Canon 1Ds Mark II

When my 5D started to die (uneven exposures with fast shutter speeds) I went looking for another camera.

I wanted full frame again (I like the narrow depth of field, and I like using my lenses to full advantage) and I wanted a Canon (already invested in lenses).

You can get a second hand 5D on eBay for £200-£300; a bargain – it is a great camera. But I’ve had one of those.

Anything new, too expensive. Anything recent second hand (5D mark anything else, 6D), too expensive. And I just want a stills camera – I don’t shoot films (movies).

So that’s a 1Ds Mark II then.

So I got one.

What’s better than a 5D

  • More pixels
  • Better high ISO performance (contrary to some reviews) – I find myself using the 1Ds at high ISOs much more than I did the 5D
  • ISO selection displayed all the time (you have to press a button on the 5D)
  • Better battery life – lasts forever. I take thousands of pictures yet have to charge it so infrequently that I can never find the charger when I do have to.
  • Better controls – the dual press buttons work well for me. I found the mode dial on the D5 could get moved in a bag.
  • Dual controls – I take a lot of portraits
  • Multi spot metering – nice for portraits. Click around until you get the balance you want.
  • The fast shutter speeds work

What’s worse that a D5

  • Size – after the 1Ds the D5 feels like a point and shoot. That said I have lugged it around all over the place (until recently I didn’t have a decent digital point and shoot) and you can get used to the size.


It is an amazing thing. Not only are pictures beautifully detailed, they have a lovely feel to them; a sort of 3D quality that somehow doesn’t seem to be just down to the narrow depths of field you can get with a wide aperture and a big sensor.

And, providing they don’t get frightened and bugger off, people react well to it; big camera, worth posing for.


Are the pictures ‘better quality’ than the ones I got out of the 5D?

The 5D produces great pictures. The 1DS Mark II has the edge in resolution. But more importantly, I think it has a bit of extra magic; a more painterly quality that really shines when you use a good, wide aperture lens such as the 85mm 1.2.

Is it a ‘better’ camera?

Yes. It’s the ‘best’ camera I’ve ever owned. How do I quantify that? Well, if I could only keep one camera, it would be this one.

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