My thoughts upgrading from a 7D to a 5D3

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by VirtualRain, Apr 16, 2012.

  1. VirtualRain, Apr 16, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012

    VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #1
    As some of you know, I recently purchased a 5D3 with kit 24-105 IS lens. This kit is replacing my 7D with 17-55 IS lens. I wanted to share my observations in upgrading. I'll also be posting this over on POTN so don't be surprised if you frequent those forums as well.

    This is not meant to be a scientific review, so don't expect lots of laboratory photo comparisons. :)

    Let me walk through each major area of consideration...

    Body design and Ergonomics

    As you know, the 5D3 body design borrows heavily from the 7D, making it extremely easy for 7D shooters to feel comfortable with the 5D3. You can be instantly productive with the 5D3 after making a few tweaks (eg. joystick to control focus point selection). Of course all the customization options I was use to with my 7D are also available on the 5D3 so initial setup was quick and painless.

    What's different is the size and shape of the right hand grip area. It's more pronounced and feels heftier or more solid in my hand even though the two cameras are very similar in weight.

    The display is significantly larger and brighter on the 5D3 (when both are set to max brightness). It's also the correct aspect ratio for viewing photos so there's no black bar at the top.

    Here's a quick iPhone photo of the two camera's displays so you can get a sense of the size difference and brightness levels... (both set to max brightness)...

    [​IMG]

    The viewfinder is also much bigger and brighter on the 5D3 (even with f4 glass attached vs the faster 2.8 glass on the 7D).

    The Mode lock button is also a welcome addition for me.

    The shutter button on the 5D3 requires less effort to fully press than the 7D and as a result is seems much more responsive, although this is probably entirely tactile. When I first started using the 5D3, I took several pictures prematurely by pressing a little too hard to activate focus/metering. Now that I've taken several hundred photos with the 5D3, I find the 7D shutter button unnecessarily stiff and it seems more laggy to me, but again, that could be just the tactile sensation. This obviously means little, but the shutter sound on the 5D3 also sounds more substantial if that's the right word. The 7D shutter sounds light and plastic like in comparison. It's one of those little nuances that you would never notice unless trying both side by side.

    I really like the two card slots in the 5D3 and the fact that one of them is a SD slot so I can use an Eye-Fi card for JPEGs and a CF card for RAW images. This has proven to be a great way to view images on my iPad screen whenever I want to enjoy some photos while on a trip, do some quick edits and/or share them on Facebook or Zenfolio. I imagine the near real-time untethered viewing on the iPad will also be great for taking product photos (such as my 7D for it's upcoming Craigslist ad) or any studio work so you can see check them on a big screen easier before changing your setup.

    Lenses

    On my 7D, my primary go-to lens was the 17-55 f2.8 IS. I also had a EFS 60mm macro, the EFS 10-22, the 35L, and the 70-300L. I will sell all my EFS lenses and be left with the 24-105L f4 IS kit lens, my 35L, and my 70-300L.

    So far, the 24-105 has been a dream to use. It produces sharp, contrasty, vibrant images on the 5D3... much better images out of the camera than the 7D with 17-55. The build quality of the 24-105 is significantly better than the plastic feeling of the 17-55. The L feels like a $1000 lens. The 17-55 does not.

    Both lenses use the same 77mm filter size which is convenient and saves me some money.

    The 35L seems right at home on the 5D3 as well. I haven't noticed the effect of having to move closer to frame a subject the same as I thought I might. It's just transparent since you're doing it by eye and moving your feet. If anything, the 35mm prime on a FF is more versatile than it was on the 7D.

    The 70-300L with it's 4-5.6 max aperture is going to be just fine on this body with it's amazing ISO capabilities and the things I shoot won't miss the foregone reach of the crop sensor.

    The jury is still out on whether I will get a 17-40 but so far, I'm happy with the wide-end of the 24-105.

    So far, I don't miss the f2.8 on my "walk around" lens at all. I rarely want that narrow depth of field and if I do want that, I can usually get a better shot with even narrower depth of field with the 35L. So far, f4 rocks on the 5D3 and taking portraits at 105mm at f4 can result in a nice creamy background.

    [​IMG]

    Image quality

    I've read lots of things about full frame... that it has better dynamic range, less noise, better colour, etc... it all seems to be true :D

    The 5D3 with the 24-105L produces much better photos in almost every respect compared to the 7D with 17-55. The RAW images out of the 5D3 are much sharper. I blame the aggressive AA filter in the 7D for the excessive sharpening that's required in post on those files. The 5D3 files require very little sharpening and make the 7D RAW files look like a blurry mess in comparison.

    Here's a quick comparison of the unadjusted RAW files in Aperture for both pieces of kit (ISO 400, f8, 1/200)

    5D3:
    [​IMG]
    7D:
    [​IMG]

    The high ISO performance is better than 3 stops in my opinion. That is, the images at 25600 from the 5D3 look better than the ISO 3200 images from the 7D. Now that's not necessarily all because of less noise, but the detail and colour that's retained at high ISO's on the 5D3. In addition, the noise in high ISO images from the 5D3 is much more pleasing to the eye so you can tolerate more of it, AND it cleans up without loosing sharpness much easier in post than the 7D.

    Below are a couple of pictures of my unlit fireplace... there's a floor lamp off frame to the left but that's really the only light source. It's DARK in there! To capture this photo, I set both camera's to Auto ISO, used Av mode to set them both wide open (f4 and f2.8 respectively) and let the camera do the rest. This is not a scientific test... but a good real world "I want to take a hand-held photo of this dark object"... here's what they both produced... (unadjusted other than exporting the RAW to a JPEG to Zenfolio for hosting)

    5D3 (24-105 IS @ 75mm, f4, 1/50th, 25600 ISO)
    [​IMG]

    7D (17-55 IS @ 43mm, f2.8, 1/10th, 3200 ISO)
    [​IMG]

    7D (17-55 IS @ 44mm, f2.8, 1/40th, 12800 ISO)
    [​IMG]

    Now, the 7D image at 3200 ISO is fuzzier, and that's no doubt due to pushing this exposure to the limits where the IS wasn't able to cope with camera shake. While it's not a fair comparison of image quality, but it is a fair comparison of how well each piece of kit is able to capture a subject like this on Auto ISO. However, as someone suggested, I've added a shot from the 7D at 12,800 (it hadn't occurred to me to turn on ISO expansion!). As you can see, the 7D fares much better here, especially at web image sizes.

    100% crops of the fireplace shots are posted below.

    For kicks, here's the same picture taken on my iPhone... perhaps giving you a sense for how dark this is (or how good the camera in the iPhone really is) :p

    iPhone:
    [​IMG]

    Here are some more high ISO shots to look at from the 5D3...

    5D3 with 35L (f2, 1/80, ISO 20,000)
    [​IMG]

    5D3 with 24-105 at 105 (f4, 1/30, ISO 25,600)
    [​IMG]

    5D3 with 35L (f2, 1/60, ISO 25,600)
    [​IMG]

    Auto focus

    I thought the auto-focus in the 7D was very good... much better than my first T1i DSLR. But the 5D3 is unbelievably good. In that dark shot of the fireplace, the 5D3 could focus anywhere in the frame... on the log set and even on the nearly black wall at the back, while the 7D on the other hand, could only get focus on the textured bottom or the bottom edge of the log set.

    My keeper rate of shots taken at dimly lit restaurants and bars (usually using the 35L) has improved significantly. Anecdotally, I would guess it's gone from 50% to around 95%.

    I don't normally shoot a lot of moving subjects with AI Servo, but I was completely amazed that just by turning this on and pointing the camera at some birds, I was able to get a ton of keepers just from fooling around.

    Both of these have been cropped so the birds are not in the center of the frame as they were in the original...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Dynamic Range

    Upon import, the RAW images on the 5D3 don't appear to have any added dynamic range over the 7D. I tried taking some shots today into the sun with some high dynamic range and sure enough, the images, apart from my previous observations initially yielded very similar dynamic range. Similar content was blown out on the high end and buried in shadows on the low end.

    However, where the 5D3 seems to pull away, is when you start to try and recover content from the shadows. It's remarkable, how much you can pull up the shadows on the 5D3 almost creating a single image HDR without noise. The 7D RAW files have significantly less room to play with here.

    Here's a side by side in Aperture of the same ISO 100 shot from both kits with bright sun backlighting putting the porch area in dark shade. When you lift the shadows significantly as I've done here, you can see lots of noise and loss of information above the mail box on the right (7D) compared to the still fairly usable image on the left (5D3). Interestingly, both had limited information in the blown highlights. The overall contrast and colour in the 5D3 image is much better even after recovering the shadows and highlights.

    Click for a larger size...
    [​IMG]

    Here's an example of how you can pull the shadows to create an effect similar to HDR...

    [​IMG]

    Or you can use it more subtly... for example, in this image, the shadows under the arch were completely dark when I first loaded this image into Aperture...

    [​IMG]

    Conclusion:

    The price of a 5D3 kit is extraordinary but selling my EFS lenses and 7D will finance a good chunk of it. The upgrade has been everything I expected and much more. I get better pictures with lest post processing. I'm still learning the camera and how to get the most out of it both at the point of capture and in post. It's an absolutely stunning tool and I'm really glad I made the leap. :D
     
  2. fitshaced macrumors 68000

    fitshaced

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2011
    #2
    Agreed. I'm still deciding whether to sell the 7D as I might want the crop frame down the road. but I haven't taken a single shot with it since getting the 5D MK III.

    Its the absolute perfect camera for enthusiasts.
     
  3. VirtualRain, Apr 17, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012

    VirtualRain thread starter macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #3
    And here's a 100% crop of the two fireplace shots...

    5D3 at 25600...
    [​IMG]

    7D at 12800...
    [​IMG]

    And here's the 5D3 at 12800 for comparison...
    [​IMG]
     
  4. joemod macrumors regular

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    Jun 8, 2010
    Location:
    Athens, Greece
    #4
    Thanks a lot for the comparison VirtualRain. Simply written, full of details.
     
  5. Vogue Harper macrumors 6502

    Vogue Harper

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    #5
    Excellent work VirtualRain - thank you for posting the comparison and the photos to show the differences. I will probably be looking at a similar upgrade in the future once the initial interest (and inflated prices) for the 5D Mark III have subsided.

    I am not sure if you have tried this yet, but what would be particularly interesting for me would be how the two bodies fare with the same lens. I already use the 24-105 f/4 L on my 7D (ironically which I bought new from someone who broke up a 5D Mark II kit) and was wondering if there was as stark a difference between the 5D Mark III and the 7D if you used this lens on both i.e. how much of the improved IQ is down to body and how much is down to lens. I never bought the EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 as I knew that sooner or later I would want to go full frame.
     
  6. Since OS-6 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2009
    Location:
    South Australia ( it's a State )
    #6
    Awesome effort with " real work " review.
    I'm still dreaming of owning my first Canon. But reading your efforts here have helped me a lot as to the 5Ds capabilities.
    I was very much leaning towards the 5D though, but the Mk3 sounds like a cracker.
     
  7. fa8362, Apr 17, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012

    fa8362 macrumors 65816

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  8. TheDrift-, Apr 17, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012

    TheDrift- macrumors 6502a

    TheDrift-

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2010
    #8
    Although TBF to notice the leak you have to be shooting in very dark conditions, that prob most people will never do.

    Also most people shoot with the back screen off otherwise its awfully bright when rising the camera to your eye.

    If you used live view in the dark I suppose it could be a problem..(actually it wouldn't as the screen would be dark as the surroundings would be dark..)

    I understand most people report the problem when having a bright image on the LCD Screen and the lens in darkness with the lens cap on..

    While I think canon could have done better its hardly an issue I think that would effect the majority of users..in fact its pretty hard to come up with a scenario (other than shooting out of focus dark lens caps) where it COULD be a problem, as the no doubt 1000's of photos taken with it prior to release can attest.

    Also thanks for the review OP..pretty jealous....I'll have to stick to the mk2 until the mk3 come downs in price a little (or maybe wait for a shiny mk4 in a couple of years :))
     
  9. VI™ macrumors 6502a

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    Shepherdsturd, WV
    #9
    Still debating between the 5D MKIII and the D800. It would be easiest to go with a 5D MKIII. Actually, it would be easiest to stay with the 5D MKII.
     
  10. Keleko macrumors 68000

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    #10
  11. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    Location:
    Sendai, Japan
    #11
    That depends on your motivation to upgrade. What is it with the 5D Mark II that you find limiting? What kind of pictures do you take? What kind of glass do you own/plan to buy?

    Both cameras share one thing: the need for the absolute best lenses. Otherwise you're squandering your money since the sensor out resolves the lens. (The quality of lenses is even more important with the D800 since its resolution is significantly higher.) If I were you, I'd think rather carefully about switching: people shouldn't switch, because this time around the product from the »other« manufacturer looks shinier.

    I have personally chosen Nikon over Canon since I don't jive with Canon's user interface. That's simply a matter of personal taste, and I have been envious of a few things I could have gotten if I had a Canon body. So if I were you, I'd do the following: unless there is a specific feature you need that is only available on one body, but not the other, I'd get with whatever camera feels better in your hands. But then I'd stick with that brand.
     
  12. Sammy Cat macrumors member

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    Jul 28, 2010
    Location:
    North America
    #12
    I don't see the need to upgrade from the Mark II.

    The AF points are nice and the improved ISO is outstanding, however I can't justify the cost even with a trade for those improvements. There is always the next generation, but really, the next generation will be a real game changer. The Mark III is more like a Mark II.2. In Apple terms, this its like an iPhone 4 vs. iPhone 4S, with S being the better more refined, developed product, which almost achieves perfection for the form factor.

    Mark II can still get the job done.

    Bring on the Mark IV. Bring on the game changer.
     
  13. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #13
    The improved AF can be the game changer. Going from the D80 to the D7000 was a game changer: I can now choose the point of focus much more accurately and it works much more consistently and in much darker light.
     
  14. VI™ macrumors 6502a

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    Shepherdsturd, WV
    #14
    I have all L lenses except for my primes and fish (since Canon doesn't make an L fish and $2,000 for an 85 f/1.2 is a bit much compared to $400 for an 85 f/1.8).

    I'll have to see more comparisons. The detail in the D800 is what I want and some of the earlier reviews showed that the D800 had a good bit more detail compared to the 5D III. I'll get around to taking a nice hard look at images from the two when I finally decide to upgrade. I spent the money on a set of Dynalites to replace my Speedotron setup instead of being a guinea pig for either company. That way I'd be able to see real world reviews of the two. Not to mention Speeodtrons suck for an on location shooter.

    Tell me about it. A flashlight is part of my kit with a 5D MKII; it's just not that good at focusing when the light starts going down.
     
  15. mulo, Apr 17, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012

    mulo macrumors 68020

    mulo

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    #15
  16. nburwell macrumors 68040

    nburwell

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    #16
    Once you go FF, you never go back...

    I haven't tried out the 5DIII. But I owned the 5Dc and currently own the 5DII, and both are fantastic camera bodies. I love the FOV FF gives you.

    As a side note, I don't know what you primarily photograph, but I had the 17-40 along with the 24-105. Personally, I found 24mm wide enough on FF and I ended up selling my 17-40 copy. Usually if I want a wide photo, I will take a series of images and stitch them together into a panorama via Photoshop. The 17-40 is a great lens. I just couldn't warrant keeping it when it sat in my bag most of the time.
     
  17. VI™ macrumors 6502a

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  18. VirtualRain thread starter macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #18
    Thanks for your insights. I normally shoot landscape, travel photography, and portraits of my GF. And 24mm is plenty wide for most of that. In the past, my only need for a UWA was inside structures like St. Peter's or the Coliseum or other venues where you want to try and capture the grandeur of the place. But I think I'd rather try panorama's in the future vs carry an extra $700 lens around that I won't use very often.
     
  19. Al1n macrumors member

    Al1n

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  20. fcortese macrumors demi-god

    fcortese

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    #20
    Virtual, thanks for the great practical review. As you know I bought the Mark III as well. I came from the 5D2, but thanks to doing a ton of reading on canonrumors and reading the online manual before I purchased the camera, I kind of figured out at least some basic aspects to using the AF-like the joystick (multi-controller) activated to move the focus point. Right now I am still shooting mainly in center single point AF and recompose like I did on the 5D2, but I'm playing with moving that center point around instead. Out of curiosity and based on your 7D experience, which AF point selection system do you prefer or use the most?

    Here's one I took using my 24-105 which like you I just love!
    [​IMG]
     
  21. VirtualRain thread starter macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #21
    Good question... On my 7D I almost exclusively used single point spot AF and moved it around as much as possible with the joystick to reduce focus and recompose which can be a shot killer with a wide aperture lens like the 35L at f1.4-f2.

    On this camera, I've played around with three different modes and actually have setup two of the Custom Modes (C1 and C2 on the mode dial) to use these added AF setups. So my three setups are:

    Av Mode (Normal shooting):
    - 41 Cross-points only - I find that's plenty of choice and doesn't take as much time to move the point around from middle to side
    - Single point AF manual selection with joystick
    - One shot AF
    - Single shot drive

    C1 Mode (Shooting GF in low light with the 35L):
    - 41 Cross-points only
    - AF Point Expansion (5 points) manual selection hoping that one will get lock on her face and this will use the non cross points as well if necessary
    - AI Focus (in case she moves)
    - Single shot drive
    - I also set the minimum auto ISO shutter to 1/60th

    C2 Mode (Shooting moving subjects)
    - 41 Cross-points only
    - Zone AF - this gives me the best chance to get an AF point on target - this will also use the non cross points if necessary
    - AI Servo
    - Multi-shot drive
    - I also set the minimum auto ISO shutter to 1/125th in this mode

    BTW, I also take advantage of that feature that allows you to have different memorized focus points for both horizontal and vertical orientations, so by pressing the joystick in, I can quickly go to my default focal point in either orientation. For horizontal, I kept the center point as the memorized point and for vertical, I use the top middle point since that's where my GF's face would normally be in the frame when shooting in that orientation. Of course the camera will remember your last selected AF point in either orientation as well when you switch back and forth so that's nice as well.
     
  22. TheReef macrumors 68000

    TheReef

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    #22
    Great writeup VirtualRain, a very informative read.
    Enjoy :)

    I never got a chance to comment on this previously, love the shot!

    :eek:
     
  23. crawler1975 macrumors regular

    crawler1975

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    #23
    Not exactly. It depends on what type of photography you are leaning towards to. If you plan on getting into wedding photography, full frame is the way to go . If nature photography, crop sensors are ideal ...

    remember this though, it is not the gear that makes you a photographer :) ...
     
  24. fcortese macrumors demi-god

    fcortese

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    #24
    Thanks for the info. I have some similar set ups with the Customs settings. I use AI Focus and AF expansion (4 additional), high speed continuous for use when I'm taking pictures of my grandkids and AI Servo with AF expansion (8 surrounding points) for action and panning photos. I did not use the memorized feature in landscape/portrait orientation. I just have it memorized at the center point, but I think I'll give it a try as well. BTW and FWIW, my main shooting mode is manual, center AF point, one shot, single shot. I turned off the focus feature when shutter button pressed halfway down and only use it for metering. I am trying to get use to using the AF-ON button for focusing and have that feature activated. After years of half-pressing the shutter button for focusing, it takes a little getting use to! :eek:

     
  25. VI™ macrumors 6502a

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    #25
    Missed that guy's comment. :confused:

    I agree with you mostly. There are some advantages to using certain types of cameras for certain types of photography, but you can use a FF camera for nature and crop cameras for weddings. I know there are studio photographers that have traded in their DSLRs for small EVIL cameras. After using one for a while, I can say that they're no joke.
     

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