Canon 1Ds Mark III Review

 
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Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III Performance


Timing and Performance

Generally excellent speed for a pro SLR these days, though burst mode is slow.

Startup/Shutdown
Power on
to first shot
~0.5 second
Time it takes for camera to turn on. (Very fast, difficult to measure.)
Shutdown
~0.3 second
How long it takes to turn off.
(Timings with 266x CF Card)
Buffer clearing time
Large JPEG
15 seconds
(after 8 Large JPEGs)
Worst case buffer clearing time. -- This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card. Some cameras won't shut down until the buffer is cleared. (*See note about memory card speeds at bottom of cycle time table below.)
Buffer clearing time
Small JPEG
3 seconds
(after 8 Small JPEGs)
Buffer clearing time
14-bit RAW
19 seconds
(after 6 RAW frames)
Buffer clearing time
RAW + Large JPEG
41 seconds
(after 8 frames)

Startup time is average for an semi-pro SLR. Buffer clearing time depends on the image size and quality, burst length and the speed of memory card used.

 

Mode Switching
Play to Record,
first shot
~0.3 second
Time until first shot is captured.
Record to play
1.0 second
Time to display a large JPEG file immediately after capture.
Display
recorded image
~0.2 second
Time to display a large JPEG file already on the memory card.

Mode switching is quite fast, difficult to measure.

 

Shutter Response (Lag Time)
Full Autofocus
Optical Viewfinder
CF13: Enabled
0.069 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture using optical viewfinder, with Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens at 28mm.
Full Autofocus
Optical Viewfinder
CF13: Disabled
0.070 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture using optical viewfinder, with Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens at 28mm.
Prefocused
Optical Viewfinder
0.045 second
Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.
Continuous AF
Optical Viewfinder
CF13: Enabled
0.062 second
This mode usually shows no speed increase with our static subject; we have no way to measure performance with moving subjects.
Manual focus
Optical Viewfinder
CF13: Enabled
0.062 second
For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "prefocused".
Full Autofocus
Live View
n/a
Autofocus not supported in Live View mode.
Prefocused
Live View
0.118 second
Time to capture, after manually focusing, using Live View mode.

In terms of the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III's ability to determine that it's properly focused when shooting the same target multiple times (with no defocusing between iterations, to remove the impact of lens focusing speed), its speed is above average for a professional model, and is very fast compared to prosumer and consumer models. The 1Ds Mark III required only 69 milliseconds for full AF shutter lag. When prefocused, this drops to only 45 milliseconds. Continuous autofocus and manual focus lag were also very fast, at 62 milliseconds.

The 1Ds Mark III's Live View mode shutter lag is considerably longer at 0.118 second, and since autofocus is not supported, this delay does not include any focusing.

 

Cycle Time (shot to shot)
Single Shot mode
Large JPEG
0.30 second
Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots.
Single Shot mode
Small JPEG
0.34 second
Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots.
Single Shot mode
RAW
0.25 second
Time per shot, averaged over 8 shots.
Early shutter
penalty?
No
Some cameras refuse to snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.
Continuous mode
Large JPEG
0.20 second
(5.0 frames/sec);
8 frames total;
15 seconds to clear
Time per shot, averaged over buffer capacity of 8 shots.
Continuous mode
Small JPEG
0.20 second
(5.0 frames/sec);
8 frames total;
3 seconds to clear
Time per shot, averaged over buffer capacity of 8 shots.
Continuous mode
RAW
0.20 second
(5.0 frames/sec);
6 frames total;
19 seconds to clear
Time per shot, averaged over buffer capacity of 6 shots.
Continuous mode
sRAW
0.20 second
(5.0 frames/sec);
6 frames total;
19 seconds to clear
Time per shot, averaged over buffer capacity of 6 shots. (Surprisingly, small RAW made no difference in buffer depth or buffer clearing time.)
Continuous mode
RAW + Large JPEG
0.20 second
(5.0 frames/sec);
8 frames total;
41 seconds to clear
Time per shot, averaged over 8 shots.
Flash recycling
n/a
Flash at maximum output.
*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a Kingston 266x Ultimate CompactFlash card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Single-shot cycle time performance is very good for a pro SLR model, at about 0.30 second between shots in any large JPEG mode and 0.25 second for RAW mode. Continuous mode is only average at 5 frames-per-second, but quite good considering the 21-megapixel images. Image size or mode didn't make a difference in burst rate, though it did impact buffer depth somewhat. We didn't test different JPEG compression options (there are 10 of them!), but used the default of setting of 8. Buffer depths were quite limited ranging from only 6 or 8 frames, depending on the size and type of file. The frame rate slowed and became quite erratic when the buffer was full. (Note that in our cycle time testing we shoot a target consisting of a fine-grained digital noise pattern, designed to be very hard to compress. This gives us worst-case buffer capacity numbers: You're likely to see greater buffer capacity when shooting more normal subjects.)

Like other recent pro-level SLRs, the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III makes good use of very fast memory cards. We don't have specific numbers to publish here, but did note that slower cards definitely led to longer buffer-clearing times.

 

Download Speed
Windows Computer, USB 2.0
4,143 KBytes/sec
Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-770=USB 2.0 Low;
More than 770=USB 2.0 High

Download speeds were fast in mass storage mode, fast enough that you probably won't feel the need for a separate card reader.


Bottom line, the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III is pretty fast at everything except burst mode, which is no real suprise given its 21-megapixel resolution.

Battery and Storage Capacity

Battery

Good battery life when using the optical viewfinder.

Test Conditions
Number of Shots
Lithium-ion rechargeable battery,
Optical Viewfinder
1,800
Lithium-ion rechargeable battery,
Live View LCD
300

The Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III uses a custom rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack for power, and comes with both a single battery and charger. The rated 1,800 shots per charge using the optical viewfinder is very good, but only about average for a pro SLR. (Keep in mind the 1Ds Mark III does not have a built-in flash, so that's one reason why the number is so high). In Live View mode, battery life is considerably shorter at 300 shots.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of on fully-charged battery, based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))

Storage

The Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III stores its photos on CompactFlash or SD/SDHC memory cards, and no card is included with the camera. The chart below shows how many images can be stored on a 2GB card at each image size/type setting. The EOS 1Ds Mark III has 10 JPEG quality (compression level) settings for each image size. We used the default setting of 8.

Image Capacity vs
Resolution/Quality
2GB Memory Card
"Fine"
JPEG
RAW
sRAW
RAW + L JPEG
5,616 x 3,744
(L)
Images
(Avg size)
264
7.7 MB
71
28.8 MB
- 55
37.2 MB
Approx.
Comp.
8:1 1.3:1 - -
4,992 x 3,328
(M1)
Images
(Avg size)
329
6.2 MB
- - -
Approx.
Comp.
8:1 - - -
4,080 x 2,720
(M2)
Images
(Avg size)
444
4.6 MB
- - -
Approx.
Comp.
7:1 - - -
2,784 x 1,856
(S)
Images
(Avg size)
793
2.5 MB
- 130
15.7 MB
-
Approx.
Comp.
6:1 - 0.6:1 -

We strongly recommend buying a large capacity CompactFlash. You should probably consider at least a 4GB card, if not a 8GB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings, especially if you plan on doing a lot of RAW shooting. (Check the shopping link above, cards are cheap these days, so there's no reason to skimp -- But do consider faster cards for this camera, to reduce buffer clearing times.)

 

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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