As part of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Canon's EOS system, starting with the 35mm EOS 650 and three EF lenses in March 1987, Canon has announced a significant new camera and five new accessories. The full-frame 22.3-megapixel EOS 5D Mk III benefits from the best technology developed for other recent cameras, as well as a couple of firsts for the EOS system. While it's not much higher in resolution than the 21.1-megapixel EOS 5D Mk II, the new model boast a more desirable feature set, more convenient controls, superior image quality, more advanced autofocus and movie mode as well as several other benefits.
Although it resembles the EOS 5D Mk II model (which remains available), the Mk III camera has been updated in virtually every aspect. In terms of controls and ergonomics, it's similar to the EOS 7D. But in technology, it owes more to the professional full-frame EOS-1D X, which should be shipping by late April. In terms of menu layout, it's also similar to the new pro model. There's no built-in flash; but the EOS 5D Mk III is equipped with a hot shoe and PC cord socket.
The full specs list is very long but here's an overview of the most significant features and technology.
- New 22.3-megapixel, full-frame CMOS sensor, now with eight-channel readout, gapless micro lenses, and improvements in transistor structure and on-chip noise reduction. Canon estimates a two-stop improvement in high-ISO quality vs. the already impressive Mk II, primarily due to improvements in the sensor's pixel structure.
- DIGIC 5+ image processor with 14-bit analog-to-digital conversion and 14-bit image processing, which is 30% faster than the DIGIC 5, and 17 times faster than the DIGIC 4 used in the 5D Mark II. It allows for continuous shooting at 6fps (or 3fps in Quiet Shooting mode), in-camera chromatic aberration control for stills and videos, and an ISO range of 100-25,600, expandable to 50-102,400.
- Magnesium alloy shell and chassis with improved weather-resistance and a shutter rated to a pro-calibre 150,000 cycles.
- Improved optical viewfinder with 100% coverage, 0.71x magnification, 21mm eye point and available dual-axis electronic level and grid-line display.
- 3.2" Clear View II LCD display with 1.04-million-dot resolution and reduced reflectivity (same as the one in the EOS 1Dx), with on-demand grid lines and dual-axis electronic level display.
- AF system with 61 points, including 41 cross-type and five that are diagonally sensitive for maximum reliability, as well as many AF options. The AF sensor is dentical to the one in the EOS-1D X and lacks only one feature, the special Intelligent Tracking and Recognition AF.
- 63-zone dual-layer iFCL ambient/flash metering sensor (first seen in the EOS 7D).
- Full HD video (H.264 and All-I compression) at up to 1920 x 1080 (24p, 25p, 30p) with full manual controls, reduced rolling-shutter effect and most of the features available with the EOS-1D X. Sound recording is mono, but there's a jack for an external stereo mic and also a jack for a stereo headphone (a first in the EOS system) with adjustable volume.
- New features include in-camera RAW editing, Multiple Exposure mode (for combining up to nine exposures into one image) and in-camera HDR (with a range of up to ±3 stops, and five selectable styles). The latter is a first for an EOS camera.
- Slots for CompactFlash (including UDMA Type 7) and SD/SDHC/SDXC cards and official support for Eye-Fi wireless SDHC cards.
The new add-ons include the BG-E11, a magnesium alloy battery grip with a secondary set of controls ($450 MSRP) that's specific to the EOS 5D Mk III but the others are compatible with some other recent EOS models.
The moisture-resistant Speedlight 600EX-RT ($730) offers a valuable new feature, wireless radio control and can be used with a new flash bracket, the AB-E1 ($200). A new radio frequency transmitter ST-E3-RT ($385) can trigger up to 15 remote Speedlites at up to 30 meters. There's also a new GP-E2 GPS unit for geo-tagging of images ($400) and a WFT-E7 wireless 802.11a/b/g/n file transmitter ($1,200) that can use Wi-Fi or Gigabit Ethernet connection to transfer image files to a computer. Bluetooth-compatible equipment can also be linked to the WFT-E7.
The EOS 5D Mk III ($3,800; $4,650 with an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens) should reach retailers by late March, 2012 along, with the Speedlight 600EX-RT and the ST-E3-RT. The other new accessories are expected to be available in late April.