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Canon 1Ds Mark III — ISO 200

Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III + Leica 280/4 APO


This shot might look innocent enough, but it puts severe strain on the imaging capabilities of the Canon’s flagship EOS 1Ds Mark III. The intense yellows and deep blues (no polarizer here folks) demand very high performance from the camera—and the 1DsM3 doesn’t quite deliver.

The Highlight Priority mode seemed wise due to the intense yellow petals, results might differ with that mode disabled. What’s startling is that at ISO 200 there is quite obnoxious chroma (color) noise in the sky. Granted, I did “push” the exposure by 1/2 stop, making it effectively ISO 300, but this godawful noise is something I expect from a $400 digicam, not an $8000 top-of-the-line digital SLR.

Chroma (color) noise. Red channel is filled with “chunks”
Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III @ ISO 200, pushed 1/2 stop

Equally interesting, the blue channel is pinned (pure black) over key portions of the image, with obvious posterization. Compare the red and blue channels below.

Red channel at top, blue channel at bottom

Don’t even think about working with such an image in the sRGB color space, it’s hopeless—the blue channel becomes one big black blob.

sRGB color space—blue channel

Perhaps my expectations are simply too high. The Nikon D3 needs a similar workout to see how it performs on such extreme subject matter.

At any rate, the shot isn’t as sharp as I’d like, hand-holding, manual focus, and a wobble-inducing breeze didn’t help. But it’s sure fun to shoot such things and get nice detail from 10 feet away!

close (not actual pixels)

Even the single honeybee present here is a surprise, given the effective extinction of wild honeybees in America. Explanation: a beekeeper maintains a dozen or so hives within 1/3 mile of my garden.

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