Camera Reviews: Canon 1DX Mark iii

There weren’t many new cameras at CES 2020, but the ones that did show up were impressive upgrades from their predecessors. One such upgrade was Canon‘s 1DX mark iii. With a huge section in the Las Vegas Convention Center, Canon literally took center stage, putting potential photographers right in the middle of a live fashion shoot. Surrounding the catwalk were over a few dozen pods with an amazing line-up of cameras that were fitted with impressive prime lenses — perfect for the setting.

The pods at the front of the stage held the coveted new Canon 1DX mark iii.

Canon‘s set-up for the 1DXmiii was hooked up to an iPad to email you the photos you took. It only saved one photo at a time, and you had to press “retake photo” to have it save a different shot if you didn’t like the last one. The person running the booth was very confused as she watched me just going for it, without caring about what saved and what didn’t. I was putting this guy through the tests. And here are my thoughts:

Specs rundown:
Canon‘s first hybrid DSLR features a Live-View AF, with the ability to boost your bursts while it’s in use. Sticking with the mirrorless hybrid features, the 1DXmiii really pulls its weight. It’s super quiet, which is fantastic for creeps like me who don’t like people to be notified of when I’m shooting (because it messes up the shot 9 times out of 10, and not because I’m actually in the tree in your yard), and with that new 1,000-image buffer, shooting burst for a long time won’t be a huge pain in the butt for impatient Millennials. It’s great for video as well, with its 5.5k resolution in 12-bit RAW format.

Another new feature is the AF-On button. It acts like the joystick, but it’s much smarter. Simply direct where you want the AF to be, either on the screen or in the OVF, and press the button to lock it.

The pros:

  • The quality is just breathtaking.
  • The colors were on point.
  • The autofocus was not only very quick, but also focused where I wanted it to, instinctively. The deep-learning AF lets the camera pull from a database of images to perfect its facial recognition, allowing it to understand where your subject’s face or head is, even while it’s obscured. While none of the fashion models had an obscured face, the AF feature did change focus to the back of their head as they walked away from me.
  • That buffer, tho! I was up in those models like no one’s business for nearly an hour and that buffer never ran dry.
  • Built like a truck. This beast is for real. It’s got some actual heft behind it. It’s lighter than the 1DXmii by about 3.5oz, and is still weather sealed.
  • It took some getting used to, but the AF-On button is really smart. Once I dulled the sensitivity, I was able to set up where I wanted to focus to be, and it worked great in horizontal or vertical, and also using the OVF and the screen. I’m pretty used to the half-press, but this is more ergonomic and accurate for sure.
  • Simultaneous recording. You have two card slots, and can record 5.5k on one and 4k (which is not only full-frame, but also can hit 60fps) on the other at the same time.
  • The cons:

  • It’s flipping giant and pretty heavy. I’m a one-woman camera crew, so I need my stuff to be small and light. This isn’t an issue for photographers who have a shoot in pretty much one spot, or have a crew to help out. For people like me, I’m climbing the side of a cliff with my gear, sometimes. It’s gotta be light and easy to set up at a steep angle with one hand. Heavy and large don’t work for me, here. This is 100% personal preference to my usage, though.
  • No EVF option. You’re doing a mirrorless hybrid, give an option for EVF!
  • No IBIS. What decade is this? Come on, Canon. IBIS is practically a requirement for any camera like this one. No IBIS can be a real deal-breaker for some of us. Canon still swears that the stabilization in their lenses is better than IBIS, because they’re focus is on stills, but I know of a lot of photographers who will be begrudgingly whipping out a gimbal for their filming.
  • My final take:
    Sony’s a9 series finally has some competition! With the impressive buffer and shutter speeds, the new DigicX processor, the deep-learning AF, it’s really closing the gap with Sony’s sports camera. While I’m not sure if the Canon felt faster specifically, that buffer is really noticeable. I tend to take about a dozen shots of the same thing before moving on, because my focus is of creatures in their natural elements. I take shots of animals in the wild, among other subjects, and sometimes a microsecond really matters. It can make or break the shot entirely.

    While the size is pretty large for me, the quality is definitely there. It handled like a dream in the fashion shoot setting Canon set up, and even though the lighting in that convention center was abysmal, there were very few adjustments that needed to be made in the moment. I’ve had cameras that attempt to adjust colors based on surroundings or lighting changes, and the 1DXmiii didn’t flinch at all. The smart features were actually smart for once, and I’m definitely impressed.

    You’ll need to invest in a few accessories, and likely a few CFExpress cards, but if you can swing the $6500 price point for the body, it’s worth the upgrade from the mii. If you’re coming from another brand, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. The menu and camera’s design are fluid and user-friendly.

    What are your thoughts on the new hybrid DSLR from Canon? Let me know in the comments!

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