Over the last few weeks I have read and heard many presentations of the performance of the new flagship Canon 5 D MK 3. My initial reviews of the technical stuff put out on the worldwide web by some of the “top” international photographers I found the two most important features I would be interested in would be the new Focus system and the ISO capabilities. I finally managed to get my paws on one last week with no other way to test this unit but with a baptism of fire. A weekend of photographing Landscapes, Cape and Bearded Vultures in the majestic Drakensburg mountains of KZN………….you judge for yourself!

Canon a moment of truth …





The twilight of a Giant……….Canon 5 Dmk 3 , 16-35mm F2.8 @ F8 , ISO 6400 , 8 sec – Adjustments LR 4

I collected the camera early on Thursday morning before leaving LA ( Lower Alberton) and I managed to refrain from ripping the box open and firing of a few hundred frames on the road to KZN. I have had enough time to read and prepare myself for the new menus and technical stuff after downloading the manual online. So I setup as many of my custom functions and shooting information as I could while being offered much advise from my two shooting companions……needless to say both from the “Darkside” ( Mark Dumbleton and Brendon Jennings)……………We were greeted with clear on the first afternoon when we arrived so decide to unpack and set about enjoying a few ‘coldones’ before slipping down the walkway to shoot some twilight stars but the freezing cold chased us back to a warm fire and waiting meal with Sir Hougaard Malan……….



The Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) photographed on the wing – Canon 5 D MK 3 , Canon 500 mm F4 @ F4 , ISO 3200 , 1/320th sec – Adjustments LR 4

We ventured out at 04h30 am to get up to the hide to setup for the mornings shooting but were greeted with winds howling and gusting over 40-50 knots……….strong enough to knock even Mark on his butt and make Brendon look like the leaning tower of Pizza……..I crouched behind the vehicle till the wind abated enough to get down and settled in the hide……….Unfortunately no sunrise stars or landscapes where i could test the new Canon due to the intense wind.The above image is the 4 th frame  I took without making any adjustments to tracking options.Not the greatest composition or pose but  the Cape Vulture was flying away and across in extremely low light (near darkness) and yet the focus system picked up the subject and  kept it in focus straight off the bat on the basic tracking settings………..As the light improved in the next few minutes , so did the frenzied flying of the vultures in some golden light.



 Flight of the Phoenix……………Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres) soars in the early morning air  Canon 5 D MK 3 , 500 F4 @F 4 ISO 3200 1/4000 sec

The camera with my limited skills of tracking locked on and kept focus point on the subject , each and every time……..!! The ISO and Focus tracking systems did not fail to impress me and I am like a little kid in a candy store at the moment with the results of this weekend test. I spent the next few hours playing and adjusting the tracking options to find one that worked for me. There are 6 modes to choose from and the options to customize for your shooting style are amazing.The post processing has all been done with the basics in Lightroom 4 and the quality of the raw file itself just make life so much simpler and allows for quick and dynamic development of the images.During the day I used various combinations of the lenses with convertors and the results where awesome. I have seen tests and comparisons elsewhere where people do not rate the dynamic range as good as its predecessor………..IMHO this is not the case and the quality of exposure and colours was phenomenal.



A adult Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres) photographed as it comes in to land
 Canon 5 D MK 3 , Canon 500 mm F4 + 1.4 Conv@ F4 , ISO 1000 , 1/5000th sec

I am not only impressed by the major changes to the system but also with some of the smaller unique features that I found useful. The mode selection dial now is fitted with a safety lock which needs to be depressed when changing modes from M to AV or TV etc. This is extremely impressive and prevents changes while moving the camera around and in a vehicle etc. The next item , was the ‘rate’ button which enables you to pre rate 1 to 5 stars images in camera and this speeds up the workflow during download and keyboarding etc. Another ‘new’ feature is that of the ability to change over from a CF to SD card without skipping a beat..while the action is hot, no need to stop. Overall the new menu and changes took me one session to get use to and get orientated with from the original 5D MK 2 Version.I can only add that over the next few weeks I will get the system more customized for my style of photography but am convinced that the wait has been worth every agonizing second 🙂


New moon….



A juvenile The Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus)glides on the wind from the cliff face Canon 5D MK 3 – Canon 70-200F 2.8 + 1.4 CONV F4 , ISO 640 , F 8 , 1/2000

Head on tracking and AI Servo focus with a moving subject WITH 1.4 X CONVERTOR …….see below series of 6 frames. ( Select and View in HD 1080 Quality) I was absolutely blown away by this set of images. The only opportunity I had over three days and the camera and focus tracking did not let me down. There is a difference when using a convertor but once the focus is locked on , the tracking system does not falter 🙂

Not being able to test the true landcsape capabilities due the the weather and the wind i was left with shooting handheld and at slightly higher ISO to get better shutter speeds to get a crisper image. I was again completely amazed and speechless by the end results of the images I managed to capture……………





Pre dawn light falls across the Dragon’s mountain “uKhahlamba”…………   Canon 5D MK 3 , 70-200 mm F2.8 @ F8 , 98 mm , ISO 800 , 1/80th handheld

We experienced the power of nature and felt the breath of the “uKhahlamba”  during our stay . Nature is unpredictable and being able to be there and experience what ever she can throw against you even when your expectations are not met after weeks of buildup is EPIC enough………….The time had come for us to leave and on the drive back across and down to wards the Giants Castle resort , we where presented with an epic set of clouds and clean blue skys………




5D MK 3 , 16-35mm F2.8 @16 mm , F11 , ISO 400 , 1/1600

Epic skys of Giants Castle after a raging cold front. The clean air and ice cold temperatures make for mind blowing photography. Thanks to CANON SA and CAMERA TEK for the continued professional service and customer support………….


Peace and Light – AA