Canon EOS 5D Mk III

Professional photographer Lee Frost has been travelling the globe with anE0S5DMk III for the last few months. Having put it through its paces to find out its capabilities, here’s what he thinks of it so far…

SPECIFICATIONS

Image sensor: Full-frame CMOS Resolution: 22.3 megapixels

Maximum image resolution: 5760×3840 pixels

Number of AF points: 61

Multizone metering: TTL full aperture with 63-zone Dual Layer SPC

ISO rating: 100-12800 (expandable 50-102400)

Shutter speeds: 30-l/8000sec plus В

Built-in Hash: No

Storage: Dual slots of CF and SD (SDHC/SDXC)

Continuous frame rate: Six frames-per-second

LCD monitor: 3.2in (1,040,000 dots)

Size: 152×116.4×76.4mm

Weight: 950g (body only)

I’M NOT ONE for changing cameras unless there’s a very good reason. I was slow to switch to digital in the first place and when I did, my money went on a Canon EOS-1Ds Mk III because I waited until image quality reached a point where improvements thereafter would be small and slow. I’d seen other photographers lose thousands of pounds on an annual basis by upgrading to the latest model, but thatwasn’t for me. I’m a Yorkshire man, for goodness sake!

The EOS-1Ds Mk III served me well for four years and is still a brilliant camera, but to be honest, I got pretty sick of the weight and bulk. I don’t need a camera that’s tough enough to knock nails in and having added anEOS5DMk II to my kit, essentially as a back-up body, I realised that it was more suited to my work than its heftier brother-and it took better photographs!

That marked a turning point in camera choice for me, so when Canon announced the EOS-1Dxand EOS5DMkIII, it was the latter that got me excited and I decided it was time for a change. Rather than rush out and buy anEOS5DMk III when it was launched, I flogged my EOS-IDS Mk III on ebay, banked the cash, then waited for the EOS5DMk III price to come down, which it did, by £600 in the space of a few months!

While waiting, I was lucky enough to get hold of a test model from Canon, which I took to Iceland in May 2012. Over the ten days of that trip, I really put the EOS5DMk III through its paces, and on my return I knew it was the camera for me. Since then I’ve shot over20,000 images with my own, on several long trips to Burma, Cuba and Thailand as well as around the UK, and all I can say is it’s brilliant! In fact, I’ve hardly touched the EOS5DMkll, which now looks set to be reserved for emergency back-up only!

There are so many reasons to like the EOS 5D Mk III. Image quality is one.Canon didn’t exactly push the boat out when it came to adding more pixels to the EOS5DMk III compared to earlier models, but who needs more? I don’t, and photography’s my job. Instead they concentrated on other areas.

Dynamic range is better than that of both the EOS-1Ds Mk III and the EOS5DMk II, with more detail recorded in the highlights and the shadows. Noise control is also markedly improved, not only at ISO 100 but through the ISO range, which is important to me as I often find myself shooting handheld in low light. Noise is barely visible up to ISO 1600, though I’m more than happy to shoot at ISO 3200, even in situations where high image quality is important.

But why stop there whenthere’sso much further to go? The standard ISO range is 100-12800, but that’s expandable to ISO 25600, ISO 51200 and even a whopping ISO 102400! I’ve used them all, and though chroma noise is pretty bad from ISO 25600 up, and shadows a little on the grey side, the images produced are still usable, especially if you convert them to black & white and bump up contrast as they have a fantastic gritty.grainy look. More significantly, at such high ISOs it’s possible to take handheld shots in situations where you’d previously be forced to put the camera away, and that opens some useful creative doors, such as street photography at night.

I’ve never been much of an autofocusing fan (scared of the technology if the truth be known),but I’ve made an effort to get to know the EOS 5D Mk Ill’s 61-point AF system and this is definitely paying dividends when I shoot moving subjects. Adjusting the active AF point/s with the camera at eye-level is quick and easy, so much so that I often find myself doing it as the subject approaches, so I get the right bit of my subject in focus -shooting with a telezoom lens wide-open means depth-of-field is thin on the ground, so accurate focusing is essential. I never mastered this with previous DSLRs.but find it a doddle with the EOS 5D Mk III.

The AF itself is also super-quick and accurate, thanks to the 41 cross-type points, five of which are diagonally sensitive, and that fact that with lenses that have a maximum aperture off/4 or faster, all 41 cross-type points kick in. It’s certainly the best autofocussystem I’veever used, and I feel more confident about autofocusing than ever before.

In-camera HDR is a novel feature of the EOS 5D Mk III and offers lots of options in terms of the number of frames combined, the extent of the exposure bracket and the effect required — Standard, Vivid, Natural, Bold, Embossed etc. I’mnot a big HDR user, but Standard settings are useful in contrasty situations and worth experimenting with, for creative effect if nothing else.

Metering? Well, it goes without saying that it’s good because it has never been bad, in any Canon DSLR. Evaluative metering and aperture-priority are an unshakable combination in the vast majority of situations and I rarely use anything else — other than when I’m shooting with my Lee Big Stopper and need Bulb for the long exposures.

Finally, handling. The EOS 5D Mk III just feels right in the hand. It’s chunky and quite weighty compared to the plasticky EOS 5D Mk II (still a fab camera),but significantly smaller and lighter than the EOS-1Dx. This means that when I attach a heavy lens like my 24-70mm f/2.8L, it feels well-balanced rather than front-heavy. Weather proofing also means you can use it in the wet or dusty and sandy environments without concern

— I got Canon’s test body soaked during last year’s Iceland trip and it never missed a beat

— while the 6fpsshooting rate is a definite improvement over the EOS 5D Mk lls 3.9fps and makes it great for action.

Verdict

After nine months of ownership and 20,000+ shots, I can honestly say I don’t have a single complaint about this camera. It’snot as tough as the flagship EOS-1Dx, but for the varied photography I do — which covers everything from landscapes to portraits and details to action -it offers the perfect compromise between durability, versatility, speed, size, weight and price. Image quality is stunning, high ISO performance better than anything I’veeverseen, and the autofocus is superb. Canon will no doubt be working on its replacement already, but they’re going to have to come up with something pretty amazing before I’d even consider upgrading — the EOS 5D Mk III is definitely a keeper.

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