Canon 5D Mark III – First Impressions

Just a few weeks ago, I had a bit of a mumble about the just-announced Canon 5D Mark III. Based on the information I’d seen at that point, I’d more or less concluded that while this was indeed a very desirable camera, I would wait a while before thinking about buying one. But then I read the rather more detailed preview at dpreview, which was based on a proper hands-on session with a pre-release model.

Reading that started me thinking. Now the only way I could justify to myself buying the Mark III would be to sell my still quite lovely Mark II. I know I’d never be likely to want to take two large camera bodies with me anywhere, so selling the older one to cover part of the cost of the new one would be the way to go. Which led me to a more interesting thought. While it’s likely that there will, at some point, be a reduction in the price of the Mark III, there will also, over time, be a reduction in the resale value of the Mark II. Now neither of those factors are particularly predictable, but my conclusion was that, if anything, the gap would grow rather than shrink.

So, when those nice Warehouse Express people tweeted just over a week ago that they had the body in stock (they’d previously had the kit with lens, but as I’ve already got the lens in question, as it came with my Mark II, that wasn’t what I wanted), I took plastic in hand and ordered it.

I ordered it on the Friday and it arrived, as expected, on Monday. I’ve had a reasonable play, read, or at least skimmed, the 400 page manual (up from 225 or so for the Mark II), and I can give at least some first impressions. For technical details, I suggest referring to the dpreview article – this is more about starting to use the beast.

First up – handling. It’s slightly larger than the Mark II, and distinctly more curvy, which makes it look even bigger. The grip feels a bit deeper, which is good for my large hands, and the recess on the back where my right thumb rests is nicely shaped.

The power switch has moved to the top left (as you look at the rear of the camera) – I think this is a better place, as it’s less likely to be accidentally knocked. As with the 7D, the mode dial is now a locking one – you have to press the central button down before turning the dial. As someone who’s lost a few shots due to the dial slipping when the Mark II went in or out of a bag, I’m very happy with this improvement.

The extra buttons seem to have been well thought out. The dedicated start/stop button for live view and video is well placed, and the programmable M-Fn button between the shutter and main control dial is a lovely touch – I’ve currently set it to display the level in the viewfinder, which is another excellent addition.

Talking of the viewfinder, the option of displaying a grid is a good one – it does make it easier to avoid wonky horizons even without the level.

The quick control dial, quite apart from being able to work as a touch sensitive switch in video mode, feels smoother and is definitely quieter.

I’ve been out and about during the week, just getting the feel of the camera with some of my lenses. Now I need to start getting to grips with the new autofocus system – I’m sure I’ll have more success with catching the gulls on the Tyne once I’ve played with the modes a bit.

Image quality so far – well, it’s early days, but I like what I’m seeing. The low-light capability certainly has some potential. This is an image taken from my back window at night. I’ve left it pretty much as it came out of the camera, with no noise reduction applied.

High ISO Test

High ISO Test

ISO 25,600, 1/8sec at f/4.0. Much more detail than the naked eye could see. Aggressive noise reduction has been applied.
Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Aperture: ƒ/4
Shutter speed: 1/8s
Focal length: 105mm
ISO: 25600

This was taken hand-held, 1/8sec, so excuse any softness. The line of hills in the background was not visible to the naked eye at the time, and the whole scene shows more detail than I’d normally expect.

There’s a lot more to investigate with this camera. Having both CF and SD card slots is interesting, for instance.

I’ll be doing more playing testing over the next few weeks, and I’ll post some results as I go along.

2 thoughts on “Canon 5D Mark III – First Impressions

  1. Pingback: Fun with HDR : Losing it

  2. Pingback: Canon 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens | Losing it

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