Canon Updates The Cult Classic 5D Series

Canon Announces Canon 5D Mark III

So we have it, the long-awaited announcement of the new Canon 5D Mark III. Canon’s surprise smash hit 5D2 had a glorious run, achieving fame and infamy by inventing DSLR video capture in all its excitement and distress and, oh yeah, being a pretty fine photographic camera to boot.

The 5D2 has become a widespread industry standard for portraits and events and this update will keep it in the game. Much needed on the old camera? Better autofocus. Canon answers with an aggressive 61-point system that promises the sporty performance that has been missing all these years. What was not missing in the old camera? Resolution. Thankfully, Canon has decided the MP race has ended and capped the 5D3 at a respectable 22MP. Remember your first big shoot on the 5D2? Remember how quickly those cards filled and how Lightroom ground to a Rendering-Preview halt? No new drama here. Though the added benefit of an extra slot (one CF and one SD) is welcome news.

In a shout-out to the burgeoning trend of techy mirrorless compact cameras, Canon has also added a few menu toys like in-camera HDR. Taking a play from the medium format world (Hasselblad and Phase One, anyway) the 5D3 adds a quick method to star rank images in-camera. Canon is so pleased with this new function, it gains a dedicated button, “RATE”, right next to the screen. The embedded ranking will likely be readable by Lightroom and other EXIF-savy software, and will add a wonderful way to kill time on the train ride home from a shoot. Get that first wave of editing – cutting down the numbers – done en route and jump straight to the image tweaking once you get home. I love similar tools on the Hasselblad H4D and Phase One IQ cameras (heck, Hasselblad also determined the function merited a dedicated button).

Movie mode, ahhh movie mode. The 5D3 has – drum roll please – a Headphone Jack! Finally, the other half of movie making (besides moving pictures) can be confirmed while happening. Canon has also added a nifty new way to adjust audio input levels on the fly, by brushing a finger around the now touch-sensitive rear command wheel. Can’t wait to try that out. A new bit of software, also, promises to fix the previous moire issues. Missing? Apparently the camera offers no HDMI clean out. Canon once more foils should-be external recording.

The Inevitable Shoot-Out

The obvious comparison, of course, is to the newly-announced Nikon D800. In an apparent effort to stop the rental of medium format cameras and kick-start the hard drive manufacturing industry, Nikon went bonkers with resolution – cruising far beyond the practical for many photographers (read about it here). Nikon and Canon both added smoother video controls (heck, Nikon added video capture!) Nikon keeps it more pro, more serious, while Canon invents a handful of friendly new icons. Nikon’s willingness to permit HDMI recording will be beneficial for serious video-makers, while Canon’s on-the-fly audio adjustments and “All-I” flavor of H.264 compression may prove to be strong selling points for the performance of in-camera recording. Both cameras gain bigger, better LCDs, new autofocus machines, and smoother ergonomics over previous generations.

Nikon adds in-camera time lapse movie making, Canon adds HDR creation with image aligning. From previous generations, Nikon keeps the added benefits of an AC port, intervalometer, and 1/250s flash sync. Canon 5DIII owners will soon be taunting D800 owners by happily clicking away in “small RAW” mode long after the D800′s cards are filled to capacity with 36.3MP RAW files (come on, Nikon, those are Big files!) Both cameras, meanwhile, also have more distinction from bigger, even more pro siblings, distinctions that were a bit harder to justify in previous years…

So the new 5D? Looks like Canon went after all the tender spots to refine a lovable camera into a much smoother machine.. Can’t wait to give this one a whirl (and a touch)..

Click here to pre order the Canon 5D Mark III from B&H (while supplies last)

Click here to pre order the new Canon Speedlight 600EX-RT

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by Matt Beardsley, photography provided by Canon

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