Canon EOS 5D Mark III review

29 Oct 2012

Breathtaking image quality and a wide range of autofocus options are among the highlights of this superbly rounded package

Price when reviewed: 
2,454(£2,455 inc VAT)
Buy it now for 
5

Canon’s EOS 5D Mark II has been a great success among both professionals and enthusiasts, thanks to its full-frame sensor, big viewfinder and sublime controls, all at a lower price and weight than the 1D series. It was also the first DSLR to record 1080p video, and has been at the forefront of a revolution in indie filmmaking since its launch in 2008.

Three-and-a-half years later, the Mark III landed, sporting significant upgrades. Don’t be distracted by the resolution, which only sees a small rise from 21 to 22.3 megapixels – the big news is to be found elsewhere. The Digic 5+ processor boosts continuous performance from 3.9fps to 6fps, complete with in-camera correction for vignetting and chromatic aberrations – a first for an EOS camera. The ISO speed range has seen a fourfold increase to 100-25600, and is expandable to 50-102400.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III

There’s also the autofocus system, which replaces the Mark II’s nine-point sensor with a 61-point sensor – the same one that was only recently unveiled in the flagship EOS-1D X.

The Mark III is built like a tank, and at a shade under 1kg, it feels substantial and comfortable without being cumbersome to use. There’s probably room in the body for a flash but Canon has decided against including one. Support for Canon’s new wireless flash system, which uses radio rather than IR, is likely to be more useful. The layout of the controls will make existing EOS users feel instantly at home, although the ability to compare photos alongside each other and rate them from one to five stars is new.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Moving the autofocus point is extremely quick and intuitive. A button on the back-right corner reveals all 61 autofocus points in the viewfinder, 41 of which are cross-type, measuring focus both horizontally and vertically, while a central column of five measures diagonally too. The selected point can be moved using the joystick, but it’s much quicker to use the command dial and wheel for horizontal and vertical movement. A button labelled M-Fn expands the active area to include a group of five or nine points.

The extensive autofocus setup options in the menu include five scenarios with titles such as “Continue to track subjects, ignoring possible obstacles”, each of which can be further customised. However, default settings delivered extremely reliable focus for movement, and for identifying vague subjects in both bright and dim light. There was very little interruption to the 6fps continuous speed when tracking moving subjects, and none from the memory buffer, either – the camera processed and saved JPEGs as fast as it captured them when using a 90MB/sec CompactFlash card.

Details

Price ex VAT £2,045
Price inc VAT £2,454
Overall rating 6
Performance 6
Features & Design 5
Image quality 6
Value for Money 5

Basic specifications

Camera megapixel rating 22.0mp
Camera screen size 3.2in
Camera maximum resolution 5760 x 3840

Weight and dimensions

Weight 950g
Dimensions 152 x 76 x 116mm (WDH)

Battery

Battery type included Lithium-ion
Battery life (CIPA standard) 950 shots
Charger included? yes

Other specifications

Built-in flash? no
Aperture range fUnknown - fUnknown
Minimum (fastest) shutter speed 1/8,000
Maximum (slowest) shutter speed 30s
Bulb exposure mode? yes
RAW recording mode? yes
Exposure compensation range +/- 3EV
ISO range 100 - 25600
Selectable white balance settings? yes
Manual/user preset white balane? yes
Progam auto mode? yes
Shutter priority mode? yes
Aperture priority mode? yes
Fully auto mode? yes
Burst frame rate 6.0fps
Exposure bracketing? yes
White-balance bracketing? yes
Memory-card type CompactFlash, SDXC
Viewfinder coverage 100%
LCD resolution 1,040k
Secondary LCD display? yes
Body construction Magnesium Alloy
Tripod mounting thread? yes

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