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The Canon EOS 1D Mark III Digital SLR

Fast, Professional, Robust, Packed With Features and Excellent Image Quality

The Canon EOS 1D Mark III DSLR (Now replaced by the Canon EOS 1D Mark IV and later the Canon EOS 1Dx Mark II): After the Mark II N, what I thought was a mediocre upgrade to the Canon EOS 1D Mk II, Canon released the latest upgrade to this professional sports and nature camera back in 2007.

Buyers Remorse

The Canon EOS 1D Mark III has, in my opinion, got the specs that the last upgrade should have had. These are quite extensive as you will see below. With the launch, Canon celebrated the 20th anniversary of its EOS SLR system by announcing the EOS 1D MKIII. Rated as the fastest DSLR in the world at the time of writing.

It gives a blistering 10 frames per second (FPS) at 10.1 MP (megapixels). The Canon EOS 1D Mark III can shoot single bursts of an impressive 110 large JPEG images or 30 RAW shots. This is due to its new and powerful Digic III image processor.

This "parallel processing" is totally unmatched by any other Digital SLR on the market today.

Key features of the Canon EOS 1D Mark III:

  • 10.1 Megapixel APS-H CMOS sensor
  • 10 fps continuous shooting for up to 110 frames
  • Dual "DIGIC III" processors
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    New auto focus system with 19 cross type sensors
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    EOS Integrated Cleaning System
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    ISO 3200 (expandable to H:6400)
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    3.0" LCD with Live View mode
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    Wider, brighter viewfinder
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    Picture Style1

The new APS-H sized CMOS sensor is the most innovative and light-sensitive sensor that Canon have designed yet. With a more efficient pixel structure and completely new microlens array, it features ultra low noise. It also gives exceptional image quality throughout its extensive ISO range of between 50 and a highly usable 6400!

On top of all this, Canon also released several new accessories to compliment the new Canon EOS 1D Mark III. These include the EF 16-35mm 2.8L II USM lens and an upgraded Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT Speedlight flashgun. The estimated shipping date for the Canon EOS 1D Mark III was Spring 2007. It was released at about the same price as its predecessor, the N version.

From the horses mouth

Yuichi Ishizuka, senior vice president and general manager of the Consumer Imaging Group at Canon U.S.A. Inc. said:

"The new Canon EOS 1D Mark III Digital SLR is an essential tool for professional sports photographers and photojournalists because of its exceptional speed and durability and it will attract a broad range of other professional and advanced amateur photographers because of its superior image quality and improved low-light performance.


In designing the Canon EOS 1D Mark III Digital SLR, Canon responded to the requests of its many professional customers by adding new features that cater to their demanding needs. But at the same time, we have once again raised the bar for digital SLR cameras by introducing new technologies that only Canon can offer with the legendary EOS System."

Yuichi Ishizuka

Canon EOS 1D Mark III - Live View LCD

Following in the footsteps of other manufacturers, Canon have introduced the live view function to their LCD. This has been tweaked to suit the needs of professional photographers. Similar to the "point and shoot" facility, this live view function has not been available on single lens reflex (SLR) cameras. Mainly due to the mirror being in the way.

The Canon EOS 1D Mark III Digital SLR offers photographers several options to the standard convenience of traditional SLR "through the lens" viewing. First off, when holding the camera away from your face, you can use the screen to compose your image. You can also zoom in 5x or 10x to ensure optimal focussing.

Secondly, if in a studio environment, the camera can be connected to a computer or laptop via USB 2.0 (high speed cable). Thereby allowing real time viewing and shooting. The new software bundled with the camera, EOS Utility 2.0, lets you see what the camera sees in real time and allows you to control its operation remotely.

Canon EOS 1D Mark III Back

Lastly, what if the photographer is quite a distance away from the camera at say a racetrack or football stadium. Or even if the camera is out of view for nature shooting? The Canon EOS 1D Mark III DSLR can be operated wirelessly using the new WFT-E2A Wireless File Transmitter. Amazingly, this allows the user to view images directly from the sensor whilst away from the camera in real time. You can also adjust many of the cameras settings "on the fly".

Note: Due to the fact that the mirror is lifted during live view shooting, image quality at slow shutter speeds is improved. This is due to the removal of vibration from the mirrors movement.

Canon EOS 1D Mark III - New Integrated EOS Cleaning System

Another first for a high end professional Digital SLR is the introduction of a complete dust management system. Otherwise known as the EOS Integrated Cleaning System. Dust is a problem for many of us working, outdoor professionals.

Canon's new CMOS imaging sensor is designed with a lightweight infrared absorption glass cover. This cover vibrates when the camera is turned on or off for 3.5 seconds. The delay can be cancelled immediately upon camera start-up, if required, simply by pressing the shutter button.

Another problem that has been addressed is dust getting in through the sensor's edges. It is now completely sealed. Also, the new shutter produces less dust and is now durable to a cycle of 300,000 actuation's. Plus it fires three times during the process so dust is shaken off the shutter curtains too.

This new cleaning system uses little battery power and can be turned off from within the custom function menu. The second part of the anti-dust system comes with a software solution. This new program actually records the location of any spots remaining on the sensor as "Dust Delete Data" and the information is added to the image file.

In the DPP 3.0 (Digital Photo Professional) software included with the Canon EOS 1D Mark III Digital SLR, the dust spots are erased automatically. Nice touch.

Canon EOS 1D Mark III - Canon's Advanced Autofocus Technology

The Canon EOS 1D Mark III Digital SLR brand-new autofocus system represents a total reconsideration of professional Autofocus. Like previous 1-Series Canon cameras in the EOS range, the EOS-1D Mark III has 45 AF points. However, now 19 of them (rather than 7), are of the high-precision cross-type configuration.

Picking an individual focusing point is now much faster and easier than going through all 45. This is because in addition to the center point, its new array allows all the other points to be divided into groups of nine outer and nine inner focusing points. As well as a center point.

During your manual AF point selection, the AF point area is now expandable. Canon have, at the request of many sports and wildlife photographers, added a new micro-adjustment feature. This allows for very fine tuning and changes in the AF point of focus for every lens type in use. Also, with the addition of adjustable focus-tracking sensitivity this is just another sophisticated new AF feature introduced by Canon.

In addition to the new AF sensor, other new parts in the AF system include the redesigned concave sub mirror. There is also a "secondary image formation lens", both which are products of Canon's superior expertise in optical engineering.

Last but not least, and a real plus for wedding photographers like me at least. The low light sensitivity of Canon's new AF sensor has been doubled to EV-1 for extremely superior performance compared to earlier Canon EOS DSLR's.

Canon EOS 1D Mark III - Twice as Smart With Dual DIGIC III Image Processors

In able to cope with the voluminous signal processing that is required by the Canon EOS 1D Mark III’s 10.1 megapixel resolution as well as its top, continuous shooting speed of 10 fps frames per second), its Dual DIGIC III imaging engines have been incorporated for parallel signal processing.

The DIGIC III processor replaces the older DIGIC II. It now assists in rendering extremely fine image detail with natural colour reproduction including 50% less shadow noise than its previous EOS DSLR brethren.

The Canon CMOS sensor reads to the dual DIGIC III processors in eight channels simultaneously. By having two processors handle the increased workload, image processing is now about 1.5x faster. CF (Compact Flash) access speed is now increased 1.3x and SD access now 2x faster.

The Canon EOS 1D Mark III is also compatible with the new format, high-capacity, SDHC memory card. The extra power from dual DIGIC III processors has allowed analog-to-digital conversion to improve well from 12 to 14 bits per channel. This means that RAW image tonal gradation is now divided into 16,384 separate levels per channel rather than the old 4,096.

The difference can easily be seen in the superb prints and magazine spreads produced by the EOS 1D Mark III.

Canon EOS 1D Mark III - The Canon Proprietary CMOS Sensor

The new 10.1 megapixel CMOS sensor has been designed and manufactured by Canon using their semiconductor manufacturing equipment which is also designed and manufactured by Canon. This allows synergies that are unique in all areas of photography.

The sensor is now APS-H size, being 28.1 by 18.7mm. This is significantly larger than the more commonly found APS-C, which is usually about 23.5 by 15.5mm. The lens magnification factor stays at 1.3x, rather than 1.5x or 1.6x.

Its increased sensor size means that each individual pixel can be made larger for a given resolution. The pixels of the Canon EOS 1D Mark III are 7.2 microns square. A sensor with 10 megapixels in the old APS-C size would have its pixels less than 6 microns square. Therefore smaller and receiving less light, which requires more amplification and thereby produces more noise.

Canon's intense involvement with new or technology has enabled it to increase each pixels proportion that is sensitive to light (the fill factor). So its pixels are not just bigger, but also more receptive to light.

Another of the many improvements comes from the newly revised microlens array which collects light for the sensor. This new unit has much smaller gaps between the minuscule lenses, which means more light is gathered with less being lost.

All of this makes the sensational low-light performance of the new Canon EOS 1D Mark III DSLR with the incredible quality of images photographed at ISO 3200 and 6400. A real no-brainer for upgrading from the older MKII or MKII N.

Canon EOS 1D Mark III - New and Advanced Professional Photographer Features

The Canon EOS 1D Mark III DSLR has several new features which make it much more confidence inspiring and reassuring. The "Highlight tone priority" feature extends the dynamic range of highlights by approximately one stop and also improves gradation within highlight areas.

The Safety shift feature lets the camera change the shutter speed automatically. Or the aperture, or even the ISO speed according to the photographer’s choice. A feature that I have personally wanted for years.

So, even if the light level dips or changes out of the range that the settings on the camera could normally handle, it avoids any unhappy surprises. The in-camera noise reduction for high ISO shooting and new silent drive mode produce a different kind of quieter noise. Great for shooting in churches and such.

As I said before, this upgrade is more relevant to me than the previous "N" upgrade. The Canon EOS 1D Mark III is the product of a complete "reset to zero" design process. It seems absolutely everything was re-evaluated.

The result is a stunning new and exceptionally easy to use set of camera controls. The Canon 1D Mark III uses a Main Dial, Quick Control Dial, Multi-controller, a SET button as well as several other new buttons to set and select various functions.

Last but not least

Finally, in addition. The ISO speed button, AF-ON/Start button, Picture-Style button, and Image size/Memory selection/White balance function buttons have been added. These make the new camera operation much faster and easier than all previous models.

This new system follows the history of logic inherent of the EOS family of cameras.

You use the Main Dial or the Quick Control Dial to select any of the 19 "cross-type" AF points. Information displays have also been improved, answering the many requests of current EOS system users.

E.g., both the metering pattern and ISO speed in use are now visible at all times…bliss. But not only on the top LCD data panel, but in the cameras viewfinder as well.

The Canon EOS 1D Mark III DSLR’s power supply is also another valuable and new feature. The 1D MKIII now uses a new and improved LC-E4 Lithium-ion battery pack instead of the old NP-E3 Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) style.

The result? The weight of the 1D Mark III including battery and memory cards is now approximately 8 oz. lighter than the EOS 1D Mark II N when similarly equipped. I find that shooting with the 1D MKII all day takes its toll on my "not small" arms so this is a bonus.

Power increase

Also, the batteries estimated shooting capacity has significantly increased from 1200 shots (for the 1D Mark II N) to approximately 2200 shots for the new Canon EOS 1D Mark III. Obviously under normal shooting conditions. Additionally, Canon's new technology now makes it possible for the Canon EOS 1D Mark III to display battery charge levels in smaller 1% increments.

The CF (Custom Functions) and Personal Functions of all previous EOS models have now been merged. This creates an "easier to manage" set of 57 Custom Functions which are arranged in 4 groups according to categories such as autofocus and exposure.

Up to 6 frequently used Custom Functions and menu options can be registered in a user-friendly new feature called "My Menu." Up to 10 sets of personal camera settings can be saved to one recording medium such as CF or SD cards. Then handily moved from camera to camera.

Up to five custom white balance data items and five Personal white balance settings can now be registered.

New sRAW and more

The EOS 1D Mark III now offers the new "sRAW" recording format. Canon's "sRAW" has all the flexibility of the old, standard RAW image recording, but at just 1/4 the resolution and approximately half the file size of standard RAW images.

Another breakthrough option is the camera's ability to wirelessly record to external USB storage devices. These are connected to the camera via the new and optional WFT-E2A Wireless Transmitter.

Yet another new and improved option, and a welcome one at that, is the automatic switching of recording media. This happens when your current recording medium becomes full. The camera now switches automatically to another and continues recording without any interruption…great!

Also, with separate recording, a recorded image can be captured in varying sizes on different media. For example, each recording medium can be set to record a pre-selected, specific image size (i.e. L, M1, M2, S, RAW, sRAW) for each shot.

When recording identical images, the same image is now recorded to all recording media. This is also possible with sRAW + JPEG and RAW + JPEG. Any images stored in external media or a memory card can be copied to another installed (or connected) recording medium.

Canon EOS 1D Mark III - Another Improvement

What if the card slot cover is ever opened during the writing operation on the EOS-1D Mark III DSLR? Well, an audible alarm sounds and a warning message appears on the LCD screen indicating that writing is still in progress.

The card writing actually continues even if the slot cover is now opened. A real bonus for photographers in constant action where your mind isn't always quite on the ball…magic! This is also the case if you accidentally switch the power "off" during the card writing process. Again, a message appears to indicate that writing is still in progress. Then, after the writing is finished, the power turns off.

Canon EOS 1D Mark III - New, Improved Software

The EOS 1D Mark III will, as usual, be supplied with all the latest versions of Canon’s powerful software applications. Things such as DPP (Digital Photo Professional) and EOS Utility. Both of which now support the camera's new Dust Delete Data and Remote Live View functions.

They also incorporate a wide range of additional improvements designed to speed up workflow and improve image quality. Also included are new versions of the old favourites, ZoomBrowser EX and ImageBrowser. Used for easy viewing, browsing, archiving and printing with compatible PC operating systems, including MS Windows Vista, XP, as well as Mac OS X.

  • Click here for my New User Review of the Canon EOS 1D Mark III
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