Pros: Excellent image quality and low sensor noise. Blistering 10fps continuous shooting and superb Live View and anti-dust features.
Cons: Some erratic AF inaccuracies and unsharpened monitor image.
As one of two pro-level models in the range, the Canon EOS-1D Mark III replaces the eight megapixel Mark IIn. Unlike the similar looking 35mm full-frame version, the 1Ds Mark II, the 1D Mark III uses the company’s mid-size APS-H CMOS sensor. This precludes the use of the makers EF-S lens range designed for the 400D and 30D models but provides users with arguably the more versatile of sensors.
Allowing sharp images to the edges of the frame, its 1.3x field of view crop utilizes the lens’ sweet spot, like APS-C. And, while the cropping effect is handy for telephoto users, it doesn’t impact quite so heavily on wide-angle lenses. It may sound trivial but the difference in the angle of view is substantial and crucially has the edge over rival offerings.
What’s more, even with the Mark III’s increase to 10 million pixels, the new model’s photodiodes are still larger than those of the current 1Ds Mark II, practically guaranteeing superb low-light performance.
Although the Mark III looks like a tweaked Mark IIn, the camera has practically been redesigned from scratch. With the new model offering 10fps continuous shooting for up to an incredible 110 frame (high-quality JPEG) burst. It also boasts an unprecedented ISO 6400 sensitivity, new pro-level anti-dust features and one of the most impressive Live View features we’ve seen.
But with such an ambitious spec perhaps it was inevitable there would be a few teething issues on arrival. The most immediately obvious is the new three-inch screen’s softness during playback, but that’s likely to be easily fixed with a firmware update. What will be more difficult to correct, we suspect, are the Mark III’s occasional focus inaccuracies.
Although the AF system looks like the previous offering, it now boasts 19 individually selectable, ultra-sensitive cross-shaped sensors, and should improve performance across the board. Although it works well in one-shot mode where focus has priority, compared with rivals such as the D2Xs, it still appears to lag behind in low light.
Switch over to the focus-tracking AI mode and its effectiveness, this time with high-contrast subjects, is even less convincing. Overall, with a lower success rate than we anticipated, the Mark III’s focusing abilities are disappointing.
In just about in every other respect, the Mark III is superior to the Mark IIn. The already impressive viewfinder is bigger and brighter looking and, with reductions in weight and tweaks to controls, the handling feels even more assured.
The somewhat fiddly menus of before now appear over several pages and, thanks to the larger screen, appear easier to read. The Mark III is the first pro-level camera to boast automated sensor cleaning, the process lasting longer and, with only one noticeable dust spot occurring during the test period, seemingly more effective than that of the makers 400D.
Picture quality was quite superb with silky smooth images and low noise through to ISO 1600. Above that some colour noise was noticeable, but the lack of smearing at pixel level means images remain detailed and useable with a little post-production.
If it wasn’t for the erratic focusing, we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Mark III, but £2,500 is a sizeable sum, so unless you simply must have it we’d say wait a while till they have the problem licked.