Canon EOS-1D X Mark III: A Revolutionary Hybrid DSLR

Canon EOS-1D X Mark III Image-3


Presented as a DSLR that endorses some of the most interesting features of the mirrorless EOS R, the third generation of the 1D X arrives with new standout points that make it one of the most powerful professional cameras on the market.

The Canon EOS-1D X Mark III was announced at CES in early January 2020 and is packed with several new technologies seen for the first time in a DSLR camera. Appealing to professional photographers and filmmakers alike, it eliminates the distinctions between a still and video camera.

Let’s dig a bit deeper and see how the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III unveils itself in design and performance.


The ergonomic, magnesium-alloy body of the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III gives a comfortable, yet sturdy feel to your hands. Externally, it differs little from its predecessor, the EOS-1D X Mark II, so long-time users won’t have to get used to a new setup.

However, Canon brings a new control element that can be used as an alternative to the joystick that is still available: the “Smart Controller”, which works similarly to an optical mouse. You just need to run your finger over the small control field to shift the AF point. This is faster than with the joystick, but it takes some getting used to. 

Canon EOS-1D X Mark III Image-2

A big plus point is the option to illuminate the menu buttons when shooting in the dark. Another upgrade in the display is an increase in the resolution of the 3.2-inch monitor from 1.62 to 2.1 million dots.

The same battery as in the Mark II (LP-E19) now delivers 2850 instead of 1210 pictures per charge according to the CIPA standard.

With this model, Canon has replaced CFast and CompactFlash cards with two CFexpress card slots. The speed-gain in the EOS-1D X Mark III is impressive. Even with RAW series recordings at 16 fps, the buffer is emptied almost immediately, so more than 1000 pictures in a row are possible (compared to 170 with the Mark II).

The Canon EOS-1D X Mark III in Use

While designing this camera, Canon revised the autofocus system to provide a much faster experience. The enhanced 191-point AF system helps you smoothly trace a subject in a range of situations, especially when shooting sports and wildlife. Programmed through deep learning, it identifies humans and locks the focus on the subject’s head even from the back or when it’s covered with sporting gear.

In live view, the camera uses the proven Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus with phase detection: 3869 AF measuring fields cover almost the entire image field (100 percent in height, 90 percent in width). Face and eye identification are possible in live view, but the Mark III is only trained on human and not animal eyes, unlike recent Sony cameras like the a6600.

This is Canon’s first camera to feature the DIGIC X image sensor, offering faster read-out and less noise. It also offers Canon’s widest range of ISO sensitivities to date. With an ISO range of 100 to 102,400 (expandable from 50 to 819,200), the 1D X Mark III gives you the flexibility to shoot in low-light conditions.

Canon EOS-1D X Mark III Image-1

Canon has left the resolution of the newly developed CMOS image sensor at 20.1 megapixels, but a new high-detail low-pass filter is used, which registers more image details. This new addition helps in avoiding moiré while improving the dynamic range and producing higher resolution images.

Since sports photographers usually don’t record RAW files due to the amount of data, Canon has given the Mark III a new image format. The HEIF (High-Efficiency Image File Format) creates small files that have a higher color depth than JPEGs, with 10 instead of eight bits per color channel.

Thanks to more effective compression, Canon is able to achieve better quality with the same file size. To use HEIF in the camera, activate the HDR-PQ mode, which automatically creates a recording with an extended dynamic range.

The EOS-1D X Mark III is Canon’s first non-film camera to record in 5.5K RAW videos, offering a wider range of tones and colors. In addition to the optical stabilizer, it supports Movie Digital IS, enabling five-axis stabilization, a feature already present in Canon’s top film cameras such as the EOS C500 Mark II.

How Does the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III Compare?

It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that the 1D X Mark III is a step ahead of most high-end DSLRs. To be honest, there are not many DSLRs worth comparing it to. As compared to the Mark II, it has considerably improved in autofocusing, shooting rate, video resolution, and battery life.

When we compare the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III to the Nikon D6, it fares better in the number of focal points, shooting rate, and video resolution. But these features come at the price of having a higher weight and a lower battery life.

Canon EOS-1D
X Mark III
Nikon D6
Sensor Resolution20.1MP21MP
Number of Focus Points191105
Maximum Shooting Rate20 fps14 fps
Maximum Video Resolution5472 x 28863840 x 2160
Battery2850 shots3580 shots


Geared towards professional sports, action, and nature photography, one of the strengths of the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III is video recording. This is one of the few DSLRs that can truly be considered a hybrid on a professional level.

At the heart of the camera is Canon’s newly-developed 20.1MP full-frame CMOS sensor and DIGIC X processor. Canon shows what is currently possible with SLR cameras in sports photography and raises the bar for upcoming high-end cameras.

The Review

Canon EOS-1D X Mark III

The Canon EOS-1D X Mark III offers professional photographers seemingly unlimited possibilities at blazing fast speeds. With radical improvements in AF tracking performance, image quality, and communication capabilities, the camera represents the top proposition in Canon's EOS-1 series.


  • Autofocus speed
  • Menu and ergonomics
  • High video resolution
  • Next-gen DIGIC X processor


  • Poor rolling shutter
  • Relatively large 5.5K RAW file sizes
  • Price


Review Breakdown






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