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First Look: Canon's Breakthrough EOS 1Ds
11 Megapixel & Full Frame CMOS sensor!

by Vivid Light Staff

This is truly a breakthrough camera from Canon! 

One of the big knocks against digital cameras has been that the CMOS or CCD chip, no matter who's brand, was smaller than the footprint of 35mm film. 

That meant that your lens didn't deliver it's normal coverage. The effective coverage of the lens was 1.4 to 1.5 times the focal length - again depending on whose digital SLR you were using. That was great if you were shooting wildlife. Your 600mm lens effectively became a 900mm. It was a curse if you were shooting landscapes. Your 20mm became a 30mm. Now folks got all caught up in this. But effectively what you were doing was cropping the image produced by the lens and only using the center portion. 

Now Canon & Kodak have broken the full-frame boundary. All your lenses will work at their normal focal lengths. What about those telephoto shooters? You still have the option of cropping.

Now I can already hear the curmudgeons among you grumbling that 11 Megapixels is great but it's still less than half the resolution of 35mm film. Now depending on whose measurements you want to trust the resolution of 35mm film is around 27 megapixels. But with a package like Genuine Fractals and a starting image size of 11 megapixels you'll be able to create some stunning images that even the curmudgeons among you would be hard pressed to pick out from an image scanned from film. 

Since we're getting all the good stuff out of the way up front you're probably wondering what the price of all this technology is and when it will actually be available. According to Canon the EOS-1Ds will begin shipping in November and have a suggested retail price of $8,999.  Expect initial demand to be high and retailers to be charging list for the immediate future. 

Other Details
The new sensor measures 24 x 36mm and yields and image of up to 4064 x 2704 pixels. This yields an 11 megapixel image that eliminates all the conversion confusion of past digitals. Canon claims color accuracy and tonal range from this new chip equal to digitally scanned film. 

The EOS-1Ds features 45-point autofocus, 21-point evaluative metering, simultaneous RAW + JPEG recording, 10-mode White Balance and 5-mode Color Matrix selection. It supports all of Canon's EOS series lenses and Canon's high quality E-TTL auto flash system, including E-TTL wireless autoflash. 

The 1Ds is capable of shooting up to 3 frames per second in 10-frame bursts. Top shutter speed is 1/8000 second, and the top flash sync speed is 1/250th second. It can capture an ISO range of 50-1250 though ISO 50 is via custom function.

The external covers and chassis of the EOS-1Ds are made of magnesium alloy providing a lightweight and highly rigid body. This camera incorporates the same dust and water-resistant measures used in the rugged and field proven EOS-1D so it should stand up to pro-level abuse without complaint.

White balance is either one of the greatest things about digital or a royal pain in the posterior depending on the photographer and how comfortable they are with setting and using their white balance functions. The EOS-1Ds is provided with 10 separate white balance settings to ensure maximum control over color balance. In addition to the default Auto White Balance mode, there are presets for daylight, shade, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent, and flash as well as custom and personal settings that enable photographers to obtain a high degree of color temperature matching. 

In addition, the EOS-1Ds allows manual settings of color temperature in degrees Kelvin, over a range from 2,800 to 10,000K in 100K increments. There is also a built-in White Balance Bracketing function that captures 3 consecutive images at the same exposure while varying the White Balance setting up to +/- 3 steps in 1 step increments, with each step equal to 5 mireds (micro-reciprocal degrees Kelvin). 

For those photographers who work in multiple color spaces the EOS-1Ds offers a choice of two color spaces (standard sRGB or expanded Adobe RGB 1998) and four variations in color characteristics for sRGB. This feature applies to JPEG as well as RAW images, and allows EOS-1Ds image quality to be matched to the requirements of the subject or output device, ranging from 4-color offset presses to desktop color Bubble Jet printers. Additionally, up to 3 sets of image processing parameters such as custom tone curves, adjustable JPEG compression ratios, and two forms of image sharpening can now be selected in the camera and used with any Color Matrix setting.

Canon claims improved processing speed with the 1Ds by using a new 2 channel processing system that effectively double image processing throughput. The 1Ds has a 10 frame shooting buffer and 3fps shooting speed (though we suspect this is in burst mode only). 

A welcome addition is the two inch LCD with a 25x zoom capability. Thats enough zoom capability to finally be sure of image sharpness before loading the image onto your computer. 

The 1Ds has a high speed IEEE 1394 interface (firewire) and auto-switching FAT16/FAT32 memory card formatting capability standard and is bundled with software for Windows and the Mac OS. 

Finally with a nod toward law enforcement the EOS-1Ds is the first digital camera that offers the ability to verify that images are unaltered originals using the Data Verification Kit DVK-E1, consisting of a dedicated IC card and card reader, together with software for Windows 2000/XP. This package is available to verify that EOS-1Ds image files are absolutely unaltered. 

The ultimate test comes when we get our hands on a 1Ds to test. But we have come to expect great things from the highest end digital SLRs. It would only be a surprise if this camera didn't provide great images. 

Canon has truly delivered a landmark camera.


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