Canon 5D Mark III: The Real Deal
I recently acquired a 5D Mark III, and like many, have been very impressed. Finally we have a solution for the long awaited digital form of a “3D”. While I haven’t been able to put it through extensive testing, here are some initial thoughts and sample images:
- Build: it feels very similar to a 7D, which comes as no surprise as the body shape and buttons are nearly identical. That said, the weatherproofing is an improvement, and the camera feels very solid in hand. The shutter sound is a huge improvement over the 5DII, and it feels like a “quick” camera.
- AF system. This was my biggest concern with the 5D II, and the new AF system takes all those worries away. I would place it in the same league as the 1D Mark IV, equally as good or perhaps even better. Some differences (apart from the 7D-like focus modes) are smaller AF points, less coverage due to the full frame sensor, and less raw drive speed on initial focus acquisition. One issue I do have is that I cannot quickly select an AF point using the joystick as I can with a 1 series body. Having to press the AF button first is hugely cumbersome if you need to do so quickly. EDIT: this can be enabled using a custom function by assigning the joystick to direct AF point selection. There are many new AF settings and tracking modes, which may prove valuable in certain situations, and it’s great to see the menus have been improved with proper descriptions of what each setting does, and what scenarios to use them in.
- Buffer. Rated at 13 images in RAW, I saw about 18 shots at lower ISOs with a 400x card, before it started to slow down. At 6fps this is about 3 seconds of shooting, which is nearly identical in terms of time as the 1DIV buffer, and I don’t see it being a major issue, unless you are shooting at high ISOs and/or with a slower card and frequently hitting the buffer limits. Of course, a larger buffer would be welcome, and Canon has much work to do in catching up to the D4 here.
- Exposure and WB appear solid. I’ve never had major gripes in this regard, and the colour out of camera is far more pleasing than the 5DII, which usually needed extensive correction to look similar to my other bodies. That being said, my initial thoughts are that AWB is a touch cool when outdoors.
- Image quality: It’s hard to quantify this yet. What I can say is the banding that frequently plagued 5DII images is gone, or at least remarkably diminished. I would agree that the noise is lower than either 5DII or 1DIV, but won’t commit to a value. Processing plays a huge role in this, so check out the same images and decide for yourself!
Overall I see the 5DIII as a solid complement to the 1DIV. Due to the greater crop factor, higher fps and f8 focusing ability, I will continue to use the MkIV as my primary bird camera, unless I am not focal length challenged or need better ISO performance, but the new 5DIII is just as competent for everything else. One thing is for certain – you can no longer blame the camera for your shortcomings.
What I should note is there appear to be issues with the IS systems on the 200 f2 IS and 800 IS. Those lenses are seeing more IS vibration and feedback noise when used with the 5DIII, which I quickly noticed. Canon is working on a fix, but until then, it is likely to affect image sharpness at low shutter speeds.
I took some photos of gulls and geese flying around, and the camera tracked beautifully in a variety of AF modes. While these are not overly complicated targets, I do not have the same faith in the 5DII’s AF system. Additionally, I tracked someone jogging towards me for about 15 shots, and the AF was glued until the subject was close to MFD and thus could no longer compensate quickly enough.
- Gull at ISO3200. Blue tends to be a poor channel for noise performance in Canon bodies
- Mallard (ISO400)
- Gull in flight – the DR seems pretty decent
- Mute swan detail
- Goose landing. This is one in a sequence of 6 which were all equally tack sharp. I have my doubts that the 5DII would have performed as well
- Flicker at nest cavity (ISO1600)