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An analysis of EOS-1D Mark III autofocus performance - Continued
Canon today has made available for download firmware v1.2.3 for the EOS-1D Mark III. The new firmware version includes improvements to AI Servo autofocus. Here's a brief FAQ to tackle questions already rolling in about the firmware release.

Q. What is firmware v1.2.3 meant to improve?

As with previous EOS-1D Mark III firmware updates that have targeted the camera's autofocus system, Canon is offering little in the way of specifics about what they've been working on or how much of an improvement can be expected. The release notes say that v1.2.3 "[i]mproves the stability of AF accuracy in AI servo AF when shooting extremely low-contrast subjects continuously."

Q. Have you tested the new firmware?

No.

Q. Will you be testing firmware v1.2.3 and writing about it?

Yes. This process will likely take several weeks, but shooting with and writing about EOS-1D Mark III autofocus with v1.2.3 installed is definitely a priority.

Q. Is this firmware release the autofocus fix that Canon USA pro reps were hinting at when they told U.S.-based VIP customers that Canon in Japan had discovered the "root cause" of the camera's remaining autofocus limitations?

Probably. It has been nearly three months since Canon USA started - and soon thereafter stopped - their mini-campaign to assure key photographers and organizations that EOS-1D Mark III autofocus was poised to get a lot better. Given how much time has elapsed, it seems unlikely that Canon engineers tasked with improving EOS-1D Mark III autofocus were working on anything else other than firmware v1.2.3 in this time. So, while it's possible that v1.2.3 is an interim update and the big fix is still to come, this scenario is not very likely. We're proceeding on the assumption that firmware v1.2.3 represents a culmination of Canon's efforts to make EOS-1D Mark III autofocus be all that it can be.

Q. Canon has also released new firmware for the EOS-1Ds Mark III, and it includes what sounds like the same autofocus changes as the new firmware for the EOS-1D Mark III. Is that because the EOS-1Ds Mark III has the same autofocus characteristics as the EOS-1D Mark III?

Yes. While we haven't published anything about EOS-1Ds Mark III autofocus to date, we've used the high-resolution camera extensively since mid-December 2007 and can say that its autofocus strengths and weaknesses echo the EOS-1D Mark III.
Next Page: August 1, 2008 update (Part 1)
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