Saturday, March 3, 2012

Why Did it Take so Long to for Canon to Make a Camera Like the 5D Mark III?

The 5D Mark III is 4 years too late for most, but is it Canon's fault?

Canon shooters around the world, rejoice, the 5D Mark III is here and it's hands-down better than its predecessor, the 5D Mark II. For many, this is a long over-due camera that should have hit the market 4 years ago. Still, late is better than never, but why did it take so long?

When Canon launched the 5DII back in 2008, the market climate was very, very different. With the 5D in 2005, Canon created for itself a new market niche: an 'affordable' FF camera priced at the $3,000 mark. At the time, only Canon was making full frame cameras, namely the $8,000 1Ds series (Kodak briefly tried, but its cameras were over-priced, under-performing flops) when pitted against the Canons. So, with the market all to itself, Canon could do no wrong and 5Ds became the favored camera for many pros and amateurs alike.

Come 2008, it was time to refresh the 5D and Canon had already had the 5DII in the works for quite some time as an evolutionary step-up from the original 5D. Problem: unbeknownst to Canon, Nikon was working on its own $3,000 FF model: the D700. Unlike Canon, Nikon lifted a lot of technology straight from its flagship D3, stuck it into a half-height body, and called it the D700. In contrast, Canon, not knowing that the D700 was afoot, decided to keep a lot of its best features from the 1D series there, lest an almost equally-capable 5DII cannibalize on 1Ds sales. Unfortunately, when release time for the 5DII came around, the camera already looked rather unimpressive against the D700 (except in its nearly double resolution).

To put it plainly, Canon got caught with its pants down. In the end, only its stunning image quality and existing users' commitment to the system probably kept a lot of 5D shooters from jumping to Nikon. As for it slow burst speed, lousy AF system, and wimpy build quality, those would just have to be things to be endured until, hopefully, the 5DIII came about.

Well, come 2012 with known competition, Canon released a camera designed to go toe-to-toe with the D700 as Canon was much more generous in letting 1D features, including AF system, dual memory, and weather sealing trickle down to the 5D line as, D700 a known competitor, there was no way a 5DIII could be sold on image quality alone the way the 5DII was. Simply put, consumers demanded more and Canon, knowing what it was up against this time, delivered the goods.

Oh, by the way, if you plan on buying a 5DIII, preorder right now as the waiting list is sure to stretch from the Earth to the Moon in no time!

For more on the 5DIII:
Canon announces 5D Mark III
5D Mark III high ISO samples

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