Is the Canon 5D Mark III Worth Buying in 2023?

This isn’t a technical review, and I’m not going to compare the 5D Mark III to newer cameras because I’m not a techie who obsesses over gear. I’m a working photographer who pays more attention to what I’m shooting rather than what I’m shooting with. But I will answer the question if the Canon 5D Mark III is worth buying in 2023.


I remember when I got my first Canon SLR; it was when I was starting out as a full-time photographer in 2011. It was a 5D Mark II, the predecessor to the Mark III. I used it as my primary camera for weddings, corporate events, family shoots and more. It was a serious workhorse that just refused to break under any circumstances. Shoot after shoot, it kept going without skipping a beat. The only reason I may have missed the odd shot was because of my own lack of experience, but the camera itself was flawless.

Then, in 2012, the Canon 5D Mark III was released. At the time, it was the new big thing, with glossy ads about phenomenal low-light performance and an enhanced video mode. YouTubers from China gave it glowing reviews. The more established photographers around me started buying them, and I’m almost embarrassed to say that I was jealous, and I wanted one, too. I tried to justify it by convincing myself that it would make me a better photographer.

The Purchase

Regardless of this, I managed to buy the Canon 5D Mark III body in 2014. Two years after it was released. It was one of the fanciest cameras on the market then, and being in South Africa at the time, the exchange rate made it eye-wateringly expensive. But since I had no plans to do anything but photography for the foreseeable future, I took out a bank loan and ordered it online. I remember the day it arrived. I took it out of its box and stared at it. It was a beautiful piece of art, a precision instrument, and my perceived gateway to becoming one of the all-time great photographers of my generation. It was sleek and sexy. I felt like I had finally arrived and that life was complete. I excitedly mounted my favourite nifty-fifty lens, which clicked on tightly, and hurriedly ran outside to do some test shots. I remember thinking that it was great, and it worked the same as my Mark II, except for a few slightly extra controls. Shooting video was also better because it had a dedicated switch and button to start and stop recording. I downloaded those first few test shots and studied the results by zooming in and checking the image quality, then zooming out and checking the colour, and then zooming in again. Then, I took the same shots with my Mark II and compared them. I was happy with the results. One thing I wasn’t happy about was that I’d just learned a very important lesson: better equipment doesn’t make you a better photographer. I waited till later and took some evening shots, too. The low-light performance was indeed superior to the Mark II, which I concluded would serve me well since a large portion of my photography at the time was in dimly lit chapels and wedding receptions.

The First Shoot

I was booked to shoot a wedding a few days later, my first job with my shiny new prized possession. I arrived at the swanky address where the groom was getting ready, proudly pulled it out of my bag, smiled from ear to ear, aimed it at the groom, who was standing next to the pool, and then SPLASH! One of the groomsmen thought it would be hilarious to do a running dive bomb into the pool next to me. Both my new camera and I got utterly drenched, and I hadn’t even taken a single shot yet. I felt like crying, and I had 10 hours of shooting ahead of me. I managed to dry it off, changed my shirt and continued the shoot, not suspecting anything so infuriating could happen again. Later that evening, I was taking party pics on the dance floor when, again, SPLASH! A bridesmaid spilt an entire tray of sugary shots straight onto my camera. It was as if she aimed for it. It’s now 2023, nine years, hundreds of shoots and thousands upon thousands of photos later, and one of the buttons is still sticky.

The Answer

So, to finally answer the question, is the Canon 5D Mark III still worth it in 2023? My answer is a resounding YES. Do you need crystal-clear image quality? Check. Accurate colour-reproduction? Check. Low-light performance? Check. Broadcast-quality HD video footage? Check. Reliability? Check. I can keep going, but it’s safe to say that this camera became an extension of my hands for the following six years. I shot hundreds of weddings, family portraits, events, and corporate shoots in the studio and on location, and I even photographed the president of South Africa with it. It performed everything I asked of it in demanding situations, and it never failed me. Not even once. It’s been dropped, banged against walls, scratched, dented and abused, but it soldiers on, day after day, like a hardened trooper heading into battle without so much as a blink. Nearly all the images on this website were taken with it.

If you’re like me and end up agonising over decisions like this for days, weeks, and months, here’s some help: buy it now, before they’re all gone. You won’t regret it.