Canon U.S.A. unveiled the specs of its highly anticipated EOS 5D Mark III Digital SLR Camera, which is expected to ship by the end of March for a MSRP of $3,499.00 for the camera body, (or $4,299.00 with a EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM zoom lens kit). The announcement coincides with the 25th anniversary of the launch of Canon’s first EOS system – the EOS 650 SLR, which debuted in March of 1987.
Positioned between the highly popular EOS 5D Mark II and Canon’s top-of-the-line professional EOS-1D X model, the EOS 5D Mark III features a new 22.3 megapixel full-frame Canon CMOS sensor, a high-performance DIGIC 5+ Imaging Processor, a 61-point High Density Reticular Autofocus (AF) System and a continuous shooting speed of 6 fps. It also incorporates enhanced video features for cinematography, television production and documentary filmmaking, including better noise reduction, longer recording times and a built-in headphone jack for audio monitoring.
“We are extremely excited to announce the highly anticipated follow-up to our EOS 5D Mark II, a camera which has been called a ‘game-changer’ in most professional photography and videography circles,” said Yuichi Ishizuka, executive vice president and general manager, Imaging Technologies and Communications Group, Canon U.S.A. “The EOS 5D Mark III will carry on that tradition, delivering better and more advanced features, helping our customers achieve excellent image quality for stills and video.”
The camera inherits many features from the recently released top-of-the-line EOS-1D X, but key among them is the DIGIC 5+ Imaging Processor.
Chuck Westfall, advisor, technical information, ITC Group Professional Engineering & Solutions Division, Canon U.S.A. explained that the DIGIC 5+ Imaging Processor enables “a significant improvement in image quality even though the resolution is basically similar to the Mark II.”
“The difference in resolution is incremental, but the story is not the resolution per se on this camera,” he said. “It’s really the overall image quality, and we’ve been able to do some major improvements on that front.”
In fact, the DIGIC 5+ is 17 times more powerful than the DIGIC 4+. “This gives us the ability to get a much better read out on the image data, and therefore, clean it up to a greater degree,” said Westfall. “So we’ve been able to substantially reduce artifacts including moiré. Because of the power of the DIGIC 5+, we now have chromatic aberration correction on the fly… It’s also part of the reason we’re able to achieve the 6 fps as compared to the 3.9 fps of the Mark II.”
The new processor also enables several new features that did not exist in the 5D Mark II, including HDR and Multiple Exposure modes, in-camera RAW processing, a comparative playback function, Scene Intelligent Auto mode, two forms of movie compression, and support for high-speed UDMA 7 Compact Flash memory cards.
The new 22.3 megapixel image sensor achieves higher sensitivity and lower noise levels for RAW image data, in-camera JPEGs and EOS Movies than the 21.2 megapixel chip in the Mark II. Adjustable from ISO 100 to 25,600 within its standard range, the new model also offers a low ISO 50 setting for studio and landscape photography and two extended ISO settings of 51,200 and 102,400.
For still photographers, Canon has included its new 61-point High Density Reticular AF (autofocus) System, introduced this fall in the EOS-1D X.
The camera’s new built-in HDR mode enables users to merge three images at various exposure levels into a single image, in-camera, for enhanced tonal gradation beyond the range of the naked eye. The exposure levels in the camera’s HDR mode can be set to cover a range of up to ±3 stops.
The Mark III offers Multiple Exposure capabilities with the ability to combine up to nine individual images into a single composite image. Compositing results can be viewed in real time on the camera’s LCD monitor, and there is a one-step “undo” command that allows photographers to delete an image and try again.
Another new feature seen for the first time on the 5D Mark III is Comparative Playback, which allows photographers to display two images side by side on the camera’s 3.2-inch LCD screen. The images can be displayed with a histogram to check exposure levels, or magnified to check for focus or facial expressions.
The EOS 5D Mark III offers several new features that have been requested by cinematographers, television production professionals and independent filmmakers – including 720P recording.
Its recording options include 1080P HD video at 24 (23.976), 25 and 30 (29.97) fps; 720P HD video at 60 (59.94) and 50 fps, and SD at 30 (29.97) and 25 fps. It can record to both Compact Flash Type 1 and SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards in a dual card slot configuration. Three recording methods are supported – record the same data to both cards; record different file sizes or types to each card, or automatically switch to the second card when the first card is full. Users can record video continuously up to 29 minutes and 59 seconds across multiple 4GB files.
The Mark III offers new H.264 video compression formats to simplify and speed up postproduction work: intraframe (ALL-I) compression for an editing-friendly format and interframe (IPB) compression for better data storage efficiency.
Like the EOS-1D X, the 5D Mark III includes two methods of SMPTE-compliant timecode embedding, Rec Run and Free Run, allowing video footage from multiple cameras and separate audio recordings to be synced together in postproduction.
The camera includes manual audio level control with 64 levels. There is also an automatic audio level setting, or sound recording can be turned off entirely. Sound can be recorded either through the internal monaural microphone or via an optional external microphone through the stereo mic input. This is the first EOS Digital SLR camera to feature a built-in headphone jack for real-time audio monitoring during video capture.
The EOS 5D Mark III features a rugged camera body with magnesium alloy body covers and a stainless steel lens mount. The new camera also has dust- and moisture-resistant design with improved gaskets and seals. Although not quite as weatherproof as an EOS-1D-series camera, the EOS 5D Mark III does feature improved weather resistance over the EOS 5D Mark II model. The EOS 5D Mark III’s newly developed shutter unit has a durability rating of 150,000 exposures, and shutter release lag time has been reduced to 59 milliseconds, making the shutter button more responsive.
The camera uses the same LP-E6 lithium-ion battery pack as other popular EOS cameras like the 5D Mark II, 7D and 60D. The camera body weighs approximately 33.5 oz. with a battery installed.
The EOS 5D Mark III features a 3.2-inch Clear View II LCD screen with 1,040,000 dot resolution – another feature inherited from the EOS-1D X.
Canon also announced a variety of new accessories for the camera including, the Canon Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E7A, which connects to the camera’s USB port to deliver wireless LAN access.
With this new WFT model, professionals can synchronize clocks on multiple cameras and use the unit to support linked shooting when utilizing multiple cameras.
Canon is also introducing an optional GPS Receiver (GP-E2), which can be connected to the camera via the accessory shoe or a USB cable. With a GPS logging function built-in, the GP-E2 will log latitude, longitude, elevation, and the Universal Time Code – and users to watch the camera movement on a PC after shooting. With its built-in compass, the GP-E2 receiver also records camera direction when shooting.
In addition, the company is offering a new Battery Grip (BG-E11) for the Mark III that accepts one or two LP-E6 lithium-ion battery packs or a set of six AA-size batteries. This new grip has a multicontroller and a multifunction (M.Fn) button together a with a full set of grip controls for easy operation when shooting portraits or other vertical format photos.