Canon’s Next Step

The web is awash today with details of Canon’s announcement of the 5D Mark III.  It’s been a long time coming, but now we have one more full-frame DSLR in the Canon lineup.  Due for delivery within a month or so (barring the kinds of unexpected delays we’ve seen lots of lately), this new tool will be vying for space in a highly contested field.

For specific info about the camera itself (and the new 600EX-RT flash and additional accessories), see DP Review, Rob Galbraith’s DPI, Camera Labs, or Bob Atkins’ site.  And of course you can read endless comments on any number of forums passing instantaneous judgment on everything from the crippling lack of pixels in this new 22.3MP sensor to the total failure of Canon as a camera company.  It’s the world we live in.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion.  Just based on claimed specs for the 5D3 and my own experience with the 5D2, it looks to me like this new body will make a lot of Canon shooters very happy.  Yes, it’s going to be a bit more expensive ($3,499 body-only), have only a modest increase in megapixel count from the 5D2, and lack a few features that some of us would really like to have seen included (like an articulated LCD and built-in flash).  Be that as it may, there are enough advanced and pro-level features melded from both the 7D and the new 1D X to make it appear that this will be Canon’s first digital body to replicate the conceptual lineage of the vaunted EOS 3.  Things I like:  top-level autofocus system, upgraded exposure system, decent frame rate (6 fps), improved dynamic range and noise levels, and built-in multi-exposure and HDR.  Hard to say until it’s actually in hand, but it also looks like the 5D3 is shaped very similarly to the 7D—my favorite ergonomically of all the smaller (non-1D) bodies.

One of the most hotly debated issues is how well the 5D3 will stack up against Nikon’s D800.  Absent rigorous field tests of production bodies, we just don’t know; and even then it will depend entirely on what features and aspects are most important to your style of shooting.  It’s quite possible both cameras will be big winners for their respective companies without hordes crossing over from one system to the other.  Time will tell.

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