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Canon 1Ds Mark II versus Canon 1Ds Mark III

The Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II and the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III are two professional cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2004 and August 2007. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The 1Ds Mark II has a resolution of 16.6 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 1Ds Mark II vs Canon 1Ds Mark III

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 1Ds Mark II and the Canon 1Ds Mark III is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the 1Ds Mark II – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Canon 1Ds Mark II vs Canon 1Ds Mark III
Compare 1Ds Mark II versus 1Ds Mark III top
Compare 1Ds Mark II and 1Ds Mark III rear

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 1Ds Mark II. However, the 1Ds Mark III is markedly heavier (14 percent) than the 1Ds 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 find an overview of suitable optics in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the 1Ds Mark II gets 1200 shots out of its NP-E3 battery, while the 1Ds Mark III can take 1800 images on a single charge of its LP-E4 power pack.

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
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Canon 1Ds Mark II» 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 42.9 oz 1200 Y Sep 2004 7,999- i
Canon 1Ds Mark III« 5.9 in 6.3 in 3.1 in 48.9 oz 1800 Y Aug 2007 7,999- i
Canon 1D X Mark II« » 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.0 oz 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999 i i
Canon 6D« » 5.7 in 4.4 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 1090 Y Sep 2012 2,099- i
Canon 1D X« » 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.7 oz 1120 Y Oct 2011 6,799- i
Canon 1D Mark IV« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 43.4 oz 1500 Y Oct 2009 4,999- i
Canon 5D Mark II« » 6.0 in 4.5 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 850 Y Sep 2008 3,499- i
Canon 1D Mark III« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 40.7 oz 2200 Y Feb 2007 4,499- i
Canon 5D« » 6.0 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 31.6 oz 400 Y Aug 2005 3,299- i
Canon 1D Mark II N« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 55.2 oz 1200 Y Aug 2005 3,999- i
Canon 1D Mark II« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 54.1 oz 1200 Y Jan 2004 4,499- i
Canon 1Ds« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 44.6 oz 600 Y Sep 2002 8,999- i
Nikon D3X« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 44.4 oz 4400 Y Dec 2008 7,999- i

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 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Canon 1Ds Mark II 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.

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.

Canon 1Ds Mark II and Canon 1Ds Mark III sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the 1Ds Mark III offers a higher resolution of 21 megapixel, compared with 16.6 MP of the 1Ds Mark II. This megapixel advantage translates into a 13 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the 1Ds Mark III has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 6.41μm versus 7.21μm for the 1Ds Mark II). However, it should be noted that the 1Ds Mark III is much more recent (by 2 years and 10 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.

1Ds Mark II versus 1Ds Mark III MP

For most 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 1Ds Mark III has a markedly higher DXO score than the 1Ds Mark II (overall score 6 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.7 bits higher color depth, 0.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.2 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Canon 1Ds Mark II» Full Frame 16.6 4992 3328-23.311.3148074
Canon 1Ds Mark III« Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744-24.012.0166380
Canon 1D X Mark II« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788
Canon 6D« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.812.1234082
Canon 1D X« » Full Frame 17.9 5184 34561080/30p23.811.8278682
Canon 1D Mark IV« » APS-H 16.0 4896 32641080/30p22.812.0132074
Canon 5D Mark II« » Full Frame 21.0 5616 37441080/30p23.711.9181579
Canon 1D Mark III« » APS-H 10.1 3888 2592-22.711.7107871
Canon 5D« » Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912-22.911.1136871
Canon 1D Mark II N« » APS-H 8.2 3504 2336-22.311.297566
Canon 1D Mark II« » APS-H 8.2 3504 2336-22.311.1100366
Canon 1Ds« » Full Frame 11.0 4064 2704-21.811.095463
Nikon D3X« » Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032-24.713.7199288
The 1Ds Mark III offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The 1Ds Mark II lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
 

Feature comparison: Canon 1Ds Mark II vs Canon 1Ds Mark III

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 1Ds Mark II 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 1Ds Mark II and Canon 1Ds Mark III along with similar information for a selection of comparators. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Canon 1Ds Mark II»optical Y 2.0 230 fixed n 8000 4.0 n n
Canon 1Ds Mark III«optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n
Canon 1D X Mark II« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 16.0 n n
Canon 6D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 4000 4.5 n n
Canon 1D X« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 14.0 n n
Canon 1D Mark IV« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 10.0 n n
Canon 5D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 3.9 n n
Canon 1D Mark III« »optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 8000 10.0 n n
Canon 5D« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 3.0 n n
Canon 1D Mark II N« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 8.5 n n
Canon 1D Mark II« »optical Y 2.0 230 fixed n 8000 8.3 n n
Canon 1Ds« »optical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 8000 3.0 n n
Nikon D3X« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n

Both the 1Ds Mark II and the 1Ds Mark III have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 1Ds Mark II was replaced by the Canon 1Ds Mark III, while the 1Ds Mark III was followed by the Canon 1DX.

Review summary: Canon 1Ds Mark II vs Canon 1Ds Mark III

So what is the bottom line? Is the Canon 1Ds Mark II better than the Canon 1Ds Mark III or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


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

  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 170g or 12 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2004).


Advantages of the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (21 vs 16.6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 13%.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (6 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.7 EV of extra DR).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (1800 versus 1200) out of a single battery charge.
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 10 months of technical progress since the 1Ds Mark II launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 1Ds Mark III is the clear winner of the contest (7 : 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.

1Ds Mark II 02:07 1Ds Mark III

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 1Ds Mark II 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). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Canon 1Ds Mark II»-HiRec--- Sep 2004 7,999- i
Canon 1Ds Mark III«-HiRec4.5/5-- Aug 2007 7,999- i
Canon 1D X Mark II« »-89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999 i i
Canon 6D« »HiRec83/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099- i
Canon 1D X« »--4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2011 6,799- i
Canon 1D Mark IV« »-89/100-5/5- Oct 2009 4,999- i
Canon 5D Mark II« »91/10079/1004/55/5- Sep 2008 3,499- i
Canon 1D Mark III« »---rev- Feb 2007 4,499- i
Canon 5D« »88/100HiRecrevrev- Aug 2005 3,299- i
Canon 1D Mark II N« »----- Aug 2005 3,999- i
Canon 1D Mark II« »-HiRec-rev- Jan 2004 4,499- i
Canon 1Ds« »-HiRec--- Sep 2002 8,999- i
Nikon D3X« »-86/1004/55/55/5 Dec 2008 7,999- i

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes 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. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please send me an email, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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