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The Canon EOS-1Ds: a big file EOS-1D  
Tuesday, September 24, 2002 | by
Not long ago, it seemed like 6 million pixels was firmly fixed as the upper resolution limit for a mainstream digital SLR camera. By my count, no fewer than 9 such cameras over the past 8 years have featured a sensor in the 6 million pixel range, including 4 new models this year alone: the Nikon D100, Canon EOS D60, Fujifilm FinePix S2 Pro and Contax N Digital. If that represents some sort of era in digital photography, consider it over. Canon and Kodak have raised the bar to 11 million (actual image) pixels and 13.5 million (actual image) pixels, respectively, with the introduction of the Canon EOS-1Ds and the Nikon-bodied Kodak DCS Pro 14n.

Canon EOS-1Ds

Oh, and did I mention they're also full frame? The sensors these cameras contain are about the same physical size as a 35mm film frame, which means Canon and Nikon wide angle lenses are once again wide when attached to these cameras, while telephoto lenses lose some of their reach. If you're a professional photographer with Canon and Nikon gear, today is big day. You may not opt to purchase either camera, but they do signal a direction in digital SLR design that can't be ignored.

This article looks at the EOS-1Ds in detail; another article on this site examines the Kodak DCS Pro 14n.

The Canon EOS-1Ds Unveiled

A short description of the EOS-1Ds is easy: it's an EOS-1D with a bigger sensor, a shimmering badge on its front bearing the letters "Ds" and a list price of US$8999 in the US when it ships in November.

The rest of the EOS-1Ds features read like they're pulled from an EOS-1D brochure. The layout of all camera controls is the same, in a body that is the same size and nearly the same weight. Many of the internal components are identical, including the mirror, meter, most viewfinder components, the rear LCD monitor and lower LCD display. White balance and colour matrix settings are identical, and are tuned to provide results similar to the EOS-1D. The EOS-1Ds shares the same range of RAW and JPEG formats, and the same in-camera sharpening, JPEG compression and tone curve control. Turn on the EOS-1Ds' rear LCD monitor and you'll see menus that mirror those of the EOS-1D. In short, if you know the EOS-1D, you know a lot about the EOS-1Ds already.

Canon EOS-1Ds - rear view

Given that, I've opted here to focus mostly on what's new in the EOS-1Ds. What you'll find as you move down this page is summary of the camera's major features, a feature-by-feature comparison of the differences between the EOS-1Ds and the EOS-1D, a table that summarizes those differences and look at what's missing in the new, high-resolution digital SLR from Canon.

Canon EOS-1Ds Major Features

Major features of the EOS-1Ds include:

  • A 23.8mm x 35.8mm CMOS sensor that delivers 11 million pixel photos. The sensor's physical dimensions are nearly identical to the 35mm film format, which means no focal length conversion math is required. Lenses will behave as they always have on 35mm film cameras

  • 12 bits per colour image capture (converted to 8 or 16 bits per colour, depending on file format and processing)

  • Core camera capabilities that are the same as the EOS-1V, including 45 point Area AF, reflex mirror with Active Mirror Control, 21 zone Evaluative Metering, full wireless E-TTL flash compatibility and more

  • The EOS-1Ds is built for durability, from its magnesium alloy body and 150,000+ cycle carbon fiber shutter to its 1V-level weather sealing

  • Two full-resolution JPEG settings, one quarter-resolution JPEG setting, losslessly-compressed RAW and a RAW + JPEG combo. Ten-step tuning of JPEG compression possible

  • Standard ISO range of 100 - 1250 in 1/3 stop increments. ISO 50 is selectable via a Custom Function

  • Shutter lag is rated at 55ms, same as the EOS-1D; camera is "shooting priority" design

  • A top shutter speed of 1/8,000; a top flash sync speed of 1/250 (higher with E-TTL series strobes set to High Speed Sync only)

  • Shoots at up to 3 fps

  • A burst depth of 10 frames, regardless of ISO or file format

  • Accepts a single CompactFlash Type I/II card, including the IBM Microdrive

  • Voice annotations; sound clips can be associated with any photo

  • 1-up, 4-up and 9-up image review, plus image info screen and zoomed playback mode

  • Histogram and "Highlight Alert" indicator on rear LCD; blown highlights blink in both 1-up and image info views

  • Extensive white balance options, including Hybrid Auto WB that makes its colour determination using combined measurements from an external sensor and the image data itself. In addition, users may dial in the exact colour temperature, in 100 Kelvin increments, between 2800 Kelvin and 10,000 Kelvin. Custom WB, 3 Personal WB settings and 6 presets - Tungsten, Fluorescent, Daylight, Flash, Overcast, Shade - round out the package

  • Five "Color Matrix" options, four that map colour within the sRGB colour space, and one within Adobe RGB

  • White Balance Bracketing and ISO Speed Bracketing, in addition to Exposure Bracketing

  • Optional long exposure noise reduction

  • Configure and store in the camera up to 3 additional image processing parameter sets, each containing the user's preferred combination of tone curve, sharpening and JPEG compression

  • Verification that an EOS-1Ds photo has not been altered (requires Data Verification Kit DVK-E1)

  • Powered by the 12v, 1650mAh NP-E3 battery pack or AC via DC Coupler Kit DCK-E1

  • Firmware may be updated by the end user, from a CompactFlash card

  • 400mbps FireWire interface; no video out or serial port for GPS

  • Software that includes the new Canon File Viewer Utility, a standalone program that is an offshoot of the Photoshop plug-in/TWAIN driver Canon released with the EOS-1D late in 2001.

The Big Picture

Kodak has done it for years, starting with the now-prehistoric DCS 420 and DCS 460. Nikon continued the tradition with the D1H and D1X. Now, it's Canon's turn to twin the upper end of its digital SLR lineup by offering a big-file sibling for the EOS-1D.

The 11 million (actual image) pixel 35mm frame-size CMOS sensor of the EOS-1Ds certainly breaks new ground. But as you can see from the feature list above, virtually all camera specifications not directly impacted by a new, larger imager remain unchanged from the EOS-1D. For those satisfied with the 1D as a package, this will come as welcome news. Conversely, photographers searching for improvements beyond a high-resolution, 35mm format-size sensor shouldn't expect to unearth much. The 1Ds is in almost all respects a 1D with more pixels - their specifications differ primarily in areas affected by the management of all those pixels. Here's a look at the differences.

Canon's Full Frame CMOS Sensor

The big news is, of course, the EOS-1Ds' voluminous, Canon designed and manufactured CMOS sensor. With a pixel pitch of 8.8 microns, its square pixels are quite a bit smaller than the EOS-1D's, whose square pixels weigh in at 11.5 microns. The net effect is a stratospheric jump in image size. The EOS-1D's 4.1MP (actual image pixels) sensor offers up 2464 x 1648 pixels, which translate into an 11.6MB photo at 8 bits per colour. By comparison, the EOS-1Ds' 11MP (actual image pixels) sensor renders a 4064 x 2704 pixel image, which is 31.4MB at 8 bits per colour. That's a lot of picture from a digital SLR.

Canon EOS-1Ds sensor (left); EOS-1D (right)

It's also data that fills the lens, since the EOS-1Ds sensor's actual image area is 23.8mm x 35.8mm, just shy of the 24mm x 36mm standard for a 35mm film frame. Bye bye focal length conversion factor. You can still do that math if you like: just multiply by a conversion factor of 1.0x. The sensor in the EOS-1D, by comparison, is 19.1mm X 28.7mm, or somewhat smaller than a 35mm film frame. Its conversion factor is closer to 1.3x.

11 million pixel images from a sensor that's about the same size as a 35mm frame - that's way cool. For those, like me, who have been told time and time again that it was too expensive and difficult to build a sensor of this size and this pixel count, place it in a 35mm-style body and get a decent quality photograph, the EOS-1Ds is a real surprise. The surprise will be particularly pleasant if Canon has cleared the technical hurdles presented by dropping a comparatively big sensor into a body the size and depth of a 35mm film camera.

These hurdles include aberrations in pictures caused by the angle at which light strikes pixels close to the edge of the image area. CMOS (and CCD) sensors respond best when struck by light entering straight into each pixel. Especially sensors that employ microlenses over each pixel, as the EOS-1Ds' CMOS sensor does. The bigger the sensor, the steeper the angle of light reaching its outer edges. The result can be an effect that looks much like chromatic aberration, typically an image defect caused by a poor quality lens that makes outer portions of a picture look as if they were printed slightly out of register. I've seen what appears to be this effect with the EOS-1D and the DCS 760, both of which sport reasonably large sensors, so this is not just a theoretical concern.

Other concerns include uneven brightness across the frame and, from a camera with pixels that are about 24% smaller than those of the EOS-1D, noise. It also remains to be seen whether Canon's lens lineup can keep pace with the EOS-1Ds' 8.8 micron pixels. That's a relatively small hole to fill with actual, lens-resolved detail, right out to the edges of the frame.

Both the EOS-1D and EOS-1Ds contain an optical, non-removable low-pass filter sandwiched in front of the sensor. This filter is designed to minimize colour artifacts - false colour, in Canon-speak - by, in effect, selectively blurring areas of the image that will be prone to artifacting. A low-pass filter must be designed to match the pixel size of the sensor, so by definition the filters in the EOS-1D and EOS-1Ds are different. But, the EOS-1Ds filter has been further adjusted to increase the filtering effect. The result, says Canon, should be few instances of false colour in EOS-1Ds photos, but at the expense of some apparent softness that will have to be treated with proper sharpening.

Given the upscale target market for this camera, it will be important for the EOS-1Ds to pass the herringbone jacket test - a favourite of portrait photographers - without exhibiting significant moiré. The EOS-1D and its relatively weak low-pass filter definitely contributes to the crispness of its photos, but at the expense of a tendency to moiré. It remains to be seen whether the smaller pixels, and more of them, combined with what Canon describes as a stronger low-pass filter, will knock down most instances of moiré.

Canon has issued me with an EOS-1Ds, but has asked that no photos be published from it, saying that its image quality may not be representative of what will be achieved when the camera ships later this year. Given that, I'll not say much about image quality quite yet. Except about one thing: detail. EOS-1Ds files have lots of it. In fact, one 13 x 19 inch Canon S9000 print of a local landscape scene, taken with the 16-35mm f/2.8, shows fine detail with a clarity and naturalness I've not seen before from a digital SLR. Canon has posted three original photographs from the EOS-1Ds, in both JPEG and converted-from-RAW form.

Update, September 26: Canon has had a change of heart, and is now permitting the publishing of photos from preproduction cameras. First out of the gate is

Everyone will have an opinion on the wisdom of going with a CMOS sensor, with probably equal numbers for and against. Canon has demonstrated that CMOS sensors can take clean, professional-quality pictures, while Nikon and others have demonstrated that CCD sensors are capable of doing the same.

My take: either technology is up to the task. If Canon opted for CMOS in this camera to take advantage of its lower power requirements and manufacturing costs, that's cool. What matters more is how the sensor data is handled during its journey through the camera's circuitry, to ensure noise is kept to a minimum while image colour is processed to be pleasing and artifact-free. The sensor plays a vital role in what a digital camera's pictures look like. The role may be smaller than you think, however, because it's really how the sensor data is processed that has the greatest impact on image quality.

In other words, the CMOS vs CCD debate is over. Or at least it should be.

Imaging Engine

All that picture data meant all new image processing circuitry in the EOS-1Ds too. The imaging engine is significantly revamped and, while so far not officially described as such, is actually derived from the same DIGIC processing found in some of Canon's latest Powershot cameras.

To keep the EOS-1D moving at 8 fps, that camera reads out data from each half of its CCD simultaneously. This speed-increasing approach isn't possible with a CMOS sensor, where each pixel in a row is read individually, not a row at a time like a typical CCD. To boost the EOS-1Ds up to a reasonable frame rate, then, Canon employed a technique whereby two pixels in a row are read out simultaneously. Called 2-channel reading, it shortens the time it takes to clear the sensor.

To keep the sensor data moving briskly from there to its digital destiny, Canon also opted for two analog-to-digital converters instead of one. The net effect is a camera that shoots at an acceptable 3 fps, despite the enormous quantity of data that has to be manhandled between frames.

Files coming out the other side of EOS-1Ds' image processing circuitry are nearly identical in structure to the EOS-1D; the new camera offers the same range of RAW and JPEG file format options, with one notable tweak: pictures taken on Color Matrix 4 (Adobe RGB) do not have their EXIF ColorSpace tag set to sRGB, and should therefore not run afoul of applications that interpret this tag. This is a smart change that I hope is rolled into a future EOS-1D firmware update too.

Frame Rate, Burst Depth and Autofocus

As mentioned, the frame rate of the EOS-1Ds is 3 fps, a far cry from the 8 fps of the EOS-1D, but certainly acceptable. Canon has upped the internal SDRAM buffer memory from 128MB in the EOS-1D to 256MB in the EOS-1Ds. Even with the RAM boost, EOS-1Ds burst depth is 10 frames, compared to a maximum of 21 frames for the EOS-1D. But, because the EOS-1Ds shoots slower, its total shooting time in a single burst is actual longer, at about 3.5 seconds says my stopwatch (the preproduction EOS-1Ds in hand here doesn't quite reach 3 fps). And, it shoots 10 frames regardless of file format or ISO; the EOS-1D drops to as few as 14 frames in a burst as the ISO climbs or RAW+JPEG is selected, so its total shooting time in a single burst varies from about 1.8 seconds to about 2.6 seconds. Though I'm the first to grouse about shallow burst depth, I suspect that the EOS-1Ds will probably fair alright in this regard.

The reduced frame rate of the EOS-1Ds rendered Personal Function 13 - giving priority to consistent drive speed while shooting continuously in AI Servo focus mode - unnecessary, and it's gone from the EOS-1Ds. Meanwhile, the autofocus system has been tuned to better match its 3 fps shooting rate, but is otherwise identical to the EOS-1D and EOS-1V.

ISO Range

Smaller pixel dimensions and different sensor noise characteristics means the EOS-1Ds has an ISO range of ISO 100-1250, compared to the EOS-1D, which may be set from ISO 200-1600. Within this range, both cameras offer ISO settings in as fine as 1/3 stop increments. Custom Function 3 enables the selection of ISO 50, one stop below the EOS-1Ds' base ISO. Unlike the EOS-1D, it's not possible to choose an ISO above its highest setting; 1250 is the camera's upper limit (though this can be cheated by underexposing an ISO 1250 RAW format file, then boosting the exposure in software afterwards).

ISO Speed Bracketing is available in the EOS-1Ds, but is disabled if C.Fn 6 is set to 1/2 stop bracketing increments.

Shutter, Shutter Speeds and Flash Sync

The type of CCD found in the EOS-1D can control exposure time electronically. Canon took full advantage of that, swapping the EOS-3 shutter into the camera, then restricting it to controlling bulb exposures and acting as a barrier against dust. Otherwise, the shutter in the EOS-1D is tuned to merely get out of the way when the picture is being taken. What we think of as shutter speed is controlled entirely within the CCD. This enables a top shutter speed of 1/16,000 and 1/500 standard flash sync. It also permits non-dedicated flash - studio strobes, arena strobes and the like - to sync at shutter speeds of 1/1000 or so, even when triggered by a remote like the PocketWizard MAX or MultiMAX. This is all good.

The CMOS sensor in the EOS-1Ds depends on the shutter to control exposure time. Returning, then, is the carbon fiber, 150,000+ cycle shutter from the EOS-1v, complete with its 1/8000 top shutter speed and 1/250 standard flash sync. Gone is the ability to sync non-dedicated strobes at unheard of shutter speeds. I'll admit it, I'm a high speed sync addict, and while Canon strobes like the 550EX will still shoot above 1/250 with full E-TTL exposure control, being able to sync other strobes above the supposed top sync speed is a feature I use all the time with cameras that have this capability, including the EOS-1D, Nikon D1H and Nikon D1X. I expect to miss this capability in the EOS-1Ds.

The spec of 55ms for shutter lag is spot on: the EOS-1Ds here triggers consistently in the 56ms range, +/- 1ms.


If you spend your day looking through pretty much any other digital SLR, your first glance through the EOS-1Ds' viewfinder will be startling. The viewing area is so big! The EOS-1D's viewfinder is masked slightly, so that the viewing area matches what its sensor will capture. The EOS-1Ds' 35mm format-size sensor means no masking is necessary. And that means peering through an EOS-1Ds is much like peering through an EOS-1v. Better actually: the EOS-1V viewfinder image has a noticeable, and slightly unpleasant, yellowy cast that's not present in the 1Ds. Only eyeglass wearers might be put off by the EOS-1Ds' larger viewfinder, relative to the EOS-1D, since it shifts the right and bottom information displays further away from the centre, thereby making them more difficult to see. The viewfinder information displays in the EOS-1Ds are otherwise unchanged from the EOS-1D.

Also impacted by the changed viewfinder area: the relative position of the 45 autofocus points. The EOS-1D and EOS-1Ds use the same AF sensor, which was originally ported from the EOS-1V. The smaller image area of the 1D means the outer AF points reach closer to the edges of the frame; in the EOS-1Ds, they're back to their original location. I prefer having the outer AF points near to the edge of the frame, and as such prefer the layout in the EOS-1D. But your mileage may vary.

Evaluative Metering in the EOS-1D had to be modified to account for the smaller image area seen by the sensor, relative to the EOS-1v. In the EOS-1Ds, Evaluative Metering is back to EOS-1v spec, though, says Canon's Chuck Westfall, you're unlikely to notice metering differences between the 1D, 1Ds and 1v. Partial (8.5% of frame area) and spot metering (2.4% of frame area) carry through to the EOS-1Ds unchanged. Because of the camera's larger image area, each measures proportionally less frame area than in the 1D.

Battery Life

CMOS sensor technology is less power-hungry than CCD, and that shows in the battery life specifications for each camera. Canon's standard room temperature battery life estimate is 600 frames for the EOS-1Ds, vs 500 frames for the EOS-1D. The actual number of frames achieved on a single charge will vary of course.

Write Performance

The EOS-1D has the fastest write interface of any digital SLR I've measured. The preproduction EOS-1Ds is significantly slower in testing, regardless of CompactFlash card or file format. I assume/hope that this reveals only some unfinished business for Canon engineers, not a design flaw that will carry through to production cameras. The table below provides a sampling of write speed data. Remember, these numbers were derived from a preproduction camera, and may not be indicative of production unit performance.

CompactFlash Card Write Speed - Large Fine JPEG Write Speed - RAW .TIF
Delkin Devices 256MB 1515K/sec 1661K/sec
IBM 1GB Microdrive 1295K/sec 1725K/sec
Lexar Media 512MB 24X 1635K/sec 1852K/sec
Microtech 512MB 1573K/sec 1749K/sec
Sandisk Ultra 512MB 1587K/sec 1773K/sec
Transcend 256MB 1502K/sec 1660K/sec
Note: The time it took to write 10 Large Fine JPEG, and 10 RAW .TIF, was timed to generate the table data. Testing method was the same as for the CompactFlash Performance Database.

Faster FireWire performance is promised for the EOS-1Ds, though again, preproduction camera measurements don't bear this out. The EOS-1D is considerably quicker at camera to PC transfers than the preproduction EOS-1Ds tested.

Camera JPEG Transfer speed - File Viewer Utility
EOS-1D 1515K/sec
EOS-1Ds 1023K/sec

The EOS-1Ds is FAT32-ready. That means when CompactFlash cards with capacities greater than 2GB emerge, the camera will be able to utilize the full capacity of those cards (current, FAT12/16-only cameras, including the EOS-1D, are forever limited to 2GB unless a firmware upgrade can make them FAT32 savvy). The EOS-1Ds will automatically format the card to FAT32 or FAT16 based on the card's capacity.


Menu layout and rear controls are near-identical in the EOS-1D and EOS-1Ds. There are several changes worth noting, however:

Image zoom. The EOS-1Ds supports a 4x enlargement of reviewed images, scrolling around the frame in 25 overlapping segments. This feature has been shoehorned into the EOS-1D interface - you press the Display and AF Assist buttons to enable it - and requires that P.Fn 30 (new in the EOS-1Ds) be configured by connecting the camera to a computer first. With P.Fn 30 enabled, the EOS-1Ds stores a 2032 x 1352 pixel highly compressed JPEG inside each photo, except for JPEGs recorded on the RAW+JPEG setting. This low-res JPEG (equivalent in pixel count to the EOS-1D's Small JPEG) is displayed when zooming, to speed up zoom operations.

Zooming comes at the expense of larger image files, as stored on the card. In my testing, enabling P.Fn 30 causes all file formats (except JPEGs recorded on RAW+JPEG) to grow by 300K to 500K, when photographing detailed scenes at lower ISO settings. Expect an even bigger file size hit in the camera's upper ISO regions.

Zoomed images, at least in the preproduction unit here, don't seem particularly crisp, which makes it more difficult to assess critical focus, and the degree of zoom seems relatively modest. It's good to see an image zoom function on the EOS-1Ds, but it isn't implemented as effectively as it could be yet.

Parameter Set adjustment. Sharpening, JPEG compression and the selection of either the standard or a modified tone curve can be adjusted in the camera for each of the three user-definable parameter sets. This eliminates the need to configure parameter sets via the computer, as per the EOS-1D, though this is still possible with the EOS-1Ds. This is a welcome interface change, one that I hope is extended ultimately to most Personal Functions too.

And then there were 5. Spanish joins English, French, German and Japanese as the languages of choice for the EOS-1D's on screen menus.

Data Verification Kit DVK-E1

Both JPEG and RAW photos from the EOS-1Ds can be verified as original and unmodified with Canon's new Data Verification Kit DVK-E1. The kit, which consists of an IC card, an IC card reader with USB connector and a Windows 2000/XP-only verification utility, analyses unspecified information in the photo and can apparently determine if it's "absolutely unaltered." P.Fn 31, when enabled, causes the camera to write "original image evaluation data" into each picture file, making this possible.

If it's sufficiently robust an approach to withstand legal scrutiny (Canon's verification method is apparently not implemented in accordance with any legal standard for image verification, if one in fact even exists somewhere in the world), this feature of the EOS-1Ds could be a boon for law enforcement photography.

File Viewer Utility

Unveiled alongside the Powershot G3 and S45 cameras last week, and to be bundled with the EOS-1Ds (along with the usual suspects, including RemoteCapture and PhotoStitch), Canon's new File Viewer Utility software is effectively a replacement for the Photoshop plug-in/TWAIN driver that made its first appearance with the EOS-1D late last year. Many of its features and overall feel carry over, though File Viewer Utility is a standalone application and does not run from within Photoshop on the Mac or within TWAIN-aware applications on the PC.

Canon File Viewer Utility

Like the software it replaces, File Viewer Utility will display both thumbnails and previews, process RAW photos, transfer photos to Photoshop, display shooting information, attach IPTC captions and save out contact sheets. It's also the place from which to configure Personal Functions and view images in a FireWire-tethered EOS-1Ds.

New to File Viewer Utility is a histogram permanently anchored atop the shooting information, a Windows-style folder navigator, a cleaned-up interface that improves accessibility to RAW processing controls for all supported cameras, more image selection options, an additional thumbnail view that slims the grey slide mount borders and more. Plus, someone found their dictionary: various spelling mistakes in dialog and windows appear to be cleaned up.

File Viewer Utility looks like a serviceable tool, but pales in comparison to the colour managed browsing capabilities of Kodak's DCS Photo Desk 2.0, or the RAW file processing and camera control prowess of Nikon Capture 3.0. More on Canon's software strategy in What's Missing? ahead.

EOS-1D and EOS-1Ds Specifications Comparison

The table below compares key EOS-1D and EOS-1Ds specifications:

Resolution and CCD Canon EOS-1D Canon EOS-1Ds
Sensor type Interline Transfer CCD sensor w/RGB colour filter array CMOS sensor w/RGB colour filter array
Sensor size 19.1mm x 28.7mm 23.8mm x 35.8mm
Actual image pixels 4.1 million 11.0 million
Pixel layout 2464 x 1648 4064 x 2704
Pixel size 11.5 microns x 11.5 microns 8.8 microns x 8.8 microns
Finished file size •11.6MB, 8 bits per colour (Large JPEG)
•23.2MB, 16 bits per colour (processed from RAW .TIF)

Note: Reduced resolution JPEG not listed

•31.4MB, 8 bits per colour (Large JPEG)
•62.8MB, 16 bits per colour (processed from RAW .TIF)

Note: Reduced resolution JPEG not listed

Focal length conversion factor (relative to 35mm format) •Approx 1.3x
•Viewfinder masked to compensate for smaller image area
•Approx 1.0x (no conversion required)
•Viewfinder masking not required
Low-pass filter included? Yes; non-removable (tuned for minimal filtering) Yes; non-removable (tuned for stronger filtering)
ISO range •200-1600 in 1/3 stop increments
•ISO 100 and ISO 3200 via Custom Function
•100-1250 in 1/3 stop increments
•ISO 50 via Custom Function
Shooting Speed
Shutter rating 150,000+ cycles (shutter same as EOS-3) 150,000+ cycles (shutter same as EOS-1V)
Maximum fps 8 fps 3 fps
Burst depth 14 to 21 frames (varies with ISO and file format) 10 frames (regardless of ISO and file format)
Shutter lag - camera awake 56ms +/- 1ms 56ms +/- 1ms
Top shutter speed 1/16,000 1/8000
Top flash sync speed (standard flash mode, dedicated flash) 1/500 1/250
AF System 45-point Area AF (7 cross-type AF sensors) •45-point Area AF (7 cross-type AF sensors)
•AF tuned for 3 fps shooting rate
Image Storage
Storage media Single CompactFlash slot; compatible with CompactFlash Type I/II, including Microdrive Single CompactFlash slot; compatible with CompactFlash Type I/II, including Microdrive
RAW files Yes; TIFF-based lossless compression Yes; TIFF-based lossless compression
JPEGs •Large Fine (full-res)
•Large Normal (full-res)
•Small Fine (reduced-res)
•Large Fine (full-res)
•Large Normal (full-res)
•Small Fine (reduced-res)
Simultaneous JPEG + RAW Yes Yes
Support for FAT32 file system? No; FAT 12/16 only Yes
Compatible with Data Verification Kit DVK-E1? No Yes
Computer 400mbps FireWire 400mbps FireWire
Voice annotation? Yes Yes
Video out? No No
Image zoom during playback? No Yes; 4x
Parameter Sets configurable in the camera No Yes
Languages •English
Exposure and Image Processing
Evaluative metering? Yes; 21 zone Evaluative Metering (modified for smaller image area of camera, compared to 35mm frame) Yes; 21 zone Evaluative Metering
Flash metering E-TTL E-TTL
Wireless TTL? Yes Yes
WB settings •Shade
•Hybrid Auto WB
•Custom WB (can store 3 in camera)
•K (Color Temperature); 2800-10,000K range
•Hybrid Auto WB
•Custom WB (can store 3 in camera)
•K (Color Temperature); 2800-10,000K range
Colour space •sRGB
•Adobe RGB (files incorrectly marked as sRGB in EXIF ColorSpace tag)
•Adobe RGB (files not marked as sRGB in EXIF ColorSpace tag)
Camera Body and Power Source
Dimensions (W x H x D) 156 x 157.6 x 79.9 mm / 6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1 inches 156 x 157.6 x 79.9 mm / 6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1 inches
Weight 1250 g / 44.1 oz. (body only) 1265 g / 44.6 oz. (body only)
Battery Removable 1650mAh NiMH NP-E3 Removable 1650mAh NiMH NP-E3
Number of shots •At 20°C/68F: Approx. 500
•At 0°C/32F: Approx. 350

Note: Numbers derived using Canon's standard test method; actual number will vary

•At 20°C/68F: Approx. 600
•At 0°C/32F: Approx. 450

Note: Numbers derived using Canon's standard test method; actual number will vary

What's Missing?

If what you've been yearning for is an EOS-1D that chugs out big files, the EOS-1Ds isn't likely to disappoint. As a Canon shooter since my junior high school yearbook days, and as a sometimes frustrated EOS-1D user in the past year, I had been expecting more than more pixels. At the top of my Canon digital wish list are these must-haves:

Reliable on-camera flash. Though my roots are Canon, I've shot with systems from Canon and Nikon concurrently since about 1998. If this experience has taught me one thing, it's that Nikon's TTL flash thumps Canon's vaunted E-TTL. With each new Canon digital camera, my hope has sprung eternal - perhaps this will be the Canon model that makes reliable on-camera flash photography, both direct and bounce, in bright and dim conditions, a reality.

Unfortunately, the EOS-1D has been another letdown in this regard. Regular usage of the EOS-1D commenced shortly after I returned from covering, with Nikon's D1X and SB-28DX, Eco Challenge 2001 in New Zealand. It was three weeks of flash-heavy photography, in all sorts of environments. This combination of camera and flash was superb. Not perfect, mind you - I occasionally had to bail out of TTL for the SB-28DX's automatic mode. Ultimately, though, Nikon's flash system did what I needed it to, predictably and reliably. The EOS-1D and 550EX deliver a very different experience, with difficult-to-anticipate over and underexposure problems, and no automatic mode to retreat to if necessary. What a contrast to the Nikon system.

The EOS-1Ds flash metering system is essentially unchanged from the EOS-1D, and as such, I'm not expecting an improvement. The single biggest difference between Nikon's and Canon's TTL approach is the role of distance information: Nikon TTL takes it into account, while Canon E-TTL doesn't. If making distance part of the equation would help Canon's flash exposure reliability, I sure would have liked to have seen that rolled into the EOS-1Ds.

Software that matches the performance of the camera. A year ago, it appeared that Canon was on the right software track. Prior to the EOS-1D's release, in fact, I predicted good things were coming for Canon users, based on the warm, fuzzy feeling I got while looking at a beta release of Canon's Photoshop plug-in/TWAIN driver. A year has passed, and hindsight reveals that the Canon's software team has clearly lacked the resources to build upon what they started in 2001. New software releases have lacked support for current cameras, bugs and spelling mistakes pervade some programs, colour management is completely absent, plus silly little things - like RemoteCapture not supporting continuous mode shooting with the EOS-1D - have been the order of the day.

Mac users have had to endure even greater indignities, the most egregious of which is to continue for perhaps several more months: limited or no support for OS X in key applications as well as Canon's software development kit (SDK) for third party programmers, despite the fact that OS X has been out for about 18 months and fairly usable for about a year. Even the new File Viewer Utility is not yet ready for the Mac's prime time: a version for OS X isn't expected until the first quarter of 2003. The next revision of Canon's pro camera SDK, however, is promised by the time the EOS-1Ds ships. I've got my fingers crossed that it will be ready for Apple's latest operating system.

The other camera manufacturers' software have shortcomings as well, some of them significant. But if the File Viewer Utility is the best Canon has to offer EOS-1D and EOS-1Ds users, then they have yet to learn that there's much more to pro digital photography than shooting the picture. Especially for the sort of quality-minded, colour-managed photographer that is the core market for the EOS-1Ds.

Photokina may bring an announcement about EOS-1Ds-compatible software that partially absolves Canon of their software wrongs. I can't say more about that right now, except to stay tuned.

Video out. A camera built for photographers who work in the studio has to have video out. It's an indispensable feature. And it's not to be found on the EOS-1Ds, or the EOS-1D before it.


Canon EOS-1Ds kit contents

I have other grievances, but they're less significant. After all, the EOS-1D is a really good camera, and so it's likely the EOS-1Ds will be too. But unless its images, and overall usability, are a notch above Kodak's DCS Pro 14n, Canon may be in for some unexpectedly tough competition. Especially if the street price isn't significantly lower than the US$8999 list price Canon has announced.

Canon will have a collection of preproduction EOS-1Ds cameras on display for photographers to touch and try at Photokina, which kicks off Wednesday in Cologne, Germany. The EOS-1Ds is to begin shipping in November.

The Canon EOS-1Ds on show at Photokina (Photo: Stefan Sobotta)

Thanks to Chuck Westfall of Canon USA for his assistance in the preparation of this report.

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