Canon 5D Mark III Review in 2017

I've been through a few different camera systems now. I've started with a Nikon D3100 then moved to a D600, then a Sony A7 II, and several film cameras sprinkled in throughout. After months of hating myself for switching to a mirrorless camera, I decided to switch back to DSLRs and settled on Canon. I loved the skin tones I was seeing from others in the industry who use Canon. Now at the time, Canon had just launched their 5D Mark IV. After looking into it I really couldn't justify the extra $2000 for a camera that was more or less the same as their Mark III. I found someone looking to trade their backup 5D for a Sony A7II and made the switch. 

Greta Morgan, The Springtime Carnivore, shot for my Creative Space Project
Dr. Donovan, President of Bellarmine University. Shot for The Voice-Tribune

I am in no way saying that the 5D Mark IV is the same or not a good camera compared to the 5D Mark III, for me it wasn’t much of an upgrade. Some notable upgrades to the previous model are Dual Pixel Autofocus and 4K, which really only benefits video and when I shoot video I’m not using autofocus. Also, the 4K video feature has a 1.75x crop, which is pretty unacceptable. I am starting to do more video and take on more video projects, but for those, I am renting a C100 MKII or C200 and will eventually purchase one of the two. The 5D Mark IV is a wonderful camera if you want a stills camera with the ability to shoot 4K, but for me, I’d rather have a 5D Mark III as a dedicated stills camera and use a C100 MK2/C200 for videos.

Anyway, now that you know why I bought an “outdated” camera back to the 5D Mark III review. This is one serious tool. My main requirements for a camera in order of importance are:

Subaru WRX STI and perrin photoshoot
  • Shoots RAW
  • 2 Memory Card Slots (I’m strict about backing up stuff nowadays)
  • Ability to Tether into Capture One Pro
  • Solid build that will take a beating
  • Excellent lens choices
  • Full Frame
  • Bonus: Magic Lantern RAW video (only available on Canon)

I love the Canon skin tones as well, but I’ve never been unable to get pleasing skin tones with any camera. With a good color grading workflow, you can do anything, especially if you grade in Capture One Pro. The only complaint I have with Canon is their 50mm lens options. The 1.2 seems too soft from what I've heard and seen and not as accurate focusing. I’ve used the 50 1.4 and it’s fine but not that sharp until f/4. There are some rumors about two new 50’s coming out next year (a 50 1.4L with IS and a new 50 1.2L). So I’m waiting till they update it. Let’s get into some specifics now.

Image Quality

Top Notch. Honesty any camera nowadays will have top notch quality and you won't be able to tell the difference between one camera and another. Except for a Phase One!

Menus

Coming from a Sony, this is my most favorite feature. Everything is neatly organized. I spent maybe 10 minutes getting everything setup how I like. Think of Canon as a Mac and Sony as a PC.

Ergonomics

The 5D has a wonderful big grip for my large hands. I absolutely hated hated hated the Sony grip. Nikon has a decent grip but the 5D grip just feels right in my hands.

Video

This was shot entirely with a Canon 5D Mark III and Magic Lantern RAW

Now for serious projects, I would prefer to use one of Canon’s cinema cameras but this thing holds it’s own. Especially when Magic Lantern is installed. Magic Lantern gives the camera the ability to capture RAW video that looks pretty close to what you get out of a cinema cam. The workflow for that is the only drawback. You’ll shoot in .MLV which much be converted into Cinema DNG which can be processed through Davinci Resolve (this will give it almost an Arri Alexa like feel!), then you can export to edit and color grade in Adobe Premiere or Final Cut.

Battery Life

Sony eats through about 4-5 batteries for a whole day of shooting. Canon may make it an entire day on one battery, maybe two to be safe. I’ve shot video at a wedding for 6 hours on one battery. It died literally as I finished my last shot!!

Anyway, super solid camera. You can find it for a steal at around $1,500 which is less than half of the price when it first came out. I would highly suggest looking into both the Mark III and Mark IV, and weigh your options. If you want solid video and stills and don't plan on buying a dedicated video camera get the Mark IV. If you solely want a solid stills camera get the Mark III. Just evaluate what you have and what you need/want.

Pick one up here: Canon 5D Mark III or the newer 5D Mark IV

Thanks for reading!

Ryan