Even in 2018 the camera remains a fantastic choice for serious snappers
There’s less to report regarding the Mark III’s image quality. Colour reproduction at the default JPEG settings was nothing short of stunning. Using the Mark III with the 50mm f/1.2L lens made us whimper with delight, both while shooting and when we got the pictures onto a PC. Details in JPEGs were quite heavily sharpened, but even when we rolled off the Sharpness and Contrast settings, photos still packed plenty of detail. Raw files processed in Lightroom were seriously sharp.
The Nikon D800 can capture sharper details, but we wouldn’t describe the 5D Mark III as lacking in this respect – click to enlarge
Any concerns about the lack of an integrated flash were quickly allayed by this camera’s noise levels. Nothing else we’ve seen comes close. Skin tones at ISO 1600 were smooth and detailed, and only a little mottled at ISO 6400. With careful processing in Lightroom, raw images at ISO 6400 were good enough for publication. Even ISO 25,600 gave passable results, roughly on a par with the Nikon D800 at ISO 6400.
An f/1.2 lens in front of a full-frame sensor gives an incredibly shallow depth of field – click to enlarge
If you’re largely interested in video, we recommend the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2. It’s noisier at high ISO speeds and Panasonic’s lens range can’t begin to compete with Canon’s, but it delivers smooth autofocus and sharp details without moiré – a combination that eludes all the SLRs we’ve seen to date. The 5D Mark III is by no means a poor video camera, though. If you’re happy to focus manually or leave it fixed for the duration of shots, it’s extremely capable.
Shaded skin tones are particularly unforgiving for noise problems, but the 5D Mark III still turns in usable results at ISO 12800 – click to enlarge
For photography, the 5D Mark III is an absolute triumph. It’s fast, its controls are comprehensive and efficient and its image quality is truly breathtaking. The superb colours and details are welcome, but it’s the incredibly low noise that sets it apart, allowing action photography without the need for fast telephoto lenses (which cost a fortune) and taking the pressure off balancing ISO and shutter speeds in low light. It’s a brilliant camera, and one that was very hard to give up at the end of our testing.
|CCD effective megapixels
|Viewfinder magnification, coverage
|LCD screen size
|LCD screen resolution
|Zoom 35mm equivalent
|Available in lenses
|Maximum image resolution
|JPEG, RAW; QuickTime (AVC)
|Battery Life (tested)
|USB/AV, Mini-HDMI, microphone in, headphone out, PC sync, wired remote, optional Wi-Fi (WFT-E7)
|Focal length multiplier
|Kit lens model name
|USB and AV cables, neck strap
|one year RTB
|program, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
|30 to 1/8,000 seconds
|ISO range (at full resolution)
|50 to 102400
|auto, 6 presets with fine tuning, manual, Kelvin
|Additional image controls
|contrast, saturation, sharpness, color tone, auto lighting optimiser, noise reduction, chromatic aberration correction, peripheral illumination correction, colour space
|Closest macro focus
|evaluative, partial, spot, centre-weighted average
|External flash only
|single, continuous, self-timer, AE bracket, WB bracket, HDR, multiple exposure