Lightroom takes a back seat to Canon and Nikon this week.

by George Mann

I was going to write a Lightroom post this week but who are we kidding? Nobody is thinking about Lightroom right now. Everybody is still in shock from the newest camera announcements from Canon and Nikon.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III


First on the 20th of August came the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, WOWEEEE, I'm not a Canon DSLR user, never have been and probably never will be, but 21.1 million pixels full-frame in a 35mm format body, using the full range of lenses designed for 35mm, this is big time news for photographers.

A lot of studio photographers are going to either sell their Hasselblad H series digital equipment or cancel their orders. At only $8,000 for the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III body and $1,000-$2,000 a piece for a few pro quality Canon lenses, they can afford to go out and buy a new Porshe with the money they save not buying the Hasselblad gear.

Lightroom users should note that RAW image files from the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III will be approximately 25 megabytes in size. Meaning that a 1 Gigabyte Compact Flash card will hold only 40 images. So to shoot 400 images in one session, you will need 10 Gigabytes worth of Compact Flash cards.

If you are planning to go out on location or on a trip and downloading your images to your laptop, you will have to have a minimum of 100 Gigabytes of storage space available if you are planning to shoot 4,000 images.

Other Canon photographers are of course oooohing and ahhhing a lot too, but it is the commercial photographers who will immediately put themselves on the waiting list for the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, for them it is money in the bank.

Nikon D3


On the 23rd of August Nikon dropped a smaller bomb, with such precision and skill that many Canon users declared the war over and that Nikon had won by producing the best camera for journalists and sports photographers yet. Very surprising really, because Nikon has not even labeled this camera as a sports or journalism camera (no H designation), but the specs speak for themselves. 12.1 million pixels full-frame, ISO 200 to 6400 (can be boosted to ISO 25600), nine frames per second with AF tracking (11 frames without), 51-point AF sensor, a virtual horizon function that can tell if you are holding the camera level, etc., etc. This camera is loaded and it will sell for around $5,000.

Perhaps the biggest threat to Canon is that the Nikon D3 is not intended to be competition for the new Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III. Nikon's giant slayer has not even been announced yet and is not expected until sometime early in 2008. The D3 was instead targeted at the Canon EOS-1D Mark III (10 million pixel, APS size) and has effectively blown it off the playing field. As one Canon sports photographer put it, we are going to start seeing black lenses among the white again.

Which means that Nikon has an at minimum six months free pass to watch Canon either succeed or struggle with the new Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III and then to drop another bombshell on them.

More detailed information on the Nikon D3.

More detailed information on the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III.


Dan Cedar
2007-08-24 02:47:36
It's hard to see how Canon will continue to keep its market share now, with Nikon having the D40/x, D80 & D300, pushing Canon's 400D & 20/30D aside. Now they've stepped gracefully over their pro gear too; I wouldn't be surprised if their 1Ds-III orders slowed in anticipation of the Nikon beast.
Welcome to the Dark Side.
2007-08-24 05:10:47
I for one would have enjoyed reading another "Lightroom post". I have grown weary of the megapixel, AF speed, fps and ISO races between the camera manufacturers. In today's world, there seems to be more concern about camera specs than the quality and the visual impact of the image taken.
George Mann
2007-08-24 06:04:45
Richard, normally I would agree with you, but Canon has to be applauded for breaking the 20 million pixel barrier in a 35mm full-frame format type slr, and Nikon has to be applauded for a combination of feature advances in the Nikon D3 (and hopefully a level of image quality) that are simply astounding.
George Herman
2007-08-24 06:50:26

I don't agree with the cancelling of Hasselblad order. If you ever use a IXpress or Leaf back and compared it to full frame 35mm DSRL at same resolution the difference is very big ...
Canon propose only 21 Mpix Ixpress goes up to 39 Mpix ...

I don't think that this Canon will make a big difference. For Pack Shots a D1 Mark III or Nikon D2X is more than a studio pro needs and for the big poster and publicity work the 21 Mpix are just as the full frame sensor is only 24x36 mm a Ixpress CF has a 36,7x49 mm so double surface and better definition, contrast ...

George Mann
2007-08-24 07:24:43
Well yes of course, I'm exagerating a bit (poetic license) but there is a certain segment of the professional photography world that will be quite satified with 20 million pixels in a 35mm format SLR type body (especially outside of the big US and European cities and major advertising markets).

I am not so much saying that this particular Canon camera will by itself bring on the revolution but that this camera represents the breaking of a psychological barrier, that will have a very big impact on commercial photography.

Sorry for getting a little carried away.

2007-08-24 07:58:06
George M.,

There's no need to apologize to me for your enthusiasm. I'll probably alter my point of view as soon as the E-1 replacement hits the market. :)

Michael Clark
2007-08-24 08:17:42
Yes, George, it has been a very exciting week for digital cameras. Thanks for your post. Now I just have to stop lusting after a new Nikon D3 and get back to work!
George Mann
2007-08-24 10:01:23
Thanks for the comment Michael.

By the way, very good (great) interview with Tom Hogarty. Difficult to believe that you covered so much ground in ten minutes.

2007-08-24 10:10:33
So you don't use Canon... I'm guessing you use Nikon then. Are you planning on getting a D3 or a D300 yourself, or have you not decided yet?
George Mann
2007-08-24 10:38:30
I normally don't like using the heavier cameras (unless absolutely necessary) so will get the D300 for sure, but the D3 has so many incredible new features that I really want one. I shoot with super wide lenses a lot so I think the virtual horizon function could really help me. The extreme low light capability is another feature I really need. I don't know how I will pay for them yet but I will say yes, I plan on getting both of them.
David H Dennis
2007-08-24 10:43:58
I'm looking forward to seeing the 300D. I think that in terms of creative features Canon has fallen really far behind. I appreciate advances like the automatic ASA push when the shutter speed goes below a predetermined minimum in automatic mode, for instance. Canon copied that finally but Nikon invented it and Phil Askey seems to think Nikons are better built.

Nikon seems to be doing some really cool stuff now and as a former Nikon user I'm looking forward to buying a new Nikon as my next DSLR.


Mark L
2007-08-24 11:23:44
The D3 is certainly a very capable camera and i'd be more than happy to use one if given one by a paper. But a it does nothing like blow the 1D out of the water. Note: yes i am a 1D mkiii user!

The high iso is a software hack, you can do it with any camera. Just underexpose 2 (or 3 really as Canon's 6400 is a software hack) stops and push in post. Of course the results of iso25600 haven't been seen yet but it will certainly be interesting what result can be got. I have seen mkiii shots effectively shot at 25600 and then run through noise ninja and the results were better than expected.

51point AF is just a number battle with canon imho. With my old mkiiN i actually preferred to go down to 11 AF points for tracking that was less distracted by adjacent movement. Something i wish i could do with the mkiii.

9fps at 12MP is very impressive, but the 11fps is again part of that silly number battle canon and nikon have played for years. 11fps in DX mode with no tracking is pointless, if you shoot sports with a near wide open lens with narrow dof then you're asking for trouble with no real AF tracking and just having drive speed as priority.!

A 12MP sensor is very good for PJ portraits and such like. But for many sports shooters and wildlife photogs who want high fps the 1.3crop was a good compromise. It still allows them to get extra reach from their lenses. In fact there are more than a few who'd like a 1.6 crop 1 series camera. If you look at pixel density then the 12MP on FF for sports/wildlife does nothing for you over the 10MP as you'd have to either use a 1.4converter to make up the FOV (if you aren't already) which will lose you a stop of light, or you have to crop in to get the same FOV therefore negating the extra MP anyway.

The one spec i would like to see is the number of RAW shots before the buffer fills up. For jpg they state 64, the 1D mkiii has 110jpg and 30 RAW. 12MP is a lot of data to transfer at 9 (or 11!?)fps, if the Raw buffer is only 16 or 17 or so shots that could occasionally be limiting.

Ultimately we all win, so many papers in the UK have switched to Canon recently as they had the upper hand, the D3 levels things up, competition is good and drives things forward. And it now means if you work for a paper and are given equipment to use it doesn't matter which of the big two is providing it as you're guaranteed to get top notch gear!

2007-08-24 13:24:02
The high iso is a software hack, you can do it with any camera. Just underexpose 2 (or 3 really as Canon's 6400 is a software hack) stops and push in post. Of course the results of iso25600 haven't been seen yet but it will certainly be interesting what result can be got. I have seen mkiii shots effectively shot at 25600 and then run through noise ninja and the results were better than expected.

For nonfractional ISO the Canon "boosted" ISO (e.g., 6400 on the 1DmIII; 3200 on most other models) is not a software hack, if I recall correctly. Instead, it's the local amplifiers that get driven way past unity gain. The net effect is not that different, admittedly. Interestingly, it appears that at least on the 30D Canon "cheats" for fractional ISO values: Those seem to be achieved using software scaling and for values below 1000ISO or so that results in higher than expected noise. (Once you cross unity gain, it doesn't matter.)

Overall I agree though. The D3 is a heck of a comeback in its category, but not quite the steamroller the D200 was in its category (or the Canon 1DmII in its day, against Nikon's disappointing d2h).

I think the D300 may prove to have a bigger lead in its category (competing primarily against the Canon 40D), but not as decisively as the D200 did against the 30D.

Mark L
2007-08-24 13:53:22
Daveed - i think you're right about the iso thing, what i meant was its not a 'true' iso (if there is such a thing outside of analogue :-)

Now they have comeback with the D3 in the high fps game it'll be interesting to see what they do against the 1Ds now they've adopted the larger sensor size. Digital continues to evolve at a rapid pace it seems!

I'm not sure about the D300 and 40D being direct competitors, i think that's a weird area where there's no direct comparisons. If Canon update the 5D and incorporate at least some weather sealing and really update the AF (as Nikon have in the D300) then that would be an interesting thing. Though even they don't compare either given the price difference due to the larger Canon sensor.

George Mann
2007-08-24 21:38:37
Interesting comments from both Daveed and Mark. We will of course have to wait and see how good the high ISO images (of the Nikon D3) really are, but the fact that we are dealing with relatively large individual pixel sites (because of the relatively low resolution for the size of the sensor) is very encouraging. Also my recent experiences with the Nikon D40 tells me that Nikon has made some real advances in that area (less noise at higher ISO).
Capn Scott
2007-08-26 11:56:02
But, don´t forget all of us Canon users with lots of L series glass. As good as these cameras are, they still aren´t worth switching and changing glass.
Chuck Shaffer
2007-08-27 07:31:29
I would have like to read another LR post. I'm a Canon man and will continue to stay that way becasue on my investment in lenses. Are the Nikon rigs that much better? To me, not enough so to take the loss on my collection of lenses and replace them with equivalent Nikons. I'm just not that rich. Besides Canon has trumphed Nikon in the past and will probably do so again. Even if they don't, they still make one heck of a camera.