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Canon 1Ds versus Nikon D2Xs

The Canon EOS-1Ds and the Nikon D2Xs are two professional cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2002 and June 2006. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (1Ds) and an APS-C (D2Xs) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 11 megapixel, whereas the Nikon provides 12.2 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 vs Nikon D2Xs

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 1Ds and the Nikon D2Xs is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button 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 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Canon 1Ds vs Nikon D2Xs
Compare 1Ds versus D2Xs top
Compare 1Ds and D2Xs rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D2Xs is somewhat smaller (4 percent) than the Canon 1Ds. Moreover, the D2Xs is slightly lighter (1 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. 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) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D2Xs).

Concerning battery life, the 1Ds gets 600 shots out of its NP-E3 battery, while the D2Xs can take 3800 images on a single charge of its EN-EL4a 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» 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 44.6 oz 600 Y Sep 2002 8,999- i
Nikon D2Xs« 6.2 in 5.9 in 3.4 in 44.2 oz 3800 Y Jun 2006 4,699- 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 1D C« » 6.2 in 6.5 in 3.3 in 54.5 oz 1120 Y Apr 2012 14,999- 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 1Ds Mark III« » 5.9 in 6.3 in 3.1 in 48.9 oz 1800 Y Aug 2007 7,999- 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 1D Mark II N« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 55.2 oz 1200 Y Aug 2005 3,999- i
Canon 1Ds Mark II« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 42.9 oz 1200 Y Sep 2004 7,999- i
Canon 1D Mark II« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 54.1 oz 1200 Y Jan 2004 4,499- i
Nikon D3« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 45.9 oz 4300 Y Aug 2007 4,999- i
Nikon D300« » 5.8 in 4.5 in 2.9 in 32.6 oz 1000 Y Aug 2007 1,799- i
Nikon D200« » 5.8 in 4.4 in 2.9 in 32.5 oz 400 Y Nov 2005 1,699- i
Nikon D2X« » 6.2 in 5.9 in 3.4 in 44.2 oz 3800 Y Sep 2004 4,999- 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 D2Xs was launched at a markedly lower price (by 48 percent) than the 1Ds, 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 vs Nikon D2Xs

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixel-units 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 1Ds features a full frame sensor and the Nikon D2Xs an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D2Xs is 57 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon 1Ds and Nikon D2Xs sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the D2Xs offers a higher resolution of 12.2 megapixel, compared with 11 MP of the 1Ds. This megapixel advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 5.52μm versus 8.83μm for the 1Ds). However, it should be noted that the D2Xs is much more recent (by 3 years and 8 months) than the 1Ds, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.

1Ds versus D2Xs MP

For most 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 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the D2Xs (overall score 4 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.4 bits lower color depth, 0.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. 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» Full Frame 11.0 4064 2704-21.811.095463
Nikon D2Xs« APS-C 12.2 4288 2848-22.210.948959
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 1D Mark IV« » APS-H 16.0 4896 32641080/30p22.812.0132074
Canon 1Ds Mark III« » Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744-24.012.0166380
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 1D Mark II N« » APS-H 8.2 3504 2336-22.311.297566
Canon 1Ds Mark II« » Full Frame 16.6 4992 3328-23.311.3148074
Canon 1D Mark II« » APS-H 8.2 3504 2336-22.311.1100366
Nikon D3« » Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832-23.512.2229081
Nikon D300« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848-22.112.067967
Nikon D200« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.311.558364
Nikon D2X« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848-22.110.947659
Neither the 1Ds nor the D2Xs offer Live View, so that they cannot project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen. Moreover, both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
 

Feature comparison: Canon 1Ds vs Nikon D2Xs

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 1Ds and the D2Xs 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 and Nikon D2Xs in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. 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
(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»optical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 8000 3.0 n n
Nikon D2Xs«optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n
Canon 1D X Mark II« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 16.0 n n
Canon 1D C« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 14.0 n n
Canon 1D Mark IV« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 10.0 n n
Canon 1Ds Mark III« »optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 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 1D Mark II N« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 8.5 n n
Canon 1Ds Mark II« »optical Y 2.0 230 fixed n 8000 4.0 n n
Canon 1D Mark II« »optical Y 2.0 230 fixed n 8000 8.3 n n
Nikon D3« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n
Nikon D300« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 6.0 Y n
Nikon D200« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n
Nikon D2X« »optical Y 2.5 235 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n

Both the 1Ds and the D2Xs have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 1Ds was replaced by the Canon 1Ds Mark II, while the D2Xs was followed by the Nikon D3X.

Review summary: Canon 1Ds vs Nikon D2Xs

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon 1Ds better than the Nikon D2Xs or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Advantages of the Canon EOS-1Ds:

  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (4 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1 stops ISO advantage).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2002).

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Reasons to prefer the Nikon D2Xs:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (12.2 vs 11MP), which boosts linear resolution by 5%.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.5" 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 (3800 versus 600) out of a single battery charge.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (48 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 3 years and 8 months of technical progress since the 1Ds launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D2Xs is the clear winner of the contest (7 : 3 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.

1Ds 03:07 D2Xs

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 handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 1Ds or the D2Xs. 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 expert reviews are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available 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»-HiRec--- Sep 2002 8,999- i
Nikon D2Xs«---rev- Jun 2006 4,699- i
Canon 1D X Mark II« »-89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999 i i
Canon 1D C« »----- Apr 2012 14,999- i
Canon 1D Mark IV« »-89/100-5/5- Oct 2009 4,999- i
Canon 1Ds Mark III« »-HiRec4.5/5-- Aug 2007 7,999- i
Canon 1D Mark III« »---rev- Feb 2007 4,499- i
Canon 5D« »88/100HiRecrevrev- Aug 2005 3,299- i
Canon 1D Mark II N« »----- Aug 2005 3,999- i
Canon 1Ds Mark II« »-HiRec--- Sep 2004 7,999- i
Canon 1D Mark II« »-HiRec-rev- Jan 2004 4,499- i
Nikon D3« »-HiRec5/5rev4.5/5 Aug 2007 4,999- i
Nikon D300« »HiRecHiRec5/5rev4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,799- i
Nikon D200« »HiRecHiRecrev5/5- Nov 2005 1,699- i
Nikon D2X« »-HiRec-rev- Sep 2004 4,999- i

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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, 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 would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, kindly get in touch, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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