Hands on with the Canon 1DXMkIII

The Canon EOS 1DXMkIII is Canon's latest flag ship DSLR camera. Read on to find out how it performs.

The Canon EOS 1DXMkIII is Canon's latest flagship DSLR camera. It is the absolute pinnacle of performance, speed and reliability in Canon's lineup and I got my hands on one last month.

Read on to find out what's good and what's bad about this new work horse.

I've used the Canon 1DXMkII for almost 4 years now as my daily driver. It is an amazing workhorse, super reliable, lightning fast to operate, built like a tank.

The 1DXMkIII takes all those elements to the next level. Let's go over the specs first.

Canon 1DXMkIII technical specifications

  • Type of camara: Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) with EF lens mount
  • Sensor: 20.1MP CMOS sensor
  • Processor: Canon Dig!c X
  • Image types: JPEG (8 bit), HEIF (10 bit), RAW (14 bit). RAW+JPEG and RAW+HEIF simultaneous recording is possible.
  • AutoFocus (viewfinder shooting): 191 points (cross-type AF points: 155 points max), EV -4 to 21
  • AutoFocus (Live View shooting/Movie recording): Dual Pixel CMOS AF (AF not available in RAW or 4K60/50 recording) with eye detection AF, including Manual Focus peaking and Focus guide, EV -6 to 18 (-4 to 18 for movies)
  • HDR PQ 10 bit HEIF image recording
  • Shutter for viewfinder shooting: mechanical
  • Shutter for Live View shooting: mechanical, electronic 1st curtain or electronic
  • Shutter speeds: 1/8000 sec to 30 sec (and bulb)
  • ISO speed for stills: ISO 100 – 102400 (expandable to 50 and 819200)
  • ISO speed for video: ISO 100 – 25600 (expandable to 204800)
  • Shooting speed: 16 photos per second with viewfinder shooting, 20 photos per second with live view shooting (including AI Servo AF)
  • Maximum burst: RAW + JPEG Large 1000 shots or more. RAW + HEIF Large approx. 350 shots.
  • Screen: 8.01 cm or 3.15 inch TFT color, liquid-crystal monitor touch screen
  • Battery: LP-E19 giving approx 2850 viewfinder shots and 610 Live View shots. Approx. 4 hours and 40 minutes of movie recording at room temp.
  • Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n wifi + Ethernet RJ-45 terminal (10BASE-T/100BASE-TX/1000BASE-T) + Bluetooth 4.2
  • GPS: GPS satellites + GLONASS satellites + Quasi-Zenith Satellite System Michibiki
  • Ports: USB 3.1 Gen 2 (USB Type C), HDMI Mini Type C, 3.5mm stereo mini jack input, 3.5mm stereo mini jack audio output, N3-type remote control interface, WFT-E9 connection (for the extra wifi module)
  • Dimensions: Approx. 158*167.6*82.6mm / 6.22*6.60*3.25inch
  • Weight: Approx. 1440g/50.80oz (inc battery and card), Approx. 1250g/44.09oz (body only)

Because there are so many different options for movie recording, frame rates, bit rates etc I've screen shotted the official spec sheet here:

I'm VERY glad we no longer have the enormous MJPEG codec for 4K video recording!

That was a lot! There's more specs available on the official Canon spec sheet but these were the ones I deemed most relevant.

My history with the Canon 1D series

As I mentioned in the video, I'm a big fan of the Canon 1D series. Ever since I've started shooting photos professionally I desired the pinnacle of the Canon camera empire and to be honest, I never expected I'd get one!

After a few years of expanding my skill set as a photographer I felt it was time to go further and explore more of the video side of things. I decided on a whim I'd buy the 1DXMkII a few months after it launched and I'm glad to say I've never once regretted doing that.

The 1DXMkII led to so many opportunities and opened up so many doors for me, I'm forever grateful to that camera (even though it's just a tool!).

After a few years of shooting though, I became tired of the size and weight of this camera system. There were many other cameras on the market that had more pixels, better dynamic range, more software options (timelapse modes anyone?), more hardware options (IBIS for example) etc. I pulled my neck three times on one trip from lugging around the 1DXMkII and a 24-70 and I had had it. I kind of fell out of love with my 1DXMkII.

And then I had the hands on experience with the 1DXMkIII and it was like the romance had blossomed again. I'm not decided on it yet, I'd like to shoot more with it (the hands on experience was a mere 20 minutes) to make up my mind but I'm very much leaning towards replacing my Mark II with the new Mark III.

What I like about the Canon 1DXMkIII

I like seeing the new HEVC video codec and the new HEIF stills format in there. It's a clear sign that Canon is adopting new technology. Granted, it took long enough to get rid of that bloated MJPEG codec.. The (HDR PQ) HEIF 10 bit recording for stills is a new file that sits alongside the JPEG and RAW features in the camera.

The new smart controller for AF (pictured above) allows you to change your focus much faster than before. This will make a big difference for sports and wildlife shooters. I also like the new Manual Focus guide as well as Focus Peaking for video (finally!).

The fact that you can shoot over 1000 frames in burst mode with RAW and JPEG recording at the same time is a big feature. This will come in handy for shooting fast timelapses or other lengthy sequences.

Two CFExpress card slots means only one card reader!

The USB C port is a welcome addition. Imagine if you could charge the camera over USB C though (as far as I'm aware you can't, sadly).

It's great to have Wifi and Bluetooth built in. No longer do I have to get a very expensive wireless or cable dongle.

4K 10 bit 422 video out over the HDMI is great if you want to work with external recorders like the Atomos Shogun system.

5.5K RAW 12 bit video at up to 60 frames per second with a 2600 Megabits per second bitrate is amazing to have in a camera system of this size.

The electronic image stabilisation is a very welcome addition. The video recording over samples the sensor then downscales it to stabilise the footage so there is no resolution loss.

Edit: I forgot to add: the screen is now a fully functioning touch screen. It didn't make sense to me that they didn't enable this in the previous model (the touch only worked for certain buttons on the screen while recording – like Servo AF – and for changing focus areas) but at least we finally got it now.

There's more features that I'm sure I'll love, I just need more time with the camera.

The Canon 1DXMKIII identical CFExpress card slots.

What I don't like about the Canon 1DXMkIII

I wish the camera had a higher frame rate for slow motion video. It still tops out at 120 frames per second. There is a new filter in front of the sensor which apparently increases sharpness so hopefully at least that issue is solved (the 1DXMKII isn't the sharpest at 120fps).

There are NO timelapse modes built in! As a timelapse photographer, this is very disappointing. I said it in the video, hopefully this comes in the future as a firmware upgrade, however Canon is not known to include many new features through firmware upgrades. It's a new decade though, so who knows!

It's still a very big and heavy camera. This is obviously great for stability, durability etc however I'm very much sick of pulling my neck and back because of the weight of the 1D series.

The sensor is only 20.1 megapixels. This is disappointing considering so many other cameras have so many more pixels. Yes, this helps with low light performance but I wish we had at least 24 or 26 megapixels in this system.

What are your thoughts about this camera? Make sure to check out the video at the top and leave a comment underneath.

If you'd like to learn how to timelapse, check out my e-books:

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