I have a confession to make. I recently bought myself a new camera: the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. Despite the shocking price tag, I believe this camera will prove to be a worthwhile investment in the end. Shooting weddings necessitates having more than one body (I currently own the Canon 7D) and having two bodies, albeit with different crop factors, mean I can have different lenses simultaneously mounted on each camera. That speeds things up!
The 5D Mark III has been excelling in situations with low light, like in reception halls and cavernous churches. This is a crucial feature since I prefer to not use flash in my documentary style of photography. Although I must admit: the basic flash-look does appeal to a certain part of me (the manly part); too bad it exposes my presence, which makes guests look self-conscious and stiff.
Now that this post is turning into a mini review, I’ll briefly mention a handful of other nifty features that I feel are a welcome change.
The 5D Mark III has dedicated LiveView and Video Mode buttons, which allows access to these menu features without having to first dig through all the other options. It has a slightly bulkier frame than the Canon 7D, which fits more comfortably into my hands and bonus: my pinky isn’t left dangling in the air anymore.
A further enhancement to the camera is the inclusion of a larger LCD screen with a 3:2 aspect ratio (in other words, it reflects the entire surface of the camera’s light sensor). The sensor of the 7D doesn’t take full advantage of the full projection coming out of the back of the lens, whereas the 5D Mark III does and has 22.3 megapixels to boot. Translation: Bigger, better pictures.
Despite all of these improvements, the two star features that I believe deserve special praise are the new 61-point autofocus system and the silent shutter mode. My first Canon digital SLR was the EOS 30D. It came with a fairly no frills 9-point autofocus system. The system’s only useable point was the one in the centre. When I bought my 7D in 2009, I was immediately impressed by its 19-point autofocus system. It was more advanced and surprisingly customizable. However, it wasn’t always consistent: the camera confirms that it’s focused, but the resulting photo could be iffy. The new autofocus system in the 5D Mark III completely overshadows the system in the 7D. I’m hitting critical focus with lenses that I thought were the source of the problem while using focus points that I never previously dared touch.
The silent shutter is a feature that I discovered only a few days ago and I’ve immediately fallen in love. In silent shutter drive mode, the shutter producers about 1/4 the amount of noise it does during regular operation. Although the manual claims that using this feature means a longer shutter delay, my experience suggests that whatever delay that is present is ultimately imperceptible. Activating the feature reduces the maximum frame rate from 6 to 3 frames per second. I doubt this will be a major deal-breaker for many photographers. As for myself, discretion is key: silent shutter mode is now my default drive setting.
For anyone interested in reading more thorough reviews of this great camera, I suggest the following:
- Jeff Ascough’s review (Jeff is a revered wedding photographer from the UK and his review is what sold me on the camera)
- Bryan Carnathan’s review at The Digital Picture (Bryan is a very meticulous and unbiased reviewer. I have been reading his reviews since 2006)
- Ken Rockwell’s review (take this one with a grain of salt, Ken is known in photography circles for his brash opinions)