Can’t say it was planned, but when a great deal came along to add a brand-new-in-box Canon EOS 5D Mark III to my camera setup, I didn’t hesitate. (My current lineup stands as: Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III + 1D Mark IV + 5D Mark III)
Replacing a surprisingly reliable & productive Canon 40D body, this new 5D Mark III will now be used primarily by my assistants at events/weddings. Today I’ll just recap an hour’s worth of objective first impressions alongside today’s short gallery.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III – Key Specifications
22.3 Megapixel, full-frame CMOS sensor
61-point AF with up to 41 cross-type AF points
Zone, Spot and AF Point Expansion focusing modes
DIGIC 5+ processor
Up to 6 fps shooting speed
ISO 100 to 25,600 (ISO 50, 51,200 and 102,400 with expansion)
+/- 5 stops of exposure compensation
HDR shooting in-camera
Full HD Movie shooting with ALL-I or IPB compression
29 mins 59 sec clip length in Full HD Movie
Timecode setting for HD Movie shooting
Headphone port for audio monitoring
59ms shutter lag
Transparent LCD viewfinder with 100% coverage
3.2″ (8.11cm) 1.04 million-pixel Clear View II LCD Screen
EOS Integrated Cleaning System (EICS)
CF and SD Card slots
Silent control touch-pad area
Dual-Axis Electronic Level
Outside of the huge AF-point-selection upgrade & greatly improved LCD screen, the most noticeable difference I found in using the 5D Mark III is the improved shutter lag (59ms) compared to the 5D Mark II. Once slow & cumbersome, the quick AF of the Canon Mark III is now the 5-series’ main selling point. (Below: taken with an excellent EF 135mm f/2L, this close-range test photo of the LensAlign target is absolutely DEAD-on – requiring 0 micro-focus adjustments in-camera)
First we’ll address the Canon EOS 5D Mark III’s greatest weakness (IMHO) – also my main reason for planning to stick with my personal 1Ds Mark III + 1D Mark IV combination for the foreseeable future.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III – Viewfinder Concerns
– black AF points hard to see in low-light without viewfinder illumination
– viewfinder illumination flashes red ring of light through lens (towards subject)
– lack of pre-flash for AI focus mode, hard to see tracking point
– there was nothing wrong with the previous flagship viewfinder, why the regression?
Other smaller disappointments include the crippling exclusion of spot-metering, the annoyingly-slow SD card slot & the lack of improvement in dynamic range at low/base-ISO ranges (for studio & wildlife usage most notably).
Alas, the positives must’ve far outweighed the negatives for me to pull the trigger instantly when the favourable deal presented itself. In the 5D Mark III’s case, the positives most definitely speak for themselves.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III – Areas of Improvement
– quicker & more reliable AF at wider coverage of AF points
– highly-customizable AF-point/AF-zone choices
– improved lowlight AF ability
– improved burst (6 FPS) for action/wildlife
– 1/2 stop better RAW noise at ISO 1600 than 1Ds Mark III
– 1/3 stop better RAW noise at ISO 1600 than 5D Mark II
– amazing LCD screen for image review, crisp & confidence-inspiring
– much improved silent-shooting mode options
– compatibility with modern UDMA7 Lexar 1000x Professional CF cards
– improved, more logical menu interface
All in all, after just a short afternoon session, it seems that Canon’s long-awaited 5D Mark III is superior to Canon’s previous full-frame champion, the very capable 1Ds Mark III overall. Better technology, refined capability – in a smaller package. How modern.
Note: I still plan to shoot primarily with my 1Ds Mark III + 1D Mark IV setup at events/weddings – I’ll keep you posted if I ever learn to live with the 5D Mark III’s design flaws.