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New 5Dmk3 - my first impressions

stevostevo Member
edited March 2012 in news & discussions
As many on this forum will probably be considering the new mk3 5D, here are my initial impressions after one day getting used to it:

- its similar enough to my mk1 to be quick to learn
- it feels very solid and ergonomic
- ISO 12,800 looks really good and I wouldn't be afraid to use for wedding shots based on the LCD images
- it won't lock on focus unless it is sure it has a good lock. But almost every shot locks on instantly in good light/ medium light
- colors look punchy, rich and accurate but my old 5d mk1 had a poor enough LCD so this was expected

Lots of handy new controls I really like:
- the 'rate' button has one press to add a star to a shot, definitely would use this during a wedding to pick out shots for a quick slideshow on the day
- the quick access button is handy to change everything while looking at the LCD
- 3 custom modes are fantastic for example I'd set up C1 for the bride getting out of the car, C2 for walking down the aisle, etc so no rush to change multiple settings in a hurry in a tight timeline
- locking button to stop going from manual to av mode for example. Very handy.
- silent shooting at three frames per second. Not fully silent but a big difference to normal shutter noise
- erase button no longer has erase all as an option. Good news.
- dual cards with the option of raw plus jpeg will be handy for sideshows on the day
- great screen. Can't see myself using the overlaid rule of thirds grid but I might
- self cleaning sensor that is not on my mk1
- lots of options to customize buttons. I've now got the set button available to change ISO with a turn of the top wheel while holding down set. Used to be very slow at changing ISO previously but it also let's me roll the iso and watch the meter needle change at the same time. With 12,800 ISO this is a great new control for quick metering.

In summary if I had put a wish list for a wedding camera together it wouldn't have been as comprehensive or well thought out as the new 5D, can't wait to try it out at the upcoming weddings!



  • just got mine in today. agree with you on most of your points. the only negative thing i have found so far is the focusing point selected, it's a black box and does not light up red.
  • Does it have any ability to wirelessly communicate with Canon speedlights? I know there is no flash, but is there any difference from the MkII in the ability to wirelessly adjust speedlight power through the in camera menu, and hopefully trigger them too.

    This was a great feature of the 7D and 60D.
  • stevostevo Member
    Definitely will not Talk to an off camera flash through radio signals and I'm not sure about built in communications. Can use an on camera flash of course to send a signal as with the earlier bodies. I have phottix odin flash controllers being shipped at the moment, the new 600ex is too pricey for me here in ireland at about 30% more than US prices
  • Stevo,

    Thanks for the heads up. It would be really interesting to see how the high ISO's perform as this is a perennial issue for wedding shooters in dimly lit churches and receptions. Would you mind posting some test shots taken in some dark church?

    Also, could you lets us know how you get on with the AF in low light? My MKII is really poor at this-the central focus point is ok, the outer ones next to useless...
  • I met a guy last week who does club photography with his MkII by using the Canon ST-E2 Speedlite Transmitter, whether he's using the flash or not. The invisible infrared beam made the MkII actually focus in the dark (still not fast, but better than nothing, especially when your left hand is holding a flash).

    I would be interested to know if the ST-E2 would also be necessary for the MkIII to focus in extremely dark places (churches may even be too bright. I'm thinking dive bars).

    I've been resisting buying that piece of kit because it seems offensive that I should pay almost as much as the cost of a new flash, just for the radio transmitter. And what's worse, it can't be used to trigger studio lights. But I have to admit that actually being able to focus one-handed, and being able to adjust speedlight power remotely, could make that little plastic wart worth the $200.

    So, please go to a bar, keep your left hand busy with some kind of beverage, and let us know how it focuses.
  • stevostevo Member
    I have a wedding in 2 weeks in a local church and its pretty dark in there during the day so I'll post comparison shots of my 5d mk1 at 1250 ISO (the most I'm happy to use) and the mk3 at 1250, 3200, 6400, 12800 in the church this weekend.

    So far, I've tried the autofocus outside at 10pm in Ireland in a dark area away from street lighting and it took a second or so to lock onto the back door of the car but then locked on pretty well. I'm getting about 3 out of 5 shots very sharp, 4 out of 5 sharp, one a bit fuzzy but that's zoomed in fully on the lcd.

    For those considering this camera, might be no harm to talk about my decision to purchase it. I believe my mk1 5D has the same autofocus as the mk2 and I actually lost 2 nights sleep over out of focus shots at a wedding last year, the album turned out OK but made me really rethink the whole game. I had been using a 15mm fisheye (occasionally), 24-105 f4 L, Tamron 28-75 2.8 as backup, 70-200 f2.8 IS mk1, 50mm 1.4, 300mm f4 occasionally.

    Up to that point wedding photography was a hobby mainly with the occasional full wedding but I came to realise that while I was getting the shots I wanted in good light, my kit was letting me down in darker environments and I couldnt trust the LCD on my 5D mk1 to know if the shots were in focus. The responsibility of photographing someone's wedding goes WAY beyond the balance sheet of getting a return on investment on your equipment. I have 5 weddings booked over the next 5 months, some paid and some for family so I decided to go the whole hog. Have all the kit and get 5 great photo sets for my portfolio, and see what happens. Had been researching photography kit for some time and had a wish list, and decided to buy the lot. I can sell anything that doesn't get used but now I know my equipment will be able to keep up, and in most cases I will be able to grow into it.

    So this led to the new 5D mk3 purchase along with the 70-200 2.8 mk2, 24mm 1.4, 35mm 1.4, 100mm L macro, sigma 85mm 1.4, and second hand tamron 17-35 2.8 (only cause Neil had it on his ideal lens list, and it was 200 pounds). Add in 2 shoot through/ bounce umbrellas, a 24" lastolite ezybox kit, a monster PC, 24 inch IPS monitor and color monkey calibrator, phottix odin transmitter and 2 recievers, 2 shoot through umbrellas, rosco strobist kit, black rapid strap, respective lens changer 3, Built NY laptop neoprene pouch to hold extra lenses and there isn't much missing off the list of possibilities. I work as a trainer/ engineering consultant and as I work for myself and am vat registered it took the pain out of buying all the kit out of my own pocket.

    My intention is to have a mix of about 20% wedding photography to 80% training/ engineering work, and the photography work is also a backup not to have all my eggs in one basket.

    Anyway, back to the mk3:

    There are so many thinks I like about this camera. You can set a focus point in the top left to focus on a subjects eye around the rule of thirds position, then simply press the joystick to toggle between center point focus, and this focus point. One push and you have changed it over and back. You can then tell the camera to use different focus points for landscape and portrait orientation (fantastic!!!) and select a different focus point wherever you like in portrait view. You can also set the camera to go straight from the left to the right hand side with one left push on the joystick (ie from a left hand side focus point to a right hand side focus point in one push). So for example you start at landscape left hand upper focus point. Push joystick and you are at center. Push again and you are back to left top focus point. pull joystick to left and you are at the rhs upper focus point. Turn the camera for a portrait shot and you are at the left hand upper focus point for portrait mode. Push the joystick and you are at center point focus. So simple. So many options with one push each time. You can also tell it to only use the cross type focus points, which I have done. Brilliant. I'm not certain if the outer cross type focus points are as good as the center ones but I'll test over the weekend hopefully.

    The high ISO looks fantastic at 6400 and using the new DPP the shots seem to come out miles more accurately exposed than my 5D mk1 but I have been studying photography non stop for a few months now so am nailing it in the camera a bit better anyway (Neil's workshop in Dublin last year didn't hurt!) Being able to adjust aperture, shutter speed and ISO with the set button and 2 wheels without taking the camera down from my eye, and having the metering needle move with all these changes is huge for me. I know I said this before but it really is a big deal in my opinion, especially as I dont shoot every weekend and making the controls easy to flow though makes my life easy on a shoot. Add the +/-3ev compared to 2 on the mk1 and 2, and the 3 custom settings, this camera really changes into a fast, accurate machine that just makes taking photos flow.

    The autofocus can be set up to give priority to either autofocus or shutter, so I set all options to get focus sorted first. Haven't tested it but I hope that this means I can press the shutter, and the camera will lock on then take the shot as soon as it can. This would be a good option, hope to test at the weekend.

    The lighting at high ISO's sucks light like a black hole so the shots look like they were lit with a good lighting system. It makes the rooms in the house look brighter than they are, but in a natural way, almost like having loads of hidden detail lighting rigs.

    I have 4w phillips master LED downlighters in my house and the shots look like the wattage has been turned up, the lighting colour is great, and the photos just have that extra pop I've been looking for.

    I should emphasise that I'm only looking at this camera vs the mk1 so the differences between it and the mk2 might not be so great, and I definitely see noise when zoomed in at 6400 and 12800 but zoomed out it disappears. Since getting the mk3 Ive bought a black rapid strap and a lenschanger 3 bag as I cant see myself using the mk1 5d for weddings anymore, it will be strictly a back up. My wife even remarked on how accurate and contrasty the mk3 colours were.

    Finally, what don't I like... The camera says its busy a lot, especially after machine gunning for 6 to 8 shots, it needs a couple of seconds. I really dont like the zoom being on the front wheel, I keep pressing the wrong button to zoom in. This is well documented at this early stage so hopefully a firmware change will allow the option of changing it. Being able to zoom in to actual size, at the focus point makes up for this irritation though. Having said that, I really can see myself taking 5 shots of every pose and not bothering to zoom in, knowing that at least 3 will be nailed. This might be a bit of a long shot though, I see Neil's review showed a series of out of focus shots in good light which is a bit of a concern - hopefully a bug that can get sorted out. Some reports also of the camera hanging up. Haven't seen this myself. The extra button on the left hand side is a bit of a pain, I keep pressing the erase button (set to cancel, not erase as the default option so its not dangerous) instead of the play button. I'd love to be able to program the erase button to become another play button with the option of how much to zoom in by default.

    Only one question now, where to post sample mk3 vs mk1 pics?

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