Review Canon 1DS MKIII

Les McLean

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#1
Maker/Provider: Canon

Product: 1DS MKIII

Price: £5000 (new) around £3000 (s/h)

Overall Rating: 9.5/10

Overall Summary: A substantial albeit evolutionary rather than revolutionary upgrade to the Canon 1Ds MKII
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Detailed Review
Anyone who has owned/used a 1 series camera will immediately feel at home with the MKIII, as it retains the feel and a number of functions of the previous models, so adjusting to how it operates is generally pain free and relatively easy process.

I won’t list all the changes, as there is any amount of information out there in tech. specs/reviews, I’ll concentrate on those that I find most useful.

Externally, apart from the larger screen and buttons relocated, it looks like most 1 series bodies, a substantial/heavy tank like structure, that feels very comfortable in use. The notable changes are in a one button press rather than a two button press to change settings/access menus, and it has a dedicated ISO button next to the shutter release, meaning you can change ISO on the fly, while still looking through the viewfinder, in addition, the MKIII has the ISO showing in the viewfinder as well as the top LCD (bliss)

Under the bonnet, there are significant improvements/tweaks, most notably an increase in pixels to 21mb, which in itself is not a lot (4.4mp from the MKII), what does impress is how the pixels are used, specifically in ISO sensitivity and tonal range. I often use the MKII/MKIII with a 200mm lens as a walkabout lens when walking the dogs, with the MKII, ISO200 was my default ISO, pushing it to 400 if needed. With the MKIII, 500 is my default ISO, pushing it to 800 or 1250 as needed. The MKIII is significantly cleaner/noise free at higher ISO.

The MKIII has a far better dynamic range than the MKII, noticeable for me in keeping whites (highlights) under control, with the MKII, I would need to be very careful not blowing the whites, bracketing exposure/spot metering, the MKIII is a lot more tolerant.

The menu system will look familiar to most canon users with a Digic 3 or 4 processor, it also has a massive range of custom functions, which can be daunting at first, but does mean that you can configure the camera to your needs very easily.

The mirror lock up function on the MKII was a pain to use, needing to dig into the menu system to activate, with the MKIII, while still in the menu system , it can be paired with ‘my menu’ which can be made the default rear screen, and can therefore be activated with a couple of button presses, and a ‘mirror lock-up’ icon appears on the top LCD, not perfect, but a huge improvement on previous.

One area that does irritate, is in the selection of individual focus points, both the MKII and III have 45 focal points, with the MKII you could select any of the 45 individual focus points, with the MKIII you can only select 19 of the 45, which is extremely frustrating. I use this function a lot, mainly on landscapes, because I series cameras have such excellent autofocussing, even in low light, I was quite used to revolving the dials to select the focus point I needed, mainly to ensure my DOF was sufficient for the shot, and it often meant quite fine adjustment, with only 19 points to play with this is lost, I hope Canon realize the error of their ways and remedy this in a future firmware update.

Live view has been less useful for me, mainly as you can’t autofocus in this mode, while not such a hindrance as it is, I kept forgetting to switch my lens back to autofocus after using live view, although I have used the grid at times to check my horizontals.

I don’t find much use for the ‘picture styles’ either, generally shooting in raw, and leaving the ‘style’ as neutral, preferring to do any processing in PS, Canon have also provided a dedicated button to go straight into ‘picture styles’ , it’s a pity you can’t programme the button for a more useful function (like mirror lock-up)

One tweak I find very useful is (via the menus) the LCD panels can be automatically illuminated during bulb exposures, extremely beneficial in long exposure/very low light situations.

Finally, the battery life (including a comprehensive battery info screen) has improved, the addition self cleaning sensor, ISO safety shift (in addition to tv/av safety shift) all contribute to a worthwhile upgrade.

In Use :
Really comfortable to use, can be out in most weather conditions,has retained most of the better qualities of the MKII, with the incremental upgrades being beneficial, the image quality of the MKII is still exceptional, the MKIII takes it a stage further, while slightly improving the IQ, it also pushes the dynamic range and ISO sensitivity.

Build Quality:
Like a tank

Strengths:
Image quality, more intuitive menu/function system, under the bonnet tweaks.

Weaknesses :
Price
Although rear screen is larger, it still retains the resolution of the MKII
Previously mentioned, only being able to select 19 focus points instead of 45.
You need good glass to get the best from it.
Large files, a 16bit tiff weighs in at over 100mb, consequently you need a decent spec PC to take the strain.
 
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Lynton

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#2
An interesting review I am sure, but I am confused.

This camera was released Aug 2007, so google informs me -so why a review 2 1/2 yrs down the line? Is it your new toy? If so, I am envious.... even though not looking to switching.
 

..MD..

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#3
An interesting review I am sure, but I am confused.

This camera was released Aug 2007, so google informs me -so why a review 2 1/2 yrs down the line? Is it your new toy? If so, I am envious.... even though not looking to switching.


This is a review off a member that has some good standing on this forum imho And i suspect he decided to do a review for anyone else that maybe thinking of heading that way..

" Bit like buying a car your mate has owned and tells you all the good and bad."

md
 
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Les McLean

Les McLean

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#4
An interesting review I am sure, but I am confused.

This camera was released Aug 2007, so google informs me -so why a review 2 1/2 yrs down the line? Is it your new toy? If so, I am envious.... even though not looking to switching.
Yes, I know it's getting just a little 'long in the tooth ' (a bit like me) :), but there wasn't any review in TP's list of equipment reviews, I noticed a 1D MKIII review by Ian, which looked at the camera from mainly a bird shooters perspective, although the 1DS MKIII is a different camera, it shares a number of functions, so I slanted the review more towards my comfort zone of landscape photography.
 
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grumpybadger

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#5
Interesting review Les. My original plan was to get a 1DsIII like you but I didn't like the 19 selectable AF points.

This was one of the main reasons I waited and now have a 1DIV. Very similar resolution to a 1DsII but higher speed. I was so relieved when I saw the MkIV has 45 selectable AF points again!
 
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Les McLean

Les McLean

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#6
Interesting review Les. My original plan was to get a 1DsIII like you but I didn't like the 19 selectable AF points.

This was one of the main reasons I waited and now have a 1DIV. Very similar resolution to a 1DsII but higher speed. I was so relieved when I saw the MkIV has 45 selectable AF points again!
Thanks for rubbing it in ;) :)
 

IanC_UK

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#8
Yes, I know it's getting just a little 'long in the tooth ' (a bit like me) :), but there wasn't any review in TP's list of equipment reviews, I noticed a 1D MKIII review by Ian, which looked at the camera from mainly a bird shooters perspective, although the 1DS MKIII is a different camera, it shares a number of functions, so I slanted the review more towards my comfort zone of landscape photography.
Plus i cant write a review very well and its still very unfinished 2 years down the line :)
 

Lynton

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#9
hey guys - I wasn't having a pop...... just wondered why a "new" review out of the blue 2 1/2 yrs down the line from release Monkeydave. Perfectly reasonable question as I would have thought

a) approx 2 - 2 1/2 years ago would already be shedloads of reviews of that camera on here.

hence

b) just wondered if the "member that has some good standing on this forum" iyho - who I will call Les, for that appears to be his name, has a new toy?

and I'll think you will find, my last comment was , if so, then I am envious, because the idea of a 21MP full frame is appealing, but at the moment I have made my bed, so to say, in the Pentax camp - and at the moment unlikely to change! (here's hoping they are going to release a full frame 30mp K9 tomorrow.....:LOL:

So, hey, lets just cut the aggressive "get back in your box minion" response to a perfectly innocent question, or are you deputy mod for the night?


Les - apologies if my response has killed what (to me) was an interesting and detailed review. To be perfectly honest, I picked up on the review on the home page, without bothering to note what section it was in, and I am amazed that given quite a few users of that camera on here, no one has posted a review of it before.

Please accept my apologies, if it came across as obtuse.
 
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Les McLean

Les McLean

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#10
Les - apologies if my response has killed what (to me) was an interesting and detailed review. To be perfectly honest, I picked up on the review on the home page, without bothering to note what section it was in, and I am amazed that given quite a few users of that camera on here, no one has posted a review of it before.

Please accept my apologies, if it came across as obtuse.
No apologies needed, I took your comments in the spirit you intended :) :)
 

Lynton

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#11
Good.:LOL:

and to be honest a really good review.

and yes 21mp full frame, I am envious!
 
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Les McLean

Les McLean

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#12
hey guys - I wasn't having a pop...... just wondered why a "new" review out of the blue 2 1/2 yrs down the line from release Monkeydave. Perfectly reasonable question as I would have thought


So, hey, lets just cut the aggressive "get back in your box minion" response to a perfectly innocent question, or are you deputy mod for the night?


.
And to be fair to Dave, (MD), I didn't read it as a mini-mod kind of response, more like the kind of straight talking that's we are used to on the forum.

So although a couple of feathers ruffled, no harm or malice intended :cool:
 

smooth

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#13
:) don't worry guys! I think all posts have been taken in a constructive way. Lynton - I think MD was just explaining why Les was reviewing now and I certainly have not seen any aggresion anywhere. I totally see where you are coming from too in being curious as to why the review has been done now. Top Notch marks to Les for taking the time to retrospectively review his gear and contribute to this quiet section.

Many thanks to Les for such an interesting read on a magnificent camera. All areas covered in the review and top notch advice.

Can I just say that it really is beneficial to TP if we review all our gear even retrospectively (better in some cases with longevity) and build up a solid base of reviews of all major equipment. That way the review directory could serve as a one stop shop for getting opinions before buying or general investigation becoming an important resource on TP - real user opinions on equipment that is available both new and secondhand base upon real life useage rather than marketing bumpf!

Once again thanks Guys and Gals and thanks Les for being the flagship member in the renovation of reviews (y)
 
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smooth

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#14
Added to directory. Apologies Les - I am not sure how this one sneaked through - especially as I commented!

Thanks (y)
 
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