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1Ds MK III test!

Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
I was invited by Uwe Steinmueller of Digital Outback Photo to join him in a shooting session with the new Canon 1Ds MK III, and of course this was an offer I couldn't refuse! We met at our usual location for testing new cameras or lenses, an abandoned building in Alviso, CA. We choose this particular building because it offers a multi-detailed surface texture to help ascertain resolution performance as well as a range of lighting and shadow values to help ascertain dynamic range and noise performance. Note that both Uwe and I prefer to evaluate camera performance by making “real” images instead of shooting test targets. I realize my evaluation methods will not satisfy die-hard pixel-peepers as it is not a fully controlled, scientific test. However, I feel it is a fair way to initially compare different cameras since it’s more representative how I use them in everyday shooting situations. Finally, please understand this is not intended to be a complete or even conclusive evaluation, but rather just my initial impressions about file quality. That disclaimer out of the way, here are my initial impressions.

The camera looks just like the 1D3 and the control layout appears to function identically too. I will leave specific feature discussions to others as I did not have enough time to fully explore all the operational aspects of the new body. Suffice it to say, I was able to set everything I wanted with it without having to resort to the owners manual; in other words, this is a pretty intuitive camera to use.

I shot the camera against a Canon 1Ds MK II, and a Canon 5D. All three cameras were shot at ISO 200, 400, 800, and 1600, and a tripod was used for every shot. When I compare cameras, I like to use the same lens on each camera --- and preferably one known to be a good performer. In this case, we used the excellent Canon 135 f2 L lens at an aperture of f8.

Okay, enough babble as I’m sure most of you have already skipped down to the images anyway <GRIN>.

All images presented here are the ISO 400 captures and here is the full frame capture area for reference:



Next the crops, but I need to clarify how I processed them. First off, I used Adobe Camera Raw for all conversions and processed all files identically except for sharpening. I chose “Cloudy” WB as we had a few light clouds in the area and exposure slider was kept at zero. I did however crank fill up to 30 and set blacks to 4 to help better see noise and into the shadows under the roof. I attempted to optimize the capture sharpening settings for each camera and used the following for these conversions: 5D, amount 30, detail 25; 1Ds2, amount 35, detail 30; 1Ds3, amount 50(!) and detail 50! (EDIT! I forgot to mention radius -- on ALL files it was set to the ACR minimum, 0.5 --- sorry for that omission! Also, I should mention I am using ACR 4.3.) I will use this opportunity to mention something that should now be obvious and likely disappoint more than a few of you: the 1Ds3 appears to have a quite strong AA filter, clearly stronger than the 1Ds2’s…

Here is the 1Ds3 crop:



Here is a similar crop from the 1Ds2:



And here is the crop from the 5D:



In looking at these ISO 400 crops, a few things become apparent. First, noise on the 1Ds3 is quite good – especially for a camera of that resolution – and comparable IMO to the 5D’s. Moreover, by cranking detail up to 50 to extract as much as possible, I actually enhance noise to a certain degree which is a disadvantage to the smaller pixels. In my crops, for some reason the 5D (and 1Ds2) appear a bit brighter in the shadows having used the same shadow and fill settings on both, but they are also showing a bit more defined noise; we’d expect this from being brighter, so I'd not infer too much from it. Comparing noise at the other ISO’s with more normal detail settings, I’d say the 1Ds3 appears to have noise characteristics similar to the 5D (the 1Ds2's are a bit higher) which is quite good for a camera of this resolution. While 200 and 400 will be the sweet spots for maximum performance from the 1Ds3, 800 is still quite usable, but in my opinion 1600 starts to get noisy enough to occlude detail, and moreover, showed a blocking up (loss of DR) in the shadows. Overall, I think the 1Ds3 shows very good noise performance for such a high-resolution camera.

As for detail, we can see the 1Ds3 has a very real advantage. Looking at the ends of the roof tiles, peeling paint chips and grain in the vertical piece of bare gray wood, we simply see more texture in each of these than either of the other Canon cameras offer. The telltale is the sand in the first main row old tan roof shingles --- only the 1Ds3 really resolves the granularity of the sand embedded in the surface of them. Obviously, more megapixels are working here. Suffice it to say there is detail to be had. But given the 1Ds2 was better than many Canon lenses, it is safe to assume that to get the most the 1Ds3 has to offer, one will need to use the best lenses available, proper capture technique and a sturdy tripod when shutter speeds dip.

The real question for many will be how significant is the 1Ds3’s detail difference? I’m sure this will be debated rigorously on the forums for the next year at least – and the irony is the answer is probably different for each of us, depending on how we'd use the camera. Nevertheless, I took the liberty of generating a few additional comparative crops from the 5D to let you each draw your own initial impressions about relative performance as it may pertain to you. I present them here with limited dialog:

First is a crop showing the 5D covering the same portion of the image the 1Ds3 captured. It is 700 x 583 pixels compared to the 1Ds3’s 900 x 750 above:



Here are the crops super-imposed to show the relative coverage differences:



Here is the smaller 5D crop above uprezzed to the same size as the 1Ds3:



And for comparative viewing convenience, here is the 1Ds3 crop again:



Finally, here are the two same-size crops viewed at 50%. I have found this 50% view to be a simpler and accurate method compared to the screen captures I usually post for conveying how detail might compare in a final print. It’s obviously not a perfect method, but coupled with the other crops it’s about the best I can do for you via web view -- again, I leave you to draw your own conclusions. Note that these crops are close approximations to actual sections from prints of about 16"x24":





Cheers,
 

robsteve

Subscriber
Jack:

Your detail extraction is creating those brush stroke type artifacts that RAWShooter used to have. Do they go away at lower detail extraction settings?

Robert
 

David K

Workshop Member
Jack,
Thanks for sharing these. I prefer this type of "real life" testing to some of the more clinical approaches. Even though there is a visible difference in the detail the 1Ds3 captures, I doubt I'd upgrade from either the 1Ds2 or 5D from what I've seen here. Taking into consideration that you used one of Canon's sharpest lenses I suspect the difference will be less noticeable with some of their less stellar performers. Anyway, good test and interesting viewing.
 

Guy Mancuso

Administrator, Instructor
Geez a thicker or stronger AA filter . That might just save folks a lot of money right there. last thing I would want is a stronger AA filter coming from leica with none this puts the brakes on pretty fast about the 1dsMKIII. Also sounds like the MF killer just expired itself. Hate to be negative but this don't look so hot really and was expecting much better than the 1dsMKII which it is slightly but maybe not enough to justify the replacement of it and even more strange is the DR seems better in the 1dsMKII. Hmmm
 

Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
Thanks David! I try to present a review others can draw conclusions that are appropriate to their needs from.

Absolutely Guy! The file that comes straight out of the camera is horribly soft, like twice as soft as the 1Ds2 before it. If Canon listened to its users they would have created an alternate version without an AA filter at all. Not sure why they continue to insist on such strong AA in the first place, and unortunately it's the deal breaker for my needs... Bummer.

The DR thing is interesting too, and I aree with your assessment, but I wouldn't infer too much from my processing here. With more time and more files, I suspect I could improve on it somewhat, and possibly glean a bit more detail to boot.
 

Guy Mancuso

Administrator, Instructor
It is for me too my friend. Jack the issue is the number of Canon users is very large and any Moire that may show up on a canon would absolutely be a PR nightmare. They have to play it safe and my GUESS is the Moire without a strong AA filter on it could have been a big issue.

You know my feelings on AA filters and reason i moved away from canon. And the last thing we want to be doing is adding more sharpening.
 

Chuck Jones

Subscriber Member
Thanks Jack, you just saved me a ton of cash. That AA filter is the kiss of death as far as I am concerned.... that is why I dumped my 1DsII, couldn't stand the AA filter and what it did to the detail in my images.... Ahem, Leica, time to ship an R10 <Grin>.
 

EH21

Member
Thanks for posting these, Jack.

Seems to be not such a big improvement over the 1D2 as i hoped. Just wondering if you have seen and can comment on the comparison images of the 1Ds3, Mamiya ZD, and P21 posted on dpreview? In that test set the 1Ds3 puts up a strong show in those images in terms of detail, but lags behind in color rendition, tonality, and DR (at least IMHO).
 

mark1958

New member
I think the issue of improvement is going to be subjective. I think the improvement is significant. My plan is to compare the 1DsmkIII with the aptus65/Hassy H2. Jack.. want to join in? I am out of town until Monday afternoon but could do during the week at Stanford
 

Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
Thanks for posting these, Jack.

Seems to be not such a big improvement over the 1D2 as i hoped. Just wondering if you have seen and can comment on the comparison images of the 1Ds3, Mamiya ZD, and P21 posted on dpreview? In that test set the 1Ds3 puts up a strong show in those images in terms of detail, but lags behind in color rendition, tonality, and DR (at least IMHO).
I'm reluctant to comment on cmoparisons I haven't done myself unless I know who did the raw processing... The reason is processing can make a HUGE difference in how a file renders and therefore can skew final results. That said, I'm not even positive MY processing of the 1Ds3 files was "perfect" either...
 

Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
I think the issue of improvement is going to be subjective. I think the improvement is significant. My plan is to compare the 1DsmkIII with the aptus65/Hassy H2. Jack.. want to join in? I am out of town until Monday afternoon but could do during the week at Stanford
Would love to join you for that Mark!
 

Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
Just to add some fodder for discussion, here is a similar crop from the M8. I was shooting from the same position with the 90mm Summarit, so the effective focal is shorter and thus the area covered is a bit larger, which is a disadvantage to the M. Also note I shot the Summarit at f5.6, not f8 like the Canon shots, though I suspect this is a non-iossue for these comparisons. I did process the M8 file similarly to the Canon files, and the base exposure was at ISO 320 instead of 400.

Frankly, I am amazed at how well the M8 holds up against the Canon's. Of particular note is the sand in the roof shingles --- it is resolved better here than the either the 5D or the 1Ds2 crops, and really not too far off the 1Ds3 image! On the downside, pushing up the shadows to the same level of shadow brightness definitely shows more visible noise with the M8. I show them here pushed to the same value as the Canons were, but this renders the shadows darker, so it's a tradeoff on how to best display it.

Here is the M8 cropped area:



Here is the M8 uprezzed to match the 1Ds3 image size, then downsized to the 50% print view per above:



For viewing convenience, here are the 5D and 1Ds3 print crops again:



 

Guy Mancuso

Administrator, Instructor
Whew was sweating that one having the M8 , looks like my money spent went in the right direction:D:thumbs::ROTFL::salute:

okay having a little fun with the smiley's.:)

Canon hopefully can answer to double the mpx and less the quality and more money. Hmmmm

Not sure if I was a Canon shooter i would give up the 1dsMKII or even the 5D for the new 1dsMKIII. Given the same 135mm lens and increase the AA filter makes no sense to me. If anything canon should have made it more MF style and made the AA filter even weaker than the rest of the line. Maybe i am reading this wrong but i am going to wait for the Leica R10 without a AA filter
 

cmb_

Subscriber & Workshop Member
Perhaps the 3 in. LCD would be worth the upgrade for some.

Jack, was the viewfinder bigger or brighter than the Mark II? :bugeyes:
 

Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
maybe so . Okay Jack give us the skinny partner. YOUR impressions:talk028:
:wtf: ? Leave it to you Mancuso to ask me to hang my true thoughts out in public on what's probably the most awaited camera ever... Love you too Bud! LOLOLOL!

Bottom line? I'm anxious to see what the R10 files look like.

While we're on this subject, I got to spend some time with a friend's Nikon D3 files today too... That result? I still want to see what the R10 files look like.

Seriously, for the way I'd use the camera, I don't see enough reason to make the jump to either one of these hotly anticipated cameras. While they both can make great images, I simply don't see them being significantly enough better than what I already own. But that's me...

Cheers,
 

Guy Mancuso

Administrator, Instructor
:ROTFL::ROTFL::ROTFL:

You know i was going to hang you out to dry. LOL


hell it's been done to me so many times , i just had to pass the buck:clap:

Just love these smiley's. i have yet to get any work done playing with them all day
 
P

pss

Guest
thanks jack for taking the time to do this....all work, no fun at all, right? i am not sure if it is me or do all these shots show really strong noise removal/watercolor mushiness that i usually don't see in canon or (definitely not) m8 files....did you process all these in LR? i rezed up a m8 file in GF the other day to see what a 30x40 @ 360dpi print would look like and it seemed smoother then these files....i almost always shoot base iso, but that can't be the difference....what kind of sharpening was applied? sorry but it alway comes down to the same thing when comparing webjepgs....i prefer comparing the raw files myself...any way you could put them up somewhere?
 
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