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The Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III Review

The Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III is one of those special cameras with a special niche. Designed for the professional in mind, it packs a shit load of features that most photographers do not even want to use. For example, an armoured body the size of most people's heads and weather seals all around. Its survivability can never be in doubt. Even prancing in the rain is most certainly NOT an issue.

The EOS-1Ds Mark III uses a full-frame 21 megapixel CMOS sensor. Now, that's a lot of pixels even in a large 35 mm sensor. With such a high pixel density, how well does it hold up in the noise department when compared to my old Canon EOS-5D? We will scrutinize that a little later.

Aside from the fancy body, pro features and large sensor, the EOS-1Ds Mark III comes with all of Canon's current DSLR feature-set, like a 3" LCD screen, the lack of a mirror lock-up button, the newer LP-E4 lithium-ion battery of the 1D Mark III, sensor cleaning, Live View and of course, instant x-ray titties!

Everyone talks about the good before the bad. Let's try something different. Let's talk about the bad things this camera brings to the table before we talk about its good points!


General Features

The Bad & Ugly

   a) The lack of a dedicated mirror lock-up button! How hard is it to put a freaking button that does mirror lock-up? You would have thought that a button like that would only cost a few dollars at the very most. Even after paying thousands of dollars for an EOS-1Ds Mark III, I still have to go into the Custom Functions menu to turn it on. And once I'm done, I have to go back to the same menu to disable it! The mirror and sub-mirror assembly on the 1Ds Mark III aren't exactly small. They produce a noticeable slap that can ruin pictures at certain shutter speeds. Yeah, Canon, one button is all it takes to fix the problem!

   b) Your Live View is retarded. Let's set this straight. I don't see why the Canon 40D can slap down its mirror, latch a focus and return to Live View mode, making the user all happy while the USD 8,000 1Ds Mark III forces me to use the manual focus ring??? Granted, I would look so much cooler doing so, but I want to put all that ultrasonic motor auto-focus to good use, even in Live View. This is really stew-pid. How hard can it be to come up with firmware that tells the camera, “Hey dude, slap the mirror back down, do ya AF thang, hold the focus and return to Live View!” Canon engineers apparently find it deadly hard to do that.

   c) The next pet peeve of mine with Canon's Live View runs along the same lines - auto-focus. We've all seen the Canon 450D and its contrast-detection AF. As far as I know, contrast-detection is a software-implemented AF technique, meaning it runs the image from the sensor through a contrast-detection algorithm to correctly determine sharp patterns. I was wondering, with dual DIGIC III chips in the 1Ds Mark III, there should be more than enough processing power to do contrast-detection, right? Obviously not for this camera.

   d) High-end manufacturers are already starting to pony up their offerings with superior firmware functionality. For example, Leica is offering shutter and screen protector upgrades, the 645 format system with near infinite digital back expandability and even Nikon has regular firmware updates. I think Canon should take a look at expandability and upgradability because that is what the high-end MF and RF market wants in addition to raw detail.

   e) The external Speedlite controls are also retarded. What's the point of giving the user an extra set of controls if it only serves to slow them down and brings nothing useful to the table? As an owner of a Canon 580EX II Speedlite flash, I know just how pointless it is.

   f) If you ask me, Nikon cameras have too many buttons while Canon cameras have too few. Far too few, in fact. Canon engineers seem to try their very best to cram everything into nestled menus that are annoying to access. Here's a tip for them - put in a Custom Function button or something that allows me to bring up the external Speedlite controls instantly so I can prance around taking photos instead of opening the menu and then scrolling through it using the world's most annoying joystick.

   g) What the heck is an SD card slot doing in there??? Assuming Canon isn't in cahoots with SD card backers, there doesn't seem to be any point in using SD cards for secondary storage in this camera. SD cards are slower and less durable. Besides, if someone can afford 8000 dollars for this camera, common sense suggests that the same person should be able to dig up an extra 100 bucks for a Sandisk Extreme III CompactFlash card. Adding an SD card slot only encourages the user to diversify, instead of consolidating his resources. Nikon got it right by using 2 CF card slots. Why would anyone want different cards that aren't interchangeable?

   h) The screen is so small. This is an anomaly especially when so many other manufacturers like Sony, Olympus, Nikon and gang are beefing up their DSLR LCDs. Granted, it's not the most important thing on earth, but it adds to the usability of a DSLR in the long run. In my opinion, the 3" screen with 320K pixels that Canon uses just doesn't cut it when the competition does much better. Hell, it sucks. Not only is it smaller, it is dull, has a limited viewing angle amd can't swivel for tricky overhead shots. In fact, for the money I paid, I was kind of expecting sapphire glass over the LCD screen. LOL!

   i) The Nipplestick. The 4-way joystick on the 1Ds Mark III doesn't even deserve to be called a joystick. It's more like a nipple stick. It is awkward to use because it is tiny, gives horrible feedback, and can only be used for scrolling. Even pressing the middle doesn't select the options you scroll to. For that, you'll have to move your finger to a separate Set button.. Of all the stupid things in the world... I really wouldn't mind if Canon stole Apple's iPod controller design, but they had to steal the design for the Mighty Mouse.

   j) Noisy Action. I do the kind of photography that requires that I be as discreet as possible, audio-wise. Most people would just tell me to get a smaller camera, but I want something that can do 22 megapixels AND come with a shutter as silent as silk. I know that the Canon 40D comes with a silent release option in the Custom Function menu, at the expense of burst speed of course. But that's okay. I'd like that feature too in the 1Ds Mark III if at all possible.

   k) AA/IR Filter - I want a way to get rid of the pesky AA/IR filter attached to the front of the sensor. Sure, it's there to correct moire patterns, but at such high sample resolutions (all those pixels SHOULD hit the Nyquist rate of most things, right?) and in a camera catered to professionals, I'm sure that allowing it to be removed shouldn't be that big deal, yeah?


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Locations & Damage Sustained
Other Notes


Review Objectives
Tips For Travelling


Items On Review
Brief Description Of Items


The Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III Review
General Features - The Bad & Ugly


General Features - The Good & Awesome


Body & Ergonomics


Conclusion For The EOS-1Ds Mark III Review
Personal Note To Canon

8 & More

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