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Canon 1Ds Mark II versus Olympus E-1

The Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II and the Olympus E-1 are two professional cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2004 and June 2003. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (1Ds Mark II) and a Four Thirds (E-1) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 16.6 megapixel, whereas the Olympus provides 4.9 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 Olympus E-1

The physical size and weight of the Canon 1Ds Mark II and the Olympus E-1 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 1Ds Mark II – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Canon 1Ds Mark II vs Olympus E-1
1Ds Mark II versus E-1 top view
1Ds Mark II and E-1 rear side

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-1 is considerably smaller (40 percent) than the Canon 1Ds Mark II. Moreover, the E-1 is substantially lighter (39 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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (1Ds Mark II) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-1).

Concerning battery life, the 1Ds Mark II gets 1200 shots out of its NP-E3 battery, while the E-1 can take 750 images on a single charge of its BLM-1 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 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 1Ds Mark II (⇒ rgt) 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 42.9 oz 1200 YES 2004 7,999discont. check
Olympus E-1 (⇒ lft) 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.2 in 26.0 oz 750 YES 2003 1,699discont. 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 6D (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.7 in 4.4 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 1090 YES 2012 2,099discont. 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 1D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 43.4 oz 1500 YES 2009 4,999discont. check
Canon 1Ds Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.9 in 6.3 in 3.1 in 48.9 oz 1800 YES 2007 7,999discont. 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 5D (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.0 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 31.6 oz 400 YES 2005 3,299discont. check
Canon 1D Mark II N (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 55.2 oz 1200 YES 2005 3,999discont. check
Canon 1D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 54.1 oz 1200 YES 2004 4,499discont. check
Canon 1Ds (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 44.6 oz 600 YES 2002 8,999discont. check
Leica Digilux 3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.7 in 3.4 in 3.0 in 21.4 oz 750 no 2006 1,499discont. check
Olympus E-5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.6 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 30.8 oz 750 YES 2010 1,699discont. check
Olympus E-3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.6 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 30.9 oz 750 YES 2007 1,699discont. check
Olympus E-330 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.5 in 3.4 in 2.8 in 22.5 oz 750 no 2006 999discont. check
Olympus E-300 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.8 in 3.3 in 2.5 in 22.0 oz 750 no 2004 799discont. 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 E-1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 79 percent) than the 1Ds Mark II, 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 1Ds Mark II vs Olympus E-1

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. 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 1Ds Mark II features a full frame sensor and the Olympus E-1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-1 is 74 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 2.0. The sensor in the 1Ds Mark II has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-1 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Canon 1Ds Mark II and Olympus E-1 sensor measures

With 16.6MP, the 1Ds Mark II offers a higher resolution than the E-1 (4.9MP), but the 1Ds Mark II nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 7.21μm versus 6.78μm for the E-1) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the 1Ds Mark II is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 2 months) than the E-1, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

1Ds Mark II versus E-1 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"). 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
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Canon 1Ds Mark II (⇒ rgt) Full Frame 16.6 4992 3328 no 23.3 11.3 1480 74
Olympus E-1 (⇒ lft) Four Thirds 4.9 2560 1920 no - - - -
Canon 1D X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 20.0 5472 3648 4K/60p 24.1 13.5 3207 88
Canon 6D (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 20.0 5472 3648 1080/30p 23.8 12.1 2340 82
Canon 1D X (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 23.8 11.8 2786 82
Canon 1D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-H 16.0 4896 3264 1080/30p 22.8 12.0 1320 74
Canon 1Ds Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744 no 24.0 12.0 1663 80
Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-H 10.1 3888 2592 no 22.7 11.7 1078 71
Canon 5D (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912 no 22.9 11.1 1368 71
Canon 1D Mark II N (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-H 8.2 3504 2336 no 22.3 11.2 975 66
Canon 1D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-H 8.2 3504 2336 no 22.3 11.1 1003 66
Canon 1Ds (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 11.0 4064 2704 no 21.8 11.0 954 63
Leica Digilux 3 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352 no - - - -
Olympus E-5 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024 720/30p 21.6 10.5 519 56
Olympus E-3 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736 no 21.6 10.5 571 56
Olympus E-330 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352 no - - - -
Olympus E-300 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448 no - - - -
Neither the 1Ds Mark II nor the E-1 offer Live View, so that they cannot project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen. Moreover, both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.

Feature comparison: Canon 1Ds Mark II vs Olympus E-1

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 1Ds Mark II and the E-1 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 1Ds Mark II and Olympus E-1 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

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 1Ds Mark II (⇒ rgt) optical YES 2.0 230 fixed no 8000 4.0 no no
Olympus E-1 (⇒ lft) optical YES 1.8 134 fixed no 4000 3.0 no no
Canon 1D X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1620 fixed YES 8000 16.0 no no
Canon 6D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 1040 fixed no 4000 4.5 no no
Canon 1D X (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1040 fixed no 8000 14.0 no no
Canon 1D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 920 fixed no 8000 10.0 no no
Canon 1Ds Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 230 fixed no 8000 5.0 no no
Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 230 fixed no 8000 10.0 no no
Canon 5D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 2.5 230 fixed no 8000 3.0 no no
Canon 1D Mark II N (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 2.5 230 fixed no 8000 8.5 no no
Canon 1D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 2.0 230 fixed no 8000 8.3 no no
Canon 1Ds (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 2.0 120 fixed no 8000 3.0 no no
Leica Digilux 3 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 207 fixed no 4000 3.0 13 no
Olympus E-5 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 920 swivel no 8000 5.0 13 YES
Olympus E-3 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 2.5 230 swivel no 8000 5.0 13 YES
Olympus E-330 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 215 tilting no 4000 3.0 13 no
Olympus E-300 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 1.8 134 fixed no 4000 2.5 11 no

Both the 1Ds Mark II and the E-1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-1 was replaced by the Olympus E-3, while the 1Ds Mark II was followed by the Canon 1Ds Mark III.

Review summary: Canon 1Ds Mark II vs Olympus E-1

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 1Ds Mark II or the Olympus E-1 – has the upper hand? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


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Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (16.6 vs 4.9MP) with a 88% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Features a larger and more technologically advanced imaging sensor.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.0" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (230k vs 134k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1200 versus 750) on a single battery charge.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 2 months after the E-1).

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Advantages of the Olympus E-1:

  • More compact: Is smaller (141x104mm vs 156x157.6mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 477g or 39 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (79 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in June 2003).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 1Ds Mark II is the clear winner of the match-up (8 : 4 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 08:04 E-1

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 1Ds Mark II or the E-1 handle or 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. This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed 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 1Ds Mark II (⇒ rgt) - HiRec - - - 2004 7,999discont. check
Olympus E-1 (⇒ lft) - Rec reviewed reviewed - 2003 1,699discont. 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 6D (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 83/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2012 2,099discont. check
Canon 1D X (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2011 6,799discont. check
Canon 1D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt) - 89/100 Gold - 5/5 - 2009 4,999discont. check
Canon 1Ds Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) - HiRec 4.5/5 - - 2007 7,999discont. check
Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) - - - reviewed - 2007 4,499discont. check
Canon 5D (⇒ lft | rgt) 88/100 HiRec reviewed reviewed - 2005 3,299discont. check
Canon 1D Mark II N (⇒ lft | rgt) - - - - - 2005 3,999discont. check
Canon 1D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) - HiRec - reviewed - 2004 4,499discont. check
Canon 1Ds (⇒ lft | rgt) - HiRec - - - 2002 8,999discont. check
Leica Digilux 3 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - - - - 2006 1,499discont. check
Olympus E-5 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 75/100 4/5 - 4.5/5 2010 1,699discont. check
Olympus E-3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 88/100 HiRec reviewed reviewed 4/5 2007 1,699discont. check
Olympus E-330 (⇒ lft | rgt) - Rec reviewed 3.5/5 - 2006 999discont. check
Olympus E-300 (⇒ lft | rgt) - Rec reviewed reviewed 4.5/5 2004 799discont. check

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when refering 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 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? 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, kindly get in touch, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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