The Canon EOS 5D Mark III DSLR (specs), the long-awaited, next generation evolution of the legendary EOS 5D Mark II, has the gapless micro lens design, a better frame rate, solid body, and does Canon unleash the new high ISO king? Feel like buying gear. Read our definitive, continuously updated Canon EOS 5D Mark III Reference File bringing you all the relevant hands-on reviews and field reports that matter (latest update on top).
Nice 5D Mark III Bodie video by Neumann Films:
Thinkdigit likes the 5D Mark III’s quality, but not the price:
Superficially, one could say there isn’t much of a difference between the predecessor and what succeeds it. Even the pixel count is a meager jump. So why would you want to pay such a significantly higher price for the Mark III?
What we have here is a focus system on steroids, stellar video quality, a light weight body that is not only weather sealed, but also build tough. We’re also looking at a much easier way to manage focus tweaking and a jog dial that is touch sensitive. If you’re an enthusiast film maker, or a journalist, or a photographer who would occasionally like to shoot some video along with stills, the EOS 5D Mark III is an excellent buy for you. While the AF could be used to shoot sports, we’re doubtful that the 6 fps burst mode would be sufficient (…)
The EOS 5D Mark III is a solid performer. We had a hard time finding any faults with it, at least on the technical front. We do, however, have a major issue with the ridiculous price point. Marking up equipment seems to be the latest trend surging through Canon.
The Phoblographer posts a Canon 5D Mark III “Long Term Review.” So much better than the 5D Mark II?
In the end, I really did love the 5D Mark III. Throughout the review period, I periodically went back to my 5D Mark II and put it against similar situations that Mark III was put against. In most situations, it matched the Mark III. As I am now finishing this review, my Mark II is now having terrible focusing issues. I’m wondering whether or not it is because my lenses have been on the 5D Mark III loaner unit, then to the Rebel T4i loaner unit I have right now, and Thursten Kent’s camera. I’m not exactly sure what’s going on right now. After cleaning the contacts with isopropyl alcohol, the problem has seemed to disappear a bit, but I’m going to do more investigation into the matter.
In terms of image quality, the 5D Mark III is excellent, but I see no reason to upgrade over the 5D Mark II. If anything, you’ll upgrade for the better ergonomics. Even that’s a vague statement as I prefer the 5D Mark II’s simpler and cleaner feel.
The 5D Mark III gets our highest recommendations; but we do not rule out the 5D Mark II just yet.
Wainwright Weddings posts some fine samples and asks if Canon finally took the initiative:
- Zippy, accurate autofocus. I actually can use AI SERVO mode for the first time on a 5D, and it works great.
- Frame rate. Six frames a second is a pretty big boost. Comes in handy sometimes. You could actually shoot sports with six frames per second.
- High ISOs. I’ve been shooting wedding receptions at 8000 iso. EIGHT THOUSAND ISO! Looks awesome. With a fast lens you can shoot just about anything now.
- Price. I feel like I’m paying a huge markup for the brand, and specifically for the video functions. Now that DSLRs have replaced video cameras, it kind of sucks that I’m forced to pay for a professional-grade video camera when all I want is a stills camera. Hope there’s an option for a video-less, less expensive 5D in the future. But of course, why on earth would Canon do that and loose my $$$?
The 5D Mark III has a slight advantage. It has slightly more resolution, and about the same hyper ISO performance when compared at the same exposures (the marked ISOs are off by about half a stop, making the 5D Mark III look a little worse until you correct for the difference in actual sensitivity between cameras).
I didn’t compare with the same exposures above; I compared at the same marked ISOs, which are about a half stop off in favor of the 1D X. If I did even more work to shoot at the same exposures, they would be closer.
News, Sports and Action
The 1D X has a huge advantage not tested on this page, but it runs twice as fast at everything.
AF is about as fast, however the 1D X adds color and motion to its AF-area tracking ability, which is a huge help in every live-action shooting situation, be it snapping my kids or shooting the Olympics.
Of course its frame rate and metering and everything else just crank faster. The 5D Mark III is fast, and the 1D X is twice as fast.
Also not tested on this page, but if you shoot in rain and mud and dust, the 1D X again has a huge advantage.
I haven’t beat on either of mine yet, but as other pro friends explain, even though they don’t need the speed, they’ll be snapping in the streets of Thailand, and if it starts to rain, they just keep shooting as things get interesting. The weather gets nastier, but they ignore it and focus on their pictures, not their cameras.
A half-hour later when they step under an overhang to catch their breath, they realize that they are as wet in this monsoon as if they fell overboard. No problems, their pro Canons just keep on working.
Others with 5D Mark IIs who were following them trying to copy what they were doing discover that they were not so lucky: drenched consumer cameras like the 5D Mark II or Mark III, are all dead.
I don’t shoot in the muck, but if you do, you can be fearless with pro gear like the 1D X. That’s why you use the 1D X: to get the shots consumers can’t.
TechnoBuffalo calls the 5D Mark III a worthy successor. More importantly, they talk brand loyalty:
Just as I had suspected in my Nikon D800 review, I think the choice between both major full-frame DSLRs comes down to brand loyalty. If you’ve got a drawer full of Nikkor glass, then go for the D800. If you have a closet filled with L glass lenses and spare Mark II batteries, then go for the 5D Mark III. Both full-frame DSLRs have their strengths and weaknesses, but ultimately you can’t make a wrong decision by buying either model. Of course, the Nikon D800 is friendlier to the wallet with an MSRP that’s $500 less than the 5D Mark III’s. The D800 also has a built-in flash, a fantastic shooting interface, great HD video quality and shooting features with a clean, uncompressed HDMI out signal.
The Canon EOS 5D Mark III benefits from a brand new sensor with astounding high ISO quality, humongous new autofocus toolbelt, enhanced video mode with ALL-I recording and timecode, nifty artistic HDR mode, unbelievably hasty operation speed and 6 fps full resolution shooting to name a few welcome attributes.
So, if you bought a Nikon D800 and you’re happy with it, then good for you. You made the right choice. If you bought a 5D Mark III and you’re happy about it, then you did the right thing. You really can’t go wrong with either of these full-frame juggernauts, and this is as classic a Canon vs. Nikon battle I’ve ever seen. Go test drive both models at your local camera store and let me know what you think.
Great little review by Karel Donk. Little did he know how much he would be blown away just a few months after the Canon EOS 5D Mark III was announced. Compared to the Nikon D800:
As far as I’m concerned, the 5D Mark III is clearly the better choice compared to the Nikon D800. The images from the 5D Mark III are cleaner with less noise and JPEG images also appear to be sharper compared to the Nikon D800. Even the video quality is better on the 5D Mark III, as can be seen in the reviews I linked to above (for example the one done by Philip Bloom). There’s less noise at high ISO values, and there’s also no moiré and aliasing on the 5D Mark III, where this is an issue on the D800. I don’t know what got into Nikon to go all the way to 36MP on the D800. This is clearly an example of how you shouldn’t be doing something just because you can.
Karel’s overall verdict:
Buy the 5D Mark III if it’s in the range of your budget. Seriously, buy it. It is the best there is right now. Unless you can afford a 1D X. In that case, get the 1D X. Like I said at the very beginning, it’s an exciting time to be a Canon shooter. Canon has made big improvements across the board and is coming out with exciting and innovative new products. Also consider the range of EF and EF-S lenses available from Canon, with such gems as the EF 8-15mm F4 L fisheye lens and others, and more coming in the near future. Canon’s EOS line of products for both stills and video is unparalleled in this industry. I hope that Canon continues on this new path they have set out and don’t repeat the mistakes they made a few years ago.
For many, the Canon 5D Mark III will be easier and more fun to use than the Nikon D800. As important as those attributes are, if those are your main criteria, than you can get ease of use with a camera like the new Canon T4i and have plenty of fun with the $2,500 you save.
In all fairness, the Canon 5D Mark III matches the Nikon D800 in many quality categories and if it falls a tad short on image quality, this Canon makes up for it with some usability features, like the capability to program three custom settings onto the C1, C2, and C3 slots on the Mode dial.
After rereading this review, I’ve almost convinced myself that the Canon 5D Mark III is a better choice than the Nikon D800. And for many photographers, it just might be.
Pop Photo has 5D Mark III tests up. Saying it’s the 5D they’ve been waiting for, well, since the 5D Mark II came out. Why?
The Canon EOS 5D Mark III is a serious improvement over the aging Mark II. With nominal gains in resolution, the new model adds two more stops of usable sensitivity, gives you a better video and live view shooting experience and provides major enhancements to the AF system.
Indeed, for the AF alone, it makes sense for most 5D Mark II owners to upgrade. And 7D shooters who have thought about stepping up to full-frame now have an option that won’t make them feel as if the burst speed has been chopped.
But if you’re trying to choose between Canon and Nikon at this price level — that is, between the Mark III and D800 — you’ll have a harder decision. The two manufacturers seem to have taken completely different approaches to these cameras: Canon held the line on resolution, while Nikon made a huge leap to a 36MP sensor on the D800 from 12.1MP on its predecessor, the D700. Given that files from the D800 are huge and take a long time to process, we find ourselves wondering whether fewer pixels are better. For amateur shooters, the Mark III’s more manageable file sizes mean they won’t have to spend as much on a fancy computer to deal with them. For pros, it means they can spend more time shooting and less time processing. Plus, smaller file sizes mean you won’t have to buy extremely high-capacity memory cards.
Ken Rockwell compares the 5D Mark III to the Nikon D800 and says Canon beats Nikon — this year:
If you’re only getting one of these cameras, duh, the 5D Mark III smokes the D800 and D800E for practical shooting.
You can ignore pixel-pushers and other “online experts” who share tons of irrelevant static “image quality” data, but don’t know what’s actually important when it comes to making a good picture.
If you’re a pixel counter, sure, the D800 has more than the 5D Mark III, but that doesn’t matter to real shooters if those pixels aren’t the right pixels. My 5D Mark III lets me make the right pixels faster than my D800, and either has at least twice as many pixels as any real shooter needs for anything.
The D800 and D800E are swell for people shooting only one thing at a time very carefully, while the 5D Mark III is for most people who have more than one kind of thing to shoot. Got Aspergers or live on a tripod? Are you an engineer, programmer or IT professional? Get the D800E. Are you a photographer, artist, musician, have a family or appreciate a well-thought out product that moves as fast as you do? Get the 5D Mark III.
I prefer my Canon. I only keep my D800E around for testing Nikon lenses. Big deal, you may prefer the D800 if you’re an NEF-shooting software-intensive pixel counter. We’re all different, thank goodness — but I prefer my 5D Mark III.
No big deal, but I get a lot of questions from people about which I prefer and why.
From PhotoTuts+‘ entertaining field review:
The results I got are what I expect and my clients want. I would not expect less from this new model from Canon. But using the camera to its full extent asks for someone able to understand that even with the most complex systems there are always limitations. This is photography, not magic.
To make a long story short, the Canon EOS 5D Mark III is a tool that sits close to the top of the Canon offerings. It’s a fantastic camera, but it needs investment from the user to really show its best side. Buying it in hope that your photography will get better is putting the cart in front of the horses.
Nasim Mansurov‘s review is up. Not a game changer like the direct competitor, he says. Nevertheless:
Overall, I am very impressed by the Canon 5D Mark III. It is a very capable camera that can deliver outstanding results, especially with the wide selection of superb Canon L glass. If I were to invest in a Canon DSLR system today, given its capabilities and price range, the Canon 5D Mark III would without a doubt be my camera of choice. It is not a game changer like the Nikon D800, but it sure is a huge step up from the previous generation 5D Mark II, which has been the most popular full-frame camera on the market since it came out in 2009.
Alex Koloskov‘s “biased” 5D Mark III hands-on review. Amazing ISO, he says. But in the studio he shoots ISO 100. Therefore no difference between the Mark II and Mark III. But there are other great improvements:
Imaging Resource updated the 5D Mark III performance tests, stating a drastically improved battery life when using EVF only. On the other hand this camera seems to be fast at everything. Read the whole thing.
John B. Holbrook asks if you should upgrade from the 5D Mark II:
Unquestionably, the new Canon 5D Mark III is a fantastic camera, and the best Canon DSLR I’ve owned to date. If it suffers from anything it’s that DSLR technology is maturing and real innovation is getting harder to come by. This means that the value proposition to upgrade isn’t what it once was with a new Canon DSLR product launch. But it also means that in the quest to sell more cameras, if the engineers can’t come up with true innovation, they’ll add “features” which may in fact diminish from the camera’s usability for some (the menu system seems bloated and unwieldy compared to the relatively simple men structure from the 5D Mark II). I like the 5D Mark III, but Canon will have up the ante more that what we’re seeing here or I may start skipping product cycles.
DxOMark compares the Canon 5D Mark III’s and Nikon D80′s sensors. Nikon is gaining ground:
In our DxOMark tests, the Nikon D800 proved to be a formidable adversary against Canon and its 5D Mark III. The D800 swept the 5D Mark III in every DxOMark image quality category – no easy task given Canon’s already stellar sensor. The D800 has set a high benchmark not only for Canon cameras, but for the entire camera industry, having scored a personal best for our DxOMark RAW image quality and sensor performance tests.
But do not think for a second that Canon is throwing in the towel. To the contrary, they’re probably devising a plan to use that towel to clean up the competition.
It’s this competition that is hallmark to the historical legacy between Canon and Nikon – one camera maker manages to leapfrog the other in quality and innovation.
In the end, we all win as consumers and photography enthusiasts.
The 5D Mark II has almost identical image quality in video mode to the 5D Mark III at “normal” ISOs (though with the added worry over moire and aliasing on shots there it can be a problem). Though the 5D Mark II is a very old camera now, released at the end of 2008 the 2012 model is not an improvement in terms of 1080p — there’s effective resolution and there’s pixel count, and both haven’t really gone up!
The new Mark III is still awkward to shoot with bare bones (with no add-on monitor or EVF) because of the lack of articulated screen and no improvement to the primitive manual focus assist. Again in this sense, ergonomically it isn’t much different to the older, cheaper model.
Two headline grabbing specs – resolving power in both video/stills mode, and the quality of HDMI output — are better on the 5D Mark III’s chief rival the Nikon D800. Soon I’ll be comparing the Nikon D800 to the 5D Mark III with a hands on shoot in Berlin. Regular readers of EOSHD will have seen enough of the D800 to know that it resolves more detail in video mode and is much closer to an effective 1080p resolution rather than just a theoretical one (after sharpening in post!). What will be interesting here is whether my removal of the optical low-pass filter can finally get the 5D Mark III on level terms with the D800, with none of the drawbacks of moiré. I’ve not seen an increase in moire since removing the anti-aliasing filter.
For Pocket-lint the 5D Mark III’s a “hat-trick”:
As with the Nikon D800, there’s little bad to say about the latest 5D. This does feel like a camera aimed at the film-maker, but at no point does it ever feel that Canon has compromised on the quality of stills it produces. Indeed, our first instinct is to say that, for jpeg images, out of the camera, we prefer the Canon. There is, of course, more to the quality than just a first glance at the jpeg file though.
We think that the D800 produces nicer video out of the camera. Again though, professionals like the 5D. It has a quality that is very easy to work with in post production, and grade to the level of the rest of your material. Having said that, the 5D lacks a clean feed out of its HDMI socket. This is a bit of a problem, and Canon should really have addressed it by now. Of course, the firm now sells a video-only rig, the C300, which is more capable of producing video for pro markets.
We like the way the 5D handles, it’s a well-built camera, and it’s great to use. It’s fast to shoot lots of frames in sequence, which puts it over the D800 with its more massive images. In terms of layout, and design, the only bit we really want to change is the lack of dedicated control for aperture control, two wheels would really have made our day here.
DP Review‘s wise words are in. The conclusive 30-chapter review in a nutshell:
We rather liked the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. It is indeed a great camera and for current 5D Mark II users or other owners of Canon full-frame lenses the all-important question “Should I buy one?” is an easy one to answer. The 5D Mark III is in almost every aspect a better camera than its predecessor and an extremely enjoyable photographic tool. Competing models like the Nikon D800/E have a few unique tricks up their sleeve (36MP capture and an option to record uncompressed video footage) but for most people, most of the time, the differences wouldn’t be important enough to warrant swapping systems.
However, for those who haven’t bought into a camera system yet the issue is a little more complicated. The Nikon D800 and its supposedly higher-resolution sibling the D800E are the 5D Mark III’s only real rivals in the full-frame enthusiast camera bracket of the market and their whopping pixel count of 36MP make them arguably better choices for studio work and any other application that requires maximum amounts of detail. It’s worth noting, too, that the D800 is currently $500 cheaper than the 5D Mark III.
On the other hand the Canon offers faster burst shooting, which makes it more suitable for capturing fast-moving action. It’s also got a wider ISO range and offers greater customization when it comes to certain areas of its feature set. Both cameras’ AF systems are very sophisticated, offer a lot of customization options and very high tracking reliability of subjects that move across the frame.
Ultimately, both the D800 and 5D Mark III are excellent photographic tools. Which one is best for you is a question that only you can answer, but if you do go for the Canon EOS 5D Mark III you know you’ve not only got yourself a very capable camera, you’ve also got one that is a lot of fun and exciting to shoot with.
Here’s The Camera Store‘s third part of the contest between the Canon 5D Mark III and its direct competitor, the Nikon D800. Focus is on video. You’ll see impressive footage, especially during the extreme low light sections. The winner? Over to you:
ePHOTOzine‘s unsurprising ruling is in:
The Canon EOS 5D Mark III is an excellent camera, capable of taking stunning photos in a wide variety of situations and has a wealth of lenses available to go with it. The 5D Mark III may not be as ground-breaking as the 5D Mark II, but this is simply because the Mark II was so good, and where the Mark III has been improved is noticeable. It has a number of very welcome (and some would say needed) updates, importantly to focus points, speed, continuous shooting, HDR, improved processing, ISO performance and an extended range, as well as a high resolution 3.2″ screen.
Another Nikon D800 vs. Canon 5D Mark III comparison, this time completely unbiased Kevin Good‘s.
Spoiler: It’s a hilarious, brilliant comparison taking tests to another level. It clearly shows the 5D Mark III a hell of a lot better in low light and ISO performance. The D800 looks a bit sharper. Apply post-sharpening and the 5D should do just fine:
Here’s the second part — remember, your evaluation might be different as your needs might be different. But it’s fun nonetheless:
Philip Greenspun says what the camera won’t do — he’s not too happy with autofocus and autoexposure. The article even has an example of an iPhone 4S producing a better JPEG than the $3,500 Canon body. Excerpt:
The Canon EOS 5D Mark III offers very similar image quality to the 5D Mark II, introduced in 2008. The camera has a more capable autofocus system and, at least compared to my personal 5D Mark II, a much more predictable autoexposure system. Neither the autofocus nor the autoexposure system are idiot-proof, however, and the photographer needs all of the same skills that were required with the early multipoint autofocus film bodies of the 1990s, e.g., the 1992 Canon A2/EOS 5. As a picture-taking tool, the 5D Mark III would be much more useful if it had additional dynamic range, the option for a simplified publishing workflow via automatic uploading over Wi-Fi, and a primary autofocus system with face- and eye-recognition capability.
I think that my percentage of correctly exposed and correctly focused images was about the same as it was with the original Canon 5D (“Mark I”).
So you have the 5D Mark II and are still unsure if you should upgrade? Here is Digital Camera News‘ head to head comparison:
It’s not a perfect camera (lack of uncompressed output, live view autofocus is still a struggle, etc.), but the Mark III is a considerable jump forward that adopts many of the best parts of other cameras in Canon’s lineup. Overall, we felt it was the best camera that we’ve tested to date and a true successor to the Mark II. Yes, it costs considerably more with the Mark II still on the market, but if video is a primary concern, the quality jump and enhanced control features make the Mark III the better value.
A hands-on review by Ben Jacobsen takes the 5D Mark III really outdoors. His conclusion:
For me the 5D Mark III has been a nice improvement over the 5D Mark II in a lot of little areas. I didn’t need my higher ISOs to be any better, I was fine at 3,200 on the 5D Mark II, but now that I can use 12,800 I’ve been finding uses for it. I had been making due with the AF from the 5D Mark II for some six years, now I don’t have to, now I have “1 series AF” in a 5 series body. The fps boost is huge for me for some of the sequence shots I do, I can now use my 5D Mark III for a lot of those. But beyond the bigger bullet points from the spec sheet, they’ve changed a lot of the little details for the better as well. 100% viewfinder, the 7D’s live-view/movie switch, sprung doors, the depth of field button change, dual cards, the M-Fn button, a lot of little details that just make this body easier to use. Hopefully I don’t sound like I’m rationalizing my purchase, but so far I’m very happy I made the switch. I hope this review has helped you see some of the good things about the 5D Mark III and it’s few flaws.
So which one is Dave going to buy?
On the Canon side, having the aliasing issue fixed is nice and the low light performance is insane, I am really enjoying the headphone jack, but I wished they gave us 1080 at 60 fps, and a tilt out screen.
For the Nikon I really like the amount of latitude I get from their neutral picture style, but I’m not crazy about the high ISO performance or the white balance issues.
Both camera are excellent, no need to swap if you already invested in one over the other in terms of glass. I’m really not that invested in Canon glass, I got this one for $100 and this one used for $250, I have not purchased any really good glass yet because I have been waiting for these full frame camera to come out to decide.
After I had finished all my testing and I was heading out the other day to capture one of my girls activities, I grabbed the Canon instead of the Nikon, the main reason I grab it was the low light performance where I was headed, my style of shooting is mostly using available light, so for me I am going to buy the 5D3 since I can push ISO’s without worrying, and also I don’t have to worry deleting shots with nasty aliasing.
CNET says JPEG photos at low ISO sensitivities don’t match the generally excellent level of quality that you can otherwise get out of this camera. It’s not even a no-brainer:
Unlike the D800, the 5D Mark III isn’t a no-brainer upgrade for 5D Mark II shooters, but I think that’s more of a testament to the quality of the Mark II than anything lacking in the Mark III. That said, it does have some important advantages over its predecessor, including a much faster autofocus system, improved video quality and controls, and a far more configurable feature set. And if those are important to you, it’s definitely worth the price premium over the now-reduced Mark II.
Digital Photography School‘s ruling is in:
This baby will shoot top TV and stills industry gold standards, Nuff said. Why you’d buy it: you want a silent shooting mode; industry standard video capture. Why you wouldn’t: weight is against your style. This is obviously the one to beat in the top shelf.
The Digital Picture calls the 5DIII’s announcement the probably most anticipated camera announcement in history. They expect much. Rightly so?
While the Canon EOS 5D Mark III will be a bargain to many (I regard it as such), it is going to be priced out of reach for some. Those needing only excellent image quality without the superb 5D III AF and other capabilities/features should consider the Canon EOS 5D Mark II.
Those needing a fast frame rate but not able to afford the 5D III should consider the Canon EOS 7D. Though its image quality will not be a match for the 5D III, the 7D offers a good AF system, advanced features and a very good frame rate — at a more affordable price.
For those whose budgets exceed the 5D III, the Canon EOS 1D X is currently the must-consider alternative. I included the differences between the 5D III and the 1D X at the beginning of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III review.
Upgrading? I enthusiastically recommend upgrading to the EOS 5D III from any of the APS-C DSLRs. The step from the 5D II to the 5D III makes a lot of sense to me — especially from an AF perspective. Moving to the 5D III from many of the 1-Series bodies can even make sense. Later model 1-Series body owners probably will want to wait to see how the 1D X performs before making this decision.
The Canon EOS 5D Mark III just seems right for nearly all uses – from the most serious professional needs down to the most-important family memories captures. The 5D III has become my primary DSLR — at least until the 1D X appears — though I will likely retain a mix of these two DSLR models even then. This camera is a lot of fun to work with.
Here’s the DxOMark sensor evaluation of the 5D III. Their verdict: best score for a Canon DSLR to date, but in DxO’s opinion still trailing several of the best models from archrival Nikon. You gain 1/2 stop in low light conditions and enjoy greater dynamic range — but only at high ISO:
The dynamic range measurement shows improved performance behavior at high ISO, but is disappointing for the limited dynamic range at low ISO. No improvement was measured between the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and the 5D Mark II for the range ISO 100 to 800.
Photography Review has a Canon 5D Mark III vs. Nikon D800 comparison:
Et violà another direct comparison in the epic battle between the D800 and Canon’s 5D Mark III. Here’s The Camera Store‘s second of a three part series — how do they compare in photo journalism? The edge might go to the Mark III. Judge for yourself — BTW, here‘s part I:
Camera Labs‘ extensive review verdict in a nutshell:
Despite becoming fond of mirrorless cameras in recent years, I’ll be the first to admit I loved my time with the 5D Mark III. It is one of the most confident and enjoyable DSLRs I’ve used and even based on JPEG quality alone earns our Highly Recommended award. Is it better than the D800? No, but it’s not worse either. They’re different sorts of cameras. Based on my tests and results so far I’d say the D800 is preferable for tripod-shooting at lower ISOs, whereas the Mark III feels like a more rounded camera with its faster shooting, superior video and high ISO performance. I would however be delighted with either and I’m pretty sure you would too. Think carefully about what kind of photos you take and which system has the most appropriate lenses, then start enjoying the superb results each of these cameras will deliver. Traditional DSLRs may be lacking some of the features and glamour of the latest mirrorless models, but the Mark III and D800 both provide many compelling reasons to upgrade from their predecessors and prove there’s plenty of life in the old dog yet.
Well Canon acknowledges a light leak in the spanky new EOS 5D Mark III. Nothing major to worry about. Still, I’d be pissed. The issue’s extensively covered on the net. Proves the old rule again. Let others do the beta testing discovering teething issues.
What Digital Camera sees no revolution but neither has Canon stood still:
While the MkII was more suited to specific photographic disciplines, the MkIII is a whole different ball game.
Its a much more well-rounded, versatile DSLR than its predecessor. This is thanks to the boost in performance — namely the AF, while the quality feel is much more fitting for a camera of this calibre. While the resolution may remain similar to the Mark II, Canon hasn’t stood still. The ISO improvements now make the Mark III one of the best cameras around for shooting at high sensitivities, while the detail and resolving power make large prints a reality.
All the weak areas that the Mark II suffered from have been ironed out with the Mark III, and there’s now very little to fault it on, and the more you shoot with it, the more you realise what a complete and capable camera the Mark III is. Whether you shoot landscapes, portraits, editorial, action or nature, the MkIII will be right at home. The EOS 5D Mark III is an excellent DSLR.
Photofocus‘ mini review says the upgrade is not an absolute must:
All-in-all I think serious shooters will want to consider this upgrade, even with the significant price increase. If you’re a casual shooter or you can’t afford “L” glass, or just don’t ever plan to shoot movies on your DSLR, then you might want to stick with the 5D MK II, especially if you can manually focus.
For me, the Canon 5D MK III is a keeper. Highly recommended. I can even see some wildlife and sports shooters finding this to be a good compromise if they can’t afford the 1D X. It’s that fast.
Gizmodo claims with utter conviction: the best DSLR for video shooting. Should you buy it?
You should! Yeah, the Mark II is still a killer deal, but the 5D Mark III is better. That’s all there is to it. The refinements just make it a vastly better tool for photographers and videographers. The autofocus system alone is enough to justify choosing the Mark III over the Mark II. But it’s all of the refinements — the sum of the Mark III’s parts — that make it the best camera you can spend $3,500 on.
Since the 5D Mark III was officially revealed, it’s been referred to as just a marginal refinement to the 5D Mark II, with a bigger price tag. That’s unfair. It’s more like an affordable alternative to the $7,000 Canon 1D X. From the AF system, to the processor, to the glorious display, the cameras share a considerable amount of pedigree. While the 5D Mark III might not survive a photo safari in a monsoon, you’re getting some of the best parts of Canon’s new flagship DSLR for about half the price.
If you mostly shoot stills below ISO 800, I’d say the Mark II will deliver similar image quality to the Mark III. But if you regularly shoot above ISO 800, and especially between ISO 1,600 and 6,400, the Mark III will deliver lower noise, greater detail and better-looking image quality overall. Considering the sensor resolution has remained roughly the same, I’d say this is a good result for the Mark III and will delight anyone who shoots at higher ISOs.
Engadget‘s field review says there’s a lot to like about this incredibly capable do-everything shooter:
We’re really struggling to find any design flaws with the 5D Mark III — it’s a sharp looking camera, with a practical and familiar layout, an intuitive menu structure and a gorgeous optical viewfinder. The stellar 3.2-inch LCD doesn’t tilt or swivel, but you can view it from above, below or to either side, if necessary. Some ports have seen some position tweaking, but they’re all there: mic input, headphone, mini USB, HDMI, etc. There are SD and CF slots, as we’ve already covered, along with a slot for the same excellent battery used in the 5D Mark II. It’s beautiful. It’s familiar. It just works (…) We honestly haven’t been this in love with a camera since we reviewed the Sony NEX-7. And while there’s little to compare from a price and design perspective, we’re seriously questioning that affair, and completely ready to sacrifice the compact design in favor of this incredibly capable do-everything shooter.
EOSHD got hold of a 5D Mark III. Disclaimer for the video shooter: hold your enthusiasm.
Image quality in video mode was a mixed bag. Resolution is a bit of a let down. The GH2 has far more (…) But to be honest I’m a little disappointed. It may have a full frame sensor but the GH2 clearly beats the 5D Mark III for resolution in video mode. So unless the full frame look suits your wide angle stuff, I’d give it a miss for infinity focus wide angle shots and have a GH2 ready to fill in for those. This is not a nature documentary camera (…) Overall I feel very mixed about the 5D Mark III. In a sense it is improved over its predecessor in every single way. In another sense it is too little, far too late and a very conservative incremental update that doesn’t address one of the main failings of the 5D Mark II’s video mode relative to the $600 Panasonic GH2 – resolution. The box says 1080p. I’m sorry but it just isn’t.
Here’s even more of EOSHD‘s “curb your enthusiasm” — as a video shooter, that is to say:
The high sales of the 5D Mark II were in a large part down to the massive consumer market (even camcorder users) buying it for video as well as a huge portion of the professional video industry (small production studios and freelance shooters) buying 2nd and third bodies. A lot of pros even used it as their primary camera (…) You will not even notice the difference between the 5D Mark II and 5D Mark III on most kinds of shoots -– even though one is nearly four years older! In those four years we have had such lukewarm updates as the 60D, 600D and 7D all of which didn’t progress image quality from the 5D Mark II. What is wrong with Canon? That is a pretty massive failure to deliver, in my book.
It seems like they are suffering from some kind of risk averse corporate paralysis. Canon are very lucky that Nikon are so clueless about video, even though the D4 and D800 are big steps forward for them. But they won’t be so lucky when Sony bring their full-frame DSLR to the market later this year.
Still, it’s not all that miserable, says EOSHD, explaining how to shoot around the 5D Mark III’s limitations and posting a helpful quick guide. Provisional final verdict:
Some superb looking stuff was shot on the predecessor. The 5D Mark III is even better. Yes it is a disappointment in many ways and should have been far better. But remember it is full-frame — that look is special — great in low light, great at rendering your photographic lenses, a superb sensor in a body with great ergonomics and a diminutive size. Moire and aliasing is pretty much fixed. Audio is much improved. The codec is intra-frame and at a higher bitrate than on the Nikon D800′s internal codec. Frustration aside it is still pretty unique.
Chuck Westfall, technical advisor at Canon U.S.A., goes into technical details:
Three main areas of image quality-related improvement on the EOS 5D Mark III image sensor compared to the EOS 5D Mark II are: Gapless Microlenses: This feature increases the amount of light received by each photodiode compared to the gapped microlenses used on the 5D Mark II’s image sensor. New Photodiode Structure: The photoelectric conversion rate of each photodiode has been improved. On-Chip Noise Reduction: Canon’s proprietary technology in this area, which was first shown on the EOS D30 Digital SLR in the year 2000, has steadily improved over the years. The net result of these improvements is a cleaner signal at all comparable ISO speeds for the 5D Mark III, as well as increased sensitivity that is indicated by the expansion of the standard ISO range from 6,400 on the 5D Mark II to 25,600 on the 5D Mark III. We also doubled the throughput speed of image data from the CMOS sensor to the rest of the image processing chain by increasing the number of simultaneous readout channels from four to eight. This change has a side effect of helping to improve EOS Movie quality as well by cutting the level of rolling shutter artifacts in half.
PC Mag highlights the old rivalry between Canon and Nikon:
While neither company scores points for originality in naming conventions, both cameras promise to improve on their predecessors (…) The 5D Mark III does outpace the (Nikon) D800 in continuous shooting–it’s capable of grabbing up to 6 frames a second, while the Nikon is limited to 4 frames per second (…) And, since this is PC Mag, it’d be irresponsible not to mention that the D800 uses a USB 3.0 point for computer connectivity, while the 5D Mark III is still sputtering along with USB 2.0.
Vincent Laforet has a hard time recommending the 7D or 60D to anyone from now on:
For high-end users and rental houses – I think the bells and whistles on this camera are worth the upgrade. The 720p out during record alone will justify the upgrade. I also think this is the ULTIMATE astro time lapse camera in the world right now – except for maybe one of the new Nikons perhaps. I myself would go for the C300 given my penchant for video over stills at this point in my career.
The Verge likes a number of features ripped from the camera’s high-end brother and praises the viewfinder as a particularly noticeable improvement over the Mark II. But the site isn’t on the verge of utter excitement:
Canon’s 5D Mark III retains Canon’s position as a (relatively) low-cost way to shoot full-frame photos or high-quality HD video, though it’s now significantly more expensive than the 5D Mark II it supplants (…) Canon has clearly been listening to user requests over the last three years, and they’ve hit on just about everything (…) As it is, Canon and Nikon will likely spend the next year fighting it out for DSLR supremacy, and the increased competition means fans of both brands will likely be happy.
CNET thinks it’s packed with capabilities for both still and video shooters, but at a much steeper price:
I think the wait for the Canon EOS 5D Mark III has been killing both those groups. It’s been so long that a lot of hard-used 3-plus-year-old 5D Mark IIs are ready to surrender, and the frequent updaters have been buffeted on a sea of rumors and delays. But the 5DM3 is almost here — shipping within a few weeks, in theory — and it looks like it will have what it takes to please them both.
TechRadar sees the glass neither half full nor half empty:
While the Canon EOS 5D Mark III may not have quite the wow factor that some were hoping for, the headline figures such as the pixel count aren’t as high as some may have wished for, it’s clear that a lot of work has gone into it. If Canon has managed to control noise levels at the mid to high sensitvity settings as much as it claims (it is supposed to have 2EV advantage over the 5D Mark II), it could be a very versatile camera and a real competitor to the Nikon D800.
Quesabesde hands-on preview (in Spanish, many images).
Strong improvement in the focusing system and the accent placed on noise control, enhanced video and shutter speed.
Jeff Ascough‘s ecstatic:
The successor to the 5D Mark II is in my opinion just about as perfect a camera as you will ever handle. The new Canon 5D Mark III may look similar to a 5D Mark II but in all honesty this camera is so different in virtually every aspect that it could be called a different model number and nobody would have even noticed (…) So are there any negatives to owning this camera? Maybe just one. You will lose the ability to blame the camera for any shortcomings in your own photographic ability. The camera is what every Canon user has been waiting for and then some.
Mighty DP Review‘s hands-on preview thinks the 5D Mark III is more than just a positive update:
First impressions are extremely positive. It addresses the Mark II’s most glaring weakness – its distinctly unimpressive autofocus system – in what on paper is the most comprehensive fashion possible, while adding an array of interface tweaks and improvements as well. It’s at least as much of an improvement over its predecessor as the EOS 7D was over the 50D.
Stu Maschwitz explains why for him there’s no point in trying to resist the urge to buy the Mark III. Among many things he likes the medium megapixels:
I’m thrilled at the restraint that Canon showed in the 5D Mark III’s megapixel count. It’s barely bumped from the Mark II, meaning that all the advancements in sensor tech translate directly into reduced noise. I’m not a resolution fetishist, and I still kinda miss the enormous, velvety-smooth pixels from my original 5D. So my hopes are high that Canon’s restraint reflects well in the 5D Mark III’s stills.
Ken Rockwell asks if playback is held hostage but loves that Canon has finally fixed three huge problems from the predecessor:
Automatic correction of lateral color fringes, depth-of-field button and power switch are fixed.
Gizmodo is all praise:
From what we’ve seen, the Canon 5D Mark III is going to be incredible. Of course we won’t know until we actually try it; there’s no guarantee that all these tweaks and improvements will work as advertised. There’s a lot of brand new technology that’s never been used in the wild, squeezed into a tiny body (…) That said, on paper the Canon 5D Mark III improves on its predecessor in almost any category you can think of. That alone makes it one of the most important cameras released in the past half-decade.
What Digital Camera talks you through the new Canon flagship for professionals and consumers alike that’s no longer a portrait and landscape camera only, but also a sports, wildlife and action:
From the official Canon site:
The Power to Create. With supercharged EOS performance and stunning full frame, high-resolution image capture, the EOS 5D Mark III is designed to perform. Special optical technologies like the 61-Point High Density Reticular AF and an extended ISO range of 100-25,600 (expandable to 50 (L), 51,200 (H1) and 102,400 (H2) make the EOS 5D Mark III ideal for shooting weddings in the studio or out in the field, and great for still photography. Advanced professional-level high definition video capabilities (that includes a host of industry-standard recording protocols and enhanced performance) make it possible to capture beautiful cinematic movies in EOS HD quality. A newly designed 22.3 Megapixel full-frame Canon CMOS sensor, Canon DIGIC 5+ Image Processor, and shooting performance up to 6.0 fps provide exceptional clarity and sharpness, even when capturing rapidly-unfolding scenes. Additional technological advancements include an Intelligent Viewfinder, Canon’s advanced iFCL metering system, High Dynamic Range (HDR), and Multiple Exposure mode — all of which that help make the EOS 5D Mark III the perfect multimedia tool.