Canon launched the third edition in their 5D series today, marking the end of the month-long wait since its sighting in Kenya by photographer Stephen Oachs (it was the 5D MkIII). The Canon 5D MkIII combines the best of it's predecessors — the Canon 7D and the 5D MkII — and puts them together in a solid magnesium-alloy package that produces stunning images and beautiful videos that the Canon xD series has become known for.
- 22.3 Megapixel full-frame sensor
- 61-point autofocus
- Up to 6fps continuous shooting
- Native ISO 100-25,600 sensitivity
- Full HD video with manual control
- 14-bit DIGIC 5+ processor
- Enhanced Weather sealing
- 8.11cm (3.2-inch) 1,040,000-dot screen
- HDR mode with presets
The Canon 5D MkIII looks and feels solid — a definite improvement from the original 5D Classic and the 5D MkII where one of the main complaints was that it is slightly less-well built than its peers in the same price category. According to Nikon, the 5D MkIII is not stated as "weather-sealed" in its spec sheet, but is definitely built with seals that protects it from dust and water.
The button layout on the back of the Canon 5D MkII has been redesigned, looking like an enhanced version of the highly versatile and thumb-friendly 7D layout. Canon has shifted right side buttons minutely to give what they say is a more ergonomic design — which works because the different heights the buttons are placed at somehow matches the range-of-movement of my thumb. On the left side of the 5D MkIII are the Creative Style button, a new Rate button, a Zoom button, and finally the Playback and Delete buttons, while the Menu and Info button have been relegated to the top-left-hand corner of the camera, which makes more sense — this allows you to grip the Canon 5D MkIII naturally while navigating the menu and reviewing pictures, only having to shift your thumbs when you need to change an option or a setting.
The Canon guys have also added a Q (Q for Quick Control Dial) button that, according to Canon, is equipped with an electrostatic touch sensor. This allows the 5D MkIII user to quickly and silently change camera settings — a definite plus for situations where settings need to be changed while the camera is making a video recording.
The Canon 5D MkIII doesn't make much of a megapixel jump from the 5D MkII, or the 1D X for that matter, seeming to prefer avoiding the megapixel race in favour of pursuing a better all-round camera instead of a megapixel monster.
It has an improved AF system — jumping from having only 9 AF points to a full 61 point AF system with sppeds on par with the 1D MkIV — answering the anguished cries of 5D MkII users around the world for better and faster AF. ISO performance has also been bumped up by 2 stops, giving the 5D MkIII a native maximum ISO of 25600, which can be pushed to Hi2 at ISO 102400. The 5D MkIII also ships with a DIGIC 5+ processor that crunches images 17 times faster than the 5D MkII's DIGIC 4 processor, allowing the photographer to shoot richer images faster.
The 5D MkIII packs the 7D's video capabilities, but with all that full-frame sensor goodness. It can capture video at 1080p30 and 720p60 among other resolutions, and can shoot in one of two compression modes depending on how you wish to edit your videos.
HD Video DSLRs mostly allow you to shoot in H.264, but most don't allow you to select the compression mode for H.264 footage. DLSRs such as the D800 shoots videos in b-frame compression to give the 4gb storage limitation for CF and SD cards maximum mileage — the 5D MkIII, on the other hand, shoots in IPB mode (which is similar to b-frame compression) and in ALL-I mode which behaves very much like a RAW still image (read this for a more technical explaination).
Shooting in IPB mode allows you to shoot up to 20 minutes of footage at 720p60, while shooting in ALL-I mode would only give you slightly more than 6 minutes of continuous footage at the same resolution. If you choose to shoot in the memory-heavy ALL-I mode, in exchange for having to buy more CF cards you're given more editing latitude — you'll be able to edit your videos frame-by-frame with minimal loss in video quality compared to editing videos with b-frame or IPB compression. This is great, considering that DSLRs are being increasingly used to produce broadcast and even theatre quality films such as the upcoming blockbuster film Act of Valor (it was filmed using the 5D MkII), and given that single takes usually don't last much longer than a minute (unless you're a big fan of this list), the trade-off should be worth it.
The 5D MkIII also comes with much improved audio monitoring for video: it now has an on-screen audio levels and a headphone jack which finally allow you to monitor audio input without having to hack your 5D. The on-board microphone is still there, and comes with an added wind shield to improve your outdoor audio quality.
All that, in addition to the touch-enabled Q(uick Control Dial) button and its highly capable full-frame sensor, adds together to give you a much leaner and meaner HD DSLR capable of highly cinematic video recordings.
The 5D MkIII ships with an in-built HDR feature, similar to that of the 1D X.
Full resolution of glass cups shot using Canon 5D Mark 3
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, f/4, 1/400, -1EV, 400mm, ISO200
Full resolution of Tiger shot using Canon 5D Mark 3
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, f/2.8, ISO6400, 24mm, 0.6 seconds
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, f/2.8, ISO6400, 24mm, 0.6 seconds (100% crop!)
Full resolution of Northern lights shot using Canon 5D Mark 3
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, f/3.5, 1/400s, ISO100, +0.7eV, 300mm
Full resolution of Portrait shot using Canon 5D Mark 3
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, f/5.6, 1/4000s, ISO200, 35mm
Full resolution of Snow Board shot using Canon 5D Mark 3
All images © of CANON INC. (Permission to reproduced by Canon Singapore)
The Canon 5D MkIII comes together as a streamlined and versatile camera — built to work like the 7D but giving the creamy and rich images and videos typical of the 5D MkII. But it has some big shoes to fill — the 5D MkII completely changed the filmmaking landscape when it came out, and is still widely used as a camera of choice for quick and compact film production. We'll see how the 5D MkIII, with all its bells and whistles, performs against its predecessor when it is released later this month.
The Canon 5D MkIII is projected for an end-March 2012 release, and is expected to retail at USD$3499 which puts it safely at about SGD$4000 for the street price.