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Canon EOS-1DS

Canon extends the EOS-1D with 11.1 megapixels, and a full-frame CMOS sensor!

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Page 2:Executive Overview

Review First Posted: 9/24/2002

Executive Overview

For professional Canon shooters accustomed to working with Canon's top-of-the-line EOS-1v film SLR, and particularly anyone already acquainted with the EOS-1D, the EOS-1Ds will be immediately familiar, with a body design and control layout that is virtually identical to its predecessors. Obviously, Canon's goal was to produce a camera that carries the same look and feel as both the 1v and 1D, and they've succeeded very well. Apart from a few operational differences, the higher resolution and larger sensor (no focal length multiplier), the 1Ds is essentially identical to the earlier 1D model.

One notable carryover from the EOS-1v and 1D designs is the remarkably rugged and environmentally sealed magnesium alloy body. While Magnesium alloy bodies are de rigueur in high-end professional cameras these days, the environmental sealing of the 1Ds is something else again. With all its myriad flaps, knobs, buttons, and switches, it never occurred to me that it might be possible to actually seal a digital SLR against the elements. That's exactly what Canon did with the EOS-1D and 1Ds though, with more than 70 O-ring and gaskets protecting the internal mechanisms. You still won't want to take it scuba diving without a housing, but it will certainly be able to stand up to shooting in driving rain, blizzards, or dust storms.

The EOS-1Ds' lens mount accommodates the full line of Canon EF lenses, employing the same highly-praised 45-point Area Ellipse autofocus system first seen in the 35mm EOS-1v, and seen again in the EOS-1D. This sophisticated system allows you to manually select the autofocus area from a 45-point ellipse, or set the camera to determine focus area based on the subject. You can also opt for One-Shot focusing or select the AI Single Servo AF, which tracks rapidly moving subjects as fast as 80 mph (based on Canon's testing). The TTL optical viewfinder uses a pentaprism design to display the full view of the lens, along with an information readout that reports all of the most important exposure information, including aperture, shutter speed, resolution size, and exposure compensation.

The 2.0-inch, TFT color LCD monitor provides both image playback and on-screen menu viewing, and has a brightness adjustment for bright or dark viewing situations. An image information display reports in-depth exposure information, and includes a histogram showing the tonal distribution throughout the image. Additionally, a highlight feature "blinks" any blown-out highlights in the captured image. I've found this blinking highlights feature exceptionally useful on past Canon digicam models.

The EOS-1Ds offers total exposure control, with Program AE, Aperture Priority, Depth of Field AE, Shutter Priority, Manual, and Bulb exposure modes available. In Program AE, you can select from a range of equivalent exposure settings simply by turning the Main dial on top of the camera. Aperture and Shutter Priority modes offer limited manual control, while the Manual mode gives total control of aperture and shutter time to the photographer. In Depth of Field AE, you can specify a depth of field that you'd like to maintain, while the camera finds the best exposure to achieve that goal. (Handy if you're trying to eke out the last iota of shutter speed, wanting to keep the aperture as large as possible, while still holding focus.) Bulb mode simply extends the Manual mode to include unlimited shutter times. Here, you can keep the shutter open for as long as the camera has power. (Quite unusual, as most digital cameras set a fixed limit on maximum bulb exposure times.) A Noise Reduction menu option engages Canon's very effective Noise Reduction technology for any exposures longer than 1/15 second.

The EOS-1Ds employs a 21-Zone Evaluative Metering system, which divides the image area into 21 zones of different sizes, with a honeycomb pattern in the central portion of the frame. Each of the 21 zones is assessed to determine exposure, using an algorithm that takes contrast and tonal distribution into account, going much further than with simple averaged metering. Other metering options include Center-Weighted, Partial, Spot, Multi-Spot, Spot AF, and Flash Exposure Lock. Exposure compensation is adjustable from -3 to +3 exposure values (EV) in one-third-step increments. If you're unsure about the exposure, an Auto Exposure Bracketing feature captures three shots at different exposures. The EOS-1Ds also offers White Balance and ISO Auto Exposure Bracketing options. (This last should be particularly interesting for pros, who may want to bracket without disturbing the aperture or shutter speed settings.)

Ten white balance modes are provided, including Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Flash, Custom (manual setting), Color Temperature, and Personal White Balance. Color Temperature covers a range of color temperatures from 2,800°K to 10,000°K, in 100-degree increments, and Personal White Balance lets you download as many as three white balance settings from a host computer. The EOS-1Ds' extensive menu system offers a variety of Color Matrix options, for both sRGB and Adobe RGB color spaces, and a Custom Functions menu so you can completely customize the user interface. A Personal Functions menu option also lets you download image attribute settings (including a custom tonal curve) from a computer.

An external flash hot-shoe and PC sync socket offer two external flash connection options. Canon recommends using its EX series of flash units, though some third-party units are compatible as well. The Flash Exposure Lock button locks the exposure for the flash, and a Flash Exposure Compensation button alters the flash exposure from -3 to +3 EV in one-third-step increments. You can also alter the ambient exposure compensation without altering the flash intensity.

The EOS-1Ds offers a Continuous shooting mode through the Drive setting, which captures a maximum of three frames per second. (The actual frame rate and number of frames in a sequence will vary depending on CompactFlash space, image size, and the amount of image information to record.) The 1Ds has a buffer capacity of 10 frames in normal JPEG mode. This is a notably smaller buffer capacity than the EOS-1D, but the lower frame rates of the 1Ds somewhat reduces the demand for longer sequences. The Drive control on the camera also accesses two different Self-Timer options, with delay times adjustable via the LCD menu system.

The EOS-1Ds captures images at either 4,064 x 2,074 or 2,032 x 1,352-pixel resolution, with JPEG compression levels of Fine and Normal available. (Amazing that the minimum resolution of the camera is nearly 3 megapixels.) A RAW image option is also available, recording the full pixel information from the CCD without any processing other than lossless compression. The EOS-1Ds includes an IEEE-1394 "FireWire" interface and cable, providing a very fast connection to a computer. Canon's Solution Disk software and a copy of Adobe Photoshop LE are included with the camera, for use on both PC and Macintosh computers. For power, the EOS-1Ds uses an NP-E3 rechargeable NiMH battery pack or an AC adapter (both accompany the camera). A CR2025 lithium coin cell serves as backup for the camera's calendar and clock settings.

Laden with features and capabilities (not to mention pixels), I doubt the EOS-1Ds' target audience will find it's heft and size much of an issue. The sturdy EOS-1Ds body is ready for any situation, with a magnesium-alloy frame, and the same exceptional weatherproofing we saw on the original 1D. Its user interface is customizable and straightforward (once you get the hang of it), and its extensive controls provide an unusual ability to customize the camera to your particular shooting style and imaging preferences. Designed for professionals who want the convenience of digital imaging with the look, feel, and interface of Canon's already successful pro 35mm line, and better than film resolution, the EOS-1Ds appears ideally suited for commercial, portrait, and other shooters needing the ultimate in resolution and image quality.


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