A Viewfinder Darkly

Photography tips and tutorials

Canon’s New Pro Digital Camera 1D Mk111

September 6 2007

by Phil Northeast

A preview of Canon’s latest flagship digital camera, set for release in November, it promises new standards and gives a view of the immediate future of the DSLR

Canon 1Ds Mk3

Canon 1Ds Mk3 front view

Canon confusingly produces two different EOS-1D Mk 111 cameras. The only indication of difference is the “s” suffix, indicating the 1Ds is the larger full frame digital sensor, while the plain 1D has a normal sized version.

Canon’s new “s” model has the latest full frame senor delivering an awesome 21.1 million effective pixels resolution.

The manufacturer claims this, “takes Canon’s pro-digital prowess into and the realm of high-fashion and commercial photo studios where bulkier, medium-format cameras previously reigned.”

This should not tempt professionals with an investment in medium format gear to switch systems. Current medium format systems, such as the Phase One digital back, achieve a mighty 39-megapixel resolution on a Hasselblad body.

The new 1Ds Mk111 will attract current Canon users who already have a selection of their top line “L” series professional lenses. The extra resolution gives them an advantage in the lower end of the high quality market.

Canon’s new dual channel image processing system handles the larger files inevitably produced by a digital camera sensor with more megapixels. However, the result is still a pedestrian shooting rate of five frames per second, about half that of other top line digital cameras. This makes the “Ds’ more suitable for studio or landscape work while sports and photojournalists opt for the 10 megapixel 1D model, with ten frames per second capability.

Live View

This feature gives the photographer the choice of viewing of the scene on the digital camera’s bigger LCD screen instead of through the optical viewfinder. One use is close checking of the focus by viewing a magnified image. This is particularly convenient when the camera is on a tripod. When viewing via the LCD screen the mirror moves out of the way, as for a normal shot and then stays there. Canon claim this will reduce vibration as the mirror does not move during image capture. This also eliminates the familiar SLR sound the mirror makes during operation. Canon claims this will be an advantage in wildlife situations as even this slight noise may spook nervous creatures.

Canon 1Ds Mk111 back

Canon 1Ds Mk111 back view


Canon has a self-cleaning ability for the sensor as well as mechanical designs aimed at reducing dust inside the camera. Finally, if any dust does remain on the sensor Canon say their camera software can detect its presence and can save its location in “Dust Delete Data” as part of the image file. When it comes time for processing the image their “Digital Photo Professional” software will read this data and remove the dust spot. Normally dust spot removal is a manual process using the clone tool, or something similar.


In the 1Ds the normal ISO range is from 100-1600, with sensitivities down to 50 or up to 3200 are available if required. Whereas the other Canon ranges from 50 to 6400, indicating the limits placed by noise on the design of high megapixel sensors due to the smaller size of the photoreceptors in the sensor.

Improved Autofocus.

It is now possible for photographers to make fine adjustments to the auto focus point for different types of lenses. Canon said they have doubled the low light sensitivity to improve auto focus performance, an area of criticism for earlier models.


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