Thoughts on the 5D Mark III

Discussion in 'Digital Cameras & Equipment' started by Paul, May 6, 2012.

  1. Paul

    Paul Member

    Thoughts on the 5D MK III:

    Tim had requested I provide some thoughts on the 5D MK III and why I decided on it rather than the Canon 1DX. Gary has highlighted some of its advances in the AF area for action shots (AI Servo) and that is an area I have yet to exercise the camera in. Most of my shooting has been a theater production of Beauty and the Beast Jr. which provided an opportunity to test out several other new advances in the latest of the 5D family. This is not intended to be a complete review of the 5D MK III, but just a few notes on some of the features which make it such a solid choice for me.

    As background of course, I have been shooting with a Canon 40D for what seems like an eternity. The 40D was my first DSLR ever and it has served me well. I have had no regrets with it and will be keeping it as a second body. So going from a 40D to a new 5D MK III is quite a jump so obviously there is a great jump in performance between these two cameras in several areas. ; Gary could provide more comparisons on the advancements in the 5D line since he has shot with the original 5D and the 5d MK II. I'm sure there is less of a jump from the MK II, but the improved focus is what many have been looking forward to. ; Below are several areas I touch upon with my thoughts for now, I'm sure I will add to this as my experience with the camera continues.

    Image quality - thus far the quality of the image is outstanding on the 5D MK III with dynamic range seeing a boost and overall colors looking crisp and detail being retained in the highlights and shadow areas. ; No complaints here with the full frame sensor delivering that extra detail I was expecting.

    ISO - during the course of shooting the theater production, I had the opportunity to test a wide range of ISO settings all the way up to 25600 and must say the images are very useful even at that point. ; Lightroom 4 RC 2 has proven very capable of reducing the noise on these images and providing clean results. ; Canon's Digital Photo Professional is also proving extremely useful and I am surprised how good it handles the noise reduction aspects of the high ISO images. In fact there are some folks on the web who claim DPP is handling these images better than Lightroom right now and I may be in agreement. DPP has been recently updated and is available at Canon's site. I have pretty much ignored this software in the past, but intend to try it out a bit more.

    Frames Per Second - now at 6 FPS from previous high of 3 on the MK II I believe. ; This is equivalent to what my 40D is rated at so nothing new here for me. ; I have found the 6 FPS on my 40D quite capable of helping me getting any action shots I wanted, so having that on the full frame with the advanced auto focus should be even better.

    Silent shutter - this feature is fantastic, not only for those moments when I might want to be taking shots during quiet sections of a theater production, but I'm certain it will be handy for shows in WDW like the Hall of Presidents and American Adventure.

    Rear LCD - night and day compared to my smaller and much reduced resolution screen on the 40D. Images are crisp and clear. ; The brightness can be set manually or automatically set via a light sensor on the back.

    Menus - the menus are different than the 40D of course and I'm not sure how they compare to the previous 5Ds but it will take me a little while to get used to them. ; So far I think the changes are for the positive and Canon has made them a bit more efficient. Canon has included a Quick Control button to the right of the rear LCD screen to get through sections of the menu system faster. Although Canon did not provide a Mirror Lockup button as many of us would have liked, the option is now on the very first menu screen/first tab at the bottom making this a quick selection. ; There are 6 main menu tabs with sub tabs below them.

    Controls - layout of some of the buttons is different so that is taking me a little while to get used to. ; The buttons near the rear LCD screen on the 40D were along the bottom while the 5D MK III has them along the left side of the LCD. ; The controls in front of the top LCD are the same as the 40D with the exception of the Light button which is all the way on the right as opposed to the 40D where it was located all the way to the left. The same Quick Control button to the right of the LCD screen allows quick access to the shooting functions as well. ; The C1, C2 & C3 custom shooting mode options remain on the Mode Control dial which I like. Gone are the basic image zone selections that are found on the 40D and lower level DSLRs.

    HDR - this is a nice option and provides a quick no nonsense way of taking an HDR ; from 3 images which you have the option of saving along with the HDR jpg. ;

    AEB ; - For the serious HDR folks this feature will come in handy allowing for up to 7 bracketed shots to be taken. ; Other options are 2, 3 and 5.

    Multiple Exposure - 2-9 exposures can be taken and combined into one image. ; I have not tried this yet, but it sounds like many people are finally glad Canon added this feature. ; Apparently Nikon has included this for some time.

    Focus - my experience thus far with One Shot focus in low light has been great, no complaints. ; As I said earlier, Gary has more experience with using AI Servo mode which I hear is fantastic. ; So far I have found the option of having so many focus points available useful. ; It seems no matter where I place the focus point, the camera responds quickly. I like the way groupings of focus points are available allowing you to fine tune exactly what you would like to focus on down to one specific point or expanding the focus area so that multiple points in one general area of the image will focus. ; Still playing with AF and getting used to changing AF Area Selections modes using the controls on the fly, but so far this seems like one heck of an improvement over the 40D.

    CF/SD Memory cards - The 5D MK III has one CF and one SD card slot. I really hate SD cards and this is one thing I would like to change. ; Having one of each just doesn't make sense to me. ; The only potentially useful thing I have thought of is using one of those Eye-Fi cards in the SD slot to perform wireless transfer to the Mac/iPad/iPhone, but I would really have preferred having 2 CF cards like the 1DX will have. File sizes on some of these 5D MK III images are reaching 40 MB, so I will have to get some larger cards if I want to maintain the number of shots/card I can currently take with my 40D.

    Spot Meter on Focus point - This is the one feature I wanted the most, being able to change where the spot metering occurs. ; Most if not all of the 1D bodies can spot meter on a focus point, not just the center spot. ; Even Nikon's D3100, a $500 camera can do this. ; Canon for whatever reason does not seem interested in adding it to non-pro bodies. While I truly wanted this feature, I can do without it. ; I also have access to the Nikon D3100 so that is another option.

    Deciding to go with the 5D MK III was not an easy choice as I had several features that at the time I thought would be mandatory for my next DSLR. ; However, when Canon announced that the next pro body (1DX) would cost $6800, it made me realize that going to the next level would require a significant outlay of cash. The 5D MK III is roughly half the price of the 1DX and includes many of the same features. Since I have been saving for sometime and bypassed the 5D MK II and the 1D MK IV when they were released, I actually had saved enough money to purchase the 1DX with a little left over. But I really needed to decide if those few features that I wanted were worth the added cost of $3300 and the answer was it wasn't. Not at this time. ; My living doesn't rely on photography or a camera and putting all my savings into a body just did not make sense. I needed to spend more money on lenses, a lighter tripod, backpack and filters and sticking with the 5D MK III makes this possible.

    I also realized that most of my photography involves carrying my DSLR around quite a bit and the added weight of the 1DX would not help in this regard. I do plan on getting the vertical grip for the 5D MK III (when Canon gets around to releasing it) and this will let have the feel of a pro body when I shoot in portrait mode a lot or when I need the extra battery capacity. ; But it also allows me to take it off when Im lugging it in the parks (Disney & National).

    So in the end I decided the 5D Mark III will do everything I really need it to do and will allow me to make some lens and support equipment purchases that are long over due. I purchased the 5D MK III kit with a EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens which I did not have, thus getting me started in acquiring quality glass.

    Here are some samples of some shots from Beauty and he Beast Jr. and a trip to New York City from earlier in the month. ; All of the Beauty and the Beast shots have been converted to JPG without any noise reduction. ; The NYC shots were processed in Lightroom with NR. Full size JPGs can be downloaded by clicking on the link below the image. ;


    Full Size JPG 6400 ISO


    Full Size JPG 12800 ISO


    Full Size JPG 25600 ISO


    Full Size JPG 25600 ISO


    In Camera HDR Sample
  2. gary

    gary Member

    Gary signing in here, as the other mk3 owner on the forum to date, I thought I would both comment and eventually help expand on Paul's thoughts
    Background: I am a long time canon shooter, came over from a fully manual argus film body, when the film winder broke and I could no longer get parts. Picked canon simply based on the package price for a film rebel and 2 lenses, by the time digital came along I had already started to invest in better grade glass, so it was a no brainier for me to stick with canon
    I truly am starting to love this camera in just the short time I have had it. Some of the members will probably point out that if I love it so much, then why did yesterday's Fenway game involve the panny gh2 as the chosen rig. Well I like the smaller travel rig. If I could only afford 1 system then I would gladly carry the mk3 as my only choice. Since it's all about the ballpark experience and not to make large prints, then those trips see the M/4/3 camera.
    my canon progression has been, D3>20D>5D>5DMK2>5DMK3
    You will notice I did skip a couple of upgrades in there, as at the time I felt they did not offer enough features for the price. On the other hand I jumped pretty soon from the original 5D to the mk2 and jumped on the Mk3, preordered on the first day it was announced, that's how excited the 61 point autofocus system made me. I had been so unsure canon would ever take care of us full framers who did not want the weight or cost of the 1d bricks, that if this body had not come out now, I probably would have bought a 7d this summer just to get improved AF for motorsports. On the first outing, having just read the manual through one time, with a little review of some stuff, i have to say this is just superb in performance. I think this is going to generate huge sales for canon when amateur and semipro sports shooters see the results
    CONTROLS: pretty intuitive for any prior canon users, a few small differences for mk2 users, the on/ off switch is now up on top, under shooting mode control dial, and requires pushing down on a release post in the center of the dial. I actually like this, it requires a little more dexterity to turn on the camera, but now it's much harder too accidentally turn off the camera
    MIRROR LOCKUP yes I would still like to get a face to face with a canon top exec, just so I could ask WTF dude, do you not ask real photographers what they need/want? BUT at least now it's only 1 level down in the menu system, not ideal, but still much better than the prior drill down has been.
    MENU at first I was not a fan, but that was simply because accessing the various subs was not what I was used to. Repeated use and famillarity has changed my mind. It's starting to make sense to me. It's a linear type of thing, and most here know I don't have an engineers linear thought type of mind
    I will post more thoughts and comments here as I get some more experience with the camera

    I will say although it all comes down to what each feels is the right camera for themselves, which is why first timers should go to a store and actually handle various brands/models, I feel that Paul made an excellent decision in choosing the mk3 over the 1d body. Simply because he will now be able to make several serious upgrades in lenses, and support gear. His body will thank him for a lighter tripod, especially during future pixelmaniiii, ( I think that's how you spell multiple pixelmania)
    And he will be able to acquire upgraded glass, something that I feel the mk3 really needs to shine. The 61 pt af system really needs f4 and faster glass to reach max potential. L grade glass will really prove it's worth in the long run with this body. AND remember that great glass, taken care of, stays great and holds it's value for a long time.

    CF vs SD ; here I do not have any strong feelings about the differences, I have a few sd cards, all in 32gb as these are what the panny uses. I have long monitored about 6 of the reliable online vendors on a regular basis, as larger capacity cards hit the market, prices tend to go down for the next size down. So I regularly upgrade my card inventory, given my well known paranoia about card malfunction on an expensive major trip, it should come as no surprise. My sop has always been to allot for 1 fresh card ; a day plus backups. I just got my first 64gb udma card, and plan to get a few more by pixelmania, keeping the 32gb cf cards as event specials. I might even with 6 frames per second, load up and take a run at the lion king title.
    I will add more as I am able to build an experience base
  3. Coo1eo

    Coo1eo Member

    Paul - Thank You for sharing these insights into your jump from the 40d to the 5d MK3. As you well know, I too use the 40d & have long considered jumping to the MK2. The main thing that kept me from ever doing that was the reduction in fps from 6.5 to 3. I like to shoot a lot of sporting events so the added fps are a necessity. I too was very excited when i saw the announcement of the upgrade to the 5d & that it had the 6 fps along with all of the other nice advancements.
    ; Yours & Gary's thoughts on this camera have convinced me that this is the jump I need to make. Gary pointed out the need for some quality glass on a camera of this quality & I am thinking that my 70-200 f2.8 L will work nicely on this body. I am very aware that the 40d falls short of taking advantage of the quality of this lens. Also, making the purchase as a kit with an L series lens as you did would put another quality tool in my bag. Now I just need to save up the cash so I can make this move.
  4. Roger

    Roger Member Staff Member

    They should have called it the 3D.

    Paul - why don't you like SD? ; They have gotten as fast as CF, PLUS the next gen of CF is NOT backwards compatible with older cards (much like the Type II fiasco - I had a 128MB CF card that doesn't fit in most modern cameras), while SDXC slots can take SD, SDHC and SDXC cards.

    The future isn't CF anymore. ; Heck tonight I was cleaning out a 8GB SDHC card and I was thinking - remember when that was a big card? ; Now I have a pair of 32GB SDHC for my Z10k.
  5. Tim

    Tim Administrator Staff Member

    Roger, I am the opposite. ; I hate CF with a passion (going through 5 card readers a year with bent pins will do that).
    I just use a CF-SD adapter in my cameras that don't accept SD (5d2).

    Gary put the full-court press on me to abandon the 1dx in favor of the 5d3. ; Everyone, ring in with your opinions...
  6. Roger

    Roger Member Staff Member

    Canon is going to release their interchangeable lens mirrorless camera this year. ; That's right, after claiming that the marketplace doesn't want something like that. ; The future is mirrorless - they (meaning several sensor companies) are working on phase-detect on sensor which would eliminate the last remaining holdout for the optical mirror.

    Not to throw any other gas on the fire ; ;D
  7. Paul

    Paul Member

    Roger - To me the CF card is just easier to handle (also easy to use a sharpie to add contact info), it really has nothing to do with performance. ; Although checking Rob Galbraith's latest tests on memory cards with the 5D MK III seems to indicate that CF cards out perform the SDs. ; I believe I just read somewhere that the SD slot as implemented by Canon in the 5D Mk III is not as fast as the CF slot. I will have to look for that.

    I believe you are correct when you say the CF card is on the way out, its too bad Canon didn't just make the jump and put 2 SD slots in the 5D Mk III and the 1DX.

    Glad to hear Canon is going to enter the mirrorless market, another reason saving some money on the 5D Mk III makes sense for me should I decide to grab one of those in the future.
  8. Paul

    Paul Member

    Tim - I have been lucky I guess since I have not had any bent pins. ; Do you have a link to this CF-SD adapter you use in-camera? ; Didn't realize those existed.

    Regarding the 1DX, I suggest you write up a list of why you think you need it and what requirements you have that only that camera will fulfill. ; Perhaps that will help you in making the decision. ; It did for me, helping me realize that just a few features were not worth the added cost or bulk.
  9. Paul

    Paul Member

    Leo - Nothing wrong with the 70-200 f/2.8 L on the 40D, that is what I have been using with fine results. ; I'm wondering if the second version of that lens has any clear cut advantages.

    Gary - are you getting the same performance from the SDs that you get from the CF cards? ; My largest card right now is 8GB and that is not taking me far, so I am on the hunt for at least some 32GB cards.
  10. ELinder

    ELinder Member

    This does seem like a veeery desirable camera, even to a Nikon guy. :)

    Tim, what are you wanting to do that your 1D Mk lV is holding you back?!?
  11. gary

    gary Member

    i have no idea, i actually haven't put an sd card in the mk3 yet, having a 2 slot body is very new to me, and honestly, i got so used to different cards for each system,i actually keep them in seperate places in the gun case

    FYI i know i touched on this in a past thread, but an old, yard sale gun case is an excellent camera cabinet, drawers for support gear and bodies, lenses on shelving inserted where the long guns sere stored
  12. Tim

    Tim Administrator Staff Member

    Paul-- ; They are essentially CF cards with an SD slot in the side. ; The card goes in your camera's CF slot but the data is written to the SD card embedded inside. ; They work great!

    CF to SD Adapter (B&H)
    [amazonsearch]CF to SD Adapter[/amazonsearch] (Amazon)

  13. Paul

    Paul Member

    Thanks Tim. ; One thing for sure, I will need some larger cards. ; The largest card I have now is 8G and that used to get me about 600 shots on the 40D, but looks like about 200 on the 5D Mk III.
  14. gary

    gary Member

    i would suggest looking at various 32gb cards, i was just in best buy this afternoon and there were some pny sd 32gb cards for $29.00, maybe get some of those and then maybe get a fast 64gb card or 2 for when you need faster write/read speed. i just ordered another 64gb card from B&H last night, went with an sdhc card , fastest i could find. i'll see how it works out for the next month or so and if no problems i'll probably pick up 1 a month until i have pixelmani covered. this way in the future i've got large capacity cards that work fast in both camera systems
  15. Paul

    Paul Member

    Still trying to find out what performs better in the 5D MK III, CF or SD. Can't find any details. Rob Galbraith's test show the CF outperforming the SD.

    For whatever reason I have only purchased SanDisk cards, probably because I have never had a problem with them.
  16. Roger

    Roger Member Staff Member

    For some odd reason I think Canon hasn't invested in the SD controllers. ; It can get faster results than that. ; Also, the fastest CF cards are the latest and greatest, and therefore most expensive.

    Look at the D800 - Nikon gets TWICE the performance from SD than the 5DMk3.

    The only time you will need the speed if you are planning on shooting something at a high frame rate, non-stop. ;

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