Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Canon EOS-1D Mark III Review

This review has been updated. Please link to the Updated Review

An unscientific camera review by Morten Byskov - mfoto.ca

Another camera has found it's way into my bag. After much debate I decided to sell my Canon 5D and grab a Canon 1D Mark III. I have been very happy with my 5D but after I got a 5D Mark II in March of 2009 the 5D took a back seat and has mainly been a back up camera. I got the chance to grab a used 1D Mark III, which had both AF fixes done and was indistinguishable from a new camera. For some time I had been eying out the release of Canon's 1D Mark IV but disappointingly it comes in at $5000.00 US and as a 1.3x crop camera. The 1D III currently goes for about half of this and although the 1D III also is a 1.3x crop and doesn't shoot video it still gives shooters many of the benefits of a 1D series camera.

EF 300 2.8L IS, f/3.2, 1/400, ISO 1600, click to view larger image

I think the 1D III will work better for me as a compliment to my 5D II. Better than the 5D due to the higher fps. and AF tracking. I have now had some time to give it a test and have shot volleyball, hockey, theatre, portraits in my studio and also an engagement sessions.

EF 300 2.8L IS, f/2.8, 1/400, ISO 1250, click to view larger image

If you have tried a 1 series camera before you will know that these beasts just feel different. They are built to withstand some abuse and long term use in a variety of climates. We are talking about better weather sealing, which may come in handy for me while shooting ski races. With that said I can't say that I have ever had trouble with any of my Canon bodies in the past. I do live in a dry climate and even when it snows you can just brush the snow off the camera. The 1D III however does feel very solid and is a pleasure to use. It is very responsive from the get go and shooting 10 frames per second inevitably leads to more keepers while shooting sports or wild life.

EF 85 1.2L II, f/5.0, 1/160, ISO 100, click to view larger image

My findings on the auto focus tracking have not disappointed, nor have they exceeded my expectations. Much have been written about the AF issues of the 1D III. Even I have expressed my concerns prior to making a jump for one. The first thing you discover is the fact that the camera has quite a few custom settings and so far I find that it really pays off to adjust and experiment with these until you are comfortable and find a usable setting for what you are shooting. The ability to pick different and better individual focusing points is a real asset and I find myself doing this more and more as the outer points are more reliable than on the 5D cameras. Shooting hockey and volleyball I got more keepers than when I shoot with the 5D cameras.

As for image quality even I had concerns shooting with a 10.1 mega pixel camera versus the 5D II with 21.1. The trick is not to compare the files but find how the two camera can compliment each other. For cropping you cannot beat the 5D II but if you can fill the frame the AF tracking and frames per second makes up for it on the 1D III and you should end up with shots you otherwise wouldn't have been able to capture. I have noticed, and this did not come as a surprise to me, that the portraits taken in my studio has a wonderful pop and pleasant skin tones using the 1D III. For landscapes or wide angle shots in general there is little doubt that the the 5D II creates nicer images. Again it comes down to using these two camera where best applied.

EF 135 2.0L, f/2.2, 1/320, ISO 1250, click to view larger image

EF 70-200 2.8L, f/2.8, 1/400, ISO 2500, click to view larger image

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