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Canon EOS 5D Mark III: First Look
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Mason Resnick is the editor of the Adorama Learning Center and a lifetime photography enthusiast.

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Canon EOS 5D Mark III: First Look

A in-depth look at this important camera's key features

Its predecessor was a game-changer that has revolutionized how Hollywood shot movies. Incorporating changes suggested by professional photographers and videographers, the Canon EOS 5D Mark III promises an impressive second act.


Canon 5D Mark III

 

The introduction of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III is being closely follwed by its many potential users: Cinematographers, sports shooters, news photographers, and even wedding and event photographers. The ability to produce cinema-quality video and uncompromising high-resolution still photography is a big draw. So much so that the 5D Mark III's predecessor, the 5D Mark II, helped many still photographers make the transition into videography. In a world where news and sports photography outlets now demand video as well for rich media web sites, HDSLRs such as the 5D Mark II helped save existing jobs and even create new ones. The 5D Mark III is poised to keep this trend going.

 

 


Note: Adorama is now accepting pre-orders for the Canon EOS 5D Mark III.  Orders will be fulfilled ona first-come, first-served basis. Credit cards will not be charged until orders are shipped.


 

Also read: Canon EOS 5D Mark III Pro HDSLR Announced

 

Let's take an in-depth look at the Canon EOS 5D Mark III's new and improved features, based on information provided by Canon.

Canon 5D Mark III sensor

22.3 Megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor

The EOS 5D Mark III features a new Canon full-frame 22.3 Megapixel CMOS sensor that’s designed from the ground up to create high resolution images with what Canon says is unprecedented speed and clarity. A full 24 x 36mm, the sensor captures 5784 x 3861-pixel images. The individual pixels are large—6.25 µm. A new photodiode structure with an increased photoelectric conversion rate increases the sensor’s sensitivity by approximately 2 stops over previous models,according to Canon,  meaning higher ISOs with the lowest noise of any EOS digital camera. And a 2-line 8-channel simultaneous signal readout means speeds of up to 6.0 fps (RAW + JPEG) are possible!


Better signal processing, expanded ISO range

The EOS 5D Mark III offers 14-bit signal processing, which should result in finer image gradation, and delivers higher standard and expanded ISOs. With a standard range of ISO 100–25600, the EOS 5D Mark III represents a 2-stop increase in sensitivity over previous cameras. Thanks to the improved signal-to-noise ratio of the new sensor and powerful noise reduction, the EOS 5D Mark III can shoot at expanded sensitivities down to ISO 50 (L) and up to 51200 (H1), and even 102400 (H2). The EOS 5D Mark III has automatic ISO settings, found on the dedicated ISO menu. Minimum and maximum ISO settings can be specified, as can a user-defined range, plus full auto and manual ISO selection.

 

Canon 5D Mark III ISO interface

DIGIC 5+ Image Processor

The EOS 5D Mark III uses a DIGIC 5+ Image Processor works with two 4-channel A/D converter front-end processing circuits, and delivers speeds of up to 6.0 fps (RAW + JPEG). The DIGIC 5+ Image Processor improves data processing performance and features new algorithms that are expected to promote greater noise reduction at higher ISOs. The DIGIC 5+ Image Processor offers real-time compensation for chromatic aberration in both still and motion images.



Canon EOS 5D Mark III AF array


61-Point High Density Reticular AF

The newly designed 61-Point High Density Reticular AF features an Offset Array Sensor (with staggering AF point arrangement) which Canon says will deliver greater accuracy, no matter the situation, was first introduced earlier this year in the flagship Canon EOS-1D X
. There's multi-zone wide-area AF for better tracking, 5 central dual cross-type points (f/2.8 diagonal), 21 central cross-type points (f/5.6 horizontal & vertical) and 20 outer cross-type points (f/4.0 horizontal), and is sensitive in extremely low-light situations (EV-2 for a central point with a f/2.8 lens).

For greater ease of use, the EOS 5D Mark III has a dedicated AF menu tab, so AF can be controlled without having to go through custom function menus. It also has 6 AF point selection methods (Spot, Single Point, Single + Adjacent 4 Points, Single + Adjacent 8 Points, Zone Selection, and Automatic AF Point Selection), similar to the AF points in the EOS 7D and EOS-1D X, plus a dedicated AF configuration tool for control of AI Servo AF III tracking parameters (tracking sensitivity, acceleration/deceleration tracking, and AF point auto switching).


Canon 5D Mark III metering patternIntelligent Metering


The EOS 5D Mark III features Canon’s multi-layer 63-zone iFCL (intelligent Focus Color Luminance) Metering System that integrates the camera's AF system into its readings. By taking into account the color and luminosity surrounding the chosen AF point(s), this new system is said to deliver a new level of accuracy, especially in situations where the light changes quickly. The metering sensor enables evaluative, center weighted, partial and spot metering, plus offers 5-step exposure compensation.


HD Recording on Demand

Addressing the requests of the pros and building on the unprecedented success of its namesake, the EOS 5D Mark III captures HD video with a level of sophistication that Canon says is on par with professional movie cameras offering phenomenal performance on a DSLR. It offers both All-I and IPB compression, supports H.264/MPEG-4 AVC High Profile, and automatically splits files greater than 4GB (FAT specifications) for extended recording without interruption. It offers the option of timecoding during recording only (Rec Run) or at all times (Free Run), useful for multi-camera shoots. It also features improved sound recording adjustment capabilities, offering 64-step volume control accessible through the Quick Control screen during video shooting, plus a dedicated headphone jack for convenience in shooting.

 

The CMOS sensor's new drive system significantly increases image processor performance, reducing color artifacts and moiré (a common problem that occurs in scenes with horizontal lines), and ensures that the EOS 5D Mark III can record at a number of frame rates up to ISO 25600 in H mode.

The Canon EOS 5D Mark III offers two compression choices:

All-I: Compresses each frame. Although the file size is larger than IPB, each frame is not affected by the previous and next frames, making it suitable for editing and extracting frames.

IPB: Compresses the movie frame by referencing the previous and next frames. High compression is used, making it suitable for recording long movies.

Recording Time based on 8GB Memory Card
Maximum Record Time 29 min. 59 sec.
ALL-I Record Time 11 min. at 1920 x 1080
12 min. at 1280 x 720
IPB Record Time 32 min. at 1920 x 1080



Resolution/FPS:
1920 x 1080 (Full HD): 30P (29.97), 25P, 24P (23.976)
1280 x 720 (HD): 60P (59.94), 50P
640 x 480 (VGA): 30P (29.97), 25P


High-Speed Continuous Shooting

The EOS 5D Mark III combines fast 8-channel data readout from its 22.3 Megapixel CMOS sensor and the processing capabilities of its DIGIC 5+ Image Processor with a speedier shutter and mirror system, capturing full-frame images and recording them fast to UDMA or SD cards stored in the camera’s dual card slots. Ideal for fixed focus situations, the EOS 5D Mark III can shoot up to 6.0 fps (RAW + JPEG).


Canon 5D Mark III magnesium alloy chassisRuggedized magnesium alloy body with improved ergonomics

The EOS 5D Mark III is designed to perform even in the most treacherous environments. The body is constructed of rigid, high-strength magnesium alloy for rugged performance and features a new grip design for easier finger placement and reduced hand fatigue. Its newly redesigned shutter has lightweight and carbon-fiber blades, and is rated to maintain up to 6.0 fps performance without compromise, for up to 150,000 cycles. The EOS 5D Mark III and accessories like the new Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E7A and GPS Receiver GP-E2 have extensive gasketing for improved dust and water resistance, even at their connection points.


Self Cleaning Sensor Unit

The Self Cleaning Sensor Unit featured in the EOS 5D Mark II has been optimized for the new EOS 5D Mark III to deliver even greater dust removal for clearer images. To prevent dust accumulation, the system removes particles adhered to the surface of the infrared absorbing/ultraviolet-blocking glass in a frontward direction by vibrating the glass with ultrasound. The particles are then absorbed by an adsorbent at the bottom of the unit; the unit itself is completely sealed for protection against external contaminants, and its front face of the low-pass filter 1 is treated with an anti-dust fluorine coating making it easier to remove damp or sticky dust particles.


Canon 5D Mark III viewfinderIntelligent Viewfinder with Superimposed LCD

The EOS 5D Mark III’s Intelligent Viewfinder offers a sharp, bright approximately 100% field of view with an approximate magnification of .71x, a viewing angle of 34.1° and a 21mm eye-point. With a new construction featuring aspherical lens elements, the viewfinder displays less distortions and color aberrations than previous models. It uses a transparent LCD to superimpose a customizable combination of focus points and gridlines directly over the image.

 

The AF status indicator can be directed to display within or outside of the viewfinders image area. With the intelligent viewfinder, unlike with other cameras, the photographer has the choice of seeing shooting information or looking only at the scene in front of the camera. The ability to effectively erase all shooting data and turn it back on with the touch of a button gives the photographer the opportunity to concentrate simply on looking and composing the photograph without distraction, a great advantage in numerous shooting situations.


3.2" TFT LCD Monitor

The EOS 5D Mark III’s 3.2" TFT LCD monitor has 1,040,000 dots, anti-reflective construction and features Canon’s Clear View II technology for bright, sharp display in any number of shooting situations. In Live View, grid lines can be displayed in 9 sections, 24 sections, or 9 sections with diagonals, as can the dual-axis electronic level, which helps ensure accurate level by displaying both roll and pitch. For image review, the EOS 5D Mark III has a new, dedicated Magnify/Reduce button. While pressing the button, zooming in or out (up to 10x) is achieved simply by turning the Main Dial.

 

Canon 5D Mark III HDR

 

New High Dynamic Range (HDR)

With its new High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode, the EOS 5D Mark III can merge 3 images of varying exposure, in camera, capturing a broad range of shadow and highlight detail. HDR is Adjustable to cover a range of ±3 stops, and with 5 different effect settings.


Multiple Exposure Control

The EOS 5D Mark III offers a new multiple exposure mode for film-like image creation. It offers 4 different compositing methods for proper exposure and composition: additive, average, bright and dark. Multiple exposure shots can be taken in both RAW and JPEG shooting modes, previously captured RAW images can be used as a starting point, and cumulative results can be observed and corrected in real time on the camera’s LCD screen. For multiple exposure captures of quickly moving subjects, the EOS 5D Mark III even has a specific continuous shooting multiple exposure mode.


New customizable controls and ergonomics

In response to the experience and feedback of professional users, the EOS 5D Mark III’s new  design is said to be more comfortable and intuitive. All control buttons and dials are logically placed so shooting settings can be made with just the right hand, and quick image check and image processing operations can be handled with just the left. The grip has been redesigned for easy holding both when shooting and when carrying the camera. The rubber skin coating is designed for all-day comfort in the hand, and coats the cameras card slot cover as well.

The EOS 5D Mark III has dual card slots, accommodating both a Compact Flash and an SDXC card. It has three recording modes perfect for a diverse collection of workflows. When set to Auto switch media, the camera switches cards as soon as one card is filled. The camera can be set to record separately, saving different file sizes or types to each card. And for extra security, the camera can be set to create an automatic backup by recording the same file to both cards simultaneously.

The EOS 5D Mark III features a dual-axis electronic level indicator that displays both vertical and horizontal tilt on the LCD monitor either alone or during Live View shooting, and can also be displayed in the cameras intelligent viewfinder.

For an expanded range of applications, the EOS 5D Mark III is compatible with Canon peripherals for wireless file transfers and GPS. The Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E7A attaches easily to the EOS 5D Mark III, supports 802.11 a/b/g/n, has a built-in Gigabit Ethernet connection, supports FTP mode with automatic resend, EOS utility mode and WFT server mode, and can time sync multiple cameras on the same network. Canon’s GPS Receiver GP-E2§ connects via USB or Hot Shoe, is dust and water resistant, records latitude, longitude and altitude, has a logging function and an electronic compass to record movement and even has a GPS  time sync function, especially helpful when a project is shot among different time zones.

The 5D Mark III’s dedicated Battery Grip BG-E11 has buttons and a multi-controller and delivers seamless performance whether the camera is oriented vertically or horizontally. It accommodates 2 LP-E6 batteries or an included AA battery magazine, and is very helpful in counter-balancing large lenses when shooting handheld.


(The EOS 5D Mark III requires a firmware upgrade to be compatible with the GPS GP-E2, which will be available soon.)


More Features

 

Canon 5D Mark III full line of lenses

 

Peripheral Illumination Correction, Chromatic Aberration Correction, and Distortion Correction 

The EOS 5D Mark III features a number of corrective tools to accommodate for the particulars of the lens used. Canon’s lens peripheral illumination correction feature corrects light falloff in the corner of the image. Chromatic aberration can be corrected at the time of shooting with the 5D Mark III’s Chromatic Aberration Correction tool. The new Distortion Correction feature corrects distortions such as curved lines by correcting for the characteristics of the particular lens used to take the shot so images that may have been distorted in the captured image appear straight. The camera has correction data for a number of EF lenses preloaded, and new lenses can be added to the camera’s database via EOS Utility. The camera can even distinguish between different lenses of the same model using the serial number (with compatible EF lenses).


Auto Picture Style & Scene Intelligent Auto (A+)

The EOS 5D Mark III features a number of Canon’s Picture Style settings, as well as a new Picture Style Auto setting that finely controls color tones for every composition based on information from the camera’s EOS Scene Detection System. This can be an effective feature not only in normal scenes, where “standard” punchy contrast will be used, but also in nature and outdoor scenes, where the blues and greens will look more vivid without the need to switch the camera’s Picture Style to Landscape.

In-Camera RAW Processing & JPEG Resize

The EOS 5D Mark III offers in-camera RAW processing for quick conversion of RAW files to JPEG with control over size, brightness, WB, Picture Style, Auto Lighting Optimizer, Noise reduction, color space, distortion correction and more. Additionally, the EOS 5D Mark III features expanded Quick Control functions during playback like image protect, image rotate, rating, RAW image processing, resize, highlight alert, AF point and image jump, meaning a streamlined workflow can begin in the field.

Comparative Playback

The EOS 5D Mark III’s comparative playback mode enables images to be played back two at a time, side by side. Images can quickly be enlarged simultaneously to compare focus, blur and noise, and can be individually rated, deleted or locked.

Trimming function

For multi-format applications, the EOS 5D Mark III can shoot with an aspect ratio of 1:1, 3:2, 4:3 or 16:9 during live view shooting. With gridded overlays, images can be trimmed in-camera with the actual image file cropped in Canon’s Digital Photo Pro software.


Silent Shooting

The EOS 5D Mark III offers a silent, low-vibration shooting mode, a 5D series first. By slowing down and muting the shutter and mirror reflex action, the camera is capable of handheld, virtually imperceptible operation for discrete shooting in more situations at speeds of up to 3 fps.

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