Canon's EOS 5D Mark III

After all the fuss about Lytro's 'focus in post' camera—and the bathos of its low-quality results—Canon's EOS 5D Mark III is something of an antidote. It has a 22.3 megapixel full-frame sensor, 61-point autofocus (like the 1D), 6fps burst shooting and an ISO range of 100 to 25,600. Dual memory card slots (Compact Flash and SD) and a 3.2" 1-megapixel LCD screen are standard-issue; in-camera HDR, a faster CPU and 100 percent viewfinder coverage are new.

1080p video at 24, 25 and 30 fps is also to be expected, but DSLR filmmakers should like the headphone jack, audio monitoring and the image processor's anti-moire and anti-artifact capabilities. The Mark III lacks the 60D's flip-up LCD display, however, a feature some forum posters hoped for. Several new accessories were announced alongside the Mark III, including two new flash units, a battery grip, a wireless file transfer unit and a GPS receiver.

As antidotes go, this one will not be covered by your insurance: it's $3,499 for the body alone, significantly pricier than the Mark II. The price tag hits four grand when bundled with a 24-105mm kit lens.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III [Amazon]


  1. Would love to get my hands on one of these. I’m still using a 40D (pre-video-era). I’ve got that 24-105mm L lens, though – unlike a typical “kit lens” but it’s top quality in all respects and the standalone new price is something like $1000, so it’s a significant discount if you buy it with the camera (I bought mine used for about $800).

  2. And a bit disappointing for the extra money. USB2? Seriously? Same slow X-sync as previous? No autofocus assist on the body? Dual Cf and SD slots, but the SD slot is an older, slower standard? At least they mostly solved the banding problems, and finally put a decent autofocus on a camera without a “1” in it’s name.

    1. Sounds like you’re a Nikon man.

      Out of curiosity why would Canon put an autofocus assist in the body when none of the EF series lenses could use it?

      1. I’m a pro Canon shooter and my main bodies are 5D Is and IIs. Why in the world would you conclude I’m a “Nikon man?” Because I’m annoyed  it takes so long to transfer files over USB2 while I’m shooting tethered? Or maybe it’s because I’m less than thrilled I have to use a number of tricks to overpower the sun with speedlights, instead of just shooting faster?

        Out of curiosity, why do you believe EF lenses can’t use AF assist? Works very well from the add-on ST-E2 and Canon-brand speedlights. Is there something magical about an add-on module that I’m unaware of?

  3.  Sure, and the lack of flip-out screen is kindof a stumper. I think the interfaces for these things need an overhaul – SLRs aren’t even designed right, we’re holding a flat brick onto our non-flat faces, and peering into a tiny peephole. Roland has also traditionally had bafflingly stupid interfaces.

    Still, I’ve been waiting to hear about mk III, and I wonder how the ol’ Zeiss might look with a full-frame sensor. This should drive the price of older used 5D cameras down a bit.

    1. Don’t know if a flip out screen would be a good idea for keeping a good sealing. Sounds to me like introducing trouble at that level. (sic) I surely see the use of such an equipment!

  4. Cool. Rich people get to take better pictures. 

    *takes shitty pictures of his kids with crappy camera*

    1.  Not really, because most rich people don’t think before buying. I’m no expert at all, an enthusiast at most so correct me if I’m wrong but more expensive is not really better in this market. When we bought our first DSLR we expected to spend about 1000€ on a decent one. The guy in the camera shop very fairly remarked “Sure, you CAN spend all that money you brought with you but let me show you this Nikon over here. It costs 350€, does the same thing as the pricier model. The only difference is that you have no video (which we didn’t want, we’re shooting pictures, not films) and it has only one wheel for exposure and aperture instead of two so it takes half a second longer to set up. The hardware is the same.”
      We went with it and are really happy. The 350€ included a starter kit lens but we could use the left-over money for a really good one as soon as we’ve reached the limits of the one we have. Rich people would just buy the most expensive model they could, ignoring the fact that a camera of half the cost would probably have the same hardware and just a couple of buttons less.

    2. Rich people only?

      Not always true: my first camera was a $50 East German Praktica L. My second, a Nikon F2.  It cost me more than three weeks’ wages – despite getting a large staff discount.

      But it was worth it.

    3.  You can get 95% of the way there with a Canon ES, which is easy to find for $399 with a kit lens.

      Once you get into a base SLR, there’s really no excuse for crappy pictures anymore, if the photos are crappy at that point, it’s the photographer.  Above that it’s niceities.

      Actually, there are a ton of examples online that show that a skilled photographer can do excellent work with the shittiest of cameras.  There have even been contests in that regard.   Any good photographer that owns an SLR also owns a $200 point-and-shoot to keep in their pocket for unexpected opportunities.

      The Canon SX series is a good point-and-shoot if you really want to take away most of the excuses for bad photos – it’s one of the few left that has a full range of exposure modes available – most point-and-shoots have been dumbed down to “turn on, push button”

    4. You can take good pictures with a lesser camera. It’s more about framing and focus than the lenses and body. A good photographer can take decent pictures with a crappy camera. A great photographer can take fabulous pictures with a truly crappy camera.

      1.  Not true, really.  I hear this a lot. 

        The photographer DOES have the large part in the making of a good photograph.  But a crappy camera IS a crappy camera.  Photos taken with a crappy camera, on the whole, are annoying photos.  Focus off, optical flaws, exposure not quite right, shutter releases which jam at just the wrong time.

        Consider the ultimate Crappy Camera: the recycled disposable film still camera.  The only reason those camera’s photos are even recognizeable is that the quarter-million dollar printer is able to scan and quick-fix all the flaws in the film.  Er, most of the time.

        Consider the Turing Machine – the ultimate ‘crappy computer’.  While in theory, it can run any program, any program which would take longer than the age of the universe to run may as well not run.

        If it takes longer to boot to desktop than I have left to live, then there’s no computer, if you ask me.

        Sometimes, you can blame your tools.

    5. Yes and good cooks have expencive pots! Don’t overestimate the camera. I’ve seen excellent images from bad cameras.

  5. yeah, canon.

    oh, yeah.. that’s the company that made my last digital camera purchase, in which the ccd died THREE TIMES in a year, with very little use. canon service is great, but i know them a bit too well now.. so thanks, but no thanks. i’ll stick to my srt 202. i can actually fix the damn thing.

    that, and i could buy 10 minoltas and an entire darkroom setup used for less than the cost of this thing.

  6. I’ve had to face the fact that digital camera bodies are essentially disposable. I’ve got a 20-year old lens that still functions great, but am itching to replace my 6-year-old body.

    1. and that’s sad. there are so many things wrong with paying 3500 bucks for something that is unfixable and “essentially disposable”, i couldn’t possibly cover them here.

      1. It’s not unfixable, really; the high-end bodies can be repaired and have parts replaced and in general be kept alive. It’s just that the technology is still immature enough for the quality difference between current and 6-year-old tech to be very notable – this will become less so in the foreseeable future.

        Also, this is the reason pros recommend spending more on good glass than a good body: Optics reached the good-enough stage a long time ago, and a good 6-year-old lens is comparable to the best of today.

        1. totally agree on the glass. you would have to intentionally un-engineer most optics to make them last less than a lifetime (or until you run them over with your tank)

          by fixable, though, i mean something that i can fix with little cost without oem and being cameraless for a month or two. canon service is great, they are fast and friendly, and paid for shipping on each of my returns.. but the fact is, as a professional photographer, i can’t be cameraless for 3-6 months out of the year. i expect my equipment to work, now.. and it seems like my only option here is to drop 7k on two bodies, which is unacceptable. also, i shudder to think of the cost of fixing a camera body like this that I actually damaged..

          the fact that the technology is immature is no excuse for sourcing the cheapest possible materials you can get, which are apt to stop working at random times because of manufacturing defects, and then selling your contraption for the price of a decent used car. this is why ghana is piled high with obsolete inkjet printers.

    2. If you have a 5D style camera you are less motivated to change that fast. The difference between 12 Mpixels and 22 Mpixels is not that much of an advantage most of the time. but the differences between a tiny chip, a APS size chip, a full frame chip or even still a bigger chip are enormous. 

  7. This commercial paid for by Elect Canon Committee.

    Seriously, we all like gadgets, but this is nothing but an ad. Nothing about the bad points of this camera, or its also new competition, the cheaper Nikon D800. At least Watchismo is clearly labeled as a site sponsor.

    1. At least Watchismo is clearly labeled as a site sponsor.

      Why so harsh?

      Call Rob a fanboy if you want, but to accuse him of shilling for Canon seems a bit over the top, especially given that, judging by your comment history, you’re an avid BoingBoing reader.

    2. The funny thing is that you’re so busy insinuating that there’s some sneaky back-room corruption going on that you didn’t notice the Amazon referrer link in plain sight.

      On that note, you may be assured coverage of the D800 is imminently forthcoming.

      Everyone, bookmark this post and use that link to make me rich when you upgrade from that obsolete piece of junk, the Mark II.

  8. Anti moire technology, where did you get this info from ? Have they built in something like mosaic engineerings filter now ?  Ah.. ignore me, found some details on it.

    1. Coming soon: the Canon Xeni.

      Setting aside the price, the immovable screen is a deal killer.

      (One of the beauties of my ’56 Rolleiflex’s square format and top-down viewing is that I can tip it upside down and hold it at arm’s length over my head or get low without having to lie down in filth.) 

      1.  Many professional photographers dislike movable screens actually. They’re too easy to break.

        1.  I’m not sure how that’s true if you don’t use the screen in different positions in the first place. In any case, they’re talking about consumer-grade implementations and I would certainly hope a pro-level body would be tougher.

          Me, I miss waist-level finders pretty badly. They effectively kill perspective distortion for close range event photos and help keep shooters out of contortionist positions.

        2. Let’s see if my G-11 or any digital camera is still functional and/or useable in 10 years, let alone 55.

  9. Nothing against the Lytro, but what’s just as interesting to me about that camera (as much as the post-shoot field of focus) is that it begins to rethink some of the ideas about what makes up a camera body.  

    I love digital cameras and the fact that a better picture is available in a smaller and smaller physical package. The digital SLRs are amazing and take beautiful pictures, but they’re essentially the same body makeup as my old Canon A-1.  Rather than just pumping up the light sensors and available MPs, it’s exciting to see the odd occasion when someone revisits what we expect the physical object of a camera to look like.  

    The RED cameras are definitely in that camp as well – fully modular bodies that also take advantage of new camera tech advances.

    1. Inevitably, someone will develop (…) a face-shaped camera that’ll be useless to those of us who use their left eye. 
      I borrowed my teacher’s Nikkormat way back in the day that used the wind-lever to turn on the meter. Poked me in the eye the whole day.

  10. Last year I somehow talked a client into renting me a 5D MK2 for a job I was working on. A decision that has proven costly to not just my psyche, but potentially my wallet. The pics and video that camera took were incredible. Since then I’ve developed a Gollum-type obsession with the damn thing, and just can’t look at my old faithful 20D the same way.

    Be warned: If it’s out of your price range, STAY AWAY!

  11. What if someone made a simple full frame digital back for my FE-2.
    and it didn’t cost upwards of 10k. or am I just a dreamer.

    1. The ad at the bottom is a google ad. They try to figure out a contextually relevant thing to advertise, we don’t decide what goes in them.

      That thought, “Gadget posts must be secret ads”, is a form of paranoia, you know.

  12. in my specific case, I own a bunch of canon lenses and accessories – so, will I be switching to a Nikon because it’s $700 cheaper?  Not likely – I’ve got over $10,000 invested in canon compatible accessories.  What am I trying to say?  Pick your camp, invest wisely, because there will come a point when changing camps is not an option.  They all (ie both) know this and use it to their advantage.  What is true, is that the price of a good lens does not depreciate like a camera body – and with that said, I hope Canon DOES lose a lot of market share because $700 is significant (Nikon D800 vs 5D mark III).  Once people switch, the won’t be coming back any time soon.  Take heed Canon – there are other options – be greedy, get rich quick – it only works on a short-term basis.  The Canon lenses and flashes can be sold at a good price, the T-adaptor to convert from Canon to Nikon on my Meade telescope is not that expensive, converting a third party shutter release from Canon to Nikon is also quite cheap – keep up the good work Canon, and price yourself out of the market.

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