Compared to...

Let's start by having a quick look at how the EOS-1Ds Mark III compares to the camera it replaces, the 16.6MP EOS-1DS Mark II. The Mark III is a fairly significant upgrade to the Mark II in feature terms, but how does it compare image quality-wise?

Lenses used

We no longer have access to the EOS-1Ds Mark II, and our studio comparison shots for that camera were taken with the Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8 L (@70mm) as it was tested before we standardized full frame comparisons with the use of an 85mm lens. Therefore for the comparisons with the Mark II we've used the same lens.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II sharpness

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. This has changed with the current generation and the default sharpness is now a little higher, so for these comparisons and those that follow, the Mark III is left at its default setting.

Studio scene comparison (JPEG)

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).

Canon EOS-1DS Mark III vs Canon EOS-1DS Mark II

Camera settings:

  • Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III: Canon EF 24-70 mm F2.8 L @ 70 mm, Aperture Priority, ISO 100 (default base) JPEG Large/Fine, Manual WB, Default Parameters (Standard), 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
Canon EOS-1DS Mark III
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II (shp 1)
5.3 MB JPEG (5616 x 3744)
4,879 KB JPEG (4992 x 3328)

The Mark III's 21.1 megapixel effective resolution sounds like quite a leap from the Mark II's 16.7 megapixels but let's put it into perspective; we're only talking about a 12% or so increase in the horizontal and vertical pixel count (624 pixels horizontally and 415 vertically).

But there's more to camera resolution than megapixels and there's no doubt looking at these results that the Mark III - even taking into account the slightly higher default sharpening - is capturing an astounding level of detail and visibly (though perhaps not dramatically) bettering the Mark II in its JPEGs. As an aside, it's also obvious that the 24-70mm L is more than a match for the new sensor. Our only negative comment would be that despite the high resolution the output is a little soft (the 'per pixel' sharpness may be excellent for a 35mm format camera, but compared to a medium format back with no Low Pass Filter it lacks crispness).

Also available