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EOS-1D X Mark III: 5 Advantages for Serious Wildlife Photographers

As Canon’s new flagship DSLR camera, the EOS-1D X Mark III strives to provide the image quality, precision and speed that professional photographers require, not just for still shooting but also for video. Here are some reasons why it will up your wildlife photography game.


Wildlife photography: One of the most demanding genres of photography ever

Wildlife photography is one of the most demanding genres of photography, and here are just two reasons:

1. Wildlife is unpredictable. The subjects don't stay still and won't take instructions!  With some diligent study of their behavior, you might be able to anticipate some of their actions. However, most of the time, catching a shot depends on how quickly you—and your equipment—can respond.

2. Wildlife can be found in all sorts of locations. This can be anything from a dark forest to a dusty savannah. Your camera would have to be reliable enough to keep functioning normally even under harsh conditions.

The world of wildlife photography may be demanding, but with huge improvements to its performance and capabilities, the EOS-1D X Mark III promises to help you achieve inspiring shots of wildlife, even the ones that you never expected to be able to capture before.


#1: Super-fast continuous shooting speeds

16 fps (OVF), 20 fps (LV): Fast enough to capture moments within moments

As a serious wildlife photographer, simply catching a bird as it flaps its wings no longer enough—you want to capture that split second where the wings are fully spread in its most beautiful form. Even if you know your subject so well that you can predict what it will do next to a certain extent, it does not change the fact that a mere fraction of a moment—the difference of even one frame per second—can make the difference between a good shot and extraordinary one.

The EOS-1D X Mark III is capable of the following burst shooting speeds:
- OVF: Up to 16 fps (with AF/AE tracking)
- Live View: Up to 20 fps (with AF/AE tracking)

It’s worth noting that 16 fps is nothing short of miraculous for OVF shooting, considering how the mirror needs to move up and down. You can also take more than 1000 continuous shots* even if you shoot in RAW + JPEG, which works out to more than 1 minute of non-stop high-speed continuous shooting.

*RAW+HEIF: approx. 350 shots/ C-RAW+HEIF: approx. 420 shots

Continuous shot of flying bird

Best shot of flying bird

EOS-1D X Mark III/ EF600mm f/4L IS III USM/ FL: 600mm/ Manual exposure (f/4, 1/1250 sec)/ ISO 250/ WB: Auto

Know this: A new mirror mechanism to reduce viewfinder blackout

On any DSLR, there will be a moment where the viewfinder blacks out as the mirror moves up. But if you are wondering if the faster continuous shooting speed on the EOS-1D X Mark III also means more frequent viewfinder blackouts, rest assured: Canon has taken steps to address this. The EOS-1D X Mark III uses a new mirror mechanism where the main and sub-mirrors are each directly controlled by highly-precise motors with powerful torque, reducing viewfinder blackout.

Close-up of lioness yawning

EOS-1D X Mark III/ EF600mm f/4L IS III USM/ FL: 600mm/ Manual exposure (f/5.6, 1/500 sec)/ ISO 2000/ WB: Shade


#2: AF at super long focal lengths, even with a teleconverter

Normal AF function even at maximum aperture f/8 (OVF) and f/11 (Live View)

Some animals are extremely sensitive and will escape in the blink of an eye once they sense intruders nearby. Others are savage and will attack humans.

There are also animals that are most easily found on high cliffs, or up in the sky.

In situations like this, where it is hard to get close to these animals physically, a super telephoto lens is your best friend. You might even need a teleconverter (also known as an extender) to achieve a decent shot.

Teleconverters are useful for increasing the focal length according to their strength setting: 400mm easily becomes 800mm with a 2x teleconverter.  However, the magnification comes with a corresponding decrease in the effective lens aperture. For example, if you use a 2x teleconverter with an f/4 lens, your maximum aperture will be slowed by two f-stops and become f/8. A narrower aperture means less light information available, which affects AF performance if the AF system cannot work with such narrow apertures.

On the EOS-1D X Mark III, this is not the issue that it used to be. During OVF shooting, the newly-developed High-res AF sensor, supported by the prowess of a dedicated DIGIC 8 processor just for computing AF, means that up to 191 AF points, including up to 65 cross-type points, are compatible with focusing at f/8. In other words, you can attach your Extender EF 2xIII to your EF600mm f/4L IS III USM, shoot at 1200mm, and be able to use the AF even at an effective maximum aperture of no wider than f/8.

Close-up of bird in tree

EOS-1D X Mark III/ EF600mm f/4L IS III USM + Extender EF 2xIII/ FL: 1200mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/8, 1/1250 sec, EV -0.7)/ ISO 3200/ WB: Auto

If you are shooting in Live View, the highly sensitive and accurate Dual Pixel CMOS AF system supports focusing at maximum aperture f/11 over the entire AF area. Imagine: Shooting at up to 20 fps with AF and AE tracking at focal length 1600mm, using your EF800mm f/5.6L IS USM and Extender EX 2xIII, and capturing unexpected moments that are closer, sharper and clearer.


#3: Smart Controller for instant, intuitive AF point control

Works wonders when combined with an AF system based on deep learning technologies

An ultra-fast continuous shooting speed would be meaningless if all your shots ended up out of focus. The EOS-1D X Mark III boasts improved AF speed and precision during OVF shooting with its new High-res AF sensor that has as many as 191 AF points, and the AI Servo AF IV system which incorporates deep learning technology.

There are seven different AF area selection modes that you can choose from to better handle different scenes and subjects. This includes the Single-point Spot AF, Zone AF, and auto-area selection modes. Many photographers use Zone AF to track fast-moving animals during continuous shooting, and the new Smart Controller makes it even easier to move the AF zone as you shoot: Simply glide your thumb over the controller, and its optical sensor will track your finger movement and move the AF frame or zone accordingly.

Thumb over the Smart Controller


#4: Autofocus in environments as dark as EV -6

All the better for capturing nocturnal animals in action

Many animals are nocturnal, i.e., they are most active at night. To catch a good shot of them in action, you will want the help of your AF, but darkness usually means that there is not enough light entering the camera for the AF to function.

That is less of a worry with the EOS-1D X Mark III, which has a low light focusing limit that goes down to EV -4 during OVF shooting and EV -6 in Live View, allowing the AF to work even in rather dark situations where you can't see subjects clearly with the unaided eye. Why not experience it for yourself by taking it to your nearest night safari?

Giraffe at night

EOS-1D X Mark III/ EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM/ FL: 105mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/4, 1/4 sec, EV -1.3)/ ISO 25600/ WB: Auto


#5: Tough and durable, even under harsh shooting conditions

You never know where wildlife photography takes you, but the EOS-1D X Mark III always has your back

The EOS-1D X Mark III is sturdy, dust-resistant, droplet-resistant, and durable with a magnesium alloy exterior that comes with strong electromagnetic shielding, ensuring that it can withstand rather harsh shooting conditions. In view of how the faster continuous shooting will result in a higher shutter count, shutter durability has been increased. In fact, the camera’s shutter unit has passed a shutter durability test for up to 500,000 cycles.

The battery life is also something worth noting: While the camera uses the same LP-E19 battery pack as its predecessor, the EOS-1D X Mark II, its new power management system makes it capable of more than twice the number of shots on a single charge.

  EOS-1D X Mark II
(Battery life per charge)
(Battery life per charge)
OVF* approx. 1210 shots approx. 2850 shots
Live View* approx. 260 shots approx. 610 shots
Video (4K 60P)** approx. 1h 40 min approx. 2h 20 min

* When using a fully charged battery. Normal temperature (+23°C),
** When using a fully charged battery. Normal temperature (+23°C), Movie Servo AF [No], (DCI 4K 60p)

Improved sensor self-cleaning unit

When you are in the outdoors tracking down your favourite animal, getting dust on your sensor is the last thing you want to worry about, especially when you want to do a quick lens change. That is less of a concern with the camera’s Self Cleaning Sensor Unit, which shakes off the dust on the image sensor by using ultrasound vibrations to vibrate the infrared absorption glass in front of it. It has been newly updated to use quartz plates, which increases the depth of the vibrations, hence improving dust removal capabilities.


In summary

We have shared five key features of the EOS-1D X Mark III that will delight serious wildlife photographers, but the camera has loads of other attractive still and video shooting features. As Canon’s flagship EOS DSLR camera, the outstanding image quality, precision and speed that it boasts are sure to help you capture wildlife like never before.

Check out the following articles for more wildlife photography tips and ideas:
Wildlife Photography: 3 Techniques from Professional Photographers
Super Telephoto Lens Techniques - Wildlife Silhouettes Against the Sun

Learn more about the EOS-1D X Mark III in:
EOS-1D X Mark III: Master the Game


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