Here’s the most requested review of 2012 thus far: my in-depth review of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III professional full-frame digital SLR. The camera is a full-frame digital SLR with a 22 megapixel CMOS image sensor, full manual controls, dual memory card slots, extremely capable Full HD movie mode and new 61 point autofocus system trickled down from the flagship Canon EOS 1D X camera. Read more about the EOS 5D Mark III after the jump. Head on to the Canon EOS 5D Mark III photo gallery to view the huge range of sample pictures and RAW images taken using the camera.
Also be sure to check out our separate review of the 2012 Canon EOS menu and user interface to learn more about the new menu system and various menu options and items on the EOS 5D Mark III.
The Canon EOS 5D Mark III is the latest full-frame digital SLR camera from Canon. The Canon EOS 5D Mark III has a new 22.3 megapixel full-frame sensor, full manual controls, new 61 point focusing system with plenty of options to configure autofocus behavior, 3.2 inch LCD, new image rating function and improved Full HD movie mode with options for ALL-I and IPB compression.
When talking about cameras and technology in general, things move very fast and you’ll be hard pressed keeping up with ‘the latest’ tech. Four years in today’s tech world feels a lot like four decades, and that’s exactly how we’d describe the Canon EOS 5D Mark III versus its 2008 predecessor, the EOS 5D Mark II – The Mark III is a completely new camera with brand new everything. There’s no question if you’re a 5D Mark 2 owner, the immediate answer if you should upgrade to the EOS 5D Mark III is a big affirmative ‘YES’.
Here’s your chance to find out more about the Canon EOS 5D Mark III in our in-depth review of the camera.
In the camera box
The Canon EOS 5D Mark III comes with your standard issue digital SLR box contents
- Canon EOS 5D Mark III camera
- Canon EF 24 – 105 mm f4L IS USM lens (with lens bundle)
- LP-E6 lithium-ion rechargeable battery
- LC-E6 Standalone battery charger
- Neck strap with EOS 5D Mark III branding
- Body cap (attached to camera)
- USB and stereo A/V cables
- Camera CD and digital user’s manual
As with other digital SLR models, the Canon EOS 5D Mark III doesn’t come with any memory cards. The presence of dual memory card slots on the camera means that you can either use Compact Flash (just the modern slim Type 1 cards, the camera no longer takes Type 2/Microdrive cards from a decade ago) and SDHC/SDXC memory cards on the 5D Mark III. The camera greatly benefits from high-speed memory cards, and on the EOS 5D Mark III, getting the fastest card possible is almost a requirement. There’s a noticeable performance advantage with them, especially in continuous shooting and recording movies at the highest possible settings. The EOS 5D Mark III supports ultra-fast UDMA Compact Flash cards.
I would recommend a 16 GB memory card at the very least; better yet get a bigger card and in both formats – if you can spend money buying a $3500, 22 megapixel camera like the EOS 5D Mark III, purchasing at 32 or 64 GB cards shouldn’t be out of the question since the camera chews through memory like a crazed beast. JPEG files can take up anywhere from 5 to 11 MB each, RAW files hover in the 45 to 50 MB range and every minute of Full HD video at the highest settings consumes an average of 700 MB.
The Canon EOS 5D Mark III uses the same LP-E6 ‘smart’ lithium-ion battery as the EOS 7D and old EOS 5D Mark 2. The camera can show remaining battery juice down to the percentage, keep track of photos taken on the battery’s current charge and battery recharge performance; it can also log batteries by serial number and keep track of performance numbers for each battery.
At normal temperatures, the Canon EOS 5D Mark III has a battery life rating of 950 shots per battery charge using the viewfinder or up to 200 shots using live view; though seasoned digital SLR users will know that such numbers are typically understated since you can sometimes take thousands of pictures on a single battery charge (depends on type of photography of course). At freezing temperatures (ie if you decide to take the EOS 5D Mark III on your next trip to Alaska or Antarctica), battery life is rated to 10% lower than the figures above.
An optional Canon BG-E11 battery grip is available for the EOS 5D Mark III which holds either two LP-E6 batteries or 6 AA batteries (AA batteries are inserted via an adapter tray); this will effectively double the battery life you get with the camera.
The Canon EOS 5D Mark III is extremely well built, just as you would expect from a high-end digital SLR. The camera has a durable magnesium alloy frame that feels sturdy in hand and coated with a grippy rubber texture at every place where your hands would hold the camera. The EOS 5D Mark III is weathersealed, meaning its buttons, dials and doors are all designed to enable the camera to survive the elements (you cannot dunk the camera underwater though). Shutter life on the 5D Mark III is rated to 150,000 actuations.
Ergonomics on the Canon EOS 5D Mark III are pretty much top notch; the camera shares a lot of design elements and similar controls as the EOS 7D with improved controls for playback zoom, new image rating button, invisible touch sensitive ring on the Quick Control dial, gateway menu to Picture Style, multi exposure and HDR options as well as a better placed DoF preview button. The changes compared to the EOS 5D Mark II are even more dramatic with a new movie/live view combo switch (like the one found on the EOS 7D), separated power on/off and dial lock switches, mode dial lock button and new 100% coverage viewfinder with superimposed LCD elements for AF points, gridlines and a new customizable warning icon. The EOS 5D Mark III’s grip feels more substantial and ergonomic versus the old 5D, and even moreso compared to the EOS 7D.
If you’re a beginner or rich point-and-shoot hobbyist reading this review, you’ll have to know that Canon won’t dare to offer their high-end digital SLR cameras in any color other than black. Yup, that means no baby blue or pink 5D Mark III for those used to color choices on compact cameras and smartphone covers!
- Canon EOS 5D Mark III Photo Gallery with RAW images
- Canon EOS 5D Mark III In-depth Menu and Configuration Review
- Canon EOS 5D Mark III vs EOS 7D comparison article
- Canon EOS 5D Mark III vs EOS 7D photo gallery
- Canon EOS 5D Mark III on Amazon.com
- Canon EOS 5D Mark III on B&H
- Canon EOS 5D Mark III on Adorama
On the front of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III is that standard Canon EF lens mount. The Canon EOS 5D Mark III takes EF lenses, and EF lenses only; because it’s a full-frame camera, it won’t take EF-S lenses which are designed for EOS cameras with smaller image sensors (such as the EOS 60D, 7D and Rebel series cameras). And being a full-frame camera, you can see how much bigger the mirror is on the 5D Mark III compared to other cameras.
Behind that mirror is a new image sensor with 22.3 effective megapixels. The full-frame sensor is new and provides a slight increase in resolution compared to the old model. The new image sensor also allows the Canon EOS 5D Mark III to go up to a native maximum ISO of 25,600.
The good thing about a full-frame camera is that it takes lenses without the need for a crop multiplier: that EF 24 – 105 mm lens is going to be equivalent to 24 – 205 mm; non-full frame cameras like the EOS Rebel series have a 1.6X crop factor which would make that same lens equivalent to 38 – 168 mm. The Canon EOS 5D Mark III is rather taxing on lenses though, so high-end lenses are recommended if you want the best image quality from the camera.
Right next to the lens mount is the button to dismount the lens; of course, if you’re looking at a professional camera like the EOS 5D Mark III, you probably already knew what the button does (I hope). To the opposite side near the grip are the self-timer countdown lamp and depth-of-field preview button in its new position. I like the button placement here since it’s a lot easier to access and press without shifting your hands around. On the grip of the camera is an infrared receiver window used for remote control support.
There’s no built-in flash on the Canon EOS 5D Mark III since the camera needs plenty of room up behind the Canon logo for that big 100% optical viewfinder. However, it’s noteworthy that Nikon’s full-frame camera, the D800, which is positioned against the 5D Mark III has a built-in flash. The 5D Mark III also lacks a built-in autofocus assist light (the Nikon D800 has one) so you’ll have to rely on the focus assist light on an external flash.