Canon EOS 1D Mark III SLR Review

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Canon EOS-1D Mark III

Steve's Conclusion

The first thing you'll notice about the Mark III is its physical presence. It's no light weight, but the Mark III is well balanced, especially with a flash unit attached to its hot shoe. The rugged all-metal body is also quite large, measuring 6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1 inches/156 x 156.6 x 79.9mm. But the size of the body is actually a benefit, providing enough space for the logical and ergonomic location of its ample buttons and controls. The body is also well sculpted for comfortable hand-holding in both landscape and portrait orientation. All of the Mark III's covers fit snugly and seem capable of withstanding the rigors of professional use. The switches and other controls have a positive, professional feel.

Contributing to the Mark III's weight is the LP-E4 lithium-ion battery pack which according to Canon's specs shoots approx. 2,200 exposures at At 73°F/23°C or approx., 1,700 exposures at At 32°F/0°C. The above figures apply when a fully-charged Battery Pack LP-E4 is used. The new EOS-1D Mark III is more rugged, yet lighter than its predecessors. Able to withstand shooting in the roughest conditions, the 1D Mark III is clad in a magnesium alloy shell, chassis and top panel, providing impressive strength without excessive weight. All of the 1D Mark III controls and external cover seams are sealed from water and dust.

A pro spends a lot of time looking through the viewfinder, and the Mark III's does not disappoint. Its eye-level glass pentaprism covers the full 100% of the captured image, allowing for precise composition. It has a large 20mm eye point, comfortable rubber eye cup (there are 10 accessory eyecups available), and dioptric adjustment (-3.0 to +1.0) for viewing ease. It even offers interchangeable focusing screens, allowing you to choose from the standard microprism and twelve other types to suit your subject or shooting conditions. There's lots of camera and exposure information displayed, including: AF points, focus confirmation light, shutter speed, aperture, manual exposure, ISO speed, exposure level, flash ready, FP flash, FE lock, flash exposure level, JPEG format, and number of remaining shots. The viewfinder is bright, informative and exact, precisely what a professional needs.

Complementing the Mark III's excellent viewfinder are its three LCD displays. A 3-inch color LCD monitor displaying approx. 230,000 pixels is used for image review and menu access. The menu options are large enough to be easily read, and the LCD's brightness control (7 brightness levels) makes it usable even in bright light. Although its surface is scratch resistant, the LCD is not equipped with a protective cover; you will want to store and handle it with care. Playback mode is very flexible, offering choices of shooting information and histogram displays along with the image. The top and rear monochrome LCD panels combine to provide a complete display of camera settings. The top panel contains shooting parameters such as aperture, shutter speed, shooting mode, metering mode, drive mode, AF mode, battery condition, and number of remaining shots; the rear panel displays image size, ISO, memory card and White Balance settings. Considered as a whole, the viewfinder and LCD displays provide the clarity and completeness demanded by professionals.

EOS-1D Mark III is compatible with all Canon lenses in the EF lineup, ranging from ultra-wide angle to super telephoto lenses. Canon lenses employ advanced optical expertise and micron-precision engineering to deliver unprecedented performance in all facets of the photographic process. Special optical technologies, such as aspherical optics and fluorite elements are featured in the universally acclaimed L Series lenses, and Canon's Image Stabilizer technology in select lenses minimizes the effect of camera shake.

For the ultimate image quality shoot in the RAW format and you're able to do a lot of post-capture manipulation with no loss of image data. If you want to be able to quickly use your images then shoot in standard compressed JPEG format. You can even select the JPEG + RAW mode and capture both image formats at the same time. You can set your own JPEG compression ratio as well as vary the image sharpness, chose one of five color matrix (color space) settings and even upload your own custom tone curves. The 1Ds Mark III's JPEG image quality is awesome, and its RAW images provide the raw materials to create photographs that fit your own definition of excellence.

The EOS-1D Mark III comes bundled with an updated Canon EOS Digital Solution Disc, which features powerful software programs designed to extend the EOS experience to the computer. These include Canon's ZoomBrowser EX for Windows® (Version 5.8), ImageBrower for Macintosh® OS X (Version 5.8), Digital Photo Professional (Version 3.0), Canon's EOS Utility (Version 2.0), RAW Image Task (Version 2.6), PhotoStitch, and PTP TWAIN Driver. Each application is designed to perfect captured images and streamline the digital workflow. ZoomBrowser EX v. 5.8 and Digital Photo Professional v. 3.0 for Windows are compatible with the new Windows Vista operating system, too.

The Mark III's image quality at high ISO is very good. The image noise appears more like the effect of film grain than the imager noise of lesser consumer cameras. ISO 100 produces images that set a standard for what "noise-free" should be. Traces of noise appear at ISO 400 in shadow areas. At ISO 800, a barely-perceptible amount of noise begins to affect highlight areas.

The bottom line - They say that you get what you pay for, and in the case of the 1D Mark III, it's very true. We've become accustomed to a trend of new digicams replacing their predecessors with a combination of more/better features and lower price. This camera will not disappoint - the Mark III is an excellent value for the pro who needs its increased resolution and improved performance, and to the extent that the Mark III enables them to earn more income, they will buy it.

Canon has announced a Service Notice for the EOS 1D MarkIII

Issue: AF Mirror Adjustment Problem

Visit Canon's U.S.A. site for more details.

Canon has released a Firmware update for the EOS 1D MKIII

This firmware update (Version 1.1.3) incorporates the following improvements and fixes:

  • Increases transmission speed when using high-speed SD cards.
  • Fixes a phenomenon involving not being able to release the shutter.
  • Improves AF tracking in specific conditions.
  • Corrects errors in the Spanish and Korean menu screens.

The Version 1.1.3 firmware being released this time is for cameras with firmware up to Version 1.1.1. If the camera's firmware is already Version 1.1.3, it is not necessary to update the firmware.

For more information, visit Canon's U.S.A. site.

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