Canon EOS 1Ds

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Canon EOS-1Ds Pro SLR

Playback Features

To review captured images you press the DISPLAY button, this puts the camera into playback mode. To chose the desired playback format you hold the DISPLAY button in and rotate the Quick Control dial. The various formats are shown below.

Canon EOS-1Ds Digital SLR

The five icons in the upper left of the rear data LCD indicate the various display formats in playback mode. We'll show you each one of them starting with the INFO screen.

Canon EOS-1Ds Digital SLR

The INFO screen can show all pertinent exposure and camera settings: shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, protected image, voice note attached, image size and quality, exposure mode, metering mode, flash compensation, ISO speed, white balance, date, time and file number. It shows a small thumbnail of the picture and the most important item is the histogram.

There are two display options: (1) show AF point (the small red rectangle seen in the thumbnail image above) and (2) flashing highlight alert.

Canon EOS-1Ds Digital SLR

The Single Image screen shows the picture full screen with the shutter speed, aperture, image size and quality across the top.

Canon EOS-1Ds Digital SLR

There are two Index modes available, the first one displays four thumbnails per screen.

Canon EOS-1Ds Digital SLR

The second Index screen displays 9 thumbnails per screen.

The last option in Playback mode is the Create Folder screen.

Steve's Conclusion

Introduced in mid-2000, the Canon EOS D30 was the first interchangeable lens SLR camera to use a CMOS imager. Its 3.25-megapixel CMOS imager equaled and surpassed CCD imagers of the same resolution. It created noise-free images with exposures as long as 30 seconds and used much less power than its CCD-based peers. In addition to its excellent image quality, the low price of $2999 made the D30 a very attractive, Canon-lens alternative to the Nikon D1. In early 2002 Canon delivered the EOS D60 with a 6-megapixel CMOS imager at an even lower price ($2399) than the D30. The D60 has been in high demand since it first became available and is still in short supply at the time of this writing (December 2002.) In between the D30 and the D60 Canon brought out the EOS-1D, the world's fastest digital SLR. It required a CCD imager to achieve the desired 8fps at 4.1-megapixels, CMOS imagers were just not fast enough. The EOS-1D is built on a ruggedize metal and fully weather-proofed body unlike the D30 and D60 which are housed in much lighter polycarbonate bodies.

Canon announced the new EOS-1Ds at Photokina 2002 in Germany. Physically it's the same on the outside as the EOS-1D but inside it has a full-frame 11.9-megapixel CMOS imager. The D30, D60 and 1D's image sensors are smaller than a 35mm film frame so they cannot use the full coverage of the lens. The imager in the D30 and D60 has a 1.6x focal length multiplier and the 1D's larger imager has a smaller 1.3x focal length multiplier. The EOS-1Ds features a full-frame sensor and therefore has NO focal length multiplier, it captures the same image area as 35mm film. Currently there are only two dSLR cameras with full-frame sensors, the 1Ds and the Contax N Digital. The N Digital has been out for a while now but its $9000 price tag and the fact that it uses very expensive Contax Zeiss lenses has severely limited its appeal. The 1Ds sells for about $1000 less ($8000) and uses Canon EF mount lenses which are very popular with working pro photographers. What does this all mean? Let's put a 50mm lens on all the cameras, on the D30 and D60 it has the same coverage as an 80mm lens. On the EOS-1D it covers 65mm and on the 1Ds, N Digital or Pro 14n it will be 50mm, same as if you were using a film camera. This is important to those who love super-wide angle photography as cameras with focal length multipliers make it challenging if not impossible.

Also on the radar screen is Kodak's new DCS Pro 14n which also touts a full-frame CMOS sensor. The Pro 14n has a resolution of 13.9-megapixels and a rather incredible price of just $4995. It's due to be on the market in the next 30 days. The major difference between the EOS-1Ds and the Pro 14n is the lens mount, it has a Nikon F-mount. And we also expect to hear about a new full-frame SLR from Nikon next year, possibly to be announced at the PMA 2003 show in early March.

The 1Ds creates massive 4064 x 2704 size images that you can almost get lost scrolling inside of when viewed at 100%. These images give you lots of "cropping room" and still have plenty of resolution left to make really big prints - like 16 x 20-inch. For the ultimate image quality shoot in the RAW format and you're able to do a lot of post-capture manipulation with no loss of image data. If you want to be able to quickly use your images then shoot in standard compressed JPEG format. You can even select the JPEG + RAW mode and capture both image formats at the same time. You can set your own JPEG compression ratio as well as vary the image sharpness, chose one of five color matrix (color space) settings and even upload your own custom tone curves. There isn't a good excuse for not being able to get the kind of color that you want from this camera unless you're just not trying.

The most common complaint is that the images look "soft" but this is something we pretty much expect from high-end cameras that employ some type of low-pass filter over the sensor. You can compensate for this with in-camera sharpening but I prefer to do it in software after capture. An over-sharpened image suffers loss of detail much the same as an over- exposed image so avoid the problem whenever possible. My favorite tool is the Quantum Mechanic filter for Photoshop from CameraBits. And if the image is destined for print I usually also add some Photoshop Unsharp Mask as well. Want some expert advice, check out Rob Galbraith's "Understanding Sharpening" mini-tutorial over at the Windows XP Digital Photography site. Even you Macintosh Photoshop users can learn something here.

We've been in search of a full-frame digital SLR for a while now -- now we have it. Most reviewers have commented on the fact that this camera really pushes a wide angle lens to its optical limits. Even the best Canon "L" lenses exhibit lateral chromatic aberation to one extent or another. Canon sent us the 16-35 "L" zoom and I was quite disappointed with the edge blurring that I saw on most shots taken at the 16mm end of the zoom. This has a lot to do with the incredible amount of detail that this camera can capture and the fact that these same lenses are not "perfect" when used on Canon film cameras either. This problem can be minimized if you shoot under optimal lighting conditions, especially outdoor scenics - avoid high noon conditions or super-contrasty light and always opt for slight under-exposure. Good friend Fred Miranda covers this quite well in his EOS-1Ds review, check out his gorgeous wide angle shots!

The basic camera operation of the EOS-1Ds is nearly identical to the EOS-1D. Both of these cameras are based on the professional EOS-1v 35mm film SLR and offer 45-point Area AF, 21-zone Evaluative Metering, wireless TTL flash capability and a highly durable and weather-proofed magnesium body. Shutter speeds from 30 seconds to 1/8000 plus Bulb for really long exposures - like an hour and a half! Noise Reduction can be enabled for exposures beyond 1/15 second and is very effective. ISO sensitivity from 50 up to 1250 and the ISO 1250 pictures are very useable when properly processed. The optical viewfinder has 100% coverage with a complete information display. Full range of exposure modes; Program AE w/Shift, Shutter speed priority, Aperture priority, AE Bracketing, White Balance Bracketing, Canon's exclusive Depth of Field AE and full Manual. The continuous shooting speed is 3 frames/sec maximum versus the EOS-1D with its incredible 8 frames/sec capture rate. This is to be expected as the EOS-1Ds is capturing three times the amount of image data per frame. The maximum burst depth is 10 frames whether you shoot in RAW or JPEG mode. Canon has put some major processing power in this camera as the actual shot-to-shot times aren't that much different from the 4-megapixel EOS-1D. The maximum flash X-synch speed is 1/250 so this could "bother" those that do a lot of daylight fill shots. There are 21 Custom Functions and 25 Personal Functions settable via the menu system, it's highly user-customizable to say the least.

I leave the actual (scientific) timing tests to those with sophisticated instruments and just say this - the EOS-1Ds and EOS-1D are the fastest digital SLR cameras on the planet. The actual auto focus time varies with the lens in use but overall the AF time is "as quick as it gets." These cameras focus as fast as you can press the shutter button, the only "shutter lag time" is in the user's finger. The EOS-1D is the undisputed AF speed demon of the digital world and the EOS-1Ds follows very closely behind it. If the camera is turned ON it is always ready to capture, even when reviewing images all you need do is tap the shutter button and you're ready to go. These are true "professional" cameras and it shows from the build quality of the bodies and lenses to the finished image quality. The one area that you really notice the difference between a D60 and the EOS-1Ds (and EOS-1D) is the weight. This is a heavy camera due to the magnesium chassis and the large, high-capacity NiMH battery pack that runs the length of the camera. Surprisingly the battery life is not that much different between the EOS-1D with its CCD imager and the EOS-1Ds with its CMOS imager. I'd say that we got maybe 60 to 100 shots more per charge with the 1Ds than with the 1D which was a respectable 450-500 shots.

To sum it up simply - you (always) get what you pay for ... At the time of this review the Canon EOS-1Ds is the "ultimate digital SLR" in both features and image quality. It's also one of the most expensive digital cameras which is to be expected given its extensive capabilities. Let's not forget that the top of the line "pro" digital SLRs only a couple of years ago cost in excess of $15,000 and didn't have one-forth of the 1Ds' image resolution. Every year we see the resolution and performance increase as the cost decreases and this year has been no different. If anyone is still saying that they're waiting for digital cameras to catch up to film then they haven't seen or used the Canon EOS-1Ds yet!

RAW Conversion Software Alternative

BreezeBroswer v2.4

In case you don't care for the Canon ZoomBrowser software, Chris Breeze has just released his latest version of BreezeBrowser that now reads/converts Canon RAW files from the EOS-1Ds, Powershot G3 and S45 cameras.

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Sample Photos

Want a second opinion?

Imaging-Resource: EOS-1Ds review

Rob Galbraith - EOS-1Ds Image Quality

Fred Miranda - EOS-1Ds review

DC Resource's EOS-1Ds review

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