planet5D was blessed to have a hands on preview of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III – these are the compiled notes I took while Chuck Westfall told us about the new features. This is one of several posts here on planet5D today. It is normally our policy to not post on multiple pages, but we’ve got so much information to share, it just seems crazy to try to fit it into just one post.

Purchase the Canon EOS 5D Mark III

From B&H

From Adorama

From Amazon

Barry Andersson (author of the new HDSLR video book) was able to travel with me to Los Angeles and as you’ll see in the accompanying video, we sat down after the Canon presentation and discussed the major advancements in this camera.


In no particular order (other than this is the order Chuck went thru the features)

By the way, there are lots of features coming down from the Canon EOS-1D X – so if you’re interested in reading details that I may not have included here, read about the details on the Canon EOS-1D X on planet5D.

The 5D2 will remain in the product line! The new Canon EOS 5D Mark III will be the third full frame sensor camera in the Canon line. The others are the 5D2 and the Canon EOS-1D X.

The price of the 5D3 will be $3499 for the body only and there will also continue to be a kit version with the 24-105 L IS (no change in lens) $4299.

Late March delivery!

Highest image quality in the class – better than the 5D2. This camera is aimed at advanced amateurs and professionals especially (but these are not the only groups that will enjoy the 5D3) wedding, landscape, and photojournalism and that’s just a small listing of where this camera fits.

There are upgrades everywhere on this camera both on the stills and video

Sensor size: 22.3 MP

The sensor is completely new and improved (details coming up later in the post)

The processor is the new Digic 5+ (single).

The 5D3 shoots 6 frames per second (fps) in burst mode! The 5D2 was 3.9fps.

ISO – 2 stop improvement over the 5D2 – standard range 100-25,600 (expands to 50-102,400)

The autofocus takes a huge leap! Identical AF to the Canon EOS-1D X! Same tracking as well (tho note, there isn’t the intelligent tracking as noted below)

Available light exposure meter 63 zone dual zone – same as 7D

Added in Chromatic Aberration correction in stills (jpeg) and video – can tag the data into the raw file, but you handle it in post processing.

New beefier shutter to handle the new 6fps shooting. There’s also silent mode like the Canon EOS-1D X.

Added 720p – 60 in 720 for slow motion (but no camera is yet shooting 60fps 1080)

Continuing details

2 stop improvement in noise reduction (don’t be confused, this isn’t ISO which also got a 2 stop improvement) over 5D2 – specifically better in jpeg and movies – RAW processing is different (still better but processed differently). The improvements are 2 parts – better sensitivity to get higher ISOs, and at each of these higher ISOs, there’s a 2 stop improvement in the noise (lower)

Video – improved moire, jello (rolling shutter), and reduced noise

8 channel readout off the sensor (5D2 was 4 channel) which supports the 6fps (ASK CHUCK ABOUT THIS IN MORE DETAIL)

The new sensor is completely re-designed with gapless microlenses – brings in more light as compared to previous sensors with gaps between the diodes. The new photo diode structure which provides better quantum efficiency. Plus there’s better on chip noise reduction. These 3 things mean there will be a cleaner signal coming off the sensor before it even goes to the processor.

Movie mode does not use the expanded ISO range, highest you can go is 25,600 in movie.

For auto ISO you have more control because you can limit the highest ISO and the lowest shutter speed.

The stills we were shown were significantly better than the 5D2 – the noise levels were reduced and at the higher ISOs the color was better. The Canon EOS-1D X is even better still. It has 1 stop better but the pixels are also a bit larger because the Canon EOS-1D X is only 18mp.

While Chuck was talking, I was holding the 5D3 and shooting (of course they didn’t let us put in our own card unfortunately because it was a pre-release model). There’s an entire post on my reactions.

The Digic 5+ processor – 17x faster processor than Digic IV – 30% faster than the Digic V processor in the powershots etc.

8 features were added purely because of capabilities of the new processor

Scene intelligent auto – much better than the old CA (on the mode dial)
Multiple exposures
Chromatic aberration correction
In camera RAW
2 forms of movie compression
Comparative playback function (not in Canon EOS-1D X)
UDMA 7 support – faster write speed and larger buffer

Many of the features of the Canon EOS 7D body have been moved to the 5D3.

The power switch is below the mode dial like the 7D.
The mode dial has a locking button
The multi-function button has been added by the shutter trigger
The live view switch is to the right of the viewfinder (thank goodness it isn’t on the mode dial!)
The Q button has been added to control the LCD screen.
Touch pad like the Canon EOS-1D X – touch the dial to change ISO, audio level, shutter speed, aperture etc. While recording video.
Creative photo button – centralizes creative menus for picture style, HDR, and multi-exposure mode.
The rating button – can rate images while reviewing and give 1-5 stars. Note the data flows thru to Adobe and Apple software (1 to 5 stars)

On the front, the DOF preview button moved to the left side (only change to the front other than the III)

Menu system is based on the Canon EOS-1D X improvements. Includes all the new ‘help’ (via the info button).

Custom controls – 10 buttons that are user programmable like was implemented on the 7D (but better).

1 touch image quality button – allows you to switch instantly from RAW to jpeg and you can cycle into RAW+jpeg if you’d like. This will be great for times where you want to have a jpeg instead of a RAW on a shot but don’t want to go thru the menus to switch things.

3 RAW modes – full (22.3), M-RAW and S-RAW – so you can have smaller RAW resolutions and file sizes if you still want to use your RAW processing but want smaller sizes (saves disk space but still gives you the full power of RAW).

Customizable file names! You can put change the first 4 characters from (IMG_) – helps when you’re using multiple cameras you can know which camera shot which file. Very helpful to teams and movie productions!

Comparative playback – you can compare 2 images and see histograms, check exposure, expression, and is only for stills (can’t compare 2 movies side by side).This feature is new and not on any other Canon model.

Intelligent viewfinder – on demand grid etc. Also you can see the spot metering circle. Plus, you set an alert display and it will show up in the viewfinder display.

Spot meter is 1.5% which is the tightest spot ever – used to be 3%

2 card slots – one CF and one SD – 3 recording modes, auto switch, record different file sizes on the 2 different cards, or you can even select 2 different kinds of RAW or 2 different sizes of jpg.

I asked why there were 2 different formats and there wasn’t an answer – the guess is that 2 CF slots would have made the body slightly larger.

When recording video tho, it won’t automatically switch to the second card, it will stop recording when the first card is full. When doing stills, it will auto switch to the second card.

The max video recording time is 29.59 minutes just like the Canon EOS-1D X.

The weather proofing is better than the 5D2 but not as good as the Canon EOS-1D X.

The metering and the autofocus system talk to each other (the meter is the same as the 7D remember?) – benefitting the exposure meter to tweak the exposure based on the subject is being focussed and how far away it is etc. The color also improves the exposure of reds and greens.

Precise focus in various light sources – there are differences in flourescent (flickering light source) – the exposures can be off due to the light.

Auto-exposure bracketing – 3,5,7 – can also determine which direction the bracketing goes (not always just over and under evenly split) – first exposure is the one the camera thought would be right

Auto ISO – can do AE lock in manual mode – there’s also an AE lock hold function that lets you see the AE lock reading plus the live reading.

The autofocus is a huge improvement over the 5D2 – bringing in the same AF from the Canon EOS-1D X – there weren’t any cross points in the 5D2. Especially improves subjects that are moving.

Minimum light level ev-2 is the same as the Canon EOS-1D X.

The only thing that didn’t come down from the Canon EOS-1D X is the EOS intelligent tracking and recognition system because that uses the extra 100,000 pixel metering sensor that is only on the Canon EOS-1D X.

More options for selecting AF points (6 vs 2 in the 5D2) –
spot AF (like 7D & Canon EOS-1D X)
single point AF
single point + adjacent 4 points (good for moving subjects) (you tell the camera you think the subject is in the center point, but if it can’t focus there, you give the camera the freedom to pick one of the other 4),
single point + adjacent 8, zone (same as sp+8 but the camera decides which of the points it thinks is the subject – in sp+8 you told it which point).

You can program how you want the AF points you want displayed in the viewfinder.

Silent shooting mode (single and continuous) which is better for shooting in quiet environments – this is basically the same sound as when you are in live view on the 5D2 and press the shutter button to take a snap.
The shutter timing is almost identical to the 7D and very close to the Canon EOS-1D X – the release time lag is down from 75 ms to 59ms – much more responsive shutter.

There’s a totally new mirror mechanism to handle the 6fps

There are 5 settings for HDR – One under, one over, and proper exposure – plus you have the option to have all 3 images stored and you can post process as you want.

There are 5 composites they call: natural, standard, medium, bold, and emboss

The multi-exposure is just like the Canon EOS-1D X – 9 different exposures.
Comparative bright, comparative dark, additive, and continuous.

Scene intelligent auto (replaces CA on the 5D2 mode dial) – uses more information plus automatically sets picture style and does great job on sunsets and brightly colored objects.

Same picture styles as the 5D2 and others.

Can pre-set the LCD trim information for live view – square; 4×3, 16×9 (can mask off area or do show thru).

Dual axis electronic level like 7D

In camera RAW processing like 60D and Canon EOS-1D X


Exactly the same as the Canon EOS-1D X

All-I and IPB compression modes (5D2 was IPP compression).
All = 22mins on 16gb card
IPB = 63mins on 16gb card (compression is about 3x stronger)

The new Digic V does not do line skipping so we get reduced moire – but because it is not native 1920×1080 camera – there’s still a bit of processing which can cause moire. The sample they showed with a test image (circles not bricks)… and there was very significant reduction (but not elimination) of moire.

Chuck confirmed today that the resolution does not drop when you are connected to an external monitor and hit record. It does still have all of the overlays and the signal is not meant to be recorded.

Embedded time code just like the Canon EOS-1D X

Level control on screen – can control audio while recording!

There are the same silent controls for altering some video functions while recording as well (from Canon EOS-1D X)

Headphone jack

DPP Digital Photo Professional – new version of the software comes with the camera – includes HDR and multiple exposure processing.

This new feature called Digital Lens Optimizer – unique to this sofware (Adobe doesn’t have it, nor does Apple or DXo) – we have a database for 29 compatible lenses initially, including:
Spherical aberration
Sagittal Halo
Curvature of field
Chromatic aberration (both kinds)
Effects of a low pass filter on a CMOS sensor

And this will be available for all EOS RAW files for cameras released since 2006!

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)