on April 2, 2012
I didn't rush to make a review of this camera, as I wanted to really put it through it's paces first. I won't try to list every feature or go over every bullet point (the above description does a fine job), but instead try to go over a few things which make a big difference to me as a 5D Mark II owner. For some background, I bought an original 5D in 2007, a 5DII in 2008 and have been working with these bodies ever since then. I also have experience with all of the Canon 1-series up through the 1DIII and 1DsIII. I currently log about 60,000 photos per year with the 5D Mark IIs as a professional wedding and portrait photographer. I shoot almost exclusively with fast L prime lenses in my work.
So after a week of solid shooting with the camera, here are the areas which are of note relative to previous 5D bodies:
AF is the elephant in the room here so I'll address it first. Good news, we now have a focusing system worth of it's price point. The AF system here is identical to that in the 1Dx and is THE most sophisticated AF system EVER put in any Canon body. It is superior to that in the 1DV and all bodies before it.
I have tested the AF point in servo and one shot mode with my fastest lenses. Speed, accuracy, and consistency have been exceptional and better than anything I have used before. AF gets the job done with zero drama. NO focus jitter, NO frontfocus, NO backfocus, nothing but near-instant, dead accurate focusing with all of my lenses. Even with my Sigma 85/1.4 (which gives my 5DII bodies absolute fits) is 100% accurate with no jitter on the 5DIII. Center AF point and all peripheral AF points are all usable with fast primes. With the 5DII you just use the center AF point and hope for the best (with often mixed results). You could forget using the outer AF points with fast lenses on previous 5D bodies. That has all changed now.
Just to see how far I could push it, I took my most difficult to focus lens (24/1.4 II), put it on the 5DIII, and tried to focus on my black lab in my dimly lit apartment. At a distance of about 2 feet I would able to lock focus on the dog's eye with the far left AF point at F1.4, 1/40, ISO4000. Think about that. I was able to focus on a black eye on a black dog in a dimly lit apartment at F1.4. The 5DII would have hunted all day long trying to do this, even with it's center AF point.
I could sit here and write a book on how happy this performance makes me. For what I do, if this were the only upgrade from the 5D Mark II, it alone would be worth of the $3500 price tag. That said, there is more...
It's hard to put my finger on exactly what changed, but the 5DIII just feels more substantial. It feels like a chopped down 1-series instead of a buffed up 10 series. The contour of the body has changed to fit your hand better. The rubber is also a new compound which is much grippier than before. The 5DIII feels much better to hold and use than the previous 5D bodies.
I wasn't expecting a big improvement here, but the screen is drop dead gorgeous. The height is about the same, but it's wider than that in the 5DII and fits the aspect of horizontal images perfectly now. The screen itself has better coatings which allow you to see it easier outside. The contrast, viewing angle, color, and saturation have all improved noticeably. It has a very similar look to a high end smartphone screen. This is a substantial upgrade from the 5DII's screen.
Image quality is better than the 5DII, but not substantially so. Let me explain.
The 5DIII now natively amplifies the sensor data to ISO 25,600 whereas the 5DII only natively went to ISO 6400. This means that for anything higher than ISO 6400, the 5DIII is better. In RAW you are looking at an improvement of about 1/2 to 3/4 of a stop at high ISO. At lower ISOs, the noise level is about the same.
JPEG quality has improved much more though. The JPEG engine in this camera is staggeringly good and a solid 2 stops better at controlling noise at high ISO than the 5DII. It strikes the best balance of detail and noise control of any camera on the market right now. Note though that default NR in JPEG mode is fairly strong and that you will generally attain a better "look" from your files with the "low" NR setting.
As an aside, the nasty cross-hatch banding present in the deep shadows of 5DII files is now gone with the Mark III. There is still mild vertical banding, but it's similar to the original 5D and only visible when pushed heavily (3 or more stops).
I don't have any hard data on this, but I'm fully convinced the metering of the 5DIII is better than that of the 5DII. I find myself correcting with exposure compensation MUCH less now with the new body than with the mark II. Shooting with the two side the newfound metering accuracy of the mark III is very obvious. I found the 5DII metering very similar to the original 5D. The new 5DIII is much improved here.
**SPEED AND STORAGE**
Camera startup and operation is near-instant. Shutter lag and mirror blackout is now faster than before and leads to a more instant, responsive feel while shooting. This, combined with the vastly improved AF make for a radically different experience from previous 5D bodies.
Dual memory card slots mean you can now either backup your data to a 2nd slot *OR* you can "span" cards. Spanning means that once one card is full it will automatically swtich to the second card. SUCH a nice feature. I can't tell you how many times my card has filled up at the most inopportune moments and shooting stopped. No more.
Shooting speed is either 3fps or 6fps and the buffer is about 18 frames deep in RAW only with a fast CF card. You can shoot almost indefinitely in JPEG mode without hitting the buffer. For RAW I would recommend a 60MB/s CF card to take full advantage of the CF slot speed. The SD slot is slower, but still capable of about 30MB/s write speed.
The 5D Mark II had a slight magenta color cast. This was easily correctable in post processing and wasn't a huge deal most of the time. I now report that color cast is gone and that the 5DIII's color is much more neutral. Skin tones in general look better due to the more neutral tone.
Additionally I have found auto white balance to be improved over previous 5D models. I've noticed that while post processing I'm having to correct color less with the 5DIII files than the 5DII files. This is very exciting, as it will save me a fair amount of time in post processing. Per usual, all of the cameras struggle under tungsten lighting. However, AWB is able to get color surprisingly close with anything that contains natural lighting.
I would strongly advise reading the manual because there are a lot of new settings and options which won't be familar to 5DII users. There are also a LOT of different ways to set up your AF system, so a little experimentation is needed. In general, the menu system is more complicated that before, but this also allows a much greater degree of customization of the camera. In that regard, the 5DIII is much closer to a 1-series than before. Take the time to learn it and set it up correctly.
You now have the option to one-click zoom to 100% at your AF point. This means you can instantly check focusing with one button push. This saves a lot of time and frustration while shooting. There is also a "silent" shutter mode which only makes about 1/2 the noise as the standard shutter. You can do one-shot or 3FPS in silent shutter mode. 6FPS continuous is only available with the standard shutter mode.
Another brand new feature that's exciting is the ability to re-map buttons on the camera to perform other functions. The options are very extensive. One in particular I'm excited about is the ability to toggle one-shot with AI-Servo by clicking the DOF preview button (which is now on the right hand side of the camera, in perfect reach of your middle or ring finger). If you are shooting a still subject in one-shot and they start to move, simply push the DOF preview button and you're instantly in AI Servo mode. There is no need to move your hand, or even look away from the viewfinder. When you are done, simply release the button and you're back in one-shot mode.
Canon finally woke up with the 5D Mark III. The completeness of this refresh is hard to overstate, as there is no part of this camera that was left untouched from the Mark II. The overall experience of using the camera has been transformed to an entirely different level. You will be faster, better, and more efficient with a 5D Mark III relative to its predecessors.
The improvements here will most cater to those who shoot in demanding environments which require high ISO and fast, accurate autofocus. Canon basically fixed most every complaint anyone ever had with the 5DII while maintaining the things which made the 5DII great (resolution, image quality, small body).
The price of this body is probably about $500 too high compared to its primary competition - the $3000 Nikon D800, which is likely to annoy some people. Though individually they cater to different types of photographers and have different strengths over the other, overall these two cameras are comparable products. If you are starting from scratch or have minimal gear investment, the D800 is worth a hard look at. If you are heavily invested in one system or another, you would probably do best just to stick with your current brand. Both are fine cameras and you can't go wrong with either one.
on March 31, 2012
I was able to pre-order and the Canon 5D Mark III arrived on March 29th. I had mixed feelings when the press release first came out with the specs on the new Mark III. Several features that were high on my wish list didn't make it into the camera, but when I started seeing some of the image samples, particularly in low light, I knew I wanted it anyway.
I'm currently an owner of the 5D Mk II and the 60D and my expectations were that the Mk III would inherit many of the superior handling features of the newer 60D. I am an enthusiast and not a professional photographer but I do make my living shooting product photography for online sales. For pleasure I shoot nature, architecture, and the occasional portraits. I'm also an avid fan of DSLR video and the fact that these cameras can literally capture Hollywood quality footage with few modifications is a big deal to me and a lot of people in the independent cinematography community.
The much anticipated release of the 5D Mark III was a bit of a letdown to me initially. One of the things I LOVE about the 60D is the articulating screen. The articulating screen is so handy to have and a joy to use in situations where the camera needs to be at an odd angle, such as low to the ground, high above your head or in tight quarters. The other indispensable use for the articulating screen is shooting self-portraits and videos of yourself. As a one-man act, you can't shoot a video and also be in it at the same time if you can't see the screen! So I really couldn't believe it when Canon came out with the specs on the Mark III -- and NO articulating screen!? It's a feature that has been in the lower-grade 60D and T3i for over a year and a half already, and here we're paying three times the price of the 60D we don't get it? COME ON, Canon!
Canon's reason for not including an articulating screen to preserve weatherproofing. To remedy this I'm getting the Swivi 5.6" HDMI LCD Screen which is a giant 5" articulating LCD screen that even has FOCUS PEAKING (really cool). I guess I'm making lemonade out of the lemons in this situation. Another feature that didn't make it into this camera that has all the cinematographers grumbling is there is no clean HDMI output which would allow the uncompressed video footage to be captured on an external recorder. This feature would have made this a true high-end movie making machine to rival the $30,000 RED ONE and knock the socks off the Panasonic GH2 and even the AF100. For myself, not a deal breaker... but the Nikon D800 has this. [UPDATE: The latest Canon Firmware Update 1.2.3 has enabled clean HDMI output, but it's a disappointment. The uncompressed footage is still hampered by an internal processing system that delivers soft footage.]
Probably the most vexing thing that did not make it onto my wish list is the elimination of the rolling shutter problem. It has been reduced a little, but it has by no means been eliminated, so the jello effect remains an issue and impossible to completely remove in post. And so far, there has been NO program that has been able to eliminate it entirely without creating additional artifacts (believe me, I've wasted untold hours trying them all). Rolling shutter has only been reduced by 20% or so and I won't be fully satisfied shooting video until we get the global shutter and eliminate this unprofessional looking artifact altogether.
Continuous autofocus during video? It's not even an option. The Panasonic GH1/GH2 have it, and do it well. And now the Nikon D800 can auto focus continuously during video recording too, and includes face detection to keep subjects in focus. The only option for autofocus with this camera whole shooting video is still the old way: press the AF-ON button, and you'll set a clunky, noisy, re-focus point. So don't think about replacing your camcorder yet. Shooting video with this camera remains a manual focus affair best handled with a rig and follow-focus setup... classically handled as a two-man operation.
Those are my three primary disappointments. Now the fun part: all the great things (and more) that DID make it into my wish list:
1. Live View focusing with half depress of shutter button. The Mk II had a really awkward way of focusing while in Live View mode. You had to depress the separate AF button on the BACK of the camera, then hold absolutely still while you moved your finger back to the shutter button, and then take the shot. The Mk III acts just like the 60D in that you half press the shutter to focus, just as it SHOULD, which is to say exactly like shooting with a viewfinder. And you no longer have to go into the menu and set Live View to Stills-Only in order to get Exposure Simulation: The Mark III has a handy dedicated movie/stills mode switch.
2. Better low-light performance. Nikon has been beating out Canon in high ISO performance since the D3, then the D3s, the D3x, and the D700. It's taken two product cycles for Canon to finally catch up. The Mk II was the low-light king when it came out, and still performs exceptionally well, but the Mk III takes it to a new level. My initial test shots show that ISO 12800 on the Mk III has about the same noise levels as ISO 6400 on the Mk II, but with better sharpness and improved color rendition. ISO 12800 is actually usable for high-quality work, whereas at ISO 25600 things start to fall apart--but still plenty good enough for smaller web images. These ISO settings will allow you to actually get the shot even at night in situations that were previously unthinkable. Most importantly, overall image quality in terms of dynamic range and the quality of the noise at high ISOs has been improved for both stills and video.
The claims were that ISO 25600 on this camera was going to be like ISO 6400 on the Mark II, a two stop improvement. The truth is that it's not. It's just about a one stop improvement, maybe slightly more, but that's still a significant achievement.
3. No megapixel escalation! I was relieved that Canon DIDN'T try to stuff 36 megapixels into the Mk III. They kept it roughly the same at 22mp. Way to go, Canon! It's been proven time and time again that more megapixels doesn't make for a sharper image, only larger file sizes. "More megapixels equals better image quality is what's known as "the megapixel myth" Cramming in more megapixels means a lower signal-to-noise ratio and less full well capacity for each photo site. At some point you don't get more detail with a higher pixel count; you just spread the detail around on more pixels. I hardly ever need 21mp as it is, and I am absolutely relieved not to be dealing with larger files because I often shoot RAW.
4. Exposure bracketing. The Mk II could only do 3 exposure bracket shots automatically; the Mk III can do up to 7. Bingo! But you have to go to page 316 in the manual under Custom Settings to read how. It's not even in the index and the main entry under Exposure Bracketing says it does 3 (the default) and doesn't even mention that it can do up to 7. There is also White Balance Bracketing (redundant if you shoot RAW), but unfortunately no focus bracketing (focus stacking). That would have thrilled me. (Focus bracketing/stacking function is available via the Unified Magic Lantern Firmware for the 550D/60D/600D/50D/500D.)
5. Chromatic aberration correction. A feature inherent to Nikon and Panasonic micro 4/3, it's about time Canon got it. But it's unclear whether RAW images processed with PhotoShop Adobe RAW already have this applied or not... and you have to load in lens profiles manually. I will have to experiment with this.
6. Improved White Balance settings. One of the major gripes I have with all cameras is the accuracy of the Auto White Balance. Sure AWB works fine outdoors in natural light, but in indoor light it's usually awful. Even the tungsten setting is rarely accurate. Invariably I've had to create custom white balance settings on all my cameras using a white card. But FINALLY, on the Mk III, not only is the tungsten setting accurate, even the Auto setting gives decent results indoors.
7. Electronic Level. The 60D has it on the LCD. The 5D Mk III now has it. But get this--the Mk III not only has a side-to-side level, it has a FRONT TO BACK level too! Great for architectural photography. And there's more--a grid overlay and electronic level in the VIEWFINDER. (Once again you must go into Custom settings to set a shortcut button to enable this.) This is way more than I was hoping for and Canon gets bonus points for this.
8. Quiet shutter. The shutter noise from "mirror slap" has been greatly reduced even in Standard mode, and there's a new "silent shooting mode" where you don't hear the mirror at all. This is something I've always wanted in an SLR, and was pleasantly surprised. I guess Canon WAS listening after all.
9. Auto ISO in manual mode. This is so cool. You can set the camera to M, set the exact shutter speed and f/stop that you want, and let Auto ISO choose the ISO for the correct exposure. Considering that this camera gives good results up to ISO 12800, this is a really great way to achieve the exact depth of field and stop motion effect that you want, and let the camera pick the right ISO. Couldn't do this in Mk II. Works with stills and video.
9. Full video exposure control. Speaking of videos, the ability to control exposure when shooting videos has been greatly improved. The Mk II was the camera that started the whole DSLR movie craze. I'm sure that Canon never imagined when they stuck this feature onto the Mk II as an add-on, that it would explode into the DSLR cinematography revolution that it has. But the Mk II was severely hampered by crude exposure control. Now, full manual control is available. Strangely though, only auto ISO is available in Av, Tv, and P. There are more shooting modes: 1080p at 24, 25, or 30 FPS and 720p mode now does 50 or 60 FPS, with two compression options,including an I-frame only compression for better quality suitable for grading.
A whole wave of enthusiasts use the Magic Lantern firmware patch that allows cinematographers to gain access to enhanced functionality like manual audio, zebras, focus assist tools, and more. The Mk III now handles a few of these functions naively such as manual audio (and a headphone jack), plus a video ISO range that goes to 12,800 with 25,600 as an option.
UPDATE 6-2013: A MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH IN THE MAGIC LANTERN FIRMWARE: Amazingly, Magic Lantern has released a version that enables recording of 14-Bit RAW 1080p directly to a CF card. This is a total game changer and a huge buzz in the DSLR video community right now. (!!) the RAW footage blows away the internal H.264 codec in terms of both resolution and dynamic range. Once again a Canon camera called 5D is shaking up the independent cinematography industry big time! Stay tuned.
10. The 4GB video file size limitation. Finally, Canon has crossed the 4gb file size barrier and supports file spanning. Now clips can go as long as 30 minutes instead of 12. A big improvement, but come on... The Panasonic GH1 & GH2 have been able to shoot video with NO time limitation for years. Continuous shooting is a MUST HAVE for event videographers. Sorry, this wish-list item still doesn't make the full cut. Why do camera manufacturers hamstring this when it's obvious these cameras are capable of unlimited video recording? Thirty minute cutoff due to a European tax law... can someone fix this PLEASE?
There is much more... of course the completely overhauled complex AF system, primarily for action shooters, dual CF and SD card support, and in-camera HDR and other image combining effects...
Biggest annoyance: the AF point selection button no longer controls magnification in Live View and playback mode. This is a big pain when you want to use focus assist in Live View, because you can no longer just use your right thumb... you have to take your left hand from the lens to press the magnify button which is now on the left side of the LCD. I hate when they move a button from the perfect spot to one that is NOT ERGONOMIC. Workaround: You can assign Magnify to the `Set' button which is on the right (but not to the old button which would have been better).
So here's the big question: at list price of thirty-five hundred dollars, should you upgrade? My thoughts:
A. If you are primarily a through-the-viewfinder still photographer shooting in good light (outdoors and flash), it's rather hard to justify the extra cost. Many of us have barely scratched the surface of the creative possibilities of the Mk II, and in many ways this is not a major upgrade for traditional style, properly lit photography. This camera isn't going to make you a better photographer, though some of the new tools like the electronic level are quite handy.
B. Cinematographers: There's already a lot of carping and moaning in the video camps that this upgrade is a big disappointment. I think it's great for part-time video shooters like me, but it's missing a lot of features that the pros were hoping for. Of course if they want all those pro features they can buy the Canon C300 for $16,000. But current users locked into Magic Lantern are probably going to have to wait for Magic Lantern to catch up anyway. They've already got Magic Lantern for the T2i, T3i, 50D and 60D, so it's just a matter of time. [UPDATE: THE MAGIC LANTERN HACK IS AVAILABLE WITH EVEN MORE OPTIONS INCLUDING SHOOTING RAW VIDEO.]
C. Low light / night photographers, action sports, theater and concert shooters, documentary videographers: This upgrade is a MUST! This camera sets a new benchmark for image quality in less than optimal light conditions. That one stop advantage, better color depth and dynamic range in existing light is important to these guys and gals. The image quality improvement in low light is very noticeable.
C. The rest of us. Many pros are going to want this model, if not now, eventually. The state-of-the art feature set is quite impressive; the handling improvement is modest. For hobbyists, the steep price may be difficult to justify. The Mk II is still a fantastic tool and unless you really need ISO 12800 this isn't going to give you significantly better images than you can already achieve with the marvelous Mk II.
My verdict: An enthusiastic Five Stars as a still photography camera; Four Stars overall due to the lack of three important features that have been available from Panasonic for several years already: articulating screen, continuous autofocus during video, and unlimited video recording time.
If you're on the fence about upgrading or even a first time buyer, I hope my review has been useful. Happy Shooting!
Some quick observations on the 5D3. Before I go further I should explain I'll be comparing vs. the 5D2 and second, if you need to know about video, I can't be of any help there.
Received camera body from Amazon on 3/23. Lots of new features (5D2 manual is 259 pages; 5D3 manual is 403 pages). For the work I do, I was looking for two improvements over the 5D2: Ability to bracket more than 3 shots and much lower noise. The first wish was granted. As you probably know, the 5D3 does 7 exposures. Nikons do 9, but 7 is almost always enough. Those who need more will probably have a Promote remote anyway. Noise? Well, the 5D3 images are cleaner but I wouldn't say dramatically so. With the default noise settings and long exp NR set on, I'd say it's 1 to 1.5 stops better than the 5D2. Now, with a little Noiseware or other NR, you can get very clean images at 12800 with very little loss of detail so I don't consider this a problem. I guess it was unrealistic to expect the 5D3 to match the very low noise of my D700 but it would have been nice.
It's true that nearly every feature on the 5D3 is an upgrade over the 5D2. Not all of these will result in better images but it's fair to say that the entire "feel" of the 5D3, the layout, viewfinder, displays are all nicer than the 5D2. The two things that may be game changers, IMO, are the shutter and the AF. If you haven't heard and felt the shutter on the 5D3, you're in for a treat. It isn't just quieter; there is much less kick from the mirror. Add the "silent" mode and, wow. I would not be surprised to see signs in the future that say "Please set your camera to silent mode". As for AF, I never had a problem with the AF on the 5D2 so I'm less impressed here. But if you shoot moving subjects, the 5D3 has it all--predictive, wrap around, sequential, selective. The manual devotes 45 pages to setting autofocus.
A small thing that I've been waiting for, a dual axis electronic level is wonderful. For some time, digital SLRs have had an "artificial horizon" that tells you if you are tilting the camera to the left or right. That's nice but in almost all imaging software, rotating an image takes just a second. What these left/right levelers don't tell you is if you are tipping the camera up or down which can be a real pain with a super wide lens. Well, problem solved with the 5D3.
The in-camera HDR is a mixed bag. Output is jpeg only and even at that, it takes awhile for the 5D3 to register the images. (This could be my cards which are Lexar UDMA 400x & Sandisk Extreme IV). Anyhow, it's a fun feature. This brings me to yet another interesting feature. Since the 5D3 has two cards (CF + SD) you can record different file types to each card. In other words, you could have a RAW-only card and a JPEG-only card. I haven't tried this but I presume this would mean that you could shoot everything RAW except in-camera HDRs which, being jpegs, would end up on the other card. I get requests for jpegs so now I can put them on one card while keeping an all-RAW card for myself. You can also have redundant cards for backup, sequential for extra capacity, etc. As with the autofocus options, the possibilities are endless!
So, to summarize. Pros: Better AF, 100% viewfinder with electronic grid (no more screens), better LCD, faster drive and processor, fabulous shutter/mirror, 7-stop bracketing, 2-axis level, somewhat lower noise and thus somewhat cleaner images vs. 5D2, two card slots, uses same batteries as 5D2. Cons: Still no built-in flash (yes, it's very handy), in-camera HDR so-so, mode knob still feels flimsy (and it locks now, so be careful). All in all, this is a very nice, refined camera and anybody trading up from a 5D2 will be happy. And if you do get a 5D3, the person getting your 5D2 will be happy as well.
Just a footnote. One thing that comes through loud and clear from these reviews is how very different people's needs are and how differently they use a camera. I can only explain how a product meets or fails to meet my needs. I would not dream of saying you do/don't need this feature or "read and decide" as if I was some sort of oracle. You know what is or is not important to you and how much you're willing to pay for it. The web has made everybody a professional and an expert but when it's your money, the only expert is you.
on April 4, 2012
I recently sold my Canon 7D and saved up to get this camera. After hearing so much talk about how much better the D800 is and how the Mark III is not worth the money, I decided to give it a shot rather than be influenced by comments on the web by people who never shot with the camera. Upon first inspection after opening my kit I was impressed at how sturdy and professional the camera felt. I always felt the 7D was very tough and sturdy but the 5D takes it to another level. The grip is great and sticks to your hand. It also covers the batter compartment. The camera grip has a great indent for your hand and an excellent thumb rest. Overall ergonomics are fantastic and the camera has a slick look but is bigger than the 7D at every dimension. No confusing this with an entry or midlevel camera. It screams pro, even without a grip.
The settings were easy to navigate and the dials are all in familiar places for the most part. The new zoom requires an extra keypress but I found it better to use the wheel than the old zoom in/out buttons once you get used to it. The new rate button on the left side seemed a bit useless to me but I reprogrammed it to protect images. The LCD was big and bright and shows lots of crisp detail when zooming in. Also very usable for macro with it's quick focus zoom. The best LCD I have ever seen on a camera. The Viewfinder also big and bright. Huge improvement over what you see using a cropped sensor. This is one of the many reasons to go full frame.
Now onto using the camera. Coming from the 7D I enjoyed pretty good autofocus but the 5D Mark III dominates it in every way. It is super fast, accurate and locks on in really dim light. There are several action modes to select for the autofocus that react to the type of movement that you choose. Really groundbreaking stuff. I found nothing negative to say about it. I spent an afternoon shooting a kids party outdoors with the 24-105 f/4. The kids were running around like maniacs and I came away with many great in focus shots.
In the past when using Auto ISO in manual mode I was nervous when it went to 3200 because of noise. No such case with this camera. Indoor photos without a flash are no problem. Especially when you use a nice bright prime. I can shoot ISO 6400 all day and it will look like ISO 1600 on a 7D. I know most people dont shoot Jpeg but if you ever want some painless shots of your kids or family and dont want to mess around with too much post processing, this camera produces the finest jpegs you will find in a camera. Obviously raw files are sharper and I found the RAW files from the MKIII to be sharp and contrasty. Noise is well controlled though obviously noisier than the jpegs. Overall the image quality is excellent.
A new addition to the camera I thought was awesome was the silent mode shooting. It does reduce your frame rate to 3 FPS but what you get in return in this mode is virtually silent performance with much less shutter vibration. A really awesome and underrated feature. One of the many improvements people forget to mention about this camera.
I have to say there is something special to me about the 5D Mark III. It's a camera that I just have fun with. Its fast, easy to use, produces great results at perfect file sizes. Gives you various options for jpeg and RAW to meet your needs. I'm sorry I cannot review the video but I have not had a chance to test it in detail in order to provide one.
I know people constantly say that it's $500 more than the Nikon D800 but the truth is that it really isnt. In the end you will end up spending more on Nikon gear because it's just more expensive. Just an example.
D800 + 24-120 f/4 = $4,299
5D MKIII kit with 24-105 f/4 = $4,299
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 = 1,899
Canon 24-70 f/2.8 = 1,375
add the grip, other lenses and a flash and you pay more than the Canon equivalents.
on January 6, 2013
I am a hobbyist with a Canon T2i (550) camera and couple of Canon lenses.
I always wanted to go for a full-frame camera and finally pulled the trigger on this one. Even though it is expensive - since I don't make any money from this hobby - it is the best investment I made!
Things I liked in this camera, compared to my T2i - picture quality, shutter sound, double card slots with simultaneous raw and jpg capture, advanced view finder, in-camera hdr, micro focus adjustment for lenses etc. There are many reviews on internet for other technical details and features.
I found the AF system of this camera takes some time to master and it got many more options and features to learn for a T2i user.
Now if you are a user like me, don't hesitate to buy this camera as you will like the features and image quality.
I am still learning to use this camera and think it will keep me entertained for a while :-)
Please note that this camera is heavier and little bigger than Rebel models.
I used this camera with my Canon 24-70 2.8 L lens and it can get heavy after 4-5 hours of use :-)
Please check and rate my images and reviews.
on December 8, 2013
I have thought a long while about whether the 5D3 or the Nikon D800 would be the best camera for me to shoot weddings. Both cameras are phenomenal and when using the best glass for each, I'd be very impressed if anyone could look at a photo and said that it came from a 5D3 or a D800. DXOMark is considered by many to be the authority on how cameras stack up. The rivalry between the 5D3 and D800 is well-known to those who are interested and DXO has actually even published an article on how they compare. DXO is known, however, to heavily favor Nikon bodies than Canon bodies where even some crop frame Nikon bodies are apparently 'better' than even the best Canon bodies. I believe that the DXO formula for what makes a high scoring camera is biased towards the Nikon but I don't knock their results. So here I'd like to address two main reasons why someone would want to get a D800 over the 5D3 from a person (me :D) who owns and is very happy shooting weddings with a 5D3:
"The D800 has better dynamic range"
-This is true. The D800 gives you very nice depths that the 5D3 can't spit out. However, this only happens at lower ISO settings. Take a look at the chart here: [...] You'll see that from ISO800 and up, the dynamic range of both cameras start to converge upon the same values. Weddings are action-packed and you can't afford to miss a moment thus you will need a high shutter speed to get the shot. I don't remember the last time I shot a wedding below ISO800 because I like more depth of field to my images and there must not be any blur. I tell people that if I didn't shoot weddings, I would have bought a D800. If you shoot in a studio or take photos of bridges and whatnot, the D800 would be an excellent tool for your use. But if you are doing action, there's really no difference in this department.
"The D800 has more megapixels"
-This is true. If you need/want that many more megapixels, then the D800 is your camera. More megapixels is nice because you can crop a full sized image to the point where you won't even need a short telephoto for up-close shots. But if this is not as important to you, and you don't want huge raw files, meaning more hard drive space, get the 5D3. The one downside with the D800 is this, because your files are so large, the buffer during rapid-fire shots cannot keep up with the 5D3. Going back to my weddings - rapid fire shots are required all the time because you don't want to get a money shot with the main subjects blinking. A photogs worst nightmare!
So there you have it. I'm pretty sure that my review was useless to you if you: are a Nikon fanboy/girl, never shoot above ISO800, need the best dynamic range for details, have lots of Nikon glass and like that the D800 is cheaper than the 5D3. Here are my reasons for why the 5D3 is nice for my purposes:
1) Canon quality control beats Nikon (google Nikon D600 oil+dust, D800 left AF problem)
2) Better burst firing capabilities
3) Ergonomically more comfortable (but to each his/her own)
4) Manageable file size + ability to do smallRAW and mediumRAW
5) Canon has lenses that Nikon does not have or are not as good - 50L, 85L, 135L, 70-200 2.8L II. But Nikon makes a crazy good wide angle zoom - the 14-24. It just depends on what you like to shoot.
6) With the right lenses, the 5D3 produces sharper images than the D800 (a DXOMark result)
And lastly, for the record, I am not a Canon fanboy, just a shooter who wants the best gear for a particular purpose.
on September 10, 2012
Wow, where do I begin.
To start with, I've been a Nikon guy up until this point. Going back to my first SLR with the N80 film camera back in the day (god only knows how many rolls of film I exposed with that thing), to the D70, the D200, and the D7000. I was skeptical of all the hype around the 5D3, so being a cautious man I rented it and a 16-35 LII first. As soon as I held the camera in my hand, I knew I was hooked on the ergonomics alone. Further shooting continued to impress with it's amazing user experience, refined menus, and incredible autofocus performance. So I ended up buying a 5d3 along with a 35 1.4 L. (16-35 had too much distortion for my applications)
This thing fits your hand like a well worn glove. My hands are on the small side being only 5'7" tall, but even the big full frame body just snugs in my hand like it was custom designed for me. You really need to hold this camera to believe how ergonomically amazing it really is. It balances perfectly both with the 16-35L II and the 35 1.4 L. The physical buttons are very customizable, letting you configure the camera to make it's operation so intuititve, it just gets completely out of the way and let's you focus completely on shooting.
The top notch physical ergonomics and the customizeable buttons combine to make a user experience like I've never had before. I liken it to my Volkswagen GTI - everything is in the perfect spot and the product feels like it was designed to maximize the joy in the user experience. It really must be used to be believed.
Despite being a Nikon DSLR users since 2004 with the D70, I've never got used to Nikon's menus. On my D7000, changing anything takes me forever just to find the item. I've had the 5D3 for less than a week, and I can already find items right away. Maybe it has to do with Canon's method of Horizontally orienting the menus, instead of Nikon's veritical orientation. I'm really not sure, but I know for me the menu is so much more intuitive than Nikon.
Autofocus performance is simply stunning. I've heard it said in the photography world that Nikon has accurate and slow autofocus, and Canon has inaccurate but fast autofocus. I've used the 5D3 to shoot challenging indoor sports, and I'm blown away by it's speed AND it's accuracy. On both the 16-35 and the 35 1.4, the autofocus feels like it BITES into the subject. It's very confidience inspiring, letting you worry about important things like Light, Color and Gesture.
While I admit that I have not personally tried a D800, several reputable review sites complain of it's green tinted dispaly. This is not confidence inspiring. The 5D3's display is just gorgeous - bright enough to see outdoors, responsive, quick, and accurate.
Why I went with the 5D3 instead of the D800:
After analysis, I felt like 5D fit my 'shoot from the hip' style of photography best. The d800, as evidenced in DxO Mark and other sources, cleary gives better technical IQ. But as most of my work is indoor sports and candid photography, the 5D was the clear winner for it's silent continuous AF-DRive mode, higher FPS (4 vs 6) in fast mode, user experience, and legendary canon autofocus.
This camera was cleary designed with THE PHOTOGRAHER in mind. It becomes transparent , letting you focus on what matters - Light Color and Gesture. To me, this is the clincher. LCG are really what is most important in photography.
I used to convert all my images to B&W when I shot Nikon. With this camera however, I find myself loving the way color images look. Colors are deep and smooth, without being overly saturated and harsh. I find myself using Silver EfxPro less and less. I'll A/B in lightroom between the color image and the B&W converted image, and the color image has some inexplicable ethereal quality that I love. Remember Kodack NC and VC film? This camera renders skin tones like NC, and colors like a slightly less saturated VC. It's a beautiful balance - it has a soul to it, like an old Fender Twin reverb tube guitar amplifer. Smooth and soulful.
Now admittedly this could just be an evolution of my style, but I thought I would throw this in here and you can take it with a grain of salt. Also note that I think a lot of my love for this camera comes from my love of the 35 1.4 L that stays glued to it. Also #2, I always shoot RAW. So I can not comment on the camera's color modes or .JPG engine.
Also #3, I've learned with this camera to "overexpose" by about 2/3 EV and turn down exposure by 1/3 to 2/3 in post. When you do this, the noise performance in the shadows is stunning.
I'm continually amazed at how clean the sensor says. Using the D7000 in the same environment I'm using the 5D3 in, I was forced to continually clean the sensors. The 5D3's sensor cleaner is quite effective - I have a sensor loupe, and even upon inspecting the sensor that closely I still haven't seen a single particle of dust adhere to the sensor. This could also be a testament to the 5D3's weather sealing. You may think "yea, big deal" but dust can be difficult to remove from photos without leaving any traces.
Loving this camera more and more.
I know I mentioned the autofocus above, but I wanted to talk about how much I love the spread of those cross type focus points. Having 41 (YES, FORTY-ONE) of those things to choose from really enables some creative freedom with regards to composition. I shoot a lot at f/1.4, so the whole "focus then recompose" thing just doesn't cut it for me. The focus points cover a large portion of the frame, which lets you put your subject closer to the edge of the frame for some cool negative space or environmental compositions. It can be tough to see your photo this way, but once you realize you can do it it becomes a powerful story telling tool.
on April 2, 2012
This was an upgrade from a Canon EOS 5D Mark II for me.
* As most people know, the auto-focus on the 5D Mark II was a horrible weak spot -- only the center point was a "cross point", so none of the other points were accurate enough for fast f/1.2 and f/1.4 lenses, and the focusing speed in general was just not great. Mark III has professional-level autofocus now, with a wide array of cross point locations (exact number varies depending on the lens you are using), and very fast focusing speed. What was a major down-side is now a major up-side.
* As mentioned above, the autofocusing is improved, and the differences in low light are very noticeable.
* Canon also claims a major improvement in noise at high ISO's. Personally, I do see an improvement, but not a huge improvement.
Exposure Bracketing / HDR / Stacking
* The Mark II supported only 3 exposures with bracketing, the Mark III now supports 7 exposures -- A huge improvement in the software for anyone doing HDR.
* The Mark III has in-camera HDR processing, which is nice (perhaps to get an idea how something looks, on the spot), but not something I'll actually use for final images (I'm sure the processing abilities of HDR software on my desktop is going to be better than in a battery powered camera).
* The Mark III supports in-camera image stacking, which can be used for a variety of creative and scientific effects -- I haven't played with this yet, but this may be very useful for me.
* Having a second slot, with the second one being SD is a very nice addition, you can now put an Eye-Fi in your second slot, save jpeg to the eye-fi, have photos show up on your iPad in realtime, and have the RAW's saved to a CF card. Great for both pros and hobbyists.
* You can have two 32GB cards, one CF, one SD, and store all of your pictures with two backups in case one card fails -- great for pro's.
* The software actually interacts with an Eye-Fi, so you can see the status of what the card is doing, a huge improvement over the hack-ish CF->SD->Eye Fi support in the Mark II.
* Your wedding photographer can now take many photos of the exchange of vows without making it sound like a paparazzi session.
* It is perhaps quiet enough for you to even take a few shots in places where photography is generally frowned on
* 6FPS is a major improvement
* This is something that doesn't really fit on a spec sheet, but the Mark III generally feels much stiffer / heavier / "professional" than the Mark II -- much closer to a "1" feel.
* This was of course a let-down to many (including me). I do a lot of landscape photos, and very little sports/clubs, etc ... For my photos, noise reduction can be handled with very long exposures, and low ISO (and other methods). That said, the camera was such a large improvement in every other way, I am still happy.
* There are so many new features / modes, it will actually take some time and practice (and reading to fully utilize the new body), not a complaint -- but I was not expecting this coming from a 5D Mark II
UPDATE: After a trip to hawaii and a few weeks of usage, my opinion has improved a lot, and I've changed it from 4 stars to 5. The lower noise enables handheld macro photography in lower light situations than possible before, and the intuitive improvements to software have really made some huge improvements. While there is a large improvement to the autofocus, but only a minor improvement to pixel count -- the very large number of minor improvements in the software have made it to the point that I couldn't imagine going back to the 5D Mark II. Great job, canon!
on December 6, 2013
I have owned this camera for about a year now and just now getting around to writing my review, so I can say with 100% certainty how I feel.
I have been a Canon shooter for a while and I am stepping up from a Canon 7D. The 5D is a little bit bigger than the 7D but both have similar build qualities. Some of the things that have changed from the 7D to the 5Dmkiii is the shooting function button, to change from Manual to Shutter Priority there is now a button on top that stops you from accidentally changing modes. Other than that, the ergonomics are pretty much the same (outside of the AF System).
I had been shooting with the 7D for some time and I was really on the fence about making the move because I swear (and still do given I own both cameras) that there is not a significant difference between the images of the cameras when shooting at lower ISO's. When looking at both images side by side colors are slightly better, it seems like tonal gradients looked a little better but it was not huge. The problem I had with the 7D is that at ISO 3200 the images were so noisy they were about unusable, even with some cleanup things were pretty rough. I have shot many images with the 5D3 and I get great looking shots at ISO3200.
The other huge difference is the AF System on the 5D3, head and shoulders better than anything I had ever used. The 7D was good and worked well and I had an old 1DMkii that had 45AF Points and was blazing fast but the new 5D was amazing and how many different configurations of the AF system you could set took me months to get used to but I love it. Sure the Nikon D800 has 36megapixels but I have always said, I will take a lower resolution shot that is spot on and crisp over a high resolution image that is blurry.
Both in studio and out in nature this camera performs well and is very refined. I have shot with the Canon 7D, Sony NEX 5, NEX 3 and the new Fuji X-E2 and will take this camera every time. It has an AF System I can count on to be spot on every time, the ergonomics of it allow me to pull the camera out of my bag and change shutter, aperture and ISO without ever moving my eye out of the viewfinder and the LCD screen looks great in back.
If I were going to knock anything it might be the slower burst mode but that would be about it. I don't shoot enough video with it to really talk about it's performance but I know a lot of people love it for that.
After my last studio shoot I decided to send my camera into canon for cleaning (I normally have my camera sent out in January when I am shooting less to make sure everything is working right) and I get the estimate back that the there is dust between the low pass filter and the sensor and because of that the sensor needs to be replaced. Keep in mind at this point the camera had been used mainly in studio and never seen a drop of rain and is never kept without a lens or body cap on the camera AND the camera is only 15 months old. Given the light use and delicate care I take with my equipment and that I had a 7D for over two years working in the exact same environments with no problems, I feel this is 100% a manufacturers defect. After writing Canon several times they refused to address the problem and I was stuck with a 940 dollar bill.
After the new sensor had been placed in the camera everything works good.
To me it is crazy to think that needing to replace the sensor every year is a normal thing and considering Canon refuses to answer my questions regarding this repair I am to assume this is somewhat common.
At this point I am never buying another Canon product ever again. There are too many great camera manufacturers out there to hold allegiance to a company that does not value me as a customer. I have owned the 20D, 7D and 5Dmkii. I own the 16-35 L, 24-70L, 35mm L, 50mm macro, 85 1.8, 100mm Macro L, 135 L and 70-200 L. Goodbye Canon.
on January 14, 2014
The switch from Nikon:
After being with nikon for 16+ years, I recently threw in the towel. As a wedding shooter, I count on my equipment and need things to work correctly.
I had purchased two nikon d600's 1 year apart and both had the horrible dust/debris issue. After repeat cleanings and 20,000+ shots, both cameras still had the issue. I got tired of wet cleaning the sensors and got tired of nikons poor customer service. Nikon decided that the D600 owners just had to either deal with repeat sensor cleanings or send in the camera to "possibly" have the issue resolved. Nikon had no proven fix besides switching out the shutter and praying that the issue went away. Nikon released the d610 and left the rest of the people hanging.
Leaving nikon was extremely difficult for me because I had a big investment in the bodies, accessories and glass. I made the move at a huge loss but am extremely happy that I did.
I purchased both a 6D and the 5D mark III from amazon. The immediate thing that I have noticed is that all my canon glass has been good with focus right out of the box. With almost every nikon lens/camera combo, I had to pull out a focus chart and focus tune software and apply fine tuning. I also noticed that the focus system on my canons do not have the tendency to act up under tungsten lighting like my nikons did. My d600's and d7000 had a tendency to back-focus under heavy tungsten lighting.
The canon DPP software is a pleasure to use. I hated Nikon capture NX2. It was slow and the user interface was horrible. Canon DPP loads quickly and applying batch changes is amazing. I do miss the Nik software selection point feature of CNX2.
The one thing I don't like is the fact that canon makes you purchase your lens hoods separately and at a premium.
I do like the fact that the canon equipment is made in japan and has a quality feel to it compared to cameras like the d600 that are made in Thailand.
The 5D mark iii vs D800:
Prior to leaving nikon, I also spent a week with the nikon D800. I found that the d800 produced a lot of noise in the raw files when pushed to higher iso's. This alone was enough to turn me off. I did test my sample of the d800 for left focus issues. I did not have the left AF issue of older d800's but the camera I got had some focus issues that required fine tuning all my glass to the body. In some cases the fine tune was at +20.
The D800 files did have a lot of detail and dynamic range but the file size was huge. If you shoot a lot of landscape and want lots of dynamic range, the d800 is a good option. But the dynamic range comes at the cost of nikons lack of quality control.
If dynamic range is not your main goal but want a great reliable camera with a killer AF system (better in my testing) and smaller files, the canon 5D mark III is amazing. I suggest not to get caught up in the megapixel game unless you do some very heavy cropping like birds in flight for which the d800 may be a better choice. The 5D mark III files are great and have plenty of latitude for most users.
5D mark III:
Focus Focus Focus. The 5D mark III has a killer focus system. The best that I have used. The focus system is lighting fast, accurate and very very customizable. It is a pleasure to be able to customize my focus system like this. I recently shot an event and out of 700+ images, I scrapped maybe 10 shots because of focus. The ones I did delete because of focus was do to me not placing the focus point on the right area of the image.
No back/front focus like my nikons had. No focus shift under tungsten lighting like some nikons.
The hit rate on focus is amazing. You want to know why canon can charge a premium for this camera? Because of its pure amazing focus system! If you absolutely need the best focus system on any camera, this is it.
You can assign buttons to do certain functions and to your own shooting style. This is a god send compared to nikons lack of customization.
The camera is solid with a good feel in the hand. The buttons are easy to operate and cleverly located. Coming from nikon is an adjustment because the camera buttons are in a different layout. It will become easy to use after some time and practice.
I did not like the fact that canon has no built in removable screen protector like the nikon. This is a minor gripe but one that I resolved by buying the vello stick on glass protectors. I know the nikon plastic screen protectors are not fancy but they did a good job of protecting the screen from bumps.
The 5D makr III images are fantastic. The auto white balance works much better compared to my nikons I had owned. The 5D mark III is not able to pull details from the shadows like the D800 or D600 so it is a sacrifice in dynamic range if that is the most important thing to you. Nikon still has canon beat in dynamic range.
I will personally will take a in focus, sharp, good out of camera white balance and dust free image out of a canon any day vs a hit and miss focus and dusty d600 image with dynamic range. An out of focus image with dirt is useless to me.
If you shoot anything that requires this focus system, this reliability and this customization, BUY THIS CAMERA. I found the 5d and 6d is a perfect combo. I use the 6D with the wifi feature when working in a studio paired to an ipad and use the 5D when shooting a wedding or anything that moves at a fast pace.
The 5d mark III continues to sell even at the higher price because it is a proven camera and you cant go wrong with it. I love it and will update this review as I use it more. I am glad I left nikon and I hope they learn one day that customer loyalty is earned.