First impressions of the Canon 5d Mark III

I have to admit for as much as I love technology and am a definite gadget lover I do try to only upgrade my equipment when really needed. As photographers in a very rapidly growing digital age it can be easy to get “gear envy” over other cameras, lenses and other goodies you see out there and want to upgrade your equipment every year. I used to really get sucked into this and always want to get the latest body or lens or whatever else was out. Then one day I finally realized, It’s all about the art not the gear. I remembered creating awesome images with my $20 holga camera that were better images than my latest and greatest DSLR. Whenever I choose to upgrade equipment I now really make sure that there is something it will do that I really need.

With that being said though I checked out the Canon 5D Mark III over the weekend to finally play around with. A quick side note, I have been renting some equipment from for awhile and love them. Great stock of items and some convenience local pickup spots in the Bay Area (or they can ship). After a full day of shooting with this body all I could say was WOW. I have been shooting with DSLR’s since Canon released the 10D about 9 years ago but the first camera that I really fell in love with on the digital side was the Canon 5D. I love the depth that it gives you for portraits, it was the first camera that reminded me of film in a way but still gave me the flexibility of digital. I have been shooting with a 5D ever since and absolutely love the original 5D.

Spec wise there isn’t a lot that would really WOW you compared to the Mark II. Here are some of the key features on the Mark III

22.3 Megapixel full-frame sensor
61-point autofocus
Up to 6fps continuous shooting
Native ISO 100-25,600 sensitivity
Full HD video with manual control
14-bit DIGIC 5+ processor
Enhanced Weather sealing
8.11cm (3.2-inch) 1,040,000-dot screen
HDR mode with presets

Although nothing jumps out spec wise I do have to say that after shooting with this for an hour I was very excited. Maybe even more excited than I was with the original 5D. The body has a great feel to it, solid but lightweight and if you are a Canon user you will get the hang of the menu in no time. The 2 main things that I really loved were the improved auto focus and the quality of shooting at high ISO’s.

First Canon added a 61-point autofocus system to the Mark III. This is the same 61-point wide-area AF system that the flagship EOS-1D X has. Compared to a prior 5D this focus is fast and nails the focus even in low light. I shot evening photos with the autofocus on and it did a great job with very low light situations. Even focus points at the very edge of the frame respond quickly and get it the first time. As a wedding and event shooter mainly having a really solid autofocus camera is key and the 5D is a great step up in autofocus compared to the past models.

The other part about the camera that really got me is the high ISO. We all know that many cameras can shoot with a high ISO but really what does that mean. Very noisy and blotchy images at ISO 6400 really don’t do anyone good. But the Mark III actually gives you a usable image even shooting at ISO 25,600! Here is a quick comparison of a detail shot of a wine barrel shot indoors. There was a little light coming in from windows so it wasn’t a super dark room but dark enough where I was shooting 2.8 at 1/8th of a second at 1600 ISO. At 1600 there isn’t really much noise at all its a very clean shot. Take a look at these, they have been sized a bit down but no PS work done so right out of the camera. Click on the image to view them a little larger and I can post the original in the comments if you would like to see the full resolution.

Mark III at 1600 ISO

Mark III at 1600 ISO

Mark III at 10,000 ISO

Mark III at 10,000 ISO

Mark III at 25,600 ISO

Mark III at 25,600 ISO

Also shooting indoors like at a reception this gives you some great creative control. I was able to capture images of the toasting without flash to get a nice soft image using the room light, all very clean looking but still at ISO 6400. This isn’t the best shot but was done at 6400 in a very dark room and shows the potential of what you can do.

Canon 5D mark III at 6400 ISO

Canon 5D mark III at 6400 ISO

Overall this camera is amazing. There are more features that just the autofocus and high ISO levels that make this shine. If you are looking for a new body I would definitely suggest the 5D Mark III. It’s not the cheapest camera out there but one of the best I have seen.

You can order the camera from B&H here: Canon EOS 5D Mark III Digital Camera (Body Only)

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Author: Mark

Mark is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer from Northern California. He has been passionate about photography since childhood and started his studio 12 years ago to bring a fresh style of photography to the wedding and portrait world.

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