Canon 5D Mark III

Whereas Nikon’s recent DSLR upgrades have evoked the word “monster,” Canon’s have been somewhat more restrained—either a sign of quiet confidence, or a huge tactical blunder just waiting to be revealed a month or two down the line. We’re betting that the just-announced 5D Mark III ($3500) is in the former camp: for the third iteration of its popular full-frame camera, currently owned by two iLounge editors, Canon has opted out of the megapixel race in favor of dramatically improved image quality, autofocusing capabilities, and a collection of user-requested features. Pro photographers are currently debating the wisdom of Canon’s approach and ever-higher price tag, but there’s universal agreement on one thing: the 5D Mark III will do everything its predecessor did, only better.

Canon 5D Mark III

Chief amongst the new features are a completely new 23.4-Megapixel (22.3-MP effective) sensor with a DIGIC 5+ processor, a combination that promises to deliver dramatically cleaner, more dynamically-colored images at even lower light levels than before: up to 25,600 ISO natively, with up to 102,400 ISO in extended mode. And faster, too: the new 6FPS speed is a jump of two frames per second from the 5D Mark II, especially impressive when you consider that there’s a new 61-point autofocus system making judgments at all times about moving subjects, and new automatic chromatic aberration reduction taking place.

Other improvements include HDR and multi-exposure modes, dual SD and CompactFlash slots, a new 3.2” higher-resolution screen, and a viewfinder with 100% coverage—all nice touches that won’t exactly set the world on fire—while video recording is also said to have been cleaned up, making the Mark III even stronger for professional use than its surprisingly capable older brother.

All that’s missing is a “wow” factor. Those hoping for a 60FPS 1080p or 4K video recording mode, huge still photo megapixel bump, or other earth-shattering improvement will have to wait until… well, 2015 or 2016, if the 5D series sees another update at its current pace. Our guess is that serious photographers will be very pleased by the iterative improvements Canon’s chosen, and only slightly put off by the price tag, attributable as much to the weak dollar as anything else.