The Canon EOS 5D Mark III - Improving the old Winner

Introducing the Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Well here it is in my hands. I have yet to see too many of the other exciting cameras to come out to market yet, but this one I am excited to report is a very nice upgrade.

This review won't focus on the obvious stuff that can be found pretty much everywhere on the net, but more on what improvements such as usability,  physical designs, and how it mostly compares to the 5Dmk2 in the way of improvements.

Image Quality
So lets just get this point out of the way. It is an improvement in many ways over the 5Dmk2. Although the 5Dmk2 was a spectacular performer and considering that many cameras still use that today as the benchmark to beat, this does take the 5D form factor another step ahead. High ISO is pretty clean. The last of the banding at the very upper limits are almost completely gone, and the 5Dmk3 is approximately 1.5 to 2 stops better over the 5Dmk2.

Sunset Gorge by Terrance Lam (TerranceLam) on 500px.comThe biggest improvements I see from a users point of view is the dynamic range. In the above image, this image was a long exposure and black card technique shot. I recovered some of the dramatic contrast in the clouds, but most importantly the buildings and scenery in the dark area. Here's a link to the original image to see how it was recovered.

The amount of time it took me to recover the shadow details and the highlight details took me literally minutes but more importantly, the detail in those areas are pretty impressive in comparison to what I was getting on the 5Dmk2. Sky details are not showing as much clipping or banding, which from a landscape photographer's point of view is very important to control.

The big headline item of this camera is the AF system. The new 61pt AF system is pretty impressive. Taken from the big brother flagship 1DX, this new AF system is rather impressive. But more importantly to many users is the ability to use it in questionable light.


Tracking is really easy with the 5Dmk3. The image of the heron was taken with very overcast conditions, early morning, with very little light. Not seen here was the fact that I started to track this bird from it's perch on a tree against a dark background. It maintained lock, but also metereed very well.

So far after 24 hours with this camera, I'm impressed. There's a lot more to learn about it and discover, but here's a list of all the major things I've found, and most of it applies to still photography.

The Improvement List:

  • silent shutter (single and continuous although reduced speed is whisper quiet)
  • larger viewfinder (with 100% view)
  • dual card slots (with a variety of options/configurations including the ability to copy between cards)
  • Eye-fi compatibility
  • m-fn button (plus most of the buttons are configurable to different settings)
  • viewfinder level (OVF and LCD)
  • Gridlines in viewfinder and light sensor detects if you need transmissive display
  • better AWB in low light 
  • better and quicker focus in low light
  • Configurable Auto ISO
  • Auto ISO Manual Mode
  • Configurable Minimum Shutter Speed 
  • Configurable ISO Range
  • 3, 2, 5, 7 Bracket Exposure
  • Auto HDR Mode
  • Separate button/control for Live View (move/still modes)
  • Faster Contrast Detect focus
  • Better ergonomics (new buttons, mode button lock, deeper moulded grip, thumb rest)
  • Multi-exposure (astro-stacking or can be used like Sony's Multi-Frame noise reduction or Exposure fusion or maybe even Black Card Multi-Exposure?)
  • Better organized UI (tabs/groups for common functions - no more C.Fn menus)
  • Info help menu
  • 6 custom configurations for  various AF conditions (configurable too)
  • 61 pt AF, with a multitude of configurations (with servo priorities)
  • Spot AF (This is for fine tuned focusing. Very handy when focusing through branches or tight spaces - crowds of people)
  • Increased dynamic range, lower noise, higher ISO performance
  • Bigger better DoF button (relocated to a more logical place)
  • Better weather sealing (similar to EOS 1N)
  • Smoother, quieter scroll wheels
  • Faster continuous frame rate.
  • Redesigned shutter with 150K life.
  • Transmissive LCD display (does not have ghost AF points)
  • Macro Servo mode (for all macro lenses)
  • in camera RAW editing
  • Compare button and compare images. Allows you a quick way to review and compare one fixed image among the rest of your shots
  • Scene Intelligent Auto (an auto mode that actually allows you some creativity, and smart enough to detect movement and other types of shooting conditions - even allows for half press recompose)
  • aspect ratio overlays/masks in live view (removable on RAW files if you change your mind)
  • Focus position memory points (recalls last focus point in vertical and horizontal positions - great for portrait photographers).
  • AEB ± 8 stops 
  • Exposure Simulation with DoF button pressed (Very handy for those who do live view landscape shooting or use a Tilt-shift lens)
  • Movie mode can have both shutter button and special function button start stop video (Set button is now for centring focus points)
  • Video mode can now be triggered with a standard wired remote (no longer need one of the IR front facing remotes to do it - also means Live View Triggers: will work better). 
  • Live View Wake mode (shutter half press) - similar as above, but by using the movie mode and untethering the shutter for movie mode, you can now set up a camera with a live view remote, and wake it with a half press wireless trigger. Very handy if you want to do discrete shooting of wildlife for example for just still photography where you might set up 2 or 3 cameras for remote shooting angles (above a basket or goalie cam). 
  • New flash function menu: Much easier menu to set popular options.
  • Improved and new Tether controls (added levels, overlays, auto rotate,  more responsive, should be great for studio shooters, tethered landscape photographers and astrophotographers)
  • A/V cable now through the mini-usb.
  • HDMI Control (device control through the HDMI port).
  • USM lens Electronic control - for more MF control for lenses that are fly by wire lenses like the 85 F/1.2 and the 300mm F/2.8
  • One button zoom 100% to active AF point. Really quick button check for critical focus. A very welcome feature especially with manual focus lens.


  1. Hi
    i'm mantra from italy
    the ae is not +3/-3
    but quoting Better weather sealing (similar to EOS 1N) , is the same built 7d quality and weather sealing ? or better?
    for sure not like the 1dx.

    thanks a lot for the review!

    1. The AE steps maximum is +/- 3 but the entire range when using 7 bracketed shots is actually +/-9. The display shows +/- 8. With 5 bracketed shots you have a maximum range of +/-6 with +/- 3 steps in between. Standard EV adjustment is also +/- 5 Ev.

      Also you can go higher by adjusting your EV bias. So for example set to 7 bracketed shots, and move the center bias to +/- 5 and your lowest/highest EV will be 14.

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