Canon EOS 5D Mark III First Impressions

Canon EOS 5D Mark II & Mark III

After a bit of a wait, my Canon EOS 5D Mark III arrived today. I haven’t had much time to put it through its paces, but I wanted to note some of my first impressions of the camera while they were fresh. Keep in mind, I’ve been shooting a Canon EOS 5D Mark II for the last 5 months, and my previous cameras were the Nikon D7000 and the Canon Rebel XTi.

First off, the camera feels about the same weight as the Mark II. The grip is a slight improvement ergonomically over the Mark II. On the top of the unit, the buttons are in just about the same layout/position as the Mark II. The top buttons are a matte finish versus the glossy rounded buttons of the Mark II, which should make pressing them a bit easier. The dial on the top left of the unit has a center lock button, meaning, unless you are pressing the center button in, you can’t turn the wheel. I’m not so sure a lock here was necessary, but it’s been added none the less.

The build quality of the camera feels significantly improved over the Mark II. Of note, the CF/SD storage door and the battery compartment storage doors are now spring loaded, which gives them a nice feel.

After reading Ken Rockwell’s 5D Mark III review, I was very concerned about how I would take to the new auto focus system (… if you haven’t read Ken’s review, it is quite thorough, so please, if the 5D MK III interests you, read it). The additional focus points are a huge improvement over the Mark II. I used to use the scroll wheel to set my focus point on the Mark II, but now on the Mark III, you really need to use the joystick to set the point effectively. Nothing major, but if that was how you worked with the Mark II, it will take some getting used to.

One thing I noticed that unfortunately hasn’t been improved is shooting with the Remote Control (RC-5). Even though the Camera has timer modes for 10 or 2 seconds, when using the RC-5 Remote Control, once you press the button, the shot is taken. This makes self portraits that involve your hands impossible to take. I can’t believe Canon didn’t address this with the Mark III.

Light Leak

And yes, my camera exhibits the light leak issue. I like to shoot long exposures in the dark, and am frequently using the top LCD to check my settings. I am able to reproduce the issue with the lens cap on. If I can reproduce it with a lens on in the dark, I might end up returning it. Canon has acknowledged the issue, but hasn’t said when/if/how they are going to fix it. It clearly isn’t something that can be addressed with a firmware update. And the thought of sending my new $3500 camera in for an extended repair is out of the question. I’m going to give it a week and see what Canon is going to do. If there’s no movement on their part, I’ll most likely return the unit and wait until Canon fixes it.

Otherwise, it’s the 5D Mark II with many of the nagging issues fixed. I’ll have impressions of the cameras optics in a few days after I’ve taken some images and done some comparisons.


What point and shoot cameras need to do to survive.

Electronics manufacturers who produce products in the point and shoot camera category are having a tough go of it. With the advent of smartphones that take decent photographs, the point and shoot category has been one of decline. Companies like Sony, who produce smartphones themselves, at least have a product line that they can hope to offset the p&s (“point and shoot”) losses that will only accelerate over time. Companies like Canon have no presence in the smartphone category, and will see their sales eroded over time.

While smartphones encroach on point and shoot territory, there are things that the point and shoot manufacturers can do to remain competitive with smartphones.

1. Forget megapixels. Most cheap point and shoot cameras have optics that are already head and shoulders better than smartphones. And yet point and shoots are losing ground to smartphones. As far as features go, in the low end p&s segment, the megapixel was is a losing proposition.

2. Connectivity. To remain competitive with smartphones, point and shoots need to add wifi and GPS tagging. The ability to take a picture and upload it to share with family & friends instantly is one of the main reasons why smartphones are eating point & shoot cameras lunch right now.

3. Advanced editing. The other draw for smartphones is that you can now edit your photo instantly. Apps like Snapseed & Cmaera+ have given shooters what was unthinkable just 5 years ago – Photoshop like editing capabilities on the camera device itself. If you would have told me in 2002 that with in 8 years I would have a phone that could take great pictures, edit & process them like Photoshop, and share them right from the device itself, I would have laughed. Today it is not only a reality, but it is also commonplace.

The point and shoot category is going to need to evolve if it is going to survive. Point and shoots will continue with us, but over time, they will have to cede the lower price points to smartphones. Moving their products to the middle and high end tiers, along with innovating, are the vendors only hope of survival.