Its numeric colour temperature mode, along with its white balance shift, helped us get just the results we wanted from a night-time outdoor shot lit largely by bizarrely coloured street lamps. The result might not be absolutely true to life, but it's extremely close and is precisely what we wanted and the camera's LCD gave a very good representation of the final colour on our calibrated monitor.
In our speed tests, which were conducted using Canon's lens, the 1Ds Mark III fared very similarly to the 1D Mark III, though this 21-megapixel beast took slightly longer to rouse from its rest. The 1Ds Mark III took 0.3 seconds to start up and capture its first JPEG, compared to 0.1 seconds for the 1D Mark III. After that, the 1Ds Mark III took 0.4 seconds between JPEG or raw shots. Shutter lag measured an impressive 0.4 seconds in our high contrast test and 0.9 seconds in our low contrast test, which mimic bright and dim shooting conditions, respectively.
Continuous shooting yielded an average of 5 frames per second, just as Canon claims. The camera can capture up to 12 consecutive raw images or 56 full-resolution JPEGs with JPEG quality set to 8 instead of its top setting of 10. A little counter in the viewfinder shows you how many more images can be stored in the buffer while you're in continuous shooting mode. The 1D Mark III is the real speed freak of the Canon tribe, turning in 9.9fps in our tests, though it has just less than half the number of pixels that this camera has.
The 1Ds Mark III uses the same battery as the 1D Mark III, which is a change from the batteries used by previous 1D models. This will be a hassle for pros and businesses, who usually have extra batteries and chargers. Canon rates the battery life at about 1,800 shots and we would believe them. Suffice to say, you'll get a lot of shooting time from each battery charge.
The 1Ds Mark III can capture beautiful, amazingly detailed images. Colours are extremely accurate and, as mentioned above, the automatic white balance system does a great job of keeping colours neutral across a wide range of lighting. As usual for a higher end camera, the auto white balance keeps a slight warmth to incandescent-lit shots, though the tungsten preset can eliminate that if you prefer, or you can set a manual white balance if you have the inclination.
One of the nicest things about the 1Ds Mark III is its low noise. You can make pleasing prints across the entire sensitivity range of this SLR, which is a liberating feeling when you're out shooting. Too often we find ourselves setting limits on sensitivity when shooting with some SLRs.
This isn't to say that there is no noise present in the 1Ds Mark III's images. Mostly, it remains a very fine multicoloured grain, and that doesn't even manifest itself in a noticeable way until ISO 800. Even then, the 1Ds Mark III maintains very vibrant colours, ample shadow detail and plenty of fine detail. If you want extremely clean images you should probably stick to ISO 400 and below, but we were happy to shoot with not-very-reckless abandon even with the sensitivity range widened.