Incredible Underwater Caverns in Mexico via Canon 5D Mark III w/bonus 5D2 comparison

by planetmitch1 Comment

Our friends over at Backscatter Underwater Video and Photo have posted one of the first underwaterCanon EOS 5D Mark III videos shot in Cenotes Mexico and it is quite incredible! Note tho Berkley White says about 30% of it is actually Canon EOS 5D Mark II and the intro is shot with a GoPro. Berkley also provides some insight on the differences between the 5D2 and 5D3 for underwater usage.

I found this interesting description of the caverns Berkley was shooting in:

The Yucatán Peninsula is a porous limestone shelf with no visible rivers; all the fresh water rivers are underground. Being porous, caverns and caves formed where the fresh water collects – hence the cenotes or water sinkholes. The water that gathers in these subterranean cenotes is a crystal clear turquoise color with a very pleasant temperature of 78° F (25.5º C). 

The stalactites and stalagmites that form inside the cenotes are true natural works of art. In many, holes in the ceiling allow the sunlight to filter into the cenotes, giving the scene a magical feeling. The cenotes of Yucatán are a natural treasure that should be seen by all, keeping in mind that they should be protected so that man does not destroy in a few days what nature took millions of years to create.

We also featured Berkley a while ago in this post: “Astounding Canon 5D Mark II Underwater Video and Review

Cenotes Mexico – Canon 5D Mark III Underwater Video

I was trying to coordinate shooting this cenote video with the release of the Canon 5D Mark III. As delivery dates stalled, I kept my original bookings and shot a few days with the Canon 5D Mark II. Within a week of my return, we received an early release of a 5D Mark III camera body. My service manager Scott and I spent a morning hacking a Mark II Aquatica housing to fit the new control layout. It was a pain to do, and it only allowed me to access very basic controls such as shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and the shutter release which I repogrammed to record in video mode, thanks to a new setting on the 5D Mark III. It was frustrating to shoot with this modified housing and I'm eagerly awaiting production housings. With the help of the good folks at Dive Aventuras in Mexico, I was able rebook a quick return to the cenotes and utilize the high ISO abilities of the Mark III in the pitch black waters of the cenotes. This final edit is composed of 70% Canon 5D Mark III footage and 30% Canon 5D Mark II. The topside intro shots were shot with a GoPro Hero2.

From an underwater (low light) shooter's perspective the 5D Mark III is serious jump in performance. Like many early DSLR video shooters, I was hoping for raw video capture and perhaps reasonable live focus tracking. However, while the 5D Mark III might not be a $15K camera for $3,500, it's an unbelievable… (read more!)

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)


  1. Loved it! every second. Grew up as a kid loving Cousteau, certified at 14 and a professional photographer for 25yrs.
    That amazed me on all levels.
    Looked like a fun dive too.

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