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Canon EOS 5D Mark III Review

Canon EOS 5D Mark III Review
Review / 10/02/2014
Author: Photoleet avatarPhotoleet
recommendations 1, rating 4






“Watch what you wish for, it just might come true”, is an old saying by an unknown author that might almost perfectly describe the fuss created by the premiere of the long-expected heir to Canon’s EOS 5D Mark II, the undisputed best seller in its class and definitely the best selling 35mm DSLR ever. People tend to despise even the greatest pleasure. All of us crave for something, regardless of the nature of that desire, but seldom think about the “what if” situation, because it seems as if that desire would solve all our problems at some instant or fulfill all our expectations. Or at least most of them. And would it?

When it comes to photography and photographers as the “center” of the whole story, meeting the demands of the customers, had it ever been a goal, would have been abandoned as a bad idea long time ago. As in other aspects of life, that which pleases you won’t necessarily please someone else, too. A matter of taste. Yes, but also a matter of need. How did we end up with these life philosophies in a simple story about a photographic tool? Well, very easy. The 5D Mark III, although expected for so long, struck us out of the blue. For some it is a very pleasant surprise, and for others like a real thunderbolt, a meteorological problem that makes hiding under a tree or standing alone on a field a not so smart thing to do. Those who expected “more buttons, variety, functions and option” – have got them. Unconditionally. And without compromises regarding the price, of course. There is the completely new, “state of the art” autofocus system, technically the most advanced on the market, greater speed, better sealing, a lot more useful functions and excellent ISO performance… but for a much higher price than its predecessor.

On the other hand, those who expected a continuation of the tradition of the 5D – a powerful, relatively inexpensive camera with an exceptional sensor of the highest resolution and relatively meager athletic abilities, were left speechless by the thing they had not asked for, although at some time they had definitely been grumbling about the inadequate focus on both previous generations, the lack of some characteristics that the competition had had in its offer for quite some time, and in almost all classes.  At the same time, the rival D800 hit the market – a purebred high-resolution machine, with an excellent sensor and more than a serious speed performance (especially for such a sensor), which provoked a group of traditional 5D (Mark II) users. Some moved to the rival company, and others casually ignored what was offered.

When a torrent of disappointment gives way to rationality, the EOS 5D Mark III really has something to offer. We will try to dissect it into elements and determine whether, and to what degree, the last gymnastic stunt made by Canon is justified, in terms of redefining the classes of cameras and their positions on the market.





Now more than ever the table shows the better part of the answer to a simple question, “what does the 5D Mark III have to offer in comparison to the previous generation?”:


Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Announced March 2, 2012 September 17, 2008
Type DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex)
Sensor 22.1 MP Canon CMOS, 3:2 aspect ratio;
APS-C 36 x 24mm (8.64 cm²)
Pixel density 2.56 MP/cm²;
Pixel size 39 µm2
21 MP Canon CMOS, 3:2 aspect ratio;
APS-C 36 x 24mm (8.64 cm2)
Pixel density 2.4 MP/cm²;
Pixel size 41 µm2
Formats RAW (CR2) and JPEG
Resolution RAW

5760 x 3840 (22.1 MP); 3960 x 2640 (11.5 MP); 2880 x 1920 (5.5 MP)

5616 x 3744 (21 MP); 3861 x 2574 (10 MP); 2784 x 1856 (5.2 MP)
Resolution JPEG 5760 x 3840 (22.1 MP); 3840 x 2560 (9.8 MP); 2880 x 1920 (5.5 MP); 1920 x 1280 (2.5 MP); 720 x 480 (0.35 MP) 5616 x 3744 (21 MP); 4080 x 2720 (11.1 MP); 2784 x 1856 (5.2 MP)
FOV (crop factor) 1.0x

Canon EF

Kit Lens

EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

ISO range 100 – 25600 in 1/3 or 1 EV increments;
extended – L (50), H1 (51200), H2 (102400)

100 – 6400 in 1/3 or 1 EV increments;

extended – L (50), H1 (12800), H2 (25600)

Processor Canon Digic 5+ Canon Digic 4
A/D Convertor 14-bit
Color Space Adobe RGB, sRGB
In-body Stabilization N/A
Electronic Level System

Electronic Level in two axes and both orientations;

LV and OVF

Dust Reduction

EOS Integrated Cleaning Unit;

Software Dust Delete Data

AF System

TTL-SIR, 61 AF points, 41 cross-type;

operational range -2 to +18 EV

TTL-SIR-CT, 9 AF points, the central is cross-type;

6 invisible additional points;

operational range -0.5 to +18 EV

AF Modes




AF Methods

61-point Auto; Single-Point AF; Single-Point Spot;

4-point expansion; 9-point expansion; 9-zone AF

9-point Auto; Single-Point AF

AF-Assist External flashgun
AF Micro Adjustment

For 40 lenses in ±20 increments,

separate for minimum and maximum focus length

For 20 lenses in ±20 increments
Internal flash N/A
Wireless Flash Control N/A

e-TTL II Hot-Shoe & sync, synchronization 1/200;

compensation ±3 EV

e-TTL II Hot-Shoe & sync, synchronization 1/200;

compensation ±2 EV

Light Metering

63-Zone Dual-Layer TTL metering

35-Zone TTL metering

Light Metering Modes

Partial (6.2% at the center of the frame);
Center-weighted Average;

Spot (~1.5% at the center of the frame)

Evaluative 35 zone;

Partial (8% at the center of the frame);

Spot (~3.5 at the center);

Center-weighted Average

Min Shutter Speed 30 seconds, bulb
Max Shutter Speed 1/8000 s
Drive Modes

Single; Continuous-Low; Continuous-High; Silent-Single; Silent-Continuous; Self-Timer 2/1s; Mirror-Lockup

Single; Continuous; Self-Timer 2/10s; Mirror-Lockup

Burst 6 fps (3 fps in the silent release mode) 3.9 fps
Shutter 150,000 actuations
Buffer 15 RAW, 65 JPEG or 7 RAW+JPEG 13 RAW, 78 JPEG or 8 RAW+JPEG
Exposure Compensation -5 to +5 EV in 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV or 1 EV increments -2 to +2 EV in 1/3 EV or 1/2 EV increments

Optical, pentaprism, 100% frame coverage; 0.71x magnification factor; eyepoint 21mm;

Fixed focusing screen with LCD preview projection

Optical, pentaprism, 98% frame coverage; 0.76x magnification factor; eyepoint 21mm; Eg-A interchangeable focusing screen

Internal Processing

Auto Lighting Optimizer; Highlight Tone Priority; HDR; developing RAW; vignette and chromatic aberrations removal

Auto Lighting Optimizer; Highlight Tone Priority


Fixed, 3.2“ TFT-LCD, 3:2 aspect ratio, 1,040,000 pixel resolution; light sensor

ClearView 3.2“ TFT-LCD, 920,000 pixel resolution; light sensor

Live View

Yes, 100% coverage;

Image sensor metering

Live View AF

FlexiZone Single; Face-Detection; Quick-AF


AII-I and IPB compression
1920 x 1080p @24/25/30 fps;
1280 x 720p @50/60 fps;
640 x 480p @25/30 fps;

Stereo or mono audio

1920 x 1080p @30 fps, to 12 minutes;

640 x 480 @30 fps, to 24 minutes;

Stereo or mono audio

Remote Control Yes, N3 connector; IC port


(optional, WFT-E7 grip)


(optional, WFT-E4/WFT-E4a grip)

(Optional, GP-E2 receiver)

Compact Flash (CF), UDMA;

Secure Digital (SD, SDHC, SDXC and UHS-I)

Compact Flash (type I or II), UDMA, Microdrive


Combined USB/AV-out; HDMI Type-C; Stereo 3.5mm microphone input; 3.5mm microphone output; N3 Remote

USB 2.0; N3 Remote control; PC Sync; Audio/Video out; HDMI; External microphone

Weather and Dust Sealing Yes
Battery Canon LP-E6 Li-Ion, 1800mAh
Battery Endurance (CIPA) ~950
Grip Canon BG-E11 for two LP-E6 batteries or 6 AA Ni-Mh batteries

BG-E6 for two LP-E6 batteries or 6 AA Ni-Mh batteries;

WFT-E4A Wireless File Transmitter

Body Body made of magnesium alloy;
152 x 116 x 76 mm; 950 g
Body made of magnesium alloy;
152 x 114 x 75 mm; 850 g
Technical characteristics: Canon EOS 5D Mark III compared to its predecessor
If we put aside the irrational attitude stemmed from pure spite, the 5D Mark III really has quite a few things to offer, but NOT in all segments. Stock photographers, we could say, live on the resolution. Although it doesn't yield good photos all by itself, it gives a longer life, i.e. technical competitiveness of the photo in the upcoming period. This is why we are surprised by the decision to make a new camera with a sensor with only slightly higher resolution than the 5D Mark II. Cynics say it is only a revision of the same sensor, and whether this is true, the review will show. However, the resolution of only 1.1 megapixels higher than on the predecessor somehow implies that the sensor is this time put aside as a marketing momentum. Probably because the design team were thinking the pleasure of using the 5D Mark II sensor would automatically transfer to the new model. As we have mentioned earlier, this decision proved to be almost fatal, at least in the initial period after the premiere. But, we’ll come to that later. As for the rest, it is nothing less than exceptional: sealing, much better ergonomics, layout and number of direct buttons, speed and the accompanying memory buffer…then there are two memory slots, even better display, improved video and the most advanced autofocus system currently available on the market, and there is also the viewfinder with dynamic projection of AF points, already familiar from some other models. A cheaper version of the EOS-1D x? It might be said so.
The kit package we reviewed appears as a kind of a lead car battery. Pretty heavy box seems a bit frightening for anyone planning to carry it around cliffs, lakes and viewpoints around the planet:
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, contents of the kit package with the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens
Contents of the box, aside from the body and the lens with a hood, includes an LP-E6 battery with a cover, a corresponding charger LC-E6 (or LC-E6E version with a cable, shown here), a standard wide strap with a viewfinder cover, a bayonet cover, an USB cable, an A/V cable, a detailed and concise camera user manual, separate printed user manual, another user manual for the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM kit lens, a warranty and two disks with free software and an electronic user manual. The software package, as before, consists of the Digital Photo Professional application, for developing RAW files, EOS Utility tool for managing the camera, Picture Styles Editor for creating color styles, Photo Stich for merging shots into a panorama, and Zoom Browser EX for organizing and browsing photos. All applications are available for both Windows and Mac OS.