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Canon 5D Mark III, Lytro coming into focus

Canon 5D Mark III, Lytro coming into focus


There’s certainly no shortage of new cameras hitting the market this spring. The latest addition is the Canon EOS 5D Mark III which was unveiled last week, and the much-talked about Lytro Light Field camera, which is ready to be shipped.

Canon 5D EOS Mark III — Only two words describe the new model, “sticker shock.” The $3,499 price seems steep compared with its predecessor, the 5D Mark II priced at $2,199. And don’t forget  to read the website’s small print: “Price reflects camera body only.” This is like charging over $1,000 for a software upgrade. OK, maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but what photographer can afford this kind of price hike?

The camera does have some great new features, including my favorite, a headphone jack for video to monitor sound recording. Every new DSLR should feature this, but many don’t. I know it must be really expensive to install, although my transistor radio had one when I was growing up, but that was a long time ago.

One feature that’s missing is a flip-out LCD, which the company does include on the Canon 60D — my pick for best all-around DSLR at a reasonable price point, although for many, $999 is still way out of the ballpark. This is such a great feature as you move the camera into a variety of angles as you shoot both stills and video.

There has to be a few more important features I really need.

Maybe I need more focusing points? The older model Mark II has nine; the Mark III has 61. Let’s do the math, that’s 52 more reasons to get confused while looking through the viewfinder.

I need larger file sizes. Sure, the raw files on my 7D are filling up my hard drives faster than anticipated. The 22.3-megapixel files on the Canon 5D Mark III are even larger. Also, those files need to be backed up somewhere. I’m starting to miss those JPEGS and my transistor radio. They hardly took up any space.

Also advertised: “Higher ISO for better low-light photos.” The ISO ranges from 100 to 25,600 This is always a great feature. There’s never enough light, but it’s probably not worth the extra price.

Enough about spending so much money on a camera — how about spending $629 on flash for your camera’s hot-shoe. It’s now possible. Canon also introduced the Speedlite 600EX-RT. I know I have an old Vivitar strobe in a drawer in my garage; I wonder if it still works.

Lytro – It looks like the Lytro light field camera is ready to be shipped, I just got an email from one of their spokespersons. It starts at $399 for an electric blue or graphite camera that features an 8X optical zoom lens with an aperture of f/2, which lets you take photographs and focus later, making it a bargain compared with the high-priced DSLRs. Focusing after the fact makes photography really simple.

As Lytro explains it, “Capture the moment you meant to capture, not the one a shutter-delayed camera captured for you.”  The camera uses the Light Field technology that was developed at Stanford University years ago using a special sensor, which, according to Lytro, “captures the color, intensity and vector direction of the rays of light.”

Of course you could just use a wide-angle lens and have everything in focus, but it wouldn’t be as tech cool.

It’s really not a fair comparison because the camera uses a new technology. I’m just not ready to jump on this technology bandwagon yet, because it seems to be more of a novelty item for now. It’s certainly one of the most interesting new photography technologies.

The camera was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. The Los Angeles Times featured it in the Framework photography blog in October.

This camera, with its unique squarish-tube design, is simple to operate: Just point, click, upload and start deciding which part of the photograph should be in focus. The software, as of right now, is only designed for the Apple computer, but a PC version should be available soon.

It’s tough to tell whether the public wants to spend time pointing and clicking on the photo deciding which part of a photograph should be in focus, or to just quickly send photographs along the Internet pipeline with their cellphones and apps such as Instagram, which focuses on making sharing and creativity so simple.

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Read more reviews and photography tips by Robert Lachman



  1. March 7, 2012, 3:26 am

    5D mark lll has 61 AF points not 69, and ISO range is from 50 up to 102400 u have some wrong information my friend 😉

    By: michonn
  2. March 10, 2012, 12:38 pm

    Thanks for correct numbers on the ISO and AF focus points. The post has been updated the post.

    By: Robert Lachman
  3. March 7, 2012, 5:15 am

    Great update, especially the Lytro, maybe the next generation of cell phones will incorporate this, are you listening, iphone engineers?? :), thanks MJ

    By: mjspringett
  4. March 7, 2012, 9:57 am

    I wanted make sure and clarify that the predecessor to the 5D Mkiii, the 5D Mkii, came out originally at $2799 not $2199. It stayed at that price for over 2 years. That means the new jump to $3499 is only $700. Compare that with the amazing new technology and features in the 1Dx ($6999ish) and your paying half the cost. Let me also clarify that while it is not the flagship camera by canon, the 5D Mkiii is intended for professionals who depend on quality for their business. It seems that those who consider the Mkiii to be “sticker shock” aren’t the ones at the level of utilizing and justifying the cost.

    One the amazing features in the 5D Mkiii is 61 focus points, with a new improved focus system, rather than the old 9. For any of those who needed and were limited to so few focus points before, no more missed shots at high paced events. No more waiting for a subject to hit that point. I’m probably most excited about this, most are.

    Let’s not forget better weather sealing. I’ll pay for that.

    While I am truly impressed with the technology of the Lytro, I think it will be a while before we see the integration in pro model cameras. I can’t wait to see if this will change a lot.

    My main reason for commenting on this article is because I’m tired of hearing negative reviews on the 5D Mkiii from those you don’t need it’s functionality and new features. It’s not even shipped to the public yet and getting ridiculous and unfair negative reviews. For those who depend on professional equipment for business, this camera is what we’ve all been waiting for. Maybe even more. If the cost is too much, let us buy it and get ahead. Seriously, don’t complain about cost. If you need it, make it happen. If not, stop complaining.

    By: Josh
  5. March 10, 2012, 8:19 pm

    I'm surprised that the author of this review is a staff photographer at the Times. He MUST have struggled with the shortcomings of the 5DMKII, or stayed away from the camera because of those shortcomings. The author was trying to be cutesy and should STOP DOING THAT.

    There's a lot to be excited about with this new camera.

    If the author can't see that, he should not be writing articles about technology.

    [[Only two words describe the new model, “sticker shock.” ]]

    No. Only three words describe the new model. "It's about time!"

    By: IMHO
  6. March 7, 2012, 3:27 pm

    UGH! I can’t believe you posted such an overly simplified review of the 5D MkIII. Here’s what you missed. The shutter is rated for 50% more exposures…150,000 versus 100,000 on the Mark II. The shutter is 50% faster…6fps versus 4 fps. The new model also:

    – is better sealed against dust and moisture.

    – has dual memory card slots.

    – will shoot up to 30 minutes of continuous video (versus 12 minutes on the MkII)

    – has an improved autofocus system (there are not only more AF points, but they are of two different types and can be grouped according to the user’s needs.)

    – allows the user to lock the exposure mode dial (because the MkII ALWAYS gets knocked off the mode you selected and you wind up wasting an exposure or missing a shot.)

    To sum it up, you’re not just getting an audio jack for a thousand dollars. For the first time, Canon has taken elements from its flagship camera (now the 1D X) and put it in a lower level body. The result is that you’re getting a vastly improved camera that can be used for news photography (the motor drive on the MkII was absurdly slow) and that is an even more awesome video camera.

    And, FWIW, $3,500 is almost exactly what people paid for the 1D MkII, which would now be an expensive paperweight.

    By: Worth The Money
  7. March 13, 2012, 11:08 am

    Nikon D800
    has better lens compatibility
    – can mount cropped sensor (APS-C) lenses, and still get 15MP pictures.
    – can mount old manual focus lenses
    has better metering system
    – 91,000 pixel RGB metering sensor
    – face detection to properly expose faces in backlit situations
    has more advanced autofocus system
    – uses the face detection of the metering sensor to focus and track faces. what's the point of 6fps if the faces are not focused all the time.
    – can autofocus down to f/8
    has more options for video
    – uncompressed HDMI out for external video recording
    built to last longer
    – 200,000 shutter actuations (vs 150,000)

    and it costs $500 less than the 5D MK III.

    By: first frame
  8. July 2, 2012, 7:52 pm

    If Nikon is also making better mid-market DSLRs with great video capacity and etc, then that's wonderful. Thanks for posting that information.

    Now, to quibble:
    [[- can mount old manual focus lenses]] What's a "manual focus" lens? Where can I buy a car with a carburetor?

    [[has better metering system]] Good. Congratulations.

    [[- 91,000 pixel RGB metering sensor]] I don't know what that means.

    [[- face detection to properly expose faces in backlit situations]] Turn your subject around so the sun is on his face.

    [[has more advanced autofocus system]] Meh!

    [[- uses the face detection of the metering sensor to focus and track faces. what's the point of 6fps if the faces are not focused all the time.]] 6fps matters to to news photographers on run-and-gun situations…perp walks, crime scenes, etc. News photographers are not relying on face recognition.

    [[- can autofocus down to f/8]] Don't know what the means…I never am shooting at f/8.

    [[has more options for video – uncompressed HDMI out for external video recording]] My understanding is that uncompressed HDMI is useful for external monitors for critical focus and etc…high-end stuff, useful but not a deal breaker for most people.

    [[built to last longer – 200,000 shutter actuations (vs 150,000)]] Good for Nikon…I'm still not switching.

    By: worth the money

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