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Canon 1D Mark IV versus Canon 1Ds Mark III

The Canon EOS-1D Mark IV and the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III are two professional cameras that were announced, respectively, in October 2009 and August 2007. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-H (1D Mark IV) and a full frame (1Ds Mark III) sensor. The 1D Mark IV has a resolution of 16 megapixel, whereas the 1Ds Mark III provides 21 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Canon 1D Mark IV vs Canon 1Ds Mark III

The physical size and weight of the Canon 1D Mark IV and the Canon 1Ds Mark III are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the 1D Mark IV – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Canon 1D Mark IV vs Canon 1Ds Mark III
1D Mark IV versus 1Ds Mark III top view
1D Mark IV and 1Ds Mark III rear side

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 1Ds Mark III is somewhat smaller (2 percent) than the Canon 1D Mark IV. However, the 1Ds Mark III is markedly heavier (13 percent) than the 1D Mark IV. 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. A larger imaging sensor (as in the 1Ds Mark III) will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, while more compact options are available for the smaller-sensor camera (1D Mark IV). You can find a comprehensive overview of suitable optics in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Canon 1D Mark IV (⇒ rgt) 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 43.4 oz 1500 YES 2009 4,999discont. check
Canon 1Ds Mark III (⇒ lft) 5.9 in 6.3 in 3.1 in 48.9 oz 1800 YES 2007 7,999discont. check
Canon 1D X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.0 oz 1210 YES 2016 5,999 latest check
Canon 1D X (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.7 oz 1120 YES 2011 6,799discont. check
Canon 60D (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.7 in 4.2 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 1100 YES 2010 1,399discont. check
Canon 7D (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.8 in 4.4 in 2.9 in 30.3 oz 800 YES 2009 1,699discont. check
Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.0 in 4.5 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 850 YES 2008 3,499discont. check
Canon 50D (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 800 YES 2008 1,299discont. check
Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 40.7 oz 2200 YES 2007 4,499discont. check
Canon 1Ds Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 42.9 oz 1200 YES 2004 7,999discont. check
Nikon D4 (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.6 in 47.3 oz 2600 YES 2012 5,999discont. check
Nikon D3S (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 43.7 oz 4200 YES 2009 5,199discont. check
Nikon D3X (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 44.4 oz 4400 YES 2008 7,999discont. check

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 1D Mark IV was launched at a markedly lower price (by 38 percent) than the 1Ds Mark III, which puts it into a different 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.

Sensor comparison: Canon 1D Mark IV vs Canon 1Ds Mark III

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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 1D Mark IV features an APS-H sensor and the Canon 1Ds Mark III a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the 1Ds Mark III is 66 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.3 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon 1D Mark IV and Canon 1Ds Mark III sensor measures

With 21MP, the 1Ds Mark III offers a higher resolution than the 1D Mark IV (16MP), but the 1Ds Mark III nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.41μm versus 5.70μm for the 1D Mark IV) due to its larger sensor. However, the 1D Mark IV is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 2 months) than the 1Ds Mark III, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

1D Mark IV versus 1Ds Mark III MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the 1Ds Mark III has a markedly higher DXO score than the 1D Mark IV (overall score 6 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 1.2 bits higher color depth, and 0.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Canon 1D Mark IV (⇒ rgt) APS-H 16.0 4896 3264 1080/30p 22.8 12.0 1320 74
Canon 1Ds Mark III (⇒ lft) Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744 no 24.0 12.0 1663 80
Canon 1D X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 20.0 5472 3648 4K/60p 24.1 13.5 3207 88
Canon 1D X (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 23.8 11.8 2786 82
Canon 60D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 22.2 11.5 813 66
Canon 7D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 22.0 11.7 854 66
Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744 1080/30p 23.7 11.9 1815 79
Canon 50D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 15.1 4752 3168 no 21.8 11.4 696 63
Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-H 10.1 3888 2592 no 22.7 11.7 1078 71
Canon 1Ds Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 16.6 4992 3328 no 23.3 11.3 1480 74
Nikon D4 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 16.2 4928 3280 1080/30p 24.7 13.1 2965 89
Nikon D3S (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832 720/24p 23.5 12.0 3253 82
Nikon D3X (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032 no 24.7 13.7 1992 88

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The 1D Mark IV indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the 1Ds Mark III does not. The highest resolution format that the 1D Mark IV can use is 1080/30p.

Feature comparison: Canon 1D Mark IV vs Canon 1Ds Mark III

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 1D Mark IV and the 1Ds 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 1D Mark IV, the Canon 1Ds Mark III, and comparable cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Canon 1D Mark IV (⇒ rgt) optical YES 3.0 920 fixed no 8000 10.0 no no
Canon 1Ds Mark III (⇒ lft) optical YES 3.0 230 fixed no 8000 5.0 no no
Canon 1D X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1620 fixed YES 8000 16.0 no no
Canon 1D X (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1040 fixed no 8000 14.0 no no
Canon 60D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 1040 swivel no 8000 5.3 13 no
Canon 7D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 920 fixed no 8000 8.0 12 no
Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 920 fixed no 8000 3.9 no no
Canon 50D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 920 fixed no 8000 6.3 13 no
Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 230 fixed no 8000 10.0 no no
Canon 1Ds Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 2.0 230 fixed no 8000 4.0 no no
Nikon D4 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 921 fixed no 8000 11.0 no no
Nikon D3S (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 921 fixed no 8000 11.0 no no
Nikon D3X (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 922 fixed no 8000 5.0 no no

Both the 1D Mark IV and the 1Ds Mark III have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 1Ds Mark III was replaced by the Canon 1DX, while the 1D Mark IV does not have a direct successor.

Review summary: Canon 1D Mark IV vs Canon 1Ds Mark III

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 1D Mark IV and the Canon 1Ds Mark III? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV:

  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/30p movies.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 230k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 155g or 11 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (38 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 2 months of technical progress since the 1Ds Mark III launch.

Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (21 vs 16MP), which boosts linear resolution by 15%.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (6 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.2 bits more color depth).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.3 stops ISO advantage).
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (1800 versus 1500) out of a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2007).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the match-up finishes in a tie (6 points each). 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.

1D Mark IV 06:06 1Ds Mark III

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 1D Mark IV or the 1Ds Mark III. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Canon 1D Mark IV (⇒ rgt) - 89/100 Gold - 5/5 - 2009 4,999discont. check
Canon 1Ds Mark III (⇒ lft) - HiRec 4.5/5 - - 2007 7,999discont. check
Canon 1D X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) - 89/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2016 5,999 latest check
Canon 1D X (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2011 6,799discont. check
Canon 60D (⇒ lft | rgt) 87/100 Rec 79/100 Silver 4/5 5/5 4.5/5 2010 1,399discont. check
Canon 7D (⇒ lft | rgt) 93/100 HiRec 84/100 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2009 1,699discont. check
Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 91/100 79/100 HiRec 4/5 5/5 - 2008 3,499discont. check
Canon 50D (⇒ lft | rgt) 90/100 HiRec HiRec 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2008 1,299discont. check
Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) - - - reviewed - 2007 4,499discont. check
Canon 1Ds Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) - HiRec - - - 2004 7,999discont. check
Nikon D4 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4.5/5 - 4.5/5 2012 5,999discont. check
Nikon D3S (⇒ lft | rgt) - 89/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2009 5,199discont. check
Nikon D3X (⇒ lft | rgt) - 86/100 4/5 5/5 5/5 2008 7,999discont. check

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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please contact me, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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