Here Is the New Canon EOS-1D X Mark III DSLR: Faster Speed, New Autofocus but Slightly Less Resolution

It's taken Canon a while, but the company has finally introduced a new flagship professional DSLR: the EOS-1D X Mark III, which adds a bevy of new photo and video features while keeping the camera's resolution essentially the same as its four-year-old predecessor. The 20.1-megapixel full frame Canon 1D X Mark III is the successor to the 20.2MP 1D X Mark II from 2016 and while both cameras look similar, there are many changes "under the hood" to the new Mark III.

As mentioned, resolution is not one of them. (The older 1D camera actually has a tick more pixels in its full frame sensor.) According to Canon, the new 1D X Mark III features a "newly developed" 20.1MP full-frame CMOS sensor combined with a new 16-point "high detail" low-pass filter and a new DIGIC X processor to produce better overall image quality.

The new Canon 1D X Mark III can also fire off up 16 frames per second (fps) in optical viewfinder shooting, and up to 20 fps while in Live View shooting. The 1D X III also adds dual CFexpress card slots, which give the camera a maximum buffer of 1000 images (Raw+JPEG) or more during continuous burst shooting.

"These features will help to provide professional photographers with a fast and powerful tool to capture images with a greater level of resolution, higher sensitivity, reduced moiré and improved image quality in higher ISO ranges with reduced noise," Canon USA said in a press announcement tonight. Canon noted that the new EOS-1D X III "has been engineered and designed using extensive feedback from the professional sports, photojournalist, wildlife and wedding photographers."

The Canon 1D X Mark III will go on sale in mid-February 2020 for $6,499, body only. Canon also introduced the optional WFT-E9 wireless file transmitter for the 1D X III. The WFT-E9 is also available in mid-February and will sell for $649.99.

The announcement of the new 1D X Mark III should come as no surprise to most photographers. Canon announced it was developing the camera back in October 2019 and then put it on display at the PhotoPlus Expo show soon after.

Also, with the 2020 Olympics coming up in Tokyo this summer, Canon was clearly going to have its new top-of-the-line DSLR in the hands of sports photographers for that event. With this 1D X III news tonight, Canon seems intent on continuing to update its more popular DSLR models while also offering new full frame mirrorless cameras aimed at photo enthusiasts and some pros in its EOS R line.

Here's a rundown of some of the key new features of the Canon 1D X Mark III:

• New 20.1MP full-frame CMOS image sensor combined with newly designed 16-point "high detail" low-pass filter
• New DIGIC X image processor with an ISO range of 100-102400, that's expandable to 50-819200 (previous model had a maximum native ISO of 51200, expandable to 409600)
• Ability to shoot up to 16 frames-per-second in optical viewfinder shooting, and up to 20 fps while in Live View shooting with mechanical or silent shutter (previous model up to 14fps optical VF shooting; up to 16fps in LV.)
• Maximum buffer in continuous shooting (Raw+JPEG) of 1000 images or more with dual CFexpress card slots

• New 191-point optical viewfinder AF system "capable of tracking the subject’s head, and face using Deep Learning Technology." (previous camera had 61-point AF)
• New Smart Controller built into the AF-On button for faster control of the AF Point selection
• Dual Pixel CMOS AF for faster and more accurate autofocus in Live View covering 90% x 100% of the image area at an EV of -6 ~ 18

• 12-bit 5.5K RAW video internal recording and oversampling 4K 60p video recording using the full width of the sensor in Canon Log with 10-bit 4:2:2
• Canon EOS-1D series level of durability including dust and weather resistance (over 70 gaskets and seals). Magnesium alloy shell and magnesium alloy chassis plus 400,000-cycle shutter.
• Weight: approximately 51 ounces (three ounces lighter than 1D X Mark II but with same body dimensions)
• Canon 1D X Mark III goes on sale in mid-February 2020 for $6,499, body only

Canon noted that the 1D X III's combined processing power is a dramatic improvement over the previous model.

"Utilizing a single DIGIC X image processor and a DIGIC 8 dedicated for AF/AE the camera's image processing performance far exceeds and surpasses that of its predecessor, all while reducing power consumption," Canon said. "The DIGIC X is capable of up to approximately 3.1 times the image processing and 380 times Dual CMOS AF processing performance compared to the dual DIGIC 6+ found in the EOS-1D X Mark II."

There have also been major improvements in the new 1D Mark III's video features compared to its predecessor.

"With the ability to internally record 5.5K RAW video and uncropped 4K 60p derived from the original 5.5K readout in Canon Log with 10-bit 4:2:2. Canon Log allows users to record 4K and 1080p video files with up to 12 stops of High Dynamic Range and wide exposure latitude, making it simple to coordinate color settings with other Canon cameras in multi-camera set-ups," Canon said. "It’s ideally suited to help streamline and provide greater creative freedom during the extensive post-production processing. In addition, the camera’s HDMI terminal can be used to transmit 4K 60p data to another device for display or external recording."

Another key upgrade in the new 1D X III is its revamped autofocus system.

"The new 191-point AF system with 155-point all cross-type points helps users to quickly and smoothly track a subject and maintain a level of focusing accuracy during a variety of shooting situations such as tracking a motorcar circling around the race track or a leopard bolting across the plains," Canon said.  "[We have] redesigned the AF sensor incorporating a new square pixel design based on an image sensor, essentially making the AF sensor 28x higher resolution at the center area."

According to Canon, the company's Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology is designed to provide photographers "with fast and accurate AF using 3869 manually selectable AF positions and 525 automatic areas." When shooting in Live View mode, the 1D X Mark III’s AF system "supports face, head and, most noteworthy, eye detection AF tracking. Eye detection AF provides high-precision tracking by locking in on and following the eye of a moving subject. When in Live View AF/AE tracking is supported during high-speed burst shooting with the ability to capture up to 20 fps in both Raw and Raw + JPEG file format."

When shooting 16fps burst using the "traditional optical viewfinder," the 1D X III offers reduced shutter lag and image blackout.

"Reducing lag and image blackout greatly increases a photographer's ability to track moving subjects and never miss a shot," Canon said. "Regardless of the method of shooting through the OVF or LCD, the EOS-1D X Mark III can shoot over 1000 images in a burst using the dual CFexpress cards."

Here are some additional features of the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III:

• Enhanced operational controls including button illumination, Touch AF and a multi-controller allowing users to select the desired AF point more easily
• Face-Priority E-TTL II metering enables the camera to automatically adjust to provide the appropriate output of an external flash when it detects a face
• Digital Lens Optimizer helps to correct against any potential lens diffraction or aberration based on the design of each individual lens. DLO also improves the overall resolution of an image
• Ability to capture stills in 10-bit using the HEIF (High-Efficiency Image File) file format. HEIF produces a wider dynamic range and greater color representation compared to 8-bit JPEG
• Built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS Technology
• Faster speed and improved user interface for networking with optional Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E9 or with the built-in gigabit ethernet port
• Canon EOS-1D series level of durability including dust and weather resistance

Price and Availability
The Canon EOS-1D X Mark III DSLR camera body and WFT-E9 wireless file transmitter are both scheduled to go on sale in mid-February 2020 for an estimated retail price of $6,499 and $649.99, respectively.