Digital info for serious shooters: specializing in Nikon & Canon

The Canon 1D--
 by Moose Peterson

This is an amazing camera, if you shoot Canon, go buy one now! Don't wait to finish reading this review, do buy one NOW! Now you might think I'd be the last person on earth to be shooting with and writing a review of a Canon product, with my very well known product preference on record. But I am a photographer, a digital photographer and when I see new innovations come out, I just have to check them out myself. That's what I did with the new Canon 1D and overall I was pleased with all I found.

What's Moose shooting with?
If you had DigitalPro's DigitalLoupe 
feature, you'd already know!
I regret my time with the 1D was limited as there are not many in the reviewer's pool. What I have to offer are simply my observations of shooting with the 1D for three weeks. And I regret I wasn't anywhere I could really put the 1D through tough times. The learning curve switching gears to work with Canon was a challenge but I managed to make it all work along with some great assistance from the folks at Canon who were very willing to answer all my questions! So, here's my take on the 1D.

(This review is not to promote or bash one camera over another! At this time the Canon 1D or the Nikon D1X/H can deliver the same quality to the intelligent digital shooter. Each camera has its plusses and minuses which is no surprise. I regret though the only way to talk about these cameras is to compare features which is the only way I know of communicating how they work. It is not meant to be nor should be taken as a slam or boast for anyone camera.)

The 1D Layout

The 1D is a beefer and heavier camera than the D1X/H. The slightly larger size of the 1D and approx 8oz heavier weight might be a concern to some after the concern the weight of the D1/X/H that was raised with their release. Personally I like the feel of the 1D.


To start with the 1D is requires a battery. The 1D uses the same battery technology as the D1/X/H. This means you must refresh the battery a minimum of three times prior to its first use. The charger for the NP-E3 accepts two batteries which is really nice but the recharging/refreshing time is as slow (or fast depending on how you look at it) as any other digital battery system.

The 1D instruction book recommends you have a minimum of three batteries for one 1D. If you just shoot normally (I'll define normal in a moment) I don't think you'll have a battery problem. I filled a Lexar 512 16x card 5 times before the battery indicator said half (that's shooting Jpegs). Now one major flaw of the 1D to me is its wake up.
 If you let the camera (in normal settings) go to standby, the wake up time when you depress the shutter release again to shoot is around 1 second. That drove me nuts! There are a number of work arounds to solve this problem that Canon was very open about supplying me, but they all require more battery power. This is why I reason they recommend three batteries in the instruction book.


The controls on the 1D where very foreign to me coming from the D1H. I found though after a few days of constantly using them I could navigate pretty quickly to get done what was required. I still found for my logic flow the placement and use of some of the buttons slow when shooting action. I found the LCD monitor on the 1D displayed an image only slightly better than the D1X/H. You can't really go by its LCD for white balance or exposure. It does display a Histogram but it's small compared to that on the D1X/H so for me it takes a few moments longer to look at it and understand where I'm at exposure wise. The LCD monitor being flush with the body means you can't put a cover on it easily so I found myself constantly needing to wipe it clean to preview images.

When it comes to setting different features on the 1D, I found them just as easy/hard as the D1X/H. Once you learned what hoops to jump through it becomes pretty much second nature. I didn't like that I had to go through the menu system to format the CF card. This is something I do every time I download images from a card and then reinsert it, and is easy to do with the D1X/H but not so quick and easy on the 1D. I found it a little frustrating that in order to take advantage of some of the cool programming in the 1D I had to hook it up via Firewire to my computer. This doesn't lend itself to quick and easy changes in the field for testing or learning what things do or don't do.

I really love though the options for Jpeg file storage! The compression factors in the 1D are outstanding! I could capture more images on a CF card with the 1D than the D1H because of its better compression! This is really handy with the 8fps. Now the 1D is suppose to have a 21 frame buffer. In the Nikon when you depress the shutter release and hold it down, you are limited to the exact prescribed number and must do a little dance to get around it. Not with the 1D. You hold down the shutter release and this puppy rips! I mean rips! When it gets to the supposed 21 frame buffer limit the firing does slow down but it does not stop. Reading the specs I thought to myself what good is 8fps with only a 21 frame buffer? Well now that I've shot with it I know how it works and for my action photography, it works just fine! (I was shooting with a 300f4 IS.) I REALLY like this!!!

The White or Color Balance settings on the 1D are identical to the D1/X/H which meant I shot in the cloudy mode if need be. The cool thing about the 1D is you can dial in your own white balance, as in degrees in increments of 100 so I could set the WB to 7200 for example shooting on the coast and it was exactly what I wanted. I REALLY like this!!!!


Most know that I hang with Artie Morris from time to time. He wrote the book on Canon metering and exposure and from hearing him talk, I thought my biggest hurdle I would have with the 1D was learning its metering. Since I only had three weeks with the 1D I didn't want to spend my whole time learning its metering but rather its digital. So I set the 1D on its Evaluative Metering and let it rip. Hey.I was surprised that for a vast majority of my images the 1D did just fine for exposure. I don't know if that's because it's better than in Artie's 1V, the five stop latitude of digital film or what. All I know is that for a Canon neophyte, it worked permitting me to go on with other things.


It works and does much better than the D1. Compared to the D1X/H is performs just as well. With my limited time I didn't delve deeply into the 1D flash other than see if it did the job for flash fill and flash main. It captured everything I tried without any reading of the IB so I was pleased.

Digital Image Quality

The images my 1D produced were gorgeous! I looked at my 1D many times while shooting with it to make sure it was a 1D. With all that's posted on the web, I thought I should have a dog on my hands. The many issues folks have posted in regards to the image quality of the 1D I did not find. No banding problem or anything else (which is not to say banding wasn't present at high ISO which it is, but not anymore than other digital cameras on the market).
First, I did not shoot any RAW. I don't do RAW and with no software to process Canon RAW, didn't mess with it. I shot my standard Jpeg format and I found this is one area where the 1D excels! The advance compression ratios of the Canon 1D really cranked permitting me to capture nearly 25% more captures per CF card!

The resulting quality of the Jpegs are just the same IMHO as my Nikons produce. But being able to cram more on a card is killer. The resulting smaller file of course makes the rest of the camera operate faster which in my book is always a good thing as well. The couple of 20x prints I made from 1D images work for me!


Now I'll be straight forward honest with you. I tried to get Canon to permit me to shoot with the 1D for a much longer time than just my three weeks. The 1D has a lot more potential than I was able to explore and after seeing what it did deliver I want to know more. Am I switching to Canon? I'm sure that thought has gone through more than one reader's mind as they read this glowing revue of the "enemy." I don't see Canon as the enemy, never have or else I wouldn't shoot with so many friends who shoot Canon. I do see in the 1D problem solving tools and since that's what I'm always look at, I'm keeping my eye and mind wide open. If you are a Canon shooter I would highly recommend going out right this moment, don't even take time to log off this page, and go buy the 1D. I highly recommend it! (and no, my Nikon gear is not up for sale!)

PS: I regret I didn't travel to some exotic locale while testing the 1D. I feel I did the 1D a disservice with the images I have to illustrate this piece with.

Editor's Note: This review is not meant to be a listing of the 1D specs. You can find that information at



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