n 1987 Canon unveiled the EOS 650 to the world. It was the Japanese manufacturer’s first 35mm autofocus SLR and the start of the EOS system. With its fully-electronic lens mount, in-lens aperture and focus motors, and reliance on electronic button and dial operation, Canon’s EOS system established a blueprint that all successive camera systems have followed. Now, 25 years later, the Canon EOS 5D Mark III is the latest model in the line.
Up until now, the 5D series has been a dynasty of slightly unlikely revolutionaries. The original EOS 5D of 2005 was the first ‘affordable’ full frame SLR, and the camera that cemented the 24x36mm sensor as the format of choice for many professional applications at a time when many were questioning its continued relevance. The 5D Mark II was the first SLR capable of recording full HD video, a feature that revolutionized the market in a fashion that no one could possibly have envisaged at the time – least of all Canon. On the face of it, though, the latest model offers little that looks likely to make the same impact.
The 5D Mark III has a 22MP full frame sensor in a body that’s based on the EOS 7D design, and with a 61-point AF system borrowed from the flagship EOS-1D X. From the glass-half-empty point of view, this could be seen as an unambitious update that trails disappointingly behind Nikon’s 36MP D800 which was announced around the same time. But for those whose glasses tend more towards the half-full, it might just turn out to be the camera that 5D Mark II owners always really wanted.
Indeed the 5D name itself is almost misleading; compared to its predecessor the Mark III is essentially a completely new model, with every major system upgraded and updated. In a way it’s better seen as a full-frame 7D, with that camera’s control layout, extensive customizability and 63-zone metering sensor. But it also gains a raft of additional tweaks and improvements in response to customer feedback; these range from dual slots for CF and SD cards, through a locking exposure mode dial, to a large depth of field preview button that’s repositioned for right-handed operation, and can be reprogrammed to access a number of other functions.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III key specifications
- 22MP full frame CMOS sensor
- ISO 100-25600 standard, 50-102,800 expanded
- 6 fps continuous shooting
- Shutter rated to 150,000 frames
- 1080p30 video recording, stereo sound via external mic
- 61 point AF system
- 63 zone iFCL metering system
- 100% viewfinder coverage
- 1040k dot 3:2 LCD
- Dual card slots for CF and SD