Done Deal: My Canon EOS-5D Mark III « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Done Deal: My Canon EOS-5D Mark III

This image of a portion of the Black-browed Albatross colony on Steeple Jason Island in the Falklands was made on my Cheesemans’ Ecology Safari Southern Oceans trip this past January. It is an example of the superb image quality offered by the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. Click on the image to see a larger, even more spectacular version.

To learn more about the Cheesemans’ next Antarctica trip, click here.

The Canon EOS-5D Mark III

With the superb image quality of the EOS-5D MII folks can only be drooling over Canon’s recent announcement of the release of the much-anticipated EOS-5D Mark III on March 2, 2012. You can find complete details here. The new camera is expected to deliver superb image quality thanks to a new 22.3-megapixel full-frame Canon CMOS sensor and the high-performance DIGIC 5+ Imaging Processor. It incorporates a new 61-point High Density Reticular Autofocus (AF) System from Canon’s next professional digital camera body, the EOS-1DX that is scheduled to be released later in 2012. And with the 5D III’s six frames-per-second continuous shooting speed it will be great for photographing birds in flight and in action. And it goes without saying that the 5DIII will be a landscape photographer’s dream. Please see the press release for info on the new camera’s video capabilities.

I am most excited by the 5DIII’s light weight and by the new AF system. While I loved, loved, loved the image quality of my 5D II photos from the Antarctica trip–the 5DII pretty much saved that trip for me after my two Mark IV bodies went down for the most part due to operator induced rain damage, my biggest gripe was with the limited number of AF points available. This made hand held nature photography with intermediate telephoto zoom lenses difficult; can you say Snow Monkeys? It was often difficult to come up with a sensor on the subject’s eye. The 5D MIII will improve on that in spades with 61 AF points covering the largest area of any Canon camera ever.

This Whooper Swan coming in for a landing was photographed at the Akan Crane Center (where they are treated like pests and scared away by snowmobile and shotgun blasts). I used the tripod-mounted Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens and the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops off the snow: 1/1000 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode.

Central Sensor/Rear Focus/AI Servo AF active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. For a greater appreciation of the image, left-click on the photo.

According to the internet experts the AF system of the 5D MII is not good enough or fast enough for flight photography. I disagree…. Every time that I have used it I have some up with some stellar stuff. If the AF system of the 5D MII is good enough to produce images like this one, imagine what the 5D MIII will be capable of.

I consider the Battery Grip BG-E11 (available end of April 2012) as a mandatory accessory for nature photographers; I just learned, however, that it is hugely overpriced…. It accepts either one or two LP-E6 lithium-ion battery packs (or a set of six AA-size batteries–the latter not recommended for environmental reasons). The new grip has a multicontroller and a multifunction (M.Fn) button together a with a full set of grip controls for easy operation when working in vertical format. You can pre-order yours here.

This running Red-Crowned Crane was chasing another at the Akan Crane Center, Hokkaido, Japan with the tripod-mounted Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens and the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops off the snow: 1/1000 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode.

Central Sensor/Rear Focus/AI Servo AF active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. For a greater appreciation of the image, left-click on the photo.

According to the internet experts the AF system of the 5D MII is not good enough or fast enough for avian action photography, especially in low light. Again, I disagree…. If the AF system of the 5D MII is good enough to produce images like this one, imagine what the 5D MIII will be capable of.


Amazingly B&H is now accepting pre-orders for the EOS-5D Mark III and states that the camera should begin shipping within ten days. You can thank us for all of the free information and lessons in the blog and Bulletins and earn free BAA contest entries by using this link to order yours: Canon EOS-5D Mark III. Or you can package your new 5D MIII with my favorite B-roll lens, the 24-105mm IS L zoom lens by clicking here.

Speedlite 600EX-RT

In addition to the EOS 5D Mark III, Canon also announced its new flagship model flash, the Speedlite 600EX-RT. You can order yours with this B&H link now: Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT

Done Deal: My Canon EOS-5D Mark III

I have ordered my Canon EOS-5D Mark III body and can’t wait to get home and give it a test drive. I will be working hard on a 5D Mark III User’s Guide this spring.

I received my B&H receipt via e-mail while still in Japan. I get home on the 13th. I am looking forward to getting back in the pool and to working with my new camera.

Support both the Bulletins and the Blog by making all your B & H purchases here.

Remember: you can earn free contest entries with your B & H purchases. Eleven great categories, 34 winning and honored images, and prize pools valued in excess of $20,000. Click here for details.

Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear used to create the images in this blog post. Thanks a stack to all who have used the Shopper’s Guide links to purchase their gear as a thank you for all the free information that we bring you on the Blog and in the Bulletins. Before you purchase anything be sure to check out the advice in our Shopper’s Guide.

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Autofocus Lens. This is Canon’s top of the line wide angle zoom lens.
Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens. Right now this is my all time favorite super-telephoto lens.
Canon EOS 5D Mark II Digital Camera. Canon’s lightweight full frame body is perfect for serious landscape photography and worked out great for wildlife on my Southern Oceans voyage.

And from the BAA On-line Store:

LensCoats. I have a LensCoat on each of my big lenses to protect them from nicks and thus increase their re-sales value. All my big lens LensCoat stuff is in Hardwood Snow pattern.
LegCoat Tripod Leg Covers. I have four tripods active and each has a Hardwood Snow LegCoat on it to help prevent further damage to my tender shoulders 🙂 And you will love them in mega-cold weather….
Gitzo GT3530LS Tripod. This one will last you a lifetime.
Mongoose M3.6 Tripod Head. Right now this is the best tripod head around for use with lenses that weigh less than 9 pounds. For heavier lenses, check out the Wimberley V2 head.
Double Bubble Level. You will find one in my camera’s hot shoe whenever I am not using flash.
The Lens Align Mark II. I use the Lens Align Mark II pretty much religiously to micro-adjust all of my gear an average of once a month and always before a major trip. Enjoy our free comprehensive tutorial here.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV User’s Guide. Learn to use your Mark IV the way that I use mine. Also available for the 7D and the Mark III here.
BreezeBrowser. I do not see how any digital photographer can exist without this program.

27 comments to Done Deal: My Canon EOS-5D Mark III

  • avatar Karl Fiegenschuh

    Perhaps it is too late to ask this question, but I’ll try anyway. You mentioned that you had both Mark IVs fail in the rain. Any advice about what we ought to do when we are shooting with the 1D Mark III and Mark IV in the rain to avoid problems like you had?

  • avatar Bill Richardson

    And locking mode dial!

  • avatar Robert Royse

    Hi Artie, I wish I could get as excited about the direction Canon is going as you seem to be. I’m sure the 5D3 will be fine for many people, but having AF with an f8 lens is just too important for much of my work to even give it a second thought. Once the last 1D4’s disappear from the shelves Canon will no longer offer any camera with that feature. When Canon introduced the 500 and 600 IS lenses along with (AF at f8 capapable) EOS3 a dozen years ago whole new worlds were opened up for bird photographers. I find it very depressing that Canon seems to be slamming that door shut now without any apology at the time they are replacing those same lenses with better optics. I have a couple of 1D4’s that I’m sure will serve me well for a couple of more years, but if Canon doesn’t address that issue in their next camera and Nikon comes out with the 800mm lens that they have a patent on, lots of us loyal Canon owners will have no option but to switch.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hey Robert, Hope that all is well. Being depressed is a choice :). Some folks have already switched because of the f/8 issue. And nobody knows what the future will be…. As for the 1D Mark IV bodies, see my e-mail comments to Rudi by scrolling down here.

      • avatar Geoff

        If you weren’t so ingrained into the Canon system would you have considered switching if you didn’t have any benefits from staying with Canon? Or are you considering switching? A couple D4s and some nice supertelephotos combined with the excellent Nikon holy trinity of 2.8 zooms is a seriously wicked setup. Just think 10 points working at f/8!!!

        • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          Goeff, I am very happy with my Canon cameras, lenses, accessories, and very happy with the images that I create, and very happy with my relationship with Canon, so no, I am not considering switching at all.

          Please explain what three f/2.8 zoom lenses you are talking about and what you mean by “10 points working at f/8.”

          • avatar Geoff

            The D800/D4 have 10 AF points that are functional at f/8. Not just the center point but the center and 5 to each side. The “holy” trinity is considered the Nikon 14-24, 24-70 and 70-200 all 2.8 aperture lenses and all the latest models. The 14-24 is unequaled, sharp corner to corner, edge to edge and Canon has no competitor. Many 5D shooters adapt this lens to their Canon body. The 24-70 has been considered the better over Canon’s current offering but I’m sure the new one from Canon will be better now than the Nikon. The 70-200 is considered equal or just slightly lower IQ than Canon’s beloved 70-2002.8ISMKII. This holy trinity is referred to by Nikon shooters as the 3 lenses to make the ultimate kit below 200mm if you have the cash!!

            Thanks for the info. I am doing just fine with my 70-200 f/2.8L IS II and I rarely use anything shorter. And as I have mentioned here and elsewhere often, it is not exactly as if my pictures suck :). artie

          • avatar Geoff

            Of course, switching teams is pretty pointless because by the time you switch the other team takes the lead! I had serious inclinations to switch after reading about the D800 but then realized I didn’t want to manage 75MB files! Plus Canon still has better lenses overall or at least a more complete range of lenses. And of course, you obviously have no problems getting pictures that don’t suck!!!

          • avatar Robert Royse

            Let’s just hope that Canon engineers are looking at this as a challenge that they have to answer to in their next generation of cameras. Meanwhile the 1D4 is still pretty close to an ideal bird photography camera as far as I’m concerned. I love my Canon glass and really don’t want to switch.

            Robert, As the person who taught the world that they should be able to make sharp images with an f/4 super-telephoto and a 2X TC, I agree that an f/8 full frame body will be a challenge. You and others know for sure that my belief is that good bird photographers like you and I make good bird photos. Too, too many folks are in a huge rush to get the next greatest lens and the next greatest body while neglecting to study, work hard, practice their skills, and the rest of what we do. The 1DIV is a great body that produces superb image files for any use. When was the last time you had an image rejected because of poor image quality? Same as me: never. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. artie

          • avatar Robert Royse

            Artie speaks the truth about needing the latest and greatest. For those of us who sell stock photos of birds, photos taken with the 1D Mark2 and Mark3, and even the 10D sell as well as those taken with later cameras. For the overwhelming majority of uses nobody cares what camera was used if you have the shot they want. With the raw processors and software available now, photos from those cameras can look better than ever.

  • avatar Ivan

    My birthday is coming up and I was getting ready to move up from triple A to the major leagues by buying a EOS-1D Mark IV. But now the EOS 5D Mark III is out and you sound very enthusiastic about it. Which would you recommend for a novice like me?

  • avatar cheapo

    If my images ever came out as good as yours Artie, I’d proudly publish them too. The first image is stunning, though I’m sure it was even better to experience it first hand. Smelly and noisy, much? 70% of the worlds Black-browed Albatrosses!!!

  • I was all fired up to buy a new 5D Mark lll till I saw it does not have follow focus like the 7D and Mark lV. Now I am holding back for a while till I can try one before I buy. I could not find any information on if it still has the F5.6 limit on focus yet. Keep us informed on how you like or dislike you new camera. Jim

    Jim, I am not sure what you mean by “follow focus” or where you got your information from but rest assured that the 5D III has AI Servo tracking AF and that it promises to be the best AF system ever in a Canon camera….

    • avatar Geoff

      The 7D doesn’t have follow focus either. And I’m fairly certain reading the canonusa article by Rudy Winston implies that the 5D3 does have follow focus. The only thing the 5D3 doesn’t have from the 1DX in regards to AF is the 100,000 pix metering and the face/color tracking. But the 1DX is the only camera to have this.
      Do you have a source saying it doesn’t have follow focus and are you sure the 7D does? Because I’m sure the 7D doesn’t.

      Article link:

      • avatar Geoff

        I did a little more reading, and I still need to read some more. I may have misrepresented the 7D. The 7D in AF-Servo can track across the entire frame in either “all 19pt active” mode or in Zone AF mode but both of these modes have the disadvantage of always focusing on the nearest subject. The AF expansion option where you can choose the main focus point and then use the surrounding 4 (or 8 in the 5d3/1dx) does not track across to new “primary points” but just uses the surrounding points to assist the primary. However, it doesn’t jump to a nearer subject but tries to keep on the original subject. I believe that maybe on the 1D4 this mode can track across after setting some CF but this is where I still need to read up on. And I know the 5D3 can use all 61pts or Zones to track across the entire AF point array but I’m not sure if it can do this in AF expansion mode.

        • avatar Geoff

          Okay so 1D4 has CF III 8-3 that allows tracking in the much better AF expansion mode versus the AF zone and All AF pt modes. Until we see the manuals for the 1DX and 5D3, I’m not sure about them having this same function. I’ll keep looking.

          PS Sorry about cluttering up this comment section with 5D3 technical ramblings!

    • avatar Geoff

      Oh and it is limited to f/5.6 21 cross types in the center 3×7 grid. Then all the rest are line sensors at f/5.6 and the 20 outer points (10 per side middle 2×5 block of the outer 4×5 block) are cross type at f/4. Then the vertical center 5 are double cross type, high sensitivity, meaning the lines are spread out more to be more precise at f/2.8 and wider only.

  • avatar Geoff

    Hey Artie,
    Just to let you know the 5D3 grip is listed now at BH for way less than the MSRP. I think the MSRP was in the $600 range but the selling price at BH is $350. Still pricey but nowhere near the ridiculous Canon price.

  • avatar Terry Jackson

    Love the blog – keep it up.
    I have never used a battery grip and still do not understand the need for one – why not just have a couple of extra batteries with you – and who needs the extra weight? Maybe you can explain the benefits

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Terry. A “battery grip” is more importantly a vertical grip. It lets you work with the camera in vertical format while still having a set of controls and a shutter button on what is now the upper right of the camera….

  • Internet experts – that’s why I just ‘read’ and don’t ‘believe’. Give me
    any camera (or lens) and let me test and decide. If I can’t get a great image, then
    its my fault.

    Of course, I also believe that any camera/lens can be great in the right hands, no
    matter how cheap or expensive it is.