First Impressions – Canon EOS 5D Mk III

We apologize for the error in the image accompanying this article in our print edition

I admit that when the Canon EOS 5D Mark III was announced, I figured – for the price difference – one would be better off getting the older Mark II. On paper, sure there are some differences, but I doubt it would justify upgrading if you already have a Mark II. Then, last week, during a brief stop at Canon’s offices, I was given the Mark III to play with for a few minutes. I quickly realized that my thinking could be very wrong.


The EOS 5D Mk III currently in the country is still a beta sample and – as such – I was not allowed to even remove a memory card from my wallet. I therefore cannot comment on image quality in this article. I can say that Roger Machin (the product manager for EOS in South Africa) said that he sees an improvement on the beta sample and that the final production units are likely to be even better.


If I have not seen the image quality, how can I say that the Mark III warrants an upgrade for Mark II owners? Simply put: there is a great deal of refinement.

In many ways, the new EOS 5D Mk III has taken the EOS 7D DNA and improved upon it. Remember that the 5D Mk II is nearly four years old and – with that – there is actually a fair amount of room for improvement. The lockable mode dial, for example, is something which many people I know want. The Mark III has it. The controls are smoother and quieter for video users. The LCD screen on the back is a little larger and crisper. Video users will find the inclusion of a headphone jack to monitor your sound whilst shooting to be a very welcome new feature.

The Autofocus system is the same as that of the EOS 1Dx and that is noticeably quicker than the old Mark II. The body is made more durable and is better sealed against dust and moisture. With 6 frames per second, the Mark III offers a large speed improvement over its older brother; opening it up to more users and in fact, possibly making it a rival even for some potential EOS 1Dx buyers.

Another trick up the EOS 5D Mark III’s sleeve is the in camera HDR (High Dynamic Range). It offers the user the ability to set it up to a 3 stop range manually, which does not make it better than any other camera out there. In fact, there are cameras with a wider range. What Canon do differently is that they let you choose how you want the image to be processed. Must it be a vibrant HDR, or more neutral tone? (For an example).

All of the above is great, but there is one other reason – more important to me – as to why the EOS 5D Mark III should be worth your consideration. It just feels right in your hands. I think that it may be one of the most well balanced cameras I have ever held. Of course, this is all based on a 5-10 minute brief hands on. We hope to have a production sample to review in the next few weeks, but you know what they say about first impressions… the Mark III will start off its review on a very good footing when it passes through the office soon.