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The Canon EOS 5D Mark II was arguably the camera that made video on DSLRs popular with enthusiast videographers and professionals. On the 5D Mark III Canon has further refined the video capabilities and we were curious what professional videographers thought about the camera's video mode. We have therefore asked Andrew Reid, the editor of EOSHD.com, for his opinion on the Canon EOS5D Mark III from a video perspective. This is what he had to say:

Canon EOS 5D Mark III Video - the videographer's opinion

by Andrew Reid of EOSHD.com

Canon has tweaked the video mode on the 5D Mark III. It is very small update. All the significant video improvements have been reserved for Canon's entry into the cinema and broadcast TV market with the Cinema EOS line. Video enthusiasts, small production studios and aspiring filmmakers may be underwhelmed with the improvements offered by the 5D Mark III at $3500.

The South Bank in London shot on the 5D Mark III

What I like about shooting video on the 5D Mark III

Like its predecessor, video on the 5D Mark III has excellent colour rendition and a shallow depth of field effect which is more pervasive on all kinds of shots due to the large sensor.

The full frame sensor look is superb for portraiture and close up shots of a cast. Actors and actresses can be completely isolated from the background. Rendition in video mode is rather soft on the 5D Mark III and no better than the 5D Mark II - but a softer look can be more flattering for close ups, relative to the sharper image that you'd typically get out of a camcorder. The new sensor delivers very good high ISO performance for shooting video in low light, although when noise does occur it isn't attractively fine in terms of grain like Super 35mm film.

The 5D Mark III's compact (by cinema camera standards) chassis is robust and the weather sealing makes it a useful option for shooting on location with the bare minimum of extra gear. Also if you are a video / photo journalist or doing a project which is predominantly stills based with an 'added extra' of video involved, the 5D Mark III is a great choice.

Proud Beast - a landscape video shot in Derbyshire, UK, on the 5D Mark III

What I Don't like about shooting video on the 5D Mark III

With a larger sensor comes more dynamic range and better performance in low light - unfortunately these attributes of the sensor are not fully utilized in video mode on the 5D Mark III. Dynamic range is far less than in a raw photo or even JPEG still. Noise does not have the attractive fine grain of film and an already very soft image gets softer still with a very blotchy noise grain at high ISOs. There's also some fizz in the image at low ISOs which is introduced by the encoder chip. Although the specification on the box says 1080p, with regards resolution the 5D Mark III is a huge let down and the $600 Panasonic GH2 offers a far more detailed 'true 1080p' image (whilst maintaining a relatively large sensor for video and interchangeable lens mount). The 1080p mode is not really full HD at all in terms of the real amount of detail in the image - more like 720p.

The new codec is a slight improvement on before - but if you need to do heavy colour work or lift exposure afterwards it does fall apart. Again it is not comparable in this regard to even an in-camera JPEG. The recording bitrate is close to 90Mbit in ALL-I mode and yet at just 24Mbit the Sony FS100's AVCHD format holds up significantly better in post production, for a list price of just $1500 more.

There's little else Canon have added for videographers - instead most of the progress Canon has made has been included on cameras costing in the region of $15,000 and aimed at Hollywood filmmakers. This leaves a large gap under that price and in the consumer interchangeable lens video market. The 5D Mark III is vulnerable since it is not a huge step from the 5D Mark II in terms of the overall image in video mode. Other cameras such as the $5000 Sony FS100, $800 Panasonic GH2 and $3000 Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera offer significantly more in the ways of features and image quality for low budget video production.

I'd also have liked to see the 600D's articulated screen make it to the 5D Mark III - because video is so often shot with a tripod where the camera is below eye-line, bending over to view the flat LCD on the back of the camera is very inconvenient for longer shoots, and shots which involve a low angle.

Since video is not shot with auto-focus on the 5D Mark III, it would also have been preferable to see better manual focus aids in live-view. There's no improvement in this regard over the 5D Mark II and the punch-in magnification still requires two button presses to exit rather than a simple brush of the shutter release.

ALL-I or IPB recording?

The 5D Mark III offers a choice of video compression mode - the space saving IPB mode and a high quality ALL-I format. These are quite obscure acronyms. In both the 'I' stands for 'Intra Frame'. ALL-I is a reference to the fact that every frame (for example 24 per second in 1080/24p mode) is stored.

In IPB mode, P and B frames are used to predict what frames look like in-between real frames. As fewer 'real' frames are stored, the resulting file sizes are much smaller.

However video recorded in IPB mode requires more computing power to edit, because of the construction of synthetic frames. To save yet more space on the card, Canon has also used a much lower bitrate for IPB mode than in ALL-I mode - this together with the motion prediction technique used, results in a more compressed looking image in IPB mode than in ALL-I mode and a lower overall quality.

The views and opinions expressed on this page are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by dpreview.com or any affiliated companies.

About Andrew Reid

Andrew Reid is the editor of EOSHD.com, and you can see more of his work on the Canon EOS 5D Mark III here (link opens in a new window).
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Comments

Total comments: 15
BobFoster

I am owner of 5d mark III.
I ll totally disagre about noise free image of mark III.
Camera make iso free, but with jpg image, where is use in camera noise filter.
I can do it in photoshop with any camera.
More important, and no one talk about that, raw image on 1600!! iso have noise, 3200 and more, have lot of noise.
And second thing, image on higher noise are not sharp!

1 upvote
Abel Sy

Hello, I've just bought a 5D3 W/ 24 - 105MM lens, upon playing w/ it, looking for the command for multiple shots, the auto focus was affected and not wokring anymore. I don't know and can not make it back to original setting. Is somebody there know and tell me what to do? please help.
P.S. I tried the lens to put in another camera and it works, and attached another lens to 5d3, but didn't work as well. so I confirmed that the problem is the setting w/in the body.

0 upvotes
Skinnerrr

A minor nitpick: Canon's first 35mm autofocus SLR was not the EOS 650 but the T80.

0 upvotes
Femthang

Hello i just need a professional opinion....is the Canon 5D Mark III suitable for broadcast?

1 upvote
Pascal Parvex

No one has answered, so here is an non-professional opinion: Should be. Since the Mark II, the 5D series has gotten some heavy use in broadcasting.

0 upvotes
Vmo9

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

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

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

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

0 upvotes
Cyrus the Great

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

'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.

7 upvotes
WillieG

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

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
vscd

The Nikon 85 1.2 and 200 1.8 is better than the Canon ones... oh wait, no, it was the 8-15 f4. ;)

0 upvotes
mufflon

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

0 upvotes
Total comments: 15