Canon EOS-1D Mark III Digital Camera Review$3,999.00
Read the Canon EOS-1D Mark III Digital Camera Review on DigitalCameraInfo.com.
Testing / Performance
The ideal camera records colors accurately with the same saturation and tint as the subject. To test how well cameras approach this ideal, we photograph a GretagMacbeth color chart under standard lighting, and analyze the image with Imatest software.
The Canon EOS-1D Mark III delivers excellent color accuracy, with 99.32 percent saturation, and a mean color error of 5.69. These results were produced with the "Faithful" picture style, at ISO 100, with Noise Reduction off. The results compare well with competing DSLR cameras. To illustrate the results, Imatest generates two charts. The matrix of squares shows the Mark III's reproduced colors compared to the original tones of the GretagMacbeth chart. In each color tile, the outer square represents the camera's produced color, while the inner square shows the ideal corrected for luminosity. The vertical rectangle near the center is the original tone of the chart.
The second chart shows a color space. The white center corresponds to zero saturation, including black, white, and shades of gray. Saturation increases with distance from the center. The ideal colors are represented by squares, and the Mark III's renditions with corresponding circles. The distance between the square and the linked circle indicates the amount of deviation from the ideal. Most of the Mark III's pairs are close together, indicating good accuracy.
The Standard picture style produces larger errors. With noise reduction on, it oversaturates the image with a score of 106.4 percent and a mean color error of 8.66. However, when using the Faithful picture style, the camera is much more neutral in terms of saturation and produces far more accurate colors.
The Canon EOS-1D Mark III has a APS-H-sized 10.1-megapixel CMOS sensor. We test resolution by photographing a standard ISO resolution chart under controlled lighting. The camera is mounted on a heavy tripod, and we shoot several images at a variety of apertures and focal lengths. We analyze the images with Imatest, image evaluation software. Using a 28-70mm EF lens, the Mark III produces its best results at f/6.3 at 70mm.
Resolution is measured in line widths per picture height (lw/ph), a unit that remains constant regardless of the physical size or pixel dimensions of the sensor. Imatest also measures digital sharpening performed by the camera's processor. Oversharpening is undesirable because it limits the options for post-processing the image. The Canon EOS-1D Mark III records 1873 lw/ph (horizontal), with 3.8 percent undersharpening and 1654 lw/ph (vertical), with 17.9 percent undersharpening.
If more resolution is desired, Canon announced another DSLR in August 2007 with 21.1 megapixels: the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III. The price goes up for the increased resolution, though: it retails for $7,999.
Noise – Auto ISO*(0.00)
*The Canon EOS-1D Mark III has no auto ISO setting.
Noise – Manual ISO*(12.4)*
Imatest also measures image noise. We tested the Canon EOS-1D Mark III in both Standard and Faithful picture styles, and with high ISO noise reduction on and off. The line chart shows the results across the ISO range. Relative to other cameras, the Mark III performs very well, with low noise levels at ISO 100, and a relatively slow increase in noise at higher sensitivities.
The Standard picture style seems to run some noise reduction regardless of how the noise reduction preference is set. Its noise level actually dips at ISO 1250, which is unlikely without digital noise reduction. The Faithful picture style shows lower noise than Standard between ISO 400 and 1200. In both modes, the noise reduction system has a clear effect on noise across the ISO range.
*White balance is a weak point for the Canon EOS-1D Mark III. The Auto setting is inconsistent, performing better than the presets under flash and fluorescent lighting, but much worse in tungsten. It also performs very poorly in outdoor shade.
*The Mark III's presets are a mixed bag. The Flash setting is pretty neutral, and Tungsten shows a moderate warm tint. The Outdoor Shade setting is very blue.
In general, the Canon EOS-1D Mark III should be used with custom white balance, which works well except in very dim light. Setting a Kelvin temperature in dim light is a good alternative to the Presets.
Still Life Sequences
Click to view the high resolution images.
*We dim the studio lights to 60, 30, 15, and 5 lux and analyze color accuracy, illumination, and noise, among other things. The 60 lux test corresponds to a room softly lit by two lamps, a common setting for candid photography. The 30 lux test is similar to a room lit by a single 40-watt bulb, while the 15 and 5 lux tests are much darker.
The Canon Mark III performs extremely well in low light, much better than its predecessor, the EOS 1D Mark II n. The Mark II n has problems with color accuracy and oversaturation, but the new model seems to have corrected those issues. Colors grow increasingly dull in dimmer lighting but still remain relatively vibrant and illuminated.
Noise is often problematic in images shot in low light because long exposures and high ISO sensitivities tend to produce noise. At ISO 400 in Faithful picture style, the Canon EOS-1D Mark III controls noise very well in long exposures, and the noise doesn't increase as exposure time lengthens. The Mark III applies noise reduction to long exposures, but it doesn't make much of a difference. Though the Mark III keeps noise in check in low light, its color error increases with long exposures at ISO 400. At ISO 1600, high ISO noise reduction greatly improves the image - its color accuracy was better than at ISO 400.
Dynamic range measures the range of luminance an image records without losing details in highlights and shadows, and with acceptable noise ratings. We test dynamic range by shooting a backlit Stouffer step wedge. The target is a piece of film, and it shows a luminance range of 14 EV. We shoot the chart at each ISO setting because dynamic range tends to deteriorate with increased ISO. The Mark III does very well at ISO 100, and its performance deteriorates slowly and steadily. High ISO noise reduction doesn’t appear to have any effect on dynamic range.
Overall, the Canon EOS-1D Mark III performs particularly well in this test. Of the cameras we have reviewed, only the Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro and the Canon EOS 5D scored better.
Speed/Timing – We test a camera's speed by photographing digital timers. Speed is influenced by the recording medium. These tests are conducted using a SanDisk Ultra II 2GB Compact Flash card. File format also affects speed and burst capacity, so we test at various settings.
JPEG (Large, highest quality):
Startup to First Shot (9.7)
It takes 0.3 seconds for the Canon EOS-1D Mark III to start and take its first shot.
In High Speed Burst mode, the Mark III takes shots every 0.11 seconds, which is almost the 10 fps Canon advertises. The camera shoots this quickly for about 12 seconds, or 90 shots, before it pauses. In Low Speed mode, the camera takes shots every 0.3 seconds. This lasts for 130 shots before a pause. The speeds were set to their defaults (High at 10 fps and Low at 3 fps.)
We could not measure any delay between the time the shutter is pressed and the moment the image is recorded.
It takes the Canon EOS-1D Mark III 0.6 seconds to indicate it has finished recording a large JPEG.
*Startup to First Shot
*File format has no effect on startup time. It takes the Canon EOS-1D Mark III 0.3 seconds to shoot its first RAW file.
*RAW mode slows down the Canon EOS-1D Mark III's burst, and cuts the number of images it can shoot at a clip. Between shots in High mode, 0.13 seconds pass, and it takes 30 shots in 4 seconds before pausing. The Mark III still manages 0.3 seconds between shots in Low mode, taking 35 shots in 12.5 seconds before pausing.
RAW mode has no effect on shutter lag, which we could not detect.
RAW files are larger than JPEGs, and take longer to write. The Mark III takes 1.5 seconds for each shot.
***Startup to First Shot*
Shooting small RAW files, or sRAW, has no effect on startup. It still takes 0.3 seconds to get off the first shot.
In sRAW mode, the Canon EOS-1D Mark III shoots at the same rate as in RAW mode, but is able to take more images. It takes 0.13 seconds between shots in High mode, getting 62 shots in 8.3 seconds before pausing. It runs at 0.3 seconds between shots in Low mode, taking 80 shots in 26 seconds before pausing.
Again, there is no measurable lag between pressing the shutter and capturing an image.
*The Canon EOS-1D Mark III takes 0.8 seconds to process and write an sRAW file, which indicates the format's smaller file size.