Friday, 2 March 2012

Canon 5D MkIII announced - Evoloution not revolution

Readers of this Blog will know that when I'm not shooting with a Phase One, my camera of choice is the Canon 5D MkII, a camera which sees such use that I have all but worn the shutter out according to an advisory note from the Canon service centre.

In many ways I regard the 5D MkII as contender for the title of 'Greatest Camera of all time' due to its size, weight, form factor, resolution and ground breaking video capability, all at an accesable price point.

But it did have its downsides, sleepy autofocus(compared to other offerings) a relatively slow stills frame rate and a rather less than ideal video codec, as good as the video is.

I have been keenly awaiting the new 5D in its third ittineration, which made an unshecduled and notable appearance in Kenya some weeks before we were meant to see it.

So let's have a look at some of its key features.

A new 22.3MP sensor - with Nikon going to 31mp with the D800 some may have expected more megapixels from Canon but interestingly Canon refer to it being the 'ideal resolution for shooting stills and HD Movies' I feel that they could well have called this right.

61 Point Autofocus from the Canon 1D-X - Now to be honest this one surprised me, Canon have traditionally retained the best AF systems for the flagship 1 series Camera's but I'm pleased that Canon have listened to feedback from users, in this highly competitive market sector improvement in this area was sorely needed on the AF system which the MkII had inherited from the MkI.

6FPs stills frame rate - I'm not a big fan of fast stills frame rates, but I welcome this, the outgoing frame rate of just under 4 frames a second was never really enough for this fine 'multi role' camera.

Digic 5+ processor - with greater performance demands, the heart of any new camera is the processor, and though I am no expert I expect this to be class leading processing power, which will mean a responsive camera.

8.11 cm high resoloution LCD screen - once again a pleasant surprise in that it again comes from the 1D-X.

Dual card slots - Canon have added an SD card slot, with which you can back the CF card up, or use it as an 'overflow' when the CF card is full.

Improved weather sealing - once again something I never really struggled with, but when you make such a small and versatile package it is sure to end up in some extreme situations.

Shutter life extended to 150,000 cycles - nice one. Would have meant my shutter did not replacing....

Built in HDR - if HDR floats your boat you might well like this, I tend to think that overdone HDR has the look of the Sci-fi end of the world and a bit of a pollutant on Flickr, if this feature can be harnessed subtly it could be very useful.

Locking Function dial - unforgivable that Canon did not include this on the MkII, though it can be retrofitted at a Canon service centre. No longer will you raise your camera to your eye and find it on 'B'....Once again they listened to the feedback.

A new Wireless flash system - excellent! I'm not sure quite how they have managed to navigate all the international frequencies

Headphone socket - this small but significant feature means you can at last monitor your audio if you are a video shooter.

24-60 fps video frame rate - 60p is most welcome, though I have not yet seen if it is 720 or 1080. no mention of the codec either.

Silent shooting mode - lets see just how quiet this is, but any noise reduction will be a boon to wedding and wildlife shooters alike.

You can read the full release here

As my headline said 'Evolution not revolution' and that is no bad thing.

Canon have headed away from ring fencing the best features for the 1 series, and this can only be welcomed, and by not being so afraid of stealing 1 series sales, will give competitors a hard time.

A confident approach.

But I don't think Canon really had much choice.

The Canon 5D has always been an important camera for the company but it has never been more important to them at this moment.

DSLR sales are rising at around 10-15 percent a year, pitch that against a compact camera market which must be severely impacted by the rise and rise of the smartphone, leading one would imagine to a big fall in revenues.

Have Canon done enough to carry the MkIII through its in all likelyhood long product cycle? (Remember the Canon 5DMkII would have been 4 years old this Autumn...)

Time will tell, but I think they have.


Justin Sutcliffe said...

Lots of little tweaks that will doubtless add up to a big improvement when taken as a whole. Sound monitoring, seperate video and Liveview settings, upgraded autofocus, better protection against dust/elements, HIGHER FRAME RATE! (just want to say, "thank you Canon, about time too!") dual cards, better upright grip and expanded high iso range. Hope the codec is an improvement too.

Faster frame rate is going to make it an even better proposition for independent documentary photojournalism, whilst not compromising any of the other popular uses that the 5D has long served.

The small, light body, is for my money, the best blend of form and function out there. Small battery charger, good battery life. If the autofocus is a step forward (and we should assume it will be significant) and the shutter lag is a bit better (not mentioned in the spec but I dare to dream!) then most of the request list that serious photographers have lobbied for, will have been met.

Already the camera club naysayers are talking it down and saying that they would expect more..... More WHAT exactly?

Personally, once the fist rush has passed and I can get more than one body from the same batch, I'm looking forward to buying two of them!

Unknown said...

Hi Justin,

I agree.

When all the key improvements are combined this camera becomes more than the sum of its parts.

I was talking to another photographer friend last night he said he was 'disappointed' with the MkIII.

Quite something when has never held, let alone seen it.

The jury must still be out as none of us have had the pleasure of using it yet.

I suspect though that like the C300, when the penny finally drops, and we see it in action it will become THE Canon camera of choice for many people.

For Nikon users, doubtless the D800 will be a very good camera.

Overall, we put way too much emphasis on which camera is best, than what we actually do with it.

Camera's are merely instruments of expression.

We should not lose sight of that.



The Geeks said...

Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
thank you :)