Offered no significant improvement over my 1DX

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Scott Larson Veteran Member • Posts: 6,889
Offered no significant improvement over my 1DX

After shooting a season of NCAA basketball and volleyball, I have to conclude that my 1DX Mark III has not given me anything that I couldn't do with my 1DX with perhaps one exception.

The most exciting feature was supposed to be the face/head tracking. It sounded like even through the viewfinder I should have been able to lock focus on a player's face and track that player all over the court with every shot of their face in perfect focus. The first thing I noticed was the delay the camera requires to lock on a face, so in Zone AF mode I was already losing shots. In the viewfinder a face needs to be about two focus points wide before it will recognize it, so on a fast break I had to wait for a player to get close before it would lock on the face. Then when the player moved around the court, the focus would regularly lose the face and lock on their uniform, or even worse it would lock on the back of other player's heads. No matter what I set "Subject switching" to, any time the subject's face was blocked, it would immediately switch to something else. It was especially annoying when it would lock on the basketball before a player took a shot throwing their face out of focus.

So the face/head tracking with the viewfinder was worthless for me. It took much more effort to use and I ended up with fewer shots in focus.

The tracking is somewhat better in LiveView. Although it did regularly lock on players and track them, it was also very likely to lose them and lock on something else but less likely than when using the viewfinder. But I found a new problem. I found that tracking a face didn't mean it was really focused on the face. For example, due to COVID-19 there were no fans in the court so I would use LiveView to take shots of players shooting free throws because the player could easily be distracted by the sound of the shutter. The camera always quickly locked on their face (large box) then their eyes (small box) but about 15%-20% if the time the shots would not be focused on their face. A burst would show the focus wandering all over the place.

I saw a similar problem in volleyball. In LiveView it appeared to have no problem tracking a player's face behind the net which was the best use case for face tracking I could imagine. However a large percentage of the time, the shots were focused on the net even though the box had been on the player's face the whole time. Even eight frame bursts would have the net solidly in focus and the player's face out of focus. I can't explain this. Obviously there is a major disconnect between face/head tracking and focusing in this camera.

But here's the one definite improvement: regular conventional single-point focusing did a better job of staying focused on the player's face through the net than my 1DX. I suspect this is the result of the color tracking that they added in the 1DX Mark II.

I found the new AF-ON "Smart Controller" (not to be confused with the "Multi-Controller") to be completely useless, even at the lowest sensitivity setting. All it did was randomly move my focus point every other time I touched it.

The "Multi-controller" (which most people call the joystick) felt much better than the one in my 1DX which I've had trouble using. So that's good!

Since this is the sixth 1D camera I've owned, I really wish I could say something super-positive about what might be the last 1D camera Canon will ever release but I have to conclude that they put in some features that in the real world don't work well.

 Scott Larson's gear list:Scott Larson's gear list
Canon EOS-1D Mark III Canon EOS 5D Canon EOS 5D Mark II Canon EOS-1D Mark IV Canon EOS-1D X +17 more
Canon EOS-1D X Mark III
20 megapixels • 3.2 screen • Full frame sensor
Announced: Jan 7, 2020
Scott Larson's score
Average community score
bad for good for
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Canon EOS-1D Canon EOS-1D X Mark III
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