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Canon 5D Mark III Comparison Review

The Canon EOS 5D Mark III is a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera that was announced in March 2012 and is equipped with a full frame sensor. It offers a resolution of 22.1 megapixel.

camera

Is the Canon 5D Mark III a good camera? The 5D Mark III has a Camera Elo of 1921. This rating puts the 5D Mark III among the top 40 percent of all digital single lens reflex cameras. In terms of its sensor size category (full frame cameras), the 5D Mark III ranks below average. Based on its within category standings, the camera earns a 3-star performance rating.

Headline Specifications
Canon 5D Mark III
Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses
22.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor
1080/30p Video
ISO 100-25600 (50-102400)
Optical viewfinder
3.2" LCD, 1040k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
6 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed body
950 shots per battery charge
152 x 116 x 76 mm, 950 g


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Read on to find out more about the camera's size, sensor, features, reception by expert reviewers, and how it compares to other digital cameras.

Body comparison with a credit card

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size of the Canon 5D Mark III vis-à-vis a credit card. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Canon 5D Mark III vs credit card front
5D Mark III versus credit card top view
5D Mark III and credit card rear side

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the Canon 5D Mark III alongside a set of comparators. If you want to review a camera pair side-by-side, just select a right-side comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Canon 5D Mark III 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 33.5 oz 950 Y Mar 2012 3,499- i Canon 5D Mark III
 
Canon 5D Mark IV« » 5.9 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 31.4 oz 900 Y Aug 2016 3,499 i i Canon 5D Mark IV
 
Canon 5DS« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS
 
Canon 5DS R« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS R
 
Canon 6D« » 5.7 in 4.4 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 1090 Y Sep 2012 2,099- i Canon 6D
 
Canon 5D Mark II« » 6.0 in 4.5 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 850 Y Sep 2008 3,499- i Canon 5D Mark II
 
Canon 5D« » 6.0 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 31.6 oz 400 Y Aug 2005 3,299- i Canon 5D
 
Nikon D610« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.2 in 30.0 oz 900 Y Oct 2013 1,999 i i Nikon D610
 
Nikon D600« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.2 in 30.0 oz 900 Y Sep 2012 2,099- i Nikon D600
 
Nikon D800« » 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 35.3 oz 900 Y Feb 2012 2,999- i Nikon D800
 
Nikon D800E« » 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 35.3 oz 900 Y Feb 2012 3,299- i Nikon D800E
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Canon 5D Mark III was launched in the US market at a price of $3,499. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

Canon 5D Mark III:
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Sensor comparison with a 35mm slide

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

The Canon 5D Mark III features a full frame sensor and has a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the Canon 5D Mark III among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality.

Canon 5D Mark III sensor measures

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
 
Canon 5D Mark III Full Frame 22.1 5760 38401080/30p24.011.7229381Canon 5D Mark III
 
Canon 5D Mark IV« » Full Frame 30.1 6720 44804K/30p24.813.6299591Canon 5D Mark IV
 
Canon 5DS« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/30p24.712.4238187Canon 5DS
 
Canon 5DS R« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/30p24.612.4230886Canon 5DS R
 
Canon 6D« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.812.1234082Canon 6D
 
Canon 5D Mark II« » Full Frame 21.0 5616 37441080/30p23.711.9181579Canon 5D Mark II
 
Canon 5D« » Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912-22.911.1136871Canon 5D
 
Nikon D610« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.4292594Nikon D610
 
Nikon D600« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.2298094Nikon D600
 
Nikon D800« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/30p25.314.4285395Nikon D800
 
Nikon D800E« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/30p25.614.3297996Nikon D800E

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The 5D Mark III indeed provides movie recording capabilities. The highest resolution format that the 5D Mark III can use is 1080/30p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the 5D Mark III has an optical viewfinder that provides a field of view of 100% and a magnification of 0.71x. The adjacent tables list some of the other core features of the Canon 5D Mark III along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
 
Canon 5D Mark IIIoptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 n n Canon 5D Mark III
 
Canon 5D Mark IV« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 1/8000s 7.0 n n Canon 5D Mark IV
 
Canon 5DS« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n Canon 5DS
 
Canon 5DS R« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n Canon 5DS R
 
Canon 6D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5 n n Canon 6D
 
Canon 5D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 3.9 n n Canon 5D Mark II
 
Canon 5D« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 n n Canon 5D
 
Nikon D610« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/4000s 6.0 Y n Nikon D610
 
Nikon D600« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.5 Y n Nikon D600
 
Nikon D800« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0 Y n Nikon D800
 
Nikon D800E« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0 Y n Nikon D800E

One useful feature of the 5D Mark III is a presence of a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.

 

Connection comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
 
Canon 5D Mark IIIYmonomonoYYmini2.0---Canon 5D Mark III
 
Canon 5D Mark IV« »YmonomonoYYmini3.0YY-Canon 5D Mark IV
 
Canon 5DS« »YmonomonoY-mini3.0---Canon 5DS
 
Canon 5DS R« »YmonomonoY-mini3.0---Canon 5DS R
 
Canon 6D« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0Y--Canon 6D
 
Canon 5D Mark II« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Canon 5D Mark II
 
Canon 5D« »Y-----2.0---Canon 5D
 
Nikon D610« »YmonomonoYYmini2.0---Nikon D610
 
Nikon D600« »YmonomonoYYmini2.0---Nikon D600
 
Nikon D800« »YmonomonoYYmini3.0---Nikon D800
 
Nikon D800E« »YmonomonoYYmini3.0---Nikon D800E

It is notable that the 5D Mark III has a microphone port. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.

 

Expert reviews

While the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 5D Mark III. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable. This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog).

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Canon 5D Mark III+ +82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2012 3,499- i Canon 5D Mark III
 
Canon 5D Mark IV« »+ +87/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2016 3,499 i i Canon 5D Mark IV
 
Canon 5DS« »+83/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS
 
Canon 5DS R« »+83/1005/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS R
 
Canon 6D« »+ +83/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099- i Canon 6D
 
Canon 5D Mark II« »91/10079/1004/55/5- Sep 2008 3,499- i Canon 5D Mark II
 
Canon 5D« »88/100+ +oo- Aug 2005 3,299- i Canon 5D
 
Nikon D610« »+ +87/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,999 i i Nikon D610
 
Nikon D600« »+ +87/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099- i Nikon D600
 
Nikon D800« »+ +82/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2012 2,999- i Nikon D800
 
Nikon D800E« »-84/1005/54.5/55/5 Feb 2012 3,299- i Nikon D800E
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (-) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Canon 5D Mark III FAQ

Below are some additional questions and answers concerning some particular features of the 5D Mark III.

What type of imaging sensor is used in the 5D Mark III?

The camera features a CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensor.

Which image processing chip is used to convert the raw signal into an image file and perform noise reduction and image sharpening?

Canon equipped the 5D Mark III with the DIGIC 5+ image processor.

What is the ISO sensitivity range of the 5D Mark III?

The camera has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 50-102400.

What is the life expectancy of the shutter in the Canon EOS 5D Mark III?

Canon mentions a shutter rating of 150 000 actuations for the 5D Mark III. This number represents a Mean Time before Failure, that is an average value. The shutter might fail earlier, or it might last longer. Anyway, in order to exhaust the expected shutter life of the 5D Mark III over, say, three years, one would have to take about 150 pictures each and every day.

What is the fastest shutter speed that can be used with flash?

The 5D Mark III's flash sync speed is 1/200 sec.

Which battery does the 5D Mark III use?

The camera gets its power from the LP-E6 (here at amazon), which is a rechargeable Lithium-Ion power pack.

Is there a vertical grip available for the 5D Mark III?

Yes, Canon offers the BG-E11 as an optional accessory to facilitate shooting in portrait orientation and to provide additional battery power.

Camera to camera comparisons

If you would like to see a side-by-side review of this and another camera, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications Summary
    Camera Model Canon 5D Mark III
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses
    Launch Date March 2012
    Launch Price USD 3499
    Sensor Specs
    Sensor Technology CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 864 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.3 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 22.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5760 x 3840 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.25 μm
    Pixel Density 2.56 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100-25600 ISO
    ISO Boost 50-102400 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 5+
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 81
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 24.0
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.7
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 2293
    Screen Specs
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.71x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.2 inch
    LCD Resolution 1040k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs
    Autofocus System Phase-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidNo Peaking Feature
    Maximum Shutter Speed 1/8000s
    Continuous Shooting 6 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy150 000 actuations
    Silent Shootingno E-Shutter
    Time Lapse Photographyno Intervalometer
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF or SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots
    UHS card support no
    Connectivity Specs
    External Flash Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port
    Headphone Socket Headphone port
    Wifi Support no Wifi
    Body Specs
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed body
    Battery Type LP-E6 power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)950 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 152 x 116 x 76 mm
    (6.0 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
    Camera Weight 950 g (33.5 oz)

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