2012-06-22

Canon EOS 5D Mark III - the benefits

It’s pretty hard to keep any new product under wraps these days, even the mighty Apple have been struggling to control leaks but Canon did remarkably well are keep hush before the EOS 5D Mark III came out.

You might be forgiven for being somewhat disappointed if you’re a 5D Mark II owner because on the face of it certainly if you’re in the habit of megapixel counting (in which case you seriously need to get out the house) there’s not a “huge” improvement. What you should really be looking at is how the resolution is handled and captured but more importantly how the camera performs.

Anyone who has used the 5D Mark I or 5D Mark II and compared them against the 7D Mark II or any of the 1D series will know how poor the AF was, not that its unreliable just sluggish, whilst it performs well in certain situations (i.e. in a studio with a relatively static subject) it struggles with any kind of action. So the EOS 5D Mark III thankfully get a 1D-esque kick up the backside, although it’s not in the same class due to the more powerful processing of the flagship model, it’s a breath of fresh air for the camera and makes if feel much more responsive. In comparison to its baby brother the 7D it’s still not ideal for budding sport/wildlife photographers who can’t stretch to an EOS-1D X due to the limited FPS in continuous shooting, though it’s now an almost perfect tool for weddings/street photographers.

Combine this will an improvement in low light performance (matching the excellent performance of the Nikons) and you’ll be taking photos in almost pitch black conditions. This is mainly down to the new sensor design and improved processing of the Digic 5+ processor (which is apparently 17 times faster than the previous 5D MKII). Also similar to the recent 60D and 7D it has a gapless sensor which means the light hitting the sensor effectively goes straight onto the photodiodes yet another small improvement over the 5D MKII but will a noticeable real world difference.

The 5D MKIII was never going to be up to the 1D standard of build quality but it’s now like that of the 7D in that it offers some weather sealing against the elements. It has weather seals throughout which gives it a solid feel it’s the more subtle changes I’m really impressed which, for instance the lock button on the top of the mode dial (like that on the 60D) it really secures the mode you’re in which previously was a little easier to knock that it I would have preferred.

I’ve previously been a self-proclaimed Nikon addict, so I’ll always have a soft spot for Nikon cameras but the main headache for Canon is the Nikon D800, on paper these cameras are extremely closely matched. The Nikon packs a couple of extra pixels which is neither here nor there, they match each other on almost everything other regard, where Nikon has a pop up flash the Canon has a slightly high native ISO ability and a touch higher screen resolution it’s very hard to call between them. Most of you reading this will probably be already swayed one way or the other and probably with a host of lenses to match. So my best advice would be getting your hands on the cameras in our show room to see which one you would prefer, Canon offer a slightly wider range of lenses on my last count but it's likely to be down to ergonomic preference rather than specifications. Though one main difference I would point out is that the higher the mega pixels your using the high quality your lens needs to be to take advantage of it; you don’t buy and Aston Martin and run it with the cheapest economy fuel you can find, this is the same with cameras.

Whilst there’s no great pixel increase, a 22 mega pixel camera roughly equates to 19x12” print, so how big do you really need to go? Looking through the specifications and handling the camera I certainly get the feel that the 5D MKIII is a big move forward; even if it’s done in lots of small increments. It’s closer than the 5D series has ever been to a 1D, which can only be a good thing, and it’s a hell of a lot of camera for the money, certainly if you compare the 5D MKII vs. MKIII the four years between them might have been a long time to wait but you can thank Canon for taking their time over it.

The only fly in the ointment is the Nikon which although a touch cheaper you’ll end up paying for this in glass, not that I would complain about owning either camera both would be enough even for the most seasoned pro!

Nick Brooks
Park Cameras Ltd.

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