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Canon woos pro photographers with EOS-1D X Mark III

It's only changed a bit on the outside, but inside there's improved imaging, better autofocus, expanded video capabilities and more.

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Canon
This story is part of CES 2020, our complete coverage of the showroom floor and the hottest new tech gadgets around.

It's an Olympic year: must be time for an update to pro cameras. Canon's newest model in its EOS-1D series of big-bodied DSLRs for shooting sports, the EOS-1D X Mark III, may look much the same on the outside as the Mark II, but it has a host of upgrades on the inside. It's slated to ship in mid-February for $6,499.

What's new? Here are some highlights:

  • The imaging pipeline. Though it's still effectively the same resolution as before, the 20.1-megapixel Dual Pixel sensor has a new lowpass filter designed to overcome the slight softening effect the filter has on still images by splitting the incoming light rays. (Canon's the last holdout in using a low-pass filter.) It also has a new Digic X -- that's "ex", not "ten" -- processor that Canon claims is three times faster than the dual Digic 6 Plus configuration of the old model. The combination of the new sensor and processor enables an increase of the native sensitivity range by one stop to ISO 102,400 and the expanded range to ISO 819,200. New Canon Cloud Imaging supports offloading noise reduction to get better results.
  • Faster everywhere. The Digic X processor is also among the changes that make the camera faster overall; in fact, there's a Digic 8 dedicated specifically to metering. There's also a new mirror mechanism and a new 191-point phase-detection autofocus system with the AF points -- Canon shifted from the line sensors -- packed more densely to deliver more precise focus. Plus, Canon's switched to the faster CFexpress for recording; sorry, you'll have to buy a whole new set of cards because the slots aren't backward compatible. As a result, continuous shooting has increased to 16 frames per second -- 20 fps in Live View -- for more than 1,000 shots. Canon claims the optical viewfinder has minimal blackout at max speed. And of course the camera's got improved algorithms everywhere, including improving tracking performance.
  • Expanded video capabilities. Some pretty technical enhancements: Canon added support for BT.2100 HDR PQ curves in HEIF and 4:2:2 10-bit C-Log recording in-camera. That, and the ability to record 5.5K/60p raw at 2,600 megabits per second in-camera, is part of what drove the move to CFexpress as well.
  • Improved connectivity. It now has Bluetooth, Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) and 20Gbps USB-C.

The camera gains some of the redesigned controls that have appeared on other recent models, such as the Smart Controller on the AF-on button so you can select AF points with your thumb while looking through the viewfinder. And it's about 90 grams lighter!