Canon 1Ds Mark III vs S120
The Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III and the Canon PowerShot S120 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2007 and August 2013. The 1Ds Mark III is a DSLR, while the S120 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a full frame (1Ds Mark III) and a 1/1.7-inch (S120) sensor. The 1Ds Mark III has a resolution of 21 megapixels, whereas the S120 provides 12 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-1Ds Mark III and the Canon PowerShot S120? 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 physical size and weight of the Canon 1Ds Mark III and the Canon S120 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear 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 Canon S120 is considerably smaller (75 percent) than the Canon 1Ds Mark III. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 1Ds Mark III is splash and dust resistant, while the S120 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the S120 has a lens built in, whereas the 1Ds Mark III is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the 1Ds Mark III and their specifications in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the 1Ds Mark III gets 1800 shots out of its LP-E4 battery, while the S120 can take 230 images on a single charge of its NB-6LH power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the 1Ds Mark III has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||150 mm||160 mm||80 mm||1385 g||1800||Y||Aug 2007||7,999|
|2.||Canon S120||100 mm||59 mm||29 mm||217 g||230||n||Aug 2013||449|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark III||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1440 g||2850||Y||Jan 2020||6,499|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1530 g||1210||Y||Feb 2016||5,999|
|5.||Canon G1 X Mark II||116 mm||74 mm||66 mm||553 g||240||n||Feb 2014||799|
|6.||Canon G16||109 mm||76 mm||40 mm||356 g||360||n||Aug 2013||549|
|7.||Canon 1D C||158 mm||164 mm||83 mm||1545 g||1120||Y||Apr 2012||14,999|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark III||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||950 g||950||Y||Mar 2012||3,499|
|9.||Canon 6D||145 mm||111 mm||71 mm||770 g||1090||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|10.||Canon G15||107 mm||76 mm||40 mm||352 g||350||n||Sep 2012||499|
|11.||Canon SX50||123 mm||87 mm||106 mm||595 g||315||n||Sep 2012||429|
|12.||Canon 1D X||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1551 g||1120||Y||Oct 2011||6,799|
|13.||Canon 5D Mark II||152 mm||114 mm||75 mm||850 g||850||Y||Sep 2008||3,499|
|14.||Canon 1D Mark III||156 mm||157 mm||80 mm||1155 g||2200||Y||Feb 2007||4,499|
|15.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1215 g||1200||Y||Sep 2004||7,999|
|16.||Nikon D3X||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1260 g||4400||Y||Dec 2008||7,999|
|17.||Panasonic LF1||103 mm||62 mm||28 mm||192 g||250||n||Apr 2013||499|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. 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 S120 was launched at a lower price than the 1Ds Mark III, despite having a lens built in. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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 generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have 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 III features a full frame sensor and the Canon S120 a 1/1.7-inch sensor. The sensor area in the S120 is 95 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 4.5. The sensor in the 1Ds Mark III has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the S120 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 21MP, the 1Ds Mark III offers a higher resolution than the S120 (12MP), but the 1Ds Mark III nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.41μm versus 1.89μm for the S120) due to its larger sensor. However, the S120 is a much more recent model (by 6 years) than the 1Ds Mark III, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The resolution advantage of the Canon 1Ds Mark III implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 1Ds Mark III for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 28.1 x 18.7 inches or 71.3 x 47.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 22.5 x 15 inches or 57.1 x 38 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 18.7 x 12.5 inches or 47.5 x 31.7 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon S120 are 20 x 15 inches or 50.8 x 38.1 cm for good quality, 16 x 12 inches or 40.6 x 30.5 cm for very good quality, and 13.3 x 10 inches or 33.9 x 25.4 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 50-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon PowerShot S120 are ISO 80 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
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 1Ds Mark III provides substantially higher image quality than the S120, with an overall score that is 24 points higher. This advantage is based on 2.7 bits higher color depth, 0.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.8 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.
| DXO |
|1.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||none||24.0||12.0||1663||80|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark III||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.2||14.5||3248||91|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.1||13.5||3207||88|
|5.||Canon G1 X Mark II||1.5-inch||13.0||4160||3120||1080/30p||21.5||10.8||581||58|
|7.||Canon 1D C||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||4K/24p||..||..||..||..|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark III||Full Frame||22.1||5760||3840||1080/30p||24.0||11.7||2293||81|
|9.||Canon 6D||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||23.8||12.1||2340||82|
|12.||Canon 1D X||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||23.8||11.8||2786||82|
|13.||Canon 5D Mark II||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79|
|14.||Canon 1D Mark III||APS-H||10.1||3888||2592||none||22.7||11.7||1078||71|
|15.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||Full Frame||16.6||4992||3328||none||23.3||11.3||1480||74|
|16.||Nikon D3X||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||24.7||13.7||1992||88|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The S120 indeed provides for movie recording, while the 1Ds Mark III does not. The highest resolution format that the S120 can use is 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the 1Ds Mark III has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the S120 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 1Ds Mark III and Canon S120 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark III||optical||Y||3.2||2100||fixed||Y||1/8000s||20.0||n||n|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||16.0||n||n|
|5.||Canon G1 X Mark II||optional||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||5.2||Y||Y|
|7.||Canon 1D C||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||14.0||n||n|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark III||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||n||n|
|12.||Canon 1D X||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||14.0||n||n|
|13.||Canon 5D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.9||n||n|
|14.||Canon 1D Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||n||n|
|15.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||optical||Y||2.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0||n||n|
One feature that is present on the 1Ds Mark III, but is missing on the S120 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.
The Canon S120 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 1Ds Mark III writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SDHC cards, while the S120 uses SDXC cards. The 1Ds Mark III features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the S120 only has one slot. The S120 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the 1Ds Mark III cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
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-1Ds Mark III and Canon PowerShot S120 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|1.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Y||mono||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark III||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Canon G1 X Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|7.||Canon 1D C||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark III||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Canon 1D X||Y||mono||-||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Canon 5D Mark II||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Canon 1D Mark III||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the 1Ds Mark III has a hotshoe, while the S120 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 1Ds Mark III (unlike the S120) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the 1Ds Mark III and the S120 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 1Ds Mark III was replaced by the Canon 1DX, while the S120 does not have a direct successor. 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 what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 1Ds Mark III and the Canon S120? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (21 vs 12MP) with a 35% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (24 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (2.7 bits more color depth).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (2.8 stops ISO advantage).
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1800 versus 230) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2007).
Advantages of the Canon PowerShot S120:
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60p video.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (922k vs 230k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12.1 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the 1Ds Mark III requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (100x59mm vs 150x160mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the 1Ds Mark III).
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 6 years of technical progress since the 1Ds Mark III launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 1Ds Mark III comes out slightly ahead of the S120 (15 : 14 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape 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 1Ds Mark III and the Canon S120 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Travel-Zoom Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 1Ds Mark III and the S120 in practical situations. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], 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 1Ds Mark III||..||..||+ +||4.5/5||..||Aug 2007||7,999|
|2.||Canon S120||..||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||449|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark III||..||+ +||..||4.5/5||4/5||Jan 2020||6,499|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||5,999|
|5.||Canon G1 X Mark II||3/5||+||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||799|
|6.||Canon G16||4/5||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||549|
|7.||Canon 1D C||..||..||..||..||..||Apr 2012||14,999|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark III||..||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2012||3,499|
|9.||Canon 6D||5/5||+ +||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|10.||Canon G15||4/5||+||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499|
|11.||Canon SX50||3/5||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||429|
|12.||Canon 1D X||5/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2011||6,799|
|13.||Canon 5D Mark II||4/5||91/100||79/100||4/5||..||Sep 2008||3,499|
|14.||Canon 1D Mark III||..||..||..||..||..||Feb 2007||4,499|
|15.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2004||7,999|
|16.||Nikon D3X||..||..||86/100||4/5||5/5||Dec 2008||7,999|
|17.||Panasonic LF1||3/5||+||..||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||499|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date 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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Canon S120
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 1Ds Mark III||Canon S120|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||24-120mm f/1.8-5.7|
|Launch Date||August 2007||August 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 7,999||USD 449|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Canon S120|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||1/1.7" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 24.0 mm||7.6 x 5.7 mm|
|Sensor Area||864 mm2||43.32 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.3 mm||9.5 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||21 Megapixels||12 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5616 x 3744 pixels||4000 x 3000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.41 μm||1.89 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.43 MP/cm2||27.70 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||80 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 3,200 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC III (Dual)||Digic 6|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||80||56|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.0||21.3|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.0||11.9|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1663||246|
|Screen Specs||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Canon S120|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||no viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Canon S120|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/2000s|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||12.1 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or SDHC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Canon S120|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Canon S120|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1800 shots per charge||230 shots per charge|
150 x 160 x 80 mm
(5.9 x 6.3 x 3.1 in)
100 x 59 x 29 mm
(3.9 x 2.3 x 1.1 in)
|Camera Weight||1385 g (48.9 oz)||217 g (7.7 oz)|
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