Color reproduction

Here you can see a generated GretagMacbeth ColorChecker chart, place your mouse over any of the labels below it to see the color reproduction in that mode. Select a camera/setting combination from the 'Compared to' drop-down to comparative boxes inside each patch.

As we've noted in most recent reviews there is now a fairly consistent response across all competing models and the Mark III is no exception. Canon has now standardized the output of the entire EOS range using Picture Styles, and as you can see by choosing any recent model from the Compared to drop-down menu below, the results are remarkably similar from the top to the bottom of the range.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mk III Compare to:  
PortraitMonochromeAdobe RGB

Artificial light White Balance

The EOS-1Ds Mark III's automatic white balance performance was fairly similar to that of its predecessor (and basically every other current EOS DSLR). Very good in natural light, barely acceptable in fluorescent light and pretty useless in incandescent light (if you measure performance in terms of the AWB's ability to get a neutral color balance that is). Of course shooting raw or using the extensive manual white balance controls overcomes this limitation (which is common to almost every SLR we test), though I still find Canon's custom white balance implementation clunky compared to, say, the 'one touch WB' offered by Olympus.

Incandescent - Auto WB
Red: 13.6%, Blue: -21.0%

Incandescent - Incandescent Preset WB
Red:9.1%, Blue: -13.8%
Fluorescent - Auto WB
Red: 5.9%, Blue: -9.7%
Fluorescent - Fluo Preset WB
Red: 4.9%, Blue: -5.1%

Long Exposure noise reduction

The EOS-1Ds Mark III has the usual 'dark frame subtraction' noise reduction for exposures of one second or longer, enabled or disabled via C. Fn II-2. Dark frame subtraction NR works by taking a second equal exposure immediately after the first but with the shutter closed, any hot pixel noise in this second exposure can then be subtracted from the first to produce a cleaner image. With noise reduction off we were only able to identify two 'hot pixels' in our 30 second exposure, switched on these are gone with no black pit artifacts.

Overall Image Quality / Specifics

Anyone spending the best part of $8000 on a camera body has a right to expect class-leading quality and I have to say, the EOS-1Ds Mark III doesn't disappoint. As we've already seen resolution is superb (although the output benefits from a little sharpening), as are metering and focus accuracy (I should point out that I tend to shoot with a single AF point so my experience with the auto focus point selection was fairly limited). The only thing to watch out is the fairly heavy bias towards the active focus point when using pattern metering - if you tend to prefocus and re-frame (as I do) then you'll have your thumb welded to the AE lock button most of the time.

We're not sports shooters but we spent a lot of time playing with the servo AF and a fast-moving toddler and got a high proportion of in focus shots, so if there is a tracking focus issue with this camera we certainly didn't experience it, or perhaps we were just very lucky.

Overall - as long as you use a lens that can match the amazing resolving power of the sensor(see below) - the output is simply stunning; at low ISOs the level of texture and detail is peerless, at high ISOs noise is present, but it's mostly fine-grained luminance noise and even JPEGs are perfectly usable.

Only the best glass will do

When entry-level products like the EOS 450D are out resolving the lens they're supplied with it's hardly surprising that Canon's flagship high resolution body demands the very best optics to really shine, and like the EOS-1Ds Mark II before it, the Mark III is very unforgiving of lens edge softness, chromatic aberrations and lens shading/vignetting, and will quickly reveal any under performing lenses in your kit bag. If you're not using primes and 'L' zooms don't be too surprised if you don't get the optimum results from the Mark III. Having such huge files also magnifies any focus or camera shake issues. Taken together these considerations make the Mark III a camera that - outside the controlled environment of the studio - challenges you to get the best possible out of it.

Edge softness / chromatic aberrations

As mentioned above you must be mindful of the limits of the lens when shooting with the EOS-1Ds Mark III (much more so than you would on a cropped sensor camera). These limits occur most often at extreme wide angle and/or large apertures (even with the most expensive professional 'L' lenses). On the counter side you do of course get the full wideangle capabilities of a lens like the 24-70mm f2.8 L, something you don't with a cropped camera.

24-70 mm F2.8L @ 24 mm, F5.6 100% crop

* Note: the visibility of chromatic aberrations can be removed when converting RAW files via Adobe Camera RAW (the 'Lens' option) and via DPP's lens correction tab for most Canon lenses.