Canon 5D Mark III vs 850D
The Canon EOS 5D Mark III and the Canon EOS 850D (labelled Canon T8i in some countries) are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in March 2012 and February 2020. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (5D Mark III) and an APS-C (850D) sensor. The 5D Mark III has a resolution of 22.1 megapixels, whereas the 850D provides 24 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and the Canon EOS 850D? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 5D Mark III and the Canon 850D. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. 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.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 850D is notably smaller (23 percent) than the Canon 5D Mark III. Moreover, the 850D is substantially lighter (46 percent) than the 5D Mark III. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 5D Mark III is splash and dust resistant, while the 850D does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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. A larger imaging sensor (as in the 5D Mark III) will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, while more compact options are available for the smaller-sensor camera (850D). You can compare the optics available in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Canon 5D Mark III||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||950 g||950||Y||Mar 2012||3,499|
|2.||Canon 850D||131 mm||103 mm||76 mm||515 g||800||n||Feb 2020||749|
|3.||Canon 250D||122 mm||93 mm||70 mm||449 g||1070||n||Apr 2019||599|
|4.||Canon 6D Mark II||144 mm||111 mm||75 mm||765 g||1200||Y||Jun 2017||1,999|
|5.||Canon 77D||131 mm||100 mm||76 mm||540 g||600||n||Feb 2017||899|
|6.||Canon 800D||131 mm||100 mm||76 mm||532 g||600||n||Feb 2017||749|
|7.||Canon 1D X Mark II||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1530 g||1210||Y||Feb 2016||5,999|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark IV||151 mm||116 mm||76 mm||890 g||900||Y||Aug 2016||3,499|
|9.||Canon 5DS||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|10.||Canon 5DS R||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|11.||Canon 750D||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||555 g||440||n||Feb 2015||749|
|12.||Canon 760D||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|13.||Canon 7D II||149 mm||112 mm||78 mm||910 g||670||Y||Sep 2014||1,799|
|14.||Canon 70D||139 mm||104 mm||79 mm||755 g||920||Y||Jul 2013||1,199|
|15.||Canon 6D||145 mm||111 mm||71 mm||770 g||1090||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|16.||Canon 5D Mark II||152 mm||114 mm||75 mm||850 g||850||Y||Sep 2008||3,499|
|17.||Canon 5D||152 mm||113 mm||75 mm||895 g||400||Y||Aug 2005||3,299|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The 850D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 79 percent) than the 5D Mark III, which puts it into a different market segment. 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.
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 generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 5D Mark III features a full frame sensor and the Canon 850D an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the 850D is 62 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.6. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Technology-wise, the 850D uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC 8) than the 5D Mark III (DIGIC 5+), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the 850D offers a slightly higher resolution of 24 megapixels, compared with 22.1 MP of the 5D Mark III. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.72μm versus 6.25μm for the 5D Mark III). However, it should be noted that the 850D is much more recent (by 7 years and 11 months) than the 5D Mark III, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
The 850D has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
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 850D are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-51200.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Canon 5D Mark III||Full Frame||22.1||5760||3840||1080/30p||24.0||11.7||2293||81|
|4.||Canon 6D Mark II||Full Frame||26.0||6240||4160||1080/60p||24.4||11.9||2862||85|
|7.||Canon 1D X Mark II||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.1||13.5||3207||88|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark IV||Full Frame||30.1||6720||4480||4K/30p||24.8||13.6||2995||91|
|9.||Canon 5DS||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.7||12.4||2381||87|
|10.||Canon 5DS R||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.6||12.4||2308||86|
|13.||Canon 7D II||APS-C||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||11.8||1082||70|
|15.||Canon 6D||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||23.8||12.1||2340||82|
|16.||Canon 5D Mark II||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79|
|17.||Canon 5D||Full Frame||12.7||4368||2912||none||22.9||11.1||1368||71|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the 850D provides a better video resolution than the 5D Mark III. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/24p, while the 5D Mark III is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 5D Mark III and the 850D 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 viewfinder in the 5D Mark III offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the 850D (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the 5D Mark III has a higher magnification (0.71x vs 0.51x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 5D Mark III, the Canon 850D, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Canon 5D Mark III||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||n||n|
|4.||Canon 6D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.5||n||n|
|7.||Canon 1D X Mark II||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||16.0||n||n|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||7.0||n||n|
|10.||Canon 5DS R||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|13.||Canon 7D II||optical||Y||3.0||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||Y||n|
|16.||Canon 5D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.9||n||n|
One feature that is present on the 5D Mark III, but is missing on the 850D is 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.The 850D has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the 5D Mark III does not have a selfie-screen.
The Canon 850D has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The 5D Mark III writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SDXC cards, while the 850D uses SDXC cards. The 5D Mark III features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the 850D only has one slot. The 850D supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the 5D Mark III cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
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 850D and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|1.||Canon 5D Mark III||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Canon 6D Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|7.||Canon 1D X Mark II||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark IV||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||-|
|10.||Canon 5DS R||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Canon 7D II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Canon 5D Mark II||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the 5D Mark III has a headphone jack, which is not present on the 850D This port makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 5D Mark III (unlike the 850D) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The 850D is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Canon. In contrast, the 5D Mark III has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the 5D Mark III was succeeded by the Canon 5D Mark IV. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon website.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 5D Mark III or the Canon 850D – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 5D Mark III:
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.71x vs 0.51x).
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (950 versus 800) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in March 2012).
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 850D:
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC 8 vs DIGIC 5+).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/24p vs 1080/30p).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7.5 vs 6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (131x103mm vs 152x116mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 435g or 46 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (79 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 7 years and 11 months of technical progress since the 5D Mark III launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 850D is the clear winner of the contest (16 : 11 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. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 5D Mark III and the Canon 850D place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 5D Mark III or the 850D perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Canon 5D Mark III||..||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2012||3,499|
|2.||Canon 850D||4/5||+||80/100||4/5||3.5/5||Feb 2020||749|
|3.||Canon 250D||..||o||79/100||4/5||4/5||Apr 2019||599|
|4.||Canon 6D Mark II||4/5||+||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2017||1,999|
|5.||Canon 77D||4.5/5||..||82/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2017||899|
|6.||Canon 800D||4.5/5||..||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2017||749|
|7.||Canon 1D X Mark II||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||5,999|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark IV||4.5/5||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||3,499|
|9.||Canon 5DS||..||+||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|10.||Canon 5DS R||5/5||+||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|11.||Canon 750D||5/5||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749|
|12.||Canon 760D||5/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|13.||Canon 7D II||4.5/5||+||84/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||1,799|
|14.||Canon 70D||5/5||+ +||83/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2013||1,199|
|15.||Canon 6D||5/5||+ +||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|16.||Canon 5D Mark II||4/5||91/100||79/100||4/5||..||Sep 2008||3,499|
|17.||Canon 5D||..||88/100||+ +||o||..||Aug 2005||3,299|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. 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, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, 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.
Specifications: Canon 5D Mark III vs Canon 850D
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon 5D Mark III||Canon 850D|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Canon EF mount lenses|
|Launch Date||March 2012||February 2020|
|Launch Price||USD 3,499||USD 749|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 5D Mark III||Canon 850D|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 24.0 mm||22.3 x 14.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||864 mm2||332.27 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.3 mm||26.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||22.1 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5760 x 3840 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.25 μm||3.72 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.56 MP/cm2||7.22 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||4K/24p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 102,400 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 5+||DIGIC 8|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||81||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.0||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.7||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2293||..|
|Screen Specs||Canon 5D Mark III||Canon 850D|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||95%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Swivel screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 5D Mark III||Canon 850D|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||6 shutter flaps/s||7.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||150 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 5D Mark III||Canon 850D|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon 5D Mark III||Canon 850D|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||950 shots per charge||800 shots per charge|
152 x 116 x 76 mm
(6.0 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
131 x 103 x 76 mm
(5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||950 g (33.5 oz)||515 g (18.2 oz)|
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