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Canon EOS 1D review: Canon EOS 1D

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The Good Combination of fast drive mode and high resolution; large buffer; highly customizable; saves custom camera setups to media; improved E-TTL II flash performance.

The Bad Noise in underexposed image areas; LCD lacks sharpness when zooming in review mode; slow image review; imperfections appear when paired with lower-quality lenses; requires fast, high-capacity memory cards to store large files.

The Bottom Line In a league by itself, the Mark II offers professional photographers extensive customization, excellent photo quality, and market-leading speed.

8.9 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 9
  • Performance 9
  • Image quality 9

Review summary

Canon ups the ante with its 8-megapixel EOS-1D Mark II, the fastest-shooting digital SLR on the market. Made for magazine photographers covering news and sports, the Mark II also works well for portrait shooters who want a versatile, small-format digital camera. The Mark II replaces the EOS-1D--which was already at the top of its class--and makes improvements across the board.

As a contributing photographer for Sports Illustrated magazine, I have been using the Mark II for a few months and am very impressed with its feature set, design, customization ability, and image quality. If you need evidence that it's in a league by itself, consider that SI replaced all of its EOS-1D bodies with Mark IIs.

Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.

The body design of the Canon EOS-1D Mark II is very similar to that of its predecessor, the EOS-1D. At 3.4 pounds without a lens, the Mark II has a perfect weight for professional use and fits comfortably in my hand, although it might be heavy for some. A solid camera, it's weatherproofed and sealed from water, dust, and dirt.

One nice touch is that the rubber doors covering the ports swing around but don't come off, which means you won't lose them. Canon also made a small but important improvement in the release tab that opens the memory card door. Anyone who has ever shot with the EOS-1D in the snow knows how difficult it was to change out CompactFlash cards with gloves on. On the Mark II, the tab protrudes a little bit, making it much easier to open.

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You can change several basic settings by pressing these buttons on the left of the camera top while turning a mode dial with your right hand.

As with the original EOS-1D, the Mark II has an integrated second grip and shutter release so that you can turn the camera 90 degrees and capture photos with a vertical orientation. Like the main grip, the vertical grip provides all the necessary controls--a command dial, a button for multispot metering and flash exposure lock, an autoexposure-lock button, an autofocus assist button, and an autofocus-point selection button--and it's comfortable to hold.

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The Mark II's vertical grip is comfortable to hold and incorporates a second set of shooting controls.

The Depth of Field mode available on the EOS-1D has been omitted on the Mark II, so the shooting modes you cycle through with the command dial now include only Program, Manual, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Bulb. If you're used to moving the command dial two clicks to go from Manual to Aperture Priority, you'll be thrown off until you become accustomed to turning only one click.

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The top status LCD shows information regarding the photographic operation of the camera, including exposure parameters, as well as Metering, Drive, and Focus modes. You can select continuous ISO display via the Mark II's custom functions.

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