First Impressions on the Canon EOS 5D Mark III

What the EOS 3 was to EOS 5 in film days, this week’s EOD 5D Mark III did to the original 5D.

Yours Truly, back in October 2009 after the announcement of Nikon D3S:

Some rumor has been going on for weeks in Cameraland. A little bird has been singing the Canon-is-working-on-something-big: a pro-level camera, (I say some new flash toys too — hint: it’s not infrared) and as the 7D has spelled, its design iteration shall find its way in the future EOS camera models. That was when the rumors of the new 5D began to make its rounds. The 5D Mark II was no EOS 3, but looks like we have got ourself a winner this time.

Andy Westlake & Richard Butler:

We’ve not really had our hands on a 5D Mark III long enough to do much more than scratch the surface of what it can do, but 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. Of course the elephant in the room is the question of resolution; will the 5D Mark III’s 22MP offer enough in comparison to the Nikon D800’s 36MP to prevent users switching brands? Canon appears to be confident that its users don’t really need extra pixels anymore, and indeed don’t want to put up with the processing and storage demands that come with them. It will be interesting to see whether that confidence is justified once the two cameras hit the shops – and we can’t wait to get them into our studio to put them head-to-head in testing.

Vincent Laforet, internet-appointed HDSLR filmmaking ambassador:

For still photographers – the higher motor drive FPS are welcome – as well as a much needed and far superior AF system. This AF system is LIGHTYEARS ahead of the 5D MKII when you consider that the MKII had the SAME AF sensor as the original 5D (meaning it’s almost 8 years old!) And one notable key still feature which could be HUGE (finally they added this feature!!!) The EOS 5D Mark III camera features a built-in HDR mode, merging three images at various exposure levels into a single image, in-camera, This would be my camera of choice to travel the world as a still photographer.

I skipped both the 5Ds for two reasons that beat their selling point: half-baked auto-focusing system and less than 100% viewfinder coverage regardless of their gorgeous full-frame sensors. The Mark III seems to have taken care of these two main issues.

A more subtle observation by Jeff Ascough, Canon’s ambassador for no-flash photography:

The viewfinder is a world away from the 5D Mark II. Now we have 100% coverage which does make a huge difference. It is glorious to use, with a lovely bright image and even with spectacles I found it easy to see all the edges of the frame. The eye relief is just about right. The AF points are projected onto the focusing screen like the 7D and 1DX but it does mean that you can’t change focusing screens like the earlier models. The eyepiece is slightly deeper and very comfortable but the dioptre correction wheel still protrudes from behind the eyepiece and will have to be taped up especially as I carry my cameras with the lenses hanging down, which causes the top of the camera to rub against my clothes. I would have loved to have seen the dioptre correction wheel put behind the eyepiece like the 1DX.

The Verge shares these bits from a tech writer’s point of view:

The 5D Mark III, on the other hand, feels like Canon pulled as many features as it possibly could from the new 1D X (including its autofocus system, video codecs, and processor) and fit them into a camera that is significantly less expensive. Compromises were made, particularly in the ISO range, shooting speed, and weatherproofing, but the new autofocus system and 6FPS shooting mode means that this camera’s target audience just expanded significantly. It’s no longer a camera best suited to studio work.

Planet5d has a couple of interesting details:

The new sensor is completely re-designed with gapless microlenses – brings in more light as compared to previous sensors with gaps between the diodes. The new photo diode structure which provides better quantum efficiency. Plus there’s better on chip noise reduction. These 3 things mean there will be a cleaner signal coming off the sensor before it even goes to the processor.

(as suspected, new design first seen on the 7D have found their way on the Mark III):

  • The power switch is below the mode dial like the 7D.
  • The mode dial has a locking button * The multi-function button has been added by the shutter trigger
  • The live view switch is to the right of the viewfinder (thank goodness it isn’t on the mode dial!)
  • The Q button has been added to control the LCD screen. * Touch pad like the Canon EOS-1D X – touch the dial to change ISO, audio level, shutter speed, aperture etc. While recording video.
  • Creative photo button – centralizes creative menus for picture style, HDR, and multi-exposure mode.
  • The rating button – can rate images while reviewing and give 1-5 stars. Note the data flows thru to Adobe and Apple software (1 to 5 stars)

Here’s the official press release from Canon and sample images & movies, and to top it off, T.O.P has some insightful commentaries. Whatever the future may hold, right now Canon has some winners down its sleeve. The megapixel race is over and with the 1DX and 5D Mark III, Canon signals a path that would make our photographical journey for the next decade brighter.

If not for the new camera, perhaps their new lighting toys would be a delight.