So yesterday, March 21st I received my Canon 5D Mark III. Yes, the Mark III, Canon’s new love child! And well, mine too
That I know of, I think I may be the first one in Canada, and I know for a fact the first one in Montreal to have gotten one. For those that are curious, I picked it up at Camtec Photo on the corner of Notre-Dame and McGill in Montreal. They had gotten in 3 of the body only kits.
Before I continue the review, first off let me say, I’m a photographer, not a scientist. I don’t pixel peep, I don’t analyst MTF charts. This review isn’t going to be a scientific breakdown of the camera, it’ll be how I feel using it, and how after 1 shoot my experience was with it. The firmware I’m on is v1.0.7.
But now onto the Camera, the packaging looks pretty much identical to that of the 5D Mark II’s, and it comes with the normal do-dads, the cables/discs/instruction manual numbering in the 400 pages and thankfully, an LP-E6. Yup! It takes the same battery as the 5D Mark II, 60D and 7D.
Taking it out side of the box, you see the camera for the first time, and it looks like the 5D Mark II married the 7D and had a kid. It’s nearly identical to the two. It has a sharp looking, more angular cut then the Mark II, and it has moved its power on/off switch to where the 7D/60D has it, up by the mode wheel. There’s a lock by the scroll wheel, (to control Aperture/exposure metering), that has fancily turned into a touch sensitive pad (more on that later). The scroll wheel itself has turned more towards that of the 60D (for those that are familiar with it). It has a sharp 3.2-inch LCD, doesn’t tilt or swivel, but from what I’ve seen it has a very wide angle of viewing. The layout of the buttons is nearly identical, except for one small change that’s annoying…the focus assist/zoom in button that was normally on the top right of the back of the camera (in live view/video mode normally you’d zoom in to check focus) has now been moved to the far left side of the screen, far out of reach of where you’d want it. There’s also a 7D-like video/live view mode start and stop switch, making it much easier to get to recording video. Some ports have seen some position changes, but there’s nothing that’s been lost, plus a headphone input! There are also SD and CF card slots (again, more on that later, we’re working our way from the box to the sensor ) and the same normal battery slot that’s far enough from the tripod hole to be accessible to swap battery’s when you’re on a tripod. It’s the same body you’re used to, there weren’t many drastic changes.
Strangely, I only bought my first 5D Mark II camera a week ago (long story, and another blog post about that later), but I’ve used a Mark II a lot, just never pulled the trigger and bought one. But immediately I fell in love with the full frame. I’d thought that between the Hasselblad’s medium format sensor, and the 1D’s APS-H sensor I never really had a need for the full frame. And oddly since I bought that, I’ve started shooting a lot more in low light environments (I honestly feel that it’s a coincidence) and I found that I’ve been shooting normally around the ISO 4000 mark, and it’s the cleanest camera I’ve ever shot with, I feel cleaner than the 1D Mark IV. In theory I can shoot up to 25, 600 it looks worse than my iPhone in the same environment. The 5D Mark II’s native ISO was 6400, and venturing anywhere beyond that took a serious hit on image quality. Having had only one shoot with the 5D Mark III so far (a student protest against tuition hikes), I found that it was significantly cleaner already! As most people reading this already know though, you can capture usable images at ISO 25, 600. If you’re feeling adventurous, or just absolutely desperate you can jump to ISO 51, 200 and even 102, 400. But those look just as poor I found as they did on the 1D Mark IV, although possible a stop cleaner (meaning 102, 400 on the 5D looks like 51, 200 on the Mark IV). The day’s weather was very bipolar, and as the sun set I had to bump up the ISO, but when the sun was out, I was shooting around ISO 400-800, and anything under 800 I couldn’t tell the difference, at least not yet. Anything under 800 was spotless. I am thrilled with the camera’s performance at ISO 12,800 and everything below it. And besides the incredible low light of the camera, there’s another amazing feature of the camera; it’s autofocus.
Having shot quite recently, and oftenly (that’s not a word, I know) with a C300, and due to my background, even if the 5D Mark III’s video mode had autofocus, I wouldn’t use it. But first off, not having shot a lot of video (it was a photo assignment) I can’t give an absolute review of the video, but I was shooting at 1080p @ 24fps, using the ALL-I codec. The Mark III now offers all the formats that come in the others from the EOS Line, 30/24 fps @ 1080p, 720p @ 50/60 and low def as well. The ALL-I codec is 80-90mbit, and I found it a bit fuzzy, and had a slight buzz/crackle in the audio. And in terms of the upgrades between the Mark II and III in the video department, there really isn’t many. Just the headphone jack upgrade (which anyone serious about video wouldn’t be using, or at least using much of). I didn’t notice if there was a change to the alisasing and moire that plagued the Mark II, but Canon says there’s been a significant change. I’ll let you guys know in the next 24 hours if there has truly been a change. Also I noticed that you can shoot up to ISO 25, 600 in video mode (unlike the Mark II). That was only accessible to me after I made accessible the expanded ISO settings in photo mode. What I liked though, and found super cool, was that you can adjust all your settings silently with the touch pad during recording. And to change the audio levels you use the touch pad like an iPod scroll wheel, silently while recording. It’s touch sensitive! I did notice improvements in the rolling shutter department. The sensor is still incredible, and remember all the low light, and image quality improvements we just got when taking pictures? Yeah, it all caries over to the video side as well. You get the same incredible low light, and the same spectacular rich color, and rendering that comes from the amazing full frame sensor. For those that know video codecs the ALL-I codec is a larger bit rate than normal, and is great for color grading. It generally grades better than the old one. There have been Codec compatibility issues, although I wouldn’t know of this, I haven’t tried it yet. This is a direct quote from eoshd.com “Possibly due to the switch to the Rec.709 broadcast colour space of 16-235, the 5D Mark III footage is also more susceptible to gamma issues with NLEs than the old camera was. Like the GH2 you get crushed blacks and a darker gamma on a computer screen which uses a 0-255 colour space. You need to transcode with 5DToRGB with gamma set to 1.22 to get properly representative rushes whilst editing. I don’t think Quicktime on the Mac properly remaps the 16-235 range of luminance to 0-255 for your display.
Canon and Apple need to talk more.
There are also other (more minor) compatibility issues with the new codec. Vimeo doesn’t support the .MOV files direct from the card yet though I am sure a fix is on its way very soon and VLC Player prior to the new 2.0.1 doesn’t playback the footage either so make sure you update that app if you haven’t already.”
Earlier I’d complained about the focus button being moved, but you can set the SET button to become it, but unfortunately not the M.Fn button (a button that sits beside the shutter that you can set any function to it). The low light is incredible on it, and besides the codec compression just as good as the photo side, but it’s not near the C300 from what I can tell. And also, again having not brought a monitor or a Atomos Ninja with me I can’t speak 100% sure about this, but I don’t believe the HDMI out is uncompressed, like the D4 and D800 are.
So that’s my new camera! And probably in the coming days, tens of thousands of other peoples new cameras! Comment what you think of it when you receive it! But for now, I’m sorry my review was so based on this one shoot, I’m shooting video with it tomorrow (Friday, March 23rd) night, fashion Saturday, in a club Saturday night, and another video Sunday, so I’ll update this review with sample pics and updates as I get to know the camera more and more! But for now thanks for reading!
Have a good night!