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Canon 1Ds Mark III versus Olympus E-PL8

The Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III and the Olympus PEN E-PL8 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2007 and September 2016. The 1Ds Mark III is a DSLR, while the E-PL8 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a full frame (1Ds Mark III) and a Four Thirds (E-PL8) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 21 megapixel, whereas the Olympus provides 15.9 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 III vs Olympus E-PL8

The physical size and weight of the Canon 1Ds Mark III and the Olympus E-PL8 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display 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 III – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Olympus E-PL8
1Ds Mark III versus E-PL8 top view
1Ds Mark III and E-PL8 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-PL8 is considerably smaller (68 percent) than the Canon 1Ds Mark III. Moreover, the E-PL8 is substantially lighter (74 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 E-PL8 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 find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (1Ds Mark III) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-PL8). Mirrorless cameras, such as the E-PL8, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.

Concerning battery life, the 1Ds Mark III gets 1800 shots out of its LP-E4 battery, while the E-PL8 can take 350 images on a single charge of its BLS-50 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 III (⇒ rgt) 5.9 in 6.3 in 3.1 in 48.9 oz 1800 YES 2007 7,999discont. check
Olympus E-PL8 (⇒ lft) 4.5 in 2.6 in 1.5 in 12.6 oz 350 no 2016 549discont. 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 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 33.5 oz 950 YES 2012 3,499discont. check
Canon 1D C (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.2 in 6.5 in 3.3 in 54.5 oz 1120 YES 2012 14,999discont. 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 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.0 in 4.5 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 850 YES 2008 3,499discont. 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 1Ds Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 42.9 oz 1200 YES 2004 7,999discont. check
Nikon D3X (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 44.4 oz 4400 YES 2008 7,999discont. check
Olympus E-PL9 (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.6 in 2.7 in 1.5 in 13.4 oz 350 no 2018 549 latest check
Olympus E-M10 III (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.8 in 3.3 in 2.0 in 14.5 oz 330 no 2017 649 latest check
Olympus E-M10 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.7 in 3.3 in 1.9 in 13.8 oz 320 no 2015 799discont. check
Olympus E-PL7 (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.5 in 2.6 in 1.5 in 12.6 oz 350 no 2014 599discont. check
Olympus E-PL6 (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.4 in 2.5 in 1.5 in 11.5 oz 360 no 2013 599discont. 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-PL8 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 93 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 Olympus E-PL8

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 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 Olympus E-PL8 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-PL8 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 III has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-PL8 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Canon 1Ds Mark III and Olympus E-PL8 sensor measures

With 21MP, the 1Ds Mark III offers a higher resolution than the E-PL8 (15.9MP), but the 1Ds Mark III nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.41μm versus 3.76μm for the E-PL8) due to its larger sensor. However, the E-PL8 is a somewhat more recent model (by 9 years and 1 month) than the 1Ds Mark III, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

1Ds Mark III versus E-PL8 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). 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 III (⇒ rgt) Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744 no 24.0 12.0 1663 80
Olympus E-PL8 (⇒ lft) Four Thirds 15.9 4608 3456 1080/30p - - - -
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 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 22.1 5760 3840 1080/30p 24 11.7 2293 81
Canon 1D C (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 17.9 5184 3456 4K/24p - - - -
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 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744 1080/30p 23.7 11.9 1815 79
Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-H 10.1 3888 2592 no 22.7 11.7 1078 71
Canon 1Ds Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 16.6 4992 3328 no 23.3 11.3 1480 74
Nikon D3X (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032 no 24.7 13.7 1992 88
Olympus E-PL9 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.9 4608 3456 4K/30p - - - -
Olympus E-M10 III (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.9 4608 3456 4K/30p .. .. .. ..
Olympus E-M10 II (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.9 4608 3456 1080/60p 23.1 12.5 842 73
Olympus E-PL7 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.9 4608 3456 1080/30p 22.7 12.4 873 72
Olympus E-PL6 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.9 4608 3456 1080/30p - - - -

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The E-PL8 indeed provides for movie recording, while the 1Ds Mark III does not. The highest resolution format that the E-PL8 can use is 1080/30p.

Feature comparison: Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Olympus E-PL8

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 E-PL8 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 Olympus E-PL8 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. 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 III (⇒ rgt) optical YES 3.0 230 fixed no 8000 5.0 no no
Olympus E-PL8 (⇒ lft) no no 3.0 1037 tilting YES 4000 8.0 no YES
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 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1040 fixed no 8000 6.0 no no
Canon 1D C (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1040 fixed no 8000 14.0 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 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 920 fixed no 8000 3.9 no no
Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 230 fixed no 8000 10.0 no no
Canon 1Ds Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 2.0 230 fixed no 8000 4.0 no no
Nikon D3X (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 922 fixed no 8000 5.0 no no
Olympus E-PL9 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 4000 8.6 7.6 YES
Olympus E-M10 III (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 4000 8.6 5.8 YES
Olympus E-M10 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 4000 8.0 5.8 YES
Olympus E-PL7 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1037 tilting YES 4000 8.0 no YES
Olympus E-PL6 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 460 tilting YES 4000 8.0 no YES

Both the 1Ds Mark III and the E-PL8 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 1Ds Mark III was replaced by the Canon 1DX, while the E-PL8 was followed by the Olympus E-PL9.

Review summary: Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Olympus E-PL8

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 1Ds Mark III and the Olympus E-PL8? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


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

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (21 vs 15.9MP) with a 17% higher linear resolution.
  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
  • Easier setting verification: Has an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1800 versus 350) on a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2007).

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Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-PL8:

  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p video.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 230k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (115x67mm vs 150x160mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 1028g or 74 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (93 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 9 years and 1 month of technical progress since the 1Ds Mark III launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-PL8 is the clear winner of the contest (11 : 7 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 07:11 E-PL8

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 1Ds Mark III or the E-PL8 handle or perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is why hands-on reviews by experts 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 III (⇒ rgt) - HiRec 4.5/5 - - 2007 7,999discont. check
Olympus E-PL8 (⇒ lft) - - 4.5/5 - 4/5 2016 549discont. 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 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 82/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2012 3,499discont. check
Canon 1D C (⇒ lft | rgt) - - - - - 2012 14,999discont. 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 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 91/100 79/100 HiRec 4/5 5/5 - 2008 3,499discont. check
Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) - - - reviewed - 2007 4,499discont. check
Canon 1Ds Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) - HiRec - - - 2004 7,999discont. check
Nikon D3X (⇒ lft | rgt) - 86/100 4/5 5/5 5/5 2008 7,999discont. check
Olympus E-PL9 (⇒ lft | rgt) .. .. 4.5/5 .. 4/5 2018 549 latest check
Olympus E-M10 III (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 80/100 4.5/5 .. 4.5/5 2017 649 latest check
Olympus E-M10 II (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 80/100 Silver 5/5 5/5 5/5 2015 799discont. check
Olympus E-PL7 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec - 5/5 4.5/5 4/5 2014 599discont. check
Olympus E-PL6 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - - - - 2013 599discont. check

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. 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 use the search menu below. 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, please send me an email, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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