CANON EOS 1D MARK III Review (Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger)

The Canon EOS-1D X Mark III is that the latest high-end, ultra-tough, hyper-fast DSLR from Canon.
From the surface, it’s about an equivalent as previous EOS-1D bodies dating back 20 years.

But on the within, there are radical updates. And albeit this is often an enormous, double-grip
DSLR, it functions as a highly capable mirrorless camera in Live View mode provided you have got the muscle to carry it call in front of you for extended periods of your time.

This is also a camera that will take you beyond 8-bit JPEG shooting as your ‘finished image’, includes AF subject recognition supported machine learning in both OVF.

And that’s the thing with the 1D X Mark III – it’s built for speed, but it’s with great care extraordinarily capable overall that its appeal extends well beyond the first audience of sports and press photographers.

In this Canon EOS 1D Mark III review, I will share everything that you need to know about the camera.

It’ll do anything you would like, whenever you would like. It is, quite simply, the last word interchangeable lens camera – reflex or mirrorless. Interestingly, it’s both reflex and mirrorless.

Not a real hybrid design, of course, but Canon has gone an extended thanks to making its performance in Live View – that’s with the mirror locked up – on par with anything currently being offered within the mirrorless world.

That means subsequent Olympics isn’t only getting to see athletes pit themselves against one another within the biggest field house there’s, but cameras just like the 1D X Mark III are going to be competing against the newly announced Nikon D6 (whose shipping date has been postponed to May) and therefore the Sony Alpha A9 II.

Canon EOS 1D Mark III Specifications

  • 20MP CMOS sensor
  • Digic X processor
  • 191-point AF system plus dual pixel AF
  • 3.2″ touchscreen LCD
  • 5.5K/60p 12-bit Raw video recording, 4K/60p 4:2:2 10-bit H.265/HEVC recording
  • HEIF 10-bit recording
  • Shutter rated to 500k shots
  • 16fps bursts (viewfinder), 20fps bursts in LV mode with autofocus
  • New AF ‘Smart Controller’ built into the AF-ON buttons
  • Dual CFExpress card slots
  • CIPA rated to 2850 shots with the viewfinder, 610 with Live View using LP-E19 battery
  • Weighs 1440g

Canon EOS 1D Mark III Design

At first glance, the Canon EOS 1D Mark III doesn’t look all that different from its predecessor, the 1D Mark IIN.

It still features a built-in vertical grip, with duplicate shutter and control buttons, so you do not
lose functionality when changing grips. In fact, from the front, the foremost noticeable difference
is that the Mark III features a steeper slope to the camera top on the non-grip side and a
smoother slope from the prism hump on each side.

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However, even that’s difficult to ascertain unless you’re very conversant in both cameras.

Turn the Mark III around, though, and you will see that things have changed quite a bit, largely thanks to the addition of a 3-inch LCD.

This has forced Canon to maneuver some buttons around to form up for the very fact that the LCD now extends to the left fringe of the camera.

The Select button from the Mark II N is now obsolete, because of the Mark III’s Set button, which is mounted within the middle of the massive scroll wheel, very similar to the scroll wheels found on the EOS 30D and 5D.

Another feature drawn from those siblings is that the tiny joystick controller, which is employed to navigate between various menus, among other things. One of the sole problems with Canon’s 1D and 1Ds series bodies is that they’re big and heavy. Some photographers simply don’t need to affect the load — about 1.155kg without a lens — while those with very small hands often complain that some controls are out of reach.

After an extended day of shooting, your reviewer’s right arm definitely did feel the awesome weight of this camera, but I did not have trouble reaching any important buttons, albeit my hands are on the tiny side for a person.

Canon does place the exposure compensation button a touch too far to the left, but since the massive scroll wheel doubles as exposure compensation in Aperture- and Shutter-priority modes, it wasn’t a drag on behalf of me.

Just in case you’re worrying about accidental exposure compensation, know that you simply
can disable the massive wheel with the three-way off/on/on-with-scroll-wheel switch, which is
straightforward to control together with your thumb.

My biggest control complaint is that Canon didn’t clearly mark a tough button for white balance. The Func button does allow you to change white balance when in shooting mode, but it easily could are labeled intrinsically.

I had to consult the manual to seek out that out. While the Mark II N used button combinations for
bracketing, drive mode, and ISO, the sole combo that is still within the Mark III is for bracketing.

ISO moves to its own button just behind the shutter button, which we found extremely useful
and convenient compared to the old configuration.

Drive mode gets doubled up with the AF button, with the 2 splits between the tiny scroll wheel behind the shutter and therefore the large wheel on the camera’s back.

Metering and flash compensation get an equivalent treatment, as they did on the Mark II N. Canon also has added a replacement viewfinder, which the corporate says ups the magnification to 0.76x from 0.72x and therefore the viewing angle to 30 degrees, from 28.2, while maintaining an equivalent 20mm eyepoint and therefore the same claimed one hundred pc coverage.

Suffice to mention that the viewfinder is good and bright and a pleasure to use for manual focus. If you are the type that likes to vary your focusing screen, you’ll just like the incontrovertible fact that Canon offers 11 different sorts of optional focusing screens for the 1D Mark III.

Like its predecessor and large brother 1Ds Mark II, the Mark III includes numerous rubber gaskets to stay dust and moisture out of the camera. new this model may be a redesigned hot shoe that’s surrounded by raised plastic and made to mate with a rubber gasket on the new 580 EX II Speedlite, to effectively seal one among the few places that weren’t already sealed on the 1D Mark II N.

Related: Sony A7C Review (Why is it Worth Money)

Important Features of Canon EOS 1D Mark III

In the here and now, even the simplest EVF suffers from lag. It’s simple physics; light has got to
become photons, has got to enter a processor and circuitry, then attend another processor,
then to a display, then be converted to a picture, then transmitted to your eye.

Therefore there has got to be a lag, albeit it’s only a matter of milliseconds. Here’s the thing, though; let’s say it takes 110 milliseconds for an EVF to catch up to the action in real-time. And at the very best end of professional photography – whether that’s photographing the Olympics or trying to capture a picture of an endangered wildlife species – those 2 or 3 images are often the difference between making or missing the shot.

So the 1D X Mark III features an optical viewfinder, with which it can shoot 16 frames per second (mechanical shutter) employing a 400,000-pixel metering sensor in conjunction with a fanatical Digic 8 processor, with 191 AF points (155 of which are cross-type).

Related: Canon EOS R6 Review (Why Should You Buy It)

Canon EOS 1D Mark III Review: Build And Handling

Canon EOS 1D Mark III Specifications

The Canon EOS-1D X Mark III is, as you almost certainly expected, virtually just like the Mark II
– and, indeed, to most 1-series cameras ever produced.

Consistent with Canon, the whole design ethos is that an individual from 1987 who has only ever used the first EOS-1 should be ready to step into a machine , devour the 1D X Mark III, and still be ready to use it.

So holding the camera is like hugging an old flame. That said, its new Smart Controller is literally the longer term of AF point selection.

Traditional joysticks certainly offer you tactile and granular control, but they’re incredibly slow and clunky if you would like to maneuver your AF point across the frame.

The Smart Controller, against this, moves your AF point as fast as you progress your thumb – no more missed shots because you’re faffing with the joystick, or sloppy AF because you’re doing the focus-and-recompose thing. this may the little question be adopted by the whole camera industry soon.

While the body feels almost precisely the same in layout, the magnesium alloy chassis has actually been re-engineered, with some changed internal components meaning that it’s structurally more sound while also having some weight shaved off.

Therefore the camera is really stronger, but also 100g lighter, than the Mark II.

Performance Of This Camera

While we will empirically say that they’re almost as sharp as those produced by a 24MP sensor,
they’re certainly quite sharp enough.

And therefore the beefy dynamic range and ISO leads to meaty images with tons of play within the m – even in the JPGs, but especially within the HEIF files (remember that, for professional use, JPG quality is way more important than RAW, because it is that the currency of agency shooting).

Obviously, the shortage of image stabilization is a good bigger factor when it involves video, but this is often a few run-and-gun vlogging camera. Mounted during a tripod or sturdy surface, and combined with electronic stabilization (which introduces a crop) if you want to, the video seems pretty pristine.

When filming cars zipping around the track, you’ll see the speed of focus acquisition – and therefore the camera knew to prioritize the drivers’ helmets instead of the car bodies, or the decals or logos emblazoned on their vehicles.

The EOS iTR AFX’ head detection is extremely real and really impressive – and therefore the new Case A (for Auto) AI Servo mode will faithfully find and follow the fronts of cars.

It’s darned clever, Of course, the AF is suffering from your choice of using the optical viewfinder or Live View.

Shooting through the viewfinder, there are simply fewer AF points and fewer resolution – and only the Digic 8 processor is getting used – so fine focusing is greatly reduced and eye detection isn’t possible.

Sideline Build Structure

Canon EOS 1D Mark III battery

If you’ve picked up a 1D before, you will find the Mark III familiar. Canon hasn’t made tons of
changes, welcome news to anyone who has years of experience behind a 1D viewfinder.

It’s bulky, even for an SLR, with an integrated vertical shooting grip and controls, leaving space for
an enormous battery to stay you browsing an all-day event.

By the numbers, it measures 6.6 by 6.2 by 3.3 inches (HWD) without a lens attached and weighs a hefty 3.2 pounds. It’s bound to be paired with telephoto glass, a minimum of once in a while, and balances well with an enormous lens attached.

It’s sold as a body only and is compatible with lenses that use the Canon EF mount. The system has been around since the ’80s and includes almost any sort of lens you’ll imagine, starting from ultra-wide to extreme telephoto.

It’s also at a dead end, as far as future development goes. Canon is concentrating on new lens designs for its mirrorless RF system, and while it’s still supporting the EF mount, don’t expect any updates to lenses going forward.

And, while it’s possible to maneuver your EF lenses to a mirrorless camera via an adapter, the other isn’t true. The body itself is dense—it’s wrapped during a leatherette, but you’ll
feel the strength of the magnesium alloy chassis when holding the 1D tightly in your hands.

It’s two grips and sets of shooting controls, so you’ll readily find buttons and dials by touch when
shooting in landscape and portrait orientation alike. And there are many controls. The 1D X
features a number of buttons for direct access to features and settings.

It’s quick to cycle through various autofocus modes, change image quality settings, add voice memos to pictures, and far more.

Most buttons are within the very same place as the Mark II version, and a number of others are often reconfigured via the menu as desired. The AF-ON buttons are updated, and it is a notable one, adding some functionality for photographers who don’t typically use it.

When enabled, it also acts as a touchpad controller to maneuver the active focus point. Angling your finger moves them about quickly, and you’ll set the sensitivity to your liking.

Pressing the button engages autofocus. You’ll also still get a pair of dedicated focus control sticks, a bit like on the Mark II if you do not find the new feature useful.

Many of the buttons are backlit, a plus for add a darkened studio, and while there is no in-body flash, you’ll put a transmitter within the hot shoe to regulate off-camera lighting, or add a Speedlite.

View And Display

Canon EOS 1D Mark III Display

You’ll spend most of the time peering through the optical viewfinder when making images. It’s as
big as you’ll get in an SLR, 0.76x, and has all the benefits (and drawbacks) that come with
optical finders.

On the plus side, you get a clear view of the world, without lag, and without any sort of digital filtration. But there are drawbacks. The big mirror makes quite a bit of noise, especially when the camera fires at burst speeds.

Those rat-a-tat sounds you hear at press conferences are 1D X and Nikon D6 cameras capturing photos at a brisk pace. Viewfinder blackout—the period where you don’t see an image in the finder while a photo is captured—is reduced in this iteration of the camera, but is still there.

You also lose out on a truer preview of your finished photo, complete with any color adjustments you set in-camera, and the option to punch in and magnify to confirm perfect focus.

While there are certainly proponents of an optical viewfinder, it appears they’ve had their day. Some rivals—including Fujifilm, Panasonic, and Sony—build EVF cameras exclusively. Of course, the 1D X also has a rear LCD. It’s a 3.2-inch panel with support for touch input and, at 2.1 million dots, is quite sharp.

It’s used full-time for video recording and is available for photos with a push of the Start/Stop button.

You just can’t bring it up to your eye. It’s a fixed design; the only current-generation camera of this level to include an articulating display is the Sony a9 II.

While it doesn’t tilt up or down, it does double as an additional control surface. All menus are navigable by touch, including the Q menu, an on-screen display available for both OVF and Live View photography, as well as for video.

Connectivity And Power

The Canon 1D X III features a big battery to stay you browsing everything of an occasion. It slides into rock bottom grip, closing and locking in situ with a latch. It’s good for two, 850 images on a full charge, and while you simply get one battery within the box, the 1D X ships with a charger which will replenish two simultaneously.

Additional LP-E19 batteries are officially priced at $230 but typically sell for less—currently around $165.

In-camera charging isn’t supported, but there are many physical ports and plugs for other things. These include USB-C and Ethernet for data transfer, mini HDMI and three 0.5mm headphone/microphone jacks for video, and connections for an add-on wireless transmitter, PC sync flash cables, and a wired remote.

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi also are built into the camera and work with Canon’s smartphone app, desktop utility, or with an FTP server.

Photographers are more likely to use the app for travel shots or social media, while the Ethernet and FTP functions are more useful for working pros sending a lot of shots to an article desk.

Canon has switched to a replacement memory card format, CFexpress (Type B), for this release, for both memory card slots. it is a sensible choice—the Mark II supported one format that has aged out of utility, CompactFlash, and a second that never gained traction within the market, Cfast 2.0.

The Autofocus is Too Good

The 1D X is all about speed. Its autofocus covers a good area of the frame (for an SLR), responds
instantly, and tracks subjects with aplomb. there is no hesitation evident when making an
exposure.

The focus system is updated versus the Mark II’s 61-point array. The Mark III offers 191
selectable focus points.

Most (155) is the more sensitive cross-type therefore the 1D is in a position to focus with f/8 lenses, supplying you with the freedom to pair big telephoto lenses with teleconverters without an enormous hit on autofocus speed or accuracy.

There are numerous autofocus patterns available. you’ll select one point, group of points, zone, or let the camera identify and specialize in subjects because it sees fit.

And it does so with ease, even when opening and shutting the shutter at the fastest 16fps burst rate. You will affect some noise—the aforementioned rat-a-tat of the flapping mirror—but that’s par for the course with an enormous SLR.

There is a little bit of blackout when photographing at top speed, but the shutter is opening and shutting so quickly that the effect isn’t nearly as distracting because the noise.

The motion you see through the viewfinder isn’t unlike that of an old silent film (think Charlie Chaplin)—it’s a touch less smooth than reality, but you will not lose sight of your subject while making images.

There’s a touch little bit of an odd reflection, almost a ghosting effect, which will cause you to think your lens is behaving oddly, but it’s really just light glancing off the mirror. The 1D X is really faster once you move the camera far away from your eye and use the rear display to focus and frame shots.

While it isn’t ideal to use the rear LCD to border shots, especially when handholding with an extended lens, it provides even more capable autofocus and tracking.

The on-sensor Dual Pixel AF system supports 20fps and does so with no blackout that my eyes can perceive. There are some things the twin Pixel AF does that the optical viewfinder autofocus won’t.

It supports eye detection, a result of far more refined subject recognition and tracking. Coverage is additionally tons wider, almost extending to the sting of the frame, a plus for keeping specialize in top of fast-moving subjects.

A totally electronic shutter option is out there for silent capture. It’s not surprising—Dual Pixel AF also powers Canon’s mirrorless camera systems.

Dropping the flapping mirror and optical viewfinder in favor of eye-level EVF nets some real advantages, including the choice for absolute silent image capture when the camera
is at your eye.

Our current Editors’ Choice for this sort of camera, the Sony a9 II, is mirrorless and has won some organizations over.

The Associated Press announced last month that staff photographers are going to be equipped with Sony gear exclusively. As for shooting duration at top speed, the move to CFexpress, along side reasonable 20MP resolution, means you’ll never need to worry about filling up the capture buffer.

With the camera set to Raw+HIF capture at the highest-quality setting, I netted quite 500 shots before it showed any signs of slowing down.

Video Quality of Canon 1D X Mark III

The Canon 1D X Mark III is that the most capable SLR we have seen in terms of video features. A part of that has got to do with just how good its video is—it can record Raw footage at 5.5K (4K-D in menus) and offers a variety of compressed 4K and 1080p options if you favor.

Slow-motion is an option too but is restricted to 120fps capture at 1080p resolution. The Raw footage gives you the freedom to fine-tune color when editing, especially when paired with the flat C-Log recording profile.

It also requires tons of storage space—a 128GB card holds a touch but six minutes of Raw footage
at 60fps, and a touch shy of nine minutes at 30 or 24fps.

Compressed options net longer record times. Resolution drops a touch to 4K, but you’ll get 16 minutes of ALL-I footage on an equivalent 128GB card, and longer if you decide for the lower bit rate IPB recording option.

Still, there are some drawbacks to using an SLR for video, especially one with a hard and fast LCD. It makes some amount of sense when locked down and mounted on a tripod or other network, but if you’re brooding about handheld recording, you’ll miss the swing-out screen and in-body image stabilization(IBIS) included in most mirrorless models.

Why should you buy Canon 1D X Mark III

Photographers who have years of experience behind the viewfinder of the 1D X Mark II and earlier entries within the series are going to be happy to understand the Mark III iteration is entirely familiar.

The body style, controls, handling, response…it’s all still there. Performance is improved. At 16fps, it shoots faster than any SLR, and therefore the autofocus is upgraded all around.

The image sensor is astounding, a return to make for Canon, and it’s including the simplest video toolkit we have seen in an SLR, one that rivals video-first mirrorless options just like the Panasonic S1H.

It’s also a camera that’s built to travel just about anywhere, whether you’re covering the front lines of conflict, dodging errant footballs and athletes from the sidelines, or working in other extreme environments.

In short, it’s everything you expect a 1D to be. Working pros who got to buy a replacement body are going to be happy to understand they will move from an earlier edition without missing a beat.

If your current equipment is chugging along without issue, and meeting the requirements of your clients, I’d urge a touch more caution, especially considering the necessity to shop for new memory cards.

Canon’s future is that the RF mount. While there’s nothing set in stone, it’s reasonable to expect an EOS R1 eventually. In our early testing, the R5 has proven to handle very similarly to a 5D body, only one with an EVF and far better autofocus.

It is a good sign that Canon will get an inevitable mirrorless 1-series camera right.For nearly as good because the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III is, its release comes because the EF system winds down after decades of faithful service.

As swan songs go, though, it is a stunner.

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