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Upgrade to 5DMKII?

Upgrade to 5DMKII?

The question is this. Does it pay to switch from a Canon 5D MKII to a Canon 5D MKIII? Want to know whether the substantial additional cost of the Canon 5D MKIII compared to the Canon 5D MKII is justified? Read on and hopefully we will answer some of your questions that help you either cling on to your existing camera or have you scrambling around for the cast to upgrade.



At first glance, the two camera bodies look very similar to each other. If you grab both cameras, you will feel a difference immediately. The coating of the Canon 5D MKIII is just a bit rougher and feels much more pleasant as a result. The buttons on the 5D MKIII all feel more solid and the function button on the left is locked against unwanted twisting.

Fortunately, that silly on / off switch of the 5D MKII is replaced by a more convenient one, surrounding the function button. However, you never have to turn off a Canon, is my experience. Even keeping it switched on for a prolonged time does not reduce the battery capacity. For the switchers from MKII to MKIII among us, it is useful to know that the same battery is used.

A major improvement is that two memory cards can be used simultaneously now. Canon claims that the 5D MKIII is sealed better against (splash) water.

More is changed on the camera body than you initially see. Little things are a bit better and due to the other feeling that the grip and buttons give, the Canon 5D MKIII feels more professional. This is reinforced by the possibility of two memory cards.


At the back of the camera of the 5D MKIII, we come across a few important changes. I will not name them all, but it is still quite the list:

  • Screen. The display of the Canon 5D MKIII is 28% larger
  • Q key. It activates the big screen on which you can see the main settings at once. These can easily be changed. We know this button from many other cameras
  • Rate key. It allows to rate your files with stars.
  • Magnifying key. If you press that button, the image is instantly magnified and in the menu, you can set how strong the magnification is. Conveniently, it immediately zooms to the point where you have focused
  • Picture Style button. With this button, you can view and compare two images on the screen simultaneously. You also use this key for HDR photography
  • Video button. With this (not with the function button like on the 5D MKII), you activate video mode. With the 5D MKII I have not made movies, with the 5D MKIII  I have.

Apart from the buttons, the menu is rearranged; the tabs work very well organised. If you are used to a 30D, a 40D, or 50D, you can quickly cross over to the 5D MKII. You have to get used to some things at the 5D MKIII, but the menu will turn out to be clear.

Finally, there is an adjustable grid in the viewfinder, which reminds me of the Nikon F100 of last century.

Canon has scrutinised the menu; the Canon 5D MKIII’s menu is more accessible and therefore easier to operate than the menu of the 5D MKII. However, speed is gained at another point too. Part of the camera functions has to do with watching and evaluating the digital files. In this area, you can work faster with the 5D MKIII than with the 5D MKII. You can decide more quickly whether a file may need to be saved or discarded. In the editing time when many files need to be assessed, think of a wedding coverage, this saves time.


The Canon 5D MKII was sold more as a landscape camera and studio camera than as a sports camera. That has to do with the limited maximum number of frames per second and with the autofocus performance.

The Canon 5D MKIII shutter sound has increased slightly compared to the 5D MKII. However, if you put the 5D MKIII in silent mode, it’s suddenly turned into a silent camera. The number of frames per second has increased from just 4 to 6. Another improvement is the shutter lag, which has been shortened.

The Canon 5D MKIII feels very different from the Canon 5D MKII. It seems that the camera is much faster and that the time, in which the viewfinder is dark, is shorter. I have unexpectedly often used the silent mode, not only in concert photography but also in the studio. I find communication with the model important, and so I do not want to have too much noise around my head.


Much has been written about the AF performance of the Canon 5D MKII. Briefly: the 5D MKII is just a 5D Classic with regard to AF, which on its turn was a somewhat heated and enlarged Canon 30D. I have learned to live with the performance of the Canon 5D MKII. With the Canon 70-200 4.0, I had more failures than with the Canon 70-200 2.8 II. The number of “keepers” went up more when I started to use the central AF field only. Nevertheless, that meant that almost every photo had to be reframed.


The Canon 5D MKIII has no less than 61 AF fields and not 9 AF fields such as in the case of the 5D MKII. Conveniently, those 61 AF fields are spread over the viewfinder much better. During taking the accompanying photo, the AF field is chosen exactly on the plane between the two hands. It is clumsy that the selected AF field is not red-rimmed; visibility could have been better.



Our AF rate measurements show that the Canon 5D MKIII needs 40% less time than the 5D MKII when focusing from 15 meters to 1.5 meters, using a Canon 70-200 mm 2.8 II as lens.

The AF system of the 5D MKIII is of great class and the number of failures by a malfunctioning AF is very small. Even in low light, think of concert photography, I have very few failures. In addition, it is very handy that you can select one of the many fields AF very precisely and use it. The Canon 5DMKIII can be used in many sports, the 5D MKII only in checkers or chess.


Both cameras are tested and the summaries in a score are listed below. Put carefully , upgrading from a 5D MKII to a 5D MKIII means going from a good camera to a very good camera.


The processor on the 5DMKIII compared to the the MKII provides much greater detail as well as and more intelligence to the autofocus controls as well as a higher higher ISO range of values. The video quality is outstanding and paired with a pro mic is on a different level from the MkII.

You see less noise at the 5D MKIII with a difference of about one stop, which is quite large. You can now make an A3 + print with a 6,400 or possibly 12,800 ISO file.

The illumination at high contrasts is easier with the 5D MKIII; and you don’t need to worry so much about clipping the highlights. The dynamic range is also higher and includes HDR options with neutral HDR but also other artistic options for HDR filters.


If you already have a Canon 5DMKII then the cost difference is the only difficult question. If making video is what you want to do then the 5DMKIII price difference is worth it. If you calculate the quality gained and easy of use. Simply put the Canon 5DMKIII has outstanding video production capabilities over the MKII.

If you are solely looking to upgrade for photography purposes and want to up your game in professional photography then I’d recommend upgrading to the 5DMKIII, if you have the extra cash to hand. The upgrade however would however provide better results if you are a professional looking to upgrade rather than entry level, as you would use more of the functionality provided in the upgrade. So it depends on the level of your photography as to the benefit the upgrade would provide.

If you are a upgrading from a lesser camera than the 5DMKII then it is a no brainer – buy the Canon 5DMKIII.  The difference is outstanding. For example, going from the Canon 450d to a 5DMK3 unlocks a huge amount of potential for aspiring photographers to increase their level of professionalism.

So there you have it. If you want professional results from your video and photography the Canon 5dMK3 is a formidable camera and worth buying or upgrading to because it provides fantastic results. That is wether you are beginner, semi-pro, pro or serious hobbyist just looking to get into photography, You will struggle to find a better value for money in a camera at this professional end of photography.


In Camera Reviews
johnkennedyUpgrade to 5DMKII?

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