Canon 1D Mark II vs 1D Mark III
The Canon EOS-1D Mark II and the Canon EOS-1D Mark III are two professional cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in January 2004 and February 2007. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-H sensor. The 1D Mark II has a resolution of 8.2 megapixels, whereas the 1D Mark III provides 10.1 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS-1D Mark II and the Canon EOS-1D Mark III? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The physical size and weight of the Canon 1D Mark II and the Canon 1D Mark III are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 1D Mark II and the Canon 1D Mark III are of equal size. However, the 1D Mark III is markedly lighter (25 percent) than the 1D Mark II. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the 1D Mark II gets 1200 shots out of its NP-E3 battery, while the 1D Mark III can take 2200 images on a single charge of its LP-E4 power pack. As can be seen in the images above, both cameras have a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Canon 1D Mark II||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1535 g||1200||Y||Jan 2004||4,499|
|2.||Canon 1D Mark III||156 mm||157 mm||80 mm||1155 g||2200||Y||Feb 2007||4,499|
|3.||Canon 5DS||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|4.||Canon 5DS R||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|5.||Canon 1D Mark IV||156 mm||157 mm||80 mm||1230 g||1500||Y||Oct 2009||4,999|
|6.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||150 mm||160 mm||80 mm||1385 g||1800||Y||Aug 2007||7,999|
|7.||Canon 1D Mark II N||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1565 g||1200||Y||Aug 2005||3,999|
|8.||Canon 5D||152 mm||113 mm||75 mm||895 g||400||Y||Aug 2005||3,299|
|9.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1215 g||1200||Y||Sep 2004||7,999|
|10.||Canon 1Ds||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1265 g||600||Y||Sep 2002||8,999|
|11.||Canon 1D||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1585 g||500||Y||Sep 2001||6,499|
|12.||Nikon D3||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1300 g||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The two cameras under review were launched at the same price and fall into the same market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-H sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the 1D Mark III is 4 percent smaller. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.3. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Technology-wise, the 1D Mark III uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC III) than the 1D Mark II (DIGIC II), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the 1D Mark III offers a higher resolution of 10.1 megapixels, compared with 8.2 MP of the 1D Mark II. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 7.21μm versus 8.17μm for the 1D Mark II). However, it should be noted that the 1D Mark III is much more recent (by 3 years) than the 1D Mark II, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
The resolution advantage of the Canon 1D Mark III implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 1D Mark III for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 19.4 x 13 inches or 49.4 x 32.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 15.6 x 10.4 inches or 39.5 x 26.3 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13 x 8.6 inches or 32.9 x 21.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 1D Mark II are 17.5 x 11.7 inches or 44.5 x 29.7 cm for good quality, 14 x 9.3 inches or 35.6 x 23.7 cm for very good quality, and 11.7 x 7.8 inches or 29.7 x 19.8 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS-1D Mark II has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 50-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon EOS-1D Mark III are ISO 100 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-6400.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the 1D Mark III has a markedly higher DXO score than the 1D Mark II (overall score 5 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.4 bits higher color depth, 0.6 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|1.||Canon 1D Mark II||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||none||22.3||11.1||1003||66|
|2.||Canon 1D Mark III||APS-H||10.1||3888||2592||none||22.7||11.7||1078||71|
|3.||Canon 5DS||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.7||12.4||2381||87|
|4.||Canon 5DS R||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.6||12.4||2308||86|
|5.||Canon 1D Mark IV||APS-H||16.0||4896||3264||1080/30p||22.8||12.0||1320||74|
|6.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||none||24.0||12.0||1663||80|
|7.||Canon 1D Mark II N||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||none||22.3||11.2||975||66|
|8.||Canon 5D||Full Frame||12.7||4368||2912||none||22.9||11.1||1368||71|
|9.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||Full Frame||16.6||4992||3328||none||23.3||11.3||1480||74|
|10.||Canon 1Ds||Full Frame||11.0||4064||2704||none||21.8||11.0||954||63|
|12.||Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 1D Mark II and the 1D Mark III are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the 1D Mark III has a higher magnification than the one of the 1D Mark II (0.58x vs 0.55x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 1D Mark II and Canon 1D Mark III along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Canon 1D Mark II||optical||Y||2.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||n||n|
|2.||Canon 1D Mark III||optical||Y||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||n||n|
|3.||Canon 5DS||optical||Y||3.2 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|4.||Canon 5DS R||optical||Y||3.2 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|5.||Canon 1D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||n||n|
|6.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||optical||Y||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|7.||Canon 1D Mark II N||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.5||n||n|
|8.||Canon 5D||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0||n||n|
|9.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||optical||Y||2.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0||n||n|
|10.||Canon 1Ds||optical||Y||2.0 / 120||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0||n||n|
|11.||Canon 1D||optical||Y||2.0 / 120||fixed||n||1/16000s||8.0||n||n|
|12.||Nikon D3||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n|
The 1D Mark II writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SD cards, while the 1D Mark III uses Compact Flash or SDHC cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS-1D Mark II and Canon EOS-1D Mark III and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon 1D Mark II||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|2.||Canon 1D Mark III||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 5DS||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Canon 5DS R||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Canon 1D Mark IV||Y||stereo / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Y||mono / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon 1D Mark II N||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon 5D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon 1Ds||Y||- / -||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
|11.||Canon 1D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D3||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
Both the 1D Mark II and the 1D Mark III have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 1D Mark II was replaced by the Canon 1D Mark II N, while the 1D Mark III was followed by the Canon 1D Mark IV. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon website.
So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 1D Mark II or the Canon 1D Mark III – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Canon EOS-1D Mark II:
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in January 2004).
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS-1D Mark III:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (10.1 vs 8.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 11%.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (5 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.6 EV of extra DR).
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC III vs DIGIC II).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.58x vs 0.55x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 8.3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 380g or 25 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (2200 versus 1200) out of a single battery charge.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (2.0 vs 1.1).
- More modern: Reflects 3 years of technical progress since the 1D Mark II launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 1D Mark III is the clear winner of the contest (11 : 1 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 1D Mark II and the Canon 1D Mark III place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 1D Mark II and the 1D Mark III in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Canon 1D Mark II||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Jan 2004||4,499|
|2.||Canon 1D Mark III||..||..||..||..||..||..||Feb 2007||4,499|
|3.||Canon 5DS||..||+||..||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|4.||Canon 5DS R||5/5||+||..||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|5.||Canon 1D Mark IV||5/5||..||..||89/100||..||..||Oct 2009||4,999|
|6.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||..||..||..||+ +||4.5/5||..||Aug 2007||7,999|
|7.||Canon 1D Mark II N||..||..||..||..||..||..||Aug 2005||3,999|
|8.||Canon 5D||..||88/100||..||+ +||o||..||Aug 2005||3,299|
|9.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2004||7,999|
|10.||Canon 1Ds||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2002||8,999|
|11.||Canon 1D||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2001||6,499|
|12.||Nikon D3||..||..||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||4,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon 1D Mark II vs Canon 50D
- Canon 1D Mark II vs Canon G9 X
- Canon 1D Mark II vs Fujifilm XP140
- Canon 1D Mark II vs Olympus E-PM2
- Canon 1D Mark II vs Panasonic GM1
- Canon 1D Mark II vs Sony HX350
- Canon 1D Mark III vs Fujifilm X-S10
- Canon 1D Mark III vs Nikon D700
- Canon 1D Mark III vs Olympus E-PL3
- Canon 1D Mark III vs Panasonic GH3
- Canon 1D Mark III vs Pentax K-1 II
- Canon 1D Mark III vs Samsung NX1
Specifications: Canon 1D Mark II vs Canon 1D Mark III
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon 1D Mark II||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Canon EF mount lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2004||February 2007|
|Launch Price||USD 4,499||USD 4,499|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 1D Mark II||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Sensor Format||APS-H Sensor||APS-H Sensor|
|Sensor Size||28.7 x 19.1 mm||28.1 x 18.7 mm|
|Sensor Area||548.17 mm2||525.47 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||34.5 mm||33.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||8.2 Megapixels||10.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3504 x 2336 pixels||3888 x 2592 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||8.17 μm||7.21 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.49 MP/cm2||1.92 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 3,200 ISO||50 - 6,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC II||DIGIC III|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||66||71|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.3||22.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.1||11.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1003||1078|
|Screen Specs||Canon 1D Mark II||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 1D Mark II||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||8.3 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or SD cards||CF or SDHC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 1D Mark II||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 1.1||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 1D Mark II||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1200 shots per charge||2200 shots per charge|
156 x 158 x 80 mm
(6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1 in)
156 x 157 x 80 mm
(6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1 in)
|Camera Weight||1535 g (54.1 oz)||1155 g (40.7 oz)|
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