Click to download the original in-camera JPEG
I’ll admit for the last two generation of cameras, I’ve looked at my Canon gear and then looked at my Nikon’s friends high ISO shots and I’ve been very disappointed that I couldn’t get those results. When I reviewed the Nikon D7000, borrowed a friends D700, and used the D3s at the Olympics, I knew Nikon had the better product. Their ISO performance was impressive and their user controls made the cameras a joy to use. In fact, I often wondered if I should join legions of others and go to the Nikon camp.
My Nikon D3s envy has been eliminated as I now own the best performing high ISO camera my hands have ever held and my eyes have ever seen. Click on the shot above to see the unmodified in-camera JPEG that shows what ISO 25,600 looks like using camera default settings. HOLY COW!!!!!!!
Now naysayers will pick at that shot, but it is totally usable to me. However, if that doesn’t impress you then behold this at ISO 100 (again using the nasty part of the lens at f/18):
This camera is astonishing. It’s not just good, it’s incredible and way better than I expected. In fact, it’s so good it makes me wonder how the 1D X is going to be able to top this (beyond the obvious better battery life, different controls and fps). I certainly can’t see how it can be twice as good for twice the price!
100% Crop – Handheld
1/100 sec at f/2.8, ISO 1600 (100mm macro – original)
Sadly I had a hard day at work today at the day job and didn’t get home until nearly 10:30 PM, but I had some time with it during a short break at work and this evening at home. Here’s my initial thoughts on some key areas:
- In-Camera HDR – insane awesome – even handheld.
- Build Quality –1D Mark IV like (this is no toy prosumer camera like the 5D Mark II)
- Controls – BRILLIANT!!!! From the organization and the tactile feel, to the reprogramabilty of the hard buttons – WOOO-FREAKIN-HOOOO!!!!!!!!! I lust for NOTHING from Nikon here anymore!
- Mirror Lockup – Accessible via first menu (great), but sadly not programmable to a hard button (I can live with that though)
- AF performance – OUTSTANDING! This feels like the 1D X AF system that I saw in New York last fall – I can’t believe this camera has this much!!!!
- Silent Mode – Works well, but doesn’t seem as quiet as the 1D Mark IV
- Burst Mode – Yeah, only 6FPS but with a good memory card I was able to rattle off 32 shots tracking a car with only short pauses between shots after the first 6. I could totally live with this shooting kids sports.
There’s SOOOOOOOO much more in here than we’ve ever seen in a Canon Camera. Canon has FINALLY listened and picked up some of the goodness from Nikon and added SOOOOOOO much more usability to this camera.
Other than a big battery and faster FPS, I see no reason to keep my 1D Mark IV when I have this. This camera is a 100% pro body with just a smaller battery and an annoying knob instead of the pro buttons on the top.
It feels better built than the 7D in my opinion (and I previously thought that was the best overall consumer Canon body).
Other than EF-S support, I can’t see why Canon would do a 7D Mark II. With this there’s really no need unless they just want a fast FPS 5D Mark III with a crop sensor. However, if they do that then what’s the point of the 1D X? I just don’t see that happening.
I’m only looking through the rear panel LCD (which is very good but feels about the same as the previous gen), but ISO 25600 feels like ISO 6400 on the D7000 I reviewed last year. This is definitely a huge improvement over the 1D Mark IV and 5D Mark II.
I am extremely impressed and am wondering if I should even bother with the 1D X. I’ll still review one, but my need to purchase one just diminished DRASTICALLY! I’m thinking I may just keep the 1D Mark IV and invest in the new 24-70 II lens.
I don’t smoke, but if I did and this camera was a woman I’d need a cigarette after what I experienced today! With the in-camera default settings, and handheld I just walked out the parking lot using my SLOWEST AF LENS EVER – the ORIGINAL 100mm macro and put the camera into Av and AI Servo and fired away. My first thought was “you’ve gotta be shitting me – this is as 5D!!!!!!” I was giggling like a schoolgirl that I just nailed a decent pano on my first try – HANDHELD (no monopod) and nearly all the frames were in focus. I thought this must be a fluke so I walked and instantly raised my camera and fired away at the that was passing immediately in front of me and check this out:
Yeah, I missed the car (my bad) but this was literally bring the camera up, quick pan and fire. I could only get two shots off but it just nailed it – with a dog slow old macro lens!!!!
I figured I could trip it up so I just pointed at a car and followed it (click here) until my view became obscured (bus drove in front of me). Despite it’s 6fps I was able to fire off 32 frames with no issues with the buffer (shooting RAW+JPEG) and I never had to wait. Sure it slowed down after the initial burst, but as you can see from this series it’s certainly good enough for kids sports, keeping up with toddlers, etc... I literally just pushed the button and tracked – nothing fancy here – still using the slow macro lens. Sure the first image was a touch out of focus, but the rest were pretty decent.
Go to the bottom of this article to see more info from Canon on how this AF system compares to the 1D Mark IV and 1D X.
Wedding, Event and Club Photographers
If you are a low light shooter that needs high ISO performance, this is your camera. However, this camera goes beyond just being usable at ISO 25,600. It also offers pro build quality, a sweet sensor, dual memory card (CF & SD) with redundant support, silent mode, great video, and more. It’s really quite impressive.
What about the RAW’s?
Well I’m sad to report that I don’t have a place to store the RAW’s where you can download them, but others online are sharing their raw’s so you can see more evidence of what I’m saying here. I can also say that Lightroom 4 doesn’t currently support importing them, so I had to use DPP to view the RAW files.
Really Right Stuff Users
I don’t use the L-bracket, but my 5D Mark II base bracket (B5D2 plate) worked fine on my 5D Mark III. I won’t be doing anything new for this camera.
More Sample Files
This Guy Loves the 5D Mark III!
Here’s more sample images:
- Parents Rejoice – No More Dark, Blurry and Out of Focus Pictures! (Canon 5D Mark III Real World Shots)
- Canon 5D Mark III Real World Shots–Flowers, Nature, People & Cars
- Canon 5D Mark III in stock with $50 off Lightroom 4 and $15 off an Eye-Fi Pro X2 8GB
- Canon 5D Mark III Unboxing & First Report and the truth about the AF performance(Updated: 3/22/12)
- Canon 5D Mark III & Speedlite 600EX-RT Available for Pre-Order–IMAGE SAMPLES TOO
I’ll do a more in-depth review with photos that don’t suck so bad, but I wanted to share my first impressions for those who are still on the fence. My initial impression is that this is the most enjoyable to use, well laid out, best performing (and easy to use) AF system, best high ISO camera I’ve ever used. It’s built like a pro camera and it is a suitable replacement for those with 1Ds Mark III’s. Personally
Order Yours Now - Special Offer (and IN STOCK!!!!)
Adorama still has units in stock (kit only) and they are even offering a good deal on Lightroom 4 ($50 off) and Eye-Fi ($15 off) if you buy them together.
I paid full-price for this camera (zero discount) and was not paid a penny for this article from anyone. In fact, I’m pissed at Canon for not getting me one to review in advance. I give Adorama props for delivering this unit to me fast (just many others).
If you use links in this article to make a purchase I may make a small commission.