Throwback Thursday: Returning to the Canon EOS-1D

Canon Rumors Guy

Canon EOS 40D
CR Pro
  • Jul 20, 2010
    Kieran Elson has written what we think is a fun piece about returning to the EOS-1D. Canon’s 4.2mp CCD equipped professional DSLR from 2001.</p>
    <p>The EOS-1D is one camera I am actively looking to add to my collection, as it was quite a revolutionary leap for digital photography.</p>
    <p>Throwback Thursday won’t become a weekly thing here, the timing just worked out this week.</p>
    <p class="font_8"><strong><span class="color_11">Canon EOS-1D Specifications:</span></strong></p>
    <li class="font_8"><span class="color_11">4.2 million pixel Panasonic CCD sensor</span></li>
    <li class="font_8"><span class="color_11">8 fps</span></li>
    <li class="font_8"><span class="color_11">45 autofocus points</span></li>
    <li class="font_8"><span class="color_11">Large bright viewfinder</span></li>
    <li class="font_8"><span class="color_11">Built for punishment</span></li>
    <li class="font_8"><span class="color_11">Vertical Grip</span></li>
    <p><strong>Kieran writes:</strong></p>
    <p>The Canon EOS 1D was released in 2001 as Canon’s new flagship digital camera, similar in many ways from the EOS-1V professional film camera, it was an obvious step into the digital era.</p>
    <p>Fast forward to 2017 and photography has entered a whole new world, with 50 million pixel sensors available and 24mp as an expected standard.</p>
    <p>So why even talk about a camera that has 6 times less resolving power than the cheapest DSLR available? Simple. Image Output.</p>
    <p>For eight months I have been photographing wildlife with a Canon EOS 7D, I have become very familiar with its strengths and weaknesses and know how to stretch its limits. And this is my problem, the 7D has its limits. Not its resolution, speed, accuracy or anything you’ll read in a review, I have found the image output restricting my creativity.</p>
    <p>I hate having to work on images after the fact, I prefer to MAKE the image in the moment and forget about it. The idea of coming home and sitting at a computer desk doing custom white balance adjustments, or tweaking colour profiles makes me want to put my head through the wall. There are valid artist/photographers who can push reality with software and create masterpieces, they know who they are and I’m not one of them.</p>
    <div id="attachment_31492" style="width: 738px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href=""><img class="size-large wp-image-31492" src="" alt="" width="728" height="487" srcset=" 728w, 768w, 225w, 338w, 610w" sizes="(max-width: 728px) 100vw, 728px" /></a><p class="wp-caption-text">Canon EOS-1D: Although the resolution is only 2464 x 1648 the rendition is excellent, almost no editing required for this image. // Photo Copyright; Kieran Elson</p></div>
    <p>With the 7D I had to use software to bend the images to my liking, I was wasting my evenings at a computer desk.</p>
    <p>I experimented with Canon’s first full frame camera the EOS 5D, the output was more saturated and contrasty compared to the 7D. This halved the time I spent at the computer desk, but eventually I was hitting the limits of the AF capabilities. To no fault of the camera, it was designed for landscape and portraiture not for powering huge prime lenses in low light.</p>
    <p>I then discovered an old relic, the Canon EOS 1D.</p>
    <p>The idea of heading into the field with a camera with less pixels than my £50 phone was daunting, what if the photograph of a lifetime happened? I’d be stuck with a barley usable file.</p>
    <p>But to my amazement the image output was everything I was looking for, rich, defined and brilliantly rendered. So what’s going on?</p>
    <p>Ken aka the Angry Photographer says it best, its all about gain and the 1D has buckets of it.</p>
    <p>Compare below the difference in pixel pitch each camera has</p>
    <li>Canon EOS 7D – 4.29 µm</li>
    <li>Canon EOS 5D – 8.2 µm</li>
    <li>Canon EOS 1D – 11.57 µm</li>
    <p>I have zero experience with signal to noise ratios or anything even remotely related, but its not hard to see that the EOS 1D has a significant advantage. Even digital medium format cameras have a smaller pixel pitch, for example the Pentax 645D sensor’s pixel pitch is 6.03 µm.</p>
    <p>But what about that 4.2 million pixels? Surely that cant be usable? Well I viewed the files on a Panasonic 4K 58” display, and all I can say is WOW! Everybody I show has no idea its only 4 mega pixels, I can’t even believe it. Sure side by side a 5D file with my nose on the screen you can tell, but who does that to a print on the wall?</p>
    <p><strong><a href="">Read the full article on Kieran’s blog</a></strong></p>
    <span id="pty_trigger"></span>


    EOS RP
    Apr 5, 2015
    Every day is throwback thursday for me, with my 1D mark II from 2004 - the only camera I own! (I realize the OP is talking about the original 4mpx 1D)

    8 megapixels @ 8.3 fps
    Many of the technical aspects (besides dynamic range and resolution) of the sensor have it competing closely with the 80D, and beating the original 7D!

    Just check out the comparison here:
    Jump to the measurements tab and check the results. The dynamic range tab is the only place where the 1D mark II falls short of both cameras by quite a lot. Otherwise, it beats the 7D and comes close to the 80D.

    That original 1D must also have some similar characteristics! Unfortunately, it is not in the DXOmark database, but we can hardly expect it to be. - So, lacking DXOmark lab tests for the original 1D, I guess the 1D mark II is the closest thing that we can see detailed specs on.
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    Mt Spokane Photography

    I post too Much on Here!!
    CR Pro
    Mar 25, 2011
    A even further throwback camera is the $30,000+ 1995 6mp Kodak DCS 460 which I happened to find locally for $100 a few years back.

    It is basically a APS-C back for a Nikon N90 and used type III PC cards (those large ones with a hard drive inside) The camera output .tiff files in a older format, but Lightroom still processes them just fine. Colors are not quiet right, I don't know if its lightroom, or the sensor changing, the colors can be adjusted.

    DCS 460 Camera Specifications
    • Image storage on removable PC cards, Type III; 42 images per 260 MB
    • 12 bits/color
    • Normal operation for camera exposure with all metering modes available
    • 18.4 x 27.6-mm imager magnifies focal length only 1.3X
    • SCSI interface with host
    • DCS 460 Color: ISO 80
    • DCS 460 Mono: ISO 160
    • Continuous-frame capture rate of approximately 12 seconds/image
    • 250 images per battery charge, with 1 hour to recharge
    • AC adapter/charger power requirements: 50/60 Hz, 100, 120, 220, 240 V AC
    • Approximate size: 6.7 in. W x 4.5 in. D x 8.2 in. H (170 mm x 114 mm x 208 mm)
    • Weight (without lens): 3.75 lbs. (1.70 kg)
    • Certified FCC Class B, UL, CSA, TUV


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    EOS M6 Mark II
    Feb 5, 2012
    My nickname for that camera was the monster, it was my main PR camera have used it on more commercial shoots than I can remember,Did a shoot for small brochure for a client only to have the client said that they needed a life size print.
    I uprezed the file to 12 megapixel when I saw the final print I was speechless and all was happy.

    I then added the 1DsII to complete my 2 camera kit.
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    Photographer & Graphic Designer
    Interesting perspective.

    My opinion is that these cameras are nothing but antiques to put on the shelf. There are very few application where these cameras are useful now a days. They are more a hinderance than a help. Nice to look back on to reminisce.

    Shooting with no post is a lovely idea in theory but pretty much lays waste to most of the practicalities of modern photography. You don't have to spend hours at the computer you set up profiles, use one click presets for things like exposure etc etc so the software does the work. One click two click three done. How do you think wedding and event photographers get through their workflow otherwise we would be at the computer more than shooting.

    Certainly if you are practicing a trade, makes no sense to me to be shooting and in business using this type of equipment. In fact it would make me ask a lot of questions.
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    EOS R
    Oct 26, 2013
    Not that surprised by Kieran Elson's comments - though I am surprised that CA guy had the nerve to put an opinion like that on a primarily gear-head site where it is all about the latest and greatest and test numbers up your wahoo.

    I used the Original Digital Rebel (6 MP) for about 9 years before getting a 6D. When I got the 6D I was somewhat concerned that all my 6 MP files would look poor in comparison and I would become disappointed in all those shots taken with the Original Rebel. But lo and behold, prints up to about 8 x 12 (which is as large as I do print) looked pretty much the same with the FF 20 MP 6D. And they, of course, looked equally as good on my computer screen. Turned out that all that extra resolution was not really apparent. And - even though there is no "metric" for it - those larger pixels do seem to make a difference in appearance. There have been a few comments on the forum over the years that people have mentioned that there was "something" better looking about those large pixels.

    Interesting also that she mentions that "the output was more saturated and contrasty compared to the 7D." Well, that in all likelihood is because of the lower DR. I know I have mentioned this in other threads, but maybe less DR means better IQ. I know that I need to add more contrast now in PP with my M5 than I used to with my original rebel. I for one have no desire for more DR if it means less contrast and flatter pics (and it does).
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    EOS R
    CR Pro
    Sep 17, 2010
    My entry into digital photography was the S45 starting in 2003. I followed up with another powershot after a few years to get a whooping 8 MP. Pictures I took with these cameras are still up on my walls.

    Cameras of this era were not awful. You could take good and even great photos with them. But I would not want to turn the clock back. What we have today is so much better.
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    EOS R6
    Oct 25, 2010
    The big take-away from this is the question mark over the perceived need for today's megapixel monsters. Even the modest leap in megapixels from the 5DIII to my 5DIV sees a slowdown in Lr. My smaller 1DX files are much quicker to work with. Traveling back even further to my old 1Ds & 5D classic, at 12 Mp there was very little those files couldn't manage. Billboards, glossy double page spreads, large 3 foot x 4 foot prints all looked brilliant. Even the 8 Mp 1D MkIIn I had for years did the job incredibly well.

    I'm not saying I want another 4 Mp or 8 Mp camera for commercial work, but I do hope the present 20-30 Mp range doesn't get consigned to history by manufacturers marketing gurus pushing constantly for MORE megapixels. I wouldn't get a 50 Mp camera in a fit, though I can see there is a small niche market that will truly value those massive files. How many 50Mp camera files get no further than screen view on Flicker and the like? That old EOS 1D would likely deliver indistinguishable files.

    What we do appreciate from the sensor developers is DR and high iso performance...not more and more megapixels.

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    EOS RP
    Aug 26, 2010
    pwp said:
    Even the modest leap in megapixels from the 5DIII to my 5DIV sees a slowdown in Lr.
    A good thing then that computer performance has improved by >100x since 2001, while the number of pixels have only grown by a factor 10x. This is also reflected in storage, where a 2 GB card back then limited the number of images stored to 300, while modern 256 GB cards can store 3000 latest-generation images.

    Though I suspect that Lightroom software, and the likes, do a lot more processing today than the equivalent workflow in 2001. Working with 4 Mpix files will of course always be 10x faster than 40 Mpix files, but at some point processing should get fast enough.
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    Jack Douglas

    CR for the Humour
    Apr 10, 2013
    Alberta, Canada
    Those of us who like to photograph small distant objects like birds have been able to use MP and cropping as a kind of inexpensive focal length multiplier. Not saying they are equivalent but it has allowed shots that were otherwise too small to be useful.

    Likewise many are using the crop factor for more reach. This is a whole different ball of wax than filling the frame of a 4 MP camera while having great lighting. I owned the 1D2 and found IQ to be very good, likewise the 1D4 but high ISO and cropping left me disappointed.

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    I post too Much on Here!!
    CR Pro
    Jan 29, 2011
    I sold my 1D last year for $250.

    It was a great camera, when compared to film cameras, but 4.2 MP was always a limitation and part of the reason for the dramatic gains in sensor capabilities over a short time period. The ISO performance stood up well when compared to film but that was it, again the sensor was outgrown technologically speaking very quickly. As was that dumb 1.3 crop that was not EF-s compatible so ultrawide angle coverage was non existent.

    But anybody that uses one can't help but be frustrated with the non zooming replay, tiny screen the limited menu and whilst the IQ is good its nothing special and vastly outgunned by pretty much everything since.

    As for the 'look' of the files. That is nothing more than the rendering programs algorithms interpretation, it is easily changed and if you take the time to make ISO specific camera profiles including color profiles and tone curves and apply them on import you can make pretty much anything look like anything else with no input or further time taken, it's digital for goodness sake!


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    EOS R
    Apr 24, 2011
    I haven't used mine for a while, and it really isn't worth selling at this point (I bought it used for little money).

    The limitation I found was the file size, and as mentioned earlier, there isn't much room for cropping. I have printed 8x10 and 13 x 19 from that camera, and the images look fine, but the frame needs to be filled with the subject matter to be used as-is.

    And of course, once/if it breaks, that's it.

    Maybe I should dust it off again :)
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