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05 April, 2012

Canon 5D Mark III is hard to find but worth it

Canon 5D Mark III is hard to find but worth it
By Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY

LOS ANGELES – Canon is ready for its closeup, and it's a beauty.

Talking Tech
By Jefferson Graham

The 5D Mark III is the stunning — and pricey at $3,499 — sequel to the $2,200 5D Mark II, an SLR aimed at professionals and serious hobbyists that totally revolutionized video when it was released in 2008.
On the Mark II, video shot on a still camera could, for the first time, look dramatically better than that of a video camera. The Mark II produced cinema-like quality thanks to its large image sensor, which is more than 20 times the size of what's found in a consumer video camera.
It also became the go-to camera for wedding and portrait photographers, who liked its compact body and its ability to shoot wider, high-quality frames in a full-frame sensor. The sensor is larger than what's seen in most digital SLRs.
The sequel, the Mark III, is just out and hard to get. Online retailers report limited supply, and Amazon says it will take one to two months to fulfill orders. However, we got our hands on one and spent a few days shooting photos and video. Consider us drooling.
The Mark III has three major upgrades.
•Sharpness. The camera sensor has been redesigned to produce dramatically improved images, especially ones produced in low light, such as in living rooms and restaurants and at parties.
•Greater focus. To use the autofocus effectively, Canon lets you select from nine dots on the Mark II screen to set your focus point — with the center point being the most accurate. The Mark III has 61 focus points and, of those, some 41 are as strong as the one center point for the Mark II, says Rick Berk, a tech specialist at Canon.
•Video. On the Mark II, a major limitation was that you could shoot clips up to only 12 minutes in length. Now you get 29-minute clips. Which makes it more usable at weddings, school plays, concerts and recitals, where you can't afford to miss a moment .
I've been a 5D shooter since 2006, upgrading rather instantly to the Mark II in 2008, shortly after it was released. I spent the money on the upgrade for one main reason: low-light performance, which was so much better than the Mark 1.
The 5D Mark III has a 22.3-megapixel sensor, redesigned for dramatically improved low-light performance, Berk says.
Light starts with the ISO settings on your camera. Generally, the lower the ISO, the better the quality. In afternoon daylight, you may shoot at 100 ISO, while indoors, you could be at 800 or 1600. That's about as high as you'd want to go for acceptable quality. With the Mark II, I would never go any higher than 3200 before picture and video quality would fall off. On the Mark III the other night, I took pictures of my cat Jinxy indoors, resting under the table, at the previously unimaginable setting of 12,800 ISO. The images look amazingly sharp and noise-free.
For comparison, I took the same shot with the Mark II at 6400 — as high as it goes — and the results are muddy and full of noise.
Focusing still tricky
Getting to shoot longer video clips is a huge plus for the Mark III, as is the ability to shoot the clips at a higher bit rate for an even crisper image. But focusing isn't any easier.
You compose the image on the LCD window on the back of the camera, where it's hard to be as precise as through a viewfinder. (Solution: Many folks buy hood loupes that cover the LCD.) Additionally, you can't effectively autofocus once the recording starts if the camera or subject moves. Because of the issues, most folks making videos with DSLRs shoot in manual focus.
What you can do with video on the Mark III that you couldn't do before is change the audio settings while recording. With the Mark II, if the audio conditions changed during your shot, there was nothing you could do except stop recording, set and reset. Now you change the audio settings during recording.
Additional bonus: Canon has added a headphone jack to monitor sound while recording. It sounds small, but for videographers, this is huge.
Still some issues
Despite all the advances Canon has made to the Mark III, there is still room for improvement:
•Autofocus, as mentioned, is still an issue.
•No rotating LCD screen, such as is found on other Canon cameras, including the 60D and Rebel T3i. These features are beloved by videographers, especially those who need to take shots of themselves.
•The back of the Mark III has buttons in new places that don't necessarily improve ergonomics. More often, they just confuse longtime users.
Still, the Mark III overall is a great leap forward. With the much sharper photos and low-light breakthroughs, I can learn new buttons.
Ka-ching! Canon got me again.
Source: USAtoday
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