Canon 1Ds Mark II More Thoughts After Use
I have been shooting with the Canon 1Ds Mark II as my backup for about a month now. If you read my previous post you know that I am and always have been a really big fan of this camera.
But how has it been faring after a few shoots in totally different circumstances?
In the last couple of weeks I have done a wedding and a couple of engagement photography shoots. I’ve also done a kid photo shoot chasing them around finding Easter eggs as well as personal shoots for my own use. Each of these shoots has its own set of issues and I wanted to put the Canon 1Ds Mark II through its paces.
How did it do? Very well! It’s not perfect though. Here are my main issues as well as, what I feel, are its main strengths. Some of these were brought up in my previous post, but not everyone would of read that.
â€¢ The LCD screen. I said it before and I’ll say it again, this thing is nearly useless! Colors are off, sharpness doesn’t reflect the actual sharpness of the image and I always think I’m shooting soft only to come home, load up the images and they’re razor sharp.
â€¢ The buffer on the 1Ds Mark II is tiny. I mean TINY! Shooting quick successive images in RAW is nearly impossible unless you’re willing to wait quite a few seconds for the preview image to show up on the LCD screen. I totally understand why Canon decided to make both a full frame and cropped frame 1D series camera. The 1D is for action and the 1Ds is for studio. The 1Ds Mark III however and the even newer 1Dx don’t have buffer issues, which is probably one of the reasons why Canon has gotten rid of the cropped frame 1D and merged both the 1D and 1Ds into the 1Dx. They now have the technology to make both a huge resolution sensor and fast buffer. There’s just no need for a cropped sensor anymore.
â€¢ Unless you buy the 1Ds Mark II with its original battery, which will most likely be old and not able to hold a good charge, or you buy a new Canon battery, the NP-E3, you’re going to be very unhappy with the after market batteries made for this camera. They don’t seal correctly on the housing and instead they leave a small gap about the size of the thickness of a quarter, or 50p piece if you’re using English money. This totally voids and negates all the benefits of buying this weather resistant, weather sealed machine. This might feel like a moot point, but I don’t think it is. Looking around on eBay I found dozens of sellers advertising their 1Ds Mark IIs with new batteries only to find, upon closer inspection, that they were almost all after market batteries. I’ve had to spend the money to buy a new Canon battery for my 1Ds Mark II because I just couldn’t handle seeing my gorgeous camera with a small sliver taken out of it where there weather proofing was supposed to go.
â€¢ Images even at ISO 100, when zoomed in 100%, are grainy. Totally reminds me of when I would scan in my Fuji Provia film. The images at 25% and 50% were smooth, fine images, but once you get in close grain is prevalent. It’s not a bad thing and I actually kind of like the look. I’ve found that with the 5D Mark II my images are sometimes too grain-less and too razor sharp. Every spec and impurity shows up in huge detail. But it’s something to be wary of before you buy this. If you were born into digital photography and have only known grain-less images, you’re probably not going to like the images the 1Ds Mark II makes. If however, your favorite photographer is Henri Cartier-Bresson, you will love it!
Ok, now onto the things I love:
â€¢ Silly, insanely fast auto focus. I recently showed the 1Ds Mark II to a pro photographer friend of mine, she uses the 5D Mark II, and she put her finger on the shutter button and pressed really lightly just trying to engage the auto focus. Before she even had time to fully compose her shot the camera had auto focused and fired off a shot. All I heard from her was, “Ah! Oh, wow!” And that’s the way I feel about it’s auto focus.
â€¢ Weather sealing! I recently did a shoot in Brighton and the weather was supposed to be awful. Luckily it wasn’t, but knowing I had a fully weather-proof camera and L lens really put my mind at ease. I wouldn’t dare take my 5D Mark II out in that kind of weather.
â€¢ It just feels right in my hand. Owning the 1Ds Mark II and the 5D Mark II I find myself reaching for the 1Ds Mark II far more than the 5D Mark II. That isn’t to say I think it’s a better camera, it’s not. The 5D Mark II is one of the world’s greatest machines. I just like the feeling the 1Ds Mark II gives me. It’s the difference between buying a used Audi S4 with its 4.2 liter V8 engine and the newer V6 model. There is just something about the sound of the engine, that throaty groan when you throw it into 6th gear and fly past that Corvette. It’s just a nice feeling and even though the newer S4s are a better car, better handling, bigger, better on consumption, etc. you still love that V8 sound. I love the sound the shutter makes when it’s taking a shot. I love that I can throw it over my shoulder and have it hit something and not scratch or break. I love the weight and the feel of it in my hand. I just plain love it.
It’s not for everyone and I wouldn’t tell anyone to sell their 5D Mark II to get this. I would say though, if you’re in the market for a backup, or have just switched from zoom to prime lenses and need another body to extend your range and stop you from having to switch lenses every 5 minutes like me, go for the 1Ds Mark II. It is cheaper than a 5D Mark II and you’ll be able to use it in a hurricane!!
Better yet, if you have the money, buy the 1Ds Mark III and forget everything I just said. Because that has all the best points of the 1Ds Mark II and none of the weaknesses. But personally, even if I had the money, I’d stick with the 1Ds Mark II. It’s really a great machine and a hell of a bargain!
***UPDATE*** After shooting with the 1Ds Mark II for the whole of the 2012 wedding season, I decided to sell it and grab another 5D Mark II to use as my second, which at it’s current price since the release of the 5D III is a bargain. The 1Ds II is a beautiful machine and very capable, but the noise at high ISOs was killing me. The LCD was just too hard to read any data from it and I couldn’t make decisions I was happy with using the LCD as a preview. It constantly had me second guessing my images. The buffer… again, just frustrated me too much. And with the 5D Mark II being so inexpensive, I now think there is a new bargain camera on the market. Perhaps the biggest bargain we have ever seen in digital photography.