The latest buzz on the camera scene is the introduction of Canon’s new 5D Mark III digital SLR camera. A camera the industry is calling everything professionals wanted from the Canon 5D Mark II.
Until recently most of the work and reviews featured online has been based on pre-production models and tests in non-wedding environments. We were fortunate enough to get our hands on a production model early and have put it through its paces at a recent wedding.
This post is written from our perspective as wedding photographers who have captured our work with Canon 5D and 5D Mark II cameras for a few years now. So should you believe the hype and race out and buy one?
The first thing you notice when you pick up the Canon Mark III is the feel of confidence in the equipment – the grip, the sturdiness, the size and the finish (magnesium alloy). It all feels that bit more durable.
Scrolling through the menu functions and using the controls you will find them fairly different to the Canon 5D Mark II, with a combination of elements from other Canon ranges brought together. There is many new AF functions, as well as a more user friendly menu and associated controls.
Rather then detail the specifications of the camera, let’s get to the key points of why I think it’s a worthy successor to the Canon 5D Mark II from the point of view of wedding photography. Also, what I’d like to see improved and/or upgraded with firmware.
6400-ISO. Ambient Lighting.
Key Wedding Photography Features
Silent shutter mode. What a great feature. For those quiet moments during a recent small church wedding ceremony, as well as those documentary style photographs throughout the day this function came in handy.
Auto Focus improvement. When you first open the auto focus menu functions prepare to be confused – there are now many more modes which Canon 5D users would not be accustom to using. I found myself reverting to what I know and prefer which is the use of single point, spot metering with back button focus. Mark III wise, this camera did not disappoint locking focus with fast L series lenses at apertures of 1.2-1.4 all day and night from low to high ISO ranges.
High ISO improvement. I’ve long captured images on our Mark II’s at ISO-3200 without hesitation. At times I would have preferred that extra stop to obtain perfect exposure in low light reception situations, particularly when pushing prime lenses at already slow shutter speeds and fast apertures. I find ISO-6400 and ISO-8000 on the Mark III very impressive. Beyond this, I actually find ISO-12800 and above would over expose our images from the view that I didn’t need that much light without significantly slowing the shutter speed and aperture. Not really a disadvantage though, providing that bit of ISO in the back pocket for when it might be needed.
Screen improved. I’m in two minds about the introduction of the clear view 3.2″ 1,040,000 screen. Once captured, images look beautiful from within camera. I have so far found that the files themselves don’t look as good straight out of camera (SOOC) as what the screen indicates. Somewhat the opposite of what I find with the original 5D which has the most gorgeous files SOOC with a fairly average screen (at the current point in technology advancement).
100% viewfinder coverage. This takes some getting used to if you are used to shooting a little wider for composition purposes with a 98% viewfinder. If you aim to nail the composition in camera like we do, this takes a little getting used too.
Off-camera flash. I’m finding our pocket-wizards have syncing issues (which I’ve also read is a known issue being worked through). Luckily for us we mostly using off-camera video lighting.
Batteries. The same as the Canon 5D Mark II. This is great, especially for wedding photographers like us which have 2 to 4 of everything. It certainly saves us another $500 on new batteries.
Shutter Speed improved. At times when we get a bit more creative with motion at weddings I have found at times the Canon 5D Mark II lacks a bit in the FPS department (3.9 FPS). The introduction of 6 FPS is certainly welcomed for those occasional moments.
Two card slots. The addition of a secure digital card slot (supplementing the compact flash slot) is a nice addition, particularly given the critical nature of wedding photography. We didn’t find ourselves using this (mostly because we don’t have any secure digital cards) though also because we de-risk with only limiting ourselves to a few shots on a card before we swap. We use several cards across every aspect of the wedding day.
Focus confirmation lights. Perhaps just our limited use thus far, though I’ve found sight of where you are focusing hard to gauge with the red confirmation lights of the previous 5D ranges not engaged for every image captured. In particularly, in low light situations it made it difficult to see the black focus points.
6400-ISO. Ambient Lighting.
So should you believe the hype and race out and buy one?
We’re not completely sold. The improvement in AF and low light capabilities are certainly amazing. However, if you are skilled in AF use on the previous Canon 5D models and use such elements as fast primes and off-camera flash you will find a level of comfort with what you currently use.
If you feel your AF, image quality and low light capability with your current L series lenses is lacking you may enjoy these additional features if the price is right for you (sub ~$4,000 AUD body).
We certainly love this camera and it is mostly everything we’ve wanted to see Canon release for wedding photography.
One key takeaway for consideration. Some of the greatest photographers in the world weren’t even alive in the digital age and made their equipment work for them. A camera is simply a tool, like a hammer is to a carpenter.
Share your thoughts.