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Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Leica M8

The Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III and the Leica M8 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2007 and September 2006. The 1Ds Mark III is a DSLR, while the M8 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless camera. The cameras are based on a full frame (1Ds Mark III) and an APS-H (M8) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 21 megapixels, whereas the Leica provides 10.4 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon 1Ds Mark III
versus
Leica M8
Canon 1Ds Mark III Leica M8
Digital single lens reflex Rangefinder camera
Canon EF mount lenses Leica M mount lenses
21 MP, Full Frame Sensor 10.4 MP, APS-H Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-1,600 (50 - 3,200) ISO 160-2,500
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 230k dots 2.5 LCD, 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
5 shutter flaps per second 2 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodynot weather sealed
150 x 160 x 80 mm, 1385 g 139 x 80 x 37 mm, 591 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III and the Leica M8? 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.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 1Ds Mark III and the Leica M8 is provided in the side-by-side display below. 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The M8 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the 1Ds Mark III is only available in black.

Size Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Leica M8
Compare 1Ds Mark III versus M8 top
Comparison 1Ds Mark III or M8 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica M8 is considerably smaller (54 percent) than the Canon 1Ds Mark III. Moreover, the M8 is substantially lighter (57 percent) than the 1Ds Mark III. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 1Ds Mark III is splash and dust resistant, while the M8 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

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 compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (1Ds Mark III) and the Leica M Lens Catalog (M8).

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 table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III 150 mm 160 mm 80 mm 1385 g 1800 Y Aug 2007 7,999 i
2.
 
Leica M8 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 591 g .. n Sep 2006 5,499 i
3.
 
Canon 1D X Mark III 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1440 g 2850 Y Jan 2020 6,499 i
4.
 
Canon 1D X Mark II 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1530 g 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999 i
5.
 
Canon 1D C 158 mm 164 mm 83 mm 1545 g 1120 Y Apr 2012 14,999 i
6.
 
Canon 5D Mark III 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 950 g 950 Y Mar 2012 3,499 i
7.
 
Canon 1D X 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1551 g 1120 Y Oct 2011 6,799 i
8.
 
Canon 5D Mark II 152 mm 114 mm 75 mm 850 g 850 Y Sep 2008 3,499 i
9.
 
Canon 1D Mark III 156 mm 157 mm 80 mm 1155 g 2200 Y Feb 2007 4,499 i
10.
 
Canon XTi 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 799 i
11.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II 156 mm 158 mm 80 mm 1215 g 1200 Y Sep 2004 7,999 i
12.
 
Canon 1Ds 156 mm 158 mm 80 mm 1265 g 600 Y Sep 2002 8,999 i
13.
 
Leica M10 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i
14.
 
Leica M9 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999 i
15.
 
Nikon D3X 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1260 g 4400 Y Dec 2008 7,999 i
16.
 
Nikon D80 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999 i
17.
 
Panasonic L10 135 mm 96 mm 78 mm 556 g 450 n Aug 2007 599 i
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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The M8 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 31 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.

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Sensor comparison

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.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 1Ds Mark III features a full frame sensor and the Leica M8 an APS-H sensor. The sensor area in the M8 is 44 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.3. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon 1Ds Mark III and Leica M8 sensor measures

With 21MP, the 1Ds Mark III offers a higher resolution than the M8 (10.4MP), but the 1Ds Mark III has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.41μm versus 6.84μm for the M8). However, the 1Ds Mark III is a somewhat more recent model (by 11 months) than the M8, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the M8 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

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 Leica M8 are 19.7 x 13.2 inches or 50 x 33.4 cm for good quality, 15.7 x 10.5 inches or 40 x 26.7 cm for very good quality, and 13.1 x 8.8 inches or 33.3 x 22.3 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 Leica M8 are ISO 160 to ISO 2500 (no boost).

1Ds Mark III versus M8 MP

For many 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 review, the 1Ds Mark III provides substantially higher image quality than the M8, with an overall score that is 21 points higher. This advantage is based on 2.9 bits higher color depth, 0.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.3 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.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744none24.012.01663 80
2.
 
Leica M8 APS-H 10.4 3936 2630none21.111.3663 59
3.
 
Canon 1D X Mark III Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.214.53248 91
4.
 
Canon 1D X Mark II Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.53207 88
5.
 
Canon 1D C Full Frame 17.9 5184 34564K/24p...... ..
6.
 
Canon 5D Mark III Full Frame 22.1 5760 38401080/30p24.011.72293 81
7.
 
Canon 1D X Full Frame 17.9 5184 34561080/30p23.811.82786 82
8.
 
Canon 5D Mark II Full Frame 21.0 5616 37441080/30p23.711.91815 79
9.
 
Canon 1D Mark III APS-H 10.1 3888 2592none22.711.71078 71
10.
 
Canon XTi APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.0664 62
11.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II Full Frame 16.6 4992 3328none23.311.31480 74
12.
 
Canon 1Ds Full Frame 11.0 4064 2704none21.811.0954 63
13.
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.22133 86
14.
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.7884 69
15.
 
Nikon D3X Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032none24.713.71992 88
16.
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.2524 61
17.
 
Panasonic L10 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.310.8429 55
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 M8 lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 1Ds Mark III and the M8 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 III and Leica M8 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIIoptical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
2.
 
Leica M8optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 2.0 n n
3.
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIIoptical Y 3.2 2100 fixed Y 1/8000s 20.0 n n
4.
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIoptical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 1/8000s 16.0 n n
5.
 
Canon 1D Coptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 14.0 n n
6.
 
Canon 5D Mark IIIoptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 n n
7.
 
Canon 1D Xoptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 14.0 n n
8.
 
Canon 5D Mark IIoptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 3.9 n n
9.
 
Canon 1D Mark IIIoptical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 10.0 n n
10.
 
Canon XTioptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
11.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIoptical Y 2.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0 n n
12.
 
Canon 1Dsoptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 n n
13.
 
Leica M10optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 n n
14.
 
Leica M9optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0 n n
15.
 
Nikon D3Xoptical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
16.
 
Nikon D80optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
17.
 
Panasonic L10optical n 2.5 207 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n

One feature that is present on the 1Ds Mark III, but is missing on the M8 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 1Ds Mark III writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SDHC cards, while the M8 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 M8 only has one slot.

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Connectivity comparison

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 Leica M8 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIIYmono----2.0---
2.
 
Leica M8Y-----2.0---
3.
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIIYmonomonoYYmini3.1Y-Y
4.
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIYmonomonoYYmini3.0---
5.
 
Canon 1D CYmonomonoYYmini2.0---
6.
 
Canon 5D Mark IIIYmonomonoYYmini2.0---
7.
 
Canon 1D XYmono-Y-mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon 5D Mark IIYmonomonoY-mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon 1D Mark IIIY-----2.0---
10.
 
Canon XTiY-----2.0---
11.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIY-----2.0---
12.
 
Canon 1DsY-----FW---
13.
 
Leica M10Y------Y--
14.
 
Leica M9Y-----2.0---
15.
 
Nikon D3XY----mini2.0---
16.
 
Nikon D80Y-----2.0---
17.
 
Panasonic L10Y-----2.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 1Ds Mark III (unlike the M8) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the 1Ds Mark III and the M8 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The M8 was replaced by the Leica M9, while the 1Ds Mark III was followed by the Canon 1DX. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Leica websites.

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Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is the Canon 1Ds Mark III better than the Leica M8 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (21 vs 10.4MP) with a 43% higher linear resolution.
  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (21 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (2.9 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.7 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.3 stops ISO advantage).
  • Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • 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 modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 11 months after the M8).

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Advantages of the Leica M8:

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • More compact: Is smaller (139x80mm vs 150x160mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 794g or 57 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (31 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2006).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 1Ds Mark III is the clear winner of the match-up (14 : 6 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 wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

1Ds Mark III 14:06 M8

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 1Ds Mark III or the M8. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III....+ +4.5/5.. Aug 2007 7,999 i
2.
 
Leica M8....+ +.... Sep 2006 5,499 i
3.
 
Canon 1D X Mark III..+ +..4.5/54/5 Jan 2020 6,499 i
4.
 
Canon 1D X Mark II....89/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999 i
5.
 
Canon 1D C.......... Apr 2012 14,999 i
6.
 
Canon 5D Mark III..+ +82/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2012 3,499 i
7.
 
Canon 1D X5/5....4.5/54.5/5 Oct 2011 6,799 i
8.
 
Canon 5D Mark II4/591/10079/1004/5.. Sep 2008 3,499 i
9.
 
Canon 1D Mark III.......... Feb 2007 4,499 i
10.
 
Canon XTi..+ ++ +o4/5 Aug 2006 799 i
11.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II....+ +.... Sep 2004 7,999 i
12.
 
Canon 1Ds....+ +.... Sep 2002 8,999 i
13.
 
Leica M104.5/5....4/54.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
14.
 
Leica M9......4.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999 i
15.
 
Nikon D3X....86/1004/55/5 Dec 2008 7,999 i
16.
 
Nikon D80..++ +o4.5/5 Aug 2006 999 i
17.
 
Panasonic L10..85/100+3.5/54/5 Aug 2007 599 i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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.

Canon 1Ds Mark III:
Check Ebay offers
Leica M8:
Check Ebay offers

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. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Leica M8

    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 Specifications
    Camera Model Canon 1Ds Mark III Leica M8
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Rangefinder camera
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Leica M mount lenses
    Launch Date August 2007 September 2006
    Launch Price USD 7,999 USD 5,499
    Sensor Specs Canon 1Ds Mark III Leica M8
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor APS-H Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 24.0 mm 27.0 x 18.0 mm
    Sensor Area 864 mm2 486 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.3 mm 32.4 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.3x
    Sensor Resolution 21 Megapixels 10.4 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5616 x 3744 pixels 3936 x 2630 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.41 μm 6.84 μm
    Pixel Density 2.43 MP/cm2 2.13 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 160 - 2,500 ISO
    ISO Boost 50 - 3,200 ISO no Enhancement
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 80 59
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 24.0 21.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 12.0 11.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 1663 663
    Screen Specs Canon 1Ds Mark III Leica M8
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.76x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 1Ds Mark III Leica M8
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Manual Focus
    Continuous Shooting 5 shutter flaps/s 2 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF or SDHC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Canon 1Ds Mark III Leica M8
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 1Ds Mark III Leica M8
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodynot weather sealed
    Battery Type LP-E4 BLI-312
    Body Dimensions 150 x 160 x 80 mm
    (5.9 x 6.3 x 3.1 in)
    139 x 80 x 37 mm
    (5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
    Camera Weight 1385 g (48.9 oz) 591 g (20.8 oz)

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