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Does the name of this article sound controversial? Why would anyone compare the lowest entry-level digital camera built for consumers to the top-of-the-line flagship model built for professionals?
The Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi is a low-cost digital SLR camera that many camera enthusiasts can afford to acquire and capture they precious memory with. It's low price entry allows many folks to test the Single Lens Reflex (SLR) water without spending months of mortgage payments on a digital camera that may be too big to carry around all the time. And it's a good stepping stone to the more advanced digital SLR camera if photography becomes a passion.
The Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, on the other hand, is a beast in comparison. Just looking at the massive digital SLR camera causes most folks to shy away. And it's no nonsense, no frill matte body far from screams out, "look at me, I'm a digital camera!" At the cost of several time the amount of a single house mortgage payment, most folks can't even consider this camera unless their wage depends on it.
So between these two digital cameras which should you buy? That is the real question. And that is why this controversial comparison makes perfect sense. For a lot of folks, the question is not necessarily about whether to buy a Canon or a Nikon, but is whether to buy the lowest-end or the highest-end. If the pro-model lacks the advanced features, how would it justify the price; therefore, pricing isn't everything.
A good friend pointed this out to me when he asked about the difference between the entry-level and the pro-level digital camera. How would he know which one he wants or needs. So in this article, I will go into an in-depth analysis on the difference between the two ultimate models at the far ends of each extreme.
The Digital Rebel XTi has a 10.1 MP sensor. That's far more pixels than previous generation digital SLR camera; even when compared to the mid-range models. But the EOS-1Ds Mark III comes with a whopping 21.1-megapixel sensor. That's twice as many pixels as the Digital Rebel XTi.
Do you need that many pixels? Well, it depends on what you are doing. If you are just shooting for fun, then 10.1 MP is probably more than your needs. On the other hand, if photography is your business, more megapixels may mean more money. For example, in the stock photography world, the photograph license is sold by the image size. The larger the image, the higher the cost for the license. So for the same image, you can potentially make more in the commercial world..
The Digital Rebel XTi has a APS-C size sensor. This sensor is smaller than the de-facto standard of the 35mm film. Due to the reduction in size, using the same lens as the 35mm camera, the magnification is 1.6x greater. For example, a 50mm focal length lens becomes 80mm on the Digital Rebel XTi. That's not so bad if you started photography without ever having shot with a 35mm camera before. But if you have, shooting with 1.6x magnification will really change your shooting style. With this smaller sensor, a 20mm wide-angle lens becomes 32mm. And now wide-angle shots seems extremely difficult to obtain.
On the other hand, EOS-1Ds Mark III has a full-frame sensor. The term full-frame is used to describe a digital sensor that is the same size as the 35mm film. With a full-frame sensor camera, you shoot digitally just like you do with 35mm film. There is no need to change your shooting style. You'll be able to switch back-and-forth with your 35mm film camera and not know a difference. This is almost a necessity for professionals that need to shoot both film and digital images.
The Digital Rebel XTi can use all of the Canon EF 35mm lenses; except with a 1.6x magnification as mentioned in the previous section. In addition, it can also use Canon EF-S series of lenses. These lenses are specially designed to work with the smaller imager size. These EF-S lenses will not work on full-frame sensors. Therefore, there are more lenses to choose from for the Digital Rebel XTi. But the question is, should you buy EF-S lenses? They won't work if you ever decide to step-up to a full-frame DSLR in the future.
The EOS-1Ds Mark III can use all of the Canon EF 35mm lenses. But it cannot use the Canon EF-S lenses, because those lenses are designed for the smaller sensors. So in theory, there are less lenses to choose from for the EOS-1Ds Mark III. But so far, all of the EF-S lenses seems to be duplication the range and functionality of the EF lenses. Therefore, whether there is a need to use EF-S lenses are up in the air.
As I mentioned before the EOS-1Ds Mark III is a no-nonsense model. Either you take it or you leave it. The Digital Rebel XTi, on the other hand, is built for your enjoyment. There are two different Digital Rebel XTi models: the black and the silver. You can literally show off your shiny new gadget with the silver model. Just keep in mind that the optional vertical battery grip only comes in black. But even with the black vertical battery grip, the silver Digital Rebel XTi still looks pretty good.
The Digital Rebel XTi is much smaller and lighter than the EOS-1Ds Mark III.
The cost of the cameras are probably the most transparent factor. Most enthusiasts will pick the Digital Rebel XTi over the EOS-1Ds Mark III simply because of the cost. There is nothing wrong with that; we all buy what we can afford. But as I mentioned before, cost isn't everything.
At the time of this writing, you can buy a Digital Rebel XTi body for $529.65 off Amazon (see "Related Links" below). And you can buy a EOS-1Ds Mark III for $4,429.67 off Amazon (see "Related Links" below). That's a huge different. The Digital Rebel XTi is just over 1/10th the cost of the EOS-1Ds Mark III. Does the professional model warrant that much premium over the lower-end model? Let's see based on the other differences.