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Performance

Overall Performance

The Canon EOS 5D Mark III is powered by the new Digic 5+ processor and it shows in every area. The camera's response to user input, whether via buttons or one of the menus, is as good as instant. Image browsing, magnification and comparison in playback mode is very swift as well.

The Digic 5+ combined with the sensor's 8-channel data-readout also does a good job at pushing the camera's huge 22MP image files through the imaging pipelines and buffer. Despite combined JPEG and Raw file sizes of over 30MB, with a fast CF card the camera can sustain its very respectable 6 frames per second continuous shooting speed for approximately 7 frames. If you limit yourself to shooting JPEGs you really don't need to worry about burst sizes and buffers at all.

The new 61-point AF system offers a much higher level of sophistication and customization than the 5D Mark II's. It works reliably in single AF mode, even in low light levels, and we found it to be performing well when tracking moving subjects in AI Servo mode. There are plenty of customization options and with the right technique sports and action photographers will be able to get consistently good results with the Canon's AF system.

Overall the EOS 5D Mark III is snappy and responsive at all times and simply performs impressively. The camera is not specifically targeted at sports and action photographers, but with its highly customizable and responsive AF system and 6 frames per second continuous shooting, it certainly gives you all the tools you need to capture some impressive action shots.

Continuous Shooting and Buffering

In terms of continuous shooting the EOS 5D Mark III is not quite on the same level as dedicated sports and action cameras such as Canon's EOS-1D Mark IV, but nevertheless its 6 frames per second in Continuous Hi mode still make it a capable tool for shooting fast moving subjects. It's also quicker than the Mark III's closest competitor, the Nikon D800 (4 fps / 5fps in DX mode) or the 5D Mark II (3.9 fps).

With the 5D Mark III's large images files it is advisable to use a fast CF memory card, especially if you are planning to shoot bursts in Raw+JPEG mode. We've noticed that the CF cards slot makes use of the fastest cards that are currently available while this is not the case for the SD-card slot. There was no difference in performance between SD-cards with 45mb/s and 95mb/s transfer rates. That said, when shooting JPEGs only you don't need to worry about the number of frames in a burst, no matter what card you are using.

If you need to shoot continuously for sustained periods of time and can make do with a slower frame rate you can switch to the Continuous Lo mode. It offers a speed of 3 frames per second and, with a fast card, you can shoot at that speed until you run out of storage space on the memory card.

Continuous Hi - CF Card

Timing
JPEG Large/Fine
RAW
RAW+JPEG Fine
Frame rate 6.0 fps 6.0 fps 6.0 fps
Number of frames until card full 17 7
Buffer full rate n/a 2.7 2.0
Write complete n/a 4 sec 4 sec

Continuous Hi - SD Card

Timing
JPEG Large/Fine
RAW
RAW+JPEG Fine
Frame rate 6.0 fps 6.0 fps 6.0 fps
Number of frames 42 14 7
Buffer full rate 2.6 0.7 0.5
Write complete 11 17 12

Continuous Lo - CF Card

Timing
JPEG Large/Fine
RAW
RAW+JPEG Fine
Frame rate 3.0 fps 3.0 fps 3.0 fps
Number of frames until card full 23 16
Buffer full rate n/a 2.5 2.0
Write complete n/a 3 sec 3 sec

Continuous Lo - SD Card

Timing
JPEG Large/Fine
RAW
RAW+JPEG Fine
Frame rate 3.0 fps 3.0 fps 3.0 fps
Number of frames until card full 16 8
Buffer full rate n/a 0.7 0.6
Write complete n/a 17 sec 12 sec

All timings performed using a 64GB SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-I SDHC card (90MB/s) and a 128GB SanDisk Extreme Pro UDMA 7 CF card (100MB/s).

The 5D Mark III's silent shooting mode is available, as 'Continuous S', in continuous shooting. This mode reduces shutter noise and vibration by slowing down the shutter and mirror reflex action. The shutter is noticeably quieter which makes this mode very suitable for noise-sensitive occasions and events, but the continuous shooting performance is the same as in 'Continuous Lo' mode. On the downside there is a slight increase in shutter lag and viewfinder blackout time. We've had a closer look at Silent Shooting on the Features page of this review.

Battery life

The EOS 5D Mark III comes with the same LP-E6 lithium-ion battery pack that was used in the predecessor It's got a capacity of 1800 mAh which, according to Canon, is good for 950 shots (CIPA standard) or approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes of movie shooting time. While shooting our sample images for this review we found the battery life to be approximately in line with Canon's figures and, when leaving the office with a fully-charged battery, never had to worry about running out of power. Of course battery life will to a large degree depend on your shooting conditions and operational habits but for those who prefer to have some backup-power the optional BG-E11 battery grip might be worth an additional investment.

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Comments

Total comments: 9
Vmo9
By Vmo9 (3 months ago)

I have used the 5D Mark III for over a year and have just finished selling my Nikon gear (sad day after being a Nikon enthusiast for 30 plus years). From auto-focus to camera build to overall quality, this camera can do it all! Even with the slow burst rate, it works well for sports and nature shooting! I can't recommend this camera enough. I have found the auto-focus system to be quick enough for Equestrian events with long lenses, such as Canons 400mm f2.8 or new 200-560mm.

2 upvotes
Rob728
By Rob728 (4 months ago)

I have just bought a 5d mkii, and when doing a comparison test (nothing scientific) against my 50d I find that the 5d3 seems to under expose by upto 1stop, is this normal?

0 upvotes
schutzaphoto
By schutzaphoto (5 months ago)

I work in Nyc as a fashion photographer and I have to say the the 5d series are the most used cameras out side of medium format cameras .Ive been shooting with the mark 3 for over a year after shooting with the mark 2 for 2 years great both great cameras. You can see the shots I've taken with it on my website www.brianschutzaphotography.com hope it helps!!

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
1 upvote
VABMAN
By VABMAN (2 months ago)

Nice shots,...I've always dreamed to be a fashion photographer.

0 upvotes
Cyrus the Great
By Cyrus the Great (6 months ago)

Nikon D800 is clear winer over 5D iii in every things. Nikon has much sharper lens.
don't know why some people buy Canon???!!!!!

1 upvote
R D Carver
By R D Carver (6 months ago)

'Some people' buy Canon because they earn their living using a camera. Oh man, you should see those forests of white and red-ringed lenses in the pro pit at every major sporting, media and news event! 'Some people' are winning the major competitions, filling the fashion and nature magazines and filming box office busting movies with Canon. "Nikon has much sharper lens" Which lens exactly? Give a photographer a Canon 5D MKIII and an EF 70-200mm F/2.8 L IS II USM Lens and he can take on the world. Nikon is good, Canon is good why get tribal? it is so petty and amateur. At work I can pick up a Nikon/Sony D800 body or a Cannon 5D MKIII. I prefer the Cannon because I don't like the white balance on the Nikon. Others are happy to use the Nikon, but the die hard Nikon enthusiasts are disappointed that Sony make the sensors for Nikon. In comes Sony in comes the green tinged white balance.

5 upvotes
WillieG
By WillieG (5 months ago)

No cameras white balance is perfectly neutral. That's why we have the ability to manually change it on the camera and even fine tune on some of the higher end models. Nikon cameras do run slightly toward the cool side, but they can always be fine-tuned to be neutral in-camera. Canon cameras have always leaned towards the orange color tint. Luckily for Canon the end result is a slightly warmer image that many photographers like the looks of. Few pros would buy a camera that couldn't be made to produce true colors. And that forest of white lenses has been thinning out quite a bit since the advent of the Nikon D3. I'm one die-hard Nikon enthusiast who's ecstatic with Sony sensors. No other brand can even match their dynamic range.

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
1 upvote
solomonshv
By solomonshv (1 month ago)

why is the D800 is the clear winner? because of a few test charts? which camera do you own? the 5DM3 or the D800? i switched from nikon to canon because i liked canon's lenses better.

ever been to a major sporting event or a press conference? if you did you'd notice an abundance of off-white telephoto lenses with red rings on them. saying that "some people buy Canon" is misleading because pretty much everyone who makes a living off their camera gear uses Canon. and believe me, there are very good reasons for that. if you don't know what they are then it will be a waste of time trying to explain them to you. you still wont get it because you are too busy looking at test charts.

0 upvotes
mufflon
By mufflon (7 months ago)

thx for putting the Shadow noise test in your review. it was time to show that quite big difference.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 9