Canon 5D Mark III vs 5D Mark II

Now that the Canon 5D Mark III is almost out (see Canon 5D Mark III Specifications), I am sure many photographers will be interested in seeing feature differences between the now obsolete Canon 5D Mark II and the new 5D Mark III. In this Canon 5D Mark III vs Canon 5D Mark II comparison, I will write about the specifications of both cameras and talk about their differences. Please keep in mind that the information below is purely based on specifications. A detailed comparison with image samples and ISO comparisons will be provided once I get a hold of the Canon 5D Mark III.

Canon 5D Mark III vs Canon 5D Mark II

Canon 5D Mark III vs Canon 5D Mark II Specification Comparison

Camera FeatureCanon 5D Mark IIICanon 5D Mark II
Sensor Resolution22.3 Million21.1 Million
Sensor Size36x24mm36x24mm
Dust Reduction / Sensor CleaningYesYes
Image Size5760 x 38405616 x 3744
Image ProcessorDIGIC 5+DIGIC 4
Viewfinder TypePentaprismPentaprism
Viewfinder Coverage100%98%
Viewfinder Magnification0.71x0.71x
Storage Media1x Compact Flash and 1x SD1x Compact Flash
Continuous Shooting Speed6 FPS3.9 FPS
Max Shutter Speed1/8000 to 30 sec1/8000 to 30 sec
Shutter Durability150,000 cycles150,000 cycles
Exposure Metering SensoriFCL metering with 63 zone dual-layer sensorTTL full aperture metering 35 zone SPC
Base ISOISO 100ISO 100
Native ISO SensitivityISO 100-25,600ISO 100-6,400
Boosted ISO SensitivityISO 50, ISO 51,200-102,400ISO 50, ISO 12,800-25,600
Autofocus System61-point high-density reticular AF (up to 41 cross-type points)9-point TTL (1 cross-type point)
AF AssistNo, only with external flashNo, only with external flash
Video OutputAVI, H.264/MPEG-4 in MOV FormatH.264/MPEG-4 in MOV Format
Video Maximum Resolution1920×1080 (1080p) @ 30p1920×1080 (1080p) @ 30p
Audio RecordingBuilt-in microphone
External stereo microphone (optional)
Built-in microphone
External stereo microphone (optional)
LCD Size3.2″ diagonal TFT-LCD3.0″ diagonal TFT-LCD
LCD Resolution1,040,000 dots920,000 dots
HDR SupportYesNo
Built-in GPSNoNo
Wi-Fi FunctionalityEye-Fi Compatible, Optional external Wi-FiEye-Fi Compatible, Optional external Wi-Fi
BatteryLP-E6 Lithium-ion BatteryLP-E6 Lithium-ion Battery
Battery ChargerLC-E6 ChargerLC-E6 Charger
Weather Sealed BodyYes, EnhancedYes
USB Version2.02.0
Camera ConstructionMagnesium AlloyMagnesium Alloy
Dimensions152 x 116.4 x 76.4mm152 x 113.5 x 75.0mm
MSRP Price$3,499$2,699 (dropped to $2,199)

Check out these Canon 5D Mark III Sample Images.

Pre-Order Canon 5D Mark III and Accessories

Here are the pre-order links for the Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite:

  1. B&H Photo Video – Canon 5D Mark III for $3,499 (body only)
  2. B&H Photo Video – Canon 5D Mark III with Canon 24-105mm f/4L for $4,299
  3. B&H Photo Video – Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite for $629.00
  4. Adorama – Canon 5D Mark III for $3,499 (body only)
  5. Adorama – Canon 5D Mark III with Canon 24-105mm f/4L for $4,299
  6. Adorama – Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite for $629.00


  1. 1) Mike
    March 1, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    I’m having a hard time seeing where the big upgrade is here. I don’t see a 5DII shooter jumping on the new model. Is it just me?

    • 1.1) Robert
      March 1, 2012 at 12:26 pm

      AF seems to be the big one (I think they’re mistakenly reversed in the above chart) along with a substantial FPS increase.
      If AF is significantly improved…..

      But I do tend to agree with you…I know there was lots of wishful thinking going on with the Canonites and Nikon really upped the ante with the D800.

      It’ll be interesting when these and the D800’s finally get into people’s hands and we see real world comparisons.

      • March 1, 2012 at 12:28 pm

        Robert, I fixed the AF problem.

        A real comparison is coming up – I will be pre-ordering the 5D Mark III as well.

        • Robert
          March 1, 2012 at 1:38 pm

          Thanks, Nasim! No big deal, really.

          Just looked at more detailed specs and you are correct, it is rather significant.

          Looking forward to your comparisons.

          • Aaron Priest
            March 1, 2012 at 7:21 pm

            ISO, fps, and AF all look to be tremendous leaps of performance. This looks like the D700 replacement I was looking for honestly… Haha!

      • 1.1.2) Mike
        March 16, 2012 at 2:32 pm

        To me, this still seems like more of a 5D Mark 2.5. There is not real standout feature here that warrants the price increase as far as I can see. If you look at the D4 and D800, both have made a significant splash in terms of features over their predecessors. Maybe Canon did so well with the MK2 they didn’t want to mess with it too much? Not sure, but to me it’s just a minor improvement over an already good camera.

    • March 1, 2012 at 12:26 pm

      Mike, no it is a pretty big update – the sensor is much better with a base ISO of 100 and native 12,800, expandable to 102,400. Autofocus system is completely new and much more enhanced and better than on 5D Mark II, better build and weather sealing, 100% viewfinder coverage, better LCD, CF+SD…

      The biggest two items are sensor and AF. If the new AF module is indeed very good (which I have no doubt it is), many 5D Mark II owners will be upgrading to 5D Mark III.

      • 1.2.1) David
        March 1, 2012 at 3:11 pm

        IMHO, Canon 5D M3 what 5D M2 should have been in 2008. They should have offered a better AF than one from 30D then. This is an incremental update where things are fixed 4 years later. There are nothing breakthrough about this camera. Does it AF with F/8 lenses like Nikon D800? Does it offer face recognition like D800? And it costs $500 more?

        • Mark
          August 22, 2012 at 9:20 pm

          Face recognition? Really? Is that what you are all jazzed up about? Face recognition? Seriously?

    • 1.3) Uncle Fred
      March 3, 2012 at 8:02 am

      Looks to me that the ISO, AF, fps and body grip are the deal changers. For me, where the value/performance will be determined is in the usable ISO increase. If it is significant – like some are claiming – it just might be worth the extra cost. Either way, I’m waiting until the gear-heads get a hold of it and decide they don’t need it. That turnover should be able to net me a 99% new one for ~$3000.

    • 1.4) drdimento
      March 4, 2012 at 12:19 am

      they won’t be getting me in on this bandwagon because of price. id rather buy another 5dm2 at the new low prices of a few hundreds more than the 7d crop. there isn’t enough PLUS to justify over a grand in upgrade. the only real thing that totally turns me on is the corrected power switch. the iso is great but over a grand to get it? don’t think so.

  2. 2) Philippe
    March 1, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    You inverted the Autofocus data…

    • March 1, 2012 at 12:22 pm

      Sorry, should have checked before hitting the publish button :) Fixed!

  3. 3) Andrew
    March 1, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    Nasim, I’m a Canon shooter, long time reader and a big fan of you and your website. Been longing for a long time when the day will arrive that you will get your hands on Canon gears and start reviewing them on your website. Therefore, I cannot be happier to read that you’ll pre-order the 5D Mark III also. Hopefully you’ll start reviewing Canon lenses as well. Thanks Nasim, you’re the best!!

  4. 4) sade
    March 2, 2012 at 2:26 am

    Looking at the samples of 5DIII, I have the impression that it is no better than D800 although the iso range is two stops higher. The image at iso 6400 on the official canon website is not just noisy but it is very soft and ugly. So the only things that canon camera has more than D800 are 2 more fps, 10 more focus point and 500$ more price!

    • 4.1) Roman
      March 2, 2012 at 4:51 am

      Lets not get ahead of ourselves – those samples are likely made with a pre-production model, not to mention they were shot as JPGs (the Mark II was known to be rather soft in JPG, a lot more detail could be saved shooting RAW). We shouldn’t rush on and evaluate the result made with the D800, nor with the 5D Mark III. I’m sure they are both great cameras, though with a slightly different customer approach. :)

      The higher price, though, seems strange. This camera is a noticeable leap from the earlier model, but not such a huge one when looking at the competition. I bet the price will fall quickly.

  5. 5) Dario
    March 2, 2012 at 2:50 am

    Too expensive! for that price I prefer the Nikon D800! Canon have disappointed me!

    • 5.1) drdimento
      March 4, 2012 at 12:30 am

      i agree with you “Darlo” I’m a bit shocked at the canon release price. i mean pushing the price a couple hundred would be one thing but WOW. certainly not worth it to me in my full time business. heck i can have another 5dm2 AND another 7d for the same money and have 100% back up all the way around for my full time commercial, event, and print business AND id have two 5dm2’s for my cinema work :-)

      • 5.1.1) Michael
        April 14, 2012 at 3:44 pm

        I’ve been a Canon shooter all my life, but am seriously disappointed here.

        I will either grab up another (now discounted) 5D Mark IIs while I can or (more likely) switch to Nikon and get a couple of D800s and a D4. D800 would be an EASY CHOICE if it weren’t for my Canon glass and my impression that CPS is better than NPS.

  6. 6) Walter De Gregoris
    March 3, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    “I am sure many photographers will be interested in seeing feature differences between the now obsolete Canon 5D Mark II and the new 5D Mark III.”

    “Obsolete” is hardly the word to use for the Mark II. What kind of “professional” would call it “obsolete”? C’mon man.

    • March 3, 2012 at 8:18 pm

      Walter, when a camera is updated with a newer version, the old one becomes obsolete – simple fact of life and there is absolutely nothing wrong with me stating that.

      • 6.1.1) Walter De Gregoris
        March 3, 2012 at 11:08 pm

        Big fan of your work but respectfully disagree with you on that one.

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          March 3, 2012 at 11:46 pm

          Walter, I think the word “obsolete” has a much more negative meaning for you than for me :) By obsolete I do not mean that it is in any way a bad camera – the Nikon D3s or the Nikon D700 are also obsolete cameras (newer D4 and D800 made them obsolete) and yet they still produce phenomenal images for me (in fact, I am keeping my D700 until it dies, because I love it too much)

          • MukeshMansukhani
            November 3, 2012 at 8:49 pm

            Obsolete is a negative word. If you are bring a d700 into conversation and prove that you will keep it till it dies, which in other words means it ain’t obsolete, which in other words you are too contradictory.

            • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
              November 3, 2012 at 10:05 pm

              Dude, look up the definition of obsolete in a dictionary or something. Who said it is a negative word? By whose definition? The Nikon D700 is obsolete and it is a FACT – Nikon is not producing it anymore. If I decided to keep using an obsolete piece of equipment, how am I contradicting myself?

            • MukeshMansukhani
              November 3, 2012 at 10:24 pm

              Looked it up .. Still contradicts.. You missing the point.. Obsolete means

              As it reads no longer in use or practice not current.. So the very fact u using the d700 means it is of you use, hence you are contradicting..

              As you quoted , when a camera is updated with a newer version, the old one becomes obsolete – simple fact of life and there is absolutely nothing wrong with me stating that.

              You bought in your d700 only to chew on your own words.. Like the other gentleman said obsolete is hardly the word for 5d mark

            • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
              November 3, 2012 at 11:14 pm

              Taken from your dictionary link “Outmoded in design, style, or construction” or “out of use or practice; not current”, which is in no way negative. iPhone 4 is now obsolete, because iPhone 5 is out. There is nothing wrong with using this word on cameras, just like it is fine using it on everything else.

              5 years from now I might be still using the D700 (if it lasts that long). So are you saying that I should still not be calling it obsolete then? Come on, why so much fuss about one word?

              For me, obsolete means out of date, not current. Hence, both the D700 and the 5D Mark II are obsolete.

            • MukeshMansukhani
              November 4, 2012 at 12:22 am

              I phone 4 is obsolete.. I rest my case..
              In today’s world with changing technologies, and production houses only producing their latest models as suggested by their R & D dept, and if people like yourselves with so much know-how use lingo like obsolete in their reviews.. Than consumers are going to only buy the latest. iPad 4 th generation is out in 6months since the iPad 3rd gen came out, so now in your words by not trying to mince it… I pad 3rd gen is obsolete. Like I Said in the trail of our conversations, obsolete is a very negative word.. I clearly see no pointing in arguing with you further.. Really hoping I don’t put you into further thoughts on this reply, have a nice rest of your day..

    • 6.2) Dikky Seven
      March 8, 2012 at 5:53 pm

      yeah, obsolete is unnecessarily pejorative. Mark II goes from being world-class on Tuesday to being “obsolete” on Wednesday. Literally incredible.

  7. March 16, 2012 at 9:06 am

    I want to buy a 5D Mark II and I don’t see any reason to spent 1000$+ for Mark III …

  8. 8) InsaneO
    March 19, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    I have compared many high ISO RAW images so far and do not find MK3 better than MK2.
    So keeping my MK2 for now.
    Another thought:
    Seems to me like Nikon and Canon hit the wall with high ISO unless they make less pixel camera.
    The workaround is Nikon D800. They just simply increased the pixel amount so at the same framing one does not have zoom as much or crop as much thus perceivable noise is lower. Per pixel noise is just the same though as before. So I figure out that at 36mp and 6400 ISO it should be practically the same as 5D2 at 3200 ISO as long as I don’t crop much.
    The problem is that I would have to sell all my Canon lenses to get something slightly better.

  9. 9) Fotopratica
    March 27, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Hi Nasim, the weight of Mark III is 950 grs with battery…

  10. 10) joey
    April 1, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    hi Nasim,
    i’m thinking of getting a 5d mark iii or the d800.
    i’m leaning more to the canon but do you really think it’s worth the extra €500,-
    thanks in advance

  11. April 6, 2012 at 4:26 am

    Thought about this for a couple of weeks after waiting for the Mark III and ended up buying a second Mark II instead. I still absolutely love that camera and cannot justify paying double for the upgrade…

    I believe there may be a new DSLR coming soon from Canon for cinematographers. We shall see.

  12. 12) Jefferson
    April 9, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    After waiting forever for the 5D Mark III to come out, I ended up buying a 5D Mark II instead since I couldn’t justify spending that much more. If the 5D Mark III was $2,800 – $3,000, I probably would have bought one day one. I ended up getting the 5D Mark II new for $1,800, nearly half the price of the 5D Mark III. With the price difference between the models, I bought a nice L series lens to go along with it.

    • 12.1) Dell Marr
      April 29, 2012 at 11:05 am

      @ Jefferson

      “I ended up getting the 5D Mark II new for $1,800, nearly half the price of the 5D Mark III”

      Hi Jefferson,
      I’m thinking of picking up a 5DMII. You got a great price for yours new! Did you get it online or at a local retailer? Thanks much.

  13. 13) Josh
    May 16, 2012 at 1:12 am

    A nice comparison, thank you. One small error though, the Mark 2 body IS weather sealed.

    • June 12, 2012 at 2:02 pm

      Josh, it is weather sealed, but the sealing is not as good as on the 5D Mark III. I corrected the article though, thanks for pointing it out!

      • 13.1.1) MukeshMansukhani
        November 3, 2012 at 8:52 pm

        You seem to make enough mistakes for readers to point it out to you.

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          November 3, 2012 at 11:20 pm

          And what’s wrong with making mistakes? I admit when I make mistakes and I fix them right away. And if you do not like something, why come here and leave negative comments? If you have something to criticize, offer constructive criticism like others do.

          • Peace
            December 14, 2012 at 10:08 am

            You are pretty bullheaded for a guy who makes so many mistakes and calls 5D-M II obsolete.

            You have some very good articles on your site, but some of your comments and standing behind your faults to a fault doesn’t do you good. I saw another post on PP by your wife that looked over cooked and over saturated that even beginners would point out and you argued it was different tastes..


            Like you say above, mistakes are not bad. Accept and move on. You will have more readers.

            • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
              December 14, 2012 at 11:32 am

              Peace, thank you for your feedback, I really appreciate it. I made several mistakes in the article after copy-pasting the info. I fixed them as soon as our readers pointed them out and apologized. Not sure why people are getting so angry about the word “obsolete”. Perhaps in English, the word is much more negative than in Russian (my native language). Should I have used the word “outdated” instead? What do you call a model that is replaced by a newer one then? I don’t think I would have gotten any better reaction if I called it “outdated” either…

              Both my wife and I are learning. By no means we consider ourselves experts. We just love sharing, which is why we created this blog in the first place. Thank you once again for your feedback and I will pass on your criticism to her today.

  14. 14) Michael May
    June 11, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Is there anyone who thinks that the availability of the Eg-S focussing on the Mark II is a very strong reason for picking up a Mark II instead of the Mark III?


    • 14.1) David B
      June 11, 2012 at 4:13 pm

      I just picked up a used 5DM2. I think the strongest reason for picking up a Mark II over Mark III is that a used Mark II is $1500-1600, while used Mark III is $3200.

  15. 15) jago
    June 12, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    I don’t thing that MKIII is 85% beter then MKIII but the price is 85% higher
    ….maketing, markieting, markieting………. and you sell pice of shit as chocolate….

    • June 12, 2012 at 1:48 pm

      Jago, see the Canon 5D Mark III Review that I published recently – image quality is only marginally better. The 5D Mark III is mostly about AF and other improvements.

  16. 16) Andrei
    January 3, 2013 at 1:46 am

    I cannot see why to change a 5D Mark II with a 5D Mark III !

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