Canon EOS 5D Mark III hands-on preview


The Monday before Canon unveiled the EOS 5D Mark III, I was lucky enough to go to Canon’s Paris office in La Defense by Paris to get both a detailed presentation of the camera and a few minutes to play around with the 5D Mark III we all had been expecting for months. here is a little hands-on preview of the EOS 5D Mark III with the images I shot over there (sorry for the quality of these photos…)

Canon EOS 5D Mark III hands-on preview : product round-up in 13 images


Meet the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. This new DSLR will be a milestone in Canon's HDSLR range as it is not exactly the 5D Mark II successor, but rather a new model, which improves a lot on the camera body. Yes, I sold my 5D Mark II. I was tired of its superslow narrow autofocus and its poor built quality and viewfinder (wide but no 100% coverage).


I could use the EOS 5D Mark III for a few moments with the new wide-angle yet optically stabilized Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM lens. To be honest, when they released that lens, I wondered why it did not belong to the Canon L-series. Now I understand : its light and feels pretty cheap, albeit it is sold almost $900...

Want to know more about the Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS SUM.

Although the EOS 5D Mark III looks a lot like the 5D Mark II, we are dealing with a brand new model. It is either a baby EOS-1D X or a Full Frame EOS 7D. Exactly what we had been expecting for.


Nice feature : you can do in-camera basic editing tasks ad this is going to save photographers a lot of time. We all have to do it and we all hate this part of our job. The EOS 5D Mark III has a pretty big screen of 3.2" with a nice resolution of 1.044 million dots. Therefore, Canon took advantage of that to offer the possibility to compare images side by side on the camera's screen. You can also compare EXIF datas, histograms and zoom in images while the histogram may display the tone values for the zoomed part the image and so on. Powerful.


Canon has created a new button that send you to 3 nice features : the "Picture Style" mode, Multiple exposur and HDR. HDR takes a bundle of braketed shots (3 images) and pastes them, does the tone mapping, then records the final HDR image. You can even choose the aspect of your HDR images from realistic to artistic type of HDR. This can be very useful.



Do you see the "Q" button above the new sensitive dial ring ? It activates the Quiet mode. I have to tell you that the 5D mark III is VERY silent and sounds like a pretty smooth camera, I mean, even in normal shutter mode, much quieter than some noisy mirrorless cameras like the Sony NEX-7 although they have no mirror... But when you switch the EOS 5D Mark III to the Quiet mode, you get absolute discretion. This is going to lure a lot of show photographers back to Canon. When shooting in Quiet mode, the burst rate comes down to 4 fps instead of 6 fps. But that is still as good as the Nikon D800.


The new Full Frame CMOS sensor of the EOS 5D Mark III offers an average resolution of 22 megapixels. This allows Canon to boost the sensibility of the 5D mark III from ISO 100 to ISO 25,600 (you can still extend it to ISO 50 and ISO 102,400. I took a few shots, tried to zoom-in with the loupe tool on the camera's screen to see how the images look like. This is not a scientific approach, but looks very promissing. The Canon pro DSLR product manager is very confident in the image quality of the 5D Mark III at high ISO and showed me some comparison images with the 5D Mark II. Both have the same pixel count but the new generation SLR images had a lot more details.


The new optional handgrip (BP-E11) gets an additional joystick which is useful to switch between all AF points. I opened the battery compartment and, nice suprise, I found the same batteries as th eones you may use on your EOS 5D Mark II or EOS 7D, the LP-E6. You can even use them in the new Wi-Fi transmitter, the WFT-E7 (which is damn huge and ugly but has Ethernet TJ45slot and BT + Wi-Fi 811.02 a/b/g/n and can let the camera comminicate with your smartphone or tablet brwoser. You wil be able to view your 5D mark III images on the Retina display of the New iPad...


The 5D Mark III built-quality has nothing to do with the poor feeling of the 5D Mark II. Canon has done a great job and redesigned a magnesium alloy frame, used a lot of weather sealing gaskets to offer weather-proof capabilties to the EOS 5D Mark III. Grab it and you will instantly notice the difference. On this image, you can see that Canon has finaly offered the 5D a dual memory slot which will accept SD and Compact Flash and offers a full range of management.


Look at the main dial of the camera : it has a full auto iA+ mode linked to the scene recognition sensor because even pro photographers may want to use their camera that way sometimes. Now, the viewfinder. What a change ! Its coverage is 100% and with a 0.70x magnification, it is wide and bright. Canon use a new type of glass. I liked it a lot. If you like the EOS 7D viewfinder quality, you are going to love the one of the 5D Mark III.


Canon has locked the mode dial. Something we had been asking for on the 5D MArk II and that has started on Canon DSLR since the EOS 60D last year.


OK, it does not have the uncompressed HDMI export 4/2/2 video function that Nikon has gifted the D800 with, but we all know all about the success of the 5D Mark II thanks to its video mode. We have the same 1080p and fps as on its predecessor but Canon has improved rolling shutter and moiré for a better image quality. What is neat is that you can access high sensitivity while shooting movies. The 5D mark III video mode can go as high as ISO 12 800 but has no full time autofocus. You have to push the AF button to have the camera focus. Its built-in microphone is mono only and you have to plug anexternal microphone to get stereo sound. You van monitor the sound level thanks to a vumeter and a headset line in. Yes, like on the Nikon D800.



I talked about the compare view. Now, once you know which images are good, which ones are the pick, the 5 stars... you can push the new button"rate", use the dial to rate the image with a 0-5 stars system. in-camera editing rocks. I tried it, it is fast, easy, simple and is going to be a huge time saver. The camera encrypts the rating in the metadatas of the files that are compatible with your photography workflow software if you use Adobe Bridge, Lightroom, Apple Aperture and so on.


Canon EOS 5D Mark III hands-on preview : my first impressions


I have always been frustrated by the limitations of the EOS 5D Mak II and I warmly welcome the improvements the EOS 5D Mark III brings us all, all of us that will be able to afford it ! I really appreciated its new built quality with lots of rubber parts, its nicer viewfinder with a 100% covcerage, its pro-grade autofocus derived from the 61-points AF module of the EOS-1D X, its overall reactivity for focusing and in burst mode shooting at an interesting 6 fps, the fact that its autofocus covers a larger part of the image, the rate function, the new 3/2″ screen..
Canon has done great and have improved over many things. even the battery life is 100 shots better !
This camera is going to sell like crazy even though Canon will keep the 5D Mark II for about a year in its range along with the Mark III.

I do regret one and only one thing : the 5D mark III has no built-in flash as the Nikon D800 has. This always comes-in handy one day when you need it.

I can’t wait to receive my review copy of the Canon EOS 5D MArk III for a full review. Canon reps told me we could expect a 2EV image quality improvements. We’ll check that for sure ! But after a few minutes spent with this baby EOS-1D X or Full Frame EOS 7D, I kind of regret I have sold all my Canoon L lenses last summer to switch towards the yellow brand… Canon has brought me what I had been waiting for.



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