Every year we select a camera that we think merits special mention. We’ve awarded the Camera of the Year to all types and brands. It’s always controversial. We always get told we’re wrong. Usually by someone who feels badly because they bought a different camera. That’s unfortunate because that implies the camera makes the art. It doesn’t. There are however tools that do help the artist more than others and for that reason, we select a camera of the year. This is our fourth year of this tradition.
In 2011 we selected the Olympus EP-3 – http://photofocus.com/2011/11/26/photofocus-2011-camera-of-the-year/
In 2010 we selected the Nikon D7000 – http://photofocus.com/2010/11/24/2010-camera-of-the-year/
In 2009 we selected several cameras including the Canon EOS 7D, the Canon 1D MK IV, the Nikon D3s, and the Canon G11 – http://photofocus.com/2009/12/31/cameras-of-the-year-2009/
This year our team tested many cameras and one really stood out. It was the Canon 5D MK III. The MK II was one of the most popular selling DSLRs of all time and it took a while for Canon to update it, but it was worth the wait. Here are just some some of the reasons that Photofocus Magazine selects the Canon 5D MK III as the 2012 Camera of the Year.
The 5D MK III is fast both in response time and frames-per-second (up to 6 fps.) It has much better chromatic aberration correction and it’s low-light performance is second to none. It has up to seven frame HDR/bracketing.
Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons
The biggest improvement in the 5D MK III is in the auto focus. The camera’s 61-point AF system has 41 cross-type sensors and is miles ahead of its competition and only a hair slower than its big brother the Canon 1DX which in my opinion, has the best DSLR AF system in the world.
When I tested the 5D MK III – I did so under real-world conditions. I was photographing eagles near China Poot Bay, Alaska. Eagles are fast and they change direction in mid-air like you and I change socks – only faster. Even though the 5D MK III isn’t billed as a wildlife or sports camera, its six FPS and incredible AF delivered incredibly spot-on shots time after time. It even handled eagles flying straight at me. That’s the true test of an AF system. How well does it perform when the object you are photographing moves at a high-rate of speed? In this case, nearly flawlessly. The camera recently received a firmware update that makes this even faster. The much more expensive 1DX performs slightly better but has a dedicated DIGIC processor to help with AF where the 5D MK III does not.
The new body is more waterproof than ever. The viewfinder offers 100% coverage and is very bright. There’s a nice LCD.
When it comes to shooting video, the 5D MK III no longer does that well by accident. Canon has added a dedicated mic and headphone jack. There is less rolling shutter and they even added pro features like SMPTE time code. There’s a better CODEC, better HDMI out and longer recording times.
Ultimately for our team, the selection boiled down to amazing low-light performance, super fast and accurate AF, premium build quality, and incredible DSLR film capabilities. If we had a nit it’s the price, but nothing is perfect.
Here is the basic Mk III feature list…
• 22.3 Megapixel, full-frame CMOS sensor
• 61-point AF with up to 41 cross-type AF points
• Zone, Spot and AF Point Expansion focusing modes
• DIGIC 5+ processor
• Up to 6fps shooting speed
• ISO 100 to 25,600 as standard, ISO 50 to 102,400 with expansion
• +/- 5 stops of exposure compensation
• HDR shooting in-camera
• Full HD Movie shooting with ALL-I or IPB compression
• 29mins 59sec clip length in Full HD Movie
• Timecode setting for HD Movie shooting
• Headphone port for audio monitoring
• 59ms standard shutter lag
• Transparent LCD viewfinder with 100% coverage
• 8.11cm (3.2”), 1.04 million-pixel Clear View II LCD Screen
• EOS Integrated Cleaning System (EICS)
• CF and SD card slots
• Silent control touch-pad area
• Dual-Axis Electronic Level
Our only real objection to the III was the price. With a recent price drop at some of the big retailers, that has been significantly mitigated. In terms of bank for the buck, the 5D MK III has no equal in our opinion. It’s the kind of camera you could buy and use for five years no matter what the next one brings along. It’s well-built, feel good in the hand, is well-supported by a large community of retailers and makes lovely images. Highly recommended.
There were other cameras we considered that fell just short.
1. The Canon 1DX is a tour-de-force but its beefy price tag kept us from making it camera of the year.
2. The Lytro. While it’s more proof of concept than anything else at this point – the technology in the Lytro is going to change photography in the not-to-distant future.
3. Nikon 1 V2 – a very interesting camera with lots of interesting potential but not quite there.
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