Canon EOS 5D Mark III Review – A true workhorse DSLR for professionals

In 1987, Canon presented the EOS 650 to the general public for the first time. It was the first 35mm autofocus SLR produced by the Japanese firm and marked the beginning of the EOS system.

Canon’s EOS system paved the way for all subsequent camera systems by establishing a template with its fully-electronic lens mount, in-lens aperture and focus motors, and dependence on electronic button and dial operation. All subsequent camera systems have followed this design. The Canon EOS 5D Mark III is the most recent model in the range as of today, 25 years after it was first released.

The 5D series has been a dynasty of rather improbable revolutionaries up until this point in its history. At a time when many people were questioning the continued relevance of the 24x36mm sensor, the original Canon EOS 5D, which was released in 2005, was the first “affordable” full-frame SLR. It was also the camera that firmly established the 24x36mm sensor as the format of choice for many professional applications.

The Canon 5D Mark II was the first single-lens reflex camera (SLR) capable of capturing full-high definition (HD) video. This revolutionary capability completely changed the landscape of the market in a way that no one could have possibly predicted at the time, least of all Canon. However, at first glance, it does not appear that the most recent model delivers anything that is likely to have the same impact as previous versions.

The 5D Mark III borrows the 61-point autofocus technology from Canon’s top-of-the-line EOS-1D X and packs a full-frame sensor with 22 megapixels from the EOS 7D. Its body is based on the design of the EOS 7D. This may be considered an unambitious upgrade that lags behind Nikon’s 36MP D800, which was launched around the same time as this one. If one takes this perspective, then the glass is half empty. However, for those who prefer to look at things more optimistically and see the glass as being half full, this might turn out to be the camera that 5D Mark II users have always secretly desired.

In point of fact, the very designation “5D” is virtually certain to give the wrong impression; in comparison to its predecessor, the Mark III is practically an entirely new model, and each main system has been modernized and updated. Because it has the control interface, broad customizability, and 63-zone metering sensor of the full-frame 7D, it’s easier to think of it as a full-frame version of that camera.

But in addition to that, it has received a plethora of additional tweaks and improvements as a result of customer feedback. These include a locking exposure mode dial, dual slots for CF and SD cards, and a large depth of field preview button that has been repositioned for right-handed operation and can be reprogrammed to access a number of other functions.

Continue reading to discover how the Canon 5D Mark III performed in our laboratory and in real-world scenarios, how we appreciated its handling and operation, and whether or not it is the ideal camera for your needs and the kind of photography you do.

Key Specs

  • 22MP full-frame CMOS sensor
  • The standard ISO range is 100-25600; the extended range is 50-102,800
  • Continuous filming at 6 frames per second
  • 150,000 frames are the maximum capacity of the shutter.
  • 1080p video recording at 30 frames per second, stereo recording using an external mic
  • 61-point AF system
  • 63 zone iFCL metering system
  • Viewfinder coverage of one hundred percent
  • 1040k dot 3:2 LCD
  • Both CF and SD card slots are available.

Key Differences Between the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and Mark II

When compared to the 5D Mark II, almost all of the most important specifications have been significantly improved. When combined with Canon’s most recent DIGIC 5+ processor, the new sensor provides an expanded ISO range that can go from 50 to 102,800, with the typical range being 100 to 25,600. Continuous shooting at 6 frames per second is made possible via a sensor readout with 8 channels.

The shutter has been improved for quieter operation and has a rating of 150,000 cycles; the Mark III also possesses the silent shutter option that was previously only available on the 1D-series cameras. The viewfinder has a coverage area of one hundred percent, and the 3.2-inch LCD screen features 1040k dots, a 3:2 aspect ratio, better anti-reflection capabilities, and a toughened glass top to prevent scratches.

And let’s not forget that 61-point focus system that came with the 1DX; this is the first time since the film-era EOS 3 that Canon has put its top-spec AF sensor into a camera that is not part of the 1 series.

It turned out that the 5D Mark II’s Movie mode was its ace in the hole when compared to its competitors, and the 5D Mark III naturally provides greater capabilities in this area. The camera now has the back movie mode/live view switch that the 7D had, which improves its ergonomics. This means that you no longer have to alter the settings for the still camera’s Live View mode in order to configure it for video recording.

There is a built-in headphone plug for audio monitoring, and the rear control dial has gained touch-sensitive ‘buttons’ that make it possible to alter recording parameters (such as shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and sound level) without making a sound.

Canon claims that the processing has been improved to minimize moiré and other artifacts, and they have included the higher quality All-I and IPB interframe compression options that were introduced with the EOS-1D X. The video output specifications are essentially the same as before in terms of resolution and framerate (1080p30 maximum), but everything else has remained the same.

You will not, however, obtain the uncompressed output through HDMI that may be found in the most recent Nikon models.

There are also a couple of completely new features; the 5D Mark III becomes Canon’s first SLR capable of in-camera High Dynamic Range shooting, in an exceptionally well-implemented and flexible manner, and it gets expanded auto bracketing options as well (up to 7 frames covering a vast +/- 8 EV range). Both of these capabilities make the 5D Mark III Canon’s first SLR capable of in-camera High Dynamic Range shooting. It can also record several exposures if you so wish.

JPEG processing now (finally) incorporates chromatic aberration correction, which is based on lens profiles that are kept in-camera (and are thus confined to Canon’s own lenses). This is made possible thanks to the launch of DIGIC 5+. The playback mode offers the capability to compare photographs immediately side-by-side, from a variety of various viewpoints. This is the last but not the least feature.

The 5D Mark III also receives an updated menu system, which is fundamentally similar to the one seen on the EOS-1D X. It is not wholly unlike the one on the 5D Mark II (so existing users will still feel at home with it), but it does acquire a totally new tab for handling its complicated AF system, which is based on a variety of usage-scenario settings.

The ordering of the options has been rationalized, and a number of functions that were previously buried deep within the custom functions have bubbled-up closer to the surface as top-level menu items. Perhaps the two functions that are most notable for this change are mirror lockup and highlight tone priority.

New Key Technologies

The autofocus mechanism of the 5D Mark III has received the most significant modification, and it was the component that required improvement the most. The 9-point autofocus system of the original 5D appeared to be a bit under-specified when it was first, therefore its return in the Mark II was a great disappointment. This was especially true once the 7D was released a year later with a far more advanced 19-point arrangement. Both are outclassed by the autofocus capabilities of the 5D Mark III, which incorporates the 61-point AF sensor used in the company’s top 1D X model.

It is not the whole autofocus system from the 1D X because the 5D Mark III does not have the 1D X’s 100,000-pixel metering sensor, which is where the 1D X gets its tracking information, nor does it have a specialized DIGIC 4 processor to make sense of all that it sees. However, even without them, it is still one of the most complete autofocus systems that can be found on the market, and more significantly, it takes the camera considerably closer to the level of modern Nikons.

It is important to keep in mind that even though the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV did not have the capabilities of high-pixel-count metering sensors, it was still able to compete favorably with the Nikon D3S. Nikon has long employed high-pixel-count metering sensors to increase tracking accuracy. Importantly, in addition to this increased sophistication, the 5D Mark III also inherited the subject-based setting presets from the 1D X. These presets make it simpler to get the most out of the system, which is a significant improvement.

Image sensor with 22 megapixels and a Digic 5+ processor

Even though the pixel count could be comparable to that of the 5D Mark II, the sensor of the Mark III is completely different. The pixel architecture is being altered, and an increase in photoelectric conversion rate is anticipated as a result (light is more efficiently converted to readable charge).

In addition, Canon has implemented their gapless microlens array, which means that a greater proportion of the light that strikes the sensor is focused downward into the photodiodes. At long last, a recently developed on-chip noise reduction system has been created in order to enhance the quality of the information that is extracted from the chip.

Canon does not make any explicit claims on how big of an improvement these adjustments create to the raw output; nevertheless, once the photographs have been processed by the DIGIC 5+, Canon will state that there is a 2-stop improvement in the quality of the JPEG images.

The camera is powered by the same cutting-edge DIGIC 5+ processor that can be found in the 1D X. It is 30 percent quicker than the DIGIC 5 chip that has started appearing in current Canon cameras, but more importantly, it is 17 times faster than the DIGIC 4 processor that is in the 5D Mark II. This not only helps the camera maintain its ability to shoot at a rate of 6 frames per second, but it also gives the camera more time to do moiré-reduction when it is filming movies.

Additionally, as a result of the increased processing capability, the 5D Mark III is able to apply chromatic aberration correction to the JPEGs that it creates. This correction is achieved through the use of Canon-created lens profiles, of which there are a maximum of 29 that may be downloaded and stored on the camera. These profiles make it possible to rectify not only the easier-to-fix lateral CA but also the more challenging axial CA.

New mechanism for the shutter and mirrors

The shutter and mirror mechanism of the 5D Mark III have both been given a whole new look and feel. Despite the increased continuous shooting speed, the shutter has a rating of 150,000 cycles and may still be used. The camera also receives a revised mirror return mechanism, which is designed to ensure that the sub-mirror, which redirects light down to the AF sensor, is in place and stable as quickly as possible after each shot. This improves the camera’s ability to maintain focus accuracy when it is operating in continuous shooting mode.

The 5D Mark III also takes on the 1D X’s quiet shutter mode, which enables the camera to take single photographs as well as continuous shots (at a rate of around 3 frames per second) while significantly reducing the amount of noise produced by the shutter and mirror. Even while it might not seem like much, this is something that photographers who shoot at noise-sensitive events will likely be quite happy to hear.

LCD Monitor That’s Been Upgraded

LCD has the same resolution as the back panel seen on the EOS-1D X (3.2 inches and 1,040,000 dots). This screen has a 3:2 aspect ratio and utilizes the most recent design in which the panel is glued directly to the toughened glass screen. Because of this, there is no air gap between the two components of the screen (which could cause internal reflection – worsening glare). The end result is a screen that is crisp, sharp, and has a high resolution; it is currently one of the best displays that can be purchased.

Body And Design

The Canon 5D Mark III is almost exactly the same size as its predecessor, but it has a completely different internal arrangement compared to the other cameras in the 5D family. The EOS 7D is the model that it most closely resembles, with its combination live view/movie control beside the viewfinder and power switch under the mode dial. However, it also incorporates aspects from other contemporary Canon designs as well.

The mode dial lock from the 60D is now present, as is the little Q button that was on the 1D X and was located between the joystick and the rear dial. However, the EOS design has undergone other evolutions that are wholly new to the 5D Mark III. These include the repositioning of the depth of field preview button as well as revisions to the playback controls.

It may not have exactly the same amount of disaster-proofing as the 1D X, but it certainly feels better-built and more solid in your hand than the Mark II ever did. The construction of the 5D Mark III is superb; but, it may not have quite the same level of disaster-proofing as the 1D X.

You wouldn’t have thought there was anything wrong with the 50D in isolation, but the 7D is plainly better built than the 50D. This is maybe the most accurate way to describe the difference between the two models: it’s quite similar to the difference between the 7D and the 50D. The magnesium alloy exterior definitely gives the impression that it would be able to withstand a rather severe battering.

The top of the 5D Mark III is similar to the top of the EOS 7D, which means that the control set that is familiar to owners of the 5D Mark II is joined by an easily reached customizable M-Fn button just behind the shutter release. In addition, the 5D Mark III has a larger sensor than its predecessor. The On/Off switch has been moved to a position where it is less likely to be accidentally activated. However, this new location makes it more difficult to access the switch when holding a big lens in your left hand.

Controls at the very top of the camera (right)

Current Canon owners will have no trouble becoming acclimated to the layout of the top controls of the 5D Mark III. The major control dial is located behind the shutter release button. This dial sets the principal exposure parameter, such as the aperture when the camera is set to Av mode. The M-Fn button, which can be reprogrammed to do a variety of purposes including Flash Exposure Lock, is located in the middle of the two dials.

A row of three buttons can be found behind this. Each of these buttons can engage two different functions, and these functions may be adjusted using the front and back dials. Metering and white balance are on the left, while AF and drive modes are on the right, and ISO and flash exposure compensation are in the middle. This button is at a particularly convenient location for altering the ISO setting when the camera is held up to the user’s eye. A smaller button that illuminates the top-plate LCD may be found just next to them.

Controls at the very top of the camera (left)

The power switch and mode dial are located on the other side of the pentaprism. In addition to the standard four exposure modes of Program, Aperture priority, Shutter priority, and Manual, this offers a fifth option called Bulb shutter mode and three user-defined locations where you may save the camera’s settings for certain situations that are frequently encountered.

There is also the Auto+ mode, which was first introduced on the EOS 600D and provides a variety of creative controls that are focused on the results you want to achieve. Although we don’t think many owners of the 5D Mark III will make extensive use of this mode, it does make the camera more “shareable” with people who are not photography experts.

The new image effects button can be found at the very bottom of the photo. This button provides access to Picture Styles, multiple exposure mode, and in-camera HDR. The latter is very well-designed; it preserves all of the original data, including RAWs, rather than simply the version of the photo that was processed in-camera.

In contrast to Canon’s PowerShots, the 5D Mark III automatically aligns images during the processing phase, allowing you to take photos while hand-holding the camera. In addition, there is a selection of several “looks” that may be applied during processing, ranging from “Natural” to “distinctly unnatural.”

Controls in the Rear

The remainder of the important shooting controls for the 5D Mark III is located on the rear of the camera and are laid out so that your thumb can operate them. The 7D is the origin of the combined Live View and Movie mode buttons. If you flick the lever to the Movie position, the camera will enter live view with a 16:9 preview, allowing you to compose in the appropriate aspect ratio. Recording may be started by pressing the button in the middle of the device. When the lever is in the Stills position (as it is displayed), entering Live View may be accomplished by pushing the button.

While you are taking a picture, pressing the Q button will bring up an interactive controls panel. This screen gives you the ability to modify camera parameters that aren’t necessarily accessible directly through the camera’s other buttons. In addition to this, it incorporates superimposed option menus in the Live View and Playback modes, providing quick access to capabilities such as the ability to convert RAW files in-camera.

Mark II owners will be comfortable using the remainder of the buttons and dials on the camera. The huge dial on the back may be used to adjust the aperture in Manual mode, as well as the exposure compensation in P, Av, and Tv modes. To change the AF area mode, press the AF area mode selection button, which is located in the upper right corner of the camera. This button works in combination with the index finger dial, which is located in the front of the camera.

It is possible to add specialized functionality not only to the AF-ON button but also to the AE/FE Lock button. The autofocus (AF) point may be moved across the frame by using the multi-controller joystick, either in conjunction with the button in the upper right corner of the screen or, if you’d rather, directly (via a menu setting). We believe the latter makes a great deal more sense when shooting fluid motion, and we find it unusual that this behavior is not enabled by default in the game.

In addition, the rear of the 5D Mark III features three additional buttons, one of which is cryptically labeled with the word “Rate.” The following is an outline of what they do, beginning at the top and working its way down: During the time that you are taking still photographs, this button grants you instant access to the Picture Style, Multiple Exposures, and in-camera HDR settings.

When playback begins, the mode for comparing images side-by-side begins. In this section, you will be able to evaluate the composition and focus of two distinct versions of the same photo, assess the sharpness of different sections within the same image, and compare the histograms for exposure. During playback, this feature enables a direct rating of photographs using stars (1–5) using a format that is compatible with a variety of image management systems, such as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

If you would rather protect or unprotect photographs, you have the option to do so.

The magnify button takes the place of the zoom-in and zoom-out buttons that were previously located on the shoulder of the camera. In the play mode, you may expand or minimize the image by holding down a dial and turning it.

Functioning and Manipulation

The way a camera will feel in your hand is something that can never truly be captured in a photograph, and the Canon 5D Mark III is one of those cameras that just seems like it was made for your hands. The camera has a pleasingly hefty weight to it, and the sculpted ‘channel’ on the back offers a stronghold for your thumb. Together, these features contribute to a sense that the camera is entirely safe in your hand.

Either the index finger or the thumb on your right hand can effortlessly access both of the control dials, in addition to an astounding amount of the buttons. Even when wearing gloves, it is possible to use the camera due to its thoughtful design, size, and responsiveness of its many controls. The Canon 5D Mark III has a robust grip and a smooth surface made of soft rubber for added comfort.

It has been said a few times before in this review that the build quality of the EOS 5D Mark III is exceptional, and the weight of the camera reflects this. It is a quite weighty piece of equipment, weighing in at 2.1 pounds, and when coupled with one of Canon’s similarly well-made ‘L’ lenses, it can make for a tiring day of shooting if you’re not careful.

The EOS 5D Mark III is a good alternative for those who don’t want to compromise on image quality but don’t quite need the ‘war-zone’ ruggedness of a 1D Mark IV or 1Dx. This is because the EOS 5D Mark III is smaller and more lightweight than Canon’s 1-series cameras, despite having a high build quality and an abundance of features.

Switching between live view and movie mode gives the user the ability to easily access either the movie mode or the live view shooting mode.

The Q-button allows you speedy access to a variety of shooting settings and controls. You may access the menus and move about in the magnified photos by using the joystick that is located above the screen.

The Canon EOS 5D Mark III is not so much a development of its predecessor as it is an adoption of many of the design cues and control aspects of Canon’s more recent APS-C DSLR, the EOS 7D. This applies to both the design and the functioning of the camera.

The design of the 5D Mark III is now more rounded like that of the 7D, it has a switch that toggles between live view and movie mode, it has a button labeled ‘Q’ that allows for immediate access to the back-screen control panel, and it has a sliding lock switch for the rear dial. In the same location as on the 7D, you’ll find an On/Off switch located beneath the mode dial as well as a programmable M-Fn button located next to the shutter release.

Adjustment of parameters displayed on-screen (Q-menu)

An interactive settings display screen is included in the 5D Mark III, the same as it is in other contemporary EOS DSLR cameras. This implies that there are up to three different methods to change the settings; for many choices, you can click a dedicated button and then spin either the front or back dial; alternatively, there are two other ways to use the interactive settings display (the Q Menu). After clicking the ‘Q’ button and using the dials or joystick to choose the item you want to alter, you will then have the choice to either roll the main dial or hit the ‘SET’ button. This step is required for both approaches. This will bring up a dedicated screen, which may once more be traversed using the joystick, and selections can be made with the button labeled “SET.”

The shooting mode you are now using affects the number of options that are accessible via the Q-menu. In PASM modes, such as A-mode (seen on the left in the image), you have far greater control over the settings than you have in A+ mode (on the right).

To modify a parameter you can either turn the front or rear dial with the ‘cursor’ over the setting you want to change, or you can press the ‘SET’-button to proceed to a dedicated screen.

Choices available for configuring the user interface

The Canon EOS 5D Mark III, as one would anticipate from a camera of this caliber, has a multitude of customization choices, the majority of which can be reached through the menu labeled “Custom Function.” The button and control structure of the camera may be customized to suit your own shooting preferences, and the user interface of the camera can be adjusted to accommodate your preferences. Within the Custom Function menu is a screen referred to as “Custom Controls.”

This screen gives you the ability to alter the function of a large number of the camera’s buttons as well as both dials. On the pages of this review’s menu you’ll find an extensive list of the personalization choices that are accessible to you.

Two of the numerous controls that may be customized on the EOS 5D Mark III are the depth-of-field (DOF) button located at the front of the camera and the M-fn button located next to the shutter buttons.

On the ‘Custom Controls’ page, you will see a graphical depiction of the button and dial arrangement of the camera. This screen also gives you the ability to alter the behavior of the camera’s controls. If you drag the mouse over a dial or button and then click the ‘SET’ button, you will see the many configuration choices that are available for that particular control element.

In addition, the ‘My Menu’ option of the camera enables you to create your own menu inside the context of the camera’s menu system. It is an effective method for storing functions that are utilized infrequently but on a regular basis in a location where they can be easily located the next time they are required.

You can also save a specific set of parameters that you use for specific shooting situations, such as in a studio setup, to the camera’s C1 to C3 modes, which are accessible via the mode dial. This is something that you can do if you have a specific set of parameters that you use for specific shooting situations.

My Menu is a section that can have additional menu options added to it so that they are easier to reach.

Performance

Completeness of the Task at Hand

The new Digic 5+ processor that powers the Canon EOS 5D Mark III is evident in every facet of the camera’s performance. The reaction time of the camera to the user’s input, whether it be via the buttons on the back of the camera or one of the menus, is practically quick. In playback mode, exploring images, magnifying them, and comparing them may all be accomplished extremely quickly.

The Digic 5+ performs an excellent job when paired with the sensor’s 8-channel data readout, of moving the enormous 22MP picture files through the imaging pipelines and buffer of the camera.

In spite of the fact that the combined sizes of JPEG and Raw files are greater than 30 MB, the camera is able to maintain its very acceptable 6 frames per second continuous shooting performance for about 7 frames when using a fast CF card. If you shoot just in JPEG format, you won’t have to be concerned with burst sizes or buffers at all. JPEGs have a smaller file size than other image formats.

The 5D Mark II’s autofocus technology is not nearly as sophisticated or as customizable as the new 61-point AF system that comes with the 5D Mark III. Even in low light conditions, it functions dependably in single AF mode, and in AI Servo mode, we found that it did a good job of following moving subjects.

The autofocus mechanism of the Canon may produce consistently good results for sports and action photographers if they employ the appropriate technique and take advantage of the numerous customization options that are available.

The Canon EOS 5D Mark III is a fast and responsive camera that, in general, just delivers great performance. Although the camera is not designed with sports or action photography in mind, it does provide a highly adaptable and responsive autofocus system as well as continuous shooting at a rate of 6 frames per second, which means that it provides you with all of the tools you need to capture some impressive action shots.

Continuous Shooting and Buffering

In terms of continuous shooting, the EOS 5D Mark III is not quite on the same level as dedicated sports and action cameras such as Canon’s EOS-1D Mark IV; however, because it is capable of shooting at a rate of 6 frames per second when set to Continuous Hi mode, it is still an effective tool for photographing subjects that are constantly on the move. It is also speedier than the Nikon D800, which is the Mark III’s closest competition (4 fps / 5 fps in DX mode), as well as the Canon 5D Mark II (3.9 fps).

Because of the enormous picture files produced by the 5D Mark III, it is recommended that you utilize a fast CF memory card. This is especially true if you intend to take bursts of photographs using the Raw+JPEG shooting mode. It has come to our attention that the slot for CF cards makes use of the quickest cards that are now available, in contrast to the slot for SD cards, which does not do so.

There was no discernible difference in performance comparing SD cards with transfer speeds of 45 and 95 megabits per second. However, if you are simply shooting in JPEG format, you do not need to be concerned with the number of frames captured in a burst, regardless of the memory card that you are employing.

You can switch to the Continuous Lo mode if you need to shoot constantly for extended amounts of time and are able to make do with a slower frame rate. It can take pictures at a rate of three frames per second, and if you have a fast memory card, you may continue shooting at that rate right up until the memory card is full.

Continuous Hi – CF Card

TimingJPEG Large/FineRAWRAW+JPEG Fine
Frame rate6.0 fps6.0 fps6.0 fps
Number of framesuntil card full177
Buffer full raten/a2.72.0
Write completen/a4 sec4 sec

Continuous Hi – SD Card

TimingJPEG Large/FineRAWRAW+JPEG Fine
Frame rate6.0 fps6.0 fps6.0 fps
Number of frames42147
Buffer full rate2.60.70.5
Write complete111712

Continuous Lo – CF Card

TimingJPEG Large/FineRAWRAW+JPEG Fine
Frame rate3.0 fps3.0 fps3.0 fps
Number of framesuntil card full2316
Buffer full raten/a2.52.0
Write completen/a3 sec3 sec

Continuous Lo – SD Card

TimingJPEG Large/FineRAWRAW+JPEG Fine
Frame rate3.0 fps3.0 fps3.0 fps
Number of framesuntil card full168
Buffer full raten/a0.70.6
Write completen/a17 sec12 sec

All timings were performed using a 64GB SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-I SDHC card (90MB/s) and a 128GB SanDisk Extreme Pro UDMA 7 CF card (100MB/s).

All timings were conducted with a 64GB SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-I SDHC card, which has a transfer rate of 90MB/s, and a 128GB SanDisk Extreme Pro UDMA 7 CF card, which has a transfer rate of 100MB/s.

During continuous shooting, the 5D Mark III’s quiet shooting mode is accessible by selecting the ‘Continuous S’ setting. By slowing down the movement of the shutter and the mirror reflex, this setting lowers the amount of shutter noise and vibration.

The shutter is significantly quieter, which makes this mode highly ideal for noise-sensitive occasions and events; nonetheless, the performance of continuous shooting is the same as it is in the mode labeled “Continuous Lo.” The shutter lag and viewfinder blackout time both see a very tiny increase as a result of this change. On the page devoted to the Features of this review, we took a more in-depth look at the Silent Shooting mode.

Battery capacity

The LP-E6 lithium-ion battery pack is included with the EOS 5D Mark III, which is the same battery pack that was utilized in its predecessor. It has a capacity of 1800 mAh, which, according to Canon, is adequate for 950 shots (based on the CIPA standard), which is equivalent to about 1 hour and 30 minutes of shooting time for a movie.

When we were out taking photos for this review, we found that the battery life was about comparable to the numbers that Canon provided, and we never had to worry about the camera running out of power when we took it out of the office with a battery that had been completely charged.

Obviously, the length of time that a single battery charge will last depends, to a considerable extent, on the shooting circumstances and operational routines that you are accustomed to, but the optional BG-E11 battery grip could be worth the additional cost for those who value having some backup power.

Autofocus

The Canon EOS 5D Mark III features a new autofocus (AF) system that, in terms of its specifications, is remarkably similar to the one found in the company’s flagship EOS 1D X camera. It comes with 61 points, 41 of which are cross-type points, and five of them are diagonally sensitive, which is something that is exclusive to this sensor (for these double cross-type points, envision an X superimposed over a form that looks like a plus sign).

When paired with lenses that have a maximum aperture of F5.6 or brighter, the 5D Mark III boasts an unrivaled amount of cross-type AF points, making it the undisputed leader in this category (21). If you use a lens with an aperture of F4 or higher, the benefits become even more pronounced because the camera is able to acquire an additional 20 cross-type points that are located further away from the frame’s center (in contrast, Nikon’s system only includes cross-type sensors located near the frame’s center). When you use a lens with an aperture of F2.8 or higher, the five center double-cross-type sensors become accessible.

Because the 5D Mark III’s cross-type AF points can only be used with lenses that are F5.6 or brighter, it cannot compete with the Nikon D4 and D800 when it comes to the use of slower lenses or long lens/teleconverter combinations. This is the only area in which the 5D Mark III falls short of its competitors. Canon claims that there is a trade-off that must be made and that its technology enables the sensor to be more accurate with the big aperture lenses that it wants its customers to use. Additionally, it enables the F4 cross-type sensors to be positioned further towards the edge of the frame.

Even while the system does not have the 1D X’s 100,000-pixel metering sensor, it does contain a 63-point, color-aware metering sensor (something similar to a Foveon two-layer arrangement) to assist the camera in tracking targets.

Another significant advancement that has been made is the streamlining of the AF setup. In previous generations of high-end Canon cameras, the autofocus (AF) systems were quite competent, but it took a significant amount of practice to appropriately optimize them for the subject being photographed. The Canon 5D Mark III, much like the Canon 1D X, offers a method for configuration that is substantially simplified and is based on use-case presets.

When compared to the 5D Mark II, the AF setting is rather complicated. However, in comparison to the EOS-1D Mark IV, it has been substantially simplified, and users now have the option of selecting from six different use cases. You may alter all three parameters—tracking sensitivity, acceleration/deceleration tracking, and willingness to move AF points—to fine-tune the presets to your preferred subject and shooting style in a more exact manner.

Within the AF menu, there are a total of five tabs of choices that you can use to define in minute detail exactly how you would like the autofocus system to operate.

In comparison to where they were located on the 5D Mark II, some of these have simply been reorganized to make better sense, but in addition to that, there is a large number of extra settings, the most of which are shared with the EOS-1D X.

You have the option of selecting which autofocus points the camera should utilize or letting yourself choose them manually. The second choice, which is labeled “Only cross-type AF points,” takes into consideration the maximum aperture of the lens that you are now working with. You are now able to program in distinct settings for the beginning and the end of a zoom lens thanks to AF micro-adjustment. You also have the option of entering an identifying number that is unique to the copy of the lens that you are now working with.

Although we are not professional sports photographers, we have found that the streamlined autofocus choices are a significant asset when photographing subjects that are in motion. When we tested the autofocus mechanism of the EOS 5D Mark III with a 70-200mm F4L lens during an amateur soccer tournament, we were able to get a very high percentage of useable images despite the fact that our sports photography abilities were lacking. When using the ‘AI Servo’ autofocus mode with the ‘For targets that accelerate or decelerate fast’ AF Case 4 setting, the camera is able to lock onto a subject and follow it reliably even when it is shooting in rapid succession.

The example series that is provided below is an accurate representation of the kinds of findings that we obtained. We zeroed down on the player wearing the red jersey as our primary target. The AF system follows the subject, although it seems to suffer from momentary lapses of concentration if the subject is around other players. As a consequence of this, the subject is ever-so-slightly blurry in frames 5 and 6, yet even these photographs are useable on the internet or in smaller sizes. The autofocus also recovers quite rapidly, and the subject will be perfectly in focus once more in the images that follow.

Despite the absence of an AF-assist lamp, the autofocus performance of the EOS 5D Mark III is excellent when using the single AF mode, even in extremely dim light. Rated down to EV-2, which is the equivalent of moonlight, the ability of the autofocus system of the 5D Mark III to obtain stable focus in the light where the autofocus system of the 5D Mark II would have been entirely unable to work has never ceased to astound us.

When using a full-frame camera with wide apertures, however, you have a very limited amount of leeway in terms of the depth of field that you can work with. This is something that you should be aware of. It is best practice to relocate the autofocus point rather than use the center point and recompose the image when focusing on a part of the image that is not located in the center of the frame.

Even while the micro-adjustment function of the camera may be able to assist you in correcting persistent focus issues, it is still recommended that you use the focus bracketing feature if you are taking photos with longer focal lengths and wider apertures.

Even when the light is dim, the autofocus (AF) technology of the camera continues to function consistently and quickly. This photograph was shot indoors at a shutter speed of 1/60 and an aperture of 4.

And here is a picture that was taken in even less light. In spite of the fact that the image in the viewfinder was barely bright enough for image composition after being taken at ISO 25,600, a shutter speed of 1/100 second, and an aperture of f/5.6, the 5D III managed to produce an image that was well exposed and well-focused.

Even when using Live View, the contrast-detect autofocus is still much slower than the phase-detection technique that is normally used. However, the most recent generation is now sufficiently quick to enable Live View as a workable option for specialized applications such as macro or studio still life photography, or in situations when it is impossible to utilize the viewfinder due to the location of the camera.

Shadow noise

We took the base ISO RAW shots of our studio test scene and developed them in Adobe Camera RAW with a +3.0EV digital exposure compensation to lift the shadows. The purpose of this exercise was to demonstrate how much dynamic range can be pulled out of the shadows during the RAW conversion process when using the images captured by the Canon EOS Mark III.

After that, we took several cropped images of our scene’s darkest sections in order to evaluate the amount of shadow noise produced by the EOS 5D Mark III, as well as its predecessor, the Mark II, and the Nikon D800, which is perhaps its most direct competitor.

When the digital exposure correction is used, shadow noise becomes more apparent, and when the image is magnified to 100 percent, it is evident that the Nikon D800 creates considerably less shadow noise than the two Canons, which are on a comparable level.

Detail with low contrast and a low sensitivity setting

Unfortunately, the low ISO JPEG output of the 5D Mark III seems a touch soft and mushy, with badly reproduced low-contrast detail at the pixel level. For instance, the JPEG engine of the camera does not appear to be capable of displaying the delicate contrast that is necessary to capture the texture of faraway vegetation.

We have a strong suspicion that this is mostly caused by the implementation of luminance noise reduction at the base ISO setting, even if the noise reduction setting was toggled to the “Off” position. The findings that you can get from the identical image files when you convert them to raw format (see below) might lend credence to this hypothesis.

General Quality of the Image

When discussing the image quality of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, it is important to make a distinction between the JPEG output of the camera and the raw data that it records.

When examining the out-of-camera JPEGs produced by the Canon EOS 5D Mark III at the pixel level, it becomes apparent that the JPEG engine is not making full use of the sensor’s potential. Although the Canon EOS 5D Mark III is capable of capturing a large amount of detail thanks to its 22-megapixel sensor, the JPEG engine is not doing so.

Even at the lowest possible ISO setting, some clearly damaging noise reduction is done. This causes the image to have a somewhat mushy appearance and causes a loss of fine information in areas of low contrast. When combined with a very harsh sharpness setting by default, this might cause Canon JPEGs to seem to have been overprocessed when seen up close.

Because turning off the noise reduction at the base ISO does not make any difference, and the in-camera sharpening parameter does not give you any control over the sharpening radius, it is nearly impossible to extract any additional detail from the JPEGs produced by the camera by modifying the image parameters.

Processing the raw information from the camera, on the other hand, makes a significant impact. Reducing the amount of noise reduction and adding some bespoke, small-radius sharpening reveals levels of information that were previously hidden. This demonstrates the true potential of the 5D Mark III sensor when used in conjunction with a lens of high quality.

When we printed several of our sample photographs, we saw that the difference in low-contrast details between converted raw and out-of-camera JPEGs were obvious in prints bigger than 8×12 inches.

The Canon EOS 5D Mark III continues to apply significant noise reduction at higher ISOs, which results in rather clean photographs but also a loss of fine detail as the ISO value increases. When shooting at ISOs lower than 25600, turning off the in-camera noise reduction is something that we would recommend doing.

This does not in fact imply that there is no noise reduction done (even with NR off, there remains a base level that cannot be shut off), but it does give you some more detail in areas of low contrast. The chroma noise doesn’t become distracting enough at lower sensitivities for the ‘Standard’ noise reduction setting to be the superior choice; this only happens at the very highest levels of sensitivity.

Processing raw files may often produce superior results to the JPEGs that are produced directly by the camera, even at the lowest ISO settings. The raw noise levels of the 5D Mark III are comparable to those of other cameras in this class. If you have the time, a customized mix of chroma and luminance noise reduction in post-processing will get you high ISO images with better detail and a more pleasant ‘grain’ than what Canon’s JPEG engine is able to accomplish.

JPEG output from the Canon EOS 5D Mark III has superb colors, tone, and dynamic range over the whole ISO range, and the highlight roll-off is quite smooth. The metering and the auto white balance are both trustworthy in a constant manner. However, if you want the highest amount of detail at a pixel level, you have no alternative but to shoot in RAW mode and spend a little bit of time processing the data. There is no other way to get this level of detail.

Not only to get the most amount of detail out of the images, but also for the added flexibility that raw files offer when making more “in-depth” tonal adjustments on a computer. In the end, we would expect a large portion of the “target audience” for the EOS 5D Mark III to shoot and process raw anyway.

Video

The Canon EOS 5D Mark II was one of the first digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLRs) to deliver full-high-definition (1080p) video, which makes it an intriguing choice for videographers. The firmware was updated to include manual control in the video mode, and the 5D Mark II’s extensive lineup of EF lenses contributed to the camera’s rising popularity not just among video enthusiasts but also among professionals working in the film industry.

It is well known that an entire episode of the popular television series “House” was filmed with the 5D Mark II camera. This helped to establish the camera as a viable tool for professionals working in film and television.

Despite the fact that the video parameters of the 5D Mark III would appear to be fairly identical to those of the 5D II at first glance, there have been some significant improvements. The more powerful DIGIC 5+ processor claims to reduce moiré artifacts and lessen the rolling-shutter effect, which was highly noticeable with quick movement on the Mark II. This effect was caused by the camera’s rolling shutter.

The Canon EOS-1D Mark III has the same more advanced video encoding options that were introduced with the Canon EOS-1D X. These include the ‘All-I’ compression option, which treats each frame independently rather than attempting to identify and compress common areas that are shared by neighboring frames.

This results in a greater playback quality as well as easier editing, but at the expense of bigger file sizes (you’ll be able to store 22 minutes of All-I video on a 16GB card as opposed to the 64 minutes that would be possible with the alternative IPB compression).

The camera is also able to record for its maximum amount of time, which is 29 minutes and 59 seconds, without running the risk of overheating in temperatures that are considered normal for working conditions. Additionally, the camera is able to split a single clip across multiple files so that it is not constrained by the 4-gigabyte file limit that the FAT 32 file system has.

A touch-sensitive back dial, a headphone jack for monitoring audio recording, and SMPTE time code recording (both Rec-Run and Free-Run) are some of the new features that have been included in conjunction with this updated video specification.

Video quality options

Sizes• ALL-I or IPB
review menu 11920 x 1080p (30/25/24 fps)
review menu 21280 x 720p (60/50fps)

• IPB
review menu 2640 x 480 (30fps)
AudioMonaural sound, Linear PCM, stereo sound with external microphone
FormatH.264 / MPEG-4
Max file size per clip4.0 GB
Recordable time29:59 minutes

Handling in Video mode

The fundamental steps involved in recording a movie with the EOS 5D Mark III are quite similar to those required by the EOS 7D. To go into movie mode, you first have to move the Live View/Movie switch to the movie position, and then you have to push the start/stop button to begin recording footage.

In A+ mode, that is all there is to do, but in PAS modes, you may adjust exposure compensation by setting the lock switch to the left and twisting the rear dial, just like you would do when taking still shots. In A+ mode, this is the only thing that can be done. You are able to do so during the recording. In the Tv mode, the aperture and ISO are both sets automatically, and you may change the shutter speed by twisting the dial on the front of the camera.

When using A-mode, you alter the aperture by turning the same dial. When using M mode, the aperture and shutter speed are controlled by the front and back dials, respectively. While you are recording, you have the ability to make adjustments to the shutter speed and aperture. However, you should avoid doing this since it can cause what is known as “exposure jumps” in the film.

When the camera is set to A+ mode, the ISO is determined automatically and can be anywhere from 100 to 12800. This value can be increased to ISO 25600 if PASM modes are used. The approach that has to be taken to do this is rather unexpected.

Because ISO 25600 is considered to be an expansion set while the camera is in movie mode, you will need to change the ISO setting to the “H” option. Even if you set the maximum ISO to 25600 while the camera is in video mode, it will only utilize a maximum ISO of 12800.

When it comes to adjusting the ISO in movie mode, the highest possible value is 25600. You will only be able to see which of the ‘H’ settings has been selected on the LCD panel located on the back of the camera. On the top LCD, the letter ‘H’ will be displayed for ISO 16000, 20000, and 25600.

Only in manual mode is it possible to manually set the ISO when using movie mode. This notice appears whenever the ISO button is used, even if the exposure mode is automatically set in Av, TV, and P modes.

You may either autofocus with a half-press of the shutter button or by hitting the AF-On button. The autofocus mode that is now selected will be utilized by the camera. Continuous AF is not accessible.

While in video mode, if you touch any of the camera’s “hard” buttons—like the White Balance or AF mode buttons, for example—the settings screen will appear superimposed on top of the live view photos. It is dependent on the shooting mode that you are currently using as to which buttons are activated while the camera is in video mode. You are also able to use the Q-menu when shooting in the stills mode.

Simply pressing the Q button will give you access to the Auto Lighting Optimizer, the selection of memory cards, the quality of still images, the quality and size of movies, and the recording level for sound.

The rear dial of the Canon 5D Mark III may look (and function) the same as the rear dial on other Canon cameras, but it also has a neat new feature: when the camera is in movie mode, the back dial transforms into a touch-sensitive 4-way controller with “buttons” on the inner rim of the ring. This enables you to make adjustments to the settings without having to rotate it or touch any buttons, which might potentially cause your film to become distorted or cause audible noise on your soundtrack.

Through the usage of the Q menu, you will have the opportunity to make adjustments to the exposure compensation, audio level, shutter speed, aperture, and ISO without disrupting the stability of your video. Unfortunately, you can only use the touchpad when the recording is in progress. In live view mode, you’ll need to use the joystick to traverse the Q-menu, which is inconsistent with other aspects of the interface. You should at the very least be able to utilize the touchpad in live view as an additional option.

Taking still photographs during the recording of a video is possible. When you give the shutter button a half-press, the ISO and shutter speed for still images will be shown at the bottom of the screen. If you press the button all the way down, the image will be captured, but the movie will have a’still moment’ that is around one second long.

Taking still photos is therefore something that can only be suggested if you want to edit and trim your video material after it has been shot.

The Canon 5D Mark III comes with a brand new feature called audio monitoring, which allows you to keep an “eye” on the sound levels and quality of your recordings. You may modify the recording levels as well as hear the sound while it is being captured if you connect headphones to the socket on the camera. This latter action may be taken via the touch-sensitive back dial while the recording is still in progress. When videos are being watched in playback mode, the headphones are also functional.

Video picture quality

As was just said, the 5D Mark III is equipped with two distinct forms of video compression. The ALL-I compression method can only compress one frame at a time, but the IBP compression method can compress many frames at once, resulting in reduced file sizes.

This may cause the file sizes to be much greater, but it will provide you with more options when editing the video files. In spite of this, we had a hard time distinguishing between the two modes in terms of the quality of the images they produced.

When compared to the video output of other video-capable DSLRs that we have examined, the video output of the 5D Mark III appears a little softer when seen at full size. The exposure, on the other hand, is almost always right on, and the brand new DIGIC 5+ processor eliminates moiré artifacts, resulting in exceptionally clear output.

While the ISO is increased above a certain point, the recorded video becomes noisier; nevertheless, the performance of the camera at higher sensitivities has been much enhanced since the Mark II, and you may use any ISO setting up to ISO 25600 when shooting video.

The 35mm full-frame sensor that is included in the Canon EOS 5D Mark III comes with all of the advantages and disadvantages regarding the depth of field that is associated with bigger sensors. It makes isolating objects considerably simpler and provides you, in conjunction with Canon’s broad selection of EF lenses, with greater creative versatility than the smaller sensors of APS-C or smaller sensor cameras.

Rolling shutters can produce distortion in digital single-lens reflex cameras like the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, just as they do in other DSLRs that employ CMOS sensors. Due of the reading of the sensor, movies are made using a rolling shutter (horizontal lines of the image are scanned, one after another, rather than the whole scene being grabbed in one go).

The top of the picture was captured sooner than the bottom of the image, therefore moving vertical lines can be represented as diagonals if the camera (or the subject) moves too quickly. This is because the top of the image has been recorded earlier than the bottom of the image. Having said that, in comparison to the Mark II, the new sensor displays a far lower amount of rolling shutter. In order for the effect to be evident, you have to pan the camera at an unrealistically fast rate.

Specifications

Body typeMid-size SLR
Body materialMagnesium alloy
Sensor
Max resolution5760 x 3840
Other resolutions3840 x 2560, 2880 x 1920, 1920 x 1280, 720 x 480
Image ratio w:h3:2
Effective pixels22 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors23 megapixels
Sensor sizeFull frame (36 x 24 mm)
Sensor typeCMOS
ProcessorDigic 5+
Color spacesRGB,Adobe RGB
Color filter arrayRGB Color Filter Array
Image
ISOAuto, 100 – 25600 in 1/3 stops, plus 50, 51200, 102400 as option
Boosted ISO (minimum)50
Boosted ISO (maximum)102400
White balance presets6
Custom white balanceYes (1)
Image stabilizationNo
Uncompressed formatRAW
JPEG quality levelsFine, Normal
File formatJPEG (Exif 2.3 [Exif Print] compliant)Design rule for Camera File system (2.0)RAW: RAW, sRAW1, sRAW2 (14bit, Canon original RAW 2nd edition)Digital Print Order Format [DPOF] Version 1.1 compliant
Optics & Focus
AutofocusContrast Detect (sensor)Phase DetectMulti-areaSelective single-pointSingleContinuousFace DetectionLive View
Autofocus assist lampby optional dedicated Speedlite
Digital zoomNo
Manual focusYes
Number of focus points61
Lens mountCanon EF
Focal length multiplier
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCDFixed
Screen size3.2″
Screen dots1,040,000
Touch screenNo
Screen typeClear View II TFT LCD
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeOptical (pentaprism)
Viewfinder coverage100%
Viewfinder magnification0.71×
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed30 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/8000 sec
Exposure modesAuto+Program AEShutter priority AEAperture priority AEManual (Stills and Movie)Custom (x3)
Built-in flashNo
External flashYes (Hot-shoe, Wireless plus Sync connector)
Flash X sync speed1/200 sec
Continuous drive6.0 fps
Self-timerYes (2 or 10 sec)
Metering modesMultiCenter-weightedSpotPartial
Exposure compensation±5 (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)
AE Bracketing±3 (2, 3, 5, 7 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)
WB BracketingYes (3 frames in either blue/amber or magenta/green axis)
Videography features
Resolutions1920 x 1080 (29.97, 25, 23.976 fps fps), 1280 x 720 (59.94, 50 fps), 640 x 480 (25, 30 fps)
FormatH.264
Videography notes1080 and 720 intra or inter frame, 480 inter frame
MicrophoneMono
SpeakerMono
Storage
Storage typesCompact Flash Type I (UDMA compatible), SD/SDHC/SDXC
Storage includedNone
Connectivity
USBUSB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMIYes (HDMI mini)
Microphone portYes
Headphone portYes
WirelessOptional
Wireless notesWireless File Transmitter WFT-E7
Remote controlYes (Remote control with N3 type contact, Wireless Controller LC-5, Remote Controller RC-6)
Physical
Environmentally sealedYes
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionLithium-Ion LP-E6 rechargeable battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA)950
Weight (inc. batteries)950 g (2.09 lb / 33.51 oz)
Dimensions152 x 116 x 76 mm (5.98 x 4.57 x 2.99″)
Other features
Orientation sensorYes
Timelapse recordingYes (by cable and PC)
GPSOptional
GPS notesWith optional GP-E2 unit

Conclusion

As you can see from the list of advantages and disadvantages located at the top of this page, we thought the Canon EOS 5D Mark III was an excellent piece of photography equipment. It is, in fact, an excellent camera, and for those who are already familiar with the Canon 5D Mark II or who possess other Canon lenses compatible with full-frame sensors, the question “Should I purchase one?” is simple to resolve.

The Canon 5D Mark III is a really pleasurable piece of equipment to use as a photographer and is superior to its predecessor in practically every conceivable way. Competing models such as the Nikon D800/E have a few unique tricks up their sleeves (such as the ability to record uncompressed video footage and a capture resolution of 36 megapixels), but for the majority of people and the majority of the time, the differences would not be significant enough to warrant switching camera systems.

Those individuals, on the other hand, who have not yet invested in a camera system face a challenge that is somewhat more difficult.

The only real competitors that the Canon 5D Mark III has in the full-frame enthusiast camera bracket are the Nikon D800 and its supposedly higher-resolution sibling, the D800E. Both of these cameras have a whopping pixel count of 36 megapixels, which makes them potentially superior options for studio work and any other application that requires the highest possible amount of detail.

It is important to point out that the Canon 5D Mark III is now $500 more expensive than the Nikon D800.

On the other hand, the Canon has a quicker burst shooting capability, making it a better choice for recording action that is happening quickly. In addition to this, it has a broader ISO range and gives users more leeway to customize key aspects of its feature set than its competitors do.

The AF systems of both cameras are quite advanced, provide a great deal of leeway for personalization, and have an exceptionally high rate of success in following subjects as they go around the frame.

In the end, both the Nikon D800 and the Canon 5D Mark III are fantastic pieces of photography equipment. The question of which one is best for you is one to which only you have the answer, but if you choose the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, you can rest assured that you have not only acquired a camera that is very capable, but also one that is a lot of fun and exciting to shoot with. Only you can answer this question.

Pros & Cons

Good For
  • Continuous filming at a rate of 6 frames per second with enough buffering
  • Consistently pleasing color and tone over the whole ISO spectrum
  • dependable metering even in environments with high levels of contrast
  • Because of the brand new Digic 5+ CPU, the operation is very quick and responsive.
Need Improvement
  • Even at the lowest ISO setting, mushy JPEGs are the result of using destructive noise reduction.
  • One lone tone can be picked up by the built-in microphone.
  • On-the-fly correction of distortion is not currently available.
  • When noise reduction is applied too aggressively, the result is a loss of low-contrast detail at higher ISOs.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Performance
Movie / video mode
Value
Not only is the Canon EOS 5D Mark III a very powerful piece of photographic equipment in practically every aspect, but it's also a lot of fun and exhilarating to shoot with. Although the little JPEG softness is disappointing in a camera of this quality, it is only evident at the pixel level, and we anticipate that the majority of the camera's target audience will shoot Raw anyhow.

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