Canon 1D Mark III Review

Camera Reviews / Canon Cameras i Initial Test

Canon EOS-1D Mark III Performance

NOTE: All performance numbers shown here have been updated with results from a production model.

Timing and Performance

Very good speed for a pro digital SLR.


Power on
to first shot

0.1 second

Time it takes for camera to turn on, ready for a shot. Very fast, really limited by our own reaction times.


~0 second

How long it takes to turn off. Very fast, unmeasurable.

Buffer clearing time

27 seconds
(after 12 LF JPEGs)

Worst case buffer clearing time. -- This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card. Some cameras won't retract their lenses and shut down until the buffer is cleared.

7.5 seconds
(after 11 SB JPEGs)
30 seconds
(after 6 RAW frames)
50 seconds
(after 20 RAW + LF JPEG frames)

The Canon EOS-1D Mark III's performance is very good, beginning with its super speedy startup and shutdown times.

Mode Switching

Play to Record,
first shot

0.3 second

Time until first shot is captured.

Record to play

1.1 seconds

Time to display a large/fine file immediately after capture.

recorded image

0.4 second

Time to display a large/fine file already on the memory card.

Mode switching is also quite fast, with the exception of Record to Play, which is about average.

Shutter Response (Lag Time)

Full Autofocus,
Optical viewfinder

0.094 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture.


0.057 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

Continuous AF
0.087 second
This mode usually shows no speed increase with our static subject; we have no way to measure performance with moving subjects.
Manual focus
0.066 second
For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "prefocused".
Live View mode
0.119 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, Live View mode.

Note: Shutter response lag times measured with Sigma 70mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro lens. Center AF area used. Firmware version was 1.2.3.

Full AF shutter response is excellent, averaging only 0.094 second. There was quite a bit of variation though, ranging from 0.08s to 0.20s. "Prefocusing" the camera by half-pressing and holding down the shutter button before the final exposure results in a lag time of only 0.057 second, and manual focus shutter lag was 0.066 second. Shutter lag when using Live View was pretty fast at 0.119 second, but does not include any focusing time, as the Canon EOS-1D Mark III does not support any form of autofocus in Live View mode.

Cycle Time (shot to shot)
Single Shot mode
Large Fine JPEG
0.40 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots, 11 seconds to clear.

Single Shot mode
Small Basic JPEG

0.42 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots, 1.5 seconds to clear.

Single Shot mode
Large RAW

0.39 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots, 25 seconds to clear.

Single Shot mode

0.44 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots, 51 seconds to clear.

Early shutter


Some cameras snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.

Continuous mode

Large Fine JPEG

0.10 second (9.91 frames per second);
12 frames total
27 seconds to clear

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length or 20 shots, whichever came first.

Continuous mode

Small JPEG

0.10 second (10 frames per second);
11 frames total
7.5 seconds to clear

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length or 20 shots, whichever came first.

Continuous mode

0.10 second (10 frames per second);
6 frames total
30 seconds to clear

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length or 20 shots, whichever came first.

Continuous mode
Larger RAW + LF JPEG

0.10 second (10 frames per second);
20 frames total
50 seconds to clear

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length or 20 shots, whichever came first.

Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme III 1GB CompactFlash memory card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and other settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Shot-to-shot cycle times are also excellent, at about 0.40 second for large/fine JPEGs and 0.39 second for RAW files, and the camera appears to capture shots continuously in single-shot mode without having to slow to clear the buffer. Continuous mode is also outstanding, at 9.91 frames per second for 12 large/fine JPEG frames, and 10.0 frames per second for 6 frames in RAW mode. Interestingly, with RAW + large/fine JPEGs, the camera was able to maintain 10 frames per second and didn't slow to clear the buffer until after 20 frames.

Download Speed

Windows Computer, USB 2.0

1,958 KBytes/sec

Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-769=USB 2.0 Low;
Above 770=USB 2.0 High

Connected to a computer or printer with USB 2.0, download speeds are a bit slow for this class of camera these days, but we suspect most owners would use a card reader.

Bottom line, the EOS-1D Mark III is responsive enough for the pros, able to handle fast paced action and basically anything you can throw at it.

Battery and Storage Capacity

Very good battery life for a lithium-ion pack.

Operating Mode Number of Shots
Lithium-ion Rechargeable Battery,
(CIPA standard, but no flash)

The Canon EOS-1D Mark III uses a custom rechargeable lithium-ion battery for power, and ships with a charger. Battery life is well above average, but when comparing to other SLRs, keep in mind the EOS-1D Mark III has no built-in flash. (The flash is normally fired for 50% of shots using the CIPA standardized method, reducing the number of shots on a charge for models with a flash.)

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of (on either a fresh set of disposable batteries or a fully-charged rechargeable battery as appropriate), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))

The Canon EOS-1D Mark III accepts CompactFlash and SD memory cards, though no card is included. The table below shows approximately how many images can be stored on a 1GB card at each size/quality setting, as well as the approximate compression ratio.

Image Capacity with
1GB Memory Card
3,888 x 2,592
File Size
5.7 MB
15.6 MB
21.6 MB
Approx. Compression
3,456 x 2,304
File Size
4.6 MB
Approx. Compression
2,816 x 1,880
File Size
3.5 MB
Approx. Compression
1,936 x 1,288
File Size
2.0 MB
9.3 MB
Approx. Compression

We strongly recommend buying a large capacity CompactFlash memory card or a large capacity SDHC memory card, at least a 2GB card, preferably a 4 or 8GB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings and/or when shooting RAW. (Check the shopping links above, cards are really cheap these days, so no reason to skimp.)


Canon 1D Mark III

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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