Afew days before the launch of the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III reflex, we took charge of the brand’s most high-end reflex during the Ligue 1 football match, PSG-Montpellier.
While Canon’s most high-end SLR, the EOS-1D X Mark III, was presented in detail in January 2020 , we were able to take it in hand during the Ligue 1 football match, PSG-Montpellier which took place on Saturday February 1st. Two red cards at Montpellier, Neymar who gets angry or who is nearly injured, but especially 5 goals for PSG – including one scored by Mbappé – are all highlights that form the ideal baptism of fire for this professional reflex.
These test conditions are ideal, as many sports photographers will equip themselves with the EOS-1D X Mark III for use at the edge of a stadium or during major sporting events. Canon estimates that a third of users of the previous model, the EOS-1D X Mark II , use it in a sports context. Of course, this is not the only type of shot the SLR can tackle, it is also much appreciated by wildlife photographers and top reporters.
A focal length a little too long for football
For the grip, unfortunately we did not really have a choice on the objectives. We would have liked to have had an EF 400mm f / 2.8L IS III USM or an EF 200-400mm f / 4L IS USM Extender 1.4x for more versatility, but ultimately it is the EF 500mm f / 4L IS telephoto lens. II USM that we have received. For football, this focal length is a bit too long and makes it difficult to frame the action, especially when the players are getting closer. To overcome this problem, we could count on the EF 24-105mm f / 4 L IS II USM zoom lens, also lent for the occasion. However, juggling the two objectives is no easy task.
A rookie’s mistake
For your photographer-editor, sports photography is not his discipline of choice, since rather used to portrait, street photography or landscape. Without transition between a recently tested RF 85 mm f / 1.2L USM and the EOS-1D X Mark III in the middle of the Parc des Princes, the journalist also goes on the grill! It is also for him the opportunity to commit a beautiful ball. After trying – with little success, it must be admitted – creative effects of motion blur at slow speeds, he simply forgot to reduce the exposure time …
With the arrival of the EOS-1D X Mark III, Canon is changing the autofocus adjustment options a bit. The dedicated menu goes from 5 to 4 settings, while the very last is an auto mode. The brand indicates that this parameter is doped with artificial intelligence. It detects heads and is supposed to respond to 80% of situations. This setting will prove to be more effective than some personal adjustments made by photographers. In any case, that’s what a Canon product manager tells us and that’s how we test the EOS-1D X Mark III.Show EXIF
A formidable burst and autofocus tracking
The EOS-1D X Mark III reflex is renewed in the run-up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and takes, more or less, the same design as its predecessor. On the other hand, under the hood, it’s a different story. The sensor is new, as is the one dedicated to autofocus, which has 191 points against “only” 61 previously.
The burst which goes up to 16 fps – and up to 20 fps in live view – connects the shots without fail. Associated with the new autofocus, the duo is formidable. We have chosen to try out all types of autofocus areas to test the new algorithms. While some automatic modes have been shown to be effective – notably the extension of the AF point – we had a few hiccups with a focus behind the action.
This is particularly the case during the goal against his camp in Congré where the focus is made in the stands. Unfortunately, we also chose to activate the new touch joystick introduced with the EOS-1D X Mark III. We should have done tests on the autofocus areas, then with the joystick to better identify a potential source of error. But not both at the same time.
Some questions to explore about the touch joystick
The joystick is very practical and responsive. Its sensitivity is also adjustable. However, not sure that sporting working conditions are ideal for this one. Working in an all-auto mode or with the central collimator locked will perhaps be more judicious to avoid handling errors.
Well-controlled JPEGs out of the box
As for the image quality, we can only welcome the results. Even though the stadium has good lighting, the match took place in the late afternoon in gloomy weather and continued after dark. To maintain a speed above 1/800 s it is imperative to increase the sensitivity up to 3200, 6400 and even 10,000 ISO.
The result is very clean and usable directly, even after cropping. The noise, although noticeable, is nevertheless very well managed by the EOS-1D X Mark III. If a loss of detail is necessarily visible, the JPEG files benefit from efficient processing. The colorimetry is also pleasant.
At the moment, it should also be noted that the raw files are not compatible with any software. Canon’s Digital Photo Professional beta is not yet available, while Adobe’s Lightroom and Camera Raw have obviously not received an update yet. Small subtlety, you will have to remember to go to the advanced JPEG settings to set their quality to 10, the maximum value. By default, it is set to 8.
The full test coming soon
Finally, what can we say about the EOS-1D X Mark III in professional use? On a test as difficult as a football match and its rapid phases of play, it is clear. The reflex reacted without firing a shot and the few images gained during the burst are sure to seduce the pros. The follow-up is very impressive, the hiccups being probably to blame the photographer more than anything else. Ultimately our labs are eager to accurately measure the performance of the Canon’s new professional SLR EOS-1D X Mark III.