The Latest Addition To My Photography Gear: The Amazing 1Ds Mark II

For a $4,000 difference between the 1D, the 1Ds' lettering is gold plated.
For a $4,000 difference between the 1D, the 1Ds emblems are gold plated

Sooo, if you’ve been following me on Twitter, you may have noticed my mention of a “new toy”. Well, the wait’s over, my new toy is a camera. Not any camera, but Canon’s top-top of the line, the much sought after and highly desired Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II. Up until August 2007, it had been the highest megapixel camera for a full frame (or even cropped sensors) 35mm digital sensor. Introduced in September 2004, it took the photography world by storm offering the most megapixel at the time in a full frame sensor. The Canon EOS 1Ds (mark I) was the first dSLR to feature a full frame sensor with the Kodak DCN-14n following suite.

All this for only eight thousand dollars ($8,000). So, yea. Quite out of reach even for many professionals photographers.

I already currently own a Canon EOS 1D Mark II, which up to this point served as my primary body with a Canon EOS 5D as my secondary/backup body. I’ve been itching for another 1D body, as it makes sense to have identical bodies when shooting fast paced events such as wedding because all the controls, menu layout, and functionality are identical. So when an opportunity arose, I jumped, and now I’m a proud owner of a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II.

Canon EOS 1D Mark II versus Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II

There are more similarities than differences between the 1D Mark II and 1Ds Mark II. Here’s a quick comparison:

SLR Cameras Canon EOS 1D Mark II Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II Winner
Year Introduced January 29, 2004 September 21, 2004
Cost (when introduced) ~$4,000 ~$8,000
Sensor Size 28.7 x 19.1 mm 36 x 24 mm
Viewfinder 100%, 0.72x magnification 100%, 0.70x magnification
Max Resolution 3504 x 2336 4992 x 3328
Megapixels 8.2 16.7
ISO rating 100-1600 in 1/3 stops, with 50 and 3200 as options 100-1600 in 1/3 stops, with 50 and 3200 as options
Auto Focus type TTL-AREA-SIR with 45-point CMOS sensor with 7 cross type sensors TTL-AREA-SIR with 45-point CMOS sensor with 7 cross type sensors
Metering 21 area eval, partial, spot (center, AF point, multi-spot), center-weighted average 21 area eval, partial, spot (center, AF point, multi-spot), center-weighted average
Crop Factor 1.3 1.0
Continuous Drive 8.5 fps for 40 JPEG or 20 RAW 4 fps for 32 JPEG or 11 RAW
Storage Types Compact Flash (Type I or II) and SD/SDHC Compact Flash (Type I or II) and SD/SDHC
LCD 2.0 inches 2.0 inches
LCD Pixels 230,000 230,000
Battery Canon Ni-MH NP-E3 12V battery Canon Ni-MH NP-E3 12V battery
Weight 1,565 g (3.44 lb) with battery 1,565 g (3.44 lb) with battery
Dimensions 156 x 158 x 80 mm (6.1 x 6.2 x 3.2 in) 156 x 158 x 80 mm (6.1 x 6.2 x 3.2 in)

The biggest differences are: sensor size, resolution/megapixels, crop factor, and continous drive. You can’t really compare these two SLRs to each other because they serve two entirely different functions. Obviously from the specs, the Canon EOS 1D Mark II is a sport/photojournalist photographer’s camera. At the sacrifice of resolution (8.2 MP versus 16.7 MP), the Canon EOS 1D Mark II can burst up to 8.5 frames-per-second, which was the fastest dSLR until the Nikon D3 and Canon EOS 1D Mark III were introduced. The 1D Mark II also can store more images in it’s buffer (40 versus 32), most likely due to the resolution differences. On the issue of crop factor, it has been my experience, that sport and to some degree, most photojournalists, enjoy the crop factor because of the perceived “reach”. But on the other hand, having a full frame sensor allows all lenses attached to the 1Ds Mark II to utilize it’s native focal length, so 16mm is really 16mm and not an equivalent to 20mm.

So if the 1D Mark II is primarily for sports and photojournalism, then what is the 1Ds Mark II’s primary role? Obviously photojournalism is one area where you need the use of wide angle and super wide angle lenses. That’s one of the reasons why the Nikon D3 is popular among photojournalist: speed, full frame, high ISO capabilities, and in my opinion the Nikkor AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G ED N lens (the sharpest wide angle lens currently). Landscape photography is another great use. Although the Canon EOS 5D is used by a lot of landscape photographers and cost considerably less, there are a number of landscape photographers who need or want the extra four million megapixels along with superior weather sealing. But I think one of the biggest selling point for the 1Ds Mark II is portrait photography. The images produced by the 1Ds Mark II when used in portrait photography is nothing less than spectacular. Just look at the images on Flickr taken by the 1Ds Mark II. This isn’t to say you can’t use a 1Ds Mark II for sports photography, but it’s like you wouldn’t use a chain saw to cut carrots. It works, but not quite exactly the right tool for the job.

Conclusion

So how will the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II serve me? Well for wedding photography, the Canon EOS 1D Mark II will be for fast paced action scenes such as bouquet toss, garter toss, first kiss, ring exchange, the dances (father/daughter, mother/son, first dance) and anything else where I might need the 8.5 fps burst speed. The 1Ds Mark II will be for the formal portraits, tender moments, etc. Most likely I’ll be using my Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM on the 1D Mark II because I usually don’t need super wide angle and the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM on the 1Ds Mark II because I generally don’t need super reach, but I do like the bokeh produced by using a telephoto zoom lens on a full frame body.

The biggest advantage of shooting with a 1D Mark II and 1Ds Mark II is that the menu and camera functionality, for the most part, are identical. Switching ISO is the same exact two buttons. Reviewing images are the same buttons, changing focus, etc. Plus both the Mark II’s use the same NP-E3 Ni-MH batteries which mean I only have to lug around one charger. Also both the Mark II’s use dual memory storage for images so I can easily have a backup of all the images I take.

Be on the lookout for my 1D Mark II and 1Ds Mark II review with pictures coming soon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *