The waiting’s over: Canon ships EOS 5D Mark III update with uncompressed HDMI and more


posted Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 4:03 AM EDT

EOS 5D Mark III owners, your long wait is over! It seems a very long time ago that Canon promised a firmware update for the 5D III which would provide uncompressed HDMI output and improved autofocus at the center AF point, all the way back in mid-October of last year. In fairness to Canon, they were clear at the time that the update wouldn't actually ship until April 2013, and ship it has... just in time, on the very last day of the month.

If you're keen to get your hands on higher-quality video, or to use cross-type autofocusing with a lens extender mounted, though, that six months of waiting will be more than worthwhile. These are two very significant changes that will fundamentally change the way some photographers work with their EOS 5D III, make no mistake.

Given that it's been so long since that original announcement, a recap is probably in order. Release notes for the new Canon 5D III firmware v1.2.1 note but two changes over the previous version.

For videographers, Canon has added the ability to output an uncompressed, YCbCr 4:2:2 high definition feed over the Canon 5D III's HDMI port, giving you access to the maximum possible quality without compression artifacts, or letting you choose your own compression scheme on an external device. As you'd expect, you can opt to have the camera hide all overlays and menus from the HDMI output. You can also opt to add time code, or to synchronize camera recording to the attached device.

The other main change is support for cross-type autofocus at the center AF point with apertures as small as f/8. A total of 21 Canon lenses are now compatible with center-point AF using the various versions of the Extender EF 1.4x, and all but four of these provide the same with the Extender EF 2x in its various incarnations. It's also possible to use the surrounding four AF points as assist points, although you can't select them manually.

More details and the firmware itself can be found now on Canon USA's website. The download is available for both Windows and Mac OS platforms, ans is accompanied by installation instructions in Adobe PDF format.