Canon BeBit (Japan) has today posted EOS-1D firmare version 1.2.0. This new version of firmware is said to "This is the guide for reducing the noise that is confirmed with dark subject or background with ISO800, 1600, or 3200 high ISO speed shooting. Significant noise reduction is possible by updating the firmware and employing the shooting method recommended in this guide." If it works this is EXTREMELY good news for Canon's EOS-1D, I really loved this camera when I reviewed it but I simply couldn't get past the high ISO banding issue. Assuming this fix works Canon's EOS-1D will simply be the best digital SLR out there. (Note: I have no way of confirming this as I don't currently have an EOS-1D).

Click here to download Canon EOS-1D firmware version 1.2.0
(Note: you'll need your camera serial number)

Canon firmware instructions:

Recommended shooting method

The following shooting method enhances the noise reduction achieved with Firmware Update 1.2.0.

  1. Download the custom tone curve data from this Web site and upload it to the camera. Installation instructions are provided in the EOS-1D Software Instructions manual starting on page 3-24, [Setting the Parameters].
  2. Perform +1/3-step or +2/3-step exposure compensation or flash exposure compensation appropriate for the tone curve data and perform shooting. See instructions for more details.

Q&A

Q : What kind of noise can be reduced?
A : The "Banding noise" (horizontal-striped noise) that is present with dark subjects or dark backgrounds during high ISO speed shooting can be reduced by updating the EOS-1D's firmware to Version 1.2.0. Further noise reduction is possible by applying the supplied Custom Tone Curve data.

Q : What causes the "Banding noise?"
A : The EOS-1D's image processing is designed to make use of the image sensor's high-quality gradation in order to reproduce dark subjects and backgrounds faithfully. When higher ISO speeds are used, however, a visible noise pattern may appear in certain images according to the scene.

Q : Is firmware updating alone sufficient for noise reduction?
A : Yes. For further noise reduction, however, we recommend that you shoot with the method introduced in this guide.

Q : What is the "Tone curve data"?
A : Tone curve data is what the EOS-1D uses to adjust the color density and brightness of the original image captured by the image sensor (input) to produce an adjusted image (output). The EOS-1D's standard tone curve can be modified by the user with the supplied driver software. The custom tone curve data mentioned in this guide has been tuned for noise reduction.

Q : How do I upload the tone curve data to the camera?
A : A : Once you have downloaded the Custom Tone Curve data from this Web site, you will need to follow the instructions for uploading Custom Tone Curves to the EOS-1D. Please refer to the EOS-1D Software Instructions starting on page 3-24 [Setting the Parameters] for more details.

Q : How can I confirm which firmware version is installed in my EOS-1D?
A : Press the [MENU] button to display the menu. Hold down [MENU] and turn Quick Control Dial to select [Set-up menu]. The version number will be displayed by selecting Firmware Version from the menu.

Q : How do I update the EOS-1D firmware?
A : The methods of firmware updating are provided as below :

  • Download the firmware file from this Web site and conduct the updating as shown in the updating procedure.
  • Bring the camera to a Canon Service Center and have the firmware updated by the center.

If you choose the latter method, contact a Canon Service Center listed on the back of the Camera User's Guide enclosed with the camera.

Q : Do I need any special equipment to update the EOS 1D firmware?
A : The following equipment is necessary to update the EOS-1D firmware :

1. Ni-MH pack NP-E3 (The battery pack must be fully charged.)
2. DC Coupler kit DCK-E1
3. CF card (Above 8MB)

In order to supply power to the camera, 1 or 2 is necessary.

Q : I do not have the equipment necessary for updating the firmware.
A : Please contact a Canon Service Center listed on the back of the Camera User's Guide enclosed with the camera.

Q : How can I download the EOS-1D firmware?
A : The file for updating the firmware can be downloaded at the bottom of this page.
Select the compressed self-extracting file appropriate for your OS and double-click to extract.

After completing the download and extraction, confirm that the following files have been generated :

Firmware update file

1d000120.bin

* Windows®, Properties size: (4,148,664 byte)
* Mac OS, Get Info, -> General information Size (4,148,664 byte)

If the file size differs from the above, please download the file again from the Web site. Also, firmware updating service is provided free of charge at Canon Service Centers.

Q : How do I update the firmware?
A : It can be updated by copying the downloaded file to an initialized (formatted) CF card, larger than 8MB and then loading the card in the camera. Please refer to the PDF file at the end of this page for more details.
Please note the following when updating:

  • Do not turn off the main switch of the camera during the firmware updating process. When using household AC power supply, be careful of power failure.
  • Also, do not open the CF card slot cover or press any button, dial, or switch. If the camera's power supply is interrupted during during firmware updating, the firmware may not load properly and the camera may require repairs before it can be used again.

Calling EOS-1D owners out there, if you could take some before & after test shots at high ISO's with a dark background I'll be happy to post them up in a news article later. Please DO NOT email large images to me, instead just let me know if you'd like to help. Email: Phil Askey