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Photographer: Canon 1D Mark III autofocus still needs work

Canon fixes have made the high-end camera better, but Rob Galbraith's tests show the older 1D Mark II N still outperforms its successor in bright conditions.

Canon's EOS-1D Mark III
Canon's EOS-1D Mark III Canon

Hardware and firmware fixes have improved the autofocus performance of Canon's new EOS-1D Mark III camera, but it's still not up to the level of its predecessor, the photographer who first uncovered the issues in June said Monday.

Canon is offering some customers free adjustments to a mirror in the higher-end SLR and advising all customers to install updated firmware. The former improved the $4,500 camera's ability to focus on moving subjects in warm or hot conditions, and the latter helped when it's bright out, said photographer and consultant Rob Galbraith in a blog posting Monday. But problems remain, he said.

"In our view, there's more work to be done. In bright conditions, the EOS-1D Mark III still doesn't match the EOS-1D Mark II N; at times the two are close, and at other times the EOS-1D Mark III's autofocus performance is below what we consider acceptable," Galbraith said. "The culprit that continues to cramp the EOS-1D Mark III's autofocus style is bright sunlight."

Galbraith is based in Calgary, Alberta, but he made three trips to Phoenix in conjunction with Canon to test the camera in warm conditions. He's also shared innumerable photos with Canon engineers.

For all the gory details, check Galbraith's exhaustive 8,500-word piece, complete with high-resolution images and letter grades under different shooting circumstances.