A Closer Look at the Canon EOS 1D Mk III

click to enlargeEverybody’s salivating over the new 1D Mk III from Canon. It’s punch list sure sounds attractive; however, the closer I look at the Canon White Paper on it, the more impressed I become with this killer new piece of equipment from Canon. Below, I’ve set out a few of the features that are discussed in the White Paper that have caught my eye.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s consider the image recording options available with the 1D Mk III:

Click for larger view.

Significantly more options than we’ve seen before – from a 10.1MP file all the way down to 2.5MP in JPEG and a new twist with sRAW format.

In addition to RAW, JPEG Large, Medium 1, Medium 2, and Small, the EOS-1D Mark III features a new image size, sRAW or Small RAW. sRAW images have approximately one-fourth the pixel count, 2.5 megapixels, and approximately half the file size of RAW images. Just like regular RAW images, sRAW images can be adjusted and processed with the provided software. The feature is expected to appeal to wedding photographers, for example, who do not need full resolution for wedding candids but who do need the postproduction control RAW offers.

(White Paper, p. 13)

The new AF is also something to behold.

Click to enlarge

Canon touts this new AF as a considerable upgrade from the already excellent AF on the former 1D Mk IIn.

The EOS-1D Mark III features higher precision AF with the 19 user-selectable, cross-type AF points and improved lowlight AF performance. Also, to attain AI Servo AF for 10 fps, the focus computing is faster and an AF adjustment option function is provided. The AF sensor, AF algorithm, and AF-related electronic circuitry have been newly designed especially for the 1D Mark III. Because of improved computing performance and faster reading from the sensor, the AF speed, predictive AF performance, and matching accuracy of the target subject are all the same as with the EOS-1D Mark II N despite the 10 fps continuous shooting speed of the 1D Mark III. Of course, at 8.5 fps, the 1D Mark II N was no slouch itself.

(White Paper, p. 16)

Next, let’s take a look at what is probably the most surprising feature that I didn’t really expect to see on a Canon DSLR for quite some time – Live View. With Live View, there are a couple of different modes to operate in: 1) Camera Live View and 2) Remote Live View.

Camera Live View is pretty self explanatory:

Instead of looking through the viewfinder, you can shoot while viewing the scene on the camera’s LCD monitor. This feature was mainly designed for shooting still-life subjects. Compared to looking through the view finder, it provides the following advantages:

1. The real-time picture can be magnified by 5x or 10x to help make focusing more precise.
2. Shoot while checking the composition on the LCD monitor.
3. You can check the exposure on the LCD monitor before taking the picture (with C. Fn IV-16-1 and aperture stopped down).

This is very convenient when you shoot on a tripod or a studio stand or shoot macro images. With [Live View shoot: Enable] set and the camera ready to shoot, press the SET button. The reflex mirror will then lockup, the shutter will open, and the image output from the CMOS sensor will be displayed in real-time and 100% image coverage on the camera’s LCD monitor. Press the SET button again and the reflex mirror will go backdown and the Live View shooting will end.

Camera Live View Functions

(White Paper, p. 23)
Remote Live View gets a little fancier:

Remote Live View

Remote Live View Mode is controlled through EOS Utility2.0 (a major upgrade from version 1.1), included on the EOS Digital Solution Disk Ver. 14. The camera can be connected either wired with the provided USB 2.0 Hi-Speed cable, or wirelessly with the WFT-E2A. To get started, the camera must be set to Live View. Then, click the [Starting Live View] button on the Remote Live View screen.

(White Paper, p. 24)

It looks like we still have rather significant limitations in this novel feature though. Shooting Sequence Issues:

During Live View shooting, the picture is displayed and then the reflex mirror locks up automatically to maintain Live View display (and returns later). The Live View display’s frame rate is approx. 30 fps. The picture remains smooth even if you change the camera’s direction or if the subject moves. If the camera direction is changed to a scene with a very different light level, the Live View picture’s brightness will be thrown off for a moment. If this happens, wait until the picture brightness stabilizes again before shooting.

(White Paper, p. 26)

Thermal issues are appropriately addressed in the 1D Mk III technology to prevent image degradation and to protect the hardware for those of us who use MicroDrives:

With Live View shooting, the camera’s internal temperature increases due to heat from the CMOS sensor, and other components. For normal shooting, this is not a problem. There is no Live View operation limit at 23°C/73°F for Remote Live View shooting and Camera Live View shooting, whether you use a memory card or external recording media via the WFT-E2A. However, if the camera is under direct sunlight or near hot studio lights during Live View shooting, the camera’s internal temperature will increase more than usual and the screen may show a warning icon shaped like a thermometer. If the warning icon appears, you can continue shooting and the operation will not be forced to terminate if you are using a memory card. However, since the image quality might degrade, it is recommended that you stop shooting if the warning icon appears. If you use a MicroDrive and you keep shooting even when the warning icon appears, the Live View shooting will terminate automatically after the internal temperature reaches a certain level. This is to protect the MicroDrive from the heat. If the Live View shooting terminates automatically, Live View shooting will not be possible until the internal temperature goes down.

(White Paper, p. 27)

I am very interested in the potential of this camera and the technology that it brings to the table for future DSLRs. While 10 frames per second is smokin’ fast, I’ll have to say that the Live View feature is the most surprising to me for this camera. I’m also intrigued by the new sRAW format, although I’m still up in the air about whether I would use it were it available on my cameras. To sum it up, I want this camera.

Finally, here’s the system chart provided in the White Paper:

click to enlarge

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  1. [...] We all now know that we’re not getting the Canon 40D this Spring. The news and rumor mill has been rather thin lately though on the Canon DSLR front (and we all love to speculate). Since the announcement of the Canon 1D Mk III and accessories, we’ve not really heard much from Canon. In fact, there’s been nothing new on the Canon 40D since pre-PMA. [...]

  2. [...] ORIGINAL POST: We all now know that we’re not getting the Canon 40D this Spring. The news and rumor mill has been rather thin lately though on the Canon DSLR front (and we all love to speculate). Since the announcement of the Canon 1D Mk III and accessories, we’ve not really heard much from Canon. In fact, there’s been nothing new on the Canon 40D since pre-PMA. [...]