Evolution of the Canon 5D Camera – How Much better is the 5DMKIII in low light / high ISO?

I have the new Canon 5D MKIII and I am very pleased with it, but how much better is it in low light and high ISO conditions?



Back in 2005 Canon was one of the first horses out of  the gate with the 5D;  a full–frame DSLR with a high-resolution 12.8 megapixel sensor and a 3 frames per second continuous shooting.  It was ground breaking at the time because it was affordable, the sensor was the same size as a 35mm SLR image,  and one could use their old full frame lens and not need to purchase additional cropped framed lens.

In 2008 Canon upped the ante on its competitors and came out with the 5D Mark ll.  It featured a  21 megapixel high resolution full-frame sensor and one of the first DSLR to incorporate video capability (HD 1080p video), also a high max ISO 25600, higher capacity battery, and 3.9 frames per second continuous shooting. The 5DMark II quickly became a favourite with professional and armature photographers alike.

As 2012 rolled along, Canon listened to the voices of the 5DMark II shooters and what they wanted in the new 5DMark III.  Their wish list was almost granted.  The new 5DMark III was born with a 22 megapixel full frame CMOS sensor, 6 frames per second continuous shooting, ISO 100-25600 standard and 50-102,800 expanded, better autofocus, 61 point AF system, very snappy operation due to the new Digic5+ processor,  and 100% viewfinder coverage, duel card slots for CF and SD, a very sharp high resolution 3.2” LCD screen, excellent build-quality with magnesium shell and weather sealing, HD 1080p 30 video with stereo sound.

How Much Better Is It?

I did the following exercise to see just how much more detail and how much less noise is captured in low light and high ISO conditions.


I took a colorful postage stamp on a postcard and proceeded to take photos with all 3 of my Canon 5D series cameras with the same lens:  Canon EF 100mm f2.8  with IS.  I photographed the postcard indoors with a tripod using a setting of  ISO 1600 (one highest settings on the original 5D), f5.6, and a shutter speed of 1/50 sec  .  Below are the results when zoomed way in.

The 5D MKIII is way sharper and has captured more details in true colors  and low levels of color or luminescent noise.


I feel very reassured in setting my 5D MKIII to a high ISO and expecting sharp, clean, detail.




My 5D MKIII does not have an underwater housing yet,  but you can see my Canon 5D MK II shooting some underwater action on my recent Whale Shark Swim in Isla Mujeres Mexico  Here ( Youtube)  .  Images from the trip can be seen on my website   here and in recent blog posts.   My 5d MKIII  will travel with me next week to Africa for our upcoming safaris.  I am really looking forward to come great photographic action and enhanced results while photographing lions and leopards at sunset!  Watch this blog for the results .