Professional Digital SLR Camera

It's more about evolution and innovation (as opposed to revolution) in the digital SLR realm right now. Like the American Idol effect on singers to the untrained ear, the clarity and performance that photographers expect from the soon-to-be-legendary Canon EOS 5D Mark III has to live up to the hype. Without question, Canon is no one-hit wonder with its 5D bodies, and this encore revision should definitely bring standing ovations.

Moving up from 21.1 megapixels in the 5D Mark II to 22.3 megapixels in the 5D Mark III is the first nice improvement from the single full-frame CMOS sensor. RAW images max out at a resolution of 5784×3861 at 22.3 megapixels. Continuing the tour, another nice improvement is a continuous shooting speed maxing out at six shots per second, as compared to just over three in the Mark II version. Canon's latest on-chip noise reduction provides results that are closer to the saturation and clarity of the naked eye.

Metering accuracy, clarity, and responsiveness are all excellent from the new 61-point High-Density Reticular Autofocus (AF) system with 63-zone, iFCL dual-layer metering for more consistency when shooting in varied lighting situations, such as by water or at sporting events. Canon also introduces their new DIGIC 5+ Image Processor, which facilitates all of these new functions and features.

The EOS 5D Mark III now offers a High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode that couples three exposures into a single image while processing it all internally. The HDR layers are adjustable by up to 3 stops. With all of these capabilities, there's also support for blazingly fast UDMA 7 Compact Flash storage media. A favorite new addition is what Canon calls Comparative Playback mode that allows two-image viewing on the LCD screen. This is fantastic for portraiture and landscape images, particularly on a windy day, for example, or shooting a concert stage. The combination of versatility, performance, and features is so much more than just a revision to an already wonderful digital SLR. The time spent shooting is more effective with fewer throwaway shots.

In JPEG mode, the best results come from brighter lighting situations and outdoor settings, as the compression is still, well, compression. RAW and HDR modes offer the best clarity and density; however, in bright lighting, the JPEG images are still superior to this model's predecessor.

The 1080p HD video is equally impressive, and the image quality is outstanding from the standard speeds of approximately 24p, 25p, and 30p frames per second (fps). At 720p, speeds of up to 60 fps are clear, crisp, and offer very good audio quality. The adjustable, 64-step input-gain control from either the mono microphone on the body or the stereo mic input jack helps to minimize audio distortion, but using either a high-quality earphone or pre-amp and headphones for audio monitoring through the audio output jack is definitely recommended.

The real fun of Canon's EOS 5D Mark III comes after using it for a few weeks: As you realize how much more you can do with less waste, you may want to go back and reshoot some completed projects. The only obstacle might be tired arms from holding up this durable, solid-feeling, superstar digital SLR. So, while the Mark II was last season's winner, the Canon EOS 5D Mark III is definitely this generation's hit maker.

Company: Canon U.S.A.
Price: $3,499 (body)
Rating: 5
Hot: Speed; features; accuracy; video