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The long-awaited Canon EOS 5D Mark III has finally arrived. Offering refinement and improvement over its predecessor, the camera maintains its position as a very capable DSLR that’s ideal for high-quality image capture and HD video recording.
Only a slight bump in resolution, 22.3MP versus 21.1MP, means the 5D Mark III’s already excellent image quality has not improved drastically; the way images are recorded and processed, however, has changed in significant ways. The integration of the new DIGIC 5+ Image Processor stands as one of the largest improvements over the 5D Mark II, offering increased speed and power as well as higher ISO sensitivity and better noise reduction. Also aiding the increased sensitivity is 14-bit A/D conversion, which improves gradation between tones and overall image quality.
A hugely increased 61-point High-Density Reticular AF system and iFCL 63-zone Dual Layer Metering sensor improve the efficiency and accuracy of the camera by essentially blanketing and analyzing scenes and extracting as much exposure and focus information from images as possible. A newly designed Intelligent Viewfinder incorporates a superimposed LCD, providing focus and image data. This LCD overlay can just as easily be removed to provide clear, unobstructed viewing for straightforward composition. The larger 3.2-inch Clear View II LCD features a reflection-resistant coating for image display in bright conditions, and its 1,040,000-dot resolution provides highly detailed, sharp imagery for critical review.
Multiple Exposure and HDR modes represent in-camera creative effects that facilitate control over the look of your images, saving time in post production. All of these new hardware and software features are housed in a rugged magnesium-alloy body that offers dust and weather resistance.
For the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, the largest improvement over the 5D Mark II comes from the increased speed and power that are made possible by the DIGIC 5+ Image Processor. Compared to the DIGIC 4 processor, the new chip should show marked improvements in terms of speed, file-write time and transfer time. This processor also integrates new complex algorithms for improved noise reduction, greater sensitivity at higher ISOs, and a reduction in chromatic aberration. This boost in sensitivity will make photographing in low-light situations less of a chore and much more of a realistic possibility. The higher speed of the DIGIC 5+ affords an increased continuous shooting rate, bringing it from 3.9 to 6.0 frames per second when using a UDMA CF card.
Working tightly with the image processor, the 14-bit signal processing provides an extended ISO range for the EOS 5D Mark III. Standard sensitivity runs 100-25600 ISO, but this range is further extended to 50-102400 ISO in expanded mode. This range can be customized and modified depending on your own needs; additionally, an auto ISO mode can be employed to cope with fluctuating conditions. 14-bit depth also makes possible excellent, smooth tonal gradations and high overall image quality.
While the megapixel count hasn’t increased significantly, the 5D Mark III’s CMOS sensor has been reformatted, promising to enhance the already superb image-capturing traits of the previous model. A newly designed photodiode structure facilitates highly detailed, rich images and increased visual depth. This full-frame sensor provides the same field of view as a 35mm camera and causes no crop factor. This is especially useful for taking full advantage of wide-angle lenses.
The newly designed autofocus system employs an additional 52 points for focus. This new 61-point autofocus system helps ensure the most critical focus possible, with a high level of efficiency. The autofocus system is broken down into several modes, featuring up to 41 cross-type AF points across the image and 5 dual diagonal points. Focus control is segregated into 6 different methods: Spot, Single Point, Single + 4 Adjacent Points, Single + 8 Adjacent Points, Zone Selection and Automatic AF Point Selection. This variety helps to suit the requirements of any situation, including extremely low light conditions.
Playing off the AF system, the metering system has also become more intelligent and critical in terms of analyzing subjects to help determine the best exposure possible. The 5D Mark III independently analyzes focus, color and luminance across the 63 zones that comprise the image area. The dual-layer design of the metering sensor provides a wider sensitivity to different wavelengths of light, countering the common issues that are generally associated with electronic sensors. On the 5D Mark III, these layers are split between a red/green channel and a blue/green channel, giving relief to the inherent red bias that sensors are usually known for. Data from each layer is analyzed and combined into a highly accurate metering and subsequent exposure setting.
Continuing what made the 5D Mark II so popular, the 5D Mark III offers significant HD video quality. Multiple formats are supported including 1080/30p and 720/60p, and continuous recording times up to 29 minutes 59 seconds are now possible—with time code. The camera compresses video as either I-frame-only or as IPB, for two variations of the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC codec.
What separates the 5D’s video recording from that of other DSLRs is manual adjustment of settings and audio levels while recording. These features are available, in part, due to Live View; which permits real-time monitoring on the LCD as well as menu functionality during recording. The DIGIC 5+ processor also enhances the 5D Mark III’s video functions by improving response times and reducing color artifacts, aberrations and moiré.
Both Multiple Exposure and HDR features are available to use in-camera, reducing the time needed to alter your imagery during post production. High dynamic range imagery is executed quickly and seamlessly. The camera automatically brackets your exposures and then integrates the subsequent range of images into one file. This new file represents controlled highlights and detailed shadows with an extended middle range of tones. This efficiency is especially useful when photographing high-contrast scenes, such as landscapes with water or snow, or in situations where both an exterior and interior are in the image frame.
On the surface, the optical viewfinder provides 100% field of view and aspherical lens elements for a bright, clear view with a reduction in chromatic aberrations and distortions. This high-grade viewfinder is further enhanced with the integration of a superimposed transparent LCD that displays autofocus and exposure information. This newly developed Intelligent Viewfinder gives a range of information, and is easily turned off to return you to the clear, unadulterated view from the optical finder itself. The displayed AF information and grid lines can be customized and the AF meter can also be segregated to the side of the viewfinder outside of the image area.
A newly designed LCD shows an increase in size (3.2" compared to the Mark II’s 3.0") and resolution (1,040,000 over 920,000-dots). Increases in size and resolution allow for even more critical review of imagery and videos and a reflection-resistant multi-coating enables monitoring in bright conditions.
Both the viewfinder and rear LCD support Dual Axis Electronic Levels, a feature that visually displays a level as well as roll and tilt information. This is particularly useful for photographing landscapes or in situations where horizons must be straight and convergence is to be avoided.
The 5D Mark III does not alter the already tested and proven magnesium-alloy construction of the previous model. This highly rigid and strong design also provides a great deal of weather and dust resistance and features extensive gasketing around the seams for ensured protection. The tough build also features ergonomic contouring for simplified and intuitive handling. Customizable controls allow you to dedicate certain buttons to your own needs, helping to increase efficiency when photographing in fast-paced situations. There are also dual memory card slots, supporting both CF and SD cards for convenience.
The camera’s newly designed shutter has been tested to at least 150,000 cycles. An updated EOS Integrated Cleaning system uses a vibration-based dust removal process to protect the camera against dust incursion.
When purchased as a kit, the camera comes bundled with a standard 24-105mm f/4 zoom lens. This range of focal lengths is more than adequate for most situations, ranging from wide angle to a standard portrait-length lens. Its construction integrates a Super-UD glass element with three aspherical lenses for a further reduction of chromatic aberration and distortion. Additionally, the lens incorporates Image Stabilizer technology for a 3-stop reduction in camera shake. The design of the lens also integrates the same dust and weatherproofing as the camera body, resulting in an entire system that can be relied upon for continued performance, regardless of the conditions in which it’s used.
Canon’s 5D Mark III is a definite improvement over the Mark II. But given the previous model’s already superlative features, the Mark III is really more a refinement. This camera remains a leader in terms of HDSLR functionality, and does not falter with regard to rich still imagery. The new model is more efficient and enables even more intuitive use. Improved speed and processing power are the areas in which this camera truly shines, giving uncompromising performance that greatly exceeds previous expectations. With the Mark III, the Canon 5D maintains its status as a benchmark for other DSLR cameras.
|Camera Type||Interchangeable Lens DSLR|
|Lens Mount||Canon EF|
|Sensor Size||Full-Frame (36 x 24mm)|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 5+ Image Processor|
|File Formats||JPEG and RAW|
|Continuous Shooting Speed||Up to 6.0 fps (with UDMA CF Card)|
|Focus Type||Auto and Manual|
|Exposure Metering||iFCL (with 63-zone Dual Layer metering sensor)|
|Flash Connection||Hot shoe and PC terminal|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical pentaprism with superimposed LCD|
|Viewfinder Angle of View||34.1°|
|LCD Monitor||3.2" 1,040,000 dots|
|ISO Sensitivity||100-25600 (50-102400 in expanded mode)|
|Video Recording Formats||1080/30p (29.97), 24p (23.976), 25p; 720/60p (59.94), 50p; 480/30p (29.97), 25p|
|Video Clip Length||29 minutes 59 seconds (4GB automatic file partition)|
|Video Compressions||All i-Frame and IPB compressions|
|Creative Modes||Multiple Exposure and High Dynamic Range (HDR)|
|Connectivity||HDMI, A/V output, USB 2.0|
|Power Source||LP-E6 lithium-ion battery pack|
|Wireless Capability||Compatible with optional transmitters and receivers|
|Dimensions||6 x 4.6 x 3" / 15.2 x 11.7 x 7.6 cm|
|Weight||1.90 lb / 860 g|