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Canon’s 5D Mark III, an Amazing Digital SLR Camera, Update ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐📍

May 21, 2013

Lets begin with some perspective. We have owned and field tested almost all of Canon’s Professional and Advanced Amateur digital cameras, dating back to 1998, when the Kodak DCS560 / Canon D6000, both 6 million pixel professional digital SLR, RAW only images, with the Imager designed and made by KODAK, housed into a Canon 1N film-body shell, the cost in 1998 was actually $28,000 each.

⚫ More importantly, we have extensively used and tested Canon’s 5D and the 5D Mark II cameras. Accordingly, this experience gives full appreciation as to the improvements made in creating the 5D Mark III (lets call it the 5D3). The improvements to the 5D2 are not incremental in creating the 5D3, as with many other Camera iterations. The 5D3 would have been normally given a New Name entirely because of the extensive re-working of the camera; however, since there is such a huge and strong following of the EOS 5D users, Canon elected not to call it, say EOS 3D, as so many predicted with this feature set.

⚫ Price: Another point we considered with the 5D3 and say the 1Dx. Since the Canon 5D3 costs about $2900, or a kit at $3500 with a Canon EOS 24-105 IS f4L which BTW is a terrific lens. The Canon EOS 1Dx body sells for $6700. As price is always something to consider, is it better to have TWO cameras, two Canon 5D3 cameras, or one Canon 1Dx. If rapid frames-per-second feature, is not one’s key necessity…

⚫ We decided to acquire two 5D3 cameras, with all the advantages of having matched back-up Digital bodies, mounting lenses on both, convenient for very fast setting changes; the first 5D3 is coupled to an ultra-wide zoom, Canon’s 16-35mm f2.8 "L", and the second 5D3 coupled to a Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS zoom or to a Canon 28-300 IS "L" zoom. We only use Canon newest "L" zoom IS lenses if possible; after all, the subject-light goes through the glass, so make it the very best glass Canon makes !

⚫ The 5D3 has a 22MP full frame sensor in a body that’s similar the EOS 7D design, and with a 61-point AF system borrowed from the flagship EOS-1D X. But for most Professionals and Advanced Amateurs, Canon’s 5D3 is likely the camera that original Canon 5D and the 5D2 owners really wanted in the first place.

The original EOS 5D of October, 2005 was the first ‘affordable’ (meaning a $3299 body only) full frame 12.7MP digital SLR, the camera that cemented the 24x36mm sensor (the exact dimensions of the 35mm Film Frame) as the format of choice for most professional applications at a time when many were questioning its continued relevance.

⚫ At the surprise of Canon, the inclusion of true HDTV video capability was a HUGE success. The 5D Mark II was the first SLR capable of recording full HD video, a feature that revolutionized the DSLR market, in a fashion that no one could possibly have envisioned at the time, least of all Canon.

⚫ The 5D name itself is misleading; compared to the 5D2, its predecessor, the 5D3 is essentially a completely new model, with every major system upgraded and updated. In a way it’s may be seen as a "full-frame 7D", with that camera’s control layout, extensive customizability and 63-zone metering sensor. But it also gains many additional improvements in response to customer feedback; these range from dual slots for CF and SD cards, through a locking exposure mode dial, to a large depth of field preview button that’s repositioned for right-handed operation, and can be reprogrammed to access a number of other functions.

⚫ History: In 1987 Canon unveiled the EOS 650 to the world. It was the Japanese manufacturer’s first 35mm autofocus SLR and the start of the EOS system, a 35mm Film Camera. With its fully-electronic lens mount, in-lens aperture and focus motors, and reliance on electronic button and dial operation, Canon’s EOS system established a blueprint that all successive camera systems have followed. Now, 25 years later, the Canon EOS 5D3 is the latest model in the line, however Digital of course.

⚫ Canon EOS 5D3 Specifications Summary: 22MP full frame CMOS sensor. ISO 100-25600 standard, 50-102,800 expanded. 6 fps continuous shooting. Shutter rated to 150,000 frames. 1080p30 video recording, stereo sound via external mic. 61 point AF system. 63 zone iFCL metering system. 100% viewfinder coverage. 1040k dot 3:2 LCD. Dual card slots for CF and SD Data Cards

⚫ Movie mode gave the 5D a huge trump card over all its competitors, and the 5D3, naturally offers improved capability in this regard. In terms of ergonomics, the camera gains the 7D’s rear movie mode/live view switch, so you no longer have to compromise your stills Live View settings when setting up for video recording. There’s a built-in headphone socket for audio monitoring.

⚫ The rear control-dial gains touch-sensitive ‘buttons’ that allow recording parameters (shutter speed, aperture, ISO and sound volume) to be changed silently. The video output specifications are essentially unchanged in terms of resolution and frame-rate (1920x1080p 30fps, maximum); Canon says the processing is improved to minimise moiré, other artefacts, and has included the higher quality All-I and IPB interframe compression options introduced with the EOS-1D X. What you don’t get though, is the uncompressed output over HDMI.

⚫ There’s a couple of entirely new features. The 5D3 becomes Canon’s first SLR capable of in-camera High Dynamic Range shooting, in a very well-implemented and flexible fashion; expanded auto-bracketing options (up to 7 frames covering a vast +/- 8 EV range). It can also record multiple exposures, if you so desire. The introduction of DIGIC 5+ permits JPEG processing to include chromatic aberration correction, based on lens profiles which are stored in-camera, limited to Canon’s lenses. Playback mode adds the ability to compare images directly side-by-side, in a number of different views.

⚫ The 5D3 has a refreshed menu system, essentially based on that of the EOS-1D X’s menus. It’s not entirely dissimilar to the 5D2’s, but gains a completely new tab for managing its more complex AF system, based on a range of usage-scenario presets. The ordering of options has been rationalized, and a number of functions that were previously hidden deep within the custom functions have bubbled-up closer to the surface as top-level menu items, perhaps most notably mirror lockup and Highlight Tone Priority.

⚫ There’s a couple of entirely new features too; the 5D3 becomes Canon’s first SLR capable of in-camera High Dynamic Range shooting, in an unusually well-implemented and flexible fashion, and gets expanded autobracketing options too (up to 7 frames covering a vast +/- 8 EV range). It can also record multiple exposures, if you so desire. The introduction of DIGIC 5+ means that JPEG processing (finally) includes chromatic aberration correction, based on lens profiles which are stored in-camera (and therefore limited to Canon’s own lenses). Last but not least, playback mode adds the ability to compare images directly side-by-side, in a number of different views.

⚫ The camera uses the latest DIGIC 5+ processor, as used in the 1D X. It’s 30% faster than the DIGIC 5 chip appearing in recent Canon cameras, as it is 17x faster than the DIGIC 4 processor used in the 5D2. This supports the camera’s 6 frame-per-second shooting and has the capacity to conduct moiré-reduction when shooting movies.

⚫ In addition, the extra processing power of the DIGIC 5+ allows the 5D3 to apply chromatic aberration correction to its JPEGs. This correction is based on Canon-created lens profiles, up to 29 of which can be downloaded and saved within the camera’s memory. These profiles allow correction not only of lateral CA but also of the harder-to-fix axial CA.

⚫ The Pros and Cons, here is a list of the Pros: + Good resolution and detail in raw files, Good color and tonality across the ISO range. + Reliable metering even in difficult contrast situations. + Very responsive and snappy operation, due to the new Digic 5+ processor. + 6 frames per second continuous shooting with good buffering. + Excellent build-quality with magnesium shell and weather-sealing. + Intuitive user interface and good ergonomics with large number of external controls. + Very comprehensive user interface customization options. + Excellent viewfinder with 100% coverage, Good high resolution LCD monitor. + Reliable and quick AF system with comprehensive customization options. + Efficient vignetting, distortion and CA correction. + Full manual control in video mode, Choice between IPB and ALL-I video compression modes. + Headphone socket, needed for best Audio when recording HDTV clips, and adjusting Audio Level.. + Rear-dial becomes touch-sensitive when recording video. + In-camera HDR mode with many options, Multi-exposure mode. + Comprehensive Auto ISO customization options. + Efficient silent-shutter option, single shot or continuous drive mode. + Dual SD and CF card slot. + Side-by-side playback mode and rating allow for initial image selection on the go. + Good battery life. + Good bundled raw converter, comprehensive feature set, Digital Photo Pro

⚫ The Cons: Destructive noise reduction results in soft JPEGs, even at the base ISO (in truth, all digital cameras taking JPEG images have softer tone; And all JPEG files also have some color destruction. Visible sharpening artifacts at default settings. Noise reduction leads to lack of low-contrast detail at higher ISOs. Distortion correction not available ‘on the fly’. Built-in microphone, is not Stereo, monaural only. However, you may plug into the 5D3’s 3.5mm mic input, an optional Stereo microphone. Somewhat soft video output with less dynamic range than the 22MP still images.

To see dpreview’s full review:

⚫ What else, OH, one more thing… I am a big believer in "Accident Service Contracts" as compared to warranty extension contracts. I learned 15 years ago, with my $28,000 digital camera, the imager became faulty with some pixels either Always-On or Always-Off or both, the imager needed replacement in 1999, the 2nd year of ownership. This was a $6000 repair, labor included. However, since I bought a $1700/year service contract, this replacement was fully covered.

⚫ Today with the 5D3, roughly a $3000 purchase, SQUARE TRADE currently provides 100% coverage for repairs because of equipment failure of Accidents, like dropping the camera in the pool. For a New Canon 5D3 a 2 Year service policy costs $420, a 3 year contract is priced at $527 about $175/year for full accident and product repairs. It is worth considering, particularly the Accident/Repair Contracts. If you drop the camera one time, this one repair costs more than the price of the 3 year contract. According to SQUARE TRADE Policies: Drop your camera in the pool? Get sand in it? Sit on it? No worries, you’re covered. Camera repairs can get expensive. Policy cover 100% parts and labor with no deductibles. Policy covers all normal-use mechanical and electrical failures−from broken buttons to broken lenses.

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DCS-560 / EOS D6000: The DCS-560 was a "joint-venture" camera , utilizing a Canon EOS-1N SLR body, combined with a KODAK 6 million pixel CCD imager. Service was performed by KODAK in Rochester, NY. Annual service contracts were $1,700/year. It was praised by many Professionals, self included, for its CCD sensor which delivered the first taste of competition for 35mm film SLR Cameras. Highest ISO was 500. The body was made from the legendary Canon EOS-1N "35mm film" body. The original list price of DCS 560 was US$29,900. The Canon 6000 was sold in Japan. We paid $28,000 in 1997. NiCad Batteries were $750 each; Memory Cards, called ATA Flash Cards were priced at $500 for 250 MB card (no GB cards in 1997).

Today Canon’s EOS 7D has 300% more pixels, better pixels, better color rendition, better noise performance, 5 more f-stops, 30% of the weight, and only 10% of the price. This shows what technological improvements provide. When I hear my students complaining about today’s digital Cameras… they should have seen what we had to deal with just 15 years ago.

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