Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

Thoughts On Canon 1 Series Pricing

My primary camera is a Canon 5D MKII. At this point in time, I believe that the only significant difference between the 5D MKII and the far more expensive 1Ds MKIII is the robustness and weather sealing of the body as well as the accuracy/speed of the camera's autofocus mechanism. As one who mostly does landscape and macro work, the autofocus is not an issue for me as I tend to focus manually (using Live View with 10x mag) most of the time. Because of this I decided that, for my use, the price differential is simply far too great to merit ever again purchasing a 1 series camera for my use (assuming that the differences remain similar). Of course, I can only speak for myself. These differences may be significant enough to others that are traveling in far harsher conditions than I do or are doing people/action/event photography to merit the extra expense.

What exactly is the price differential? Currently the 5D MKII comes in at $2499 while the 1Ds MKIII costs $6114 (pricing from B&H). While the 5D MKII was a few hundred dollars more expensive earlier in it's life cycle, the 1Ds MKIII had been, as I recall, $7999 early on (and, I believe, at the $6999 level even when the 5D MKII became available).

I have always wondered about this price differential. Back when I was shooting film, I had worked my way up to a Canon 1V, which was their 'flagship film model', and the one on which the digital 1 series is based. A brand new 1V can still be had for $1650 (though I can't imagine that they sell many).

This is where, in my mind, the pricing issue comes in....and I would be glad to have someone more knowledgeable about the diffrences between cameras correct me if I am wrong here. My sense is that if you took the 'innards', which is to say the sensor and processor, of the 5D MKII and put it into the 1V body you would essentially have a 1Ds MKIII. Let's first assume that the sensor and electronics of the 5D MKII cost $2500 and the body has absolutely no value. Put that $2500 worth of electronic equipment into the $1650 body and you have a total of $4150. Since, in fact, the 5d MKII body does have some cost, if we were to get a rebate for not using it the price of a 1Ds MKIII should be significantly less than $4150, even if you add back in some cost for the development of a more advanced autofocus system.

Am I missing something here? Is my logic out of whack? I am quite happy with my 5D MKII, though I still wonder, more out of curiosity than anything else, how Canon justifies the cost of up to $6000 t0 $8000 for its flagship digital 1 series cameras? Obviously, Canon can charge whatever it wants to without worrying about me, and presumably the next 1 series iteration will have features and options not available on the 5D MKII, but still.......