Conclusion - Pros

  • Superb resolution and detail, the highest resolution digital SLR to date
  • Full frame 35 mm size sensor delivers film-like shooting experience, real wide angle
  • Huge, bright viewfinder view really fills your vision
  • Very low noise at higher sensitivities, maintains detail even when noise visible
  • Impressive four frames per second continuous shooting (considering file sizes)
  • Very well implemented buffering system backed up by fast media throughput
  • Superbly well built, 'a solid block', fully environmentally sealed, totally robust
  • Very fast in use, extremely short shutter lag, instant startup
  • Excellent and supremely fast auto focus, 45 point AF and a large AF area for focus tracking
  • Five preset image parameters, two customizable
  • Wide range of ISO sensitivities, ISO 50 - 3200 (with 'ISO Expansion' enabled)
  • New brighter and sharper LCD monitor is a big improvement over EOS-1Ds
  • Dual storage slots, well implemented 'backup' double-save mode, awkward to switch slots
  • Superb Secure Digital performance, approx. 9 MB/sec with a fast card
  • Proper RAW+JPEG with immediately selectable JPEG image size
  • Directly selectable JPEG image quality (compression ratio) per image size
  • Huge range of custom and personal functions, one of the most configurable cameras
  • Three types of bracketing: Exposure, Sensitivity (ISO), White Balance
  • Inbuilt portrait grip
  • Interchangeable focus screen
  • Firewire (IEEE 1394) and USB connectivity (for PictBridge)
  • Remote tethered capture software for studio work (included)
  • Voice annotation feature (built-in mic)
  • Orientation sensor
  • Optional WT-1 wireless transmitter (802.11 b/g)
  • Battery / Double Charger and AC Adapter all included with camera
  • Supplied Digital Photo Professional now a mature and quality RAW converter

Conclusion - Cons

  • Edge softness / chromatic aberrations with wide angle lenses, needs good glass
  • Control system can be a little confusing at first, menu operation different to other D-SLR's
  • Default sharpness setting is zero which can lead to an initial impression of softness
  • No anti-reflective coating on LCD monitor
  • Awkward to switch media slot
  • No option to write different image formats to different media (eg. RAW->CF, JPEG->SD)
  • NiMH battery adds to camera's weight, still no use of Lithium-Ion or Lithium-Polymer
  • No GPS connection
  • The Nikon D2X is about $2,500 less and the Canon EOS 5D is about $4,000 less

Overall conclusion

Back in September 2002 at the Photokina tradeshow Canon revealed the EOS-1Ds, their first full frame (35 mm sensor) double-digit megapixel digital SLR (arguably they weren't quite the first as Kodak announced the DCS 14n just the day before, Contax has the N Digital which never really made it to market).

Two years later and the new EOS-1Ds Mark II raises the megapixel count by 5.6 million pixels, which equates to a 23% increase in horizontal and vertical pixel count. It shows too, the EOS-1Ds Mark II delivers a level of detail unmatched by any other current digital SLR (excluding the more 'exotic' medium format backs). The 1Ds Mark II also demonstrates a level of per-pixel sharpness which is often so difficult to achieve with Bayer pattern sensors.

If I had never reviewed an EOS-1D series digital SLR before then I could easily go on for several paragraphs about how well put together it is and how impressive the environmental sealing is and how it's likely to be so robust as to out-live the photographer several generations over. However all of that really goes without saying and most professionals already know the qualities of this cameras body.

Performance is another area which impresses, of course we all expect a professional digital SLR (especially one with this price tag) to operate quickly and be instantly responsive to our every request. But when you consider that this camera wasn't designed for the fast-shooting sports market it's equally amazing to use it and realize that in many ways it is just as capable at continuous shooting as it is at delivering superb resolution. Four sixteen megapixel frames per second for 41 frames without stopping is something mighty.

Weaknesses? Well none that were really engineered into the camera, but the EOS-1Ds Mark II is a very unforgiving camera when it comes to lenses. That ultra high resolution and full size 35 mm sensor mean that not only does the camera use all of the glass in a lens but it can reproduce it in minute detail, warts and all. A direct A-B comparison with a cropped sensor camera (such as the Nikon D2X) soon demonstrates that you really have to be careful selecting your lens and stopping it down sufficiently so as to avoid soft corners. You'll also have to (generally speaking) spend more on your lenses than you would for a cropped sensor camera.

So this brings us to our conclusion, surprisingly it wasn't as straightforward as you may think. In my opinion both the EOS-1Ds Mark II iand D2X represent the ultimate in current digital SLR technology. The EOS-1Ds Mark II's problem however is its big price tag. In our review of the Nikon D2X we clearly demonstrated that it is more than a match for the EOS-1Ds despite a deficit of 4.4 megapixels. So if you're building an entire new system the D2X will be an attractive proposition.

However for the professional (especially if they already own Canon lenses) to whom price is not a deciding factor and who wants the ultimate in high resolution, a full frame sensor, professional features, build quality, speed and reliability the choice is simple.

Highly Recommended

Highly Recommended

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