Canon EOS 5D Mark III Review

April 11, 2012 | Mark Goldstein |


The Canon EOS 5D Mark III builds on the success of its popular predecessor with a series of improvements that add up to a much better all-round camera for stills and video alike. The 61-point auto-focus system in particular is very welcome, along with the excellent performance at higher ISOs, faster continuous shooting and a much more refined movie making interface. Only a sharp increase in price prevents us from recommending this new model quite as enthusiastically as we did the 5D Mark II.

Where the Canon EOS 5D Mark II scored highly on originality with its relatively new ability to shoot full HD video, the Mark III is a rather more incremental upgrade that won't perhaps grab the attention in quite the same way, but which nevertheless has resulted in a more well-rounded camera. Inheriting the same auto-focus system as the flagship EOS-1D X DSLR is a massive improvement on the rudimentary 9-point system of the 5D Mark II, while the burst shooting rate is quicker at 6fps with a useful quieter 3fps mode for more candid moments.

While the 22 megapixel sensor doesn't sound like a big improvement on the 5D Mark II's 21 megapixels, in conjunction with the Digic 5+ processor it results in seriously impressive low-light performance, with an almost noise-free range of ISO 50-6400 and perfectly usable 12800 and 25600 settings. The video side of things is also greatly improved, with a more accessible interface, manual exposure, better control of sound and cutting-edge compression rates. We would have liked to have seen an articulated LCD screen for easier composition, and the auto-focus system for movies looks decidedly clunky when compared to mirrorless cameras, but otherwise the 5D Mark III is another stride forward for for both stills and video.

Our main criticism of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III is not its ergonomics, image quality or feature-set, but the thorny issue of price. £2999 / €3569.99 represents a big increase on the launch price of its predecessor, which is still a great camera and is now available for almost half the price of the newer model. The 5D Mark III's main challenger, the Nikon D800, with its headline-grabbing 36 megapixel resolution, is also several hundred pounds / dollars cheaper. Despite this major reservation, though, we can't help but like the EOS 5D Mark III for being such a well-rounded DSLR that can successfully try its hand at most photographic disciplines. It may not be so revolutionary as its predecessor, but in almost every way the Canon EOS 5D Mark III is a better camera, proving there's plenty of life left in the DSLR format.

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 5
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 5
Value for money 4