I have a friend that's starting to study photography at university and needs a camera. Because she doesn't have a lot of money to buy a new camera and all the equipment, I offered to let her use my Canon 1D Mark III at the beginning until she has the money to buy something better.

Besides the camera I still have some additional equipment.

  • Canon 17-40mm f/4.0
  • Canon 85mm f/1.8
  • Canon 50mm f/1.2
  • Sigma 100-300 f/4.0
  • Canon 580 EX II Speedlite

The question is:

How outdated is the Mark III compared to other Canon or Nikon cameras in the low/mid price range? What newer canon model can be compared to the Mark III? The high-end cameras will obviously beat the 1D Mark III.

Would you even replace the Mark III having all this equipment?

If yes, what would be a low/mid range alternative?

I know I could do some research, but my technical knowledge is completely outdated and I don't know the difference between all the technologies released in the past 10 Years. So I can't compare anything without spending tons of hours in research.

  • My 2 cents would be. Go to dpreview.com dpreview.com/reviews/CanonEOS1DSMarkIII/25 and look for the standard studio test shoot and compare it vs other cameras.
    – Rafael
    Aug 4 '15 at 19:08
  • @DanWolfgang how can this be a duplicate when I am specifically speaking about the Canon 1D Mark III + the listed equipment? The link you posted is just generic chatting. It doesn't help me in this case.
    – Teko
    Aug 4 '15 at 19:24
  • @Rafael how does this help me? The link you posted is mostly comparing the 1Ds Mark II (that is even older) with the 1Ds mark III that is a full frame camera and not like the 1D Mark III. As I said, I wouldn't ask here for your opinion if have to research what happend in the photography world since 2007. But thank you anyway :)
    – Teko
    Aug 4 '15 at 19:43
  • 1
    @Teko: as I understand it, you're asking about keeping an old technology camera or replacing it with a new technology low- to mid-grade alternative -- and that's exactly what the question I linked to is about. Aug 5 '15 at 0:49
  • @DanWolfgang. Just imo, and why I answered and didn't vote as duplicate, the 1DIII is an odd duck (APS-H) and the old midgrade vs. new entry-level answers on that questions don't actually address the differences between old pro vs. new midgrade. Those answers all assume a 5DMkIII is the highest rung on the ladder, while to a 1D user, it can be a step or two down.
    – inkista
    Aug 5 '15 at 17:07

How outdated is the [1D] Mark III compared to other Canon or Nikon cameras in the low/mid price range?

A bit. But in other ways, not at all. The biggest advances since 2007 have been in high ISO performance and resolution on the sensor. Comparing a 10MP 2007 APS-H sensor to a current 20MP ASP-C or full frame sensor is going to be a bit like comparing apples to oranges. But generally, if you've wanted to print larger, shoot above iso 1600 with acceptable levels of noise, or were looking at newer features like video, wi-fi, or off-camera flash with the new RT system, then maybe a new body would be worth it.

What newer canon model can be compared to the Mark III? The high-end cameras will obviously beat the 1D Mark III.

1DX or the 7DMkII are liable to be the closest current "successors" to the 1DMkIII. But the 7DMkII, obviously, will lack the build quality, the integrated vertical grip, weathersealing, and some of the physical UI stuff that makes the 1 series the pro line. The 1DX is full-frame--Canon doesn't do the APS-H 1.3x crop thing any more. And the 7DMkII basically has a 1D AF system in it these days. So if fast-action is why you got a 1D, then maybe you could step down to a 7DMkII.

Would you even replace the Mark III having all this equipment?

As I stopped using my Canon kit (50D/5DMkII) most of the time in favor of lighter and smaller mirrorless cameras, I wouldn't even have bought a 1D in the first place, so I'm probably the last person to ask. :) But generally, I think it depends on what you use your 1DMkIII for, and how the features that are specific to that camera are used by you, and whether or not you're dissatisfied or frustrated with the camera body. Whatever those frustrations are should lead you to what it is you want in your next camera body. But if it's working and you're happy with it, and you see no reason to swap, then there's no reason to go there.

If yes, what would be a low/mid range alternative?

Personally, I think a 7DMkII or 5DMkIII/6D (although waiting for a 5DMkIV to catch up Af-wise with the 7DMkII is possibly wise if you shoot a lot of fast-action stuff; the 5DmkIII is nearing the three-year mark, and most of the 5D models have been refreshed at that point). And the 6D would be assuming you're not shooting a ton of fast-action at all, as its AF system is pretty primitive. I wouldn't recommend going from a 1-series to a dRebel (XXXD or XXXXD), simply because you're probably very very used to dual-wheel and a top LCD and joystick. Maybe a 70D if you can give up some of the AF system and the joystick. But given that all your lenses are full-frame, I'd actually say that a 5DMkIII is probably the way to go--if you go with a 1.6x crop body, it'll feel a bit like tunnel vision, and you might want an EF-S lens (10-18 or 10-22) for the ultra-wide end.

  • Thank you very much! This is the kind of answer I was looking for :-) Well, it seems like the 1D Mark III is still good in business. ;-) As I already mentioned, I will not be using the camera anymore. It is for someone else just starting off and I wanted to save her some money. So for a "beginner" it's perfect. It still is professional equipment. I just had a lack of knowledge because I gave up on photography in 2008-2009 and I can't compare the old and new technologies in a objective way.
    – Teko
    Aug 4 '15 at 17:05
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    @Teko You're welcome. Yeah, a 1-series of any mark for a beginner could well be overkill. :) BTW, the 5D is liable to be refreshed in the fall, so if you are looking to replace a 1D3, then a 5D4 would probably be closer, AF-wise, than a 5D3.
    – inkista
    Aug 4 '15 at 17:08

It's what the person does that makes a good photograph, not the equipment.

That is, the composition, timing, inspiration, the story they want to tell, the way they control the camera to achieve the desired effect are the key things that make a good image.

Consider all the iconic photographers from 40 years ago or more, Henri Cartier Bresson, Don McCullin, Elliot Erwitt, David Bailey; they didn't have anything like the equipment available to us today, especially in the optical quality of lenses, but they took stunning photos of great quality. I often wonder what each of these people would achieve if they were each given a 'toy' camera for a week.

I think people get too hung up on the equipment that they need (or think they need), and I know it's a different qualification level, because mine was only A Level (UK qualification, typically around 18 years old if staying in fulltime education), but I did my entire qualification when I was about 27, using a camera that was as old as me; the Canon AE-1 Program, from about 1982. If I study photography at university as a mature student, I would most likely continue to use the same camera for a large part of the studies.

To try and answer your original question; with the equipment you mention, I believe there is more than enough flexibility and control to get the desired results. For me, the other option was a point and shoot. Because the old Canon film SLR had manual controls, I didn't even consider buying a digital SLR.

  • 1
    this is definitely true and I agree with every single word you say. But my question was really only about the equipment itself. I personally would still shoot better photos with a analog SLR from 1970 than most people with the high-tech stuff nowadays. Technology just makes it easier to stay competitive against other people and optimize the workflow so you can be more productive on a daily basis.
    – Teko
    Aug 4 '15 at 17:37
  • That might be true for many photographic pursuits, but certainly isn't for all of them. Shooting sports indoors, for instance, requires good equipment to get a good photograph. Low ISO and good AF performance will make or break your ability to capture a good image.
    – Robin
    Aug 4 '15 at 22:49
  • " they didn't have anything like the equipment available to us today, especially in the optical quality of lenses," rofl .... laurencemadill the Canon ae1 with FD lenses is mostly beter than modern prime lenses, let alone the top of the line Leitz optics that HCB used. that's like comparing a Jaguar E-Type to a Ford Fiesta Nov 25 '16 at 0:39

Just to put things into perspective, I own a Canon 5Ds, released mid July 2015. it is the first 50MP full frame camera from Canon. Last weekend, I went to a commercial shoot of two simultaneous weddings at a golf club. the project was to show the golf courses capabilities.

Now naturally, I used the Canon 5Ds, and for my assistants, one of the very juniors ones, I gave her a Canon 400d, Circa 2006; to practice with.

To my embarrassment, and I am not ashamed to admit this, she pulled off shots that were better than the shots from the all singing, all dancing Canon 5DS! All with a 10MP with terrible ISO noise!

She is an academic, still learning and managed to apply the theory to practice and paid special attention to light. Your 1D MK 3 is like a Ferrari F430 compared to her 400D which is a 10 year old Mazda!

  • pixel density...as photocytes get smaller so do the overall pleasing look. i find the canon 5D classic at 12MP nicer IQ than the 5D2,3 at > 20MP, i know a lot of leica fans adore the older 10MP model. i am not sure where the limit is, and most will not even agree, some people like the higher density look...for me, i think optimal pixel density is somewhere between 12-16 or 10 and 18 MP for FF depending on tech advances, that is eq to about 7 to 12 Mp for apsc, 5-9MP for m43 and about 16-35MP on medium format. Nov 25 '16 at 0:20
  • as software advances it should slowly evolve, but the products are discontinued in the megapixel war, who makes a modern 12MP FF? though i guess eventually the 20-24MP range that seems to be plateauing nowadays will eventualy be optimized enough to reach the sweet spot of pixel density Nov 25 '16 at 0:21

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