Canon EOS 5D Mark III Digital Camera Review$3,499.00
The 5D Mark III builds off of the design of the Mark II, with a very similar grip, but enhanced controls throughout the body. The most notable additions are the "Q" quick control button on the back of the camera, the addition of a start/stop record button (and live view/video lever), and the "RATE" playback key for rating images.
The body of the camera is as sturdy as ever, without that much weight to it (the 24-105mm kit lens, however, is quite heavy). The camera features a contoured grip that slots perfectly into the hand, with a rubberized groove on the back of the camera that just hugs around your thumb, making handling the camera (even with the weighty kit lens) a breeze.
We were left impressed with the changes Canon has made to the 5D Mark III. Like most people who have used a Mark II, we'd expect people have few complaints about the previous model. Once you begin shooting with a Mark III though, especially when you're poring over the menu and customizing the settings for the first time, you'll appreciate the additional controls. That isn't to say it's really all that different from the Mark II, with the same secondary LCD, top plate control scheme, and dual control dial setup. In the end it's a collection of small changes that, in summation, improve the usability of the Mark III considerably.
Buttons & Dials
The buttons on the 5D Mark III are, for the most part, easy to manipulate and activate. The improved weather sealing around the buttons has aided durability, but the buttons also have no real haptic response when they've been activated. This can make some adjustments—especially those that require holding a button down while manipulating a control dial—a little more difficult to make.
It does, however, provide nearly silent control of the camera, as the buttons don't make much of a sound. If even that is too much for you, the camera also features silent controls during video, letting you manipulate some basic functions on the camera simply by tapping the control dial, as opposed to turning it and creating an audible click on the final video.
Where the 5D Mark III really improves on its predecessor is in the amount and availability of controls. The back of the camera closely resembles a mix between the Canon 7D and 1D X now, with a (slightly different) rear control joystick, control dial, and "Q" quick control button. As always, you can also use the top LCD to get a quick readout on the camera's shooting settings, with all the top plate controls in the same place as the Mark II.
Completely new to the Mark III is the addition of a "RATE" key and a new creative photo button. The rate key lets you, during image review, press the button to apply a metatag rating to any image. Pressing the key multiple times ups the rating, on a 5-star scale. The creative photo button replicates the picture control button on other models, simply bringing you directly to the color mode selection screen.
The rear display is the same 3.2-inch, 1.04 million dot display found on the Canon 1D X. It's bright and very clear, with the ability to detect great image detail. It offers automatic and manual brightness adjustment, with an angle of view of approximately 170 degrees. The LCD uses the image sensor itself (with the mirror flipped up) to display images in live view, so it has full 100% coverage of your frame.
When using it for video you can get a nearly clean signal, though ISO speed does tend to stay on the screen. The 5D Mark III does allow you to use an external monitor for live HDMI out (including up to 10x digital zoom), as well. In this mode you can elect to see shooting information on top of your footage, nothing at all, or just your AF frame. When shooting with a "clean" signal output (no text or graphics overlaid) the frame is still slightly cropped to less than your display's size.
The viewfinder on the Canon EOS 5D Mark III has improved from the 98% coverage model on the Mark II to now provide 100% coverage of your scene. It has a 0.71x magnification, 21mm eyepoint, and a dioptric adjustment scale of -3.0 to +1.0m-1. The new viewfinder is a very welcome addition, especially with the new 61-point AF system. The viewfinder has the typical shooting information readout beneath the image, with an added warning symbol that will flash when user-designated features have been activated that might be destructive to your image. For example, if you switch between lighting conditions frequently and shooting in JPEG, you can set the warning indicator to display when white balance shift is activated. Similarly, if you alternate between monochrome and color shooting, you can tell the camera to warn you when monochrome is on, so you don't accidentally shoot a day's worth of shots in black and white.