Best DSLR: top cameras by price and brand
According to Canon, the EOS 5D Mk III has better weatherproofing than the Mk II version. This is something that's difficult to test in the short term, but many enthusiasts and pros will be reassured by that knowledge.
The camera is large, but not in the same league as the Canon EOS-1DX, since it lacks the additional portrait orientation grip and controls.
The finger grip is covered in a textured rubber-like coating that helps it feel secure in your grasp, and the contours of the front and rear make it comfortable to hold.
Overall there is a feeling of quality, and the magnesium alloy body doesn't squeak or creak when squeezed tightly.
The body of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III is largely unchanged from the Mark II's, but there are a few key differences. The pentaprism lump on the top, for example, is a little larger and more rounded to accommodate the AF module, which is 2.5x larger than the one in the Canon EOS 5D Mk II.
There's also the live view/video switch on the back of the camera, which is within easy reach of the right thumb. In addition, Canon has added a couple of new buttons. The first of these is to access three creative options: Picture Styles, Multiple Exposure (up to nine images can be combined into one) and the HDR modes.
Another new button is marked Rate, and pressing it in playback mode enables you to rate the image - one press for one star, two for two, and so on. These ratings are logged in the EXIF data and are visible in Adobe Bridge and Photoshop Elements.
We found the Rate feature extremely useful when reviewing images taken during this test, since it makes sitting on the bus or train home from a shoot productive. You may not use it to make your final image selection, but it's useful for working out which are the best images to consider.
Helpfully, pressing the Creative button in playback mode enables two images to be compared next to each other. It's rather odd that the image that's selected when the button is pressed is highlighted in blue as the one to change using either the main dial on the back of the camera or the smaller one on the front near the shutter release.
However, pressing the Set button at the centre of the main dial switches to the second image.
The Magnify and Rate buttons function during the comparison view and act on the selected image only.
Pleasingly, Canon has given the EOS 5D Mark III the same 3.2-inch 1,040,000-dot Clear View II TFT LCD screen as the Canon EOS-1DX.
The gap between the LCD display and its glass cover has been filled with an optical gel, and this helps to keep reflections at bay. We found that the screen provides a sharp, clear view even when shooting outside in bright sunlight.
Given the Canon EOS 5D's reputation as video camera, it's a shame that Canon wasn't bold enough to give the Mark III version an articulating screen. Perhaps the hinge is considered too much of a weak point, or maybe Canon is saving that for the 4K-capable camera it announced was in development back in November last year.