Wish List for the Canon 5D Mark III

Equipment Editorial

Now that I’ve proclaimed my top ten features I’d like to see in Lightroom 4. I thought I’d do the same for my other weapon of choice, my Canon 5D Mark II. The 5DMII was released back in September 2008, so has now surpassed that 18-24 month period in which camera models are typically superseded by newer and more feature packed versions. 5D Mark III The annual Photokina show in Cologne is fast approaching too, which is normally the stage for the major manufacturers to announce their latest and greatest. Having said that, Canon have recently announced several new lenses, a new EOS 60D camera body, and probably stunned the Camera world by announcing the largest ever CMOS sensor at 120 MP. So can we expect anything new, well if you take heed of the latest internet rumours there will probably be no 5D Mark III till well into 2011?

The current 5D Mark II is a fine camera and for many has been proclaimed by many as just about the best camera out there for landscape photographers. There’s no denying it’s been a huge hit both with professionals and serious amateurs alike and in capable hands can produce superb images. It does have it’s ‘Canonesque’ quirks however, many which I highlighted in my article Canon 5D II – One Year On, and I doubt Canon would ever radically change or vary from their basic design, so I seriously doubt many of my wishes will be met. I’m not a huge fan of the video functions, which looking at the 7D and 60D seems to be the headline grabbing features. It’s not that I dislike video features, but just that being a still’s photographer, they are just not on my radar as priority items. Lets get back to basics please. Anyway here are my top ten, in no particular order:

  • Built in GPS: this must be a long overdue feature and probably an easy one to implement. There are many GPS tracker devices out there (I have an AMOD AGL 3080) and the prices have dropped significantly in the last year to where you can pick one up for not much over £60, so the hardware addition should not be that expensive. Currently however, getting GPS data back into your RAW file EXIF metadata is still a tad fiddly although can be achieved by free software. I certainly hope Canon don’t take the route of an add on GPS device that sits in the hot shoe, that would be disastrous and no doubt expensive to the consumer. If GPS were in-built this would be an upgrade deciding feature for me.
  • In-Built HDR processing: a complete wild card this one, but wouldn’t it be nice. If know the purists will always want total control on merging multiple exposures, but I’m sure Canon could come up with something pretty good.
  • Electronic Level: image this feature is present in the new EOS 60D and has been a regular features on competitors cameras for a while, so a must for any new Canon Camera now. At last we’ll be able to ditch the hot-shoe bubble levels, but we need to be able to see this through the viewfinder not just on the rear screen.
  • Quicker and Better Focusing: an absolute no brainer here, the current 9-point focusing system is long overdue an update, and many had hoped would have been updated with the 5DMII. The 7D features a 19-point focus system and even the new 60D sports a 9-points system. Improved focusing in low light would be a big hit too.
  • Bigger, Better and Brighter Screen: the 5DMII screen was a big improvement over the 5DMI, but I think there is still room for a much, much bigger screen. Wouldn’t it be nice to have one where we can actually use to made subjective decisions on our photographs. Oh and please, please can we have a one-touch button to zoom straight in for a 100% preview!
  • 3 Stop or greater Compensation: It’s present on the 1D’s and needed on the 5D Mark III. Many photographers are now experimenting with long exposures and filters such as the Lee Big stopper and B+W’s 10-stop filter have greatly extended the landscape photographers day. You can just about see through the 10 stop filters with Live-View in normal light, but forget it in low pre-dawn or evening light. Canon need to take heed of this expanding and popular aspect of photography and allow tLive-view screen compensation so we can compose, focus, and adjust grads even through a 10-stop filter.
  • User Configurable Auto-ISO: auto-iso is a great feature but it’s a poor implementation of this on the 5DMII. Currently Auto-Iso chooses ISO values between 100-3200. Please let the user specify the upper and lower limits. It seems Pentax can manage this, so why not Canon?
  • Proper Camera User Settings: again, a great idea but a totally useless implementation. User settings should be a useful starting point only. If you then adjust the aperture, ISO or shutter speed it should remain at those values. If you (like just about every other photographer I hasten to guess) have probably got got your auto-power off set for a short interval (as we all wish to preserve battery life), then as soon as your camera powers off, your User Settings are set back to their starting values. I don’t know any photographer uses the same settings for every photograph, so why on earth make them work that way? Make them work properly and give us several more!
  • Ergonomics – Tactile Buttons & Analogue Controls: I know making all buttons alike probably aids the visual appearance of a camera body, but when you are fiddling around in low light they all feel the same and it’s easy to press the wrong one. Tactile buttons would be nice; one’s that feel different and are readily identifiable by touch. They could be alternate sizes, have a textured or imprinted surface. A rubberised and larger DOF button would be a big improvement too; that tiny little button is just too slippery and awkward to locate. I also still have problems pushing down the joy-stick Multi-Control button to access the Quick Control screen, so much in fact I’ve mapped that to my Set button. I like analogue controls and the Control wheels are great. They just make more sense and are so much easier to operate than digital equivalents. The three principals settings for any photograph are, shutter speed, aperture and ISO. We have Control dials for the first two so why not for ISO? One the front of the thumb grip perhaps?
  • An Eyecup that doesn’t fall off: another one of my major gripes (that I know is an impossible request). For a camera that costs as much as the 5DMII, the crappy little plastic eyecup is truly awful. If you’ve never had reason to remove this it may have remained in place just fine. If you use an angle finder like me, you’ll know, sooner or later the eyecup it won’t grip anymore and will easily come off. Now I always travel with a spare.

You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned resolution in any of the above and that’s because I’ll take it as a given that resolution will be increased and I suspect, to around 24 mp or greater. An increase in resolution is sure welcome, but 21 mp is pretty good for me, so it’s just not on my list. Also my last few items are mainly issues I have with the current body style and operation, most which I’ve mentioned before, and which I hold little prospect of ever being addressed by Canon.

Well, those are my wishes, now let me hear yours. Comments welcome…

One comment

  • TJ McDowell

    I wrote my own 5D Mark III wishlist, and it's interesting to compare the differences in what we're looking for. Most of mine are related to the video functionality. The one feature on both of our lists is the LCD screen. I think Canon definitely needs to stop by our websites to check out what we have to say – don't you think? =)

    November 9, 2010

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