Canon 1D Mark IV vs Nikon D3S
The Canon EOS-1D Mark IV and the Nikon D3S are two professional cameras that were revealed to the public in October 2009. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-H (1D Mark IV) and a full frame (D3S) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 16 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 12.1 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their sensors, their features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
|Canon 1D Mark IV||Nikon D3S|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Canon EF mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|16 MP, APS-H Sensor||12.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor|
|1080/30p Video||720/24p Video|
|ISO 100-12800 (50-102400)||ISO 200-12800 (100-102400)|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|3.0" LCD, 920k dots||3.0" LCD, 921k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|10 shutter flaps per second||11 shutter flaps per second|
|Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|1500 shots per battery charge||4200 shots per battery charge|
|156 x 157 x 80 mm, 1230 g||160 x 157 x 88 mm, 1240 g|
Body comparison: Canon 1D Mark IV vs Nikon D3S
The physical size and weight of the Canon 1D Mark IV and the Nikon D3S are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. 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 Nikon D3S is somewhat larger (3 percent) than the Canon 1D Mark IV. Moreover, the D3S is slightly heavier (1 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 will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (1D Mark IV) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D3S).
Concerning battery life, the 1D Mark IV gets 1500 shots out of its LP-E4 battery, while the D3S can take 4200 images on a single charge of its EN-EL4a 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 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.
|Canon 1D Mark IV»||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||43.4 oz||1500||Y||Oct 2009||4,999||-||Canon 1D Mark IV|
|Nikon D3S«||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.5 in||43.7 oz||4200||Y||Oct 2009||5,199||-||Nikon D3S|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||6.2 in||6.6 in||3.3 in||54.0 oz||1210||Y||Feb 2016||5,999||Canon 1D X Mark II|
|Canon 1D X« »||6.2 in||6.6 in||3.3 in||54.7 oz||1120||Y||Oct 2011||6,799||-||Canon 1D X|
|Canon 60D« »||5.7 in||4.2 in||3.1 in||26.6 oz||1100||Y||Aug 2010||1,399||-||Canon 60D|
|Canon 7D« »||5.8 in||4.4 in||2.9 in||30.3 oz||800||Y||Sep 2009||1,699||-||Canon 7D|
|Canon 5D Mark II« »||6.0 in||4.5 in||3.0 in||30.0 oz||850||Y||Sep 2008||3,499||-||Canon 5D Mark II|
|Canon 1D Mark III« »||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||40.7 oz||2200||Y||Feb 2007||4,499||-||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Canon 1D Mark II« »||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||54.1 oz||1200||Y||Jan 2004||4,499||-||Canon 1D Mark II|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II« »||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||42.9 oz||1200||Y||Sep 2004||7,999||-||Canon 1Ds Mark II|
|Nikon D5« »||6.3 in||6.3 in||3.6 in||49.9 oz||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499||Nikon D5|
|Nikon D4« »||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.6 in||47.3 oz||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999||-||Nikon D4|
|Nikon D3X« »||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.5 in||44.4 oz||4400||Y||Dec 2008||7,999||-||Nikon D3X|
|Nikon D700« »||5.8 in||4.8 in||3.0 in||37.9 oz||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999||-||Nikon D700|
|Nikon D3« »||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.5 in||45.9 oz||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999||-||Nikon D3|
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 1D Mark IV was somewhat cheaper (by 4 percent) than the D3S at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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.
Sensor comparison: Canon 1D Mark IV vs Nikon D3S
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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 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 Nikon D3S a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D3S 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.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon 1D Mark IV offers a higher resolution of 16 megapixels, compared with 12.1 MP of the Nikon D3S. 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 5.70μm versus 8.43μm for the D3S). It is noteworthy in this context that the two cameras were released in close succession, so that their sensors are from the same technological generation.
The Canon EOS-1D Mark IV has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12800, which can be extended to ISO 50-102400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D3S are ISO 200 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-102400..
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 D3S has a markedly higher DXO score than the 1D Mark IV (overall score 8 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.7 bits higher color depth, and 1.3 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.
|Canon 1D Mark IV»||APS-H||16.0||4896||3264||1080/30p||22.8||12.0||1320||74||Canon 1D Mark IV|
|Nikon D3S«||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82||Nikon D3S|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.1||13.5||3207||88||Canon 1D X Mark II|
|Canon 1D X« »||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||23.8||11.8||2786||82||Canon 1D X|
|Canon 60D« »||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.2||11.5||813||66||Canon 60D|
|Canon 7D« »||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.0||11.7||854||66||Canon 7D|
|Canon 5D Mark II« »||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79||Canon 5D Mark II|
|Canon 1D Mark III« »||APS-H||10.1||3888||2592||-||22.7||11.7||1078||71||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Canon 1D Mark II« »||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||-||22.3||11.1||1003||66||Canon 1D Mark II|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II« »||Full Frame||16.6||4992||3328||-||23.3||11.3||1480||74||Canon 1Ds Mark II|
|Nikon D5« »||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88||Nikon D5|
|Nikon D4« »||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89||Nikon D4|
|Nikon D3X« »||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||-||24.7||13.7||1992||88||Nikon D3X|
|Nikon D700« »||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||-||23.5||12.2||2303||80||Nikon D700|
|Nikon D3« »||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||-||23.5||12.2||2290||81||Nikon D3|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the 1D Mark IV provides a higher video resolution than the D3S. It can shoot video footage at 1080/30p, while the Nikon is limited to 720/24p.
Feature comparison: Canon 1D Mark IV vs Nikon D3S
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 1D Mark IV and the D3S 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 D3S has a higher magnification than the one of the 1D Mark IV (0.70x vs 0.58x), 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 IV and Nikon D3S along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|Canon 1D Mark IV»||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||8000||10.0||n||n||Canon 1D Mark IV|
|Nikon D3S«||optical||Y||3.0||921||fixed||n||8000||11.0||n||n||Nikon D3S|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||8000||16.0||n||n||Canon 1D X Mark II|
|Canon 1D X« »||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||8000||14.0||n||n||Canon 1D X|
|Canon 60D« »||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||n||8000||5.3||Y||n||Canon 60D|
|Canon 7D« »||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||8000||8.0||Y||n||Canon 7D|
|Canon 5D Mark II« »||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||8000||3.9||n||n||Canon 5D Mark II|
|Canon 1D Mark III« »||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||8000||10.0||n||n||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Canon 1D Mark II« »||optical||Y||2.0||230||fixed||n||8000||8.3||n||n||Canon 1D Mark II|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II« »||optical||Y||2.0||230||fixed||n||8000||4.0||n||n||Canon 1Ds Mark II|
|Nikon D5« »||optical||Y||3.2||2359||fixed||Y||8000||14.0||n||n||Nikon D5|
|Nikon D4« »||optical||Y||3.2||921||fixed||n||8000||11.0||n||n||Nikon D4|
|Nikon D3X« »||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||8000||5.0||n||n||Nikon D3X|
|Nikon D700« »||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||8000||8.0||Y||n||Nikon D700|
|Nikon D3« »||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||8000||11.0||n||n||Nikon D3|
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the 1D Mark IV and the D3S write their files to Compact Flash cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.
Connectivity comparison: Canon 1D Mark IV vs Nikon D3S
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 IV and Nikon D3S and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Canon 1D Mark IV»||Y||stereo||-||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 1D Mark IV|
|Nikon D3S«||Y||stereo||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3S|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-||Canon 1D X Mark II|
|Canon 1D X« »||Y||mono||-||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 1D X|
|Canon 60D« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 60D|
|Canon 7D« »||Y||mono||-||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 7D|
|Canon 5D Mark II« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 5D Mark II|
|Canon 1D Mark III« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Canon 1D Mark II« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-||Canon 1D Mark II|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 1Ds Mark II|
|Nikon D5« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-||Nikon D5|
|Nikon D4« »||Y||mono||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D4|
|Nikon D3X« »||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3X|
|Nikon D700« »||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D700|
|Nikon D3« »||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3|
It is notable that the 1D Mark IV has a microphone port, which is missing on the D3S. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
Both the 1D Mark IV and the D3S have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D3S was replaced by the Nikon D4, while the 1D Mark IV does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras, as well as related accessories, can be found on the Canon and Nikon websites.
Review summary: Canon 1D Mark IV vs Nikon D3S
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 1D Mark IV and the Nikon D3S? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (16 vs 12.1MP) with a 15% higher linear resolution.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/30p vs 720/24p).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
Advantages of the Nikon D3S:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (8 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.3 stops ISO advantage).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.58x).
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (4200 versus 1500) out of a single battery charge.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D3S comes out slightly ahead of the 1D Mark IV (4 : 3 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 1D Mark IV or the D3S perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
Expert reviews: Canon 1D Mark IV vs Nikon D3S
This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog).
|Canon 1D Mark IV»||-||89/100||-||5/5||-||Oct 2009||4,999||-||Canon 1D Mark IV|
|Nikon D3S«||-||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Oct 2009||5,199||-||Nikon D3S|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||-||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||5,999||Canon 1D X Mark II|
|Canon 1D X« »||-||-||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2011||6,799||-||Canon 1D X|
|Canon 60D« »||+||79/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||1,399||-||Canon 60D|
|Canon 7D« »||++||84/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||1,699||-||Canon 7D|
|Canon 5D Mark II« »||91/100||79/100||4/5||5/5||-||Sep 2008||3,499||-||Canon 5D Mark II|
|Canon 1D Mark III« »||-||-||-||o||-||Feb 2007||4,499||-||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Canon 1D Mark II« »||-||++||-||o||-||Jan 2004||4,499||-||Canon 1D Mark II|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II« »||-||++||-||-||-||Sep 2004||7,999||-||Canon 1Ds Mark II|
|Nikon D5« »||-||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499||Nikon D5|
|Nikon D4« »||-||-||4.5/5||-||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999||-||Nikon D4|
|Nikon D3X« »||-||86/100||4/5||5/5||5/5||Dec 2008||7,999||-||Nikon D3X|
|Nikon D700« »||89/100||++||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999||-||Nikon D700|
|Nikon D3« »||-||++||5/5||o||4.5/5||Aug 2007||4,999||-||Nikon D3|
|Notes: ++) highly recommended; +) recommended; o) reviewed; -) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
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 use the search menu below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon 7D II vs Leica M Typ 262
- Canon 7D vs Canon 600D
- Canon XSi vs Nikon D850
- Fujifilm X-T20 vs Sony A5100
- Nikon D5600 vs Nikon D100
- Panasonic GM5 vs Olympus E-P5
- Pentax K-3 vs Nikon D5600
- Ricoh GR II vs Canon G9 X
- Sony A5000 vs Samsung NX30
- Sony A7 III vs Canon M6
- Sony A7 III vs Panasonic ZS200
- Sony RX100 III vs Leica TL2
Specifications: Canon 1D Mark IV vs Nikon D3S
|Camera Model||Canon 1D Mark IV||Nikon D3S|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||October 2009||October 2009|
|Launch Price||USD 4999||USD 5199|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 1D Mark IV||Nikon D3S|
|Sensor Format||APS-H Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||27.9 x 18.6 mm||36.0 x 18.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||518.94 mm2||860.4 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||33.5 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||16 Megapixels||12.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4896 x 3264 pixels||4256 x 2832 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.70 μm||8.43 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.08 MP/cm2||1.40 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||720/24p Video|
|ISO Setting||100-12800 ISO||200-12800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50-102400 ISO||100-102400 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC IV||EXPEED|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||74||82|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.8||23.5|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.0||12.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1320||3253|
|Screen Specs||Canon 1D Mark IV||Nikon D3S|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||920k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 1D Mark IV||Nikon D3S|
|Autofocus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Maximum Shutter Speed||1/8000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||10 shutter flaps/s||11 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||300 000 actuations||300 000 actuations|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||CF cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 1D Mark IV||Nikon D3S|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 1D Mark IV||Nikon D3S|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Type||LP-E4 power pack||EN-EL4a power pack|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1500 shots per charge||4200 shots per charge|
156 x 157 x 80 mm
(6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1 in)
160 x 157 x 88 mm
(6.3 x 6.2 x 3.5 in)
|Camera Weight||1230 g (43.4 oz)||1240 g (43.7 oz)|
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