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Image Quality / Specific Issues

The EOS-1D's overall image quality is extremely impressive. It has all the resolution (and more, see later in the review) that you'd expect from its 4.48 megapixel sensor, colour balance is good, consistent and well balance and noise levels for well exposed images is low. Some people may find the images out of a 'default setup' EOS-1D slightly soft. This is not surprising when you delve deeper into the camera setup and realize that its default sharpening is almost none. This is appears to be the same approach Canon took with the EOS-D30, to deliver clean detailed images without in-camera sharpening artifacts which you can choose to sharpen later. Obviously if you want your images sharper straight out of the camera you can just create a new parameter set.

Smooth, clean and plenty of resolution

The crop below is of a 240 x 240 area of an image shot at a motorcycle show. At first it seems a little soft but a quick unsharp mask pulls out the detail (and a little noise in the background). I should also note that the lens used for this shot was the "not pro quality" 28-135 mm F3.5-5.6 IS.

100% crop, straight from camera
ISO 400, sRGB (1)
Same crop, a very slight unsharp mask

Again the 100% (240 x 240) crops below should give you an idea of the 'photo like' quality of EOS-1D images, a complete lack of sharpening artifacts but still with the ability to deliver plenty of sharp detail and clean smooth gradient areas. Lens: 70-200mm F2.8L IS.

100% crop, straight from camera
ISO 400, Adobe RGB
100% crop, straight from camera
ISO 400, Adobe RGB


You have issues?

Yes, unfortunately no digital camera to date seems to be without one issue or another. The EOS-1D is no exception, there are a couple of things to look out for, one not such an issue the second could be a real problem for certain types of photographers.

Moiré

Canon have noted previously that they are using a 'less powerful' (eg. less intrusive) anti-alias filter in front of the sensor. This improves sharpness but does increase the amount of work which has be done by the cameras internal processing algorithms to remove any artifacts created by high frequency detail (moiré patterns). On the whole this appears to work very well, the camera delivers great resolution. But there were occasions (a very small % of my shots) where the right type of detail at the right frequency was able to bypass Canon's trickery and appear in the final image as a moiré pattern.

100% crop, straight from camera
ISO 400, sRGB (1)
100% crop, straight from camera
ISO 800, sRGB (1)

High ISO horizontal banding

I talked about this in some detail earlier in the review, so I won't go back over my words. It's sufficient to say that just as in our test studio this phenomenom was just as visible in "real world" shots. The banding does not appear across the entire image, instead it's only visible in darker areas such as the out of focus background behind the subject. Note: In both the shots below the banding appears vertically because the images were shot in portrait mode and I have rotated them 90 degrees to their correct orientation. To make the banding easier to see (as you would on a monitor or in print) the images were reduced in size 50% before the crops were taken. You can download the original image by clicking on the crop.

50% crop, straight from camera
ISO 1250, sRGB (1)
50% crop, straight from camera
ISO 1600, sRGB (1)

A quick word about signal vs. noise

Many people have looked through these samples and commented that as long as you don't underexpose the shot you won't see the banding. This is simply not true. The exposure is only related to the amount of 'signal' (brightness) present. Noise is visible where the signal is low and the noise can become visible, if you look at the crop above you'll see that you can't see the noise in the white shirt (because the signal overpowers the noise) but directly above it in the darker area if the image noise is visible because the signal is lower.

Thus the banding is only visible in medium / dark or shadow areas of the image. The trouble with this is that you're typically metering for the subject, not the background, and in many cases (such as sports events) the background will be several stops darker than the subject.

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