Finally!!! A Replacement for 5D Mark II

All photos were shot handheld at ISO 3200 with Canon 5D Mark III. The only adjustments done in Photoshop were to exposure and contrast; sharpening and noise reduction were not applied.

Fred Blake, right and Matt Karas at Fotocare gallery opening.

35mm Lens, ISO 3200, f3.5, 1/30sec,

Mime at Times Square, NY.

100mm Lens, ISO3200, f2.0, 1/750sec

Times Square, NY.

16-35mm Lens at 16mm, ISO3200, f5.6, 1/125sec

For the last three years I have been shooting with the Canon 5D Mark II. I have tolerated its inconsistent auto focus system, which was never upgraded from the original 5D and its slow frames per second shooting speed. But that was then; this is now. Last week I picked up my 5D Mark III at Fotocare in New York and I am pleased to report that this is a great camera.

The auto focus system is responsive and locks onto the subject. Although it has 61 points, I use the center point 95% of the time; I don’t trust any camera to pick the focus point for me. The Mark III shoots at approximately six frames per second, not as fast as the upcoming 1Dx, but fast enough for me since I don’t regularly photograph wildlife or action sports.

The image quality on the Mark II was fine up to ISO 1600, an improvement over the original 5D. But as newer equpment came out, the Mark II quality fell behind other cameras like Nikon. The Mark III, however has moved ahead. In my tests at ISO 3200, the files resemble the Mark II at ISO 800. This is a two-stop increase in performance. The noise quality is comparable to Nikon’s, which I felt looked more like traditional film grain, rather than electronic noise. I can’t report what the new camera looks like at ISO 10,000 or even 20,000 because as a working photographer testing equipment in real world situations, ISO 3200 is the number where I would max out. Perhaps someday I will need to go higher but for now, I am extremely pleased working with the Mark III at ISO 3200. I think back to the film days when pushing Fuji Provia to ISO 400 was extreme and now we are talking about ISOs of 10,000!!

Because the MARK III is configured like the Mark II, it’s very easy to use. Although the positions of the magnification and info buttons differ, this is a minor inconvenience. The other changes are minimal: the placement of other buttons are similar to the location on the 7D, the menu has eliminated the ”custom function” option although you can find these functions through the various camera and tool menus, the screen is a little larger and the camera now takes both CF and SD cards, to which you can shoot either or both. When using both, the camera offers many options for recording on each card. And according to Canon, the Mark III is better weather proofed than the 5D Mark II, though not sealed as well as the 1D series or the new 1Dx cameras.

The Mark III is now my professional, shooting camera. Although I will keep a Mark II for back-up, I am excited to be working with this up-graded version of equipment. The pictures above illustrate why.


14 thoughts on “Finally!!! A Replacement for 5D Mark II

  1. Pingback: EOS 5D Mark III Sunday News Round-up | CanonWatch

    • I guess it’s a matter of personal taste, to me 3200 looks like the old 800 on the MK2. Of course a lot depends on the lighting conditions and how you’ve exposed the image. If you are underexposed you will pick up noise. All in all it’s a better camera, more responsive, quicker and better files at high ISO. The Mark2 is still a great camera and I’m keeping one of mine as a backup.

  2. The center AF point on the 5D3 (you say the onlyone you use) is no more accurate than the one on the 5D2 and the image quality is essentially exactly the same up to 1600 ISO. So your entire review is based around the fact the 5D3 has good 3200 IQ, but for double the price. Big deal.

    • I disagree Dave – i think the center point and the entire focusing system on the 5DMKIII is a big improvement over the 5DMKII. It’s the same system they have in the 1DX. Also the camera shoots about 6 fps double the MKII and is better weather sealed. The 5DMKII is a great camera but for my purposes the 5DMKIII is better.

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