07 April 2012

First impressions of the Canon 5D Mk III

Canon EOS 5D Mk iii

In the past few weeks I bit the bullet and made some serious investments in the business, with three new bits of gear.

New gear #1: Most recently I bought the new Canon 5D Mk III. I've been shooting with my trusty 5D for the past 5 years. I could not justify to myself an upgrade to the Mk II. But the release of the 5D Mk III left me seriously wanting. So this week I took the plunge. Boy, am I glad I did.

The Mk III is a big leap in image quality and functionality over the Mk I, which was already a superb camera. The original 5D used to fall short in image quality above ISO 200, but the Mk III can produce stock quality images even at ISO 800 (with a bit of careful noise suppression in Lightroom). The autofocus is fantastic, and the choice of 6 frames per second, or a "silent" mode at 3 fps, is great for wildlife shots.

A big improvement in the Mk III is the metering together with a more intelligent choice of shutter speed , aperture and ISO. With the 5D I almost always found myself shooting in full manual mode, because I could not rely on it to get the settings right. With the 5D Mk III I find myself frequently shooting in "P" mode and let the camera do the rest.

There's been a lot of debate about the high mega-pixels of the Nikon D800 "eclipsing" the 5D Mk III. But that's kinda missing the point. There's actually little difference in image quality between  the two, but the Nikon lacks the fast shutter speed and a number of other practical features. Maybe I'm biased as a life-long Canon user, but having had my hands on both cameras, the Canon is the more tactile and better designed camera of the two. Also, in my opinion the Canon's LCD screen is more vivid and has better color reproduction.

So my verdict is that the Canon 5D Mk III is possibly the best all-round DSLR on the market right now, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

New gear #2: I've also recently upgraded my monitor: I went for an NEC "wide gamut" display. This has made a world of difference compared to using my crappy "consumer" monitor. I knew it would be better, but didn't expect so much improvement. The only problem is that it is too good. I got a shock seeing how badly I'd been editing my photos in the past!

New gear #3: To get the most out of the monitor I bought a Spyder Pro callibrator. It might seem like an "optional extra," but actually a callibration device is critical to get the most out of a decent monitor.

So all in all it's been an expensive month, but the result is that my photography has taken a quantum leap forward.

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