Three Reasons Not to Buy the 5D Mark III Right Now

Nearly four years ago the DSLR filmmaking world was ignited with Vincet Laforet’s 5D Mark II video “Reverie.” Since then, filmmakers have long-awaited the 5D Mark III. Now that it’s here, the question on everyone’s lips is: should I buy it? Here’s my answer.


Since this is an internationally read blog, I want to make sure people really get this. So here’s my answer in Spanish.


And just in case you happen to be in France or Eastern Canada, here’s my answer in French.


(I bet you had no idea I was trilingual, did you? Yes, I have many talents. If you speak any other language, uh, well, just hit Google translate.)

Okay, so now you may ask, “But why not Ron?”

That’s an excellent question. Here are my three easy reasons.

  • It’s Brand New. I never think it’s a good idea to make a major investment in a piece of equipment or software that is brand spanking new. It just isn’t. Technology is a quirky thing. It comes with bugs and hiccups that you don’t want to discover in the middle of some important job. There will always be early adopters out there who will wait in the 12 hour line to be one of the first to get some piece of technology. Let them be the guinea pigs and work the kinks out. But if this is for your business, and if this would constitute a “major” purchase for you, don’t spend the money.
  • NAB Is Around the Corner. Buying the 5D3 right now would be like buying stock in a company the day before a major earnings announcement (which I’m not even sure technically you can do. But you get my point). Why in the world would you invest in this camera for filmmaking purposes when the biggest event of the year for announcing new and exciting filmmaking gear is only a few weeks away? It’s silly and borders on irresponsible if this is a major purchase for you.
  • Better Cinema Options in this Price Range. When the 5D2 came out, to get an image from a professional video camera that looked anywhere close to it, you’d have to spend nearly twice as much on gear available at the time. Now, if you’re going to shell out $3500US for a cinema camera, spend only 50% more and invest in something like the Sony FS100.

I’m not going to do a review of the camera because I haven’t tested it. Besides, there are a gajillion other reviews out there by talented filmmakers. (Again, Google would be great here.) But even without having tried it, I know that buying it now would just be dumb (IMHO).

What say you?

20 thoughts on “Three Reasons Not to Buy the 5D Mark III Right Now

  1. Hey Ron
    At this time with the advance in the Canon 5D MK III i ‘m thinking about jumping ships from Nikon d700 to Canon here is the reason :
    as a Photographer/Filmmaker the only reason who kept me with Nikon is the low light thing and the focusing but it seems that is two of the many improvement Canon made plus i don’t need 36 MP wit the the Nikon D800 so i think that Canon 5D MK II and III can be the ultimate kit for doing Studio/Wedding/Film but i completely agree i’m not going to change all of my equipment before an entire season maybe we’ll see in October when things smooth a little and by the way in order to improve your French it’s Non !!!

    1. I think your direction for switching is a smart move. Wait it out. I personally do prefer Canon vs. Nikon for cinema.

      Oh, and thanks for the French correction Morgan. 🙂 So If someone asked you in Frech, “Do you want this?” and you didn’t, the correct response would be “Non”? I was sure you could use “no.”

      1. Sounds the same, spelled differently in French. To quote Steve Martin, “Those French, it’s like they have a different word for everything!”

  2. Good points Ron. If you are on a limited budget like myself, point 3 about other cinema camera options is very true. I purchased the Sony FS100 last year and have absolutely loved it. I have found that several of the accessories to go with it have also been very affordable and for people that already have a lot of glass they are currently using on their MKII’s, they can maximize that investment too with the FS100.

  3. I agree and it’s a bad practice in this business to be the “gotta have it first” person. I like Sony’s cams, but it’s a headache to ingest AVCHD clips from the SD card to a working format in FCP. I had to resort to a third party software solution. I was surprised to see the new Avenger’s film gear list include the Canon EOS 5D Mark II; or perhaps it’s been happening quite a bit already.

    1. Hi Ron, there were several reasons why I went with the FS100 (to meet my needs). It has the same sensor as it’s much more expensive big brother the F3, (it basically has 85% of the functionality of the F3 at 50% of the cost) and so in low light, it is really amazing. It is designed for video from the outset, and so it has all the good features of the MKII and MKIII, but when you add in the audio portion (dual XLR inputs), length of record time (I recently recorded an event where it just ran from a fixed position in a balcony for 2 1/2 hrs straight, no interruption to stop and restart). Remember, when i purchased it, the MKIII was not available yet, but even now, I would do it over again. Other features like full 1080p slow motion and the S&Q mode are amazing. Oh, and btw, no problem at all in ingesting AVCHD into FCP.

      There is a great post at Philip Bloom’s site which confirms my decision from a year ago: Check out Matt Davis’s response..excellent list..don’t want to load up your blog page here with more comments on why I chose the FS100..

  4. I was just reading this of that FS100:

    Unlike smaller, broadcast-style sensors or the larger “full-frame” sensors of some DSLRs, the NEX-FS100’s imaging area matches that of standard Hollywood film cameras, providing complete compatibility with cine-style film lenses (via optional adapters) as well as any of Sony’s E-Mount lenses. The sensor’s large size offers a variety of other advantages, including increased control over depth of field, higher sensitivity in low light, lower image noise, and an exceptional dynamic range.

  5. I remain convinced after reading a handful of early reviews that the Mark III makes the Mark II an even better value dollar-for-dollar. I remain hopeful that the new/pending release of Magic Lantern unified version will make the Mark II even better once it’s released for the FF sensor cameras. If ML actually provides for a clean HDMI out, there will be dancing in the streets!

  6. I agree with you, but with a caveat— if someone is already invested in a 5DmkII and using it regularly, then I say go pull the trigger. Do it. You’re just swapping out the body and the various improvements will immediately pay off.

    My thoughts:

    Canon has already essentially told us what they will reveal next: the C-cinema camera, and possible updates to the C300. And I don’t see them cutting their own feet off with the product line, so the mkIII will sit were it sits and protect the soon to be 2 bigger cameras.

    Soon enough I expect that Magic Lantern will start supporting the mkIII because enough people will have it and start clamoring. It’s like an OS upgrade on a computer, people _will_ upgrade and the mkII will eventually be left behind.

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