It looks like Canon is finally unlocking some of the power of it’s Digic 5+ processor in the 5d mark III with the announcement of a new firmware update coming next year. The Nikon D800 was released with the ability to output a clean HDMI signal, however it was reported that the 5d MKIII was not capable of outputting a clean signal due to processor limitations. This no longer seems to be the case.

With the new firmware update, the 5d MKIII will be able to output a clean, uncompressed 4:2:2 8 bit signal via HDMI. Combine that with an hdmi capture device like the Atomos Ninja and you’ll be able to record to a format that uses less compression giving you more data to work with in post.

The strange thing about this announcement is that the firmware update wont be available until April of next year. Why is Canon announcing an update like this 7 months in advanced? To me, it seems like Canon is afraid the MKIII might loose it’s relevance when compared to other offerings. You can see this reflected in the resent $300 price drop of the 5d Mark III.

Canon seems to be attempting a balancing act with their current product line. They want to sell as many DSLR’s as possible, but they don’t want the video capabilities of those DSLR’s to undercut their high margin video cameras like the C100 and C300. Yet they are still trying to squeeze in the 1D C which really seems to be a 1D X with a firmware update to allow 4k.

On the other side of things you have a tiny little Gopro Hero3 with a $400 price tag that can generate 2.7k and 1440p files. That gives you a lot of options for digital image stabilization as well as cropping. If this can be done for $400, it shouldn’t be much longer before 3k footage is possible from a sub $2000 DSLR, which would knock the 5d MKIII and 1d X out of the water in the video department. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like Canon will be leading the movement towards innovation, hopefully companies like Panasonic and Sony will continue to move forward to fill in the void.

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