The Canon EOS 5D Mark III is the successor to the enormously popular EOS 5D Mark II, andbuilds on the success of this full-frame DSLR. When the original EOS 5D was launched inOctober 2005, it represented the first affordable full-frame DSLR. Three and a half years later,the Mark II almost doubled the resolution from 12 to 21 Megapixels and became the first DSLR toreally embrace the potential of video recording, a feature which saw it adopted by mostindependent film makers, many TV productions and even larger studios wanting cheapB-cameras. Now three and a half years on from the Mark II in March 2012, we have the Mark III,arguably one of the most highly-anticipated DSLRs for years.The headline specifications are a new 22.3 Megapixel full-frame sensor with 100-25600 ISOsensitivity (expandable to 102,400 ISO), 1080p video at 24, 25 or 30fps and 720p at 50 or 60fps,a 61-point AF system (with 41 cross-type sensors), 6fps continuous shooting, a viewfinder with100% coverage, 3.2in screen with 1040k resolution, 63-zone iCFL metering, three, five or sevenframe bracketing, a new three-frame HDR mode, microphone and headphone jacks and twinmemory card slots, one for Compact Flash, the other for SD; the control layout has also beenadjusted and the build slightly improved. So while the resolution and video specs remain similar toits predecessor, the continuous shooting speed, AF system, viewfinder, screen and build are allimproved, and again theres the bonus of twin card slots.As is often the case, many of the enhancements have filtered down from other models. The61-point AF system, headphone jack and 3.2in screen are inherited from the flagship EOS 1D X,while the metering along with much of the control layout and build come from the EOS 7D;meanwhile the 100% viewfinder is borrowed from both models. Indeed at first glance the 5DMark III could be described as the love-child of the 5D Mark II and 7D with some parental inputfrom the 1D X.To be fair, this is what a lot of people wanted: the speed, AF, ergonomics, viewfinder coverageand increased toughness of the 7D but with a full-frame sensor. The 5D Mark IIIs continuousshooting speed may not quite match the 7D, but 6fps is noticeably quicker than the 3.9fps of theMark II, while the 61-point AF system far surpasses the 9 and 19-point systems of the Mark IIand 7D respectively. Its also nice to see Canon sufficiently influenced by Nikon to equip anon-pro body with twin memory card slots. In my full review Ill delve into the new features andtest-out the performance in practice, comparing it closely with its predecessor, the 5D Mark II,and its arch-rival, the Nikon D800. So if youre thinking of buying a new full-frame DSLR, youvecome to the right place!(Many thanks to Queenstown Cameras in New Zealand for the loan of a 5D Mark III body for myinitial tests, and Canon New Zealand for their continued support.)
Canon EOS 5D Mark III design and controlsViewed from the front, the EOS 5D Mark III looks pretty similar to its predecessor, apart from aslightly different shaped head and the sensible relocation of the depth-of-field preview button tothe grip side of the lens mount. Measuring 152x116x76mm its virtually the same width and depthas the Mark II, and only 2.5mm taller. At 950g for the body with battery, its only a little heavierthan the 900g weight of the 5D Mark II.Measuring 145x122x81mm, the Nikon D800 is 7mm narrower from the front, but 5mm taller and5mm thicker, and a little heavier at 1000g including battery. Handle both bodies in person thoughand its fair to say their size and weight are roughly the same. Once a lens is mounted itll have amuch greater influence on the overall size and weight.Canon describes the 5D Mark III as being tougher and better weather-proofed than the Mark II,but not to the same degree as the 1D series. This somewhat wishy-washy statement implies itssimilar in toughness to the 7D, so while you shouldnt expect water-proofing, it is at least animprovement over the Mark II which proved surprisingly vulnerable at times.But pick up the Mark III and its improved build and ergonomics over its predecessor becomeimmediately apparent. It shares the EOS 7Ds solidity, lending it an air of greater confidence. Thesculpted grip and more pronounced bulge on the rear for your thumb also provide a morecomfortable and secure hold, while the rubber coating feels stickier - in a good way. Ergonomicsare very much a personal thing, but in my view the Mark III represents a significant improvementover its predecessor in this regard; indeed it makes the Mark II feel quite basic in comparison.In terms of build, Id say its equivalent to the Nikon D800, and while I really like the hooked innerarea of the Nikon DSLR grips for your fingertips, I personally felt the Mark III felt better in myhands overall due mostly to its more pronounced thumb rest. Again its a personal choice, but itsgreat to see Canon really taking build and ergonomics as seriously as Nikon on non-pro models.
Like its predecessors theres still no built-in flash, and this continues to be an aspect whichdifferentiates Canon and Nikons budget full-framers. The D800 does have a built-in popup flashwhich recharges quickly and is useful as a fill-in or controller, but the Mark III requires a separateSpeedlite or transmitter. Canon would argue having a popup flash would compromise the buildquality of the head and that typical 5D owners would demand something more powerful than apopup model anyway, but I still find a built-in flash very useful and its absence remains adisappointment on the Mark III.The Mark III doesnt have any built-in wireless capabilities either, although to be fair neither doesthe Nikon D800. So if you were holding out for built-in GPS and or Wifi, youll be disappointed.Both companies cite metal bodies along with global regulations over wireless channels aspreventing them from integrating GPS or Wifi into bodies like the Mark III and D800, but it remainsdisappointing when (admittedly plastic) smartphones feature both. As it stands, GPS and Wificapabilities are provided by optional accessories on both the Mark III and D800. For Wifi on theMark III, youll need the WFT-E7A (costing a not inconsiderable $849 USD) while for GPS youllneed the GP-E2. The Mark III alternatively supports much cheaper Eye-Fi SD cards, althoughCanon wont guarantee their level of performance.Moving onto power, the Mark III is powered by the same LP-E6 Lithium Ion pack as itspredecessor, but Canon claims longer life of up to 950 shots under CIPA conditions compared to850; clearly the new sensor and image processor are lower power consumers than theirpredecessors. For the record, the Nikon D800s EN-EL15 battery should be good for up to 900shots per charge.The battery pack may be the same as the Mark II, but the Mark III demands a new optionalbattery grip: the BG-E11 can accommodate a pair of LP-E6 packs, six AAs or the optional ACadapter kit. It also duplicates a selection of controls for the portrait orientation, including the newmulti-function button, more of which in a moment.While the Mark III resembles the Mark II from the front, there are a number of differences on thetop and a significant redesign on the rear. But first Id like to mention the small, but consideraterelocation of the depth-of-field preview button to the grip side of the lens mount, which means youcan now press it with your third finger, while your index finger remains on the shutter release.On the top youll notice the mode dial is lacking the Creative Auto mode of the Mark II but nowfeatures an enhanced Auto+ option along with a very welcome locking button in the middle. Likethe EOS 7D, the chunky power switch is now found around the mode dial, another small butwelcome improvement.Theres still a detailed LCD information panel on the upper right side flanked by the same buttonsas before, but theres now a new customisable M-Fn button by the shutter release. This workssimilarly to the M-Fn button on the 7D and by default is used on the Mark III to switch between
the various AF modes, more of which in the focusing section later.The upper information screen is packed with details including the aperture, shutter speed, ISO,white balance, AF mode, quality settings for each card, shots remaining, drive mode andexposure compensation scale between +/-3EV (although you can select +/-5EV via the mainscreen on the rear). In a first for a Canon DSLR of this class, the shots remaining arenttruncated to 999, but a maximum of 1999. The Nikon D800 also features a detailed upper LCDscreen, but strangely you still cant see ISO and shots remaining at the same time. To be fairthough the D800s top screen also has to accommodate flash settings for its popup unit, and stillshows the shots remaining even when powered-off - a classy touch Nikon owners have enjoyedfrom film SLR days.A quick note on the shutter release: its the usual sprung soft-touch (ie, no click) release asfound on previous 5D generations, but it feels a lot more sensitive. It requires a much lighterpressure to trigger the shutter than before, which can catch you out if youre used to earlierCanon DSLRs - indeed for your first few hours with the Mark III, youll almost certainly bemistakenly taking pictures when you only meant to half-press the shutter. But before long youget used to the required pressure and what started as a surprise becomes a non-issue.Most of the Mark IIIs exterior changes take place on the rear, where its heavily influenced bythe EOS 7D. So along with the new chunky power switch in the upper left corner, the Mark IIIgains the 7Ds useful Live View / Movie switch and button to the right of the viewfinder window. Italso gets a new Q button near the joystick, a new Rate button to score images (from one to fivestars), and a new magnify button which works in conjunction with the wheel to zoom in and out;the labelling is also now on the buttons rather than under them. If youre used to earlier CanonDSLRs, you may find the change in magnification control a little unsettling at first as your thumbswill naturally head to the top right corner controls. But before long, the relocation feels natural andkeeps the AF area and AE lock buttons as clean single-purpose controls.You cant tell from the photos, but the Mark III also inherits the neat touch-sensitive control of the1D X which allows silent adjustments in the movie mode. Once enabled, you can tap up, down,left or right on the inside edge of the rear wheel to make adjustments, and Ill discuss this ingreater detail in the movie mode section.In terms of connectivity, the Mark III shares the same ports as its predecessor (PC Sync, MiniHDMI, USB-2, Video, E3-remote and stereo microphone), but adds a new headphone jack formonitoring audio when filming movies - a very welcome addition, see later. Note Nikons D800also sports microphone and headphone jacks, but its USB port exploits the speed of USB-3 andits HDMI port can deliver a clean signal to external recorders.
In another welcome move, Canon has equipped the Mark III with twin memory card slots, one forCompact Flash as before, and a second for SD cards, bringing it in line with the D800, and likethat model you can configure the slots to record different image formats simultaneously ifdesired. The Mark III will exploit the speed of UDMA-7 CF cards, but disappointingly it wontexploit the speed of UHS-1 SD cards. Canon is quick to point out itll still work with UHS-1 cardsand of course a compatible card reader will be able to copy images from it quicker onto yourcomputer, but it still feels like a strange omission on a new camera of its class. Revealingly theNikon D800 supports the extra speed of both UDMA CF and UHS-1 SD cards. Ill let you know ifit makes any difference in my continuous shooting section later in the review. Even if the Mark IIIwont exploit the fastest SD cards though, its still nice to have support for the format as SDcards are typically cheaper than CF at the same capacity - it also gives the Mark III a moreaffordable Wifi option in the form of Eye-Fi SD cards.Canon EOS 5D Mark III viewfinderThe EOS 5D Mark III receives an important upgrade to its viewfinder, which now enjoys full100% coverage compared to 98% on the Mark II, and usefully offers similar on-demand LCDguides and AF-point indicators as the 7D. Thank goodness the removable focusing screens arenow finally put to rest.Hold both the Mark II and Mark III to your eye and youll notice the view from the latter is a littlelarger, but more importantly, more accurate thanks to its 100% coverage. Now theres nosurprises when youre framing with the viewfinder on the Mark III as what you see really is whatyoull get. Its also nice to see the complete imaging circle from lenses like the EF 8-15mmFisheye Zoom through the viewfinder, when previously it was cropped a little at the top andbottom. Of course the final image always had 100% coverage, but its nice to finally confirm itthrough the viewfinder too.In this respect, the Mark III is identical to the Nikon D800, and switching between both bodiesreveals they share essentially the same viewfinder coverage and magnification - in short, big,bright, beautiful and a joy to compose with.The 5D Mark III also becomes Canons third DSLR, after the 7D and 1D X, to feature on-demand
LCD graphics in the viewfinder. These replace the interchangeable focusing screens of earliermodels and I much prefer this approach as the options are much richer and more dynamic, notto mention eliminating the need for an optional and fiddly accessory; you can also simply turnthem off for a completely clean view. To be fair, Nikon has implemented on-demand LCDviewfinder graphics for many years now, but its still nice to see Canon gradually deploying themacross more models.The 5D Mark III can switch an alignment grid on or off, along with displaying any number of its 61AF points with outlines indicating their coverage in certain modes or with certain lenses.Meanwhile a faint dotted circle indicates the spot-metering area. If the VF electronic level optionis enabled, the AF markers can also act as a dual-axis levelling gauge.The D800s viewfinder graphics are superficially similar, again with an optional grid and littlerectangles indicating each of the 51 AF points along with outlines for their coverage on the frame.Where the D800s viewfinder graphics differ though are lines marking the optional crop modes(such as 5:4 and DX format), and a pair of scales along the bottom and right side which providevirtual horizon facilities.Running along the bottom of both viewfinders is a wealth of information including the aperture,shutter, ISO and remaining shots at all times, along with an exposure compensation scale andfocus indicator. The Nikon D800 also displays the metering mode, while the Mark III showsbattery life.One final point, the D800, like earlier high-end Nikon DSLRs, features a small lever by theviewfinder which closes a built-in blind to prevent stray light from entering, whereas the Canonrequires you to clip a cover over. Its a classy touch on the D800.Canon EOS 5D Mark III screenThe EOS 5D Mark III enjoys an upgraded screen inherited from the EOS 1D X. Its bigger thanthe Mark II at 3.2 vs 3in, more detailed with 1040k vs 920k dots, and perhaps most importantly ofall, wider with a 3:2 shape vs 4:3.
These numbers may not sound significantly different from the Mark II, but dont be fooled. TheMark IIIs 3:2 shaped screen means images now fill it as oppose to being displayed (or framed inLive View) with a thick black bar below them. This means the displayed image is larger thanbefore and also exploits all of the available pixels for a more detailed image. The benefit of awider shape was clear on the 3in 3:2 screens of models like the T3i / 600D, but its even betterhere at 3.2in.16:9 video is still shown with letterboxed bars above and below, but again now occupies a largerpercentage of the screen than before for a bigger and more detailed view, which is not only niceto look at but easier to focus.Meanwhile, Nikons D800 also enjoys a new 3.2in screen, but like all Nikon DSLRs to date itremains 4:3 in shape and also has the same 920k pixels as its predecessor. As such images inthe native 3:2 FX or DX formats are displayed with a thick black bar below them in playback andlive view. This means they measure 3in on their diagonal as oppose to 3.2in on the Mark III, andalso measure 640x426 pixels as oppose to 720x480 pixels. These numbers may seem minor,but believe me when both cameras are side by side, the displayed images from the Mark III are alittle larger and more detailed, and it certainly allowed me to confirm Live View or Movie focusmore easily without magnification.Overall the larger, wider and more detailed screen of the Mark III is a really nice upgrade - not tomention superior to that on the D800 - but I cant be the only one whos disappointed not to findthe articulated mounting of the T3i / 600D and 60D here. I know theres subsequentcompromises in ultimate toughness, but I know videographers, not to mention Live Viewshooters would greatly value the facility. I assume this will be one of the differences between theMark III and the proposed video concept DSLR teased in 2011.Canon EOS 5D Mark III Live ViewThe EOS 5D Mark III shares similar Live View facilities to the EOS 7D, and as such represents asignificant upgrade over the Mark II in operation.
Unlike the Mark II which featured a button to the left of its viewfinder to enter Live View, the MarkIII now features a small dial to the right with a Start / Stop button in the middle. With the dialpointing upwards at the Live View icon, just press the Start / Stop button to enter Live View andagain to exit. And unlike the older model, there’s no need to enable Live View first from a menu –it’s already enabled by default.Like other recent models, the Mark III also lets you autofocus in Live View by simplyhalf-pressing the shutter release. This is much more intuitive than pressing the AF-ON button onthe back, although you can still do this if you prefer. These changes of enabling Live View bydefault, providing an obvious control for entering and exiting the mode, and auto-focusing with theshutter release may be simple modifications, but they greatly improve the overall userexperience.The small dial’s second position switches the Mark III straight into its Movie Mode, after whichthe Start / Stop button begins and ends filming. With the Mark III set to Movie Mode, youll alsonotice some changes to the first set of menus to include movie-related options. So if you werewondering where the video quality settings were, you’ll need to enter Movie Mode first. Again thisis much more intuitive than having pages of often confusing options for both Live View andMovies as found on the EOS 5D Mark II. A big improvement all round.Once Live View is active, the presentation and options are essentially the same as the EOS 7DI,with a few minor changes. Live View on the Mark III offers 100% coverage and exploits the fullresolution of the screen, with a smooth refresh. The effect of different apertures can bepreviewed by pressing the depth-of-field preview button. The camera will temporarily increasethe screen brightness to maintain a consistent image; this may result in greater on-screen noise,but it won’t appear in the final image.Pressing the Info button cycles between a clean view, one with shooting information runningbeneath the frame and a third view which superimposes additional information over the image. IfExposure simulation is enabled in the Live View menu, a Live Histogram is added to the frame,which looks very detailed thanks to the display resolution.
An additional page view super-imposes a small dual-axis levelling gauge in the middle of thescreen. The gauge is also available outside of Live View, again by pressing the Info button – seeMenus section below. Note the D800 also offers a dual-axis levelling gauge in Live View.There’s also the option to superimpose one of three alignment grids on-screen, although theseare still enabled from the Live View menu, when it would surely be quicker and more intuitive tohave them appear while pressing the Info button. The Nikon D800 toggles its grid in Live Viewusing the Info button which is much easier, and hallelujah, it finally breaks Nikons tradition of notincluding a live histogram on a non-pro body - in short, a live histogram is available on the D800.Like the Mark II before it, the Mark III offers the choice of three AF modes in Live View, althoughthey’ve had a minor reshuffle: the default option is now Live Mode which employs a silent anduninterrupted contrast-based system. The second option sticks with contrast-based focusing,but adds face detection. Finally, the Quick Mode flips the mirror down to take a reading from thetraditional 61-point phase-change AF system. Once again Im pleased to report an intuitivehalf-press of the shutter release can be used to trigger the autofocus in any mode, althoughpressing the AF-ON button on the rear has the same effect if preferred.With the Mark III set to Live mode, you’ll see a single large white frame which can be movedaround the screen using the joystick. Half-press the shutter release and the Mark III will focus onwhatever’s in the frame. At best this will take just under two seconds before the frame turnsgreen with a double-beep to confirm, but with trickier subjects the process can take closer tofour seconds. There isn’t any interruption to the display though, nor the sound of the mirrorflipping.The Live mode with face detection (indicated by a smiley icon) uses the same contrast-basedsystem as normal Live Mode, but if it recognises a human face, it’ll frame it with a box and focuson that when you half-press the shutter release; if there’s more than one face in the scene, youcan use the joystick to select the one to focus on. As you might expect, the Mark III has noproblem tracking faces around the frame, but the actual focusing process itself can still be slow,and if the face isnt already sufficiently sharp to start with, the system wont even recognise it. Ifyou’re lucky, the camera will lock on and confirm within a couple of seconds, but if it ends upbeing longer, it’s easier to exit Live View and frame portraits through the viewfinder instead.
In Quick mode youll see a graphical representation of the active AF points on-screen.Half-press the shutter release and the mirror briefly flips down to take a reading, indicates theactive AF points in green with a double beep if sounds are enabled, then flips back up again tocontinue the view. There’s obviously some noise and an interruption to the image, but it remainsthe quickest of the three AF modes in Live View – indeed, if the AF system locks onto the subjectwithout a problem, the entire process can take less than a second.At any time during the Quick or Live AF modes, you can press the new magnify button to show a5x view, then a 10x view. The Mark III will zoom-in on wherever the white frame is positioned onscreen, which can be moved before or during using the joystick. The Mark III also inherits the silent shooting options of its predecessor. Mode 1, the default, isquieter than normal shooting and also supports continuous shooting at around 6fps, althoughyou’ll be shooting blind with both the screen and viewfinder blanking out while you keep theshutter release pressed.Mode 2 is quieter still by employing an electronic first curtain shutter to actually take the picture,but delaying the noisier re-cocking of the physical shutter so long as you keep the shutterrelease held. The idea is to press the shutter release button to take the photo (with a very faintclick), but keep it held until you’re out of ear shot, after which you can let go, allowing the Mark IIIto audibly re-cock the physical shutter. You may only be able to take one photo with thistechnique, but it could be useful in certain situations.Note there’s also an option to disable Silent Shooting altogether, which sounds like the camera’staken two shots; Canon only recommends using this to avoid exposure issues with extensiontubes or Tilt and Shift lenses.Finally, Live View on the Mark IIIis also available at a higher resolution when the camera’sconnected to an HDTV using the HDMI port, or connected to a PC or Mac and using the suppliedEOS Utility. Note, the image seen on the live HDMI output will reduce in resolution if you startfilming video in the HD mode, although to a lesser extent than the Mark II and again it wont affectthe quality of the recording.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III shooting information and menusLike the Mark II before it, the Mark III can show a wealth of shooting information on its maincolour monitor. To view any shooting information, you’ll need to press the Info button, whichcycles through up to three pages of details before then switching the screen back off again;there’s no eye sensors below the viewfinder to automatically switch the screen off. Like the 7Dyou can view shooting settings, camera settings or an electronic two-axis levelling gauge, asseen below.The main Shooting Settings page shows all the really important stuff like the aperture, shutter,sensitivity, exposure compensation, and works with Canon’s Quick menu system which allowsyou to highlight and adjust many of the settings on-screen. This works similarly to the Mark II,although Canon’s managed to squeeze in a couple more options here.In the bottom left corner of the screen you’ll see a letter Q, representing the Quick Controlsystem, although unlike its predecessor, you now activate it by pressing the new Q button. Youcan then move a blue / green highlighter over the desired setting using the joystick and theneither turn the thumb wheel or finger dial to directly adjust it, or press the SET button to view adedicated menu for that item. These dedicated menus also appear when you press the Metering/ WB, AF / Drive or ISO / flash compensation buttons alongside the upper screen.It’s similar in practice to other on-screen adjustment systems like those pioneered on Olympusand Sony DSLRs, and offers quick access to numerous settings. Unfortunately Canon’s stillresisted the temptation to rotate the characters to remain upright when shooting in the portraitorientation though.Pressing the Menu button enters the main menu system which has been revamped with adedicated tab housing five pages just for AF alone - see below for details. The page transitionshave also been enhanced. As before you can exclusively use the joystick for navigation, or use
the finger dial to switch pages and the thumb wheel to scroll through the options on each.In playback mode, pressing the Info button cycles between a clean image, one overlaid with alittle shooting information, then a thumbnail with extended shooting information and a brightnesshistogram, and finally a thumbnail with less shooting information, but both brightness and RGBhistograms. The page with just the brightness histogram and extended shooting information canbe switched to display RGB histograms instead if preferred. New to the Mark III is the ability togive an image a star rating from one to five using the new RATE button.You can of course magnify the image for a closer look, although as explained above, this is nowdone using the new magnify button in conjunction with the finger dial - this change of control willhave owners of earlier Canon DSLRs scratching their heads for a while. Its also possible todevelop RAW files in-camera with a broad selection of parameters to adjust.Canon EOS 5D Mark III AutofocusIn arguably the biggest upgrade over its predecessor, the Mark III inherits the same 61-point AFsystem as the EOS 1D X - a significant boost over the earlier 9-point system. And like the 1D X,its not just about playing a numbers game on total points either, as a considerable 41 of them arecross-type sensors, while five boast dual cross-points.It also represents an important milestone for Canon which has traditionally been out-numberedby Nikon on AF specifications in most DSLR categories. The D800 also inherits the AF systemof a higher-end full-frame pro body, in this case the D4, but in terms of numbers these feature 51points, 15 of which are cross-type sensors. Its a nice numerical win for Canon, but as alwaysthese are just the specifications and its important to put them through their paces.The Mark IIIs AF system is highly configurable across no fewer than five new dedicated menupages; indeed Canon has produced a 47 page guide (for the 1D X which also applies to the MarkIII) just to explain all the features. This guide and the Mark III manual also explain which lensescan exploit which AF points in the system, as the most sensitive dual-cross type sensors in themiddle only work with lenses at f2.8 or faster, while others are limited to f4 or faster. But even inthe worse-case scenario with ageing, slow or obscure lenses youll still have 33 AF points / 15cross-type sensors to work with.
The AF system is broken down into three main aspects: first is the actual AF mode, from whichyou have the usual One Shot, AI Focus and AI Servo options, second is the choice of the AFpoint or grouping, and third is an expanded set of options to describe the motion and thereforethe tracking.The choice of AF point will be familiar to anyone whos used the EOS 7D. You can choose fromSingle Point or Single Point Spot (the latter being a smaller area), AF Point Expansion (which alsotakes four points above, below, left and right into consideration), AF Point Expansion (which alsotakes eight points around the manually selected area into account), Zone AF (which divides thefull area into nine smaller groups of AF points), and finally 61-point Automatic Selection. To switchbetween these modes, simply press the AF area button on the back of the camera, then use theM-Fn button by the shutter release to cycle through them. In the case of the manual pointselection you can either use the rear joystick or a combination of the finger dial and thumb wheelto make your choice.So far so similar to whats come before, but what makes the Mark III and 1D X stand out is thethird set of options which let you describe the motion of the subject for more successful tracking.Canon offers three parameters to describe the motion: Tracking Sensitivity, Acceleration /Deceleration Tracking and AF point Auto Switching. While some of these have been seen inCustom functions of on earlier models and can still be manually tweaked, Canon now providessix Case presets for specific styles of sports and with the Summer Olympics surely in mind,uses immediately recognisable icons to identify each. Its almost like the graphics of TVcoverage.
Case 1 is a general-purpose tracking option for predictable motion - think of it as the standardoption. Case 2 attempts to track the subject while ignoring obstacles and is described as beingideal for tennis, butterfly swimmers and skiers. Case 3 instantly focuses on subjects suddenlyappearing over AF points and could be useful for the start of bike races or during alpine skiing,skateboarding or freestyle events where a subject could quickly move into the frame. Case 4 isfor subjects which accelerate or decelerate quickly, such as football, basketball or motor sports.Case 5 is designed for erratic motion moving quickly in any direction like figure skaters, whileCase 6 covers subjects which change speed and move erratically, like rhythm gymnastics.Im no sports photographer so Ill leave detailed analysis of the different cases to those who do itfor a living. I do hope to include some comments from some pro sports photographers in thenear future though. I did however explore the different AF point and zoning options for shooting avariety of subjects in motion including mountain biking, jet-boating, cars and kids running around.Like the 7D before it, I enjoyed a high degree of success with the various expansion optionswhich concentrate on a single manually-selected AF point, but also consider those immediatelyaround it providing a bit of breathing space. These proved very useful for tracking kids runningaround the frame. I also found the spot AF useful for precisely targeting a subject, such as apersons eye when theyre wearing a hat or helmet with a wide brim. Meanwhile the zone AF wasa handy way of just leaving the camera to work out everything, but giving it the guidance that thesubject was in a specific section of the frame.I also appreciated the option for Orientation Linked AF Points, where the point, area or zonecould automatically adjust depending on portrait or landscape shooting. So if youd preset thearea to the top left in the landscape orientation, it could automatically reposition itself to the top leftwhen turned to portrait. This sounds a bit obscure when written-down, but in practice I used itfrequently.In each situation I put it into the Mark III returned a high ratio of hits and felt responsive and veryconfident. It really feels a world-apart from its predecessor. As for its big rival, the D800, it tooperformed very well in my AF tests and also enjoys the benefit of supporting AF on lenses withapertures between f5.6 and f8, albeit with a reduced number of points. Once both cameras havebeen literally out in the field for some time with pro sports photographers, Ill come back withfurther reports and analysis.
Just before wrapping-up this section Ill mention a useful update to the AF Micro-Adjustmentoptions, which now let you enter different values for both ends of a zoom range rather than justone.Canon EOS 5D Mark III metering and exposuresThe EOS 5D Mark III inherits the 63-zone iCFL metering system of the EOS 7D and the latestlower-end models. It may not come anywhere near the sophistication of the 100,000 pixelmetering sensor of the EOS 1D X, but it remains an improvement over the ageing 35-zone TTLmetering of the Mark II. The Mark III also shares the Partial, Centre-weighted and Spot meteringoptions of the Mark II, but the Partial and Spot sizes have reduced from 8 to 6.2% and 3.5 to1.5% respectively.Shutter speeds remain between 1/8000 and 30 seconds with a Bulb option and a fastestflash-sync speed of 1/200, and the shutter block is still rated to 150,000 actuations; note Canonclaims the block has been improved, but as I recall, the Mark II was rated to 150k too. NoteNikons D800 boasts a flash sync speed of 1/250 and a shutter block rated to 200,000 shots.However in a surprise and very welcome move, Canon has finally equipped a non-1D seriescamera with decent exposure bracketing, so its out with the (frankly insulting) three-frameoptions of earlier models and in with three, five and seven frame exposure bracketing. This maystill not match the nine-frame bracketing of the D800, but its still an important upgrade which willhave HDR fanatics rejoicing. And speaking of HDR, theres also a new HDR mode whichcaptures and combines three frames (at 1, 2 or 3EV increments) using a choice of fivetone-mapped presets, while also considerately recording each frame separately in case youprefer to do your own processing later. Heres an example comparing a single exposure shotagainst a 3EV HDR using the Natural tone-mapping.
Canon EOS 5D Mark IIIAperture Priority modeCanon EOS 5D Mark IIIHigh Dynamic Range (3EV / Natural tone mapping)2 secs, f8, 100 ISO1.3, 1/6 and 10 secs, f8, 100 ISOThe Mark III also inherits the multiple exposure capabilities first seen on the 1D X, allowing it tocombine up to nine separate frames into one, using a choice of four compositing options:Additive, Average, Bright and Dark. Im really pleased to find Canon finally offering deepbracketing and multiple exposure capabilities on this line. What the Mark III doesnt have thoughis any kind of built-in time-lapse or interval shooting facilities, both of which are built-into theD800.In terms of shooting modes, the Mark III has the same PASM, Bulb and three Custom options asbefore, but the frankly out of place Creative Auto mode has now been removed and the GreenSquare Auto now upgraded to Auto+. The Auto+ mode may not feature the same degree ofscene detection as the EOS 1D X due to its less sophisticated metering system, but its still astep-up over the 5D Mark II. Incidentally the Nikon D800 remains purer with just PASM modesand no dedicated fully Auto option; of course Program is essentially Auto, but its interesting tosee the different approaches of Canon and Nikon in this regard.
Like all EOS DSLRs, the 5D Mark III is also supplied with the free EOS Utility, which supports fullremote control of the camera using a PC or Mac, although Im disappointed not to find it nativelyrunning on iOS or Android devices yet. To be fair you could fit the Wifi transmitter and remote-control the camera via a web interface on any device with a browser (including tablets andsmartphones), but Id still prefer a native application, ideally with a direct connection.The EOS Utility looks much the same as before, but now lets you set HDR options remotely andrefers to broader Lens Aberration Corrections as oppose to just Peripheral IlluminationCorrection. In Live View Shooting you can also superimpose virtual levelling graphics in two axesalong with loading an optional overlay image for lining-up the composition.Canon EOS 5D Mark III Movie ModeNikons D90 may have been the first DSLR to offer video recording, but it was the EOS 5D MarkII which made it truly useful to professionals. Its fair to say the enormous popularity of the MarkII for video came as a surprise to Canon, but the company really took the ball and ran with it,refining the features in subsequent models and updating the original with enhancements.
Support me byshopping belowAs such itd be fair to expect some big improvements on the Mark III for video, but the headlinespecs remain very similar to what weve had before. So you still get 1080p at 24, 25 or 30fps, butsadly no 50 or 60fps options at this resolution. Offering some consolation is the final addition of720p at 50 or 60fps, but given this has been offered by entry-level Rebels for some years,forgive me if Im not that excited. I realise theres codec and data issues, but when Sony andPanasonic are widely deploying 1080p at 50 and 60fps, its a shame not to see it on the 5D MarkIII. Why do I want it? For slow motion. Film at 60fps and you get a two or 2.5 times speedreduction in 30 or 24fps projects without losing smooth motion. The Mark III will let you film at 50or 60fps, but only by reducing the resolution to 720p.But beyond the frame rates, there are some important enhancements. First is the choice ofintra-frame (ALL-i) or inter-frame (IPB) compression formats inherited from the 1D X, the formercapturing higher quality and more easily editable footage, albeit at a hungrier data rate. The MarkIII also inherits the 1D Xs SMTPE timecode embedding, allowing easier syncing in postproduction.Like the 1D X, the Mark III can also record clips one second shy of half an hour thanks to fileswhich seamlessly run into each other - a big boost over the 12 minutes or so of the Mark II andmaking it a lot more useful for interviews. In my tests the IPB 1080p footage consumed about240MB per minute and ALL-i 1080p footage about 650MB per minute.As mentioned earlier, another important addition is a headphone jack, which allows you tomonitor audio. You can also set the audio levels manually before or during filming, with live stereo
meters as a guide.What really makes this useful though is the inclusion of silent controls, inherited from the 1D X.Previously to adjust the aperture, shutter or ISO while filming, youd need to spin one of thecontrol dials, which resulted in audible clicks. While it is possible adjust these settings along withaudio levels on the Mark III using the dials, you can now alternatively enable Silent Control. Atfirst this doesnt appear to do anything as the silent control option only becomes live once youstart filming.Start rolling and after cycling the Q button youll see the usual shutter, aperture, ISO and audiolevel values. The big difference now though is the inside circle of the rear wheel becomes touch-sensitive. Tapping up and down allows you to highlight the shutter, aperture, ISO or audio values,after which tapping left and right will change the setting.In use this can work really well. Tap too hard and you will of course hear the noise, but small andgentle taps will work just as well without making a sound. Unfortunately the electronic aperturecontrol in most EF lenses still makes a loud chunk sound when changing, which lessens theusefulness of silent control for that particular setting, but for the shutter, ISO and audio levels itreally is silent and works a treat - its a valuable enhancement to the Mark III.What you still dont get though is a clean output over HDMI to feed an external recorder. Duringcomposition you always have the white focusing frame as a minimum, and once recording,theres the ever-present red circle in the upper right corner - and in both instances, the imageitself is framed with thick black borders, so the active area actually measures 1620x910 pixels.To be fair, the new intra-frame ALL-i compression option does reduce the need or desire for anexternal recorder, but some film makers would still have preferred the flexibility of a clean HDMIoutput either way. As for those using external monitors, the active image area of 1620x910 pixelsover HDMI when recording will at least deliver a more detailed image than the earlier Mark II,making focus-pulling easier.At this point I should note the Nikon D800 does offer a clean HDMI output which can feed anexternal recorder. So while the D800 misses out on the low compression intra-frame (ALL-i)option of the Mark III, you could record the HDMI output with an external device at a higher bitrate if desired. The D800 also has its own version of silent movie control too with a pair ofbuttons between the lens mount and grip which can be operated by your middle and third fingersto adjust the aperture if desired. In a somewhat perverse decision though you can only usethese buttons to control the aperture before you start recording, so if youd like to use them whilefilming, youll need to use an external recorder.Now back to the Mark III. In a rather sad decision, Canons chosen not to implement any kind ofmovie crop mode to deliver a magnified image. This is a real shame since the Mark IIIs sensorresolution was specifically chosen because it could squeeze exactly three 1920 pixel wide
frames side-by-side, so it could have allowed a 1:1 crop with an effective magnification of 3x for1080p video without loss of resolution. This would have been fantastic for filming small or distantsubjects - I certainly enjoyed using the EOS T3i / 600Ds movie crop mode for filming the Moon,but a similar option is not available here. Note the D800 may be lacking the 1:1 crop option of theD4, but it does offer a DX (1.5x) crop for video, so in that respect enjoys an advantage over theMark III. I should however note that the D800s down-sampling / pixel-binning for video results ina minor crop of the filed-of-view when filming in the full-frame format, whereas the Mark III doesnot. When filming with the Mark III, youll enjoy exactly the same horizontal coverage as for stillphotos.If youre at the consumer-end of the movie-making world, you wont be enjoying continuousauto-focusing while filming with the Mark III either. This remains an elusive goal for a traditionalDSLR. Nikon may have its Full time AF mode, but its a solution youll want to disableimmediately. As such the 5D Mark III and D800 essentially remain manual focus only for videoonce you start rolling. Both can perform a single refocus while filming, but itll take a couple ofseconds, so isnt ideal unless you can edit it out later. If you want continuous AF while filming,you should consider a mirrorless CSC or one of Sonys SLT models.The earlier Mark II also suffered from a number of undesirable video artefacts including moireand rolling shutter / jello effects. Canon claims to have reduced both on the Mark III along withlowering the noise levels, so now lets put all the theory into practice and take a look at somevideo comparisons.Canon EOS 5D Mark III vs Mark II Movie samplesIn my first test I took the EOS 5D Mark III and the earlier 5D Mark II into a dim bar environmentand filmed the same slow panning sequence three times each, at 3200, 6400 and 12800 ISO.Each camera was fitted with the same EF 50mm f1.2L lens, focused on the same point. Themovie mode was set to 1080/30p with the Mark III set to IPB compression. The shutter speed onboth cameras was manually set to 1/30 and the aperture to f5.6, f8 and f11 depending on the ISOvalue. The samples are provided below, but Id encourage you to view at full-screen, or betterstill download the original samples via Vimeo for your own analysis. Please dont re-upload themto another site without permission though. I used VLC player under Windows to analyse the clips.Canon EOS 5D Mark III sample movie: 1080/30p, 1/30, f5.6, 3200 ISODownload the original file (Registered members of Vimeo only)
In the first example you can compare the Mark III against the Mark II at 3200 ISO. The Mark III isvery clean and exhibits virtually no noise to speak of, while the resolved detail is high. The MarkII also looks pretty good, but viewed at 100%, you can clearly see noise textures in thebackground, particularly on the reddish background walls, and theres visible moiré on thewooden window-frame to the brewery behind. A lead already for the Mark III.Canon EOS 5D Mark II sample movie: 1080/30p, 1/30, f5.6, 3200 ISODownload the original file (Registered members of Vimeo only)Canon EOS 5D Mark III sample movie: 1080/30p, 1/30, f8, 6400 ISODownload the original file (Registered members of Vimeo only)In the second example you can compare the Mark III against the Mark II at 6400 ISO. Pixel-peepers may notice a slight reduction in detail, but its minor in this example and impressively theimage remains almost completely noise-free and very clean to look at. In contrast the Mark II isvisibly suffering with quite obvious noise textures which dance around in the dark walledbackground. Theres also moiré on the wooden window-frame. The new model is really taking acomfortable lead now.Canon EOS 5D Mark II sample movie: 1080/30p, 1/30, f8, 6400 ISODownload the original file (Registered members of Vimeo only)
Canon EOS 5D Mark III sample movie: 1080/30p, 1/30, f11, 12800 ISODownload the original file (Registered members of Vimeo only)In the third and final example you can compare the Mark III against the Mark II at 12800 ISO.Here the Mark III is visibly resolving less detail than before, but the image still looks good andagain remains very clean with no real noise artefacts to mention. Theres also still no moire onthat window-frame. The Mark II however looks horrible in this clip, with very distracting noise,which essentially renders the footage unusable. The moiré also remains on the window-frame.Canon EOS 5D Mark II sample movie: 1080/30p, 1/30, f11, 12800 ISODownload the original file (Registered members of Vimeo only)So these clips clearly illustrate the Mark III delivering a much cleaner video image at high ISOs,with slightly more detail and less moiré. A great result for the new model and a significantupgrade over the Mark II. Next its the turn of the Nikon D800.Canon EOS 5D Mark III vs Nikon D800 Movie samplesNow its time to compare the movie quality of the Nikon D800 with the 5D Mark III. I started withan outdoor comparison, filmed from a tripod which pans slowly across a scene with a lot of finedetail. Both cameras were set to 1080/30p (the Canon with IPB compression), with the sensitivityat 100 ISO and identical exposures of 1/60 at f14. The samples are provided below, but Idencourage you to view at full-screen, or better still download the original samples via Vimeo foryour own analysis. Please dont re-upload them to another site without permission though. I usedVLC player under Windows to analyse the clips.Canon EOS 5D Mark III sample movie: 1080/30p, 1/60, f14, 100 ISO
Download the original file (Registered members of Vimeo only)In this example you can compare the Mark III against the D800 at 100 ISO under brightconditions. At first glance, this should represent ideal conditions, but the subject is actually verychallenging as the buildings contain a lot of very fine detail which can cause moiré; this isespecially the case while panning. While the cameras are static, both share a similar degree ofreal life detail, but as I begin to pan, watch the buildings in the lower part of the frame closely. Onthe Mark III they remain essentially free of moiré, but a little is creeping-in now and again on theD800, and when youre looking for it, youll see it almost light-up in certain areas - in particular thelarge hotel near the bay. Once the camera is in motion, the Mark III wins this particularcomparison.Nikon D800 sample movie: 1080/30p, 1/60, f14, 100 ISODownload the original file (Registered members of Vimeo only)Next I took the EOS 5D Mark III and the Nikon D800 into a dim bar environment and filmed aslow panning sequence three times each, at 3200, 6400 and 12800 ISO. The Nikon D800 wasfitted with the Nikkor AF-S 50mm f1.4G lens, but due to minor cropping on the D800 when filming,its not possible to match the coverage with the same lens on the Canon. So I fitted the Mark IIIwith the EF 24-105mm f4L IS USM and adjusted the focal length until the field of view matchedfrom the same position. In each case, the cameras were set to 1080/30p, and the Mark III set toIPB compression. The shutter speed on both cameras was manually set to 1/30 and theaperture to f5.6, f8 and f11 depending on the ISO value. The samples are provided below, but Idencourage you to view at full-screen, or better still download the original samples via Vimeo foryour own analysis. Please dont re-upload them to another site without permission though. I usedVLC player under Windows to analyse the clips.Canon EOS 5D Mark III sample movie: 1080/30p, 1/30, f5.6, 3200 ISODownload the original file (Registered members of Vimeo only)
In the first of my low light examples you can compare the Mark III against the D800 at 3200 ISO.The Mark III is very clean and exhibits virtually no noise to speak of and theres also no moiré tomention. The D800 shares a similar degree of detail, but theres faint noise in the backgroundand also evidence of moiré on the wooden window-frame to the brewery behind. You may alsonotice some flickering around the lights - this isnt surprising since the bar was in a 50Hz regionand I was filming at 30p, but its revealing theres no flickering to mention on the Mark III clip, alsofilmed at 30p. A lead already for the Mark III.Nikon D800 sample movie: 1080/30p, 1/30, f5.6, 3200 ISODownload the original file (Registered members of Vimeo only)Canon EOS 5D Mark III sample movie: 1080/30p, 1/30, f8, 6400 ISODownload the original file (Registered members of Vimeo only)In the second example you can compare the Mark III against the D800 at 6400 ISO. Pixel-peepers may notice a slight reduction in detail on the Mark III compared to 3200 ISO, but itsminor in this example and impressively the image remains almost completely noise-free and veryclean to look at - and again no moiré or flickering to mention. In contrast the D800 is sufferingwith quite obvious noise textures, along with moiré on the wooden window-frame and flickeringon the lights. The Mark III is taking a comfortable lead now.Nikon D800 sample movie: 1080/30p, 1/30, f8, 6400 ISODownload the original file (Registered members of Vimeo only)
Canon EOS 5D Mark III sample movie: 1080/30p, 1/30, f11, 12800 ISODownload the original file (Registered members of Vimeo only)In the third and final example you can compare the Mark III against the D800 at 12800 ISO. Herethe Mark III may be resolving less detail than at 6400 ISO, but the image still looks surprisinglygood and again remains very clean with no real noise artefacts to mention. In addition, theres stillno moiré on that window-frame and despite filming at 30p under 50Hz lighting, theres noflickering to mention. In some contrast though, the D800 looks very noisy in this clip whichessentially renders the footage unusable. The moiré also remains on the window-frame, as doesthe flickering.Nikon D800 sample movie: 1080/30p, 1/30, f11, 12800 ISODownload the original file (Registered members of Vimeo only)The results here are not dissimilar to those in my previous 5D Mark III versus 5D Mark IIcomparison. The D800 is certainly doing a good job to deliver similar results to the Mark II, but at3200 ISO and up, the Mark III simply delivers considerably cleaner results. Meanwhile the D800appears to suffer from moiré like the earlier Mark II, which doesnt seem to present an issue forthe 5D Mark III. And finally its interesting to see the Mark III coping well with mis-matched lightingfrequencies, when the D800 flickered as youd expect.So overall while Nikon has done a good job with the D800s video quality, Canon remains astep-ahead with the 5D Mark III. At low ISOs, the resolution may be similar, but at high ISOs, theCanon easily takes the lead. And in terms of moiré, its visible on most of my D800 samples atlow and high ISOs, whereas its simply not present on any of my Mark III clips. So for videoquality in my tests here, the Mark III beats the D800.Just before wrapping-up this section, heres three more clips filmed with the 5D Mark III.Canon EOS 5D Mark III sample movie: Outdoors, handheld pan and zoom, 100 ISO, 1/30Download the original file (Registered members of Vimeo only)
In this clip, above, Ill demonstrate why video-equipped DSLRs are still not ideal for casualhandheld shooting. Here I pan the camera around by 180 degrees, walk forwards a little, thenattempt to zoom in and out with the 24-105mm lens. The results aint that pretty, with jerky motionparticularly during the zooming process. If you want to film and zoom handheld, then youll bemuch better-off with a mirror-less CSC such as a Sony NEX, M4/3 or Nikon 1, a Sony SLT oreven a point-and-shoot compact or super-zoom. On the upside theres not much evidence of therolling shutter effect, although others have reported its still present under the right - or wrong -conditions.Canon EOS 5D Mark III sample movie: Outdoors, tripod pan, 100 ISO, 1/30, f20Download the original file (Registered members of Vimeo only)The clip above is much more like it, with the Mark III mounted on a tripod for smooth panning,and as mentioned above, theres no issues with visible moire to mention.Canon EOS 5D Mark III sample movie: Indoors, manual focus-pulling, 400 ISO, 1/30, f4Download the original file (Registered members of Vimeo only)My final clip for the movie section demonstrates the shallow depth-of-field thats easily achievedon the Mark III. Here I used nothing more exotic than the 24-105mm zoom, which has amaximum aperture of f4; clearly you can achieve even shallower effects with brighter lenses.Sadly as a traditional DSLR the Mark III still cant offer continuous autofocus while filming, whichmeans youll need to learn the noble film-makers art of focus-pulling. On the upside the largerand wider screen of the Mark III means live images are displayed with more detail than before,allowing you to more easily judge sharp focus. Im no expert at focus-pulling, but this clip proves
it is possible with minimal rehearsals. And while the HDMI output isnt clean, it is higher resolutionthan the rear screen while filming, which means you can connect an external monitor to makefocusing even easier. I still wish the Mark IIIs screen was articulated though.Canon EOS 5D Mark III continuous shootingThe 5D Mark IIIs sensor features 8-channel readout and the much more powerful DIGIC-5+processor behind the scenes, allowing it to pull data-off and crunch it faster than before. So thesomewhat pedestrian 3.9fps continuous shooting speed of the Mark II enjoys an important boostto 6fps on the Mark III, with a buffer thats good for a quoted 18 RAW files or over 6000 JPEGs(when equipped with a UDMA-7 1000x CF card). So while the Mark III may not match the 8fps ofthe 7D, having 6fps upgrades it from entry-level DSLR speed to something which is much moreuseful for action photography.Support me byshopping below
Thats the theory anyway. To put it into practice I performed a series of timings for bursts ofJPEG and RAW files. I also repeated my tests with a CF card, an SD card, and both cardswriting at the same time. The test conditions employed shooting in Shutter Priority mode with aspeed of 1/800 at 400 ISO with Auto Lighting Optimiser disabled and focusing set to manual; Ivediscussed focus tracking for continuous bursts in the AF section earlier.The Mark III claims to exploit the speed of UDMA-7 1000x Compact Flash cards, but wont dothe same for UHS-1 SD cards; you can use UHS-1 SD cards in the Mark III, but they wontperform any quicker than non-UHS models. I didnt have access to a UDMA 7 1000x CompactFlash card, so used the next quickest standard instead, a 16GB Lexar UDMA 6 card, rated at600x; out of interest I also repeated some tests with a 300x card. For SD I used a 16GBSanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-1 card.Starting with my UDMA-6 CF card, I fired-off 183 Large Fine JPEGs in 30.25 seconds,corresponding to a speed of 6.05fps; the camera seemed happy to continue firing at this speedand appeared to flush the buffer in real-time, with the write lamp remaining lit for less than asecond after I let go of the shutter release.I the switched to RAW and fired-off 18 frames in 2.81 seconds, corresponding to a speed of6.4fps; beyond 18 frames, the shooting speed fell to around 3fps. Letting go of the shutterrelease after 18 frames took five seconds to flush the buffer. Switching to a 300x card reducedthe total number of RAW frames to 15 and took eight seconds to finish writing after the burst,although the shooting speed during the burst remained 6.4fps.Now it was time for the UHS-1 SD card. I aimed for a similar burst as before and fire-off 181Large Fine JPEGs in 29.94 seconds, corresponding to a speed of 6.04fps. Once again thecamera seemed happy to keep shooting, although revealingly, the 181 shot burst took eightseconds to completely flush compared to less than one with the UDMA-6 CF card.Moving onto RAW, I fired-off 16 frames with the SD card in 2.52 seconds, corresponding to arate of 6.34fps; this burst took 16 seconds to flush, compared to five seconds for a slightly larger18 frame burst on the UDMA-6 CF card. Revealingly if I kept shooting beyond 16fps, thecontinuous speed fell to around 1fps, compared to around 3fps with the UDMA-6 card.I also tried the Silent continuous shooting option, which worked out at a speed of 3.06fps for
Large Fine JPEGs.The Mark III also allows you to shoot with both cards simultaneously. I tried this first with bothcards recording duplicate images for backup / redundancy purposes. This time I fired-off 141Large Fine JPEGs before the rate slowed a little. The initial burst took 23.63 seconds,corresponding to a speed of 5.96fps and took a subsequent nine seconds to flush; clearly thewrite speed of the SD interface was holding back the CF card.Next-up a burst of RAW, with 15 frames in 2.32 seconds, corresponding to a speed of 6.46fpsbefore slowing to around 1fps, and with 17 seconds to flush the initial burst alone; again the SDinterface slowing the potential speed of the UDMA-6 CF card.I finally tried the option to record RAW files to the CF card and JPEGs to the SD card. I had highhopes for this mode, assuming the faster CF card could do the heavy-lifting of the RAW files,leaving the milder JPEG files to the slower SD interface. But I managed just eight frames in 1.2seconds, corresponding to a speed of 6.66fps, after which the rate fell to 2fps.Maybe it would work better the other way around, so I retested with RAW files being recorded toSD and JPEGs to CF, but this time managed a frame less with seven shots at around the samespeed, after which the rate fell to less than 1fps.The results are pretty clear: the Mark III delivers its best continuous shooting performance whenfitted with a UDMA Compact Flash card, and itll slow down in some respects when fitted witheven the fastest SD cards. Dont blame this on the SD standard though: its because the Mark IIIsadly does not exploit the speed of UHS models.The good news is when fitted with either type of card, the Mark III will deliver - or in the case ofRAW files slightly exceed - the quoted speed of 6fps, making it a viable proposition for actionphotography. Where the card type really makes a real difference is in terms of flushing thebuffer, with the quickest UDMA CF cards clearing it much faster than even the fastest SD cards.In the case of shooting RAW, this quicker flush speed will also see you achieve the maximumquoted number of frames per burst, whereas with SD you could miss out on a couple. I shouldalso note that UDMA-6 (600x) CF cards flushed the buffer quicker than 300x cards, implyingUDMA-7 cards at 1000x may do it even faster still. But the good news for anyone using UDMA-6cards is they wont hold back the maximum RAW burst size - I managed 18 frames, no problem.In short, if you need to clear your buffer quickly, its best to use the fastest CF cards you canafford with the Mark III and to avoid SD. Of course you cant avoid SD if youre shooting with bothcards simultaneously, in which case youll need to accept smaller bursts and leisurely buffer-flushing times. This wont matter to some, but dedicated action shooters who like the idea ofrecording to two cards will want to take note.
I put the Mark IIIs continuous shooting - and tracking autofocus - to the test in a variety ofconditions, including photographing mountain bikes, jetboats, cars and kids running around. Ineach case the camera performed very confidently and really felt a world-apart from the earlierMark II. Sure it doesnt shoot at 8fps, 10fps or even faster speeds, but it is a viable camera foraction photography, making it a much more rounded and versatile proposition than the Mark II -not to mention the D800 in this regard.Canon EOS 5D Mark III: Continuous Shooting with AF at 6fpsSo how does the Nikon D800 actually compare? According to Nikons specs its slower,delivering 4fps for 36 Megapixel FX images, or 5fps for DX or 1.2x crop modes, the DX versionboostable to 6fps with the battery grip (and right batteries). Interestingly like some earlier NikonDSLRs, the manual states the maximum number of frames in any burst is 100, even if theresolution is lowered.Support me byshopping belowI matched the same conditions as the Mark III, setting the D800 to a shutter speed of 1/800,sensitivity of 400 ISO and disabling Active D-Lighting. Like the Mark III, the D800 claims to exploit
the speed of UDMA-7 1000x Compact Flash cards, but unlike the Mark III, it should also exploitthe speed of UHS-1 SD cards. I didnt have access to a UDMA 7 1000x Compact Flash card, soused the next quickest standard instead, a 16GB Lexar UDMA 6 card, rated at 600x while for SDI used a 16GB SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-1 card.I started with the UDMA-6 CF card, which allowed me to capture a burst of exactly 100 LargeFine FX-format shots in 24.53 seconds, corresponding to a speed of 4.03fps; the manual quoted100 shots and indeed the D800 stopped dead at this point, and took a considerable 66 secondsto flush the buffer to the card.I then switched to Lossless-compressed 14-bit RAW and captured 19 FX shots in 4.46 seconds,corresponding to a rate of 4.26fps. This time the camera could continue firing afterwards, but at areduced speed of just under 2fps. Letting go of the shutter at 19 frames took 14 seconds to flushthe buffer.I then decided to put the DX-format to the test which captures 16 Megapixel images from themiddle of the sensor with a 1.5x field-reduction crop - essentially like using a D7000. Sticking withthe UDMA-6 CF card I captured the quoted 100 Large Fine JPEGs in 19.59 seconds beforestopping dead, corresponding to a speed of 5.1fps with a 62 second flush of the buffer. Switchingto losslessy-compressed 14-bit RAW files in the DX format, I fired-off 40 frames in 7.78 seconds,corresponding to a rate of 5.14fps with a flush time of 33 seconds.I then returned to the full FX frame size and switched the CF card for my UHS-1 SD card. Iexpected to capture 100 Large Fine JPEGs at the full speed, but was surprised to find the D800stalling after 42 images in 10.25 seconds, corresponding to a speed of 4.09fps and with a bufferflush time of 44 seconds. Switching to losslessly-compressed 14-bit RAW files I captured 16frames in 3.71 seconds, corresponding to a speed of 4.31fps with a buffer flush time of 25seconds.Like the Mark III the D800 can record to both cards at the same time, so I configured it to firstduplicate the images on both the CF and SD cards. This time I could fire-off 31 Large FineFX-format JPEGs at 4.16fps with a 27.24 second flush time. Switching to losslessly-compressed14-bit RAW files saw 16 frames captured in 3.73 seconds or at 4.28fps with a 14 second flushtime.Next I configured the camera to record losslessly-compressed 14-bit RAW files to the CF cardand Large Fine JPEGs to the SD card, both in the FX format. The D800 managed 16 frames in3.82 seconds, or 4.18fps with a 17 second flush time. Switching the configuration so JPEGswere recorded to the CF card and RAW to the SD card allowed me to capture 15 frames at4.33fps with a 14.68 second buffer flush.
Phew that was a lot of testing. Now lets look at those figures. First things first: the D800achieves its quoted speeds of 4fps in FX format and 5fps in DX format for JPEGs and slightlyexceeding them in RAW. It also pretty much delivered the quoted buffer capacities, although Imanaged to squeeze a few more RAW files from the DX mode than the manual suggested. Eitherway when it came to JPEGs, 100 was the absolute maximum with the camera stopping dead atthat figure as quoted.4fps may be one third slower than the 6fps of the Canon 5D Mark III, but then the D800 iswrangling 50% more pixels in total. Its nice to accelerate the D800 by cropping down to the DXmode, but this time youre only getting 5fps despite a drop to 16 Megapixels - so in that respectits beaten on speed and resolution by the Mark III. And yes I know you can match the Mark IIIsspeed in DX mode, but youll need the optional battery grip with the right batteries and even thenits still 6 Megapixels shy of the Mark III, not to mention using a cropped frame. So the D800 isntgoing to set the world of action and sports photography alight with those speeds, but 4fps canget you by in many situations and it remains impressive given the amount of data being handled.In terms of the card formats, both UDMA-6 and UHS-1 cards could shoot at the same speed, butthe former boasted larger bursts (especially so for JPEGs) and noticeably quicker flush times.So like the Canon Mark III, fast UDMA CF cards are preferable for the best continuous shootingperformance.As for comparing the card performance of the two cameras, the Canon 5D Mark III outshone theD800. Fitted with the same UDMA-6 card, the Mark III captured 183 Large Fine JPEGs at 6fpsbefore I got bored and let go with a split second flush time compared to 100 shots on the D800with an excruciating 66 second flush. Sure the D800 images were larger, but thats a bigdifference in processing and write times. Its also revealing to look at the UHS-1 performance, aswhile the Mark III claims not to exploit their extra speed, it did capture 181 frames (again until Igot bored and let go) at 6fps with an eight second flush time compared to 42 images on the D800with a 44 second flush time. Again the D800 was handling bigger images (typically twice the filesize for JPEGs of the same scene when both were set to their best quality), but that still worksout slower. Maybe it was the card interface, maybe the image processor, or some other factor atplay. But the imaging pipeline as a whole on the D800 was slower.So while some may have criticised the Mark III for not exploiting the speed of UHS-1 cards andpaid respect to the D800 for supporting them, its important to look beyond the specs, performsome benchmarks and actually compare real numbers. And at that point, the Mark III begins tolook even more respectable for action photography.Canon EOS 5D Mark III sensor
The EOS 5D Mark III is equipped with a new full-frame CMOS chip with 22.3 Megapixelresolution which delivers 3:2 shaped images with 5760x3840 pixels. Thats just over one moreMegapixel than its predecessor which sported a 21.1 Megapixel sensor with images measuring5616x3744 pixels.Yep, you read that right, after a three and a half year gap youre getting about 100 extra pixels ineach axis which means the resolving power and maximum reproduction remains essentially thesame. And lest we forget, this means it remains Canons highest resolution DSLR to date.If you were hoping for a higher resolution Canon DSLR, youll understandably be disappointed.Indeed its a strikingly different strategy to Nikon which squeezes 36 Megapixels into itsfull-frame D800, delivering images with 7360x4912 pixels, while also offering a version withoutthe anti-aliasing filter. Canon clearly believes it struck the sweet-spot for resolution andpixel-pitch with the EOS 5D Mark II and sees no reason to change it significantly just for the sakeof playing the numbers game - and similarly no need for two versions either.Take another look at the numbers though and youll see the 22.3 Megapixel figure hasnt simplybeen plucked from the air. The image width of 5760 pixels is perfectly divisible by 1920, the widthof HD video. This in turn makes it easier to down-sample the full sensor width to the HD framewhile avoiding cropping and minimising scaling artefacts. Canon knew the 21.1 Megapixelresolution of the 5D Mark II was a sweet-spot for photo quality, so it simply adjusted the figure tothe closest number which was easily divisible for HD video - and as seen in my samples in theMovie Mode section above, it really works too.But theres more to the EOS 5D Mark IIIs new sensor than just a similar resolution to itspredecessor. Canons implemented gapless micro-lenses and more efficient technology toimprove the light-gathering power of each photosite, claiming lower noise, higher dynamic rangeand lower power consumption that the 5D Mark II. The company certainly feels sufficientlyconfident to boost the sensitivity range by two stops to 100-25,600 ISO, expandable to50-102,400 ISO, and you can see how the quality looks in my Canon EOS 5D Mark III noisepages. Auto ISO can operate between 100 and 25600 ISO and you can set the minimum andmaximum values, along with the slowest accompanying shutter speed from 1 second to 1/250.
As (or even more) importantly, the 5D Mark IIIs sensor features 8-channel readout and themuch more powerful DIGIC-5+ processor behind the scenes, allowing it to pull data-off andcrunch it faster than before. So as detailed earlier, the somewhat pedestrian 3.9fps continuousshooting speed of the Mark II enjoys an important boost to 6fps on the Mark III.The DIGIC 5+ processor also offers some new tricks, so along with peripheral illuminationcorrection, we now finally have chromatic aberration correction on a Canon DSLR. The Mark IIIalso features a new dedicated Rating button which lets you tag images with one to five starsin-camera, which can be imported with the images into Adobe and Apple management systems.It provides a fun way to start rating your photos in-camera in the field.Images can be recorded as JPEG or 14 bit RAW files and you can of course record both ifdesired. JPEGs are available in five different resolutions with two compression options for the topthree resolutions, while RAW files can be recorded in three different resolutions. Its possible toset JPEG and RAW sizes separately, allowing you to record any combination.As mentioned earlier the Mark III also sports twin card slots, one for Compact Flash, the otherfor SD. Canon claims the camera can exploit the speed of the latest UDMA-7 CF cards, butwont exploit the speed of UHS-1 SD cards; you can still use UHS-1 cards, but they wont gotany quicker than normal quick SD cards. That said, as I discovered in the continuous shootingsection above, the Mark III actually performs better with SD cards than the D800 which doesclaim to exploit UHS-1 cards.Performance aside, you can configure the Mark III to record duplicate images on both cards forredundancy, record different types to each card (such as RAW to one and JPEG to the other),or simply switch from one to the other when the first fills up. While recording to two cardssimultaneously will reduce performance to the lowest common denominator, it remains very
useful for times when the event will not be repeated, such as weddings, political or sportingevents. Its very reassuring to know you have a backup in-camera, even if its simply to handone card to a client while you keep the other.As with earlier models, Sharpness, Contrast, Saturation and Colour Tone are set using PictureStyles with five presets, an Auto option and the ability to tweak any as desired and or store themin three custom slots. A Monochrome option switches the colour options for Filter and Toningeffects.I used the Standard Picture Style for all of my tests shots and found it delivered punchy-lookingresults which were on the whole very pleasing, although close inspection of very fine detailssometimes revealing evidence of arguably over-zealous sharpening and contrast. So if youprefer a more natural look free of processing artefacts, you may want to dial-down the contrastand sharpness a little.Like earlier models, the Mark III offers Auto Lighting Optimiser and Highlight Tone Priority toboost contrast and recover blown highlight areas respectively. As before Highlight Tone Priorityoperates at a minimum of 200 ISO and expands the dynamic range from standard 18% grey tobright highlights. Below are two shots taken of my standard outdoor test scene which containssaturated highlight areas in the roofing of many buildings towards the lower portion of the frame.In this particular example HTP has very subtly lowered the values of the bright highlights,something you can measure in Photoshop but which is hard to see below or even in thehistograms for the entire image; that said, if you shoot a lot of bright highlights, such as undersnowy conditions or of wedding dresses, HTP could provide useful protection against clipping.Canon EOS 5D Mark IIIAperture Priority mode (100% crop)Canon EOS 5D Mark IIIHighlight Tone Priority (100% crop)
1/800, f8, 200 ISO1/640, f8, 200 ISONow its time to see how the Mark IIIs image quality measures-up. Ive made a number ofcomparisons against the 5D Mark II, Nikon D800 and Sony NEX-7 over the following pages forboth resolution and noise levels. At the time of writing though, a number of RAW converterseither had not been updated for were exhibiting issues with Mark III and or D800 RAW files, soIm leaving those comparisons until the dust settles and just comparing JPEGs for now. Dontworry, I will update the review with RAW comparisons in the near future.http://yogip.tumblr.com/http://yogip.tumblr.com/post/23726113054/camera-review-test-why-many-peoples-choose-canon-eos-5dhttp://yogip.tumblr.com/post/23612571635/canon-eos-5d-mark-iii-22-3-mp