Should I get the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV or the 5D Mark III?

With the recent announcement of the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, I’m sure many are considering a DSLR upgrade in the not-so-distant future. For those currently shooting with a 5D Mark II or III, the upgrade path is reasonably clear (although the 5Ds and 5Ds R still deserve consideration); however, if a photographer is currently using a Rebel-series or xxD model, there are still reasons to consider the very capable EOS 5D Mark III as one’s upgrade of choice.
Let’s look at some of the major differences between the 5D Mark IV and 5D Mark III:

5D Mark IV 5D Mark III
Resolution 30.4M 22.3M
ISO Speed 100–32000 (L: 50, H1: 51200, H2: 102400) 100–25600 (L: 50, H1: 51200, H2: 102400)
Focus Points 61 points (41 cross-type points, 61 points at f/8)
Vertically expanded AF area
61 points (41 cross-type points, central single point at f/8)
Metering Range EV -3 – 18 EV -2 – 18
Sensor AF Dual Pixel CMOS AF Contrast AF
Auto Exposure Sensor Approx. 150,000 RGB + IR metering sensor with Anti-Flicker timing IFCL Metering System with 63-zone dual-layering metering sensor
Continuous Shooting Approx. 7fps Approx. 6fps
Video Recording [4K] 4096 x 2160: 30p
[Full HD MOV] 1920 x 1080: 60p
[Full HD MP4] 1920 x 1080: 60p
[HD] 1280 x 720: 120p
(High frame rate movie: without sound)
[Full HD] 1920 x 1080: 30p
[HD] 1280 x 720: 60p
[SD] 640 x 480: 30p
Video Compression [4K] Motion JPEG
[Full HD / HD MOV / MP4] MPEG-4 AVC / H.264
MPEG-4 AVC / H.264
Video ISO Speed [Full HD] 100–25600 (H2: 102400)
[4K] 100–12800 (H2: 102400)
[Full HD] 100–12800 (H: 25600)
4K Screen Grab Yes N/A
LCD Monitor Touch panel 3.2-inch (3:2) / 1,620,000 dots 3.2-inch (3:2) / 1,040,000 dots
USB 3.0 2.0
Wi-Fi / NFC / GPS Built-in GPS / Wi-Fi via accessories

For a more comprehensive comparison, check out the site’s Camera Specifications Comparison Tool.
The increase in resolution is a big one – this one is going to be noticeable. The increase in the base ISO setting range will not likely make the differentiation list for most, but promised improvements in noise and especially in shadow detail will. The new AF system is a significant differentiator, especially in low light and when f/8 max aperture lenses are being used.
Dual Pixel AF is a game changer for video and the improved video capabilities, including 4k capture, must be considered. As this will be a popular camera for wedding photographers, the flicker-avoidance capabilities are going to be highly valued by some. Those who need Wi-Fi, NFC and/or GPS capabilities are going to strongly favor the 5D IV’s built-in features. Not included in the above list is the 5D Mark IV’s Dual Pixel RAW capabilities. While we see this as a good feature and we are anxious to see how it performs, the benefits are said to be subtle.
Very obvious is that the 5D Mark IV appears to be the better camera. The question is whether or not the 5D IV is worthy of the additional cost over the 5D Mark III, an upgrade expense for those coming from the 5D Mark III. If any of the 5D IV’s upgraded features are “must-have’s,” then there really isn’t any choice. But what about customers without such demanding requirements? What’s important here is the incremental value of those differentiating factors and whether or not the 5D IV investment is worth the price difference to a potential camera buyer.
The EOS 5D Mark III is a solid camera. It has been used and loved by a huge number of photographers and it remains a solid upgrade from many other cameras. Its low noise full frame sensor image quality alone differentiates it from all of the APS-C models.
And that brings us to the biggest benefit of purchasing a 5D Mark III over a 5D Mark IV – price. The 5D Mark IV will likely be selling at its introductory price for a decent while. However, the 5D III currently sells for $ 900.00 less for a new/retail model with USA instant savings applied. And if you’re willing to purchase a refurbished model, you can save even more.
In short, if you want a solid, versatile full-frame body at a bargain price, get the 5D Mark III. If you want/need the latest and greatest features, some being significant, get the 5D Mark IV. If upgrading to a 5D-series camera from any of the APS-C models, won’t likely be disappointed either way.

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