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.

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.

Throwback Thursday won't become a weekly thing here, the timing just worked out this week.

Canon EOS-1D Specifications:

  • 4.2 million pixel Panasonic CCD sensor
  • 8 fps
  • 45 autofocus points
  • Large bright viewfinder
  • Built for punishment
  • Vertical Grip

Kieran writes:

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.

Fast forward to 2017 and photography has entered a whole new world, with 50 million pixel sensors available and 24mp as an expected standard.

So why even talk about a camera that has 6 times less resolving power than the cheapest DSLR available? Simple. Image Output.

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.

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.

kingfisher 728x487 - Throwback Thursday: Returning to the Canon EOS-1D
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

With the 7D I had to use software to bend the images to my liking, I was wasting my evenings at a computer desk.

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.

I then discovered an old relic, the Canon EOS 1D.

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.

But to my amazement the image output was everything I was looking for, rich, defined and brilliantly rendered. So what's going on?

Ken aka the Angry Photographer says it best, its all about gain and the 1D has buckets of it.

Compare below the difference in pixel pitch each camera has

  • Canon EOS 7D – 4.29 µm
  • Canon EOS 5D – 8.2 µm
  • Canon EOS 1D – 11.57 µm

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.

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?

Read the full article on Kieran's blog

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