Canon Have Listened and Answered Many People’s Prayers But is it Enough?
The Long-awaited Canon EOS 5D Mark III – Press Release and Notes – 2nd March 2012
The wait is over for die-hard fans of the EOS 5D range as Canon release details of the new Canon EOS 5D Mark III…not the Canon EOS 5Dx as some thought it may be called. The heading I used when the 5D Mark II was released was “A Landmark, Groundbreaking Camera That Changes the Rules!”. How does the latest incarnation measure up?
Canon EOS 5D Mark III – Key features:
- 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
At first glance, for me anyway, the updates are excellent but nothing to majorly affect my current shooting style with the 5D Mark II. Two notable improvements that would help my work with the video aspect is the addition of an audio out jack (for headphones) and the ability to shoot at 50/60fps at 720p HD although I already have that with my Pro-Spec, dedicated HD video camera anyway (and even my little workhorse, the Go Pro HD Hero 2).
I would have liked to have seen 1080p video with 60fps with that new processor but I guess we are still a way off from that in DSLR’s yet. I just thought that if a tiny $300 camera that is the Go Pro HD Hero 2 can produce super sharp, clean DVD quality footage at 120 fps, this camera may have stepped up a notch from the video capabilities already found in the Canon EOS 7D.
I love slow motion video by the way…
The silent shooting modes which I first found useful in the 1D series Canons is a notable and worthy addition to the 5D Mark III…great for wedding and wildlife photographers and the dual card slots with automatic transition is also a nice thing to see. An upgrade from 3.9 fps shooting to 6fps is also welcomed but not mind-blowing. We had slightly faster than that on the now ageing 40D at 6.5fps.
The overall appearance and added features of the camera, especially at the back, is very similar to the EOS 7D. Now I loved the look, feel and layout of the 7D but the jury is still out as to whether I like the fact that the 5D Mark III is now based on that look. Would they have been better keeping the 5D series “unique”? Purely subjective I guess but I am erring towards yes, I like the look of this.
I am assuming that the new sensor will have improved low light shooting capabilities and less moiré, artefacts and false colour etc but they did such a great job with the EOS 5D Mark II, I am not sure that the untrained eye will see much difference and I am not sure that alone is enough for me to want to upgrade.
The sensor stays around the same resolution with a small increase to 22.3 megapixels which is fine by me as any more and you start to get problems in my opinion, especially with video as you start to compress and remove unnecessary information to get to 1080 lines of resolution. Good call Canon.
An increase to ISO 102,400 is also a welcome upgrade so long as the IQ is worthy.
With regards to processing speed, the new Digic 5+ in the 5D Mark III is said to be 30 percent faster than the Digic 5 and a whopping 17 times quicker compared to the Digic 4 processor from the Canon EOS Mark II.
I haven’t had many problems, if any, with the processing of images in the 5D Mark II but nonetheless, this is still a noticeable improvement. Although saying that, if I was a sports/nature photographer, I would be looking at the 1Dx anyway, the 5 -series for me has always been about studio, landscape or wedding photography…you know, slow stuff.
Going back to video (yet again), the extended filming time of just short of 30 minutes is a vast improvement over the current 12 minutes on the Mark II but again, nothing spectacular.
Note: If a DSLR can shoot footage more than 30 minutes long, it enters the realm of a fully fledged camcorder which affects its tax status in Europe.
JPEG shots are said to be around two stops “cleaner” than that of the 5D Mark II and that will also be noticeably smoother with less moiré and artefacting. E.g., the amount of noise you would see at ISO 6,400 with the 5D Mark II is comparable to the 5D Mark III at ISO 25,600. This is still around 1 stop “less clean” than the Canon EOS 1Dx is said to be at the same ISO.
The new 61-point autofocus system will be a huge and welcome addition to many and helps to ensure the most critical focus possible with a high level of efficiency. Great for sports and nature photographers but as far back as I can remember, I have only ever used the central focus point, manual focus or various other focusing techniques so for me, this is fairly redundant.
I don’t know why Canon do this with such great cameras, I wish they would save the gimmicks for their lower end, consumer DSLR’s. The Canon EOS 5D Mark III has a couple of features that remind me of the “instant print” button that has adorned so many Canon DSLR’s and was personally never been used (by me anyway).
For example, a dedicated “rating” button on the back to enable the photographer to give each photo a rating from 1 to 5 stars…what is that all about? I have never heard of people crying out or asking for this feature and I mentally rate and separate images when I review them on a full sized monitor after the shoot not during it or on a small screen on the back of a camera. I would rather see a greater improvement in basic dynamic range in my images and take us a step closer to what the human eye can achieve.
Also, many people love HDR and I think it is pretty cool when done correctly and in moderation but could be a passing fad such as “spot colouring”. Maybe it should be left to external processing techniques with dedicated software, at least that way it remains a credible art form for those who enjoy it but I don’t think adding it to the features of a DSLR is the way to go…but that is just me.
Any technology that helps to make true artistic merit and skill into a mainstream and simple technique for the masses simply moves me further away from doing it myself.
As you may well have noticed, I have written this from the perspective of someone who already owns the EOS 5D Mark II and is/was thinking of adding the Mark III to his collection…not biased at all! As I write this, I am honestly thinking of buying another 5D Mark II and the new 600EX-RT Speedlite or even a Nikon D4 (Gasp) so make of that what you will.
I may well change my mind when the genuine, in-depth reviews start to come out but I was hoping that the new 5D Mark III when released would blow me away like the Mark II did when announced. Of course, everything is subjective and as the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!
If you are currently using a 50/60D or 7D and wanted to upgrade to full frame, then this camera will be nothing short of amazing for you. The same applies if you are currently using the older EOS 5D but if you currently use and love your EOS 5D Mark II, only you can decide if the additional cost can justify the improvements to your photography and/or video.
So, availability and price.
The EOS 5D Mark III could be available to buy by the end of March, priced at around $3,500 for the body only and $4,300 with the EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM (early indications show that the UK price will be a whopping £2999.00! Double the current price of the 5D Mark II…).
Something I am a little more excited about is the fact that also available at launch, will be Canon’s new $630 Speedlite, the 600EX-RT and its $470 Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT!
Both the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and Speedlite 600EX-RT are available to pre-order from B & H below:
Finally, you can tell from the DPReview video below that they don’t seem to be overly blown away by this either, even after getting their hands on one. Canon just got it so right with the Mark II it has been difficult to dramatically improve IMO:
Check out the image quality on the eyes and hair (and coat even) at 100 percent on this sample photo (exif data 250th/sec @ f16 and ISO 100) direct from Canon. I’m sorry, but that is pretty poor. It looks as though too much “in-camera” processing has been going on and I know the 5D Mk II can out perform this…I have had shots rejected by stock agencies like this with the reason “overprocessed or too soft”.
Just for fun, here are three sample shots.
The first two are from the Canon EOS 5D Mark III taken from Canon’s website and the last shot is from my 5D Mark II. All are 100% crops and mine is straight from the RAW image. Now this may be down to lenses, lighting, the photographer or something else, but you would think Canon would put up some truly awesome photos to promote this camera!?!?!?
Note: I even had to reduce the quality of my file (straight from RAW) to keep up under 100kb like the other two shots…
Canon EOS 5D Mark III Image 1
Canon EOS 5D Mark III Image 2
Canon EOS 5D Mark II (Mine)
Anyway, enough of all that, below is the official press release:
London, UK, 2nd March 2012 – Canon today announces the latest addition to its world famous EOS range with the launch of the new EOS 5D Mark III. The EOS 5D Mark III builds on the performance of the legendary EOS 5D Mark II, offering improved speed, greater resolution, enhanced processing power and extended creative options for both stills and Full HD movies – providing unparalleled artistic freedom for the most demanding photographers.
Incorporating feedback from photographers worldwide, the EOS 5D Mark III offers improved performance in virtually every area. A new 22.3 Megapixel (MP) full-frame sensor offers the ideal balance of resolution for stills and HD movies and up to 6 frames per second (fps) shooting, whilst a 61-point AF system and 63-zone metering provide greater speed, flexibility and accuracy. Powered by the latest DIGIC 5+ processing technology, the EOS 5D Mark III also features enhanced video functions, offering improved image quality alongside greater audio control – redefining creative possibilities for photographers and amateur videographers alike.
“The EOS 5D Mark III represents a big step forward for the EOS 5D series” said Kieran Magee, Marketing Director, Professional Imaging, Canon Europe. “The EOS 5D Mark II is an exceptional camera and we’ve listened carefully to feedback from its passionate community of users to improve performance in every area. This camera has been designed to meet virtually any creative challenge – it’s faster, more responsive and features the tools to adapt to everything from studio photography to creative videography, while producing results of the highest quality.”
With its comprehensively upgraded specification, the EOS 5D Mark III is the ideal tool for the growing number of photographers shooting both stills and movies. It incorporates a number of the features launched with Canon’s revolutionary EOS-1D X, providing vastly improved performance, flexibility, handling and durability.
The camera’s newly-developed 22.3MP full-frame sensor provides increased resolution and finer detail, enabling the capture of a wide range of scenes, from sweeping landscapes to beautiful portraits. Higher speed continuous shooting also offers expanded creative possibilities. With an increased 8-channel read out, the camera comfortably handles a maximum full resolution speed of up to 6fps in bursts of 18 RAW images or over 16,000 JPEGs1, without the need for additional accessories. Additionally, the sensor’s advanced architecture offers a huge native ISO range of 100-25,600, expandable to 102,400, making it possible to capture clean, high quality pictures, even in extreme low-light conditions.
The EOS 5D Mark III utilises the same 61-point wide-area AF system as the flagship EOS-1D X, providing exceptional sensitivity, precision and speed. One of the most advanced AF systems currently available, it features an impressive 41 cross-type points and five dual cross-type points, providing unsurpassed accuracy across the frame. The customisable AF pre-sets introduced in the EOS-1D X are also available, helping the capture of traditionally challenging subjects, and providing additional reliability in situations where subject movement can be unpredictable.
Highly accurate exposures are provided by Canon’s acclaimed iFCL metering system, which incorporates a 63-zone Dual-Layer sensor linked to each point of the AF system. Focus information gathered from the AF system is analysed alongside colour and luminance signals measured by the metering sensor itself, enabling the EOS 5D Mark III to deliver consistently accurate skin tones and excellent results in a wide range of shooting situations.
Creative performance without compromise
The EOS 5D Mark III features Canon’s latest DIGIC 5+ image processor, which powers a range of new functions without affecting the camera’s performance. 14-bit A/D conversion provides smoother tonal gradation and transitions between colours, while in-camera HDR shooting combines three different exposures and allows one of five preset tone maps to be applied, enabling photographers to capture all the detail in high contrast scenes. With in-camera RAW processing and editing capability, photographers also have the option to immediately begin post-processing their images while still on a shoot.
The increased power of DIGIC 5+ also enables a range of tools which contribute to higher image quality. Lens peripheral illumination correction, Lens chromatic aberration correction (lateral and axial) and high ISO noise reduction are all performed in-camera without affecting performance, allowing photographers to continue shooting without any camera lag. Additionally, in-camera image rating via a dedicated button makes it easy for photographers to organise images ahead of post-production.
The EOS 5D Mark III features a new Creative Photo button, which enables users to quickly select Picture Styles and capture multiple exposures, as well as offering direct access to the HDR shooting mode. In playback, pressing the Creative Photo button displays a new comparative playback function, displaying two images side-by-side to allow photographers to view, magnify and compare the quality of different exposures mid-shoot.
For situations where photographers want to avoid being noticed, such as weddings, the EOS 5D Mark III also features a new silent shooting mode that dramatically reduces the sound of the shutter and mirror, ensuring they can work quietly in the background. A continuous silent mode is also available, enabling photographers to capture faster moving subjects without attracting attention.
Next generation EOS Movies
The EOS 5D Mark III builds on the reputation of the EOS 5D Mark II, with a range of new features introduced following feedback received from photographers to provide even better Full HD video performance. As well as offering the depth-of-field control loved by video professionals, the new full-frame sensor combines with the vast processing power of DIGIC 5+ to improve image quality by virtually eradicating the presence of moiré, false colour and other artefacts. The addition of a movie mode switch and a recording button also offers greater usability, enabling videographers to begin shooting immediately when movie mode is engaged.
Additional movie functions include manual exposure control and an enhanced range of high bit-rate video compression options, with intraframe (ALL-I) and interframe (IPB) methods both supported. Variable frame rates range from 24fps to 60fps, and the addition of SMPTE timecode support provides greater editing flexibility and easier integration into multi-camera shoots. Users can also check and adjust audio during recording via the camera’s Quick Control screen and a headphone socket enables sound level monitoring both during and after shooting. Enhanced processing power provided by DIGIC 5+ also makes it possible to conveniently trim the length of recorded movies in-camera.
Professional build, easy operation
The EOS 5D Mark III has been built to offer photographers easy-handling and robust build quality. Its lightweight, high-grade magnesium body offers advanced weather proofing for protection against the elements, while the construction of the shutter has also been reinforced, with 150,000-cycle durability making it ideal for repeated, everyday use. An enhanced version of the Intelligent Viewfinder featured in the EOS 7D offers approximately 100% coverage, as well as an on-demand grid display via the built in transparent LCD.
The same reinforced 8.11cm (3.2″) Clear View II LCD screen as used by the EOS-1D X provides high quality framing and playback in all conditions. 1,040k-pixels provide the resolution to accurately check image sharpness and focus, while the gapless structure design introduced with the EOS-1D Mark IV prevents reflections and protects against dust or scratches. A headphone socket and locking mode dial have been included, while the inclusion of a UDMA 7-compatible CF card slot plus an SD card2 slot enables shooting to both cards simultaneously, auto switching when the one in use becomes full and the option to copy images from one card to the other in-camera.
Digital Lens Optimizer – new in Digital Photo Professional v3.11
The EOS 5D Mark III comes complete with the most advanced version of Digital Photo Professional (DPP) yet – Canon’s free, in-box software enabling high-speed, high quality processing of RAW images. New in DPP v3.11 is Digital Lens Optimizer – a revolutionary new tool designed to drastically improve image resolution.
Digital Lens Optimizer (DLO) precisely imitates lens performance, with a series of complex mathematical functions replicating each stage of the journey of light through the optical path. Using this information DLO can correct a range of typical optical aberrations and loss of resolution caused by a camera’s low pass filter, by applying an inverse function to each shot to take the image nearer to how the scene appears to the naked eye. This creates exceptionally detailed, high-quality images with highly manageable file sizes, providing photographers with maximum image quality and greater flexibility.
EOS System compatibility
As part of the EOS System, the EOS 5D Mark III is immediately compatible with over 60 EF Lenses, including the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM – the new, essential wide-angle zoom lens from Canon’s famous L-series. The camera is also compatible with a newly announced range of accessories designed to offer extended creativity, including the Speedlite 600EX-RT – a high performance TTL flash with wireless radio connectivity. Additionally, the new Battery Grip BG-E11 offers greater handling flexibility alongside the ability to double the camera’s battery life.