Hands-on camera review: Canon EOS 5 Mk III
8th August 2012
As part of a new partnership with global retailer Calumet Photographic, Blippers have been given the opportunity to review some top of the range camera equipment.
First up is the Canon EOS 5 Mark 3. London-based photographer and Blipper Sue Foll was invited to be our first reviewer.
I compare Canon's EOS 5D series to a collection of cupcakes. The original, launched in August 2008 was straight out of the oven, with its full frame sensor and 12.8mp resolution. I chose it over the 1D, which was heavy and unwieldy by comparison. Like a slice of fruit cake.
The 5D Mark 2 appeared in September 2008, with significant technological advances a 21mp sensor and video capability. This cup cake had a lovely pile of butter frosting on top and cost no more than its parent.
Reading the technical spec of the Mark 3, my initial reaction was that there were a few sprinkles on top, but was the decoration worth twice the price?
Calumet loaned me the camera for a week and I devised a set of tests - performed with the Mark 3 and the Mark 2 using the same lighting conditions, lens, exposure, shutter speed and colour balance.
The Mark 3 boasts an extra two stops of light sensitivity over its predecessor. I set both cameras to 6400 ISO (max for the Mark 2) and tried them out in the gloomy rainforest basement of London Zoo. Not only was the colour rendering more accurate, but the detail and lack of noise staggering. 10/10 for improvement.
Shutter response is a lot livelier in the new model with 6 frames a second to play with you can run through a card pretty quickly. An innovation inherited from the 1D, this camera has two card ports - a useful back up.
Colour balance errs on the blue side, which to me looks good. Red and yellow colours tend to flatten out, therefore the Mark 3's images appeared more tonally varied. The sensors ability to deal with contrast and exposure was greatly improved, I had no need to make exposure ajustments in RAW.
Another major improvement is to the focusing screen, 64 points as opposed to 9 in the Mark 2. This feature comes into its own when you are shooting a moving target. The AI Servo, which allows the camera to continually refocus on moving subjects is virtually silent in the Mark 3, causing me to wonder wether it was working. It does, very well, with 6 different movement sensor scenarios to choose, from continuous tracking to erratic directional changes.
Using a fast lens, accuracy is better than the Mark 2 and having 6 frames a second to play with, if the first shot is slightly soft, the next one may be ok, and the next one after that.
In the studio the Mark 3's cooler colours work a treat, plus tonal range is better. I noticed the faster processor here.
In conclusion, the more you use this camera the more subtle but significant improvements you notice.
The reassuring weight of the body balances perfectly with even the heaviest of lenses. This and the hair trigger give you the feeling you can photograph anything, at any speed, any time. I was even more inclined to use natural light, because I knew the camera could handle it. A very harmonious feeling.
To use the cup cake analogy again. It feels like this cake, with its sprinkles and primping has been made with a whole lot of better ingredients. Whether it's worth the money, I would say, if you shoot sports or wildlife 'yes'. And if you want to speed up your job turnover, definitely.