Canon 1Ds vs Nikon D4S
The Canon EOS-1Ds and the Nikon D4S are two professional cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2002 and February 2014. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 11 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 16.2 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 and the Nikon D4S? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 1Ds and the Nikon D4S. 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 Nikon D4S is somewhat larger (2 percent) than the Canon 1Ds. Moreover, the D4S is markedly heavier (7 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. Yet, since both cameras are based around a full frame sensor, their respective lenses will tend to have similar dimensions and heft. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (1Ds) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D4S).
Concerning battery life, the 1Ds gets 600 shots out of its NP-E3 battery, while the D4S can take 3020 images on a single charge of its EN-EL18a 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 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||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1265 g||600||Y||Sep 2002||8,999|
|2.||Nikon D4S||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1350 g||3020||Y||Feb 2014||6,499|
|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 1D C||158 mm||164 mm||83 mm||1545 g||1120||Y||Apr 2012||14,999|
|6.||Canon 1D Mark IV||156 mm||157 mm||80 mm||1230 g||1500||Y||Oct 2009||4,999|
|7.||Canon 1D Mark III||156 mm||157 mm||80 mm||1155 g||2200||Y||Feb 2007||4,499|
|8.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||150 mm||160 mm||80 mm||1385 g||1800||Y||Aug 2007||7,999|
|9.||Canon 1D Mark II N||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1565 g||1200||Y||Aug 2005||3,999|
|10.||Canon 5D||152 mm||113 mm||75 mm||895 g||400||Y||Aug 2005||3,299|
|11.||Canon 1D Mark II||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1535 g||1200||Y||Jan 2004||4,499|
|12.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1215 g||1200||Y||Sep 2004||7,999|
|13.||Nikon D5||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499|
|14.||Nikon D750||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|15.||Nikon D810||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||980 g||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299|
|16.||Nikon Df||144 mm||110 mm||67 mm||760 g||1400||Y||Nov 2013||2,749|
|17.||Nikon D4||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1340 g||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The D4S was launched at a markedly lower price (by 28 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.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. 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.
With 16.2MP, the D4S offers a higher resolution than the 1Ds (11MP), but the D4S has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 7.29μm versus 8.83μm for the 1Ds). Yet, the D4S is a much more recent model (by 11 years and 5 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 Nikon D4S implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D4S for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 24.6 x 16.4 inches or 62.6 x 41.7 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.3 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.8 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 Nikon D4S are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-409600.
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 D4S offers substantially better image quality than the 1Ds (overall score 26 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.6 bits higher color depth, 2.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.7 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.
| DXO |
|1.||Canon 1Ds||Full Frame||11.0||4064||2704||none||21.8||11.0||954||63|
|2.||Nikon D4S||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/60p||24.4||13.3||3074||89|
|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 1D C||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||4K/24p||..||..||..||..|
|6.||Canon 1D Mark IV||APS-H||16.0||4896||3264||1080/30p||22.8||12.0||1320||74|
|7.||Canon 1D Mark III||APS-H||10.1||3888||2592||none||22.7||11.7||1078||71|
|8.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||none||24.0||12.0||1663||80|
|9.||Canon 1D Mark II N||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||none||22.3||11.2||975||66|
|10.||Canon 5D||Full Frame||12.7||4368||2912||none||22.9||11.1||1368||71|
|11.||Canon 1D Mark II||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||none||22.3||11.1||1003||66|
|12.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||Full Frame||16.6||4992||3328||none||23.3||11.3||1480||74|
|13.||Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|14.||Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
|15.||Nikon D810||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97|
|16.||Nikon Df||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||none||24.6||13.1||3279||89|
|17.||Nikon D4||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The D4S indeed provides for movie recording, while the 1Ds does not. The highest resolution format that the D4S can use is 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 1Ds and the D4S 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%), as well as the same magnification (0.70x). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 1Ds and Nikon D4S along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|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 1D C||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||14.0||n||n|
|6.||Canon 1D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||n||n|
|7.||Canon 1D Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||n||n|
|8.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|9.||Canon 1D Mark II N||optical||Y||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.5||n||n|
|11.||Canon 1D Mark II||optical||Y||2.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||n||n|
|12.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||optical||Y||2.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0||n||n|
The Nikon D4S 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 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the D4S uses Compact Flash or XQD cards. The D4S features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the 1Ds only has one slot.
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 Nikon D4S and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|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 1D C||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon 1D Mark IV||Y||stereo||-||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon 1D Mark III||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Y||mono||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon 1D Mark II N||Y||-||-||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|11.||Canon 1D Mark II||Y||-||-||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|12.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||Y||-||-||-||-||-||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 D4S have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 1Ds was replaced by the Canon 1Ds Mark II, while the D4S was followed by the Nikon D5. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Nikon websites.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Canon 1Ds better than the Nikon D4S or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Canon EOS-1Ds:
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2002).
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D4S:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (16.2 vs 11MP), which boosts linear resolution by 21%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (26 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.6 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.3 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.7 stops ISO advantage).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60p video.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 120k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (3020 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 introduced into a lower priced category (28 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 11 years and 5 months of technical progress since the 1Ds launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D4S is the clear winner of the contest (14 : 1 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 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 1Ds and the Nikon D4S 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 D4S in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is why expert reviews 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.
|1.||Canon 1Ds||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2002||8,999|
|2.||Nikon D4S||5/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||6,499|
|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 1D C||..||..||..||..||..||Apr 2012||14,999|
|6.||Canon 1D Mark IV||5/5||..||89/100||..||..||Oct 2009||4,999|
|7.||Canon 1D Mark III||..||..||..||..||..||Feb 2007||4,499|
|8.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||..||..||+ +||4.5/5||..||Aug 2007||7,999|
|9.||Canon 1D Mark II N||..||..||..||..||..||Aug 2005||3,999|
|10.||Canon 5D||..||88/100||+ +||o||..||Aug 2005||3,299|
|11.||Canon 1D Mark II||..||..||+ +||..||..||Jan 2004||4,499|
|12.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2004||7,999|
|13.||Nikon D5||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499|
|14.||Nikon D750||5/5||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|15.||Nikon D810||5/5||..||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||3,299|
|16.||Nikon Df||4/5||..||81/100||4/5||4/5||Nov 2013||2,749|
|17.||Nikon D4||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999|
|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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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? 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.
Specifications: Canon 1Ds vs Nikon D4S
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||Nikon D4S|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2002||February 2014|
|Launch Price||USD 8,999||USD 6,499|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 1Ds||Nikon D4S|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 23.8 mm||36.0 x 23.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||856.8 mm2||860.4 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.2 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||11 Megapixels||16.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4064 x 2704 pixels||4928 x 3280 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||8.83 μm||7.29 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.28 MP/cm2||1.88 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,250 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 1,250 ISO||50 - 409,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC||EXPEED 4|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||63||89|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.8||24.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.0||13.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||954||3074|
|Screen Specs||Canon 1Ds||Nikon D4S|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.0inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||120k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 1Ds||Nikon D4S|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||11 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||CF or XQD cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 1Ds||Nikon D4S|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||Firewire||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 1Ds||Nikon D4S|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||600 shots per charge||3020 shots per charge|
156 x 158 x 80 mm
(6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1 in)
160 x 157 x 91 mm
(6.3 x 6.2 x 3.6 in)
|Camera Weight||1265 g (44.6 oz)||1350 g (47.6 oz)|
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