A Nikon user’s review of the Canon 5D Mark III

Specs and purchasing info

The 5D Mark III at 12,800 ISO
Note: I will keep updating this review as I get more information. I am shooting another wedding with the 5DIII tomorrow for example, and will be able to do direct comparisons with the Nikon D4 and Nikon D800 soon

I am not a brand fanatic. I have used Fuji cameras as well as the 5Ds Mark I and II at weddings, loved point-and-shoots from Canon and Panasonic, and film cameras from a huge array of companies. The only camera I get truly emotional about is my first SLR, my father’s Minolta SR-T 101b. But you’ve gotta use something, and I’ve been using Nikon dSLRs for more than 12 years, since the days of the Nikon D1. I stuck through even through the dark times of noisy ISO 800, and have been loving the Nikon system for weddings more and more since the advent of the Nikon D3, and even more with the expansion of fast primes like the 24mm f/1.4 and the 35mm f/1.4.

120323 135225 50mm f1 2So why am I so excited about the Canon 5D Mark III? On the surface, it seems like an incremental upgrade. It has essentially the same resolution as the 5D Mark II, and nothing truly revolutionary like the original 5D’s full-frame sensor in a prosumer body, or the Mark II’s professional video features.

I’m excited because for the first time at semi-affordable rates, Canon users can combine the most comprehensive DSLR lens line-up with a full-frame camera that has no major drawbacks. The 5D Mark II was a beautiful camera that has produced millions of stunning images for photographers around the globe … but at its price point it also had some major flaws, in particular an amateur-level autofocus system. I’ve used the 5DII in conjunction with the Nikon D3s at dark wedding receptions, and the Canon’s autofocus was a cruel joke in comparison. One of the great things about Canon primes like the 35mm f/1.4L and the 135mm f/2L is that they focus faster than their Nikon equivalents — but only if they are paired with a camera that can keep up.

A lot of my friends who have been turning out gorgeous work with the 5D line rely heavily or entirely on manual focus for precision with shallow depth-of-field. If you want to buy a manual focus camera in 2012, go for a Leica M9. A workhorse DSLR needs to be able to keep up, especially at a wedding.

In short, with the 5DIII what looks like incremental upgrades amounts to an incredible increase in usability, closing major gaps in a comprehensive camera system. But it’s not quite perfect…

Build Quality and Usability

The design idea of the original 5D was to but as incredible a sensor as you could get at the time into as cheap a body as possible. There was an elegance to that idea — in the end cameras are just boxes with holes in them — but it certainly lagged behind truly professional bodies. The 5D Mark II made some improvements, but the Mark III is the first 5D that truly feels right in my hands, taking ergonomic notes from the 7D. It feels rugged and balances well with mid-weight lenses like an 85mm f/1.2L. The buttons are well-placed and the rear-screen is a pleasure to use, either in review or Live-View mode. Whoever the Canon exec was that said “Wait, the pictures this camera takes are in a 3:2 ratio, maybe our rear screens should be too!” deserves a raise.

There are some niggling little details that trip me up as a Nikon user. No matter how you change the settings, most of the time the AF point is either invisible or black. That’s OK unless you’re trying to track people in a pitch-black wedding reception. Most of my AF errors weren’t because of the autofocus system, but because I had no way of remembering exactly where I put the AF point unless I kept moving it around. UPDATE: The more I use this, the more of a problem this is. I had to set the 5DIII aside at a recent dark reception because I could never see what I was supposed to focus on. Canon needs to address this in a firmware update. You should be able to make the point red all the time in dark scenes.

On the good side, moving the AF point is much easier (and more natural to a Nikon user) with the addition of a joystick. I recommend immediately changing the custom function menu so that you don’t have to press an extra button to change the AF point. The joystick is well-placed, allows you to follow the action quickly, and it’s not something you’re going to move by accident.

And although I rarely use burst mode, 6 frames per second, makes it easier to catch that perfect moment than the previous 5D cameras:

120324 164220 50mm f3 2

50mm f/1.2L, f/3.2, 1/4000th, ISO 100
Autofocus

Has Canon finally fixed the autofocus in the 5D line? In a word? Abso-freaking-lutely. The autofocus is accurate, fast, and a pleasure to use — in some ways moreso than the Nikon D3s. I immediately turned off all sensors except the extra-sensitive cross-type sensors — and still had 41 left! Combined with the joystick, I never have to play the focus and recompose game very much unless I want my point of focus to be at the very edge of the frame. And even then I can get it close enough to not compromise the accuracy of my focal plane, which can matter when you’re shooting with a lens like the 50mm f/1.2L

I shot parts of two wedding receptions with the 5D, using my Nikon SB-900 as a flash. I almost always shoot manual mode, which works fine with that combination, but the Canon can’t trigger any sort of AF assist beam on the Nikon flash. A dark reception with people dancing around is a nightmare scenario, and one that often frustrated 5D and 5DII users, but even without an AF assist beam the 5DIII worked really, really well, capturing lots of great moments even at f/1.2:

120325 003710 50mm f1 2

50mm f/1.2L, f/1.2, 1/200th, ISO 4000

50mm f/1.2L, f/1.2, 1/80th, ISO 1250
The focus tracking was spot on as well, and AI servo mode will be a useful tool for 5DIII photographers, especially given the complex but intuitive autofocus menu that lets you customize your autofocus preferences to the smallest degree with a fast lens like the 135L, I was able to easily capture lots of great moments quickly and accurately:

120323 182432 135mm f2

135mm f/2L, f/2, 1/160th, ISO 1250

135mm f/2L, f/2, 1/125th, ISO 1250

135mm f/2L, f/2, 1/160th, ISO 4000
Image Quality

It’s tough to drill down too far into image quality right now, and I will update this post as RAW processors update themselves to support this camera. You can use Adobe’s DNG converter at the moment to process 5DIII profiles in most RAW converters, but I suspect there will be some differences once they have official support. For example, even with noise reduction turned off, Adobe’s processing has much less noise at high ISO than Capture One’s for the same files.

But here’s a generalization I feel safe with: The 5D Mark III has excellent results at high ISOs as long as you more or less nail the exposure.

The ISO quality and autofocus tracking saved my bacon at an extremely dark processional, where I had to use ISO 12,800, 1/125th, and f/2 to accurately and sharply capture photos with the 135L:

Unfortunately, like most Canon cameras before it including the other 5Ds, the 5D Mark III files are significantly worse at dealing with pushed exposures than the Nikon D3s, and seemingly also the D4 and D800. The Nikons keep a lot of dynamic range in their shadows, and you can raise exposures quite a bit without significantly degrading image quality. Even if you try to nail exposures, this gives you more dynamic range headway and better ability to creatively dodge and burn an image.

This quick test shot put me about 2.5 stops under where I wanted to be even for a silhouette, and even at ISO 100 raising it back up in post introduces noise and banding:

120324 171948 85mm f16A

85mm f/1.2L, f/16, 1/3200th, ISO 100
I’ve created a gallery here where you can compare the 5DIII and D3s at ISO 200, ISO 12,800, and at ISO 200 raised four stops in post-production. I’ve resized the files to 2000 pixels at the longest side, since cameras with higher resolution are otherwise penalized in noise comparisons. The light was the exact same, but the 20-year-old Nikon 50mm f/1.2 let in a bit less light than the four-day-old Canon 50mm f/1.2. In any case, though, the pushed exposure difference is clear.

(UPDATE: The light in these images is coming entirely from flash as it was shot in a dark room — the same flash at the same power setting — so the different shutter speeds shouldn’t make a difference in the exposure. I do appreciate the Nikon’s higher x-sync speed over the Canon, especially that, at least with the Nikon flash, the Canon sometimes has dark edges of the frame at 1/200th of a second)

Other Notes

I am not a videographer and have not extensively played with the video yet. I am having an accomplished cinematographer shoot with me tomorrow, and will relay some of his impressions if we get a chance.

Quiet mode is really quiet. With live view it’s really quiet. This comes in handy for ceremonies.

The rate button is a great addition. Like Nikon’s voice memos, it won’t come in handy for most users most of the time, but that small percentage of the time it’s REALLY handy.

Conclusion:
Right now, Canon is primarily competing with the Nikon D800. At $500 cheaper and with a high-resolution, high dynamic range sensor, the D800 will be a tempting option for most users. For someone like me who takes more than a quarter million photos a year, the idea of a sensor that only shoots 36MP is a non-starter.

More importantly, Canon has built a near-perfect wedding camera. Great at high ISOs, accurate and customizable autofocus, speedy and quiet operation and with versatile RAW resolution, this camera is finally a worthy companion to Canon’s huge array of lenses. On either the Nikon or Canon side, you can’t use the camera as an excuse anymore.

Buy the 5D Mark III here
More Photos

120323 192143 50mm f1 4A

50mm f/1.2L, f/1.4, 1/1000th, ISO 1000
120323 144641 50mm f1 2

50mm f/1.2L, f/1.2, 1/1600th, ISO 100
120324 192409 135mm f2 5

135mm f/2L, f/2.5, 1/125th, ISO 12,800
120323 145354 50mm f1 2

50mm f/1.2L, f/1.4, 1/160th, ISO 160

135mm f/2L, f/2, 1/160th, ISO 2500
120324 180235 24mm f1 8A

24mm f/1.4L II, f/1.8, 1/8000th, ISO 100

Zachary Long - Thanks for the review Ryan! Mine just got dropped off today, excited to try it this weekend and put it to a real world test at a wedding myself! Interesting note about the pushed exposure difference, I have never used a Nikon to compare but that is tempting to consider if for some reason the flash doesn’t recycle at the pivotal moment and you end up with a dark frame that needs to be saved in post.

Eduardo Suastegui - Great rundown, Ryan. Looks like the 5D III is a winner. Lots of Canon wedding photogs are rejoicing no doubt.

Hew - Nice writeup, thanks for putting in the time especially in regards to wedding photography

Marco - I also think this is the perfect wedding camera. For someone weak with smallish hands such as myself not having a huge body is a plus. I’ve been pushing the 5D classic for far too long never going above 1600, this is a welcome addition!

Gavin Farrington - Great article, Ryan. Thanks for this. I’ve had my 5d3 for four days now, and I’m truly in love. I tend to be an “expose to the right” guy, which I gather is good news for me given your comments on shadow detail. Pushing four stops seems extreme, but I can understand why you’d do it as a worst-case-scenario or reveal-all-flaws test.

Paul Krol - this will confuse the Fanboys on either side :-P
nice review. Although I was hoping for a mention of the Canon 1DX which is the D3S/D4 equivalent, right? But it is apparently twice as heavy..

Daniel Stark - great review–thanks dude!

mike - Solid read. We’re moving to FF Nikon in the next month, but it’s always fun to read what options are out there.

Ryan Brenizer - @Paul I would LOVE to test the 1d-X … whenever it actually comes out.

Ryan Brenizer - @Gavin: Yeah, not a normal scenario, but a handy guide for dodging.

Max - I want one desperately

Megan Dandeles - Great review and awesome insight. Thanks for sharing! :)

Ryan - Thank you for taking the time to put this together. Excellent review.

Sarah Der - Yay! Thanks, Ryan! Such a great review, and a pleasure to see these photos from you. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your 5Diii experience with us!

Tiago Valente - Fabulous review! Congrats!!!

I just do not understand why people keep comparing the 5dMKll or lll against the D3 or D4, they are completely different cameras, with different purposes.

The Canon 1D (with it’s different models) are the ones to compare to the D3 or D4…

rich - awesome right up!

Ryan Brenizer - Not from my perspective Tiago. They’re both the current go-to wedding cameras for each line. And the 5D+grip is now not far off the D3s price.

Sara - Thanks for the fantastic review Ryan! I’m thrilled with what Canon has done. Happy to finally have a functioning autofocus system, although, it will take some getting used to (I’m one of those crazy manual/center recompose focusers)

PS Stunning images! You’re amazing!

Gary - Beautiful shots, wonderful review! :)

SeanNY - Any chance you could add basic shooting data under each picture? Thanks.

Dominic - I think this is timely review. I waited with excitement to upgrade my D300 to a full frame. I made the mistake of thinking that the D800 was going to replace the D700 so waited. The trouble is for the big brand DSLRs is the fight over video. Many of features of the new stuff on these cameras is being essentially developed with as much thought to video as stills. I dont want a video camera. I have one. it was built for video and can produce some poor still pictures. The advancement of video on DSLRs is likely to hold back the development of the still pictures. I personally would have appreciated greater dyanamic range or improvement in image quality rather than video. I tried a Hasselblad and the image quality is amazing. I cant see myself going for a D800. I dont care about brand loyality but i have some wonderful Nikon lenses and couldnt afford a brand change. The modern DSLRs are amazing machines. I personally would prefer that the manufacturers concentrated on the seperation of machines that produce stills and machines that produce video. I think there will be compromises in trying to do both.

Jon-Mark Wiltshire - Love hearing what seems like a truly objective opinion from the perspective of a wedding shooter on the current crop of cameras Ryan Brenizer. It’s actually heartwarming to hear you call the 5D2 autofocus a “cruel joke”. While I’m extremely proud of many images I’ve made with the 5D2, I felt limited by it’s deficiencies ( particularly in the realm of AF ) on a daily basis shooting weddings, engagements and family sessions.

Thanks for your great review :)

Zac Wolf - This is great insight, thank you so much Ryan.

Mark Anthony Gelig - nice review.:)

Nicholas Gonzalez - After choosing the Canon 7D instead of the 5D2, for the same reasons of performance issues mentioned here, I am excited for my first entry into a full frame camera. Looking forward to it.

David - Great review, thanks!

Ben Chrisman - thank you Ryan! great review and great photos.

Rob Mirage - It’s very nice to see such a agnostically mature view on the whole brand thing.

This is what separates photographers from mere camera enthusiasts.

Some great images here too.

Sandy Phimester - Great to see a review from someone who is really flexing the camera to it’s limits, AF, ISO, IQ and over all feel while in the field. That’s great!

I shoot weddings, every seasons, but I also do lots of studio work and portraits, even some fashion stuff. The D800 is tempting in some areas, but I always remind myself that 21MP of my 5D Mark II has been far more than enough resolution, and that over all I’ve always been craving more AF, BETTER AF, not just more, and higher ISO for when I’m traveling and shooting weddings.

If Canon were to make a D800 equivalent, I’d get that, and have it as a back up to my Mark III (Which I will be getting soon), so it’s quite interesting to see where all this goes.

One thing for certain, these days, with cameras like this, no one has any excuses!

Thanks for the great review, cheers!

Richard Lavigne - Fantastic review Ryan. Nicely done.

Kevin Lam - Thanks for the informative review and fantastic images. It’s great to hear that the AF tested well in real world use and every bit as good as it sounds on paper.

Paul Bohman - For what it’s worth, the D800 takes photos in more than one size. There’s the DX crop, the 5×4 ratio crop, plus a new 1.2x crop. That will save some space on the hard drive, but of course it gives you less than a full frame camera if you use the crop modes. The D800 doesn’t have a 16mp full frame option, for example.

Leadsled - That 50 really shines on the 5d iii about to selll a few lens and shoot for that, IS is having problems with the 5d Iii right now but hopefully a firmware update is in order, great stuff!

maurizio - concordo pienamente con il giudizio di Dominic.
Non mi interessa girare video con una macchina fotografica e anzi vorrei come dice Dominic non avere nessun compromesso nella gestione delle immagini fisse.
chi ama fare video che si comprasse una cinepresa a me piace fare foto e chiedo solo un af efficiente un file pulito ad alti iso ma sopratutto una gamma dinamica estesissima tutto qua il resto è noia

Steve Hale - Great review and at last somebody is talking about the same problem as me with the black af points in daylight. Works great indoors when you can see the red confirmation light but outdoors its pretty tough. Still a great camera though.

Philippe Wiget - Great review indeed! I shot one wedding with the camera and can second your findings on everything you said, especially AF in low light on the dance floor (just have not done any comparison about dynamic range).

Mark - Thank you for your objective review, Ryan. This was a pleasurable read and echoes what some of the other reviews by professionals have noted. Canon decided to give us a far superior AF system, even better low noise images at high ISOs (and presumably improved dynamic range but no reviews have done this comparison yet), and the build quality that the 5D line so badly needed. I am now seriously considering upgrading my 5D Mark II as these upgrades would represent near perfection to me as well.

Rishi - Thanks for the review! Yes the banding is sometimes troublesome for some HDR landscapes not amenable to grad ND filters, or in those cases where you happened to get a great shot but exposure completely failed or flash failed to fire. It’s unfortunate.

And to be fair to Canon — we’ve always had that joystick, w/ a CF to assign it to focus point selection without requiring any other button presses :)

Matt WhoisMatt Johnson - Great review! I’ve been reading mainly video-centric reviews so this one was a good change.

Jason - Hey Ryan,

I’ve admired your work for a long time and have always appreciated your writings. I have a simple question for you. Between Nikon and Canon — Which images do prefer? Forget all the technical mumbo jumbo and if you were to compare or describe the difference between the latest Canon and Nikon higher end cameras which final output do you prefer? I’m a long time D100, D200, D700 user. I have most of 1.4 and 2.8 nikon glass which has always kept with Nikon despite secretly being drawn to the way the original 5D images looked. Something about them that I have always preferred. They always seem brighter or clearer. Hard for me to put my finger on it. Maybe it’s all the great Canon shooters? I have a D800 on order because upgrading to the latest equipment is my one vice. With Nikon’s delivery issues I’m pausing and saying to myself “if you like the way Canon’s images look better why are you going to spend $3k+ on a new body and cards to handle the mp’s.” Again, not looking for another Nikon vs. Canon bash session. And I realize this may be hard for you as you’ve produced the best Nikon images I’ve seen. I’m looking for your thoughts (and others) on the simple joy of looking at photographs. Is there one look you prefer or are starting to prefer?

Yohan - Ryan, thanks for sharing your perspective. When you update this review with direct comparisons to the D4 and D800, could you compare the accuracy and speed of the 5D Mark III’s outer AF points (the crosstype ones) vs. the D4 and D800′s outer points? As my next camera upgrade will be almost entirely for AF reasons (still on an old original 5D!) I’m very curious to know which camera will be best for off-center compositions where you’d use the outer AF points since the 5D Mark III has crosstype points out there while the D4 and D800 don’t.

Lech Naumovich - Ryan, thanks for dumping the loaded brand-o-phila. Love the photos, they are great. I appreciate gear that works regardless of the name brand. AF is a huge issue with the 5DII when you want lowlight photos.
I’m certainly invested in Canon and here’s my postprocessing hell that I think will continue (sadly) with the 5DIII. It’s a dirty three letter word – red. Yup, skin tones = red. I see it all the time, especially with flashes. Once you’re on the red train – you hear that whistle everywhere. I hear it here. Lots of red in the skin tones. I see it in lots of faces of your shots too. Are you seeing that also, or am I getting red-crazy?

Dead on red,
Lech

John Morgali - Thank you Ryan for the fantastic review. As always, you are an inspiration and motivation!

Cheng Peng Hui - Just a minor factual correction: The joystick is not a new addition. It has been with 1D/5D series for many years.

Anyway, great article and photos! :)

Sharon - Matrix - Thanks for the very informative review. Love your work!

Ryan Brenizer - Lech: DPReview certainly went crazy with it. A lot of what you’re seeing is that these people were in very reddish light. But I was forced to use Adobe to process a lot of these, and I never much liked that.

Ryan Brenizer - Will do! The D4 will arrive tomorrow, but I’m not sure if it will be here in time for my wedding.

Thao - Fantastic review Ryan! Oh how nice it must be to be able to shoot both Nikon and Canon glass!!! I’m super impressed with the 5Dmk3, but i’m going to wait to hear your take on the D800 before I make any wallet emptying moves. Amazing imagery as usual!

Dennis - Thanks a lot for this great review!

Paul Bohman - I’m glad that you pointed out that the Canon images don’t support the kind of shadow detail that the Nikon images do, because I’ve begun to rely on the high dynamic range of my Nikons for a lot of my pictures. I purposely underexpose high-contrast scenes slightly, so that I don’t blow the highlights, then I bring up the shadows with curves and other adjustments. It’s a technique that works quite well with the D7000, giving natural-looking HDR images (if you do it right) with only one exposure.

Daniel Green - As far as I am aware with the high ISO and long exposure noise reduction options enabled on the 5dmkIII there is no eventual delay in shooting when the buffer fills up like in the 7D or 5DmkII, whether that is a function of the new Digic 5 processor and thus the reason for the smaller buffer I am not positive.. I would sacrifice the 2 fps@18MP on the 7D for 6fps 22.3MP full frame continuous shooting with high ISO and long exposure noise reduction enabled which is what the 5DmkIII is touted as being capable of. JPG not raw of course.. Continuous raw with active noise processing might be asking too much.. or is it? lol..

http://www.canon.ca/inetCA/products?m=gp&pid=14989#_020

As it is with soo many of these comparisons the proof should be found in the proverbial pudding and some great examples have been made available here:

http://www.dpreview.com/previews/canoneos5dmarkiii/10

I can’t help but think however, when looking at the colour swatch comparisons of the studio scene found at the aforementioned link that the 5DmkII seems to have a deeper more rich colour saturation and better contrast (see reds and blacks on swatch).. But look at the difference in overall image resolution… this camera produces full frame images that allow for an immense amount of flexibility where cropping is concerned. Needless to say I pre-ordered… I am such a sheep Baaaaaa.

William - Thank you Ryan for your great sharing! Your review is objective and comprehensive! Wait for your review on D800 for my final decision on upgrading my camera. Btw, love your photo much!!!!

Geoff Smith - LOVED reading your review this morning. Such a pleasure to read a real world review by a true professional photographer who has used a variety of manufacturers cameras rather than the all too regular bitching about one make versus another by pixel peeping wingers!
I was a “brand fanatic” for 30 years or more….Hasselblad! I tried many digital cameras but none came near the wonderful image quality of those 6x6cm negatives until the Canon 5d mk11 arrived. ( even the original 5D could not convert me from film )I bought one of the first Mk 11 bcameras to arrive in the UK and was so impressed that ALL my Hasselblads were sold off and a second mk 11 body purchased. I also now own a 7D and my 5d mk111 is as I write, in a Fed Ex van sceduled to arrive today. I feel like a child waiting for Santa to arrive!!! I shot a wedding yesterday on the mk 11 and am so looking forward to shooting tomorrow’s wedding on the new camera. It won’t make me a better photographer but I can see from your real world review that it will make my life so much easier.
Thanks again for taking the time to write this review.

Jeff - Nice Ryan … I’m still not switching from Nikon but awesome review. Im sure many canon users are happy.

Bruno Ázera - Thank you for writing this great review! I’m also interested in buying this camera for the type of work I do.
Love the photos :D

alex - I want this lens … :(

Photogjthegreat - Very nice Review Ryan! I too have been playing with the 5DIII a lot, all the major issues I had with the 5D/5DII have been sorted with the new cam. Right now I am using a D700 for all my portrait/wedding work. I am looking to upgrade my D700. I will continue to use the D700 as a backup. I am still undecided between the D800 and D4. While I like the D800 I am a bit concerned about using that much resolution for every photo at a wedding. I know that you are getting a D4, do you plan to get the D800 also? Overall which camera do you think is the best for weddings?

James Whitehouse - Thanks for this, and some lovely photos- nice work! I’m glad someone else has noticed, and mentioned in a review, the noise and banding inherent in Canon’s imaging. I came from a D700 to a 5Dmkii for video and was pretty shocked at how little I could raise shadows even at base ISO, or in HDR work at ISO 100. The D700 was practically bulletproof in this regard and it’s interesting Canon still haven’t fixed this with the latest models.

Erin Amirian Patterson - Wow! Your photography is SO romantic. You have such a great eye for making something ordinary seem like a fairytale. Very cool.

Tim Forbes - Awesome review. Thanks for spending $7000 for me that I wasn’t planning on :)

Carlos - Great review and great sample pictures Ryan, I like how you use the lens wide open. I’m excited about trying the 5DIII, I’m a canon user shooting with the 5DII. Just a week ago I shot a wedding on a rainy day so ceremony and reception where indoors and the place had terrible lighting, I had to work hard to get subject in focus, worst part when the first dance light was almos completely out! I used the 70-200 in 2.8, ISO 1600, manual exposure. The ir light helps to focus but sometimes just keeps trying to refocus and you loose the right moment.

I use to be a Nikon guy back in the film days, my last Nikon was the F100, oh how I loved that camera, nothing compares to the ergonomics and easy to use controls of a Nikon, but when the digital times came I had to switch to Canon, my deal braked with Nikon was the CCD back in the beginning compared to the CMOS, you know, the noise difference was huge. But once I heard about the new D800 I’m kind of curious to give it a try, it seems to be an amazing camera but as you say, the 35MP is gonna make enormous files which for my shooting habits of around 1300shots per wedding is probably too much.

I’m interested in seeing your comparison between the 5DIII and the D800 in RAW and high ISO.

Thank you.

David Murray - Nicely researched Ryan. Thanks!

Doug Klostermann - Note that you can press the AF Point Selection Button at any time, with a quick press of the thumb, to illuminate your AF Points and thus see which one is selected (Canon manual pg 103). I’m finishing up an e-book guide to the 5DIII that should be available early April! http://www.dojoklo.com/Full_Stop/Canon_5DMkIII_Experience.htm

David vun Kannon - Great review, thank you. With respect to your Brenizer method of panoramic photography, can you say anything about how the 5Diii worked for you? Did it make anything in your workflow easier? Thanks again for your insights and willingness to share.

Max - I have read this a couple of times already and I really apreciate real wedding photography instead of charts and stuff… I seriously want one now.

Steven Miskovich - Thanks Ryan for a honest and and insightful review. As a Canon shooter I completely agree, Canons don’t take pushing exposure nearly as well as what I have seen with my friends D3′s.

Lauren Kim Photography - Thanks for writing this review :-)

Jonas Peterson - Great review, buddy. Also nice to see that your images always look like Ryan Brenizer images regardless of the camera used.

Angelo - Love your review but I’m not a wedding photographer. I started out taking photos of my son’s soccer games which has turned me into the club team and the high school teams photographer. I also shoot indoor wrestling duels, so I need a camera for outside lighting as well as inside. Is the Canon 5D Mark lll for me? Or the Nikon D800 or should I wait?

Ivan - @Naumovich: Redness comes from Canon optics and profiles, use a custom picture profile and Zeiss Glass for better and natural looking colors.

Paul Morse - Finally a camera review with images of real people in real situations where the Mark III will shine. Thank you Ryan.

Spartanwarrior - Great review by the way , on a features level i agree with you, canon has it done near perfect atlast,atlast,
but looking at your pics ,no pffence ,apart from your artistic style ( the photos are great )i dont think i´ll bite it, lots of badass Banding and heavy noise even in the iso 100 pics,(the last pic left side is pretty much like ISO 12000 :-).

i am using a d700 and 1DMk3 as my main cams, D700 for low light and i cant remember a single time it showed such horrible banding and noise even when pushed at 3200-5000 iso range like the 5D3 is showing even at 100 ISO.

anyway, thanks for the reviev and i really like your photographic style, those pics are a joy to watch (non technically ofcourse).
cheers,

Terence Kearns - “the idea of a sensor that only shoots 36MP is a non-starter.”… that is a really stupid position to take – especially given the affordability of large memory cards and multi-terrabyte hard drives. If I use a Nikon user, I’d be stoked about the image quality improvement which seems to be the best in the world in the 35mm form factor – at least according to DxO labs. According to them, a big improvement over the 5DIII as well. How is that not important for weddings?

Pretty in White - Thanks Ryan. Used my 5d3 for a wedding video yesterday and it performed like a dream. The new screen and 30 minute runtime are a welcome addition and the high ISO shots worked great. Looking forward to taking stills, firing up LR4 and running some RAWs through it.

Pompo Bresciani - How do you like the lcd viewfinder, I think that is truly horrible, I would like to know if you could easily adjust to it and if you did turn off the viewfinder illumination at all?

I love the rest of the camera so far ! Thanks

Pompo Bresciani - I just re-read and figured I missed this part about the firmware to fix te bad Canon 5d Mark III viewfinder lcd display…You really think it could be fixed with a firmware update? I wish they could and will!

Also, Didn’t the red haze coming from left and right of the screen bother you also when VF illumination is on? It can actually be seen from people looking at your lens like a red traffic light!

gokul - i like very mach this potos

Paul Donovan - Thanks for this great review Ryan. I shoot with a D3s and a D3 and the size and weight were becoming an issue for me. I was looking to move to two d800′s but I still have all my Canon lenses and this 5d mk3 is tempting me back into the Canon camp.

Ryuji Suzuki - I think fixed focusing screen (non-replaceable – no Ee-g or Eg-g equivalent) for 5D3 is a mistake. I’m a heavy user of TS-E lenses, even for some corrective portraits. So, I still need to keep a couple of 5D classic/mkII just for manual focus jobs. I had same complaints for 7D but being APS-C body I only used it for quick jobs anyway. With 5D3 the lack of super precision matte screen is more serious.

Tman - Ryan: Great writeup for me, as I’m a Nikon shooter on the fence due to the 36MP size issue. When you have the chance with the D800, can you try one of the two available compression settings for NEF files (lossy and lossless). I’d be curious to see how that affects your thoughts on the file sizes.

Sanjay D Gohil - Thanks for your review on the 5d MKIII Ryan, I can’t wait to get my hands on this little beast!

Roberto Farren - Great review and thanks for the insights! I have two of the MK2′s and do love them and will go for the 5d3 eventually, but I think will wait 6 months, let then iron out the bugs, let the PP software catch up and maybe see the price drop a tad too. Sounds like you think there are a couple of fixes they could make with the firmwear hey. Awesome review and stunning shots too!! Regards, Roberto

Matthew Battershell - Well, obviously the 5dmkIII resolves far greater detail at ISO 12,500: you can’t even see the memory card in the Nikon footage :) HAHA.

Edward Ryan - Hi Ryan very nice review. I was wondering if you had already compared it to Nikon d800. I am a Canon 7d user and I am planning to switch to a Nikon d800. I’m worried about focusing issues of 5d mark III compared to Nikon d800 especially during low light conditions.Planning to get nikon D800 for weddings and portrait shots.

Kevin Paul - Beautiful imagery Ryan! I hated my 50 1.2 on my MkII so I sold it a while back. I have read that the MkIII really brings this lens to life and your images prove that! I have both on my short list. Thank you for the review!

Dale - Good review. I am a TV set photographer and I shoot a great deal of pictures too. I have been using my Mark lll for a week now. I shoot a majority of my pictures at 2000 ISO. The difference between the mark ll and lll is very noticeable. The lll produces much better files. I have noticed less noise and more details in the high lights. I use the camera in a sound blimp and the setting are brighter in the viewfinder with the lll. The AF works much better but I do not like using two buttons to chance my focus settings. You were right on that one. The LCD screen is larger and the screen is sharper. I use DNG to bring everything into Lightroom before I edit. It is a longer process to bring the files into Lightroom. Hopefully Lightroom will have an update soon. I personally will never use the rate button. I love the camera but I do not understand the 500.00 upgrade. If the camera was a 36 megapixel camera then I could understand. My dream camera would allow me to shoot RAW both at 36 and 22 megapixels. I wish this camera did that and I wish Canon would listen to its users. I was hoping to see the LCD screen to have a swivel mode for the movie function and I wanted the camera to have two audio input sources. I like the new headphone jack. I am looking forward to be playing more with the camera at higher ISO’s. Thanks for your review.

Bob - Ryan, thanks for a great review. One comment and a question:

Comment: regarding the black square AF point, its really a big bother. However, there is a way to set the AF menu so all the sqaures light up on a button push and the active AF point is brighter. Not as good a solution as a D3x menu but better than black. Issue is the AF menu is so complex, the canon showroom guy took 15 mts to find the method and I forgot how he did it!

Question: did you shoot jpegs with RAW and compare the sharpening? I found 5DIII was over sharpening both jpeg and RAW files and that’s holding me back from upgrading. Please see some samples here. http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1032&thread=41079331

Taz - Thanks for the review. This camera does look like a Wedding photographers dream.

Mike VerSprill - I really enjoy your reviews and learned quite a lot from your blog! I can’t wait for your thoughts on the D800 and D4. I was hoping to upgrade my D700 to the D800 if the specs would have been more on par with the canon 5DMK3, but instead they took it an entirely different direction.. Disappointing for low light shooters that can’t afford the D4 or D3s. Hopefully a year from now they cut the 36mp in half to 18mp and give it D4 iso capabilities or better :) one can only wait and hope

Aldrich Dequiña Rosano - now that’s how you pull off a review.

Anil Fernandes - nice review you have put up here. I am quite intrigued with the noise in your photos. I see that 12th photo (just hands holding the granny stick)is shot at 100 iso and is full of noise. Is it Post processing or in camera thing that you have captured?

Ryan Brenizer - Anil: You’re reading them wrong. That was ISO 12,800.

lynn michelle - At first I was going to wait until your review, but then I realized I couldn’t wait. I’m so glad I got that camera- it’s a breath of fresh air for me!

Mark A. Kathurima - Great, objective review. You are clearly not aligned to a brand but to a tool. Before I only toyed with the idea, but now I’m actively planning to trade in my 5D2 for a 5D3…

David Bell - Really great review. The images are stunning. I need to get myself a 135mm F2!

Jeremy - Ryan, I think Bob was on the right track with the AF comment. You’ve probably figured this out already, but if you go in to the fifth AF menu (AF 5), and drop down to “VF Display Illumination,” you can adjust the setting from “Auto” to “On.” When you hit focus, it will light up red every time, even in daylight.

Stew - Nice review! Thank you! :)

Alfonso Bresciani - @Jeremy The VF illumination is too weak and you cant even see the red in bright light!
when shooting in the dark the black AF points are sometimes invisible and therefore cannot see which one you are using utnil you hit the VF illumination on. This illumination thing don’t even belong on a $500 camera, I’m disgusted by it, and it really shouldn’t be on a $3500 body!

Harry, ExposedPlanet - Refreshing review, thanks for using a real situation to show the resulting images. They are wonderful and the couple and family must be proud of them, as should you.

The 12,800 ISO really is a different world from the mark II, while that camera already blew others out of the water at 1600 & even 3200…

Shane Kua - Hi Ryan,

I love your photos and the review!

Have you tried the Silent shooting mode? I am curious as to how much difference it makes for wedding photographers.

I’m referring to the one that is not restricted to Live view – its in the Drive settings.

Anna Ramos Jison - Thanks, Ryan. Now you have a new follower.

mu rizwan - Tanks for review

Vasiliu Leonard - These special wedding photos. Congratulations!

Emily L - Thank you for the thorough reviews. I was looking for something like this for a while. The camera is still in back-order and I can’t wait to try it out.

Miguel Torres - Amazing article… and of course… AMAZING images!

Guenther Schwermer - A very interesting article with great images

Mark Laing Creative Photography - Great review and great insights here. I just rented a D800 for a wedding and, being a Canon user was somewhat dismayed by how tricky it was to switch ISO on the fly. On the Canons it’s “hit a button on the top, then turn the dial next to the button. Presto”. The D800 did produce fabulous images but man, the size of those files. They’re gigantic. Swallowing up my hard drive with a combo of 37Mb+ RAW images and video. Yikes. I was fantasizing about the D800 but am now going to rent a 5D Mk3 to test…do I really need near 40mb files? (I did a week ago). Just try opening a handful of RAW pix in any program and your machine will groan. Video quality is superb and the time-lapse feature is great.

doug stroud - Ryan,
When you used your Sb900, was this directly on camera? Could you talk about what functions you can or cannot do when using the Sb900 on the Canon?

Ryan Brenizer - Directly on camera. It only works in manual mode, with no AF assist.

Marctriyandi - Your review are very details, i got many things to consider to use the product after read this article. Thanks.

William Michael Power - A first-rate overview of the 5D Mark III and also love the real-world examples of the camera’s auto-focus system, which I believe is similar to that found in the 7D (which has turned out to be a near-perfect choice for my level of shooting). I’ll be looking forward to migrating up to Mark III when time is right!

Dan Boychuck - I just bought the 5DIII, primarily to shoot my son wrestling in Baku, AZE, any tips, pointers or suggestions? Thx!

Gavin - Thankyou Ryan a great write up you make me feel old, I started with a Minolata SRT 101B in 1976 and moved to Nikkormat Nikon F1 etc. I just bought a Canon 1DX to shoot dogs in movement, horse shows, functions, calendars etc. I still have my Nikkor 24-70 , 70-200 and kept my D300. I was looking at the 5D mark 3 for my portraits vs the D800 and it appears that the 5D3 may do it, the Canon lenses look good too. Thank you for the article. I just donated my enlargers to the Jhannesburg photographic society for new members to admire. Actually my first SLR was the Kodak Retina reflex. Can you remember old box 120 mm film, I think I started there.

Jack Cutting - The tip about reducing AF selection to one button push less – is the best tip I’ve ever read. Thank you, this will make my 7D and (5D mkiii – when I get one) a much more enjoyable experience.

M42 - Canon got this one 99% right. But the black autofocus point needs to be fixed. What in the world could they possibly have been thinking? Everybody knows the 5D is and has been a wedding photographer’s camera.

But Canon has made a lot of improvements in the 5D Mark III, from autofocus, to material, to how it fits and feels in your hand and in the build and quality in general. Unfortunately, Nikon has taken a big step back with the quality and materials of their D800 and D600 cameras.

@Gavin, your 1dx is capable of taking superb portraits with high resolution and great detail.

Kristy Callangan - now I’m caught in between which camera to buy. a canon 5dm3 or nikon d3s. please advise guys. it will be much appreciated.

Akara Ogheneworo - This is going a long way to help me make up my mind. i tested the 5Dmk3 two weeks ago and what i saw made me decide instantly to upgrade. Its now time to get the money.

Thanks for this again.

Sally - After this time, would you still buy the 5dIII? I am a Nikon shooter and just find so many files with auto WB off. Do you set the custom WB for your weddings, or just shoot auto WB? What about the better number of focus points and less green hue in the 5dIII compared to the Nikon D4 files? Thank you.

Reina Dan - We provide convenient, cost-effective way to purchase your camera. you email us and

obtain information about the latest products at a very competitive price.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III key specifications

22.3MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor

3.2″ Clear View High Resolution LCD

DIGIC 5+ Image Processor

61-Point High Density AF

Full HD 1080/30p and 720/60p Formats

Built-In HDR and Multiple Exposure Modes

Extended ISO Range (50-102400)

Up to 6.0 FPS Continuous Mode

Dual CF and SD Memory Card Slots

Durable Magnesium-Alloy Construction

Brand new Canon EOS 5D Mark III (body only) cost $1250usd

Brand new Canon EOS 5D Mark III 22.3 MP Full Frame CMOS Digital SLR cost $1950usd

Email: globalshot11@gmail.com

Skype: techgalore

Dare Adegbaju - I am using cannon Mark II at the moment and is a great camera. However cannon shut me up with this MarkIII