Timings & File Sizes

As you'd expect the EOS-1D is an extremely fast digital SLR. Aimed squarely at news and sports photo journalists the 1D has to be available and responsive whenever required. And it certainly lives up to its specification. Thanks to a fast processor, good buffering and very high CF write speeds you'll almost never find yourself waiting for the camera. It feels and shoots like a film SLR without film (ie. no delay). The only notable day-to-day differences between the 1D and the Nikon D1H/D1x was its 0.5 second slower startup time.

Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 2464 x 1648 FINE JPEG image (approx. 1.5 MB per image).

The media used for these tests were:

  • 512 MB Lexar Pro 16x Type I Compact Flash card
  • 512 MB SimpleTech Type II Compact Flash card
  • 1 GB IBM Microdrive Type II Compact Flash card
Action Details Time, seconds
(Lexar CF)
Time, seconds
(SimpleTech CF)
Time, seconds
Power: Off to On   1.0 1.0 1.2 *1
Power: On to Off *1   < 0.5
Record: Review *2 RAW 1.4
Record: Review *2 JPEG 1.3
Play: Image to Image *3 RAW < 0.5 < 0.5 1.1
Play: Image to Image *3 JPEG < 0.5 < 0.5 1.2

*1 If this is the first power up after inserting the card this time is 3.1 seconds.
*2 This is the amount of time between pressing the shutter release and the image being displayed on the LCD monitor.
*3 If the images viewed have been taken in the current 'session' (power up) they will be displayed virtually instantly (thumbnails appear to be cached in an internal buffer). Otherwise they are read back from the card, this adds only a very small delay.

Auto Focus performance

It's fair to say that the EOS-1D has the best AF performance of any D-SLR currently on the market. In single point auto focus mode with a decent lens you'll never have to wait more than one second to focus from a near to far subject and focusing on subjects at roughly the same distance is virtually instant. Accuracy is a separate issue and the EOS-1D proved to be pinsharp accurate.

All the tests below were performed in medium to low light levels (approx 6 EV).

Single Shot AF performance

Lens Lens aperture AF point selection Focusing type AF time
50 mm
F1.4 Automatic Near to Far <=1 sec
Similar distance <0.1 sec
Single point Near to Far ~0.3 sec
Similar distance <0.1 sec
70 - 200 mm @ 200 mm
F2.8 Automatic Near to Far ~1.2 sec
Similar distance <0.1 sec
Single point Near to Far ~0.8 sec
Similar distance <0.1 sec
28-135 mm @ 135 mm
(F3.5 - F5.6 IS)
F5.6 Automatic Near to Far ~1.5 sec
Similar distance <0.1 sec
Single point Near to Far ~1.2 sec
Similar distance <0.1 sec

Continuous AF performance

This one is a little more difficult to test, for this I took the EOS-1D to an Ice Hockey match (sample shots from which can be found in the gallery). I was VERY pleased with the performance of the EOS-1D + 70-200mm F2.8L lens for this kind of action (bearing in mind that most of the shots were taken through the protective glass screen). The large AF ellipse means that as long as you can follow your subject and keep them somewhere within that ellipse they'll always be in focus. Additionally you can also control the speed of the EOS-1D's focus tracking so that it's not fooled by something crossing through the path of the shot.

Low Light AF

Generally speaking most photographers with a 1D in low light will be using a Canon Speedlight, probably the 550EX. Using such a flash unit activates its built-in AF assist beam which can provide focus ability even in complete darkness. Without the 550EX's AF assist beam we measured the lowest light in which the EOS-1D's AF system could still focus:

  • Lowest light AF (@ F2.8) - 1.5 EV (7.1 Lux, 0.7 foot-candle)

This test was carried out using Canon's 70-200 mm F2.8L IS lens. Obviously lenses with larger maximum apertures (such as the 50 mm F1.4) should be able to focus in lower light and lenses with smaller maximum apertures will require more light.

Continuous Drive mode

To test continuous mode the camera had the following settings: Manual Focus, Manual Exposure (1/500s, F2.8), ISO 800. Because it is possible to re-program the H and L drive modes the 1D has eight different possible speed settings from 1 to 8 frames per second.

The camera was aimed at a high speed stopwatch, the watch was started and a burst of frames were taken until the cameras buffer filled. Personal Function 20 was used to limit the number of frames shot and also stop the camera from continuing to take shots as soon as space appeared in the buffer (normal behaviour). The speeds below apply to both JPEG and RAW modes.

Continuous speed Measured rate
H / 8 fps 8.3 fps
H / 7 fps 7.3 fps
H / 6 fps 6.2 fps
H / 5 fps 5.2 fps
H / 4 fps 4.3 fps
L / 3 fps 3.2 fps
L / 2 fps 2.1 fps
L / 1 fps 1.1 fps

Compact Flash speed card comparison

For a detailed comparison of the performance of different CF cards in the EOS-1D click on the link below:

File Flush Timing

Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the storage media. The EOS-1D will begin writing images as soon as it can and continue to write 'in the background' while you take shots / change settings. You can not browse other images or enter the camera menu while images are being written to the Compact Flash card.

Store *1 Time, seconds
(SimpleTech CF)
Time, seconds
File size
Approx. images on an
1 GB Microdrive
2496 x 1662 RAW *2 1.8 2.7 3,500 KB 210
2496 x 1662 RAW + JPEG *3 2.4 3.4 5,000 KB 139
2464 x 1618 JPEG FINE (10) 1.2 1.8 2,200 KB 338
2464 x 1618 JPEG FINE (8) 1.0 1.6 1,500 KB 424
2464 x 1618 JPEG FINE (6) 0.7 1.2 980 KB 566
2464 x 1618 JPEG STD (3) 0.3 1.1 670 KB 773
1232 x 824 JPEG FINE (8) <0.2 1.1 360 KB 1,311

*1 The number in (brackets) equates to the JPEG quality level as can be set through parameters (via the TWAIN application) the two quality levels of 8 and 3 are the default for FINE and STANDARD JPEG quality.
*2 In RAW mode the camera records all 2496 x 1662 effective pixels but Canon TWAIN application outputs the standard 2464 x 1618 image size.
*3 Camera writes a RAW and a 2464 x 1618 JPEG FINE (quality 8)
*4 JPEG file sizes are an average of three files. As is the case with JPEG it's difficult to predict the size of an image because it will vary a fair amount depending on the content of the image (especially the amount of detail captured). For example, take a photograph of a fairly empty wall and you'll get a small JPEG, take a photograph of a bush with a lot of detail and you'll get a larger image. File sizes here are closer to the later, the larger size of file you should expect.

Battery life

The EOS-1D's large NP-E3 battery is specified as 1650 mAh at 12 V, this works out as 19.8 Wh (or about 2.5 times the power of the EOS-D30's Lithium-Ion battery. Unlike the EOS-D30 this battery pack uses NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) battery technology. Canon specifiy approximately 350 shots at normal temperatures (20°C), our experience backed this up. At a single Ice Hockey game (approx. 2.5 hours) I shot over 400 frames with image review enabled and the battery status indicator still indicated full power.