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Canon announces EOS 5D Mark III, heir to the video DSLR throne

Canon announced today the EOS 5D Mark III, the long-awaited update to their premier video-capable DSLR, the 5D Mark II. We've got full coverage of this latest professional DSLR, including our hands-on first impressions.

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The wait is finally over, as Canon announced today the release of the EOS 5D Mark III full-frame professional DSLR. The 5D Mark III follows up, logically, on the 5D Mark II, which was released back in 2008. The 5D Mark II, while not Canon's top of the line, has been extraordinarily popular, the benchmark for professional DSLR videography since its release.

The Canon 5D Mark III will hit in March for $3499 without a lens, with its headline features being its Digic 5+ processor, 22.3-megapixel full-frame image sensor, enhanced video encoding options, dual memory card slots, and substantially improved autofocus system. The new Digic 5+ processor allows the 5D Mark III to achieve up to 6fps image capture (and 3fps with a quiet shutter), while supposedly decreasing the ugly moire effect that has plagued the 5D Mark II and other video DSLRs.

The 5D Mark III does not vastly alter the formula that made the Mark II so successful, but it does represent a significant update in processing, control, and usability. The Mark III is very similar in form factor to the Mark II, but it adopts many of the features and controls that appeared in the recent Canon 1D X and their cheaper prosumer model, the Canon 7D.

We were invited to spend some time with the 5D Mark III this week, taking plenty of shots and investigating just how substantial the changes are between the Mark II and Mark III. You can read our full in-depth first impressions review of the 5D Mark III by going here.

In our short time with the camera we found that it handled great, with the same balance and shape as the Mark II. That isn't to say there haven't been changes; the 5D Mark III is much more responsive, shoots faster, has a near-silent 3fps continuous mode, and adopts many of the control advancements of the 7D. As on the 7D, the Mark III now features a "Q" quick control button for easy access to settings, dedicated start/stop record button, live view lever, and improved "creative photo" button.

That isn't to say that the Mark III is only a beefed up 7D, as it also is on the receiving end of many of the updates that Canon put in their flagship 1D X DSLR. While the 5D Mark III doesn't get the 100k-pixel metering system of the 1D X (it uses the 63-zone system from the 7D), it does have the same 61-point autofocus sensor. For video shooters, the 5D Mark III will offer both ALL-I intraframe and IPB interframe encoding, as well as SMPTE timecoding functionality. The 5D Mark III will offer a maximum ISO during video recording of 102,400, one stop less than the 1D X.

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The 5D Mark III is expected to hit stores at the end of March 2012, and will be available for a body-only price of $3499. Those just buying into an EOS system (or looking for a lens upgrade) can opt for the 5D Mark III kit, which comes with the 24-105mm f/4L lens for $4299.

For our full analysis of the 5D Mark III and all of its features from stem to stern, our full hands-on review can be read here. For the full press release, please visit Canon's press website right here.

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