Digital Camera Reviews | Canon 1DX vs Canon 1D Mark III

  • Reading time:6 mins read
  • Post last modified:12/19/2012
  • Post category:Uncategorized

Digital Camera Reviews // Low light performance Canon 1Dx vs the Canon 1D Mark III

digital camera reviews


As photographers, we are constantly faced with low-light situations and decisions that must be made in order to ensure the highest quality image is created.

Noise is a byproduct of the low light situations we all encounter. As we increase the ISO on today’s cameras, the noise quickly follows. The world of photography has been forever changed with the introduction of digital cameras. No one knows what the future holds, but today, when I photograph a wedding, I am most concerned with noise. Don’t get me wrong, some noise is actually a good thing. Chalk it up to artistic interpretation. 🙂

However, with today’s digital cameras touting somewhere in the realm of 215,000 ISO its starting to seem like we can shoot in near darkness. But again, that pesky digital noise issue will creep in. And sure, there are noise reduction plug-ins that can remove some of that and they do a good enough job, but where does it just become impossible to produce a usable image?

That is the task I have set out on. Now, keep in mind, every camera is going to be different. In a certain sense, that’s what you are paying for. Canon, Nikon, Sony, etc all have noise issues. However, each performs differently under certain settings.

For my testing, I wanted to see if the Canon 1Dx is that much better over its predecessor the 1D Mark III.  I sure know the price tag is there at a whopping $6799! But will it give me better low-light performance?

There is nothing scientific about my tests. We are not being paid by Canon to do this. These are my personal cameras that I am putting to the test. And for me, low-light performance is something I am concerned about when selecting a new camera. And so should you.

Below are side by side pictures taken with both the Canon 1Dx and the Canon 1D Mark III. I think the results are pretty obvious.

Here was the criteria, I used a little sock monkey sitting on my kitchen table, don’t ask why I have a sock monkey, it doesn’t matter 🙂 – and used the tungsten light from the kitchen to illuminate the subject. No post-production has been done to the images. In addition, we did not use noise reduction in the camera. You are seeing the raw images.

The Canon 1D Mark III has a max extended range of ISO 3200. So, the comparison stopped there. However, with the new Canon 1DX the range is expandable to 204,800. However, like most things, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

***NOTE*** I erroneously made the statement that the max range on the 1Dm3 was 3200. This is why I am not a scientist. 🙂 The max range on the 1DM3 is 6400.

>>>Click on the images to enlarge<<<

At ISO 800 there is no describable difference between the two cameras.

digital camera reviews

At ISO 1600, the Canon 1Dx starts to take the lead. There is a noticeable difference.

digital camera reviews

At ISO 3200, there is no comparison. The 1Dx really stands out and takes the lead.

digital camera reviews

From here on out, we are in uncharted waters with the Canon 1Dx. The maximum range of the Canon 1D Mark III is 3200.

digital camera reviews

digital camera reviews

digital camera reviews

In conclusion, the Canon 1Dx is the winner. Canon has upped their game without a doubt and the Canon 1Dx has the price tag to prove it. All kidding aside, with the expanded ISO range, comes much great flexibility, but you have to be careful, too much noise will ruin your imagery to a point of no recovery. However, I feel comfortable pushing this ISO 12,800 and getting a usable image for my clients. And with a little noise reduction this image is good to go. Look, clients understand the challenges with shooting in dark locations. Clients today are camera phone aware and they see how bad those images look, but they dont care, they want something to remember the moment. My point is simple, we have some latitude and the clients understand that with low-light comes noise. That being said, its up to us to understand our equipment and how far we can push it. NEVER, let the equipment get in the way of the shot. Its a tool. And like all tools, its their to assist.

That being said, I will do everything in my power at the time of capture to keep the ISO down to a manageable level, especially when I know I will be creating art work for my clients that will be produced in a larger size. However, most of the time, the church and reception pictures will end up in a smaller size either as a print or in the album, so the trade-off is somewhat manageable and not as noticeable.

The Canon 1Dx gives me the expanded ISO I need to work in some of the most challenging situations, but with that expanded range comes additional digital noise. At ISO 3200, the Canon 1Dx has some significant improvements over the Canon 1d Mark III. Give your gear a test and see how it performs in low-light situations. ~Sal