While it does not have the high pixel count of the Nikon D810 or the Canon 5DS and 5DS R, the Canon 5D Mark III captures a good level of detail and produces images that are of sufficient quality and size to satisfy the needs of many professional wedding and lifestyle photographers.
It also has a complex and customisable autofocus system that is capable of getting sharp shots at most sporting events. It’s this all-round capability that has made it a popular choice for experienced enthusiast photographers. Its video credentials have also made it popular with legions of videographers.
However, a replacement can’t be too far around the corner and many people anticipate that its replacement will feature an even better AF system along with 4K video capability.
Many Nikon lovers scoffed at the 5D Mark III when it was announced back in March, 2012 because its pixel count of 22.3 million seemed paltry in comparison with the 36 million on the D800’s sensor announced just a month earlier.
Nevertheless, the 5D Mark III has proved very popular with its target market of semi-professional and dedicated enthusiast photographers, as well as professionals who want a smaller camera than Canon’s top-flight 1DX (now replaced by the 1D Mark II).
Alongside the 5D Mark III’s full-frame (36x24mm) CMOS sensor are two Digic 5 processing engines which enable a maximum continuous shooting speed of 6fps (frames per second) and a sensitivity range of ISO 100-25,600 with expansion settings equivalent to ISO 50, 51,200 and 102,400.
There’s also a 61-point autofocus system (the same as the one in the Canon 1DX), with 41 cross-type points (of these 5 are dual cross-type). Meanwhile Canon’s iFCL metering system takes care of exposure.
It was the Canon 5D Mark II that really sparked the video SLR movement and while the Mark III doesn’t really take things much further there’s a headphone socket alongside the mic port to enable audio monitoring, as well as the ability to adjust audio levels silently.
Canon 5D Mark III Build and handling
Thanks to its magnesium alloy body and high-quality build the 5D Mark III feels nice and solid in your hand. Textured coatings on the front and rear grips also make it feel secure in your hand, while their ergonomic shape make it comfortable to hold during prolonged shoots.
The mode dial on the top-plate gives a quick route to the popular advanced exposure settings (aperture priority, shutter priority, manual and bulb) as well as program and a fully automatic option. In addition, there are three custom modes that the photographer can use to access saved setting configurations quickly.
On the back of the camera there’s a button to access the creative options of Picture Style, Multiple exposure and HDR (high dynamic range). The HDR mode deserves a special mention because it’s the best currently available, enabling you to keep all three composite images in raw and JPEG format in addition to the composited image and there’s a variety of image styles from Natural to the most extreme HDR look – Art embossed.
As it’s an SLR, the 5D III has an optical viewfinder. This is a pentaprism unit that shows 100% of the field of view. While the image in the viewfinder is bright and clear, it’s easier to focus manually when composing the image on the 3.2-inch 1,040,000-dot Clear View II screen in live view mode with the target area magnified.