Canon 5D Mark III DSLR Review
It should be noted that the test results are based on a pre-production model. --Editor
The new Canon 5D Mark III has a large and handy grip on the right side. The body is a lot smaller than the new EOS-1D X because the 5D Mark III doesn’t use a “motor winder like” bottom for the rechargeable battery and therefore doesn’t offer a second shutter release button and setup dial, convenient for vertical shots. An additional battery grip is offered as an option, however.
The 5D Mark III uses a slightly different operating system than the 1D X. A “Q” button helps change important image parameters very quickly. The AF modes (selection of single AF sensors etc.) are changed by pressing the “M-FN” button near the shutter release button and the AF-sensor button on the back, similar to what is found on the 5D Mark II. The On/Off button is now located directly beneath the mode dial on the upper left (instead in the lower third of the back). The On/Off button is now separated from the “Lock” switch, which was combined with the On/OFF switch on the 5D Mark II.
Some very new functional elements are added as well: A button for special image modes can be found beside the left side of the LCD screen. It allows the user to change the Picture Styles (“Standard”, “Portrait” and more) or to choose special image modes like double exposure images or HDR mode. In HDR mode the camera will take three images with different EV settings and combine these pictures to produce an image with high dynamic range.
There is another very new function button on the left. The photographer can use this to rate images. Each press of the button adds a rating “star” to an image, all the way to five stars. This star tagging helps to evaluate and select images when using Canon’s “Zoom Browser” software.
The new LCD screen on the back is very large (3.2 inches) and has an ultra-high resolution of 1,040,000 RGB dots. It displays brilliant and extremely detailed images. All menu elements are clearly visible with sharp and crisp text elements.
The new 5D Mark III uses the most advanced AF system made by Canon: This AF system offers 61 AF sensors (including cross sensors) and is very fast. The camera showed an excellent performance when shooting fast objects (cars on the street) and allows the user to keep objects in focus even when shooting with higher burst rates. The camera can take up to 6 images per second with claimed nearly infinite image rates (officially: “up to 16,270 images.”) We didn’t test this number in our tests because we couldn’t get a CF card with the required capacity.
The camera offers many interesting video features. It is able to record Full HD video with standard H.264 compression or, in a special mode, allows for the recording of every single video frame instead groups of pictures (which are normally used by MP4 or H.264 compression). This allows a higher video quality, but also means higher data rate (less recording time for the same CF card memory size; higher PC requirements for video editing). Instead of using the SET button the new camera uses a special Start/Stop-button and still/video switch to switch between both recording modes.
Color: The Canon 5D Mark III yielded an exact reproduction of the GretagMacbeth chart. The mean/average saturation is 101.1 percent, which is a little low for most consumers but perfect for precise color reproduction. The 5D showed a very tiny shift of the white balance into cooler colors, but most colors are reproduced with their given values in the chart. Only red nuances are a boosted by a higher yellow rate, but the shift is insignificant. The skin tones are reproduced in a very realistic way, which may be unsuitable for portrait photographers who would like to shoot more “stylized” skin tones – even if they are not realistic. For those photographers a different picture style setting may be appropriate. All our test images were shot in “standard” color mode.
Sharpness: The results of the resolution tests are excellent. The camera reproduced the ISO12233 chart with almost the maximum resolution of its sensor (3,698 lines in picture height; nominal resolution is 3,840 lines per picture height). The test image was taken in JPEG mode and “Standard” picture style setting which uses a little higher sharpness filtering than the Nikon D4. Nevertheless, there are only some minor overshot effects visible on extreme contrast lines like the on the Siemens star in our test box shot.
The high resolution and extreme sharp image reproduction is clearly visible in our standard test box shot and the portrait shot. The differentiation of red colors is clearly noticeable in the red spool and the fabric of the model’s t-shirt. The 5D Mark III shows a lot improvements in preventing color moirés and aliasing effects.
Noise: The camera showed even better noise performance than the Nikon D4. The luminance noise is on an extremely low level even when using the highest ISO speed settings. Up to ISO 800 it is lower than 0.5 percent; up to ISO 12,800 it is lower than 1.0 percent (!). Color noise is also on a very low level.
The dynamic range results are very good but aren’t as excellent as the Nikon D4’s performance. The Canon showed a maximum of 11 f-stops and keeps a high level of about 10 f-stops up to ISO 3200. When using higher ISO speed settings the results decline rapidly.
* Excellent results in resolution test
* Very precise color reproduction
* Massive and sealed body
* A little larger than its forerunner 5D Mark II, better grip
* Full-HD video including Intra-Frame-Based in “ALL-I”-mode
* Higher price than forerunner 5D Mark II
Lab Tests and comments by BetterNet, our TIPA associated testing lab. Edited by George Schaub. For full specs visit www.canonusa.com.