A busy summer with the 5D mark III

Bruce Springsteen at Hard Rock Calling 2012

It’s been quite a while since I posted anything here because work has been crazy the past few months. Since I invested in the 5D mark III a couple of months ago I’ve hardly had a day off from shooting with it; promo videos, weddings, timelapse, corporate and a bunch more, I’ve shot a lot of stuff with the 5D mark 3, including an intense initiation on two beautiful weddings in London – back to back! Over one weekend I probably shot with my new toy for around sixteen hours overall and for much of that it was side-by-side with the other camera I use at weddings, the Canon C300 – no pressure on the mark III then!

So it had a fairly huge task on it’s hands impressing me while I shot with both that and the C300 together! First impressions and I found that the 5D mark III (at least mine anyway) isn’t as ‘muddy’ and soft in focus as much of the feedback has made out, although it does benefit from around 8 – 15% sharpening in post. It doesn’t come near the resolution and sharpness of the C300 but then I never expected it to! It produces a lovely full-frame image just as the mark II had done but without the dreadful problems of moire and aliasing.
As I had been using the Canon 60D for about 18 months before it, the 5D3 did feel like a fantastic upgrade in every area, except perhaps the lack of a swivel screen and the ridiculously-placed zoom-in/focus check button. Thankfully the customisable buttons meant I could place that function in the centre of the wheel (the old 5D mark II record button) and it didn’t take too long to get used to.

Not long after the double-wedding I got a fantastic gig shooting the preparations, stage build and festival days of Hard Rock Calling 2012 in Hyde Park (my own edit is pending – watch this space!) I was predominantly there to shoot a timelapse over the space of around a week of the stages being built so I actually resorted back to using the Canon 60D to click away all week long whilst I used the mark 3 to get video cutaways and second timelapse angles. This meant I got to put the new and improved JPEG quality of the mark 3 to the test (and compare with the 60D) and I wasn’t disappointed. In Lightroom it felt like I had as much to work with in the 5D3 JPEGs as I typically got from 60D RAW files! I was able to pull so much back with them and really fine tune my timelapse images in batches before exporting and creating the final product.

On video mode, as expected, things had really improved. I’ve shot with the mark 2 loads in the past and really did find that although things hadn’t massively improved on the spec list with the mark 3, all of the tiny little improvements resulted in a big all round step up. Just to confirm I consider the main things to be; 1 megapixel more, 30 minutes continuous recording, ALL-I codec, custom audio levels, headphone slot, almost no aliasing and moire, useable ISO up to 6400.) So at Hard Rock I found myself happily flipping through to ISO 3200 and 6400 in low light and noticing very little noise. 1600 in my opinion is still totally clean and only at 6400 is grain visible. In fact, recent promo work for a nightclub has meant 12,800 had to be used and even then I find the footage to be useable!

I’ve got a handful of really exciting short film and music video projects coming up, the first narrative pieces I’ll be shooting with the 5D3 in fact, so I can’t wait to put it to the test in more controlled environments where I can really focus on my cinematography.

Here’s a video I shot for an event by bespoke charity event and auction company Sacramento Events – very few of the shots are post-sharpened so I think it goes to show the 5D3 image is pretty decent straight out of the camera, personally.

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