The 5D series is one of Canon’s most celebrated. The line has been immensely popular with both prosumers and full professionals. With the 5D Mark II, Canon began to capture a portion of the prosumer video market. The release of the new 5D Mark III has generated a considerable amount of excitement. But is it worth the upgrade?
History of the 5D Series
The original Canon 5D put the first consumer friendly price tag on a full frame camera in 2005. Still utilized by many professional photographers to this day, the 5D was noted for its brilliant color and contrast while minimizing noise. The 5D Mark II went well beyond resolution improvements, adding the ability to record HD video and introducing Live View for LCD previews of the final image before the shutter was pressed.
Mark III Improvements are Many
The Mark III has a 22 megapixel full frame sensor, with a brand new 61-point auto focus system. Also new to the line is the addition of the 1D’s silent shutter, and the ability to shoot an impressive 6 frames per second. ISO range expands to 25600 on the high end, balanced by improvements in noise reduction technology.
The body is rock solid, and has improved ergonomics which were borrowed from the 7D and 1D series. There are clear improvements in weather proofing, but the 5D Mark III is still not on the same level of the tightly sealed 1D series.
The auto focus is simply faster and more accurate than its predecessors, dwarfing the 19-point AF system of the Mark II. Battery life appears marginally better, with the Lithium Ion pack able to handle approximately 950 shots.
High Dynamic Range In Camera
For fans of High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography, the Mark III implements the ability to capture an entire HDR image in camera and greatly expands the auto-bracketing range. For instance, you can set up three bracketed shots within the HDR menu, using EV ranges of your choice. The camera then processes all three bracketed images, plus a fourth HDR image to your memory card.
Our experience shows us that more can be accomplished by using a computer based HDR software application. However the ability to capture HDR in camera is incredibly convenient, and allows for an obviously faster workflow.
Live View allows the photographer to use the LCD screen to better judge exposure and light ranges prior to taking the shot. While the 5D Mark II did an adequate job with its Live View, the 7D’s version was vastly superior. Thankfully the 7D Live View system is now integrated into the 5D Mark III.
Three alignment grids are available to overlay in Live View. While these grids are nice for getting straight horizons, I particularly love them for composing an image using the Rule of Thirds.
Face detection is part of Live View. This interesting algorithm uses contrast to recognize a human face and focus on it. If there is more than one face detected, one face can be selected for auto focus by moving the joystick. This is fantastic for getting sharp eyes on the fly, and represents a useful step forward in camera technology.
Sometimes referred to as burst mode, continuous shooting allows photographers to capture several images in rapid succession. The obvious application is for action photographers, including but not limited to sports, dance, and wildlife.
The Mark II was limited to just under 4 frames per second (fps). However the Mark III comes in at a respectable 6 fps, which is not far from the 7D’s impressive 8 fps.
While we would still recommend the 1D series for sports and action photographers as the “best choice”, the Mark III has now entered the discussion.
At a price tag of $3500 to $4500, the Canon EOS 5D Mark III is a serious investment which deserves careful consideration. We believe the improvements in auto focus capabilities, combined with faster continuous shooting, make a compelling upgrade case for fans of the 5D series who shoot a fair amount of fast action photography.
The face recognition auto focusing system is brilliant, and really makes life easier for the photographer. Live View is much improved from earlier editions, rendering a more accurate depiction of the final image prior to pressing the shutter.
For serious photographers, the 5D Mark III looks like an important upgrade in this celebrated series.
Daniel Padavona is the lead photographer for Warmpicture Stock Photos. He is an avid Canon shooter, and enjoys photographing dance, sports, and nature. Daniel lives with his wife and children in Upstate New York.