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Canon 5D Mark III vs 5D

The Canon EOS 5D Mark III and the Canon EOS 5D are two professional cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in March 2012 and August 2005. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The 5D Mark III has a resolution of 22.1 megapixels, whereas the 5D provides 12.7 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their sensors, their features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Headline Specifications
Canon 5D Mark III   Canon 5D
Canon 5D Mark III Canon 5D
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Canon EF mount lenses
22.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor 12.7 MP, Full Frame Sensor
1080/30p Video no Video
ISO 100-25600 (50-102400) ISO 100-1600 (50-3200)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.2" LCD, 1040k dots 2.5" LCD, 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
6 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
950 shots per battery charge400 shots per battery charge
152 x 116 x 76 mm, 950 g 152 x 113 x 75 mm, 895 g

Body comparison: Canon 5D Mark III vs 5D

The physical size and weight of the Canon 5D Mark III and the Canon 5D are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Compare Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 5D
Compare 5D Mark III versus 5D top
Compare 5D Mark III or 5D rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 5D is somewhat smaller (3 percent) than the Canon 5D Mark III. Moreover, the 5D is markedly lighter (6 percent) than the 5D Mark III. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the 5D Mark III gets 950 shots out of its LP-E6 battery, while the 5D can take 400 images on a single charge of its BP-511A power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras 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» 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 950 g 950 Y Mar 2012 3,499- i Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 5D« 152 mm 113 mm 75 mm 895 g 400 Y Aug 2005 3,299- i Canon 5D
Canon 6D Mark II« » 144 mm 111 mm 75 mm 765 g 1200 Y Jun 2017 1,999 i i Canon 6D Mark II
Canon 1D X Mark II« » 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1530 g 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999 i i Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 5D Mark IV« » 151 mm 116 mm 76 mm 890 g 900 Y Aug 2016 3,499 i i Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 5DS« » 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 930 g 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS
Canon 5DS R« » 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 930 g 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS R
Canon 7D II« » 149 mm 112 mm 78 mm 910 g 670 Y Sep 2014 1,799 i i Canon 7D II
Canon 70D« » 139 mm 104 mm 79 mm 755 g 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199- i Canon 70D
Canon 6D« » 145 mm 111 mm 71 mm 770 g 1090 Y Sep 2012 2,099- i Canon 6D
Canon 5D Mark II« » 152 mm 114 mm 75 mm 850 g 850 Y Sep 2008 3,499- i Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 1D Mark II N« » 156 mm 158 mm 80 mm 1565 g 1200 Y Aug 2005 3,999- i Canon 1D Mark II N

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 5D was somewhat cheaper (by 6 percent) than the 5D Mark III at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Canon 5D Mark III vs 5D

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

In terms of chip-set technology, the 5D Mark III uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC 5+) than the 5D (DIGIC 2), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 5D sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the 5D Mark III offers a higher resolution of 22.1 megapixels, compared with 12.7 MP of the 5D. This megapixels advantage translates into a 32 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the 5D Mark III has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 6.25μm versus 8.25μm for the 5D). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the 5D Mark III is much more recent (by 6 years and 6 months) than the 5D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size.

The Canon EOS 5D Mark III has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 50-102400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon EOS 5D are ISO 100 to ISO 1600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-3200..

5D Mark III versus 5D MP

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"). Of the two cameras under review, the 5D Mark III has a notably higher overall DXO score than the 5D (overall score 10 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 1.1 bits higher color depth, 0.6 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.7 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

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« Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912-22.911.1136871Canon 5D
Canon 6D Mark II« » Full Frame 26.0 6240 41601080/60p24.411.9286285Canon 6D Mark II
Canon 1D X Mark II« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 5D Mark IV« » Full Frame 30.1 6720 44804K/30p24.813.6299591Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 5DS« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.712.4238187Canon 5DS
Canon 5DS R« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.612.4230886Canon 5DS R
Canon 7D II« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.411.8108270Canon 7D II
Canon 70D« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668Canon 70D
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 1D Mark II N« » APS-H 8.2 3504 2336-22.311.297566Canon 1D Mark II N

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

 

Feature comparison: Canon 5D Mark III vs 5D

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 5D Mark III and the 5D are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 5D Mark III, the Canon 5D, and comparable cameras.

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)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Canon 5D Mark III»optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 6.0 n n Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 5D«optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 3.0 n n Canon 5D
Canon 6D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 6.5 n n Canon 6D Mark II
Canon 1D X Mark II« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 16.0 n n Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 5D Mark IV« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 7.0 n n Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 5DS« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Canon 5DS
Canon 5DS R« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Canon 5DS R
Canon 7D II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 8000 10.0 Y n Canon 7D II
Canon 70D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 7.0 Y n Canon 70D
Canon 6D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 4000 4.5 n n Canon 6D
Canon 5D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 3.9 n n Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 1D Mark II N« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 8.5 n n Canon 1D Mark II N

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the 5D Mark III and the 5D write their files to Compact Flash cards. The 5D Mark III features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the 5D only has one slot.

 

Connectivity comparison: Canon 5D Mark III vs 5D

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 Canon EOS 5D 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 III»YmonomonoYYmini2.0---Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 5D«Y-----2.0---Canon 5D
Canon 6D Mark II« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYCanon 6D Mark II
Canon 1D X Mark II« »YmonomonoYYmini3.0---Canon 1D X Mark II
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 7D II« »YstereomonoYYmini3.0---Canon 7D II
Canon 70D« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--Canon 70D
Canon 6D« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0Y--Canon 6D
Canon 5D Mark II« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 1D Mark II N« »Y-----1.1---Canon 1D Mark II N

Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.

Both the 5D Mark III and the 5D have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 5D was replaced by the Canon 5D Mark II, while the 5D Mark III was followed by the Canon 5D Mark IV.


Review summary: Canon 5D Mark III vs 5D

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 5D Mark III or the Canon 5D – has the upper hand? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (22.1 vs 12.7MP) with a 32% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (10 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.1 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.6 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.7 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC 5+ vs DIGIC 2).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/30p movies.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 230k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (950 versus 400) on a single battery charge.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More modern: Reflects 6 years and 6 months of technical progress since the 5D launch.


Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 5D:

  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2005).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 5D Mark III is the clear winner of the match-up (13 : 1 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision.

5D Mark III 13:01 5D

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 5D Mark III or the 5D. 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.

Expert reviews: Canon 5D Mark III vs 5D

This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

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»HiRec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2012 3,499- i Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 5D«88/100HiRecrevrev- Aug 2005 3,299- i Canon 5D
Canon 6D Mark II« »Rec80/1004.5/54/54/5 Jun 2017 1,999 i i Canon 6D Mark II
Canon 1D X Mark II« »-89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999 i i Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 5D Mark IV« »HiRec87/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2016 3,499 i i Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 5DS« »Rec83/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS
Canon 5DS R« »Rec83/1005/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS R
Canon 7D II« »Rec84/1004/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 1,799 i i Canon 7D II
Canon 70D« »HiRec83/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199- i Canon 70D
Canon 6D« »HiRec83/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 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 1D Mark II N« »----- Aug 2005 3,999- i Canon 1D Mark II N

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Canon 5D Mark III:
Check Ebay offers
Canon 5D:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Canon 5D Mark III vs Canon 5D

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Canon 5D Mark III Canon 5D
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Canon EF mount lenses
    Launch Date March 2012 August 2005
    Launch Price USD 3499 USD 3299
    Sensor Specs
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 24.0 mm 36.0 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 864 mm2 864 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.3 mm 43.3 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 22.1 Megapixels 12.7 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5760 x 3840 pixels 4368 x 2912 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.25 μm 8.25 μm
    Pixel Density 2.56 MP/cm2 1.47 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100-25600 ISO 100-1600 ISO
    ISO Boost 50-102400 ISO 50-3200 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 5+ DIGIC 2
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 81 71
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 24.0 22.9
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.7 11.1
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 2293 1368
    Screen Specs
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 96%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.71x 0.71x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View n/a
    Rear LCD Size 3.2 inch 2.5 inch
    LCD Resolution 1040k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs
    Autofocus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Maximum Shutter Speed 1/8000s 1/8000s
    Continuous Shooting 6 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards CF cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI no HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port no MIC socket
    Headphone Socket Headphone port no Headphone port
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type LP-E6 power pack BP-511A power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)950 shots per charge400 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 152 x 116 x 76 mm
    (6.0 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
    152 x 113 x 75 mm
    (6.0 x 4.4 x 3.0 in)
    Camera Weight 950 g (33.5 oz) 895 g (31.6 oz)

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