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Your current location :Home > News > The long wait ends Canon 5D Mark III (hands on

The long wait ends Canon 5D Mark III (hands on

The long wait ends Canon 5D Mark III (hands on,On the 25th anniversary of its EOS system, Canon finally announces the long-awaited update to its full-frame 5D Mark II dSLR. Its packed with capabilities for both still and video shooters, but at a much steeper price.

Ive found that photographers ll into two camps: those who use their camera till it drops dead of exhaustion before considering a new model, and those who feel the need to update as often as possible.

I think the wait for the Canon EOS 5D Mark III has been killing both those groups. Its been so long that a lot of hard-used 3-plus-year-old 5D Mark IIs are ready to surrender, and the frequent updaters have been buffeted on a sea of rumors and delays. But the 5DM3 is almost here--shipping within a few weeks, in theory--and it looks like it will have what it takes to please them both.

While the 5DM3 is obviously big news, Canons intent to drop of the price of the 5DM2 (to what, I dont know yet) and keep it on the market is pretty important, too: $3,500 is pretty steep for a lot of people who want to go full-frame, and it helps keeps Canon in competition with the newly price-reduced Nikon D700.

As youd expect, the 5DM3 consists of a combination of technologies, features, and design updates rolled out in the EOS 7D and the more recent 1D X. The result is a camera that looks similar to its predecessor but thats otherwise almost completely different.

Though a different sensor than that of the 1D X, it uses a lot of the same technology that Canon rolled out for that model, including gapless microlenses and improved quantum efficiency (to improve the amount of light capturable on the photodiodes); better on-chip noise reduction; and ster data readout (dual four-channel readouts). Though it has 6.25-micron sites compared with 6.4 microns on the older sensor, Canon claims that all the other advances, including the better processing in the Digic 5+ engine, delivers overall better noise performance--2 stops better for JPEG and video. Canon does say the 1D X remains about one stop cleaner, however.

The camera also inherits the sophisticated 61-point reticulated autofocus system from the 1D X, along with the ability to customize the AF-point groupings. It uses the older metering system from the 7D, however, which theoretically shouldnt matter here: the newer system enables features like ce and object tracking to boost burst-shooting autofocus performance, but this camera really isnt for the serious continuous shooters.

Incorporating Digic 5+ adds a lot of important features. These include support for UDMA 7 CF; the camera now has dual CF/SDXC card slots, which is a really useful feature. And Canon implements it with the novel ability to configure it to record different sizes/quality of raw or JPEG files saved to each card. Theres also three-shot in-camera HDR, but you can save the source images as well as add some effects. (For manual HDR, you get a bump to seven-frame bracketing at +/-5 EV.) Additionally, it offers the same powerful multiple-exposure mode as the 1D X.

The Digic 5+ also adds the new video encoders (All-I and IP-B) which appeared in the 1D X, along with 720/60p recording and improved moire handling. The 5DM3 also gets a headphone jack, time code support, and 64 levels of audio control plus a wind filter. One video disappointment: the camera only outputs the display view via HDMI, so you cant get high-resolution video capture that way and it has the display overlay. On the other hand, youre no longer limited to 12-minute clips.

Interestingly, although it has a new shutter mechanism with bounce-dampening technology to decrease noise and vibration as in the 1D X, the shutters durability doesnt seem to have been improved. Though Canon cited improved shutter speed (from 75ms in the 5DM2 down to 59ms, which is close to but not as st as the 1D X at 55ms), and the boost in burst speed to 6fps, no mention was made about overall performance. With a ster AF system and ster cards youd expect better shooting speed, but the increase in resolution sometimes makes it a wash.

There are some usability enhancements as well. My vorite: the viewfinder, though the same size and magnification, now covers 100 percent of the scene, and the spot meter has been reduced to 1.5 percent of the frame. The viewfinder also has an optional grid overlay and can supply alerts for a handful of settings that affect picture quality, such as ISO expansions.

While Canon has improved the dust-and-weather sealing through some increased gasketing and a better-constructed magnesium alloy chassis (with stainless-steel lens mount), it still doesnt sound as rugged as youd expect for the money; you might say that its large base of wedding shooters may not need that, but a camera gets around a lot more than it used to, especially in the hands of videographers. That said, most of the updates to the body are quite welcome, including a locking mode dial (albeit with the annoying center button from the 60D); touch pad on the control dial for silent adjustments during movie shooting; and a 7D-like control for Live View and Movies. In addition to a comparison playback view, theres a dedicated button for rating photos. The menu system is just like that of the 1D X, extremely broad and deep, with tons of options, like the extreme customizability of the AF system and AF tracking sensitivity.

Heres where it fits in the competitive landscape:

Sensor (effective resolution)21.1-megapixel CMOS

4-channel readout

14 bit22.3-megapixel CMOS

8-channel readout


2-line, 16-channel readout

14-bit12.1-megapixel CMOS


14 bit36.3-megapixel CMOS


14 bit36 mm x 24mm36 mm x 24mm36 mm x 24mm36 mm x 23.9mm35.9 mm x 24mmFocal-length multiplier1.0x1.0x1.0x1.0x1.0xSensitivity rangeISO 50 (exp)/100 - ISO 6400/ (exp)ISO 50 (exp)/100 - ISO /102,400 (exp)ISO 50 (exp)/ 100 - ISO 51,200/204,800 (exp)ISO 100 (exp)/200 - ISO 6400/ 25,600 (exp)ISO 50 (exp)/100 - ISO 6400/ (exp)Continuous shooting3.9fps

14 raw/310 JPEG6fps



17 raw/100 JPEG4fps


(5fps with battery grip)Viewfinder

magnification/ effective magnification100% coverage

0.71x/0.71x100% coverage

0.71x/0.71x100% coverage

0.76x/0.76x95% coverage

0.72x/0.72x100% coverage

0.70x/0.70xAutofocus9-pt AF

1 cross type61-pt High Density Reticular AF

21 center diagonal to f5.6

5 center to f2.8

20 outer to f461-pt High Density Reticular AF

21 center diagonal to f5.6

5 center to f2.8

20 outer to f4


15 cross type51-pt

15 cross type; 11 cross type to f8AF exposure range-0.5 - 18

EV-2 - 20 EV-2 - 20 EV-1 - 19 EV-2 - 19 EVShutter speed1/8,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/200 sec x-synn/a1/8,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/250 sec x-sync (est)1/8,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/250 sec x-sync1/8,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/250 sec x-syncShutter durability150,000 cycles150,000 cycles400,000 cycles150,000 cycles200,000 cyclesMetering35-zone TTL63-area iFCL252-zone RGB1,005-pixel RGB sensor 3D Color Matrix Metering II91,000-pixel RGB 3D Color Matrix Metering IIIMetering exposure range1 - 20 EV0 - 20 EV (est)0 - 20 EV0 - 20 EV0 - 20 EVImage stabilizationOpticalOpticalOpticalOpticalOpticalVideoH.264 QuickTime MOV 1080/30p/ 25p/24p

H.264 QuickTime MOV

1080/30p/25p/24p; 720/60p/50pH.264 QuickTime MOV

1080/30p/25p/24p; 720/60p/50pNoneH.264 QuickTime MOV

1080/30p/ 25p/24p; 720/60p/50p/ 25p/24pRated estimated max HD video length at best quality4GB

(approx 12 minutes)29m59s4GB

(29m59s)n/a20 minutesAudiomono; mic inputmono; mic input; headphone jackmono; mic input; headphone jackn/amono; mic input; headphone jackLCD size3 inches fixed

920,000 dots3.2 inches fixed

1.04 megadot3.2 inches fixed

1.04 megadot3 inches fixed

921,000 dots3.2 inches

921,000 dotsMemory slots1 x CF (UDMA mode 7)1 x CF (UDMA mode 7), 1 x SDXC2 x CF (UMDA mode 7)1 x CF (UDMA mode 6)1 x CF (UDMA mode 7), 1 x SDXCWireless flashNoNoNoYesYesBattery life (CIPA rating)850 shots



(2,450mAh)1,000 shots

(1,500mAh)850 shots

(1,800mAh)Dimensions (inches, WHD)6.0 x 4.5 x 3.0 n/a6.4 x 6.2 x 3.35.8 x 4.8 x 3.05.7 x 4.8 x 3.2Body operating weight (ounces)32.9n/an/a38.731.7 (est)

Mfr. price$2,499 (body only)$3,499 (body only)$6,800 (body only)$2,199.95 (body only)$2,999.95/ $3,299.95 (body only)n/a$4,299 (with 24-105mm lens)n/an/an/aShip dateNovember 2008March 2012April 2012July 2008March 2012/ April 2012

All these improvements make the 5DM3 seem like an incredibly attractive camera, with enough there to merit upgrade consideration for 5DM2 pros who can justify the not-inconsiderable expense. If youre price-sensitive, the D800 obviously looks better, but youve got to be a real rez-head to consider the D800s pixel count a serious advantage and that presumes youre not committed to a system already.

Along with the 5DM3, Canon simultaneously announced some new accessories targeted at the same class of photographer.

Speedlite 600EX-RT ($629.99, March): This replaces the 580EXII at the top of Canons flash offerings, finally incorporating wireless flash mastery. It supports radio or line-of-sight and five groups of flashes on 16 channels.

Battery Grip BG-E11 ($490, April): Though the 5DM3 takes the same batteries as the 5DM2, the grips been updated with a duplicated multicontroller.

Wireless Transmitter WFT-E7A ($849, April): This adds a lot of the wireless and wired Ethernet capabilities that come built-in to the 1D X, including time syncing, FTP, EOS Utility mode, WFT Server, and Media Server capabilities.

While its not a no-brainer upgrade over the Mark II, the Canon EOS 5D Mark III is worth the price premium if better performance and configurability matter to you. Read Full Review

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