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Canon 1Ds Mark III versus Canon 1D X

The Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III and the Canon EOS-1D X are two professional cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2007 and October 2011. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The 1Ds Mark III has a resolution of 21 megapixel, whereas the 1DX provides 17.9 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Canon 1D X

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 1Ds Mark III and the Canon 1D X. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the 1Ds Mark III – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Canon 1D X
Compare 1Ds Mark III versus 1DX top
Compare 1Ds Mark III and 1DX rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 1D X is notably larger (11 percent) than the Canon 1Ds Mark III. Moreover, the 1DX is markedly heavier (12 percent) than the 1Ds Mark III. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can find an overview of suitable optics in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the 1Ds Mark III gets 1800 shots out of its LP-E4 battery, while the 1DX can take 1120 images on a single charge of its LP-E4N power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Canon 1Ds Mark III» 150 mm 160 mm 80 mm 1385 g 1800 Y Aug 2007 7,999- i
Canon 1D X« 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1551 g 1120 Y Oct 2011 6,799- i
Canon 1D X Mark II« » 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1530 g 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999 i i
Canon 6D« » 145 mm 111 mm 71 mm 770 g 1090 Y Sep 2012 2,099- i
Canon 5D Mark III« » 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 950 g 950 Y Mar 2012 3,499- i
Canon 1D C« » 158 mm 164 mm 83 mm 1545 g 1120 Y Apr 2012 14,999- i
Canon 1D Mark IV« » 156 mm 157 mm 80 mm 1230 g 1500 Y Oct 2009 4,999- i
Canon 5D Mark II« » 152 mm 114 mm 75 mm 850 g 850 Y Sep 2008 3,499- i
Canon 1D Mark III« » 156 mm 156.6 mm 80 mm 1155 g 2200 Y Feb 2007 4,499- i
Canon 1Ds Mark II« » 156 mm 157.6 mm 80 mm 1215 g 1200 Y Sep 2004 7,999- i
Nikon D5« » 160 mm 159 mm 92 mm 1415 g 3780 Y Jan 2016 6,499 i i
Nikon D3X« » 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1260 g 4400 Y Dec 2008 7,999- i

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 1DX was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 15 percent) than the 1Ds Mark III, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

 

Sensor comparison: Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Canon 1D X

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon 1Ds Mark III and Canon 1D X sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the 1Ds Mark III offers a higher resolution of 21 megapixel, compared with 17.9 MP of the 1DX. This megapixel advantage translates into a 8 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the 1Ds Mark III has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 6.41μm versus 6.95μm for the 1DX). Moreover, it should be noted that the 1DX is much more recent (by 4 years and 1 month) than the 1Ds Mark III, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of individual pixels.

1Ds Mark III versus 1DX MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Canon 1Ds Mark III» Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744-24.012.0166380
Canon 1D X« Full Frame 17.9 5184 34561080/30p23.811.8278682
Canon 1D X Mark II« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788
Canon 6D« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.812.1234082
Canon 5D Mark III« » Full Frame 22.1 5760 38401080/30p24.011.7229381
Canon 1D C« » Full Frame 17.9 5184 34564K/24p----
Canon 1D Mark IV« » APS-H 16.0 4896 32641080/30p22.812.0132074
Canon 5D Mark II« » Full Frame 21.0 5616 37441080/30p23.711.9181579
Canon 1D Mark III« » APS-H 10.1 3888 2592-22.711.7107871
Canon 1Ds Mark II« » Full Frame 16.6 4992 3328-23.311.3148074
Nikon D5« » Full Frame 20.7 5588 37124K/30p25.112.3234388
Nikon D3X« » Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032-24.713.7199288

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The 1DX indeed provides for movie recording, while the 1Ds Mark III does not. The highest resolution format that the 1DX can use is 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Canon 1D X

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 1Ds Mark III and the 1DX are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 1Ds Mark III, the Canon 1D X, and comparable cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Canon 1Ds Mark III»optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n
Canon 1D X«optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 14.0 n n
Canon 1D X Mark II« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 16.0 n n
Canon 6D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 4000 4.5 n n
Canon 5D Mark III« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 6.0 n n
Canon 1D C« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 14.0 n n
Canon 1D Mark IV« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 10.0 n n
Canon 5D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 3.9 n n
Canon 1D Mark III« »optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 8000 10.0 n n
Canon 1Ds Mark II« »optical Y 2.0 230 fixed n 8000 4.0 n n
Nikon D5« »optical Y 3.2 2359 fixed Y 8000 14.0 n n
Nikon D3X« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n

Both the 1Ds Mark III and the 1DX have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 1Ds Mark III was replaced by the Canon 1DX, while the 1DX was followed by the Canon 1DX Mark II.

Review summary: Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Canon 1D X

So what is the bottom line? Is the Canon 1Ds Mark III better than the Canon 1D X or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (21 vs 17.9MP) with a 8% higher linear resolution.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 166g or 11 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1800 versus 1120) on a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2007).


Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS-1D X:

  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.7 stops ISO advantage).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p video.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 230k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (14 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (15 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 4 years and 1 month of technical progress since the 1Ds Mark III launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 1DX emerges as the winner of the match-up (7 : 4 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision.

1Ds Mark III 04:07 1DX

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 1Ds Mark III or the 1DX. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable. This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Canon 1Ds Mark III»-HiRec4.5/5-- Aug 2007 7,999- i
Canon 1D X«--4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2011 6,799- i
Canon 1D X Mark II« »-89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999 i i
Canon 6D« »HiRec83/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099- i
Canon 5D Mark III« »HiRec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2012 3,499- i
Canon 1D C« »----- Apr 2012 14,999- i
Canon 1D Mark IV« »-89/100-5/5- Oct 2009 4,999- i
Canon 5D Mark II« »91/10079/1004/55/5- Sep 2008 3,499- i
Canon 1D Mark III« »---rev- Feb 2007 4,499- i
Canon 1Ds Mark II« »-HiRec--- Sep 2004 7,999- i
Nikon D5« »-89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 6,499 i i
Nikon D3X« »-86/1004/55/55/5 Dec 2008 7,999- i

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please contact me, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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