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Compared to...

For our image quality comparisons we have to select the $8000, sixteen megapixel Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II. As noted earlier these two cameras are the flagship models for both manufacturers and both offer significant professional features as well as double digit megapixel counts. In real terms the EOS-1Ds Mark II offers 16% more horizontal pixels, 4.4 million pixels total.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II

The default sharpness setting on the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II is 0 (Zero), this effectively equates to no sharpening at all which will obviously produce a soft looking image. In all our previous EOS-1D series reviews we have always used level 1 or 2 sharpness, including in our image quality comparisons. To be fair to both the Nikon and Canon we have produced comparisons with the EOS-1Ds Mark II in its default configuration (Sharpness 0) and also with Sharpness 1 (in the range 0-5).

Note also that the D2X is handed a slight advantage in that we had to use the 24-70 mm L zoom lens on the EOS-1Ds Mark II, we typically use a 50 mm prime lens but that wouldn't have given us the same frame coverage on the EOS-1Ds Mark II (we wouldn't be able to get close enough to the scene). Note that this also means that the EOS-1Ds Mark II had a shallower DOF in these comparisons.

Studio scene comparison

This is our standard studio scene comparison shot taken from exactly the same tripod position. Lighting: daylight simulation, >98% CRI. Crops are 100%. Ambient temperature was approximately 22°C (~72°F).

vs. Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II, Sharpness 0 (default)

Camera settings:

  • Nikon D2X: Nikkor 50 mm F1.8, Aperture Priority,
    ISO 100, JPEG Large/Fine, Manual WB, Default Parameters, Self-Timer
     
  • Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II: Canon EF 24-70 mm F2.8 L @ 70 mm, Aperture Priority,
    ISO 100, JPEG Large/Fine, Manual WB, Default Parameters, Self-Timer
Nikon D2X
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II (shp 0)
ISO 100, 1/20 sec, F9
ISO 100, 1/30 sec, F9
4,394 KB JPEG (4288 x 2848)
4,692 KB JPEG (4992 x 3328)

There's no doubting that both cameras deliver lots of detail, as you may expect the most we've ever seen from our test scene. As we noted above the Canon image looks soft by comparison, we can put this down to its default zero sharpness setting. Tone and color balance are remarkably similar, the only discernable difference being the D2X's very slight orange hue in reds. As you can see from the difference in shutter speed the EOS-1Ds Mark II appears to be about a third of a stop more sensitive than the D2X (although in our outdoor comparisons this switched the other way).

vs. Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II, Sharpness 1

Camera settings:

  • Nikon D2X: Nikkor 50 mm F1.8, Aperture Priority,
    ISO 100, JPEG Large/Fine, Manual WB, Default Parameters, Self-Timer
     
  • Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II: Canon EF 24-70 mm L F2.8 @ 70 mm, Aperture Priority,
    ISO 100, JPEG Large/Fine, Manual WB, Sharpness 1, Self-Timer
Nikon D2X
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II (shp 1)
ISO 100, 1/20 sec, F9
ISO 100, 1/30 sec, F9
4,394 KB JPEG (4288 x 2848)
4,879 KB JPEG (4992 x 3328)

Turning the EOS-1Ds Mark II's sharpness up to level 1 (out of 5) equalizes sharpening between the cameras and gives us a better opportunity to compare. Having now matched the in-camera sharpening we can see that while the Canon's resolution advantage can be seen in areas of fine detail it's not a storming lead. Another notable difference is the more 'film like' appearance to the Nikon image. You really would need to print at very large sizes to be able to clearly notice a difference between the two.

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Comments

rfsIII
By rfsIII (2 months ago)

Thank you DPR for keeping these older reviews up. It's so amazing to go back and see how far digital cameras have come in the past decade. Just keep doing what you're doing.

1 upvote