Canon 5D Mark III First Impression

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The Canon 5D Mark III started to ship world wide today. We are happy to have our hands on one to try out the new features and did a quick ISO test. If you are not familiar with the new features on the 5D Mark III, you can check them out on this post

The Canon 5D Mark III was first introduced in the beginning of March, 2012. It is set to replace the 2.5 years old 5D Mark II.  The Canon 5D Mark III is fitted with a 22MP CMOS sensor and DIGIC 5+ image processor. It has upgraded to a much improved 61 AF system, which you will certainly feel much difference compare to the 5D Mark II. The ISO also gets two stops increase with a native ISO ranged from 100-25600.

Inside the box, it comes with the 5D Mark III strap, battery charger LC-EP + AC cable, video cables, usb cable, manual & CDs and LP-E6 battery. The 5D Mark III uses the same type of batteries as the 5D Mark II so you can use your 5D Mark II batteries as spares.

The 5D Mark III has a much more contoured body which fits comfortably in the hand. If you are planning to use a big lens with it like the 70-200mm f/2.8, it can get a bit front heavy, so it pays to get the battery grip BG-E11. The 5D Mark III is about 90 heavier than the 5D Mark II.

From the front, you will notice a much more contoured hot shoe bonnet which I feel it looks much better. At the back, the on/off switch is now located next to the mode dial and the mode dial is now lockable to prevent changing modes accidentally. The mic is now placed at the bottom left corner instead. A new video record start/stop button is placed at the thumb position. The LCD got wider by 0.2 of an inch. The Canon 5D Mark III doesn’t have a zoom out button thou which is something I feel is useful to have.

Viewing from the top, there is not much difference, except there is a M-fn button located next to the shutter button.

We put on the 70-200mm f/2.8 to try out the new AF system which has 61 AF points (41 being cross type). It felt very snappy, definitely is a huge improvement over the 9+6 AF of 5D Mark II.

We also took some ISO tests started from 1600 to 25600.  We shot in RAW and converted to JPG using Adobe Camera Raw 6.7 beta. No NR is applied. Check out the full resolution ISO samples from the links below.

ISO 1600 | ISO 3200 | ISO 6400 | ISO 12800 | ISO 25600

Here is a 1:1 crop of the images from ISO 1600 – 25600. Note that the images were shot in RAW converted to JPG using Adobe Camera Raw 6.7 beta with no NR applied.

I will let you judge for yourself on the ISO performance. Personally, I wouldn’t hesitate to use it at ISO 3200, but at 6400, this is some noise which is expected when you zoomed to 1:1, but bare in mind this is with no NR and you will never see it on prints anyway. The image at 6400 is very acceptable and useable. Even up to ISO 12800, it is still very well controlled.  There seems to be a colour shift on the ISO 25600 image (somebody told me this is due to flickering of the lights). This only happened once though, other ISO 25600 images are fine.

The Canon 5D Mark III is a very solid full frame camera, it has a much improved AF system with 61 AF points, even the flagship Nikon D4 has 51 AF points only. You will definitely see a huge difference in AF which makes the whole camera operation much more responsive. As for ISO performance, the Canon 5D Mark III produces clean images at ISO 3200 and images up to ISO 12800 are still very useable. The noise is mostly grain noise which is much more pleasant to the eyes. The Canon 5D Mark III is definitely a great upgrade to the 5D Mark II. We haven’t done any video test yet, but given that 5D Mark II is already a very popular video DSLR used in many cinematic production, I can only expect the 5D Mark III will be equally exceptional in this area.

Leave us a comment below and let us know what you think.

If you haven’t ordered your 5D Mark III yet, B&H is still accepting orders at the moment.

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About Kent Yu

Kent is a professional wedding and portrait photographer based in Wellington, New Zealand. He and his team specialise in modern and contemporary weddings. Kent has his work published in international magazines and is a regular author to a number of photographic publication. He is fascinated by photographic equipment and enjoys showcasing the gear used in creating his images. You can find him on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Google+
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