-step increments (with ISO 50 and ISO 3200 possible). Exposure bracketing options are standard auto bracketing (available through aperture and/or shutter speed) and ISO bracketing which keeps the speed and aperture constant but varies the ISO sensitivity to alter the exposure.

Exposure metering choices include a choice of 21-zone evaluative metering linked to an active AF point, Center-weighted average metering, partial metering (approx. 13.5% of the picture area), Spot metering (approx. 3.8% of the picture area) and Spot metering options including Center only or linked to 9 or 11 AF points as well as multi spot metering. The metering range is from EV0 - 20 for all patterns. Exposure compensation is possible in any Auto exposure mode up to +/-3 stops in 1/3 or 1/2-step increments.

Canon EOS-1D Mark II Pro SLR.

At the heart of the Mark II is its extra-large, high-resolution, Canon 8.2 megapixel CMOS sensor. Measuring 28.7 x 19.1mm and 34.5mm on the diagonal, the CMOS sensor is comprised of 3520 x 2336 recording pixels, each 8.2 microns square, featuring primary RGB filtration and has a 35mm focal length conversion factor of only 1.3x. The Mark II is the first Canon Digital SLR equipped with the next generation DIGIC II image processor, which permits faster processing of large files with superior color rendering and more precise detail. This new DIGIC II chip is twice as fast as the image processor used in the EOS-1D and four times faster than the DIGIC chip in the EOS 10D and EOS Digital Rebel.

In addition to the 8.2 megapixel resolution for JPEG and RAW image files, intermediate JPEG resolution sizes of 6.4MP (medium1) 4.3MP(medium2) and 2.0MP (small) can also be selected. JPEG compression settings can be adjusted independently over a ten-step range for each of these image sizes. The Mark II marks the debut of Canon's new "CR2" RAW file format standard. RAW, JPEG and RAW+JPEG image settings are now selectable on the camera's rear LCD panel.

Adding to its speed and flexibility, the Mark II is compatible with CompactFlash (Type I or II as well as MicroDrives) memory cards up to a theoretical capacity of 2048GB, and is also equipped with a second card slot for SD cards, allowing for successive or simultaneous recording on both types of media. Like its EOS-1D and 1Ds forebears, the Mark II is capable of capturing sound clips up to a maximum of 30 seconds per image.

The Mark II's E-TTL flash metering system has been completely redesigned. Though still compatible with all EX-series Speedlites, the smarter E-TTL II captures the subject as a "plane" and ensures that images containing various colors and levels of reflection are captured accurately and optimally. The system compares the ambient light with the reflected pre-flash off the subject reported in all 17 metering zones and selects the areas with a small difference to be weighted for flash exposure calculation.

Canon has developed entirely new circuitry, calculations and algorithms for the 45-point autofocus system. This new, faster AF operation provides faster "read and react" times in One-Shot AF mode and takes twice as many readings between shots as the EOS-1D with moving subjects in AI Servo AF, allowing for more effective sequential shooting. Twin 32-bit processors that control the focus function and lens drive independently accomplish the extraordinary speed of the Mark II's new autofocus system.

Bundled Software

Included with the Mark II is Canon's Digital Photo Professional (DPP) program that offers users high-speed processing of RAW images. Rivaling and even surpassing features of expensive, stand-alone and plug-in RAW image processing programs, DPP streamlines professional photographers' workflow, providing time and labor saving options such as instantaneous RAW image adjustment display and support for .CR2 and RAW .TIF as well as Exif TIFF and JPEG formats. Among the numerous features DPP provides is the capability to save multiple adjustments to an image as a "recipe" that can be reloaded and used again or applied to other images. In comparison mode, original and edited images can be compared side by side or within a single split image.

DPP is compatible with multiple color space settings including sRGB, Adobe RGB and Wide Gamut RGB as well as Color Management Settings using ICC profiles. Among the array of processing options provided by DPP are color channels, tone curves, exposure compensation, white balance, dynamic range, brightness, contrast, color saturation, ICC Profile embedding and assignment of monitor profiles. Another new feature sure to be embraced by DPP users is the program's ability to allow continuous editing while batches of previously adjusted RAW files are rendered and saved in the background.

The upgraded EOS Viewer Utility/EOS Capture programs permit downloading of images directly from the camera's CF or SD cards to the computer (utilizing the supplied IEEE 1394 cable or a peripheral card reader) for use by DPP or other programs, and the EOS Capture program in particular works together with DPP to support tethered shooting with a full range of image adjustments in studio environments. Once images have been adjusted in DPP, a transfer function allows immediate editing in Photoshop or any other imaging program. The Mark II camera's software bundle also includes a TWAIN Driver (for Windows only) and a WIA Driver (for Windows XP only) as well the PhotoStitch program that automatically composites multiple images into a single image.

Set for delivery to Canon USA, Inc. authorized dealers in April, the EOS-1D Mark II digital camera carries an estimated selling price of $4,499.

2004 Best Professional Digital SLR
Canon EOS 1D MkII

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