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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. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their sensors, their features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Headline Specifications
Canon 1Ds   Nikon D4S
Canon 1Ds Nikon D4S
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
11 MP, Full Frame Sensor 16.2 MP, Full Frame Sensor
no Video 1080/60p Video
ISO 100-1250 ISO 100-25600 (50-409600)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.0" LCD, 120k dots 3.2" LCD, 921k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 11 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
600 shots per battery charge3020 shots per battery charge
156 x 158 x 80 mm, 1265 g 160 x 157 x 91 mm, 1350 g

Body comparison: Canon 1Ds vs Nikon D4S

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.

Compare Canon 1Ds and Nikon D4S
Compare 1Ds versus D4S top
Compare 1Ds or D4S rear

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, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

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)
Camera
Model
Canon 1Ds» 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 44.6 oz 600 Y Sep 2002 8,999- i Canon 1Ds
Nikon D4S« 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.6 in 47.6 oz 3020 Y Feb 2014 6,499- i Nikon D4S
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 X Mark II
Canon 1D C« » 6.2 in 6.5 in 3.3 in 54.5 oz 1120 Y Apr 2012 14,999- i Canon 1D C
Canon 1D Mark IV« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 43.4 oz 1500 Y Oct 2009 4,999- i Canon 1D Mark IV
Canon 1D Mark III« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 40.7 oz 2200 Y Feb 2007 4,499- i Canon 1D Mark III
Canon 1Ds Mark III« » 5.9 in 6.3 in 3.1 in 48.9 oz 1800 Y Aug 2007 7,999- i Canon 1Ds Mark III
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 1D Mark II N
Canon 5D« » 6.0 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 31.6 oz 400 Y Aug 2005 3,299- i Canon 5D
Canon 1D Mark II« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 54.1 oz 1200 Y Jan 2004 4,499- i Canon 1D Mark II
Canon 1Ds Mark II« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 42.9 oz 1200 Y Sep 2004 7,999- i Canon 1Ds Mark II
Nikon D5« » 6.3 in 6.3 in 3.6 in 49.9 oz 3780 Y Jan 2016 6,499 i i Nikon D5
Nikon D750« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 26.5 oz 1230 Y Sep 2014 2,299 i i Nikon D750
Nikon Df« » 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.6 in 26.8 oz 1400 Y Nov 2013 2,749 i i Nikon Df
Nikon D610« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.2 in 30.0 oz 900 Y Oct 2013 1,999 i i Nikon D610
Nikon D4« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.6 in 47.3 oz 2600 Y Jan 2012 5,999- i Nikon D4
Nikon D2Xs« » 6.2 in 5.9 in 3.4 in 44.2 oz 3800 Y Jun 2006 4,699- i Nikon D2Xs

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.

 

Sensor comparison: Canon 1Ds vs Nikon D4S

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.

Canon 1Ds and Nikon D4S sensor measures

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 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..

1Ds versus D4S 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 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.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Canon 1Ds» Full Frame 11.0 4064 2704-21.811.095463Canon 1Ds
Nikon D4S« Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/60p24.413.3307489Nikon D4S
Canon 1D X Mark II« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 1D C« » Full Frame 17.9 5184 34564K/24p----Canon 1D C
Canon 1D Mark IV« » APS-H 16.0 4896 32641080/30p22.812.0132074Canon 1D Mark IV
Canon 1D Mark III« » APS-H 10.1 3888 2592-22.711.7107871Canon 1D Mark III
Canon 1Ds Mark III« » Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744-24.012.0166380Canon 1Ds Mark III
Canon 1D Mark II N« » APS-H 8.2 3504 2336-22.311.297566Canon 1D Mark II N
Canon 5D« » Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912-22.911.1136871Canon 5D
Canon 1D Mark II« » APS-H 8.2 3504 2336-22.311.1100366Canon 1D Mark II
Canon 1Ds Mark II« » Full Frame 16.6 4992 3328-23.311.3148074Canon 1Ds Mark II
Nikon D5« » Full Frame 20.7 5588 37124K/30p25.112.3234388Nikon D5
Nikon D750« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/60p24.814.5295693Nikon D750
Nikon Df« » Full Frame 16.2 4928 3280-24.613.1327989Nikon Df
Nikon D610« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.4292594Nikon D610
Nikon D4« » Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/30p24.713.1296589Nikon D4
Nikon D2Xs« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848-22.210.948959Nikon D2Xs

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.

 

Feature comparison: Canon 1Ds vs Nikon D4S

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 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.

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)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Canon 1Ds»optical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 8000 3.0 n n Canon 1Ds
Nikon D4S«optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n Nikon D4S
Canon 1D X Mark II« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 16.0 n n Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 1D C« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 14.0 n n Canon 1D C
Canon 1D Mark IV« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 10.0 n n Canon 1D Mark IV
Canon 1D Mark III« »optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 8000 10.0 n n Canon 1D Mark III
Canon 1Ds Mark III« »optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Canon 1Ds Mark III
Canon 1D Mark II N« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 8.5 n n Canon 1D Mark II N
Canon 5D« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 3.0 n n Canon 5D
Canon 1D Mark II« »optical Y 2.0 230 fixed n 8000 8.3 n n Canon 1D Mark II
Canon 1Ds Mark II« »optical Y 2.0 230 fixed n 8000 4.0 n n Canon 1Ds Mark II
Nikon D5« »optical Y 3.2 2359 fixed Y 8000 14.0 n n Nikon D5
Nikon D750« »optical Y 3.2 1229 tilting n 4000 6.0 Y n Nikon D750
Nikon Df« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 4000 5.5 n n Nikon Df
Nikon D610« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 4000 6.0 Y n Nikon D610
Nikon D4« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n Nikon D4
Nikon D2Xs« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Nikon D2Xs

The 1Ds writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the D4S uses Compact Flash or XQD cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.

 

Connectivity comparison: Canon 1Ds vs Nikon D4S

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.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Canon 1Ds»Y-----FW---Canon 1Ds
Nikon D4S«YmonomonoYYmini2.0---Nikon D4S
Canon 1D X Mark II« »YmonomonoYYmini3.0---Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 1D C« »YmonomonoYYmini2.0---Canon 1D C
Canon 1D Mark IV« »Ystereo-Y-mini2.0---Canon 1D Mark IV
Canon 1D Mark III« »Y-----2.0---Canon 1D Mark III
Canon 1Ds Mark III« »Y-----2.0---Canon 1Ds Mark III
Canon 1D Mark II N« »Y-----1.1---Canon 1D Mark II N
Canon 5D« »Y-----2.0---Canon 5D
Canon 1D Mark II« »Y-----1.1---Canon 1D Mark II
Canon 1Ds Mark II« »Y-----2.0---Canon 1Ds Mark II
Nikon D5« »YstereomonoYYmini3.0---Nikon D5
Nikon D750« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0Y--Nikon D750
Nikon Df« »Y----mini2.0---Nikon Df
Nikon D610« »YmonomonoYYmini2.0---Nikon D610
Nikon D4« »Ymonomono--micro2.0---Nikon D4
Nikon D2Xs« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D2Xs

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.


Review summary: Canon 1Ds vs Nikon D4S

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.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (3020 versus 600) out of a single battery charge.
  • 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 (12 : 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.

1Ds 01:12 D4S

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality 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.

Expert reviews: Canon 1Ds vs Nikon D4S

This is why expert reviews are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known 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
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Canon 1Ds»-HiRec--- Sep 2002 8,999- i Canon 1Ds
Nikon D4S«--4.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2014 6,499- i Nikon D4S
Canon 1D X Mark II« »-89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999 i i Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 1D C« »----- Apr 2012 14,999- i Canon 1D C
Canon 1D Mark IV« »-89/100-5/5- Oct 2009 4,999- i Canon 1D Mark IV
Canon 1D Mark III« »---rev- Feb 2007 4,499- i Canon 1D Mark III
Canon 1Ds Mark III« »-HiRec4.5/5-- Aug 2007 7,999- i Canon 1Ds Mark III
Canon 1D Mark II N« »----- Aug 2005 3,999- i Canon 1D Mark II N
Canon 5D« »88/100HiRecrevrev- Aug 2005 3,299- i Canon 5D
Canon 1D Mark II« »-HiRec-rev- Jan 2004 4,499- i Canon 1D Mark II
Canon 1Ds Mark II« »-HiRec--- Sep 2004 7,999- i Canon 1Ds Mark II
Nikon D5« »-89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 6,499 i i Nikon D5
Nikon D750« »HiRec90/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 2,299 i i Nikon D750
Nikon Df« »-81/1004/54/54/5 Nov 2013 2,749 i i Nikon Df
Nikon D610« »HiRec87/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,999 i i Nikon D610
Nikon D4« »--4.5/5-4.5/5 Jan 2012 5,999- i Nikon D4
Nikon D2Xs« »---rev- Jun 2006 4,699- i Nikon D2Xs

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.

Canon 1Ds:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D4S:
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. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Canon 1Ds vs Nikon D4S

    Camera Specifications
    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 8999 USD 6499
    Sensor Specs
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 23.8 mm 36.0 x 23.8 mm
    Sensor Area 856.8 mm2 860.4 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.2 mm 43.2 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.0x
    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 100-1250 ISO 100-25600 ISO
    ISO Boost 50-1250 ISO 50-409600 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
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.70x 0.70x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    LCD Framing n/a Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.0 inch 3.2 inch
    LCD Resolution 120k dots 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs
    Autofocus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Maximum Shutter Speed 1/8000s 1/8000s
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 11 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards CF or XQD cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    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
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type NP-E3 power pack EN-EL18a power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)600 shots per charge3020 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 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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