Canon EOS 5D Mark III Digital SLR Camera
The first-ever official presidential portrait using a digital camera was taken by Pete Souza, photographing Barack Obama with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II on January 13, 2009. Trivia aside, this is a showcase of just how dated the EOS 5D Mark II has become. The 5D Mark II was a hugely impressive camera, well past its initial debut, but newer camera designs have been introduced to the market since then. Canon's popular full-frame DSLR has finally received the update it deserves.
Despite the continuation of the '5D' naming, the EOS 5D Mark III is essentially a new camera. The 22.3-megapixel image sensor shares more in common with the APS-C unit found in the EOS 7D than it does with the previous full-frame 21.1-megapixel sensor. Though the external body styling may look familiar to casual observers, the 5D Mark III carries more rounded corners and minor adjustments to ergonomics.
The screen now features the correct 3:2 aspect ratio for shooting stills, and some of the controls have been relocated for easier access. The viewfinder offers 100 percent frame coverage, compared to 98 percent in the Mark II. Overall, the EOS 5D Mark III has been redesigned to be simpler to use without hampering access to major controls or frustrating advanced photographers.
The EOS 5D Mark III faces especially stiff challenge from Nikon's latest 36.3-megapixel D800, which threatens to siphon Canon's user base. The new image sensor and DIGIC 5+ processor allows the 5D Mark III to remain competitive, and even hold an edge in some applications. The 5D Mark III is generally fast and responsive, displaying very little lag with most functions.
The AF system has received a major overhaul, with technology pulled directly from Canon's professional 1D line. When paired with a bright lens, the new 61-point AF system offers diagonal cross-type focus points which deliver better accuracy. As expected, high ISO performance is best-in-class, with minimal noise in both JPEG and RAW output. While the D800 can deliver much larger prints due to its 36.3-megapixel output, the EOS 5D Mark III counters with burst shooting speeds of up to 6 fps. Both cameras deliver superb image quality, with neither besting the other outright.
The EOS 5D Mark II quickly became a favorite amongst filmmakers and videographers thanks to its outstanding video capabilities. The Mark III can attribute its major improvements in video mode to the same components that deliver superior still image quality. The new image sensor and DIGIC 5+ processor work wonders with video, eliminating various artifacts and producing smooth, clean HD movies at various selectable frame rates. The mono microphone setup is still no better than other DSLRs on the market, but the 5D Mark III supports outboard microphones for higher-quality sound. As far as video goes, the EOS 5D Mark III remains the benchmark.
Ultimately, comparisons between the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and the Nikon D800 are unfair to both cameras. Each has its own unique user base, and cross-shopping between the brands is rare unless a photographer desires a new system. The EOS 5D Mark III may not seem like a major upgrade at first glance, since the differences are so subtle. Instead, it takes everything that made the Mark II as good as it was and takes things one or two steps further. Canon doesn't need to compete directly with Nikon; those who value snappy operation, fast shooting speeds, and top-notch still picture and video quality will find that the seemingly inferior on paper EOS 5D Mark III carries its own appeal.