Canon cameras have a well-deserved reputation for quality, and a history of taking the lead in camera development. But despite the fact that the EOS range has been at the forefront of photographic technology for over twenty years, the company shows no sign of resting on its laurels. The flagship EOS 1D Mark III has been newly conceived, designed and built from the ground up to be as good as a professional DSLR camera can be. Keep reading for our review.
Tsunemasa Ohara, Senior General Manager at Canon's Camera Development Centre, has said, "In building this camera, we started with a blank canvas. Every facet of the photographic process has been refined, every design decision re-evaluated." These are bold claims. So does the 1D Mark III match them?
We certainly have no complaints in terms of the specification. A third-generation CMOS APS-H sensor lies at the heart of the machine, into which Canon have incorporated noise reduction circuitry. The sensor will capture high quality, almost noiseless images at up to ISO 6400. But it doesn't stop there. The sensor is fully supported by the rest of the hardware: 10fps continuous shooting up to a total of 110 frames; Twin "Digic III" processors that allow the camera to capture 100 mega pixels of data per second; 14 bit per pixel processing for enhanced details and superior gradients; 19 element cross-sensor auto focusing, supported by 26 AF assist points; a 3" LCD monitor which, unlike that on a standard DSLR, can be used for image composition in "liveview" mode. This is clearly a camera built with the professional photographer firmly in mind.
It's worth digging a little deeper into some of the impressive-sounding items on the spec sheet, as the numbers only tell part of the story. The CMOS sensor, for example, is designed to significantly reduce digital and shadow noise. This is partly due to it being exceptionally large at 28.1 x 18.7mm, and partly due to the on-chip noise reduction circuitry. The sensor also benefits from Canon's integrated sensor self-cleaning mechanism, which vibrates the sensor to remove stray dust particles whenever the camera is switched off.
Taking things one step further, the 1D Mark III also has a software dust solution. Should the self-cleaning unit miss a particle or two, the sensor can identify the remaining particles and transmit their location along with the image when it's downloaded from the camera. The included Digital Photo Professional software can then erase the speck from the photo, either automatically or manually if you prefer to keep total control over the manipulation of your images.
Not impressed yet? Maybe the autofocus system will do it for you. Forty-five AF points, 19 of which are user-selectable, mean improved performance in poor lighting conditions, exceptional handling of off-center subjects, and greater accuracy. The 1D Mark III also incorporates an AF on/off switch on the back of the camera, allowing AF to be instantly controlled while looking through the viewfinder. The AF system offers two modes: one-shot for, unsurprisingly, single shots, and AI servo mode which uses predictive focusing and subject tracking to allow precise continuous shooting of moving subjects. This makes the camera an excellent choice for professional sports photography.
The camera also offers impressive metering capabilities, based around a 63 zone TTL (through-the-lens) system. Spot, multispot and partial metering modes use a variety of frame areas to provide flexibility. In practice, this enables the camera to deal effectively with challenging lighting conditions and lends images a high degree of accuracy.
The D1 Mark III's specs are top of the range, and justify - on paper at least - Canon's optimism about their top of the range model.
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