With the Canon 21 megapixel EOS-1Ds Mark III digital SLR Canon continues to go after medium format digital cameras.

For the past several years it has been clear that Canon has been aiming squarely for medium format digital cameras. It is embarrassing to have such quality available to professional photographers. It reminds the cognoscenti that a mere 35mm digital SLR is just not the high end.

Over and over again press releases encouraged by Canon have mentioned medium format cameras specifically, trying to claim that 35mm is as good as medium format.

Yet half of the photos in the Canon brochures from 2005-2007 are of poor quality. Simply not good photographs: grainy, poorly focused, digital noise in shadow areas.

I bought a Canon EOS 5D and was so dissatisfied that I gave it to my assistant and went and bought a Nikon D200. It is better than the Canon, but the wide-angle Nikon lens is made in Thailand, and it’s lens-shade fits poorly (at first I thought it was made in China, it was that bad). Although I still prefer the Nikon D200 over the Canon EOS 5D, when I want to do serious photography I use a Phase One P25: 22-megapixels of pure quality.

Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III Digital SLR
Canon 21 megapixel EOS-1DS Mark III.

And, the Phase One medium format camera is easy to use. I don’t even have a manual.

You can use any 6 megapixel camera to do professional photography if you are good. I have shots with my Nikon D100 that are outstanding. But when I want to do serious photography for publication, I would prefer to use a medium format back.

Obviously the lure of creating a 21.1 megapixel digital sensor is crucial for Canon. With a price point of $7,999, and with Mamiya’s medium format 645ZD camera a continued question, this price will obviously influence photographers who don’t have $15,000 to $20,000 to spend on a real 22-megapixel medium format back from Phase One, Leaf, etc.

I look forward to testing and evaluating the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III digital camera and comparing it directly with medium format cameras. So far, most of the comments from Canon have been from Canon PR or photographers that use only Canon. The advantage of a review from FLAAR is that we routinely use Nikon and medium format cameras, so we can provide a complete perspective.

Otherwise, most of the “reviews” are sham reviews, pseudo reviews, or simply PR releases packaged as supposed reviews. There are, fortunately, a few web sites where actual photographers use the camera, but too many are beholden to commissions paid by Canon camera dealers.

Sure helps to be an independent institute. Yes, FLAAR has sponsors, but we do not accept commissions. And so far, sponsors have found that money does not buy a review that skips the glitches, issues, and weak points of a camera.

After all, what counts is what camera do we actually use? What camera does Nicholas Hellmuth carry with him on assignment? But so far no Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III has been available, but we have plenty of medium format cameras for evaluation, so this is what we use at present. Once a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III is in our hands, we will be glad to review it.

Medium Format cameras also improve: Leaf AFi, Sinar Hy6 and Hasselblad H3DII

Although the Hasselblad H1, H2, H3, H3DII is stalled with no actually new camera (only slight tweaks), Rollei now offers two greatly improved models, the Leaf AFi and Sinar Hy6.

Summary comments on the Canon 21 megapixel EOS-1Ds Mark III 35mm digital SLR

If specs impress you more than substance, the Canon 21 megapixel EOS-1Ds Mark III 35mm digital SLR is superficially close to medium format specs: but not for a photographer with experience in both.

If price comparisons and low price are more important than having the real thing (an actual medium format digital camera), then again, Canon 21 megapixel EOS-1Ds Mark III 35mm digital SLR is one to look at.

Once, when flying to Hawaii on a consulting job for a new giclee atelier there, the person sitting next to me in the airport had a nice camera, so I started chatting with him. I mentioned my Canon EOS 5D.

He smiled, said nothing, opened his case. He had a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II and a 39 megapixel Phase One P45.

I had “only” a 22 or 30-something megapixel Phase One, and only a Canon EOS 5D and a Nikon D200.

So, size does matter, in some instances. Obviously, both he and I could get outstanding shots with either equipment. I can get museum quality with a 6 Megapixel Nikon D100 too. But many clients want to see you with serious equipment. The photographer in the seat next to me definitely had serious equipment.

Every several years there is either a new Canon iPF printer or a new Epson or a new HP water-based printer. It is hard to keep track of the advances in inks and color management features. FLAAR is keeping track by visiting printshops around the world that have these various brands. Each brand has its good points and a few issues and an occasional deficiency.             

If you are looking for a place that is not a box-pusher (meaning you want a place that provides service after the sale), then one place we know for many years is Parrot Digigraphic. Their telephone is 978.670.7766.

 

Most recently updated November 19, 2007.
First posted August 24, 2007.

The complete FLAAR Reports are in full-color PDF format. Our institute has comprehensive FLAAR Reports on over 73 different wide format inkjet printers, RIP software, color management, scanners, digital cameras and on countless markets such as wide format inkjet printers for photography, giclee, proofing, CAD, GIS, graphic design, signs, and specialty applications too. All FLAAR Reports by Dr Nicholas Hellmuth and his team are available on Wide-format-printers.NET

 

Gitzo Tele Studex Tripod
Available by october 2008
Gitzo Tele Studex Tripod
Available by octuber 2008
Gitzo Tele Studex Tripod
Available by october 2008
Gitzo Tele Studex Tripod
Available by october 2008
Gitzo Tele Studex Tripod
Available by october 2008

 

Nicholas Hellmuth’s Medium Format Digital Camera Initiative

For over 40 years Nicholas Hellmuth has used Rolleiflex and Hasselblad cameras to record the flora, fauna, and archaeology of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. Now for several years he is extending his medium format experience to digital photography.

Since FLAAR works both in a studio as well as out on location, we are an ideal focus for judging portability. We have experience with large format digital scan backs (the excellent BetterLight) and we also use Nikon and Canon digital cameras. A full-service digital pro should have at least one medium format digital system and should consider large format digital options as well.

Although we started with a Leaf Valeo 22 coupled with a Mamiya 645 AFD body and lenses, we are open to showcasing all bodies as well as other digital backs. Indeed we have tested an Imacon 4-shot back on a Hasselblad H1 body. Then (February 2006 onwards) we are evaluated a MegaVision black-and-white dedicated back for fine art photography. Next we are testing a 33-megapixel Phase One P 30. Since 2008 FLAAR has used a Phase One P25+ (a great way to update an aging Hasselblad ELX body with its excellent Zeiss lenses).

Camera resellers or manufacturers who wish to have their cameras, lenses, and backs included in this initiative are welcome to send their equipment for evaluation.

FLAAR is the de facto source of information because we have been university based, independent, blunt, and we are one of the few review sources that dares to review advertising specs, advertising claims, and advertising hype. We can afford to reveal all the pros and cons because FLAAR is a research institute. Photographers feel they can trust a university research professor who has devoted years to understanding the pros and cons of each aspect of a digital camera system and workflow.

Notice you are not blinded by blinking, flashing, or pesty ads for low-bid camera stores on a FLAAR photography review. I am always amused by a pseudo-review that obviously is simply paid to send you to a camera store.

You can download our colorful FLAAR Reports on our medium format digital camera initiative.

 

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