Why is the Canon EOS 5D Mark III more expensive than the Canon EOS 5D Mark II?

by planetmitch27 Comments

There's been a lot of discussion about the price of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III vs. the Canon EOS 5D Mark II – and there's an $800 difference between the launch prices (remember the Canon EOS 5D Mark II was launched at $2699 and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III is $3499). Quite frankly a lot of people have been complaining that there just are not enough new features to justify the price difference. But what if it has nothing to do with features but in fact has much to do with the economies of Japan vs. USA? Not to mention the natural disasters in Japan and the flooding in Thailand?

I've seen several discussions about the economics and this post by Michael James on HDRibloa.com sums it up perfectly:

Canon and Nikon had to raise prices

Canon and Nikon had to raise prices

Canon and Nikon had to raise prices

More from James:

I’ve been saying for years now here and on Twitter that Canon and Nikon have been forced to raise prices simply due to currency exchanges. I’ll give you a small example. In 2007 a lens I bought for $1400 now sells for $1900. Did it get better? No. But the exchange rate changed. So Nikon had to raise the prices in order to still maintain the same profit margin.

It sucks… but here were are in the biggest recession of our lifetimes and Nikon and Canon are forced to stiffen or raise prices so they can maintain a profit. It’s a double whammy for USA folks. Lower wages, less jobs…. and higher prices.

What amazes me is that the photographers solution is to try and stay competitive by LOWERING prices for their services. I don’t get it. I’ve been raising rates by 5-10% annually for 7 years now and yes I lose some clients that are cheap, but most stick with the quality.

the 24-70 II

And the same probably holds true for the recently announced upgrade to the 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM (here's our post on that announcement).

(cover photo credit: snap from michael's article)


  1. The price difference is much bigger here in Europe… So please, people, stop complaining about that. Perfect example on that $1400 lens though!

  2. the economies are a sure aspect.
    But Nikon brought us a better camera for some photographers than canon did. And they will sell this camera for a price that is more reasonable.

  3. Well, you can compare here all day long… If you stick with Nikon, u just stick with Nikon, same with Canon users… Simple.

  4. I’m sure that James is correct, but let’s face it – Canon will have no trouble selling their initial run on the 5D3 at $3500. They’ll probably have no trouble selling all the can produce in 2012. We might start to see some easing on prices some time in early 2013. The question to ask is “is this camera worth the extra dollars to me to have it right now?”. For enough people, the answer is “yes”.

  5. OK I brought this up in another discussion and they called me mean. Can anybody explain why the c300 was launch with a $20,000 tag and is now being offered in B&H for $15,999. It’s not even available yet. Wouldn’t the inflation and flood argument work with this camera as well. What happened with the c300 is that everyone was up in arms because of the original price price tag so Canon brought the price down. This price justification of the Mark III will convince Canon that we are all willing to pay the $800 extra.

    1. Author

      Eduardo, I don’t think Canon had the pricing of the Canon EOS C300 totally figured out (which I realize is a strange thing to say) what the pricing was going to be. At the Nov 3rd meeting, I don’t think they had any plan to announce the price but it was asked at the very end of the q&a session. It was very strange.

      With the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, they’ve very obviously thought it all out and are committed to this price.

      I don’t think anyone or any group can raise enough of a stink to get the price changed on the 5D3.

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  7. The C300 is the very beginning of a Canon line/brand extension and there is no relationship to it’s price fluctuations (pre availability) and the established 5D mk series. Plus, the C-series Canon had no background to gage the market response. Remember, Vince Laforet first set the world on fire with the “Convergence” that the 5D mk ll represented, NOT Canon!
    The obvious questions are: where is the “C” 2K or 4K EOS camera and where is the successor to the Canon 1Ds mk lll?
    These are the only reasonable “questions” we should be asking ourselves. Because they affect out equipment acquisition plans.
    The exchange rate and the natural disasters and marketing decisions are simply Canon Japan juggling their realities.

    All this written by someone who was a dyed in the wool Nikon shooter for decades.

  8. I don’t think the 5D3’s should be compared to the 5D2. It should be compared to the 1Ds mk 3. If you can still find that camera, it costs close to $5000. The only thing the 5D3 lacks is a grip and the highest quality weather sealing. The 5D3 is an ideal studio camera, a replacement for that 5(?) year old camera that still costs well over $3500.

    This 5D3 is an upgrade for pro (and aspiring) users who know what a camera does and can appreciate specs that don’t lend themselves to market-speak.

  9. They will sell plenty and yes I might buy one. I own two MKII, but might get the C300. It just depends on what you are going to use the camera for. MKIII is a nice camera, just how nice for $3400 ?

  10. Thanks Mitch,
    that explanation makes sense to me, the c300 being a new line.. But now that I dared to comment, don’t know if it’s proper to bring it her, if it’s not please redirect me. I have been producing documentaries for almost 30 years and this summer will start an expedition where I will be doing most of the filming and editing myself and in the field. It’s a two to three years project which I am mostly financing myself for now, so the budget is very limited.

    My main concern is to get footage that 5 years from now will still be broadcast quality. I will also be shooting stills. I forgot the main point, a motorcycle is probably the vehicle that I will be using. There are plenty of DSLR’s that I can use and maybe even the c300 or FS 100 (I’m not considering the Scarlet because I’m going to be on the road most of the time), but what DSLR would you guys recommend that would shoot broadcast quality and be acceptable by the international markets 5 years from now?

    1. Author

      Eduardo, thanks for your question. My take on it is that all this talk about 2k and 4k is still a bit premature. Sure, things are moving that direction, but look back on history. It took something like 10 years for most people to move to HD TV! It even took the governments to force the issue. Of course, there will be movie theaters moving up to higher res, but that will take years as well.

      In my book, (and others are of course free to put in their ideas), any of the current line of cameras are acceptable. If you want, get the 5D3 or see what the new Nikons look like in video (it is yet to be seen if they’d killed the jello issues).

      Heck, even the goPro cameras are putting out 1080HD video that I’ve seen on broadcasts. Buy a couple of those to strap to the motorcycle 🙂

      1. NTSC lasted for almost 70 years. Unless the broadcast television industry collapses in the next decade, I would imagine 720p/1080i will be around for several more decades. Any camera that shoots 1080p video will future-proof just fine.

        Remember back in the 90s there were teams shooting feature films on the Sony PD-150.

        1. I’m expecting 4K as a pretty normal, thing to have in the living room within 5 years. Not for the average consumer but powers like myself who like to have 65+ inch screens with super highres. I’m already shooting corporate videos on 4K with the RED.

          And we use 4K projection for big jobs and it impresses people.

          NTSC was a system that had to use the old black and white air transmitters. It had no bandwidth to grow. Now with digital everything has changed. Internet speeds are only going up. YouTube has 4K content, 4K camera’s for consumers are released.

          This switch up will go much quicker, especially if 3D is not going to take off as big as people hope for we need the next big “upgrade” that that is 4K or quad HD.

          In “decades” HD wil be the poor mans choice, look at the new iPad with it’s retina display, all it needs is superhighres video content.

          1. Author

            you have some good points… but realize one thing… the iPad is limited in software to 1080HD resolution video. I’m guessing they can eventually change that, but just because the screen is 2k res doesn’t mean the software can display it.

          2. You do realise it is just an example of how higher res screens are coming a lot faster then ntsc / HD? Besides, content means apps as well as video. Anyone tried to play 4K youTube video on iPad? 😛

  11. Thanks allot Mitch
    your point is so true, I remember watching an HD demo they gave us at WGBH in 1988, it took almost two decades for HD to become the standard. I’m struggling between the Nikon and the 5d3, hope some good camera test come out before the summer.

  12. The currency devaluation is a direct result of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy. They print money for the bailouts and to keep interest rates low and we pay for it through higher prices. If the supply of dollars in the system expands rapidly and the goods/services in the economy stay the same then prices have to rise and that currency has fall. Its a hidden tax and most people have no idea how it works. As prices keep rising more will start to learn about Austrian economics and how the system really works.

  13. I say any reason for the price differences are all baloney unless the reason is greed. I live in Canada and a MkIII $3799 (plus taxes). In the US it cost $3499
    Right now the Canadian dollar is worth 1.01 USD in other words Canada dollar is worth more the the US dollar. I tried to convince myself that the reason might be a different tax structure and import duties. This pacified my mind until I checked out the price for the Nikon D800… US price $2999 Canada price $2999. Why is it that Nikon Canada selling on par with Nikon USA and Canon is charging Canadians $300 more.

  14. I’m not buying the inflation reasoning either. Canon is still producing/manufacturing the 5Dii and have been all year long. How come we haven’t seen “Inflation” spikes on that camera or any of the other DSLR’s currently being made from Canon? It doesn’t add up. It seems to me that Canon price the 5Diii knowing the consumers will pay what Canon wants for it. They could of easily kept the camera @ $3,000, use the inflation tag and consumers would be understanding and make the purchase with a good heart. $3,499 seems like a greedy push. I’m sure the 5Diii is worth every penny but it’s principle that really hurts.

  15. I was hoping to see some comment of improvement in the overheating issue when using the 5Dlll for video. Does anyone know if the new Nikon 800 has that problem?

  16. It has nothing to do with inflation, its NOTHING but the usual Canon corporate GREED and frankly it is a disgrace!

    I hope many boycott buying the 5DMK3 until Canon do the DECENT thing and reduce the price!!

  17. Don’t hold your breath. Since when has the”Decent” thing ever enter business.? I know greed is responsible, but what bothers me more is corporations or people making up some baloney reason. Call a duck a duck and get on with it.

    My order will be in my hands in 3 more sleeps.

  18. Look at Sigma with the SD1. It started at $10K, then dropped to $6K, then 4…now it is had for $2200 !!!

    Talk about profit loss!
    If Sigma had an open mind to actually sell this camera, they would allow an option to sending it in for a mount swap to either Nikon or Canon…BUT, they wanna lock in a sale on the lenses. BUT that will not happen as this is not an entry “all around user” camera, and any interested buyer is already vested to the lens they will use. Sigma will hardly move these bodies,..to who? Some graduate without any serious lens gear decides to go all Sigma lens and locked into a Sigma body system?…Who would do that ??? Suicide to lock the mount. But try and explain that. RIP to the Sigma head, and hope someone with sense can drill that to who is charge now. Make it available with choice of mounts and I would be sure they get a 50% increase in sales.

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