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- Canon EOS 5D Mark III
- We went hands-on with the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, the successor to the king of DSLR video.
Canon 5D Mark III First Impressions Review$3,499.00
The mode dial on the 5D Mark III is taken mostly from the 7D, with a locking mechanism and power switch added. The dial contains options for three user-savable custom modes, the typical aperture-priority, shutter-priority, manual exposure, program automatic, as well as an automatic+ mode.
The 5D Mark III's Automatic+ mode is very similar to the one found on the Canon 7D, taking over the camera's exposure settings to even brightness based on your current metering system. The camera also features the usual "P" program automatic mode, which will let you make a few more adjustments in the camera. The big addition for 5D Mark III users from the 5D Mark II is the expansion of exposure compensation and bracketing. The 5D Mark III will let you use a full exposure compensation scale of +/- 5 stops (compared to +/- 3 stops on the Mark II), with bracketing up to seven shots (also up from three on the Mark II).
Video on the Canon 5D Mark III is sure to be a very hot subject, with the 5D Mark II such a popular option for videographers over the last few years. The 5D Mark III inherits many of the best video features of the 1D X, with some slight differences.
Like the Canon 1D X, the 5D Mark III will offer both All-I (interframe) video encoding and IPB. All-I interframe encoding will offer larger video sizes, but will be easier to edit. Conversely, the IPB encoding will provide smaller file sizes, with bidirectional prediction, but will require more overhead in the editing process.
The Canon 5D Mark III will feature some hardware upgrades that will assist video recording as well, with a step up in image processor as well as the addition of a 3.5mm headphone jack. This will let shooters monitor incoming audio, with on-the-fly audio level control also available. The Digic 5+ processer in the 5D Mark III is vastly more powerful than the one in the 5D Mark II, which will let the camera downsample far more effectively, reducing moire compared to the Mark II. This also lets the camera shoot video at up to ISO 102400, with more efficient noise reduction.
The dual memory card slots should also allow for increased storage, while the improvements to internal heat management will let the camera record up to a full 30 minutes per clip. The 30 minute restriction is a result of the VAT tax applied to video-recording devices in certain territories, so it's an arbitrary limit rather than a hardware one.
We'll have a full report on the 5D Mark III's video quality when we do our review, but it will be awfully tempting for videographers looking for greater control when it does hit.
The 5D Mark III's improved image processing doesn't just benefit video, as it will also result in an improvement in shot-to-shot speed as well. While not matching the 1D X for speed, the 5D Mark III will feature 6fps still photography shooting at maximum resolution.
With a new rotary magnet tension shutter, the camera also can shooting in what is called "silent continuous" mode, which reduces speed to 3fps. The result is an extremely quiet shutter—a big addition given the fact that Canon shutters are rather notoriously loud in normal operation. The effect is dramatic, if not entirely silent. You'll still know someone, somewhere is taking a photo in, say, a completely silent theater, but it's not nearly as disturbing as the shutter is in normal operation.
Custom Image Presets
The Canon 5D Mark III features three user-savable sets of camera settings that can be assigned to three individual spots on the mode dial. These allow you to customize the operation of the camera to specific settings that you may frequent often. The camera also features a set of customizable image modes, called Picture Control, with a dedicated creative photo button allowing instant access (same as on the 5D Mark II and 7D).
Playback on the 5D Mark III has also been improved, with the camera's processor allowing it to do a few more tricks. The biggest improvement is the option for comparative playback, letting you view two images side-by-side on the large rear LCD monitor. This has a few customizable options, letting you compare two images in close or with a variety of graphs and histograms to compare exposure.
The camera also features a new RATE button along the rear LCD that lets you apply a rating metatag to the photo. This tag will stay with the file through multiple workflows, letting you tag an image that you could then import with Adobe Bridge, develop in DXO, and edit in Photoshop with tags sticking with it all the way.
Picture Quality & Size Options
The 5D Mark III will let users save images in RAW, JPEG, M-RAW, S-RAW, and RAW+JPEG, with options to direct particular filetypes to different cards (JPEG to SD while RAW goes to CF, for example). The camera's maximum resolution tops out at 22.3 megapixels, but the M-RAW and S-RAW let you saw uncompressed files at a reduced resolution of 10.5 and 5.5 megapixels, respectively.
The Canon 5D Mark III will offer some enhanced in-camera HDR modes, with the ability to composite multiple images to enhance dynamic range. The camera can then apply a number of creative effects including natural, standard, vivid, bold, and embossed HDR effects.