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1DSII is full-frame, meaning I can at least theoretically get a little more performance via slower shutter speeds without shake (using 1/f general rule of thumb). But the ISO limit is 3200 (H). Also I already have a 1DII and am familiar with its (somewhat peculiar) button-pressing scheme...plus the 1DII and 1DSII use the same batteries.

On the other hand: 1DIII is APS-H (1.3x crop), ISO max is 6400. Plus it has newer DIGIC processors. But I know there was some concern about auto-focusing of the 1DIII (maybe very specific conditions?).

My use will be widely varied, but a big portion of what I do is dance photography (on-stage, with poor lighting) and it's one place where the camera/gear really does matter.

It's not too hard to find either of these bodies used, and the price is comparable. Which one is likely to serve me better?

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When looking into camera gears I don't own, I use DxOMark to get an idea of perform and quality of certain aspect.

According to DxOMark, 1D mk3 able to produce "lower noise high ISO" image at up to 1078 ISO while 1Ds mk2 is at up to 1480 ISO, roughly 0.3 stop better.

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    Oh! Thanks for that link...don't know how I've managed to miss that. I have to say, that conclusion is a bit counter to my expectations, so I'm glad I asked!! – djangodude Feb 2 '12 at 23:58
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The Canon 1Ds Mark II has a full frame sensor and was introduced in late 2004. The Canon 1D Mark III has an APS-H sensor and was introduced about two and one half years later in early 2007. Both the sensors seem to use pretty much the same generation of technology. They both seem to share the same general AF system. Using the latest firmware version for the 1D III resolves the early AF issues some users experienced with the camera shortly after it was introduced.

For low light performance the two measurable qualities that differentiate performance are signal-to-noise ratio and dynamic range. The FF 1Ds II beats the APS-H 1D III by about the expected half stop in terms of normalised (print) signal-to-noise ratio but has almost a full stop better measured (screen) dynamic range at most ISO sensitivities. And for what it's worth, the 1Ds II also shoots about 1/3 stop closer to actual selected ISO than the 1D III does. See this side-by-side comparison at DxO Mark. (Click on "measurements-->dynamic range-->screen" and "measurements-->snr 18%-->print to see the measured data.)

The difference in the DiGiC II processor in the 1Ds II and the dual DiGiC III processors of the 1D III come into play mainly in terms of shooting speed. The 1D III can burst at up to 10 fps while the 1Ds II tops out at 4.5 fps. If you are outputting the images as RAW files the built-in processor differences will have a negligible effect on image quality. But if you are saving to JPEG in-camera, then the difference in processors and in the firmware running on them may lead to differences in image quality related to noise reduction that aren't reflected in sensor testing cited above that is based on processing raw files off-camera.

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