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Timings & File Sizes

Like the Mark II before it the Mark III is a testament to the power of Canon's DIGIC processor (there are two in the 1-Ds Mark III), which is crunching huge amounts of data (21 MP 16- bit files) at up to 5 frames per second. In use it feels incredibly fast and responsive, as a camera at this level should. We were slightly surprised that the startup time was less instantaneous than we're used to, even with the dust cleaning at startup turned off, but we're talking about a third of a second here, so it's not worth getting too worked up about. Inevitably with such huge files the overall performance isn't up to the blistering standards set by cameras such as the Nikon D3 (record review is actually quite sluggish by comparison) but you never feel the Mark III is getting in the way and for studio work it's a lot faster than me.

Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 5616 x 3744 JPEG Fine (approx. 6.4 MB per image).

The media used for these tests were:

  • 4 GB SanDisk Extreme Ducati Edition Compact Flash card
  • 2 GB Lexar Professional 133x Compact Flash card
  • 4 GB SanDisk Ducati Edition SD card
Time, secs
(Sandisk CF)
Time, secs
(Lexar CF)
Time, secs
(Sandisk SD)
Power Off to On   0.35 0.28 0.35
Power On to Off*1   0.0 0.0 0.0
Record Review *2
1.6 1.6 1.5
Record Review
1.3 *3 1.3 *3 1.1 *3
Play Image to Image*4
0.2 0.3 0.2
Play Image to Image*4
0.2 0.3 0.2

*1 With sensor cleaning at shut down activated this takes around 3.9 seconds
*2 Time taken from the shutter release being pressed to the review image being displayed on the LCD monitor. Varies from around 1.2 to 1.6 seconds - average time shown.
*3 Varies from around 1.0 to 1.4 seconds - average time shown.

The Mark III appears to cache images which have been viewed recently to speed up browsing in play mode. The figure shown is for the first time you view a file (after that it's pretty much instantaneous, and you can scroll images using the quick dial at around 10 frames per second).

Continuous Drive mode

To test continuous mode the camera had the following settings: Manual Focus, Manual Exposure (1/500 sec, F5.6), ISO 200. Measurements were taken from audio recordings of the tests. Media used were the same as above.

The tests carried out below measured the following results for JPEG and RAW:

  • Frame rate - Initial frame rate, this was always 5.0 fps (+/- 0.01 fps)
  • Number of frames - Number of frames in a burst
  • Buffer full rate - Frame rate if shutter release held down after burst (buffer full)
  • Next full burst - How soon after you can take another full burst

Burst of JPEG Large/Fine images

4 GB SanDisk Ducati CF
2 GB Lexar
133x CF
4 GB SanDisk Ducati SD
Frame rate 5.0 fps 5.0 fps 5.0 fps
Number of frames unlimited *1 131 208
Buffer full rate n/a 0.8 fps (1.2 sec) *1 (not possible)
Time to empty buffer 7.0 sec 58 sec 14 sec
*1 With this fast card there is a brief (0.5 second) pause every 96 frames, but the Mark III can essentially shoot for as long as you hold the shutter button down.

The buffer full rate is erratic, mostly it's 0.8fps but it sometimes picks back up to 5fps for a couple of frames.

Burst of RAW images

4 GB SanDisk Ducati CF
2 GB Lexar
133x CF
4 GB SanDisk Ducati SD
Frame rate 5.0 fps 5.0 fps 5.0 fps
Number of frames 18 14 13
Buffer full rate 0.8 fps (1.2 sec) 0.5 fps (2 sec) *1 0.5 fps (2 sec)*1
Next full burst 11 sec 22 sec 17 sec
*1 The speed is erratic (2 quick shots every 2 to 3 seconds)

We were impressed by the EOS-1Ds Mark II's ability to shuffle huge amounts of data through its processor and onto the card, and the Mark III is even better, offering virtually limitless 5 frames per second shooting of 21.1MP JPEGs and up to 18 raw frames in a burst with a fast enough card. Sure, this isn't really what the 1Ds series is designed for, but it's good to know the camera can keep up with you when you need it to.

File Flush Timing

Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the storage card. Timing was taken from the instant the shutter release was pressed to the time the storage card activity indicator beside the storage compartment went out.

Image type
Time, secs
(4 GB Sandisk CF)
Time, secs
(2 GB Lexar CF)
Time, secs
(4 GB SD)
5616 x 3744 RAW + JPEG *1 2.3 2.8 2.5 29.8 MB
5616 x 3744 RAW 1.7 2.4 2.0 24.5 MB
5616 x 3744 JPEG (L, q8) *2 0.9 1.3 1.0 6.4 MB
4992 x 3328 JPEG (M1, q8) 0.7 0.9 0.7 5.2 MB
4080 x 2720 JPEG (M2, q8) 0.7 0.9 0.7 3.5 MB

*1 File size reported here is the size of the RAW and JPEG files added together.
*2 Default JPEG quality

As you can see from the figures above there's a small but noticeable difference in performance between the SanDisk Ducati cards and the older Lexar 133x. In real terms with a reasonable card write times are typically no longer than three seconds, which for a camera such as this (no real sporting pretences) is more than acceptable. Although writing to SD is still faster than conventional CF cards, the new generation of fast UDMA CompactFlash (such as the Ducati used here) offers the best possible performance.

Battery life

As mentioned earlier, the Mark III has a new compact Lithium Ion LP-E4 battery (11.1V, 2300 mAh) that is smaller, lighter and higher capacity than its predecessor, and offers around 1800 shots (CIPA standard) per charge at 23° C - without using live view. The new LC-E4 charger takes around 2 hours for a full charge and can accept two batteries at once.

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