Color accuracy on the 1Ds Mark III also lands in the top tier, with an Excellent rating based on an average Delta E of 6.98 (compared with 7.3 on the 1D Mark III and 7.28 on the Nikon D3, also Excellent ratings.) The color accuracy remained similarly high all the way up through ISO 1600, while resolution dropped only 15 percent when we applied full noise reduction at ISO 1600 and 3200 in Canon's sophisticated (and included) Digital Photo Professional software.
The 1Ds Mark III's normal ISO range is ISO 100 to 1600, but you can expand it through custom menus to ISO 50 at one end or ISO 3200 at the other end. That high setting is a stop below the less-expensive 1D Mark III and several stops below the Nikon D3.
But in our noise tests, the 1Ds Mark III did better than expected -- even with minimum noise reduction in the RAW conversion process. So you get the choice of maximizing detail at ISO 1600 (with some noticeable increase in noise in shadow areas) or dropping resolution by 15 percent to 2400 lines while rendering any noise nearly invisible. That's impressive, but the Nikon D3 actually outperforms the EOS 1Ds Mark III in overall image quality at ISO 6400, and it can still capture acceptable newspaper-quality shots at an incredible ISO 25,600.
If high-speed action or low-light shooting is your specialty (and you're already a Canon shooter), the EOS-1D Mark III is a better choice, as it boasts a blazing burst rate of up to 10 frames per second (compared with the 1Ds Mark III's 6 fps) and higher ISOs, up to 6400. On the other hand, its slightly smaller-format sensor creates a 1.3X lens factor, so if you want a full-frame field of view with your wide-angle lenses, then the 12.1MP Nikon D3 is an attractive alternative due to its incredible low-light performance, fast 9 fps burst mode, and two types of AF in live view mode.
Still, for image quality and fine detail (at ISO 100 to 1600) that rivals or exceeds that of many medium-format systems, the EOS-1Ds Mark III is the only DSLR in its class.
Imaging: Full-frame 21.1MP (effective) CMOS sensor captures 5616x3744-pixel images with 14 bits/color in RAW mode.
Storage: Dual slots for CF Type I and II cards including UDMA, and SD/SDHC cards. Stores JPEG, RAW, RAW + JPEG, and sRAW (2784x1856-pixels).
Burst rate: At 5 fps, up to 56 JPEG or 12 RAW.
AF system: 45 selectable AF points with 19-cross type. One-Shot AF and Predictive AI Servo AF. Sensitivity EV -1 to -18 (ISO 100).
Shutter speeds: 30-1/8000 sec (1/3-EV increments).
Metering: 63-zone TTL. Evaluative metering linkable to all AF points, centerweighted averaging, partial (approx. 8.5% of frame), and spotmetering (approx. 2.4%). EV 0-20 (ISO 100).
ISO range: 100-1600 in 1/3-EV increments, expandable to ISO 50-3200.
Flash: Supports E-TTL II autoflash with EX-series Speedlites, X-sync at 1/250 sec.
Viewfinder: Eye-level fixed pentaprism with tested 99% accuracy and 0.76X magnification. LCD: 3-in. TFT with 230,000-dot resolution, live preview mode with manual focus and exposure simulation.
Output: Hi-Speed USB 2.0; NTSC video.
Battery: Rechargeable Li-ion LP-E4.
CIPA battery life rating: Approx. 1,800 shots, or 300 in live view.
Size/weight: 6.1x6.3x3.1-in., 2.7 lb, body only, without battery.
Street price: $8,000.