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Canon EOS 1Ds Camera Review

February 9, 2003

Canon 1Ds

EOS-1Ds of super-resolution is meant for professional shooting with the maximum digital quality. The camera is expected to attract attention of professionals of the different profile including studio shooting, commercial photography, photo reporters and fashion-magazine photographers.

The matrix size got equal to the 35mm frame size. The 1Ds CMOS 4064*2704 (11Mp "large single-plate CMOS sensor" with the dual-channel data read technology and a cell size equal to 8.8*8.8 micron) has the sensor of 35.8*23.8 mm equivalent to the films 50-1250 ISO with the ISO step of 1/3. The classical 1Ds camera with such a "big" digital frame will be a tough competitor for much less mobile digital backs whose sensors are actually just a bit bigger (as a rule, 35*35 mm). The matrix has RGB filters behind. All digital focuses of the CMOS image and operation with large files (certainly, not 11Mp) are well worked-out on the D30/60 and D1 (fast  - up to 8 fps in the 21 shot series 4Mp with CCD and 1.3 conversion factor). And 11 Mp for the 35mm frame in quality is like scanning at 2700 dpi of a good film shot with a good camera, at the speed much higher than real scanning. The purity and speed of the procedure is on account of the new signal processor. The camera's body (from 1V) is made of magnesium alloy, though it's not necessary for a camera which is positioned by Canon as a studio solution (Canon EOS-1Ds is a professional digital AF SLR camera developed primarily for studio photographers. http://www.canon.com/camera-museum/camera/f_camera.html). But it's price doesn't make a solid part of the "smart" stuffing (approximately 1:5). That is why photographers using narrow films now can forget what a film is at all. 


Block diagram (dual-channel reading, buffer for 10 shots (JPEG and RAW) etc. from http://www.canoneos.com/

Canon 1Ds

Golden Digits and Canon EF mount

So, what the 1Ds can do more and what it has else: 

  • 100% 0.7X viewfinder (for 50mm lens) with eyepoint (20 mm) and correction of -3+1D, Ec-CIII display
  • shooting at 3 fps in 10shot series, 
  • shooting in JPEG and RAW (12bit) simultaneously and separately, 
  • shooting in file 4064*2704 or 2032*1352 
  • 45-point Area AF (CMOS sensor behind the mirror like in 1V) with a working range of EV 0-18 (iso 100) with auto and manual selection of the focusing point, 
  • 21 zone exposure metering, 
  • white balance - auto; daylight, shade, overcast, tungsten light, fluorescent light, flash), 3 manual settings, user's one (2800K-10000K color temperature in 100K steps), 
  • bracketing for exposure, sensitivity, white balance, focusing, 
  • FireWire (IEEE1394), 
  • FAT32 support for CF (I/II) cards over 2 GB, 
  • shutter (electronically controlled, focal-plane shutter), at least 150000 acts (5000 films), 1/8000 - 30 s (1/3-stop increments), 
  • protected 1D body with "70 waterproof and dustproof coatings" (http://www.canon.ru/), 
  • TFT 2" Display with 120000 pixels and 100% coverage, 
  • efficiency at the 1V level, 
  • noise elimination at 1/15 s (manually switched), 
  • flash sync at 1/250 s, 
  • 5 color spaces of digital image encoding - 4 sRGB and Adobe RGB, 
  • adjustable tone rendering curve (4 key points), sharpness filter, JPEG compression, 
  • 21 settings and 26 user settings (can be adjusted from the computer, in the camera they can be either enabled or disabled) which can be grouped in 3 user sets, 
  • shot view (image, data, histogram, enlarged), 
  • power supply from Canon NP-E3 1650 mAh, 12V, 
  • dimensions/weight 156 *157.6 * 79. 9 / 1265 g (+battery 335 g) 

Canon 1Ds

Front panel:
lens release button,
shutter button (2 for normal and vertical frame),
additional white balance sensor (above EOS1 - hybrid white balance system TTL+sensor on body),
depth-of-field preview button (on the lens mount below on the left),
self-timer lamp (on the left above the lens),

Canon 1Ds

Back panel:
Quick control dial with the switch (on the dial's left),
main switch (under the dial), ON/OFF and ON with focusing sound confirmation,
menu, image viewing and monochrome information displays,
on the display's left (top-down):
protect/sound recording button (up to 30 sec WAV),
menu button
select button
display button
erase button
under the display:
image quality,
white balance,
clear (when pressed together); 
above on the right (below for vertical shot):
AF point selector button,
AE lock button,
additional functions button (changes the control button's function when pressed together) 

Canon 1Ds

The optical viewfinder has a eyesight correction knob on the left and an eyepiece shutter lever on the right.


Canon 1Ds

Interface connectors: flash, remote control (RS-60E3), FireWire.
Battery compartment. 
As it should be, there is a matrix position mark, or a film plane mark.


Canon 1Ds

Above on the left:
MODE button (program flexible, aperture priority, shutter priority, manual exposure, BULB and DEP*),
focusing (manual, servo),
exposure metering (Evaluative, Partial 8.5%, Spot metering 2.4%, Centerweighted), 
The combination of the buttons controls sensitivity and one-shot / series / timer shooting.
Hot shoe.
Information display with backlight, exposure compensation, flash exposure parameters lock buttons.
Main dial. 

*DEP is the Canon's mode that allows indicating two focusing points when the auto system selects exposure and aperture values so that the both points can be in focus.


Canon 1Ds

Controls when taking a vertical shot.


Canon 1Ds

The memory card slot can be locked like all the mechanical "gates" of the camera. 

The camera comes with a full required software suite (for Windows): 
Photoshop LE,
WIA drivers,
PhotoStitch 3,1,
Remote Capture,
Canon ZoomBrowser EX,

The ZoomBrowser is now EX, that is why it has changed the design, but it's more important that it has become more flexible now - it works like an explorer allowing for viewing images and for displaying shooting parameters, editing, printing and RAW file converting. Earlier it was necessary to register each new folder in the program to work with its images.

ZoomBrowser EX

FileViewerUtility allows changing the camera's settings (user's, identification), transfer data from the camera to PC, convert RAW files (adjustment of type and depth of 8/16bit output file, white balance, tone curve, sharpness filter), viewing shots and shooting parameters. Apart from the shooting parameters and histogram you can display the focusing sensor map (with an active point):


Shot and fragment 1:1 (data are in the program window above) 



We tested the camera in operation with the Canon ZOOM LENS EF 24 - 85 1:3.5 - 4.5. Even with this, not special, lens you can discern (with lower contrast) the adjuscent lines of the resolution chart at the distance of 1 pixel. The image quality is very high and the noise doesn't have a great impact even at the maximum ISO 1250. 

Fragments of the resolution chart in the frame center
f=50 mm, aperture f:8, different sensitivity (on the right there is a fragment of the element in shadow on the same shot). Shooting in RAW (with converting into JPEG for WWW). Auto white balance. 


iso 100, exposure 1/3 s   



iso 100, exposure 1/20 s   



iso 800, exposure 1/160 c  



iso 1250, exposure 1/250 s  

Sergey Sherbakov (sherbakovs@rambler.ru)

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