Industry News

Counting down my five favorite Canon digital cameras ever. Coming in at #3…..

….. The Canon EOS 5D Mark III

This is when I think the EOS 5D series came into its own as a professional and consumer workhorse. We finally got a professional autofocus system in the 5D line of DSLRs. I think everything came together on this camera, and I still use it today.

I wasn’t into video, so I never used the Canon EOS 5D Mark II on a regular basis, and that archaic 9-point AF system was the dealbreaker for me on that camera. During the era of the EOS 5D Mark II, I was shooting primarily with the Canon EOS-1D Mark III and Canon EOS-1D Mark IV.

The EOS 5D Mark III launch was also the coming-out party for this site, so I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the camera!

Canon EOS 5D Mark III Specifications:

  • 22.3mp Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
  • ISO 100 – 6400
  • 6.0fps
  • 61 Autofocus Points
  • 14bit RAW
  • DIGIC 5+ Processor
  • CF Card Slot / SD Card Slot
  • Launched in 2012
  • Launch price: $3499usd

The countdown:

  1. Coming Soon
  2. Coming Soon
  3. Canon EOS 5D Mark III
  4. Canon EOS 5D
  5. Canon EOS Rebel 300D

If anyone is looking for their first full-frame DSLR, this is the camera I always recommend. You can get them used for not much money.

shunsai

EOS R5
Oct 15, 2011
284
209
Wow, you just blew right past the 5D Mark II. :( In all fairness though, it seems there are 2 different 5D camps: those who started on the even 5D series, and those who started on the odd. 5D Mark II was my first full-frame DSLR (even though it was at the end of its product cycle), because the upgrades to the 5D3 seemed too incremental. 5D Mark IV has been almost everything I want in a full-frame camera... except for the lack of an articulated screen.
 
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Codebunny

EOS RP
Sep 5, 2018
343
279
The 5DIII didn't quite produce as nice pictures as the 5DII, something just a little off with them to me so I never bought one of my own(but did try two). The main thing in the 5DIII was it had AF.
 

IcyBergs

I have a Sony...TV
May 31, 2016
119
236
I definitely didn't see it coming, I figured after the 5D2 that the 3 would be another high resolution video focused body with incremental improvement in AF. I agree that it truly made the 5D line the "all-arounder" it is today and made the camera desirable for shooters of a much wider range of subjects.
 
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Cochese

EOS 80D
Oct 22, 2014
138
71
I never owned either, but I rented both of them a lot. The 5DMIII was just better all around for pretty much everything wanted it to be at the time. I recall the regret I had after using it on my 6th wedding shoot and realizing how much better it was at pretty much every task I needed it for. It felt more responsive and it was the first one I felt that I could trust the auto-focus.
Still, I ended up skipping past both and buying a 5DMIV, now this was truly the beast I had thought the II would be and expected the III to be.
 

slclick

Cyclist, photog, drummer & sardonic haiku writer
Dec 17, 2013
4,061
1,975
I was an early adopter and it's been my main (and only FF digital) camera since. Ready for something else, what that will be is anyone's guess. The more and more I think about it, the R5 might not be for me. Too expensive and too video centric. Hell, I might just be getting an R for next to nothing at some point and being happy..
 
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David Hull

EOS RP
Jun 28, 2012
289
50
This was a great camera. I used mine for several years and then sold it to get the EOS R. I like the R better but there is really nothing bad to say about the 5D III.
 
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Treyarnon

EOS T7i
Jan 11, 2018
89
114
Cornwall, UK
Visit site
The first Camera on the list which I have not owned!
Strangely, to me the 5D3 was the great disappointment of the 5D line. The mk 1 and mk 2 were aimed at a very specific section of the market [aka - 'me'] - they were all about giving as much image quality as possible at an affordable price point (relatively speaking of course - but this was 1Ds image quality at half the price); fancy bells and whistles like lots of AF points and high frame rates were not great concerns.
However the 5D3 changed the approach - it was not really a camera aimed at the fans of the previous 5D's at all - this was an 'all round' camera. The image quality didn't seem to get a lot of improvement, and with a higher asking price, I said no.
The other major problem for the 5D3, was it arrived at the same time as Nikon finally got their act together with the D800... which did completely overshadow the 5D3. I know a lot of photographers who sold their 5D2 to go the the D800, while it took an awful long time until I met someone with a 5D3 round their neck.
 

Etienne

EOS 6D MK II
Sep 19, 2010
1,422
231
Ottawa Ontario
I agree that the 5DIII was the first affordable FF workhorse. I sold mine two years ago after several years of good use for only $650 less than I paid for it new!
 

slclick

Cyclist, photog, drummer & sardonic haiku writer
Dec 17, 2013
4,061
1,975
I agree that the 5DIII was the first affordable FF workhorse. I sold mine two years ago after several years of good use for only $650 less than I paid for it new!
The 5D3 was garnering good used money until last Fall. It seriously plummeted once the R and RP was saturating the market. (I missed my opportunity)
 

picperfect

EOS 80D
Mar 29, 2020
112
91
yes! 5D III finally got a usable AF system instead of the sorry joke in 5D and Mk. II.
SInce I missed selling my 5D III while used prices were still acceptable, I will keep and use it now until Canon launches what I want.And I don't have to worry any longer about carrying around a an "expensive" camera in dark back alleys and URBEX dungeons. :)

my #3 - EOS 7D
my #4 - EOS 40D
my #5 - EOS 350D
 

Bob Howland

EOS 7D MK II
Mar 25, 2012
490
94
Wow, you just blew right past the 5D Mark II. :( In all fairness though, it seems there are 2 different 5D camps: those who started on the even 5D series, and those who started on the odd. 5D Mark II was my first full-frame DSLR (even though it was at the end of its product cycle), because the upgrades to the 5D3 seemed too incremental. 5D Mark IV has been almost everything I want in a full-frame camera... except for the lack of an articulated screen.
When the 5D2 was introduced, I already owned a 5D. More importantly, I also had purchased a 40D the year before, which had a much better focusing system than both the 5D and 5D2. That was the start of my owning both FF and APS-C bodies and using them for different tasks. More importantly, I could get really good 20 X 30 inch prints with a 12MP 5D and 10MP 40D, as long as I didn't crop very much and the viewing distance was reasonable. The 5D3, however, had the 1DX focusing system which, to me, was anything but a minor improvement. It fixed my major complaint with the 5D. When the shutter release on my 40D became intermittent, I replaced it with a used 7D, which only gets used when I need the reach. As I get older, that is becoming less frequent.

Update: The 5D2 was introduced in 2008. In the third week of August 2007, Nikon had introduced the D3 and D300, three days after the 40D and 1DS3 introductions. Both Nikons had about 12MP and basically the same focusing system, although the D300 focusing points were more spread out. The D3 was FF and D300 was APS-C. The D300 was the slowpoke at 8FPS and a lot of Nikon photographers owned both, using the D3 most of the time and the D300 when they needed reach. I just borrowed their idea.

Arguably, one of the biggest consequences of the 5D2 was the almost complete destruction of the market for the 1DS3. Both cameras had 21MP.
 
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Mt Spokane Photography

I post too Much on Here!!
Mar 25, 2011
15,901
1,013
I've owned all of the 5D series, in several cases, more than one. The 5D MK III definitely deserves a place in the list. I'm going to assume that the 5D MK II will be #1 or #2, it really shook up the camera world.
 

picperfect

EOS 80D
Mar 29, 2020
112
91
I've owned all of the 5D series, in several cases, more than one. The 5D MK III definitely deserves a place in the list. I'm going to assume that the 5D MK II will be #1 or #2, it really shook up the camera world.
yes, but only for the tiny minority of cheapskate video folks who ofc were excited to get their hands on FF sensor and lenses at a fraction of the cost of proper video gear. For (majority of) stills shooters the 5D II had close to no appeal vs. original 5D.

Overall, the 5D II started the crazy wave of "absolute entitlement" and whining for "4k 24/30/60/120/240 (or 8k) in every single camera!" across all forums. And all camera makers succumbed to it. At the expense of the majority of customers who only need and would prefer to also have a choice of stills-optimized cameras.
 
Jun 10, 2016
2
0
The Canon 5D Mark III was my first professional quality camera. I love it and it is currently my only camera. Plan to keep using it for some time yet before going mirrorless. I continue to be amazed at the image quality I get with this camera. Earlier I had a Rebel XT, which was not a bad camera, but the kit lenses that came with were absolute garbage! Nothing but frustration and deleted photos with that setup. I have 2 L lenses now and an amazing sigma 180mm macro lens and could not be happier with my purchasing decisions.
 
Oct 25, 2019
1
0
I surely have a special place in my heart for 5D Mark III as I upgraded to this from Rebel Xs in 2012. Have been using it continuously before giving it to my son this year. Got an excellent price on 5D Mark IV in December 2019, so upgraded to it. Mark IV certainly has some nice upgrades, though nothing substantially different from Mark III.
 

Rivermist

Mirrorless or bust.
Apr 27, 2019
48
80
Houston
Wow, you just blew right past the 5D Mark II. :( In all fairness though, it seems there are 2 different 5D camps: those who started on the even 5D series, and those who started on the odd. 5D Mark II was my first full-frame DSLR (even though it was at the end of its product cycle), because the upgrades to the 5D3 seemed too incremental. 5D Mark IV has been almost everything I want in a full-frame camera... except for the lack of an articulated screen.
Yes, I owned 2 5D mk1, and when the MkII came out I did not see a compelling reason to upgrade since the autofocus had not evolved and I had no use for the video capabilities or even live view. A lot is made of the sensor resolution, but I did not see that as critical, I had made a 51 inch high canvas print of a portrait from a 5D file and it looked great. The 5D mk III took a leap in autofocus capabilities, buffer size, ISO range, shooting modes (S in particular) and responsiveness. I guess that while professionals can justify upgrading to every new model amateurs will always make choices and stretch the gear until something compelling comes along. I did not go for the Mk4 for the same reason, and sold the Mk3 as I transitioned a few months ago to all-mirrorless.
 
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IcyBergs

I have a Sony...TV
May 31, 2016
119
236
I've owned all of the 5D series, in several cases, more than one. The 5D MK III definitely deserves a place in the list. I'm going to assume that the 5D MK II will be #1 or #2, it really shook up the camera world.
I don't know if 5D2 makes this list...Craig says he skipped the 5D2 and wasn't a fan of the AF.

I agree with you about it's place in history but not sure it makes this list.