The anticipation is over. In early March 2012, Canon officially announced the release of the 5D Mark III. What does this mean for filmmakers?
First of all, the camera body alone is priced at $2,948 making it a decent sized investments for most indie filmmakers. The camera is planned to begin shipping in March, so unfortunately there aren’t any produced videos or sample footage yet that would showcase the true power of the camera but we’ll post sample videos as soon as we find a video worth showcasing. Until then, let’s go over a few of the camera’s features.
Canon 5D Mark III vs. Canon 5D Mark II
Filmmakers who are currently using the Canon 5D Mark II are probably interested in a Mark II vs Mark III comparisons to see if the Canon Mark III is worth the upgrade. So let’s go into a little more detail.
Sensor & Imaging
The Canon 5D Mark III boasts a 22.3MP full frame CMOS sensor, which is a small bump up from the Canon 5D Mark II 22.1MP sensor. The Mark III also uses DIGIC 5+ imaging processor which was upgraded from the DIGIC 4 in the Canon 5D Mark II. It is said to be 17 times faster resulting in lower noise levels and better dynamic range. The sensor improvements also fix a few of the major issues in the Canon 5D Mark II. For example, the new Mark III will eliminate, or at least greatly reduce, the presence of moiré and will make the problems of aliasing less visible. The added backend power will also allow you to trim the length of captured video in-camera which can help you save space on your memory cards during a shoot.
ISO Range, Noise & Low Light Shooting
Next, while the canon 5D Mark II had an video ISO range of 100-6400 the Mark III has a native video ISO range of 100 – 25,600. This may seem like a gimmicky feature as most filmmakers know that an image captured at ISO 25,600 is likely going to suffer from severe noise. However, the new image processor in the Mark III is truly better suited for extreme low light shooting environments and you’ll experience less noise under normal shooting conditions. The 5D Mark III is said to have a two stop improvement in noise at various ISO levels. Therefore shooting at ISO 25,600 on the 5D Mark III would produce noise levels similar to shooting at ISO 6,400 on the Canon 5D Mark II. Therefore, if you’re shooting with fast enough lenses, you shouldn’t have a problem with noise in well lit environments.
Ability to Shoot Slow Motion
One feature we were really hoping for was the ability of the Canon 5D Mark III to shoot at 60fps in 1080p, but we didn’t quite get that. However, all is not lost, we did get 60fps at 720p. In 1080p you’ll be able to shoot at 24, 25 and 30 frames per second, and in 720p you’ll be able to shoot 24, 25, 30, 50 and 60 frames per second. The ability to shoot at 60 frames per second was a feature that was left out of the Canon 5D Mark II, so it’s a welcome addition to the Mark III as it will allow filmmakers to shoot slow motion footage.
Better Compression & Compression Choices
Next, while the 5D Mark II had only one video compression option, the Mark III has two H.264 video compression options: Intraframe (ALL-I) compression and Interframe (IPB). All videos will still be compressed in the .mov container. The differences between these two compression standards are quite substantial. Interframe (IPB) is a great codec for storing larger amount of data. However, the Intraframe (ALL-I) compression codec is more of an editor-friendly codec and will streamline your post-production workflow. All-I compresses each frame individually while IPB compresses by grouping the movie by using the next and previous frame as a reference point. IPB compression is therefore better suited to being able to capture more video without having to dump or change your memory card, but All-I compression is less compressed and an easier compression standard to work with in editing. Recording at 1920 x 1080 using All-I you’ll be able to capture 11 minutes worth of footage. Using the IPB compression setting you would be able to capture 32 minutes (if the camera allowed to you capture over 30 minutes of footage).
Editing & Audio
Speaking of editing, editors will be happy to know that the Mark III has the ability to record video with SMPTE timecode. This added feature, along with the All-I codec will help make your editing workflow a little smoother.
Documentary filmmakers may be interested to know that the 12 minute record limit of the 5D Mark II has been increased to 29 minutes and 59 seconds in the Mark III.
If you’re recording on-camera audio you’ll be happy to know that the Mark III comes equipped with a few new audio features including a headphone socket and the ability to monitor your audio levels in-camera.
Getting into more cosmetic details now, the camera’s LCD screen of the Mark III is slightly larger at 3.2 inches vs. the Mark II’s 3 inch LCD screen. It’s a small change, but the increased size is a welcome change.
The body of the Mark III is also made out of high grade magnesium which gives the camera a little added durability and weather proofing which will be nice for those who shoot outdoors in unpredictable weather conditions.
If you’ve managed to get your hands on a Canon 5D Mark III and you’ve produced a short film or documentary that showcases the power of the camera we’d love to see it. Feel free to post links to your films below.
Well also do our best to get our hands on a camera and produce some sample video footage for you to take a look at! We’ll also be keeping an eye on the students who have enrolled in our online filmmaking course to see which ones switch over the Canon 5D Mark III (If you’re interested, you can learn more about our 3-6 month online filmmaking course here).