Canon 1DX Mark III Review

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Basic Specifications
Full model name: Canon EOS-1D X Mark III
Resolution: 20.10 Megapixels
Sensor size: 35mm
(36.0mm x 24.0mm)
Kit Lens: n/a
Viewfinder: Optical / LCD
Native ISO: 100 - 102,400
Extended ISO: 50 - 819,200
Shutter: 1/8000 - 30 sec
Dimensions: 6.2 x 6.6 x 3.3 in.
(158 x 168 x 83 mm)
Weight: 50.8 oz (1,440 g)
includes batteries
Availability: 02/2020
Manufacturer: Canon
Full specs: Canon 1DX Mark III specifications
Canon EF 35mm
size sensor
image of Canon EOS-1D X Mark III
Front side of Canon 1DX Mark III digital camera Front side of Canon 1DX Mark III digital camera Front side of Canon 1DX Mark III digital camera Front side of Canon 1DX Mark III digital camera Front side of Canon 1DX Mark III digital camera

Canon EOS 1D X Mark III Review -- First Impressions

by William Brawley
Preview posted: 01/08/2020

Flagship cameras typically have a longer refresh cycle than more consumer-oriented cameras, and the long-running Canon 1D-series certainly follows that trend. The previous model, the 1D X Mark II, made its debut back in 2016, sporting some still-impressive specs and performance features, but now, about four years later, the successor model is finally here. The aptly-named Canon 1D X Mark III brings a whole host of improvements and rather jaw-dropping performance specs for both professional still photographers and video creators alike.

Key Features & Specs

  • 20.1MP Full-frame CMOS Sensor with newly-designed High Detail Low-Pass Filter
  • DIGIC X image processor with an ISO range of 100-102400; Expandable to 50-819200
  • 191-point optical viewfinder AF system with head- and face-tracking AF powered by Deep Learning Technology
  • New Smart Controller built into the AF-On button for fast AF point selection
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF in Live View; AF covering 90% x 100% of the image area
  • Up to 16fps in optical viewfinder shooting and up to 20fps in Live View with mechanical or silent shutter
  • Maximum buffer in continuous shooting (RAW+JPEG) of 1000+ images
  • Dual CFexpress card slots
  • Offers 10-bit HEIC file format for wider dynamic range & better color over 8-bit JPEGs
  • 12-bit 5.5K RAW video internal recording
  • Oversampled, full-width, 10-bit 4:2:2 4K 60p video recording in Canon Log

Image Quality & Performance

The heart of the new 1D X III centers on an all-new Canon-designed 20.1-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor. While the image resolution hasn't changed much from the 20.2MP predecessor, the new Mark III's sensor features an updated High Detail Low-Pass filter. The new sensor is designed for excellent image quality, even in low-light/high-ISO scenarios -- an essential quality for press photographers and sport shooters. Many modern high-resolution cameras have done away with optical low-pass filters, which help with fine detail performance, but at the cost of a higher risk for unsightly moiré and aliasing artifacts. The 1DX III features a unique four-layer low pass filter on the sensor that Canon claims will help reduce these moiré artifacts while maintaining good detail and resolving power.

Powering this beast of a camera is an all-new image processor, replacing the dual DIGIC 6+ setup of the predecessor. Unlike the majority of previous EOS 1D cameras, the new 1D X Mark III uses just a single image processor setup, a lone DIGIC X image processor. That said, there is a standalone DIGIC 8 chip dedicated to AF and AE processing. The DIGIC X handles primary image processing and is said to enhance image detail in combination with the new low-pass filter.

Additionally, the new processor helps give the camera a big boost in the ISO department. The new sensor and processor combination gives the 1DX III an extensive ISO range, with a native range of 100 to 102,400 (the max. native ISO of the predecessor was 51,200). Expanded ISO range allows for a low ISO of 50 and additional high sensitivity of 204,800 (H1), 409,600 (H2) and even 819,200 (H3).

When it comes to autofocus, the 1D X Mark III offers the most sophisticated and most advanced AF system of the EOS lineup to date, providing new features and updated performance over the 1D X II for both optical viewfinder shooting and Live View. Traditional phase-detect AF is powered by a new 191-point autofocus system, the most AF points offered in an EOS DSLR yet. The 191-point system offers a whopping 155 all-cross-type AF points and allows user-selection of all 191 points, as well as a variety of grouped Zone AF configurations.

With Live View focusing, the 1DX III also includes Canon's fast Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology with on-sensor phase-detection AF. With AF coverage spanning nearly the entire sensor area (approx. 90% horizontal and 100% vertical, with select EF lenses) and 3,869 manually selectable AF positions, autofocusing in Live View offers super-fast performance as well as extreme precision and versatility. With older EF lenses or with Types I and II EF teleconverters, the 1D X Mark III focus coverage drops slightly to approx. 80% horizontally and 80% vertically.

Since the camera is designed to be particularly well-suited for sports and wildlife photography, the 1D X Mark III is outfitted with some of the best continuous shooting specs on the market. In traditional OVF-style shooting, the 1DX III is capable of up to 16fps burst shooting with continuous AF/AE, up from the predecessor's 14fps OVF burst rate. Switching over to Live View, we see even faster performance, not only besting to the 1DX II but competing against Sony's impressively fast A9 and A9 Mark II cameras. Thanks to the fast processing of the DIGIC X chip and swift read/write performance of the dual CFexpress card slots, the 1DX III can shoot at up to 20fps in Live View with continuous AF/AE. This also works with an optional silent shooting mode (electronic shutter), making the camera an excellent option for wildlife, press photography and other sound-sensitive shooting scenarios.

Buffer performance, too, is top-notch, with the camera spec'ed at being able to capture up to 1000 frames or more in RAW+JPEG mode thanks to the dual CFexpress card slots.


While the 1D X III is certainly more focused on still photography, it's in no way a slouch in the video department. In fact, it's quite the serious video camera, offering features and video resolutions not offered on any previous EOS stills camera. With the new processor and updated hardware, the 1DX III can record 4K video at both DCI (4096 x 2160) and UHD (3840 x 2160) at up to 60fps in Canon Log. C-Log footage offers up to 12 stops of dynamic range, allowing lots of exposure as well as color adjustments in post-processing workflows. Additionally, the 1DX III can capture higher-resolution video in-camera at 5.5K 12-bit RAW video at up to 60fps. Not only can it capture video at that impressive resolution and frame rate, but it can also do so while simultaneously recording a high-quality 4K MP4 video on the second CFexpress card. The camera also offers 10-bit 4:2:2 HDMI output and can also output 10-bit movie footage in ITU-R BT.2020 color when Canon Log setting is activated.

Interestingly, despite the impressive video horsepower, there is still a 29 minute, 59 second continuous recording limit. Video recording must be manually restarted once that time limit is reached.

Design & Build Quality

As with prior 1D-series cameras, the new 1DX III is built to withstand the harshest conditions and inhospitable environments. Built from a durable magnesium alloy chassis, the 1DX III is fully weather-sealed against dust and moisture and can withstand very cold conditions, down to 32 degrees F (0 degrees C). The camera is, however, not classified as "waterproof" and isn't designed to be fully submerged in liquids.

In general, the design and shape of the 1D X Mark III is very similar to previous models, with a built-in vertical portrait grip and extensive physical controls that offer tons of user-customization. Physical dimensions are nearly identical to the predecessor, and while the 1DX III is certainly a burly, heavy camera by most counts, it actually comes in a little lighter than the last model at 1.44kg (3.2 lbs) compared to 1.53 kg (3.4 lbs) of the Mark II.

The 1DX III features a 3.2-inch TFT LCD touchscreen rear display with a resolution of approx. 2.1 million dots. The pentaprism optical viewfinder offers approx. 100% coverage , a 0.76x magnification ratio, a 20mm eye point and diopter adjustment.

The layout of controls and dials remains more or less unchanged compared to the 1DX II, featuring the unique Mode Button on top rather than a traditional Mode Dial, large rear control dial, joystick controls for both horizontal and vertical orientations, and dual card slots behind a locking compartment door.

There have, however, been a few updates and new features added to the camera body. For one, as mentioned, the 1D X III does away with the paired CF and CFast card slots of the predecessor, moving to dual CFexpress slots that offer much faster read/write performance.

Another cool feature is the new Smart Controller on the rear of the camera. Built into the surface of the AF-ON button, this touch-sensitive control provides the user instantaneous AF point adjustment. It can also be used to pan around a shot in Playback Mode while magnified-in on an image. Although a similar AF point adjustment behavior can be assigned to the existing joystick controls, this is yet another usability option that might better fit your shooting style. For example, this will likely be a convenient feature for those who use the AF-ON button for back-button focusing; your thumb will now be at-the-ready for quick AF point changes.

Additional new features include illuminated buttons (for select buttons) and the inclusion of touchscreen functionality on the rear display.

Ports, Connectivity & Battery

The 1D X III offers a variety of connectivity options, both wired and wireless. The 1DX III is the first 1D-series camera with built-in Wi-Fi, offering fast and easy connectivity to compatible smart devices. Bluetooth connectivity is also included, allowing a continuous connection and lets you automatically connect to a smart device that is paired with Canon's Camera Connect App. The camera also features built-in GPS to help geotag images and video files.

Wire networking connectivity includes a 1000BASE-T ethernet jack, and there is also compatibility with an optional, external Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E9 accessors that offers high-speed 5 GHz 802.11ac wireless connectivity.

The camera features a SuperSpeed Plus USB (USB 3.1 Gen 2) Type-C port as well as a Mini HDMI (Type-C) and a remote terminal.

The 1DX III is powered by a rechargeable LP-E19 lithium-ion battery back and is CIPA-rated for between 2360-2850 shots per change using the OVF or between 530-610 shots per change with Live View. Older LP-E4N battery backs for previous 1D series cameras such as the 1D Mark IV, 1D X, and 1D C are also compatible, but continuous shooting speeds are restricted (though Canon does not specify by how much).

Pricing & Availability

The Canon 1D X Mark III camera body and WFT-E9 wireless file transmitter are both scheduled to be available in mid-February 2020 for an estimated retail price of $6,499.00 and $649.99, respectively.


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