Happy Hello

After the Sad Goodbye came the Happy Hello as I gently removed the Canon 5D MkIII from its box. The big question was ‘will it live up to the expectation’?

First things first, get a cup of coffee, put the new battery on charge, insert one of my old batteries into the new MkIII, insert an SD card and take a photo!

ISO 6400, 5D MKIII EF 24-105 L @ 105 mm, f14 @ 1/160

ISO 6400, 5D MKII EF 24-105 L @ 105 mm, f4 @ 1/160

I’ll warn you now, the photos may not be the most exciting in the world I just wanted to get on and take some shots (especially at the higher ISO settings) to see what the camera was capable of. Over the past few weeks while waiting for it to arrive I had been reading all the reviews in anticipation and obviously I wanted to try the new features. The image above wasn’t actually the first image, the first one was at ISO 25600 and compared to the the equivalent setting on the MKII it’s a fantastic improvement. On the MKII shooting at 25600 was a novelty but didn’t exactly produce very usable images but on the MKIII it really is a different ball game as the improvements in the noise levels are vast. The following two images, although of vastly different subjects and lighting conditions, truly show the improvements that have been achieved.

ISO 25600 5D MKIII EF 24-105 L @ 105 mm, f5.6 @ 1/2500

ISO 25600, 5D MKII EF 24-105 L @ 24 mm, f4 @ 1/50

Interestingly enough the MkIII image was shot as a JPG but the MKII image was a RAW file, neither image has had any noise reduction applied with only the minimum amount of processing in Lightroom.

The most annoying thing that I discovered was that Lightroom would not convert the new RAW files from the MkIII, I trawled the internet and eventually downloaded LR4.1 RC2 which reportedly should be able to process the file. Well it can certainly read them and copy them but unfortunately it still doesn’t appear to be able to import and convert them to DNG files (Digital Negatives), which seams very strange as it is able to convert them to DNG on export. I’ve also downloaded the latest ACR release candidate which does actually allow for the importation of the RAW image as a DNG. Up to now I have nearly always converted everything to DNG on import but I have recently had a problem opening a couple of files from back in 2003 so wonder weather it might actually be better to keep them as RAW, especially now that the import doesn’t work.

This next shot was taken in my study at about 10:30 at night with just my desk light on, the bookcase is about 3 meters away from the desk lamp, the only other light source was coming from the iMac on the desk! This image has had some noise reduction applied as follows:

Luminance: 36
Detail: 77
Contrast: 28
Color: 25
Detail: 50

ISO 12800, 5D MKIII EF 24-105 L @ 105 mm, f4 @ 1/20

All in all I think that it is a good quality image, there’s lots of detail, lots of colour and depth, and not a great deal of noise either so a big thumbs up from me, it’s a great camera for using high ISO settings which is not to be overlooked when shooting in relatively dark  churches, horse arenas or even when shooting stage performances.

Next I played with the other great leap forward, the auto focus, the one big thing that has always let the MKII down a lot. I’d read one review that really slated the new system for it’s complexity, almost stating that one needed a degree in quantam physics to be able to understand it. Not having a degree in anything I was worried, trembling in my boots (well I would have been had I been wearing any). I will admit that the manual is a little confusing to mere mortals, to say the least, however, not having the afore mentioned degree reading isn’t my strong point either! So I glanced at the manual, pressed a couple of buttons, turned a couple of dials and hey presto little red squares were illuminated and moving around at my every wish. OK I admit it’s a bit complicated but it’s not rocket science, and yes I know that I have only scratched the surface so far but how many of us really know every function on our equipment, not that many I’m sure, I’ll be the first to admit I don’t!

Basically, you can select an individual point from any of the available 61 AF points or you can expand the selection so that a number of individual sensors are linked together. I know that this is a very simplistic view and there are lots of dependancies based on orientation, which lens is mounted and a host of other variations. But most of the time you can work it out easily when you’re actually using the camera. Another nice option now is the fact that there is a built in help system so if your getting on a bit, like me, you don’t have to lug a huge heavy manual about to jog your memory.

One of the other much improved features over it’s predecessor is the continuous shooting sequence and improved focusing during continuous shooting, so I thought that while I was out walking Poppy, our border collie, I would take a few action shots of her favourite pastime, chasing the ball. The following image is a merge of four frames from a sequence of 8 shots taken over a 3 second period of Poppy running back with the ball that I had just thrown, not easy throwing the ball and then getting the shot!

ISO 400/500, 5D MKIII EF 24-105 L @ 105 mm, f4/4.5 @ 1/3200

Discounting the actual merge, which was done fairly quickly and is therefore not as good as it should be, the camera has done a very good job with the focus tracking as she covers a lot of ground in 3 seconds!

Thus far I’ll admit that I’m well pleased with the MKIII, it’s a very nice bit of kit and I’m very much looking forward to using it on a real job now.

ISO 100, 5D MKIII EF 24-105 L @ 105 mm, f10 @ 1/160

It’s certainly been a very Happy Hello so far!


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