Canon 1D X Mark III vs 1Ds Mark II
The Canon EOS-1D X Mark III and the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II are two professional cameras that were announced, respectively, in January 2020 and September 2004. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The 1DX Mark III has a resolution of 20 megapixels, whereas the 1Ds Mark II provides 16.6 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 X Mark III and the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 1D X Mark III and the Canon 1Ds Mark II. 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 width, height and depth measures 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 1Ds Mark II is notably smaller (7 percent) than the Canon 1D X Mark III. Moreover, the 1Ds Mark II is markedly lighter (16 percent) than the 1DX Mark III. 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 1DX Mark III gets 2850 shots out of its LP-E19 battery, while the 1Ds Mark II can take 1200 images on a single charge of its NP-E3 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 X Mark III||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1440 g||2850||Y||Jan 2020||6,499|
|2.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1215 g||1200||Y||Sep 2004||7,999|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark II||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1530 g||1210||Y||Feb 2016||5,999|
|4.||Canon 1D C||158 mm||164 mm||83 mm||1545 g||1120||Y||Apr 2012||14,999|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark III||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||950 g||950||Y||Mar 2012||3,499|
|6.||Canon 1D X||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1551 g||1120||Y||Oct 2011||6,799|
|7.||Canon 1D Mark IV||156 mm||157 mm||80 mm||1230 g||1500||Y||Oct 2009||4,999|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark II||152 mm||114 mm||75 mm||850 g||850||Y||Sep 2008||3,499|
|9.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||150 mm||160 mm||80 mm||1385 g||1800||Y||Aug 2007||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 D6||160 mm||163 mm||92 mm||1270 g||3580||Y||Feb 2020||6,499|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The 1DX Mark III was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 19 percent) than the 1Ds Mark II, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
In terms of chip-set technology, the 1DX Mark III uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC X) than the 1Ds Mark II (DIGIC II), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the 1DX Mark III offers a higher resolution of 20 megapixels, compared with 16.6 MP of the 1Ds Mark II. This megapixels advantage translates into a 10 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the 1DX Mark III has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 6.57μm versus 7.21μm for the 1Ds Mark II). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the 1DX Mark III is much more recent (by 15 years and 3 months) than the 1Ds Mark II, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size.
The resolution advantage of the Canon 1D X Mark III implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 1DX Mark III for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 27.4 x 18.2 inches or 69.5 x 46.3 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 21.9 x 14.6 inches or 55.6 x 37.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 18.2 x 12.2 inches or 46.3 x 30.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 1Ds Mark II are 25 x 16.6 inches or 63.4 x 42.3 cm for good quality, 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.7 x 33.8 cm for very good quality, and 16.6 x 11.1 inches or 42.3 x 28.2 cm for excellent quality prints.
The 1DX Mark III has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Canon EOS-1D X Mark III has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 102400, which can be extended to ISO 50-819200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II are ISO 100 to ISO 1600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-3200.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under review, the 1DX Mark III provides substantially higher image quality than the 1Ds Mark II, with an overall score that is 17 points higher. This advantage is based on 0.9 bits higher color depth, 3.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.1 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 X Mark III||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.2||14.5||3248||91|
|2.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||Full Frame||16.6||4992||3328||none||23.3||11.3||1480||74|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark II||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.1||13.5||3207||88|
|4.||Canon 1D C||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||4K/24p||24.3||13.0||2155||85|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark III||Full Frame||22.1||5760||3840||1080/30p||24.0||11.7||2293||81|
|6.||Canon 1D X||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||23.8||11.8||2786||82|
|7.||Canon 1D Mark IV||APS-H||16.0||4896||3264||1080/30p||22.8||12.0||1320||74|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark II||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79|
|9.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||none||24.0||12.0||1663||80|
|10.||Canon 1Ds||Full Frame||11.0||4064||2704||none||21.8||11.0||954||63|
|12.||Nikon D6||Full Frame||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||25.3||14.3||2886||95|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The 1DX Mark III indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the 1Ds Mark II does not. The highest resolution format that the 1DX Mark III can use is 4K/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 1DX Mark III and the 1Ds Mark II 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 1DX Mark III has a higher magnification than the one of the 1Ds Mark II (0.76x vs 0.70x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 1D X Mark III, the Canon 1Ds Mark II, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Canon 1D X Mark III||optical||Y||3.2 / 2100||fixed||Y||1/8000s||20.0/s||n||n|
|2.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||optical||Y||2.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0/s||n||n|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark II||optical||Y||3.2 / 1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||16.0/s||n||n|
|4.||Canon 1D C||optical||Y||3.2 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||14.0/s||n||n|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark III||optical||Y||3.2 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||n||n|
|6.||Canon 1D X||optical||Y||3.2 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||14.0/s||n||n|
|7.||Canon 1D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||n|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.9/s||n||n|
|9.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||optical||Y||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|10.||Canon 1Ds||optical||Y||2.0 / 120||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0/s||n||n|
|11.||Canon 1D||optical||Y||2.0 / 120||fixed||n||1/16000s||8.0/s||n||n|
|12.||Nikon D6||optical||Y||3.2 / 2359||fixed||Y||1/8000s||14.0/s||n||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The 1DX Mark III has a touchscreen, while the 1Ds Mark II has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.
The Canon 1D X Mark III has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The 1DX Mark III writes its imaging data to CFexpress cards, while the 1Ds Mark II 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 X Mark III and Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon 1D X Mark III||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|2.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark II||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Canon 1D C||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark III||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon 1D X||Y||mono / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon 1D Mark IV||Y||stereo / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark II||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Y||mono / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon 1Ds||Y||- / -||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
|11.||Canon 1D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D6||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.1||Y||-||Y|
It is notable that the 1DX Mark III offers wifi support, while the 1Ds Mark II does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that the 1DX Mark III has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
The 1DX Mark III is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Canon. In contrast, the 1Ds Mark II has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the 1Ds Mark II was succeeded by the Canon 1Ds Mark III. 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? Is the Canon 1D X Mark III better than the Canon 1Ds Mark II or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (20 vs 16.6MP) with a 10% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (17 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (3.2 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.1 stops ISO advantage).
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC X vs DIGIC II).
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 4K/60p movies.
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.76x vs 0.70x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2100k vs 230k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (20 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (2850 versus 1200) on a single battery charge.
- Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 2.0).
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (19 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 15 years and 3 months of technical progress since the 1Ds Mark II launch.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II:
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 225g or 16 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2004).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 1DX Mark III is the clear winner of the match-up (20 : 2 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. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro 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 X Mark III and the Canon 1Ds Mark II 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 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 1DX Mark III or the 1Ds Mark II perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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 X Mark III||..||+ +||5/5||..||4.5/5||4/5||Jan 2020||6,499|
|2.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2004||7,999|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark II||..||..||4.5/5||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||5,999|
|4.||Canon 1D C||..||..||..||..||..||..||Apr 2012||14,999|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark III||..||+ +||..||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2012||3,499|
|6.||Canon 1D X||5/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2011||6,799|
|7.||Canon 1D Mark IV||5/5||..||..||89/100||..||..||Oct 2009||4,999|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark II||4/5||91/100||..||79/100||4/5||..||Sep 2008||3,499|
|9.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||..||..||..||+ +||4.5/5||..||Aug 2007||7,999|
|10.||Canon 1Ds||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2002||8,999|
|11.||Canon 1D||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2001||6,499|
|12.||Nikon D6||..||..||4/5||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2020||6,499|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. 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 use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
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- Canon 1D X Mark III vs Fujifilm GFX 100S
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- Canon 1D X Mark III vs Nikon D3300
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- Canon 1Ds Mark II vs Pentax K-5
Specifications: Canon 1D X Mark III vs Canon 1Ds Mark II
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 X Mark III||Canon 1Ds Mark II|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Canon EF mount lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2020||September 2004|
|Launch Price||USD 6,499||USD 7,999|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 1D X Mark III||Canon 1Ds Mark II|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 24.0 mm||36.0 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||864 mm2||864 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.3 mm||43.3 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20 Megapixels||16.6 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5472 x 3648 pixels||4992 x 3328 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.57 μm||7.21 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.31 MP/cm2||1.92 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/60p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 102,400 ISO||100 - 1,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 819,200 ISO||50 - 3,200 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC X||DIGIC II|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||91||74|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.2||23.3|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.5||11.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||3248||1480|
|Screen Specs||Canon 1D X Mark III||Canon 1Ds Mark II|
|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||3.2inch||2.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||2100k dots||230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 1D X Mark III||Canon 1Ds Mark II|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||20 shutter flaps/s||4 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||500 000 actuations||200 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CFexpress cards||CF or SDHC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 1D X Mark III||Canon 1Ds Mark II|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 3.1||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||no HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Geotagging||GPS built-in||no internal GPS|
|Body Specs||Canon 1D X Mark III||Canon 1Ds Mark II|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||2850 shots per charge||1200 shots per charge|
158 x 168 x 83 mm
(6.2 x 6.6 x 3.3 in)
156 x 158 x 80 mm
(6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1 in)
|Camera Weight||1440 g (50.8 oz)||1215 g (42.9 oz)|
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