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Body & Design continued

Viewfinder size and crop

One figure hidden away in every SLR's spec is the size of the viewfinder (often in a format that makes comparison between competing models impossible). The size of the viewfinder is a key factor in usability - the bigger it is, the easier it is to frame and focus your shots, and the more enjoyable and involving process it is.

Because of the way viewfinders are measured (using a fixed lens, rather than a lens of equivalent magnification), you also need to take the sensor size into account, so the numbers in the diagram below are the manufacturer's specified magnifications divided by the respective 'crop factors'.

The EOS 5D Mark III's viewfinder size has, with its 100% coverage, slightly increased in size over the 5D Mark II's (98%), although magnification stays the same. It's not quite on the same level as the EOS-1D X, but close, and substantially bigger than the viewfinders in APS-C DSLRs such as the Canon EOS 7D. It offers 100% coverage of the final image, with no crop - what you see is what you get.

The viewfinder in the 5D Mark III has been improved over it predecessor, now offering an approximately 100% coverage, rather than 98%. Magnification remains the same at 0.71X but the viewing angle has been increased and the eye point raised to 21mm.

Set below the prism itself is a translucent LCD that can be used to show different grid lines and to give a clearer understanding of which AF points are active. The focus screen is now fixed, though, so there's no equivalent to the 'S' type screen for more-accurate focusing with fast lenses.

The other advantage to the viewfinder's electronic overlay is the addition of a customizable warning. Depending on how you like to shoot, you can configure the camera to show a warning exclamation mark (!) in a small triangle at the bottom right of the viewfinder. It can be configured to signify one of the following shooting parameters is active:

Monochrome shooting ISO Expansion
WB Shift Spot Metering
One-touch Quality Auto Lighting Optimizer

Body Elements

At the heart of the 5D Mark III is its newly-developed 22MP 24x36mm CMOS sensor. It offers a standard ISO range of 100-25600, expandable down to ISO 50 (with the loss of a stop of highlight range) and right up to 102,400.
The 5D Mark III gains the customizable M-Fn button first seen on the EOS 7D, that's now standard on high-end EOS models. This can be used to activate a range of functions, including the electronic level display in the viewfinder.
The mode dial now has a central lock button, and the previous 'green square' full auto and 'Creative Auto' positions are consolidated to a single 'Auto+' mode (as seen previously on the EOS 600D).

Underneath it is a 7D-style power switch, that's now completely separated from the rear dial-lock switch.
The IR remote control receiver is now on the front of the handgrip, where it's easier to activate when working from behind the camera.

The red lamp beside it is the visual indicator for the self-timer. The 5D Mark III has no built-in AF illuminator.
Below these is the large depth of field preview button, placed for operation by the third finger of your right hand. It's now much easier to reach when using large lenses or shooting in portrait format.

As usual there's a hotshoe on top of the pentaprism, that accepts Canon's EX series flash units such as the newly-announced Speedlite 600EX-RT.

Like previous 5D-series cameras, the Mark III doesn't have a built-in flash and therefore can't control external flash units remotely - you need to use the ST-E2 or new ST-E3-RT transmitters (or a controller hotshoe flash).
The 5D Mark III gains dual SD and CF card slots. It allows the same file management options as 1D-series cameras, so you can duplicate all files to both cards, or record JPEGs to one and RAWs to the other, for example. You can alternatively set the camera to auto-switch to the second card when the first is full.

You can also use Eye-Fi cards in the SD slot.
The comprehensive bank of connectors adds a headphone jacket for monitoring audio when recording video. Aside from this there are USB and HDMI connectors, a stereo microphone socket, PC studio flash and the familiar E3-type remote control socket.
The Q button brings up a context-sensitive Quick Control screen, e.g. to change shooting parameters.

The rear control dial gains a new trick - becoming a touch-sensitive 4-way controller when shooting video (with the 'buttons' placed on the inner rim of the dial). This allows use of the Q menu without jogging the camera, and because it doesn't click, it shouldn't disrupt your soundtrack.
The microphone is repositioned on the camera's shoulder, and as on the Mark II it is monaural.
The 5D Mark III uses the same 7.2V, 1800mAh LP-E6 battery as its predecessor. As with most Canon SLRs, it's housed in the handgrip. The compartment door is sprung, and has foam sealing around it to help prevent water ingress.

The compartment is also sufficiently far from the tripod socket for the battery to be changeable on many heads.
The tripod socket is positioned in-line with the lens axis, and is surrounded by a decent-size rubber pad for a quick release plate.

New accessories - Radio-Controlled Wireless flash and grip

Alongside the 5D Mark III Canon has also introduced a range of accessories, most notably a new wireless flash system that's based on radio, as opposed to infrared communication. Spearheaded by the weather sealed Speedlite 600EX-RT and the WT-E3-RT wireless transmitter, the switch to radio control greatly increases the system's operational range to 30m, removes the requirement for unobstructed line-of-sight communication between Speedlites and the controller, and increases the number of units that can be used to 15 flashes in 5 groups. There's also a hot-shoe-mountable GPS unit, the GP-E2, and a WFT-E7 Wi-Fi transmitter.

Rounding off the story is a new vertical grip for the 5D Mark III, which has an almost-complete set of replicate controls for portrait-format shooting, including the all-important joystick for AF point selection (only a DOF preview button is missing). It can hold a pair of LP-E6 batteries for double the battery life, or run off a cassette full of AAs.

Hands-on Preview Video*

*This video was originally published as part of our Canon EOS 5D Mark III preview

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I own it
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Total comments: 20


I am new to the Canon brand and was considering a 5D3 or a 7D2. I need a camera that captures images and short video clips of very fast sports at close and far ranges. So for me, speed, image quality, and movie quality are the most important.

Edit: I should add that the sports are indoor but very fast, and I usually cannot use flash, so I have to work with what's available.

If there is another camera that you recommend beyond these two, please let me know. I have only used a Nikon D4S in the past which did well but I can no longer use that. Thanks in advance and sorry if this is a low-level question.

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting

First test ever here the 5d mark iii filming in 4k Magic lantern also unlock Raw

Pascal Parvex

It is not filming in 4K, it is still 1080p. It was just uprezzed (DNG files).


your right


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!


Which lenses you use?

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.


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


Hello i just need a professional 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.


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.


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?


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 hope it helps!!

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting

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

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.


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

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.


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


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

Total comments: 20