22.3 megapixel, DIGIC 5+ image processing systems, a beefed up ISO range for better performance in low light conditions and a respectable continuous shooting mode, Canon’s latest release is the EOS 5D Mark III. Successor to the very popular EOS 5D Mark II, Canon has packed in some obvious features and some not so obvious ones while they have beefed up the price by a fat 30%. For professional photographers looking to upgrade, the choice between the Canon 5D Mark III and the Nikon D 800/ 800E could be a difficult one to make. At the end it might just turn to the fact as to what kind of photography you do and whether you are a Canon or a Nikon fan.
The Canon 5D Mark III features a 22.3 megapixel full frame sensor compared to the 36 megapixel of the Nikon D800. What it means straightaway is that the Nikon retains a whole lot of information and detail of the frames compared to the Canon. In any shooting requirement, details can be a matter of great advantage. For studio shoots such as products or even fashion photography, the Nikon D800 has a definite edge over the Canon. It is possible to crop and or blow out a sector of the frame or even print it and still retain an amazing amount of detail. In a real world however 22.3 megapixel should be enough.
Canon has transposed the focusing system of the 1DX onto the 5D Mark III. There has been a kind of borrowing going on for both Canon and Nikon, trying to bring forward more of their professional DSLR features to their semi-professional bodies. Tid bits of improvements made by Canon since the launch of the last 5D (too bad they only a bit of megapixel to the new 5D) has all made it to the 5D Mark III. One of the biggest complaints that the EOS 5D Mark II had (and for that matter the original first generation 5D too) was its tiny 9 point circular AF system. For professional photographers shooting in outdoor and even in studio setup, the limited opportunity to lock on focus was frustrating. This has now been bumped up quite significantly with the 61 point AF system with 41 cross type focusing points. Focusing is faster and one can have a lot of fun with it. Compared to the Nikon D800 which has a 51 point auto-focusing system and 15 cross type focusing points the Canon seems better off.
ISO and low light performance
Canon has beefed up the ISO performance to a fantastic 102,400. What it means is the camera can shoot pictures in the toughest of low lighting conditions. Even when there are no direct light source, the EOS 5D Mark III can shoot impressive frames using only the ambient light. The frames that you get at 3200 are still usable. If you go higher, the noise becomes prominent and there are less and less chance of being able to use the shots that you shoot. Compared to the Nikon it has a better ISO range but poor performance with color noise creeping in to the mid tones. The Nikon D800 has a definite edge as its photos are sharper than the Canon. Canon tend to smoothen out the frames at higher ISO. However, even in low light conditions, the Canon manages to have an impressive auto focusing performance.
Continuous shooting speeds
Faster continuous shooting speeds is a major advantage when shooting, well, faster subjects; and that means sports photography, a playful dog or a child that won’t simply sit down and allow itself to be photographed. So one would need a decently better performing continuous shooting mode. While at 6 fps the Canon 5D Mark III isn’t quite the best in terms of continuous shooting speeds, but still its performance is respectable. What is impressive is that it can keep shooting for around 20 frames before finally stalling and even at that point it gives a good continuous shooting speeds. The Nikon on the other hand is slower at 4 fps and does not have a great buffer either.
Video modes are one of Canon’s specialties in the full frame DSLR cameras. The Mark III shoots videos in 1920 x 1080 (full HD) at 30 fps / 25 fps / 24 fps. If you prefer however to see the world a bit slower than usual, you will however have to switch to 720p HD when you can shoot at higher frame rates of 60 and 50. The Nikon too shoots Full HD 1080p video at 30/25/24p with stereo sound. What the Canon has in addition to the option to plug in external earphone plugs (which the Nikon has too) is a volume level controller. This allows the Canon to control the volume levels whilst recording. The Nikon does not have this feature.
Canon has introduced the dual card recording system in this camera. What it does is basically it allows you to use a SD card and a CF card simultaneously. You could either choose to record in one of them and then switch to the other seamlessly when the first one is full; or you could also choose to record the same images in exactly the same resolution in both the cards (come to think of it, professional wedding photographers will have a field day with this feature as they can now simply shoot and then hand over one card to their clients for review); or you could choose to record different quality images in different cards. Saves a lot of hassles really.
Weather sealing is a major factor for some photographers, especially professional photographers worth their salt. The 5D Mark III comes with an all weather body. Handy that you can now shoot pictures with an utter disregard for the elements.
The Canon is more suitable for photojournalism while also being very good for studio photography. The impressive buffer and the fast continuous mode together with the 61 point AF system makes the Canon the choice for fast action photography among the two. The Nikon comparatively does not have nearly as good a buffer speed (to some extent the large 36 megapixel and file size makes it kind of slow to process which affects the final speeds) as the Canon. But the Nikon is definitely better for studio and really capturing a world of detail which is suitable for fashion photography and of course product photography. Also the Nikon has a better dynamic range compared to the Canon.
Sample Images by 5D Mark III on Flickr
Canon 5D Mark III Specifications
|Type||Digital, single-lens reflex, AF/AE camera|
|Recording Media||CF Card Type I and II
Compatible with UDMA CF cards
SD, SDHC, and SDXC Memory Cards
|Image Sensor Size||36.0mm x 24.0mm (35mm Full-frame)|
|Compatible Lenses||Canon EF Lenses (excluding EF-S Lenses)|
|Lens Mount||Canon EF mount|
|Image Sensor Type||High-sensitivity, high-resolution, large single-plate CMOS sensor|
|Pixels||Effective pixels: Approx. 22.3 megapixels|
|Total Pixels||Total pixels: Approx. 23.4 megapixels|
|Aspect Ratio||3:2 (Horizontal: Vertical)|
|Pixel Unit||6.25 m square|
|Color Filter System||RGB primary color filters|
|Low-pass Filter||Fixed position in front of the image sensor|
|Dust Deletion feature (1)||Self Cleaning Sensor Unit
Automatic Sensor Cleaning
Removes dust adhering to the infrared- and ultraviolet-blocking glass.
Self-cleaning executed automatically when power is turned on or off. Manual execution also possible.
Low-pass filter has a fluorine coating.
|Dust Deletion Feature (2)||Dust Delete Data acquisition and appending
The coordinates of the dust adhering to the infrared- and ultraviolet-blocking glass are detected by a test shot and appended to subsequent images.
The dust coordinate data appended to the image is used by the provided software to automatically erase the dust spots.
|Dust Deletion Feature (3)||Manual cleaning|
|Recording Format||Design Rule for Camera File System 2.0 and EXIF 2.3|
|Image Type||Still Image: JPEG, RAW (14-bit Canon Original), M-RAW, S-RAW, RAW+JPEG, M-RAW+JPEG, S-RAW+JPEG
Video: MOV (Image data: H.264/MPEG-4 AVC; Audio: Linear PCM)
|Simultaneous Recording||The image-recording quality can be selected in any combination of the three RAW and eight JPEG recording quality settings.|
|File Size||(1) Large: Approx. 22.10 Megapixels (5760 x 3840)
(2) Medium: Approx. 9.80 Megapixels (3840 x 2560)
(3) S1 (Small 1): Approx. 5.50 Megapixels (2880 x 1920)
(4) S2 (Small 2): Approx. 2.50 Megapixels (1920 x 1280)
(5) S3 (Small 3): Approx. 350,000 Pixels (720 x 480)
(6) RAW: Approx. 22.10 Megapixels (5760 x 3840)
(7) M-RAW: Approx. 10.50 Megapixels (3960 x 2640)
(8) S-RAW: Approx. 5.50 Megapixels (2880 x 1920) Exact file sizes depend the subject, ISO speed, Picture style et
|File Numbering||The following three types of file numbers can be set:
(1) Continuous numbering
(2) Auto reset
(3) Manual reset
|Backup Recording||Enabled with WFT-E4A attached|
|File Numbering||Consecutive numbering, auto reset, manual reset
Possible to create new folders and select folders in the CF card
|Color Space||sRGB, Adobe RGB|
|Picture Style||Auto, Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful, Monochrome, User Defined 1-3|
|Auto White Balance||Auto white balance with the image sensor|
|Color Temperature Compensation||Blue/amber bias: ±9 levels
Magenta/green bias: ±9 levels
* Corrected in reference to the current WB mode’s color temperature
|Color Temperature Info Transmission||Provided|
|Viewfinder Type||Eye-level pentaprism|
|Viewfinder Coverage||Approx. 100% vertically and horizontally (At approx. 21mm eyepoint)|
|Viewfinder Magnification||Approx. 0.71x (-1m-1 with 50mm lens at infinity)|
|Viewfinder Eyepoint||Approx. 21mm (from eyepiece lens center)|
|Built-in Dioptric Adjustment||-3.0 to +1.0m-1 (diopter)|
|Viewfinder Mirror||Quick-return half mirror (transmission: reflection ratio of 40:60,|
|Viewfinder Information||AF information (AF point, focus confirmation, AF status indicator)
Exposure information (Shutter speed, aperture, ISO speed (always displayed), AE lock, exposure level, exposure warning)
Flash information (Flash ready, flash exposure compensation, high-speed sync, FE lock, red-eye reduction light)
Image information (Highlight tone priority (D+), maximum burst (2-digit display), card information)
|Depth-of-Field Preview||Enabled with depth-of-field preview button|
|Autofocus Type||TTL Secondary image registration, phase detection|
|AF Points||61-point AF (up to 41 cross-type points)|
|AF Working Range||EV -2 – 18 (at 73°F/23°C and ISO 100)|
|Focusing Modes||Auto, One-Shot AF, Predictive AI Servo AF, AI Focus AF, Manual focusing (MF)|
|AF Point Selection||1. Single-point AF (Manual selection)
2. Auto selection 61-Point AF
3. Single-point Spot AF (Manual selection)
4. AF point expansion (Manual selection, 4 points: Up, down, left, and right)
5. AF point expansion (Manual selection, surrounding 8 points)
6. Zone AF (Manual zone selection)
|Selected AF Point Display||Displayed in viewfinder with transparent LCD and on LCD panel|
|AF-assist Beam||(1) Enable
With an EOS-dedicated Speedlite, AF-assist beam is emitted automatically when necessary.
(3) IR AF assist beam only
* No AF-assist beam with flash bursts.
|AF Area and AF Point Selection||AF area used in horizontal/vertical (grip up or down) shooting and the manually-selected AF point position can be set separately|
|Metering Range||EV 1-20 (at 73°F/23°C with EF50mm f/1.4 USM lens, ISO 100)|
|Exposure Control||(1) Scene Intelligent Auto
(2) Program AE (shiftable)
(3) Shutter-priority AE (Safety shift possible)
(4) Aperture-priority AE (Safety shift possible)
(5) Manual exposure
* The metering mode can be specified with a Custom Function.
(7) E-TTL II autoflash program AE
* Evaluative metering, Averaged metering
|ISO Speed (Recommended Exposure Index)||ISO 100-25600 (in 1/3-stop or whole-stop increments)
ISO speed expansion possible to ISO 50, 51200, and 102400.
For [Highlight tone priority], the settable ISO speed range will be 200-25600.
ISO speed safety shift possible with Custom Function.
|Exposure Compensation||Manual: ±5 stops in 1/3- or 1/2-stop increments
AEB: ±3 stops in 1/3 or 1/2-stop increments
|AE Lock||(1) Auto AE lock
In the One-Shot AF mode with evaluative metering, AE lock takes effect when focus is achieved.
(2) Manual AE lock
With AE lock button. (AE lock is updated each time you press the button.) Enabled in all metering modes.
|Shutter Type||Vertical-travel, mechanical, focal-plane shutter with all speeds electronically-controlled|
|Shutter Speeds||1/8000 to 1/60 sec., X-sync at 1/200 sec.
1/8000 to 30 sec., bulb (Total shutter speed range. Available range varies by shooting mode.)
Shutter speed’s control range can be set with a Custom Function.
|Shutter Release||Soft-touch electromagnetic release|
|Self-timer||10-sec. or 2-sec. delay|
|Shutter Lag Time||1) During SW-1 ON, time lag between SW-2 ON and start of exposure:
Approx. 0.059 sec.
2) Time lag between simultaneous SW-1/SW-2 ON and start of exposure:
Approx. 0.2 sec
|Compatible Flash||E-TTL II autoflash with all EX Series Speedlites|
|Zooming to Match Focal Length||Provided|
|Flash Exposure Compensation||±2 stops in 1/3- or 1/2-stop increments|
|External Flash Settings||The camera can set the following with Speedlite 600EX-RT, 580EX II, 430EX II, 320EX, 270EX II, or 270EX:
(1) External flash control
(2) Flash Custom Function setting
|Drive Modes||Single, High-speed continuous, Low-speed continuous, Silent Single Shooting and Self-timer (10 sec. self-timer/remote control, or 2-sec. self-timer/remote control)|
|Continuous Shooting Speed||High-speed: Maximum approx. 6.0 shots/sec.
Low-speed: Maximum approx. 3.0 shots/sec.
Silent continuous shooting: Maximum approx. 3.0 shots/sec.
|Maximum Burst||JPEG Large/Fine: Approx. 65 shots (approx. 16270 shots)
RAW: Approx. 13 shots (approx. 18 shots)
RAW+JPEG Large/Fine: Approx. 7 shots (approx. 7 shots
|Shooting Modes||Still photo shooting and video shooting|
|Focusing||(1) Autofocus (One-Shot AF) – Live mode (One-point, contrast AF. Switching to another AF point possible.)- Face detection Live mode (Face detection, contrast AF. Face selectable.) – Quick mode (61-point, phase-difference AF, same as normal shooting.)
(2) Manual focus
|Metering Modes||Real-time Evaluative metering with the image sensor|
|Metering Range||Real-time evaluative metering with image sensor:
Metering range: EV 0 – EV 20 (At 73°F/23°C, 50mm f/1.4 lens, ISO 100)
AE lock possible
The active metering time can be changed.
|Grid Display||Three grid display provided|
|Silent Shooting||Provided (Mode 1 and 2)|
|LCD Monitor Type||TFT color, liquid-crystal monitor|
|Monitor Size||3.2 in.|
|Monitor Dots||Approx. 1.04 million dots|
|Monitor Coverage||Approx. 100% (viewing angle: approx. 170°)|
|Brightness Adjustment||Auto: Brightness adjusted automatically by the light sensor
* Adjustable to one of three levels: Darker, Standard, Brighter
Manual: Adjustable to one of seven brightness levels
|Interface Languages||25 (English, German, French, Dutch, Danish, Portuguese, Finnish, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, Spanish, Greek, Russian, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, 15/15 Romanian, Ukraine, Turkish, Arabic, Thai, Simplified/Traditional Chinese, Korean, Japanese)|
|Tilt Display – On LCD Monitor||Electronic level indicates up to 360° roll and ±10° pitch in 1° increments.|
|Tilt Display – In Viewfinder||The AF point display is used to indicate up to ±6° horizontal tilt and ±4° vertical tilt in 1° increments (During vertical shooting, up to ±1 ° horizontal tilt and ±6° vertical tilt).|
|Video – File Format||MPEG-4 AVC / H.264
Variable (averaged) bit rate
|Video – File Size||Recording Sizes: 1920 x 1080 (Full HD), 1280 x 720 and 640 x 480|
|Video – Frame Rates||[1920 x 1080]: 30 fps / 25 fps / 24 fps – [1280 x 720]: 60 fps / 50 fps – [640 x 480]: 30 fps / 25 fps|
|Video – ISO Range||P, Av, and Bulb: Automatically set within ISO 100 – 12800, expandable to H (equivalent to ISO 25600) – A+ and Tv: Automatically set within ISO 100 – 12800, – M: Auto ISO (automatically set within ISO 100 – 12800), ISO 100 – 12800 set manually (in 1/3- or whole-stop increments), expandable to H (equivalent to ISO 16000/20000/25600)|
|Video – Focusing||Same as focusing with Live View shooting|
|video – Exposure Control||(1) Program AE for movie shooting (2) Manual exposure|
|Video – Exposure Compensation||Up to ±3 stops in 1/3-stop increments|
|Display Format||Single image, Single image + Image-recording quality/shooting information, histogram, 4- or 9-image index, magnified view (approx. 1.5x-10x), rotated image (auto/manual), image jump (by 10/100 images, index screen, by shooting date, by folder), two-image comparative display, slide show (all images/selected by date/folder), star rating|
|Highlight Alert||With single-image display (Info.) and single-image display, overexposed highlight areas will blink|
|Quick Control Function||The following functions can be set: Shutter speed, aperture, ISO speed, exposure compensation, AEB, flash exposure compensation, AF point selection (including AF area selection modes), Picture Style, White Balance, WB Correction, metering mode, Auto Lighting Optimizer, recording function switching, image-recording quality, AF mode, drive mode, and Custom Controls (camera controls/buttons customization).|
|Image Protection||Erase protection can be applied or canceled for a single image, all images in a folder or all images in the card|
|Image Erase||Erase a single image, selected images, all images in a folder, all images in a card or erase only unprotected images|
|Compatible Printers||PictBridge-compatible printers|
|Printable Images||RAW and JPEG images complying to Design rule for Camera File System|
|Custom Functions||13 Custom Functions settable with the camera|
|Camera User Settings||Current camera settings can be registered to C1, C2 and C3 on the Mode Dial (Automatic registration update is possible)|
|My Menu Registration||Up to six top-tier menu options and Custom Function settings can be registered|
|USB Terminal||For personal computer communication and direct printing (USB 2.0 Hi-Speed)|
|Audio/Video OUT Terminal||(1) Video OUT terminal: NTSC/PAL selectable
(2) mini-HDMI OUT terminal
|Extension System Terminal||For connection to WFT-E7A (WFT) and GP-E2 (GPS)|
|Gigabit-Ethernet||The RJ-45 jack is not built-in and is only available via the Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E7A|
|Battery||One Battery Pack LP-E6
AC power can be supplied with the AC Adapter Kit ACK-E6
|Battery Check||Automatic battery check when the power switch is turned on: Displayed in 6 levels:|
|Power Saving||Power turns off after the set time (1, 2, 4, 8, 15 or 30 minutes) of non-operation elapses.|
|Startup Time||Approx. 0.1 sec|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||Approx. 6.0 x 4.6 x 3.0 in. (152.0 x 116.4 x 76.4 mm)|
|Weight||Approx. 33.5 oz. / 950g (Based on CIPA standards)
Approx. 30.3 oz./ 860g (Body only)
- Canon EOS 5D Mark III vs Nikon D800
- EOS 5D mark 3 on Canon Professional Network
- EOS 5D mark 3 on Canon Digital Learning Center
- Sample Image & Movies
- Manual & Pocket Guide
- Press release
- Hands on Video Review: Adorama TV | DigitalRevTv
Canon EOS 5D Mark III (Body)
Canon EOS 5D Mark III with EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens
Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT Flash
Canon BG-E11 Battery Grip
Canon GP-E2 GPS Receiver
Canon Speedlite Transmitter A
Canon Wireless File Transmitter
Canon EOS 5D Mark III (Body)
Canon 5D Mark III w/24-105 f/4L IS
Canon EOS 5D Mark III Body
Canon 5D Mark III with EF 24-105 f/4
Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT
Canon EOS 5D Mark III Body
Canon 5D Mark III with EF 24-105 f/4