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Canon 1Ds vs 1Ds Mark III

The Canon EOS-1Ds and the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III are two professional cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2002 and August 2007. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The 1Ds has a resolution of 11 megapixels, whereas the 1Ds Mark III provides 21 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Canon 1Ds versus Canon 1Ds Mark III
Canon 1Ds Canon 1Ds Mark III
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Canon EF mount lenses
11 MP, Full Frame Sensor 21 MP, Full Frame Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-1,250 ISO 100-1,600 (50 - 3,200)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.0 LCD, 120k dots 3.0 LCD, 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 5 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
600 shots per battery charge1800 shots per battery charge
156 x 158 x 80 mm, 1265 g 150 x 160 x 80 mm, 1385 g

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

The physical size and weight of the Canon 1Ds and the Canon 1Ds Mark III 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.

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

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 1Ds Mark III is somewhat smaller (3 percent) than the Canon 1Ds. However, the 1Ds Mark III is markedly heavier (9 percent) than the 1Ds. 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 compare the optics available in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the 1Ds gets 600 shots out of its NP-E3 battery, while the 1Ds Mark III can take 1800 images on a single charge of its LP-E4 power pack. As can be seen in the images above, both cameras have a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon 1Ds 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 44.6 oz 600 Y Sep 2002 8,999i
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III 5.9 in 6.3 in 3.1 in 48.9 oz 1800 Y Aug 2007 7,999i
 
Canon 1D X Mark III 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 50.8 oz 2850 Y Jan 2020 6,499 i
 
Canon 1D X Mark II 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.0 oz 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999i
 
Canon 1D C 6.2 in 6.5 in 3.3 in 54.5 oz 1120 Y Apr 2012 14,999i
 
Canon 5D Mark III 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 33.5 oz 950 Y Mar 2012 3,499i
 
Canon 1D X 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.7 oz 1120 Y Oct 2011 6,799i
 
Canon 1D Mark IV 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 43.4 oz 1500 Y Oct 2009 4,999i
 
Canon 5D Mark II 6.0 in 4.5 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 850 Y Sep 2008 3,499i
 
Canon 1D Mark III 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 40.7 oz 2200 Y Feb 2007 4,499i
 
Canon 1D Mark II N 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 55.2 oz 1200 Y Aug 2005 3,999i
 
Canon 5D 6.0 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 31.6 oz 400 Y Aug 2005 3,299i
 
Canon 1D Mark II 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 54.1 oz 1200 Y Jan 2004 4,499i
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 42.9 oz 1200 Y Sep 2004 7,999i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 1Ds Mark III was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 11 percent) than the 1Ds, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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.

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. 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, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the 1Ds Mark III is 1 percent bigger. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.

Canon 1Ds and Canon 1Ds Mark III sensor measures

With 21MP, the 1Ds Mark III offers a higher resolution than the 1Ds (11MP), but the 1Ds Mark III has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.41μm versus 8.83μm for the 1Ds). Yet, the 1Ds Mark III is a much more recent model (by 4 years and 10 months) than the 1Ds, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

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 1Ds are 20.3 x 13.5 inches or 51.6 x 34.3 cm for good quality, 16.3 x 10.8 inches or 41.3 x 27.5 cm for very good quality, and 13.5 x 9 inches or 34.4 x 22.9 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon EOS-1Ds has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1250, which can be extended to ISO 50-1250. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III are ISO 100 to ISO 1600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-3200.

1Ds versus 1Ds Mark III MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 consideration, the 1Ds Mark III offers substantially better image quality than the 1Ds (overall score 17 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.2 bits higher color depth, 1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.8 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.

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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
 
Canon 1Ds Full Frame 11.0 4064 2704none21.811.095463
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744none24.012.0166380
 
Canon 1D X Mark III Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.214.5324891
 
Canon 1D X Mark II Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788
 
Canon 1D C Full Frame 17.9 5184 34564K/24p........
 
Canon 5D Mark III Full Frame 22.1 5760 38401080/30p24.011.7229381
 
Canon 1D X Full Frame 17.9 5184 34561080/30p23.811.8278682
 
Canon 1D Mark IV APS-H 16.0 4896 32641080/30p22.812.0132074
 
Canon 5D Mark II Full Frame 21.0 5616 37441080/30p23.711.9181579
 
Canon 1D Mark III APS-H 10.1 3888 2592none22.711.7107871
 
Canon 1D Mark II N APS-H 8.2 3504 2336none22.311.297566
 
Canon 5D Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912none22.911.1136871
 
Canon 1D Mark II APS-H 8.2 3504 2336none22.311.1100366
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II Full Frame 16.6 4992 3328none23.311.3148074
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 1Ds lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 1Ds and the 1Ds Mark III 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 viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the 1Ds Mark III has a higher magnification than the one of the 1Ds (0.76x vs 0.70x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 1Ds and Canon 1Ds Mark III in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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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
 
Canon 1Dsoptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 n n
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIIoptical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIIoptical Y 3.2 2100 fixed Y 1/8000s 20.0 n n
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIoptical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 1/8000s 16.0 n n
 
Canon 1D Coptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 14.0 n n
 
Canon 5D Mark IIIoptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 n n
 
Canon 1D Xoptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 14.0 n n
 
Canon 1D Mark IVoptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 10.0 n n
 
Canon 5D Mark IIoptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 3.9 n n
 
Canon 1D Mark IIIoptical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 10.0 n n
 
Canon 1D Mark II Noptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 8.5 n n
 
Canon 5Doptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 n n
 
Canon 1D Mark IIoptical Y 2.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 8.3 n n
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIoptical Y 2.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0 n n

The 1Ds writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the 1Ds Mark III uses Compact Flash or SDHC cards. The 1Ds Mark III features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the 1Ds only has one slot.

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 and Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 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
 
Canon 1DsY-----FW---
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIIY-----2.0---
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIIYmonomonoYYmini3.1Y-Y
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIYmonomonoYYmini3.0---
 
Canon 1D CYmonomonoYYmini2.0---
 
Canon 5D Mark IIIYmonomonoYYmini2.0---
 
Canon 1D XYmono-Y-mini2.0---
 
Canon 1D Mark IVYstereo-Y-mini2.0---
 
Canon 5D Mark IIYmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Canon 1D Mark IIIY-----2.0---
 
Canon 1D Mark II NY-----1.1---
 
Canon 5DY-----2.0---
 
Canon 1D Mark IIY-----1.1---
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIY-----2.0---

Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.

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

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 1Ds or the Canon 1Ds Mark III – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Advantages of the Canon EOS-1Ds:

  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2002).


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

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (21 vs 11MP), which boosts linear resolution by 38%.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (17 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.2 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.8 stops ISO advantage).
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.76x vs 0.70x).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (230k vs 120k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (1800 versus 600) out of a single battery charge.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (11 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 4 years and 10 months of technical progress since the 1Ds launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 1Ds Mark III is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 1 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. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

1Ds 01:13 1Ds Mark III

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 1Ds and the Canon 1Ds Mark III place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing 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 and the 1Ds Mark III in practical situations. 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.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon 1Ds..+ +...... Sep 2002 8,999i
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III..+ +4.5/5.... Aug 2007 7,999i
 
Canon 1D X Mark III+ +........ Jan 2020 6,499 i
 
Canon 1D X Mark II..89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999i
 
Canon 1D C.......... Apr 2012 14,999i
 
Canon 5D Mark III+ +82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2012 3,499i
 
Canon 1D X....4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2011 6,799i
 
Canon 1D Mark IV..89/100..5/5.. Oct 2009 4,999i
 
Canon 5D Mark II91/10079/1004/55/5.. Sep 2008 3,499i
 
Canon 1D Mark III......o.. Feb 2007 4,499i
 
Canon 1D Mark II N.......... Aug 2005 3,999i
 
Canon 5D88/100+ +oo.. Aug 2005 3,299i
 
Canon 1D Mark II..+ +..o.. Jan 2004 4,499i
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II..+ +...... Sep 2004 7,999i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Canon 1Ds:
Check Ebay offers
Canon 1Ds Mark III:
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 use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon 1Ds vs Canon 1Ds Mark III

    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 Canon 1Ds Mark III
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Canon EF mount lenses
    Launch Date September 2002 August 2007
    Launch Price USD 8,999 USD 7,999
    Sensor Specs Canon 1Ds Canon 1Ds Mark III
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 23.8 mm 36.0 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 856.8 mm2 864 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.2 mm 43.3 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 11 Megapixels 21 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4064 x 2704 pixels 5616 x 3744 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 8.83 μm 6.41 μm
    Pixel Density 1.28 MP/cm2 2.43 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,250 ISO 100 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost 50 - 1,250 ISO 50 - 3,200 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC DIGIC III (Dual)
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 63 80
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.8 24.0
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.0 12.0
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 954 1663
    Screen Specs Canon 1Ds Canon 1Ds Mark III
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.70x 0.76x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 120k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 1Ds Canon 1Ds Mark III
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards CF or SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Canon 1Ds Canon 1Ds Mark III
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector Firewire USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 1Ds Canon 1Ds Mark III
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type NP-E3 LP-E4
    Battery Life (CIPA)600 shots per charge1800 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 156 x 158 x 80 mm
    (6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1 in)
    150 x 160 x 80 mm
    (5.9 x 6.3 x 3.1 in)
    Camera Weight 1265 g (44.6 oz) 1385 g (48.9 oz)

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