Late last night, I got a tweet with a link to the official Canon product page of the 5D Mk. III. It was quickly followed by Canon’s official announcement. So it’s real and there’s plenty to look at. But in spite of it’s hype and long awaited, rumor filled, coming, the simple fact of the matter is, the Mk. III amounts to just a “dot upgrade.” And it’s leaving filmmakers like Vince LaForet thinking it’s a mixed bag at best.
First, let’s outline what’s coming in the new 5D3. Full frame, just one more megapixel at 22.3mp, slightly smaller max image size (which really isn’t that big a deal to digital filmmakers who tend to prefer APS-C sizes anyway), a boost to ISO to 25,600 with an expanded ISO of 102,400, almost double the shooting speed to 6fps, 61 pt. auto focus (a boost from 9 pts on the 5D2), and what filmmakers will notice, 1080p shooting at 24/25/30 fps and 720p shooting at 24/25/30 and 60 fps. There’s also the choice of shooting in either MPEG4 or H.264, whereas the 5D2 just shot in the latter. Hardware wise, the 5D3 gets a 10% boost in LCD resolution to 1,040,000 pixels and the dual SD and Compact flash card slots. That’s a nice feature. And Canon also upgraded to the DIGIC 5+ processor with a max of 29 minutes of continuous shooting – which is great for interviews.
Other features for video shooters? Here’s a brief list:
- Manual audio control
- Improved aliasing and moire with no line skipping
- Headphone jack (not present on 1D X) and mic socket
- Live HDMI during recording
- ALL-I intra frame codec (bitrates TBA)
- SMPTE Timecode like 1D X
- 2 stop ISO improvement
- Improved rolling shutter
All minor fixes and improvements to be sure, but there’s no ground breaking feature like the Mk. before it. No 4K, no clean HDMI out. But the additions are welcome to the professional crowd who would like to take their video skills to the next level. But Vince LaForet believes that shooters may not to want list their 5D2s on eBay just yet. He believes the 5D2 is still a player in spite of it’s new big brother. But he also thinks that while features like 720p out makes for high end shooters to consider it a worthy upgrade, the best feature the 5D3 probably brings to the world is that it lowers the price of the 5D2:
So for most of you, there’s likely no need to hide your 5D MKII as being an antiquated camera – it’s still a player. If anything- this will be a great opportunity to pick up a 5D MKII for a much more affordable price now that its big brother is out. I will have a hard time recommending the 7D or 60D to anyone from now on (although the 5D MKII will likely not drop “that” much in price.)
LaForet, who’s film Reverie launched the 5D2 and DSLR Filmmaking into our collective consciousness, says at this point in his career while the 5D3 is a good upgrade for high end users and rental houses, the C300 is a far better fit. But with it’s sub $20,000 price tag, he advises that some wait for Canon’s EOS DSLR Movie camera which was cryptically announced last November.
So if you’ve been waiting for the next Canon HDSLR you may want to go for the MKIII … or perhaps…. wait to see what Canon was referring to when they announced that EOS Concept camera back on November 3rd…. this certainly doesn’t seem to be the camera they were hinting at now does it? But there’s not telling when that camera will be announced or what it will offer… so it’s back to the guessing / waiting game for most of us…
This isn’t to say that the 5D3 isn’t a great camera. It is, because it was built on the shoulders of giants. And as LaForet says outright, there are important – albeit minor – features that could warrant a hard look. But at the end of the day, the 5D3 may amount to an interim platform and not a giant leap that it’s predecessor represented. The 5D3 will be out towards the end of the month or early April for an MSPR of about $3500.