Conclusion - Pros

  • Excellent resolution for its pixel count, not far behind Nikon's D1X
  • Excellent colour, selection of colour matrices are useful for different situations
  • Based on the superb EOS-1V
  • Controls intuitive for EOS-1V and EOS-D2000 / D6000 users
  • Large sensor (equates to just a 1.3x focal length multiplier / field of view crop)
  • Large clear viewfinder with 98% field of view and a very low blackout time (87 ms**)
  • Low noise, even at high sensitivities
  • Excellent and supremely fast auto focus, 45 point AF and a large AF area for focus tracking
  • Amazing construction, completely solid, feels like the 'Porsche of digital SLR's'
  • Environmentally sealed, can withstand a lot of punishment
  • Very high speed continuous shooting (fastest shooting D-SLR)*
  • Good buffering system with very fast Compact Flash write speeds
  • RAW+JPEG feature provides a 'ready to use' as well as a 'digital negative'
  • Huge range of custom and personal functions makes the camera the most flexible and configurable to date
  • Fully configurable tone curves and sharpening (two different parameters)
  • Fully configurable JPEG compression ratios
  • Three types of bracketing: Exposure, Sensitivity (ISO), White Balance
  • Support for Adobe RGB colour space (colour matrix 4)
  • ISO sensitivities selectable in 1/3 stop steps. ISO 100 and 3200 as custom function options
  • Virtually instant startup time, no delays operationally
  • Inbuilt portrait grip
  • Excellent (if slightly conservative) matrix metering
  • Good low light, long exposure performance
  • Extremely flexible controls, lots of options for the photographer
  • Interchangeable focus screen
  • Good, large (2") LCD (although no anti-reflective coating)
  • Firewire (IEEE 1394) connectivity
  • High speed flash sync (1/500 sec)
  • Good battery life
  • CF Type II support - officially supports IBM Microdrive
  • Remote capture software for studio work (included)
  • Voice annotation feature (built-in mic)
  • Illuminated status LCD's
  • TWAIN RAW conversion software (included), much faster than EOS-D30
  • RAW conversion software now allows for digital exposure compensation
  • Battery / Double Charger and AC Adapter all included with camera
  • Full EOS lens compatibility

* At the time of publication of this review
** According to Canon

Conclusion - Cons

  • Banding at high ISO's (ISO 800 - 1600 when shooting in low to medium light)
  • For pushed images the noise pattern is different on the left and right side of the image
  • Moiré occasionally visible
  • No magnify in playback (no excuse)
  • JPEG/TIFF files are not tagged with selected colour matrix (thus color space)
  • Slow RAW conversion if the image has been rotated
  • Menu system can at first be frustrating
  • There should be a custom function to allow settings to be changed with one hand
  • No GPS / serial connection
  • No video out

Overall conclusion

The EOS-1D is a remarkably important and prestigious camera for Canon. In all of the Company's history only a very few select cameras have worn the '1' label, each has been at the pinnacle of the current state of technology and (of course) it is a name only given to the best Canon have. The 1D is also Canon's first home grown professional digital SLR, built from the ground up by their own R&D team its place in Canon history was guaranteed even before it was released. And so you can probably now understand why Canon has paced itself in releasing the camera.

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Canon should in this case be very pleased, the EOS-1D is a superbly capable digital SLR. Not only can it deliver beautiful images with great resolution (which seems to be beyond its 4.5 megapixel count), sharpness and balanced colour but it does so from what could be the most robust and best built 35mm SLR bodies ever.

The eight frames per second shooting speed is truly unbelievable and in operation the 1D never fails or hesitates. Add to all of this the fact that the camera has the most flexible set of custom and personal functions of any D-SLR allowing you to make the camera 'be' whatever you need, and easily switch between personalities.

My major concern with the 1D is high ISO banding, while this isn't apparent in well exposed shots with most of their detail at the higher end of the grayscale it does become visible especially in darker backgrounds or underexposed shots. It became most apparent to me when using the 1D to shoot at an Ice Hockey game where the darker out of focus backgrounds clearly 'picked up' the banding. The irony here is that the 1D consistently outperforms other digital SLRs for the measurable AMOUNT of noise at high ISO's, the problem is in the type of noise. Random 'gaussian type noise' simply looks like film grain, banding is something which your eye is drawn to and recognizes as being unnatural.

I'll be honest and say that giving the 1D a rating has been one of the hardest things I've had to do, on reflection it truly does deserve the Highly Recommended rating but if you're the type of photographer who will find themselves consistently shooting at high ISO's (ISO 800 or above) then you really need to go back, check our high ISO samples and decide if you can live with the banding. Lastly I'll also hold out some hope that Canon will eventually deal with this banding issue in the same way Nikon had to with the D1.

Highly Recommended

So which one should I buy? A question I get asked several times a day, and I wouldn't like to say. In a new addition to my reviews (after the amount of feedback I normally get) I've added a link to a specific forum in which you can discuss the review or ask me specific questions which I've not answered in these pages.

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