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Canon 70D versus Canon 5D Mark III

The Canon EOS 70D and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in July 2013 and March 2012. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (70D) and a full frame sensor. The 70D has a resolution of 20 megapixel, whereas the 5D Mark III provides 22.1 MP.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 70D and the Canon 5D Mark III. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the 70D – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Canon 70D vs Canon 5D Mark III front
70D versus 5D Mark III top view
70D and 5D Mark III rear side
Body view (70D on the left)

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 5D Mark III is notably larger (22 percent) than the Canon 70D. Moreover, the 5D Mark III is markedly heavier (26 percent) than the 70D. Cameras that are aimed at professionals or semi-pros tend to be a bit bulkier in order to give them the necessary environmental and shock resistance. 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. 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 (70D). You can find a comprehensive overview of suitable optics in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left 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 Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Canon 70D (⇒ rgt) 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 920 YES 2013 1,199discont. check
Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft) 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 33.5 oz 950 YES 2012 3,499discont. check
Canon 5D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.9 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 31.4 oz 900 YES 2016 3,499 latest check
Canon 80D (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 25.8 oz 960 YES 2016 1,199 latest check
Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 YES 2015 3,699 latest check
Canon 5DS (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 YES 2015 3,699 latest check
Canon G3 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.8 in 3.0 in 4.1 in 25.9 oz 300 YES 2015 999 latest check
Canon 7D II (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.9 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 32.1 oz 670 YES 2014 1,799 latest check
Canon T5i (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.5 oz 440 no 2013 649discont. check
Canon SL1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.6 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 14.4 oz 380 no 2013 549discont. check
Canon 6D (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.7 in 4.4 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 1090 YES 2012 2,099discont. check
Canon 60D (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.7 in 4.2 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 1100 YES 2010 1,399discont. check
Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.0 in 4.5 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 850 YES 2008 3,499discont. check
Nikon D7100 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.4 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 27.0 oz 950 YES 2013 1,199discont. check
Sony RX10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.1 in 3.5 in 4.0 in 28.7 oz 420 YES 2013 1,299discont. check

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 70D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 66 percent) than the 5D Mark III, which puts it into a different market segment. 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.

Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 70D features an APS-C sensor and the Canon 5D Mark III a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the 5D Mark III is 156 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon 70D and Canon 5D Mark III sensor measures
Sensor size

With 22.1MP, the 5D Mark III offers a higher resolution than the 70D (20MP), but the 5D Mark III nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.25μm versus 4.11μm for the 70D) due to its larger sensor. However, the 70D is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 4 months) than the 5D Mark III, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

70D versus 5D Mark III MP
Sensor resolution

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. Of the two cameras under consideration, the 5D Mark III offers substantially better image quality than the 70D (overall score 13 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.5 bits higher color depth, 0.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.3 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 Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Canon 70D (⇒ rgt) APS-C 20.0 5472 3648 1080/30p 22.5 11.6 926 68
Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft) Full Frame 22.1 5760 3840 1080/30p 24 11.7 2293 81
Canon 5D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 30.1 6720 4480 4K/30p 24.8 13.6 2995 91
Canon 80D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 23.6 13.2 1135 79
Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 50.3 8688 5792 1080/60p 24.6 12.4 2308 86
Canon 5DS (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 50.3 8688 5792 1080/60p 24.7 12.4 2381 87
Canon G3 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 21.4 12.3 521 63
Canon 7D II (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 22.4 11.8 1082 70
Canon T5i (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 21.7 11.2 681 61
Canon SL1 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 21.8 11.3 843 63
Canon 6D (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 20.0 5472 3648 1080/30p 23.8 12.1 2340 82
Canon 60D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 22.2 11.5 813 66
Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744 1080/30p 23.7 11.9 1815 79
Nikon D7100 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.2 13.7 1256 83
Sony RX10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 22.9 12.6 474 69

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/30p).

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 70D and the 5D Mark III 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 70D and Canon 5D Mark III in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Canon 70D (⇒ rgt) optical YES 3.0 1040 swivel YES 8000 7.0 12 no
Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft) optical YES 3.2 1040 fixed no 8000 6.0 no no
Canon 5D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1620 fixed YES 8000 7.0 no no
Canon 80D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 1040 swivel YES 8000 7.0 12 no
Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1040 fixed no 8000 5.0 no no
Canon 5DS (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1040 fixed no 8000 5.0 no no
Canon G3 X (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.2 1620 tilting YES 2000 5.9 6.8 no
Canon 7D II (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 1040 fixed no 8000 10.0 11 no
Canon T5i (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 1040 swivel YES 4000 5.0 13 no
Canon SL1 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 1040 fixed YES 4000 4.9 9.4 no
Canon 6D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 1040 fixed no 4000 4.5 no no
Canon 60D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 1040 swivel no 8000 5.3 13 no
Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 920 fixed no 8000 3.9 no no
Nikon D7100 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1229 fixed no 8000 6.0 12 no
Sony RX10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 1440 YES 3.0 1229 tilting no 3200 10.0 10.2 no

Both the 70D and the 5D Mark III have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The 5D Mark III was replaced by the Canon 5D Mark IV, while the 70D was followed by the Canon 80D.

Summary

So how do things add up? Is the Canon 70D better than the Canon 5D Mark III or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Advantages of the Canon EOS 70D:

  • More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • More compact: Is smaller (139x104mm vs 152x116mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 195g or 21 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (66 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 4 months after the 5D Mark III).

Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 5D Mark III:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (22.1 vs 20MP), which boosts linear resolution by 5%.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (13 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.5 bits more color depth).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.3 stops ISO advantage).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in July 2013).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 70D comes out slightly ahead of the 5D Mark III (7 : 6 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.

70D 07:06 5D Mark III

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the 70D and the 5D Mark III in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased. This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites. You can find the full text of the reviews, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
dp
review
ephoto
zine
imaging
resource
photography
blog
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Canon 70D (⇒ rgt) HiRec 83/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2013 1,199discont. check
Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft) HiRec 82/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2012 3,499discont. check
Canon 5D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 87/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2016 3,499 latest check
Canon 80D (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 84/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2016 1,199 latest check
Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 83/100 Silver 5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2015 3,699 latest check
Canon 5DS (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 83/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2015 3,699 latest check
Canon G3 X (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec - 4.5/5 3.5/5 4/5 2015 999 latest check
Canon 7D II (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 84/100 Silver 4/5 5/5 4.5/5 2014 1,799 latest check
Canon T5i (⇒ lft | rgt) - 76/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2013 649discont. check
Canon SL1 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 78/100 Gold 4/5 4/5 4/5 2013 549discont. check
Canon 6D (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 83/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2012 2,099discont. check
Canon 60D (⇒ lft | rgt) 87/100 Rec 79/100 Silver 4/5 5/5 4.5/5 2010 1,399discont. check
Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 91/100 79/100 HiRec 4/5 5/5 - 2008 3,499discont. check
Nikon D7100 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 85/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2013 1,199discont. check
Sony RX10 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 80/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2013 1,299discont. check

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time 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.

Other comparisons

In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please send me an email, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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