My current camera is a 5D Mk I. At the time the 5d Mk II was released I decided to sit tight and wait for the Mk III. I was quite happy with the performance of my 5D Mk I at the time and didn’t feel that the Mk II would make a dramatic difference to me.

My partner Kim had a different view and bought a Mk II, so I’ve had an opportunity to use both cameras. In hindsight I think I was wrong. I think the Mk II would have made a difference to me, in particular its live view mode (good for long exposures & tilt/shift) and the increased pixels allow much more flexibility to recompose during post processing. But, by the time I had come round to this way of thinking more time had passed and I thought a 5D Mk III, or a replacement for the 1Ds Mk III wouldn’t be too far away. In fact I was leaning towards going for the 1Ds Mk III replacement over the 5d Mk III.

Now having seen the announcement of the 1D X, I’m starting to think that maybe I should buy a 5d Mk II after all. I’m not all convinced that the features of the 1D X are appropriate for my type of photography. The anticipated approx £7k price tag (assuming the usual $1 = £1) has pretty much sealed it for me: I’m not going to buy this camera. In fact if I was thinking of paying this sort of money, I would seriously have to consider it against an entry level medium format system. As it happens, I had a half a wish that Canon would head in the larger sensor direction themselves.

My work is mainly low ISO based landscape photography. I also take quite a lot of long exposure and HDR shots. I’ll also quite often manually focus for hyper focal distance or some other creative reason. I tend to take very few shots, because of the amount of time each can take. So I don’t really need, the 1D X’s features such as high ISO, high fps, 1080p video, multiple flash cards and Ethernet. Also, lowering the megapixels to increase the quality (especially at higher ISO) is very little use as I shoot usually shoot ISO 100 on a tripod.

So the question is, do I wait for a the 5D Mk III or buy a 5D Mk II? My thoughts are:

Here in the UK, the Mk II is very competitively priced at around £1,500 inc VAT. Based on current trends, it is likely that the Mk III will be more expensive.

The Mk II has live view and I suspect the Mk III will also have it. So a draw there, although there is a possibility that the Mk III may have an articulated screen which would be handy. But that’s purely speculation.

The Mk II’s ISO is high enough to use live view with a 10 stop filter (for long exposure). It is likely that the ISO rating for the Mk III will increase so would give more flexibility in this regard. A win for the Mk III, but not a big one.

The Mk II produces excellent quality results at ISO 100. I’d be very surprised if the Mk III wouldn’t at least match this quality. But having seen Mk II images, I’m not sure I would gain much from this without a great leap forward. So a draw.

The Mk II has 21 megapixels which allows for an adequate amount of re-composition. It is possible the Mk III will use a similar (if not the same) sensor as the 1D X, so it may be a slight win for the Mk II here.

The Mk II is available now. The Mk III hasn’t been announced. Considering the 1D X has been announced 6 months in advance (assuming Canon can keep to their timetable), the Mk III could be a year away, and then longer before supply settles down. Win, Mk II.

So, what am I gaining by waiting for the Mk III? At the moment, for my work at least, I seem to gain very little by waiting. I’m sure when the Mk III does finally appear, it will be packed full of features that I’d love to have, but for now, Canon’s announcement has actually convinced to think seriously about buying a 5D Mk II!

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