First look: Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III

The world's most pricey and highly specced digital SLR

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The shift towards full-frame has taken another huge leap with the launch of Canon's 21-megapixel EOS 1Ds Mark III.

This monster SLR was unveiled last month and is aimed at the professional photographer with deep pockets and big biceps. We got a chance to play with the 1Ds at the launch and can report that it is indeed the world's chunkiest piece of digital imaging kit, with a reassuringly expensive feel.

Sharp shooting Canon

With a Burst mode of five frames per second, the 1Ds can't quite keep up with the newly announced Nikon D3 but it can shoot up to 12 RAW images at a time without drawing breath. And thanks to dual DiGIC III processors, the 1Ds Mark III offers up silky smooth images and at sensitivities of ISO 100-1600, with an enhanced setting of ISO 3200.

Along with the recently announced 1D Mark III, the 1Ds also offers a Live View mode, a feature that's becoming increasingly common, even on consumer DSLRs.

Other 1Ds highlights worth noting are 19 autofocus points, Highlight Tone Priority for better dynamic range, an integrated cleaning system for handling pesky dust bunnies, and a whopping 3-inch LCD.

Although the 1Ds is a camera that's most likely to appeal to well-heeled fashion and studio photographers, sometime in the near future its technology is likely to filter down to cameras for lesser mortals with smaller bank balances.

The 1Ds Mark III will be in the shops around the end of October.

Key features

21MP CMOS sensor: full-frame CMOS sensor produces images of 5,616 x 3,744 pixels that inflate to 100MB as uncompressed tiff files. With a native sensitivity of ISO 100-1600 and a pixel pitch of 6.4 µm, the 1Ds can turn out very smooth images that can rival medium format film cameras. The Dual DiGIC III processors handle the mammoth calculations to keep this beast firing at top speed.

SHPS Burst Mode: With a Burst mode of five frames per second, the 1Ds isn't the fastest full-frame DSLR, but with its 21MP sensor, that sort of speed is very impressive. You can shoot 56 full-resolution JPEGS, or 12 RAW files, before the 1Ds even has its buffer challenged. The speed isn't as good as the Canon EOS 1D Mark III, but sports or wildlife photographers are not this camera's target market.

19-point autofocus: The 1Ds Mark III has a 19-point autofocus system with cross-type sensors and 26 focus-assist points for improved accuracy when tracking fast-moving subjects. There's also a dedicated AF-ON button for instantly switching on the AF system when composing a shot. There have been criticisms of the EOS 1D Mark III's AF system, so we'll be interested to see how the 1Ds performs in this respect.

Key specs:

  • Price: £6,000
  • Sensor: CMOS 21MP full-frame
  • Focal length conversion: 1 (no crop factor)
  • Lens mount : Canon EF
  • Continuous shooting: 5FPS, 56 JPEGS, 12 RAW
  • Shutter speeds: 30-1/8000 + bulb
  • Storage: CompactFlash/SD
  • Image Processor: Dual DiGIC III
  • Interface : 150 x 160 x 80 mm
  • Weight : 1.385kg (inc battery)
  • Contact : Canon 08705 143723, www.canon.co.uk

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