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Canon 1Ds Mark III versus Canon 5D Mark II

The Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III and the Canon EOS 5D Mark II are two professional cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2007 and September 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 21 megapixel. 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 III vs Canon 5D Mark II

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 1Ds Mark III and the Canon 5D Mark II is provided in the side-by-side display below. 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 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 – the 1Ds Mark III – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Canon 5D Mark II
Compare 1Ds Mark III versus 5D Mark II top
Compare 1Ds Mark III and 5D Mark II rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 5D Mark II is notably smaller (28 percent) than the Canon 1Ds Mark III. Moreover, the 5D Mark II is substantially lighter (39 percent) than the 1Ds 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 find an overview of suitable optics in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the 1Ds Mark III gets 1800 shots out of its LP-E4 battery, while the 5D Mark II can take 850 images on a single charge of its LP-E6 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 III» 5.9 in 6.3 in 3.1 in 48.9 oz 1800 Y Aug 2007 7,999- 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 5D Mark IV« » 5.9 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 31.4 oz 900 Y Aug 2016 3,499 i 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 5D Mark III« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 33.5 oz 950 Y Mar 2012 3,499- i
Canon 1D C« » 6.2 in 6.5 in 3.3 in 54.5 oz 1120 Y Apr 2012 14,999- i
Canon 1D X« » 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.7 oz 1120 Y Oct 2011 6,799- i
Canon 7D« » 5.8 in 4.4 in 2.9 in 30.3 oz 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699- 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 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 1Ds Mark II« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 42.9 oz 1200 Y Sep 2004 7,999- 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 5D Mark II was launched at a markedly lower price (by 56 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 1Ds Mark III vs Canon 5D Mark II

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras 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 III and Canon 5D Mark II sensor measures

The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 21 megapixel. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the 1Ds Mark III and the 5D Mark II have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the 5D Mark II is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year) than the 1Ds Mark III, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time.

1Ds Mark III versus 5D Mark II MP

For most 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. The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. 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
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Canon 1Ds Mark III» Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744-24.012.0166380
Canon 5D Mark II« Full Frame 21.0 5616 37441080/30p23.711.9181579
Canon 5D Mark IV« » Full Frame 30.1 6720 44804K/30p24.813.6299591
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 5D Mark III« » Full Frame 22.1 5760 38401080/30p24.011.7229381
Canon 1D C« » Full Frame 17.9 5184 34564K/24p----
Canon 1D X« » Full Frame 17.9 5184 34561080/30p23.811.8278682
Canon 7D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.011.785466
Canon 1D Mark IV« » APS-H 16.0 4896 32641080/30p22.812.0132074
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 1Ds Mark II« » Full Frame 16.6 4992 3328-23.311.3148074
Nikon D3X« » Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032-24.713.7199288

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The 5D Mark II indeed provides for movie recording, while the 1Ds Mark III does not. The highest resolution format that the 5D Mark II can use is 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Canon 5D Mark II

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 1Ds Mark III and the 5D 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 1Ds Mark III and Canon 5D Mark II in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar 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
(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 III»optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n
Canon 5D Mark II«optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 3.9 n n
Canon 5D Mark IV« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 7.0 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 5D Mark III« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 6.0 n n
Canon 1D C« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 14.0 n n
Canon 1D X« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 14.0 n n
Canon 7D« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 8.0 Y n
Canon 1D Mark IV« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 10.0 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 1Ds Mark II« »optical Y 2.0 230 fixed n 8000 4.0 n n
Nikon D3X« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n

Both the 1Ds Mark III and the 5D Mark II have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 1Ds Mark III was replaced by the Canon 1DX, while the 5D Mark II was followed by the Canon 5D Mark III.

Review summary: Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Canon 5D Mark II

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 1Ds Mark III or the Canon 5D Mark II – has the upper hand? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


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

  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3.9 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1800 versus 850) on a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2007).


Advantages of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II:

  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p video.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 230k dots).
  • More compact: Is smaller (152x114mm vs 150x160mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 535g or 39 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (56 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year) more recently.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 5D Mark II emerges as the winner of the match-up (6 : 3 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision.

1Ds Mark III 03:06 5D Mark II

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the 1Ds Mark III and the 5D Mark II in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable. This is why expert reviews are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known 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
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Canon 1Ds Mark III»-HiRec4.5/5-- Aug 2007 7,999- i
Canon 5D Mark II«91/10079/1004/55/5- Sep 2008 3,499- i
Canon 5D Mark IV« »HiRec87/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2016 3,499 i 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 5D Mark III« »HiRec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2012 3,499- i
Canon 1D C« »----- Apr 2012 14,999- i
Canon 1D X« »--4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2011 6,799- i
Canon 7D« »HiRec84/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2009 1,699- i
Canon 1D Mark IV« »-89/100-5/5- Oct 2009 4,999- i
Canon 1D Mark III« »---rev- Feb 2007 4,499- i
Canon 5D« »88/100HiRecrevrev- Aug 2005 3,299- i
Canon 1Ds Mark II« »-HiRec--- Sep 2004 7,999- i
Nikon D3X« »-86/1004/55/55/5 Dec 2008 7,999- i

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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 are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. 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 cannot find the camera you are interested in, please contact me, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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