DeHaven Digital PhotographyDeHaven Digital Photography

Canon EOS 5D MkIII – First Impressions

I finally received the Canon EOS 5D MkIII after ordering mid-April.  There are plenty of technical reviews available on the web, so I thought I would share my first impressions from a photographer’s viewpoint and one upgrading from the 5D MkII (Which I still have, but will transition more to use as a second camera and backup).

Canon EOS 5D Mark III mode dial lock buttonThe first thing I noticed was a button on top of the mode dial switch that keeps the current selected mode locked in.  This is a welcome change that was initially introduced by Canon as a send in addition to the 5D MkII and the 7D. Often times I have had the mode dial move from M (Manual) to B (Bulb) mode when the afore mentioned cameras were slung over my shoulder and moving around caused the dial to brush up against hip and thigh.  A few years ago I ran into an Associated Press photographer that had created a makeshift shield around the mode dial to prevent exactly the same behavior.  With the new mode lock button, these unintentional adjustments are a thing of the past.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III back, showing the multifunction dial, multifunction switch and live view/movie shooting switchThe overall layout is similar to the 7D, with the on/off switch positioned just behind the mode dial, where previously it sat near the bottom back right along with the multi-function lock switch. Also included is the Q (Quick Menu) button, which was previously (on the 5D MkII) accessed by pushing in the Multi-Controller button.  Also borrowed from the 7D is the Live View shooting/Movie shooting switch with the recording start/stop button in the middle. The magnify button now relies on the top main dial to zoom in and out once pressed. I have seen a number of reviews where the reviewer(s) were unhappy that the top two buttons are no longer associated with zooming in or out. Perhaps it was due to reading these reviews before receiving the camera and it was not a surprise, however; I find this change a welcome one as it is not necessary to use two separate buttons that are roughly in the same vicinity as the dial button—I can simply dial right or left to zoom in or out.

The viewfinder is bigger and shows a full 100% view of the frame—no more guessing about the outermost edges. There is no longer an option to change the focusing screen, as the MkIII includes an LCD layout with various overlays (focus points, grid displays, etc…).  In essence Canon has taken the best features of the 7D and incorporated it into the 5D MkIII – including the design and contour of the hand grip.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III Shutter, Main Dial, M-Fn and top buttons.I could go on and on about the controls, the addition of the 7D’s M-Fn (Multifunction button), the much smarter placement of the DOF (Depth of Field) preview button to the right side, but the immediate reaction and revelation I had was once the shutter button was pressed.  The Canon 5D MkIII is FAST—like a hair trigger pistol!  Shutter lag has gone from 73ms down to 59ms. Seeing that number on paper, one would hardly think a human being would perceive the difference of 14 milliseconds—but it IS more than noticeable.  Combine this with the (at this time) most advanced 61 point autofocus system in a 35mm DSLR and you have one solid performing reliable image capturing machine.

Example outdoor shot with model Bri using the Canon 5D Mark III

Model: Bri  MUA: Lindsay Ambrosio (

Also noteworthy—and perhaps this applies more to portrait and model photographers like myself—the addition of a “Rating” button that applies a one to five “star” rating to the image EXIF data has proven tremendously helpful while showing the subjects the preview images on the back LCD screen. The results can be seen in Adobe Lightroom, Canon’s Digital Photo Professional, presumably ACDsee when an update comes out for the 5D MkIII raw format, or any other application that reads standard EXIF data. I have seen a number of reviews cursing this additional button as useless, but I beg to differ.

The shutter itself is quieter along with a jump in burst mode from 3.9fps (frames per second) to 6fps. Not quite as fast as the 7D’s 8fps, but for a full frame high resolution (22.3 up from the 5D MkII’s 21.1 megapixels) camera, it’s a significant increase.

There are far more in-depth and technical reviews available, however; my first impressions both in the studio and outdoors for the few days I have owned it thus far have more than adequately squashed any notion or hint of buyer’s remorse.  The auto focus, low light focusing capability, reduction in high ISO noise, improved ergonomics and just the “feel” of this new addition to Canon’s lineup make a superb choice for professional photographers in a wide gamut of genres, from the studio to the streets and beyond.

Oh, I am still waiting on the BG-11 battery grip/vertical shooting handle which should be available at the end of May—this will make the ergonomics more than perfect.

An example studio shot with model Amy using the Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Model: Amy MUA: Lindsay Ambrosio (

Key Points:

  • 22.3 Megapixel CMOS (complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor) sensor.
  • Digic 5+ imaging processor.
  • ISO 100 – 25,600 (expandable to 50 – 102,400)
  • High density 61 point reticular autofocus.
  • 100% viewfinder.
  • 6.0fps (frames per second).
  • 3.2” ClearView II LCD.
  • Dual CF (Compact Flash) + SD (Secure Digital) card slots.
  • Multiple exposure capable.
  • HDR in camera shooting.
  • Dual-axis electronic level.
  • Ability to micro-focus adjust both wide and telephoto ends of zoom lenses, along with serial number recognition for specific lens corrections.
  • Peripheral illumination correction along with color-fringe (chromatic aberration) correction based on lens data.
  • Embedded time code option for video (SMPTE).
  • Stereo headphone jack (monitor audio levels while shooting video).

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