Digital Camera Home > Digital Camera Reviews > Canon Digital Cameras > Canon EOS-1D Mark II

Canon EOS-1D Mark II

Canon doubles the resolution of their speed demon SLR, while actually increasing its speed and cutting image noise. Amazing!

<<Reference: Datasheet :(Previous) | (Next): EOS-1D Mark II Imatest Results>>

EOS-1D Mark II Sample Images

Review First Posted: 01/27/2005

Digital Cameras - Canon EOS-1D Mark II Test Images

 

I've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for the test shots. The Thumber data includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISOsetting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all*that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested inthe information need wade through it!

 

"Sunlit" Portrait:
(This is my new "Outdoor" Portrait test - read more about it here.)

Excellent resolution and detail, with good color and exposure. Contrast is slightly high, but highlight detail is still good.

The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why I set it up this way, and why I shoot it with no fill flash or reflector to open the shadows. The object is to hold both highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the EOS-1D Mark II did a very good job.

The shot at right was taken with a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which resulted in slightly dark midtones, but still good detail. Highlight detail is also good, despite the slightly high contrast. I chose the Auto white balance setting for the main series, though the Daylight, Manual, and 4,900 Kelvin settings all produced nearly accurate results (just slight color casts).

Marti's skin tones look good here, though slightly pink in a few places, but the blue flowers in the bouquet are darker and more purplish than in real life. (Many digicams have trouble with this blue, which is in reality light navy blue, with just hints of purple in them.) The red flowers of the bouquet also have a pink cast, but the strong greens and yellows look good. Resolution is very high, with a lot of fine detail visible throughout the frame, even in the deep shadows. Image noise is quite low, with a small, tight grain pattern.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.0 EV, see files E1D2OUTAP0.HTM through E1D2OUTAP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

Contrast Series:
The EOS 1D Mark II's default contrast is about average among the high-end SLRs I've tested, but its contrast adjustment works quite well. It did a very good job of taming the deliberately extreme contrast of this test setup.
Contrast Series
Lowest
Low
Normal
High
Highest


Color Temperature White Balance Series:
Adjustable in 100K increments, the 1D's Kelvin white balance adjustment option provides excellent, fine-grained control over white balance. (Although to make optimum use of it, you'll really need to carry a color meter.) I really like the precise control this gives over white balance, excellent for shooting in the studio.

Degrees Kelvin
4,300
4,400
4,500
4,600
5,100



 

Closer Portrait:

(Not shot for the EOS 1D Mark II).

I actually have a shot here, taking with my old outdoor setup, but didn't feel that this shot was all that essential to duplicate with the new setup in the studio. (I'm actually debating dropping this shot from the test suite altogether, feeling it's really a little redundant.)



 

Indoor Portrait, Flash:
External Flash
+1.3 EV

Great color and exposure with an external flash unit.

The EOS-1D Mark II doesn't offer a built-in flash, but does accommodate external flash units via a top-mounted hot-shoe and an additional PC sync socket. Equipped with Canon's excellent external strobe units, the camera handles flash exposures well, with good exposure and color. With the flash head angled upward to bounce the light off the white ceiling here, I chose an exposure adjustment of +1.3 EV because the overall exposure appeared more even. (The shot taken at +1.0 EV is nice and bright, but the flash coverage seemed less even to me.) Color is very good, if slightly warm from the bright incandescent room lighting. A great performance.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +2.0 EV, see files E1D2INFP0.HTM through E1D2INFP6.HTM on the thumbnail index page.



 

Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Auto White Balance
Incandescent White Balance
Manual White Balance
2,800 Kelvin White Balance

Great color with the Manual white balance, though the 2,800 Kelvin setting also gave good results. Good exposure as well.

This shot is always a very tough test of a camera's white balance capability, given the strong, yellowish color cast of the household incandescent bulbs used for the lighting. The EOS-1D Mark II's Manual white balance setting did the best job here, though the 2,800 Kelvin setting came in at a close second (just a little warm). The Auto setting resulted in a very strong warm cast (I'd expect better from a high-end camera like the 1D Mark II), and the Incandescent setting was also a bit on the warm side. (The warmth with the Incandescent setting is normal for a professional digital camera, as they're generally balanced for the 3200K of professional incandescent studio lighting.) I chose an exposure compensation adjustment of +0.7 EV for the main shot, which resulted in good highlights. Overall color looks great with the Manual white balance, and skin tones are quite natural (though just slightly pink). The blue flowers of the bouquet are dark and purplish, a common occurrence with this shot due to the very warm-hued lighting. Still, really great results overall.

To view the entire exposure series in the Manual white balance from zero to +1.7 EV, see files E1D2INMP0.HTM through E1D2INMP5.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

ISO Series:
Noise is very low on the EOS-1D Mark II, with a tight, small grain pattern that interferes very little with subject detail. Even at the 1,600 and 3,200 ISO settings, noise is surprisingly low, considering the high sensitivity.

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400 ISO 800 ISO 1,600 ISO 3,200



 

House Shot:
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Great resolution, though details are a little soft, with accurate color from the Daylight white balance setting.

The EOS-1D Mark II's Daylight white balance setting actually produced the best overall color here, with the most accurate white value on the house trim. Surprisingly, the Auto setting resulted in a strong warm cast, and the Manual setting was a hint warm as well. Resolution is very high, and detail is very strong in the fine foliage in front of and above the house. Details are a little soft, but the image takes unsharp masking in Photoshop(tm) or other image-editing software very well, and dialing up the camera's internal sharpness setting produces very crisp-looking images with few artifacts. (The EOS-1D Mark II features an 8.2-megapixel CCD, which stretches the limits of this poster as a test target. Even though the poster was made from a 500MB scan of a 4x5 negative shot with a tack-sharp lens, cameras like the EOS-1D Mark II can pretty well extract all the detail that's to be found here.)



 

Far-Field Test

Excellent resolution and detail, with good dynamic range as well.

This image is shot at infinity to test far-field lens performance. NOTE that this image cannot be directly compared to the other "house" shot, which is a poster, shot in the studio. The rendering of detail in the poster will be very different than in this shot, and color values (and even the presence or absence of leaves on the trees!) will vary in this subject as the seasons progress. In general though, you can evaluate detail in the bricks, shingles and window detail, and in the tree branches against the sky. Compression artifacts are most likely to show in the trim along the edge of the roof, in the bricks, or in the relatively "flat" areas in the windows.

This is my ultimate "resolution shot," given the infinite range of detail in a natural scene like this, and the EOS-1D Mark II does an excellent job here. Detail is outstanding, as the tree limbs over the roof, front shrubbery, and house details show excellent detail and great definition in the finer details. Details are just slightly soft throughout the frame (not a problem, just a consequence of Canon's very conservative approach to in-camera sharpening), but still clear, and the image takes unsharp masking in Photoshop(tm) very well. (Try 350% at a radius of 0.4 pixels, to see the detail really pop.) The camera picks up very good detail in the bright white paint surrounding the bay window, which is a trouble spot for many digicams. Detail is also strong in the shadow area above the front door, evidence of an excellent dynamic range. Overall color looks good, and exposure is about right. The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by a JPEG Quality series and ISO, contrast, color, and saturation, series.

Resolution Series:

Wide Angle "Extra Fine"
JPEG
"Fine"
JPEG
3,504 x 2,336
E1D2FAR3504XF
E1D2FAR3504_F
3,104 x 2,072
E1D2FAR3104F
-
2,544 x 1,696
E1D2FAR2544F
-
1,728 x 1,152
E1D2FAR1728F
-

JPEG Quality Series:
The Canon EOS-1D Mark II lets you adjust the JPEG quality at any given resolution over a range of one to 10, in arbitrary units. Following is an abbreviated series. (This is probably a real "geek" test, but I figured there'd be at least some readers who'd want to know how the compression artifacts vary as a function of the JPEG quality setting.) No surprises, there are a lot of artifacts visible at the "1" setting, essentially none at "10."

JPEG Quality Series
1
3
5
7 9 10


ISO Series:
Here again, we see the excellent image-noise characteristics of the Canon EOS-1D Mark II. Noise is virtually non-existent at ISO 50, increases slowly with increasing ISO level, and should be quite acceptable for many uses, even at ISO 3200. Also notable is how little the color characteristics of the images are affected at very high ISOs, something that's been an issue with some other d-SLRs I've tested.

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400 ISO 800 ISO 1,600 ISO 3,200


Contrast Series:
Similar to results above, but included for completeness - The 1D Mark II's contrast adjustment works very well to control contrast under harsh lighting.

Contrast Series
Lowest
Low
Normal
High
Highest


Color Matrix Series:
A quick run-through of all the main color matrices of the Canon EOS-1D Mark II...

Color Matrix Series
Standard
Low Saturation
High Saturation
Portrait
Adobe RGB


Saturation Series:
Not a lot of color in this shot, to see what's going on with the saturation control (and hard to see in the tiny thumbnails anyway, click to see larger versions), but the Canon EOS-1D Mark II's saturation adjustment is nice in that it covers a photographically useful range of color saturation, in reasonable-sized steps.

Saturation Series
Lowest
Low
Normal
High
Highest



 

Lens Zoom Range

The EOS-1D Mark II accommodates a range of Canon lenses, so focal length range is entirely a function of the lens in use.



 

Musicians Poster
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Good color, great resolution.

This shot is often a tough test for digicams, as the abundance of blue in the composition frequently tricks white balance systems into producing a warm color balance. The EOS-1D Mark II's Auto white balance setting seemed to do the best job here, producing very natural skin tones and other colors, seemingly unaffected by the tricky subject coloring. The Daylight white balance setting produced a warmer tone, while the Manual setting resulted in a very cool cast. I settled on the Auto setting for the main image, though some may prefer the slightly warmer skin tones of the Daylight setting. (And some others may yet prefer the cooler tone of the Manual setting.) A very slight warm cast gives the blue background and robe a greenish tint. Resolution is excellent, as the embroidery of the blue robe and on the red vest show a lot of fine detail. (The original data file for this poster was only 20MB though, so cameras like the EOS-1D Mark II are definitely capable of showing more detail than the poster has in it.) I shot this image with a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, as the default exposure was slightly dim.



 

Macro Shot

As with the Lens Zoom Range above, performance here will vary entirely as a function of the lens used.


 

"Davebox" Test Target
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Accurate color, though a slight tendency toward overexposure, variable saturation.

The EOS-1D Mark II's Manual white balance setting did the best job here, producing a pretty good white value on the large white color block and mini-resolution target. The Auto and Daylight settings were just a bit warm. The 1D Mark II wanted to overexpose this shot slightly, so the images here were all shot with -0.3 EV exposure compensation. The resulting exposures look good, as the EOS-1D Mark II faintly distinguishes the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target. Hue accuracy is generally pretty good, but saturation is a bit variable. The red-hued blocks are all somewhat oversaturated (albeit not as much as with some cameras), while the yellow-green and yellow blocks are somewhat undersaturated, the bright yellow most so. Overall color accuracy is quite good though, as evidenced by the Imatest results. Shadow detail is excellent in the charcoal briquettes, and image noise is very low.


Now, for the REAL technoids, Imatest!

I've recently begun using Norman Koren's excellent "Imatest" analysis program for quantitative, thoroughly objective analysis of digicam test images. For those interested, I've prepared a page summarizing what Imatest showed me about the EOS-1D Mark II's images.

The images series below duplicate examples of various camera controls we've already covered above. I include them here though, for our more analytically-minded readers, who'd like to see the effect of various camera controls with a well-known target like the MacBeth Color Checker (tm).

ISO Series:

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400 ISO 800 ISO 1,600 ISO 3,200


Contrast Series:

Contrast Series
Lowest
Low
Normal
High
Highest


Color Matrix Series:

Color Matrix Series
Standard
Low Saturation
High Saturation
Portrait
Adobe RGB


Saturation Series:

Saturation Series
Lowest
Low
Normal
High
Highest



 

Low-Light Tests

Excellent low-light performance, with good color and exposure at the darkest light levels. At f/2.8, AF works down to about 1/10 foot-candle.

The EOS-1D Mark II did an excellent job in the low-light category, and produced clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) limit of my test, with good color at all of the ISO settings tested. The EOS-1D Mark II has a Noise Reduction option to help control image noise, but I didn't see too much different with and without Noise Reduction enabled. Even at ISO 3,200, noise was quite low, but the Noise Reduction option didn't seem to affect the amount of image noise much one way or another. (I suspect it might have more effect on exposures longer than the longest I used here.) The 1D Mark II's autofocus system is also quite sensitive, able to focus at light levels as low as 1/10 foot-candle, with an f/2.8 lens. The table below shows the best exposure I was able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.

(Note: If you'd like to use a light meter to check light levels for subjects you might be interested in shooting, a light level of one foot-candle corresponds to a normal exposure of two seconds at f/2.8 and ISO 100.)

  1 fc
11 lux
1/2 fc
5.5 lux
1/4 fc
2.7 lux
1/8 fc
1.3 lux
1/16 fc
0.67 lux
1/16 fc
0.67 lux
No NR
ISO
50
Click to see E1D2LL0003.JPG
5 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LL0004.JPG
4 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LL0005.JPG
20 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LL0006.JPG
30 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LL0007.JPG
30 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LLNNR0007.JPG
30 sec
f2.8
ISO
100
Click to see E1D2LL0103.JPG
2 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LL0104.JPG
2 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LL0105.JPG
10 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LL0106.JPG
20 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LL0107.JPG
30 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LLNNR0107.JPG
30 sec
f2.8
ISO
200
Click to see E1D2LL0203.JPG
1.3 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LL0204.JPG
1 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LL0205.JPG
5 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LL0206.JPG
10 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LL0207.JPG
15 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LLNNR0207.JPG
20 sec
f2.8
ISO
400
Click to see E1D2LL0403.JPG
1/1 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LL0404.JPG
1/2 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LL0405.JPG
2.5 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LL0406.JPG
5 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LL0407.JPG
8 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LLNNR0407.JPG
10 sec
f2.8
ISO
800
Click to see E1D2LL0803.JPG
1/4 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LL0804.JPG
1/4 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LL0805.JPG
1.3 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LL0806.JPG
2.5 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LL0807.JPG
4 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LLNNR0807.JPG
5 sec
f2.8
ISO
1600
Click to see E1D2LL1603.JPG
1/6 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LL1604.JPG
1/8 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LL1605.JPG
1/1 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LL1606.JPG
1.3 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LL1607.JPG
2 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LLNNR1607.JPG
2.5 sec
f2.8
ISO
3200
Click to see E1D2LL3203.JPG
1/15 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LL3204.JPG
8 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LL3205.JPG
1/3 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LL3206.JPG
1/1 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LL3207.JPG
1 sec
f2.8
Click to see E1D2LLNNR3207.JPG
1.3 sec
f2.8



 

Flash Range Test

The EOS-1D Mark II does not have a built-in flash, so we didn't run this test.



 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

Very high resolution, 1,600 - 1,800 lines of "strong detail."

The EOS-1D Mark II performed very well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. Test patterns looked clean even at resolutions as high as 1,200 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,800 lines along the horizontal axis, 1,600 lines vertically. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until somewhere past 2,000 lines.

Using its "MTF 50" numbers, which correlate best with visual sharpness, Imatest showed an average uncorrected resolution of 1203 LW/PH, and a resolution of 2032 LW/PH when normalized to a standard 1-pixel sharpening. The rather low uncorrected number reflects Canon's extremely conservative approach to in-camera sharpening. On the other hand, the very high normalized figure shows some of the value of this conservative approach, as there's exceptional detail to be found via post-capture sharpening.

Optical distortion on the EOS-1D Mark II will depend on the lens that you're shooting with, since the camera is compatible with a large range of Canon lenses, so I'll forego my normal discussion of it here.

Resolution Series
(100mm
Macro
Lens)
"Fine"
JPEG
3,504 x 2,336
E1D2RESLF
3,104 x 2,072
E1D2RESMF
2,544 x 1,696
E1D2RESMN
1,728 x 1,152
E1D2RESSF

Sharpness Series

Sharpness Series
No Sharpening
Soft
Normal
Sharp
Very Sharp



 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

Excellent accuracy from the TTL viewfinder.

Unlike many lesser SLRs, the EOS-1D Mark II's through the lens (TTL) viewfinder offers very accurate framing, as I measured approximately 99 percent accuracy in my testing. An excellent job! (I can't understand why manufacturers don't make all SLRs with 100% viewfinders.)

Reader Comments! --> Visit our discussion forum for the Canon EOS-1D Mark II!



<<Reference: Datasheet | EOS-1D Mark II Imatest Results>>

Follow Imaging Resource:

Purchase memory card for Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS3 digital camera
Enter this month to win:

1 $300 Adorama Gift Certificate

2 $200 Adorama Gift Certificate

3 $100 Adorama Gift Certificate