You made it past the break! As a gesture of our appreciation, we're going to let you in on a little Mark III secret -- in fact, if that high-ISO shooting wasn't in the picture, this could very well have been our favorite new feature. It's called Silent Single, and it literally allows you to capture an image without hearing that familiar shutter sound. Clunk. Clunk. Or clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk -- six times every second in high-speed mode. You can even do your rapid-fire snapping in Silent Continuous, though you're limited to three frames per second rather than the typical six, with an available workaround (more on that in a moment).
There's no question that silent shooting will impact your experience. Sure, you'll never be able to mask the fact that you're lugging around a full-size DSLR -- so good luck being discreet -- but you will be able to avoid attracting attention each time you snap a frame. The practical applications for this are endless -- wedding photographers won't have to worry about disrupting the ceremony, street shooters can avoid alerting their subjects and nature photogs won't have to worry about frightening wildlife and ruining their shots. The feature will also be more than welcome on film and television sets, where photographers are often required to use cumbersome (and pricey) noise suppression equipment. It's not silent, as its name suggests, but it's very very very quiet.
So should you simply set Silent Single and forget it? For many photographers, there's really no reason not to. The mode uses a process called Pulse Width Modulation, which slows the speed of the mirror mechanism and the shutter charging motor. Because both operate at a slightly reduced speed, there's a longer delay between the time you hit the shutter release and when the camera begins an exposure, but unless you need every second-fraction you can get, you shouldn't have any issue here. There's also a "Silent Shooting" mode available when in Live View, though this operates by using the CMOS sensor to control the start of an exposure, rather than the first curtain of the mechanical shutter. This mode can be even more advantageous, since it's completely vibration-free. It's also compatible with the high-speed continuous drive mode, letting you capture six frames per second -- double the count available in Silent Continuous.
ISO 25,600 and beyond
Yes, you know the Mark III can capture usable images at ISO 25,600 -- the top sensitivity available on the 5D Mark II -- but there's a noticeable improvement with this year's model, even with our pre-production sample, as you can see in the 100-percent comparison below. There's also an option to jump even further -- to ISO 51,200 and 102,400 -- but you'll only want to venture that high if you're more concerned about freezing the action than snapping a printable image.
On our first day with the 5D paired with a 24-105mm f/4 L lens, we spent some time exploring Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, South Korea, capturing sharp frames of building interiors from outside the barricades. If you're been to a similar complex in Asia -- The Forbidden City in Beijing, perhaps, or temples in Thailand -- you're entirely familiar with the scene of tourists forcing their way to the front of a group, point-and-shoot in hand with the flash engaged. After patiently waiting our turn, we were able to snap tack-sharp shots with natural light, holding the camera by hand. The same applied to night scenes, and other interior shots.
But what really sealed the deal was an evening shoot around Lower Manhattan. We first came upon the World Trade Center construction site, with 4 WTC shining bright against the sky at dusk. There was more than enough light to snag crisp handheld shots at ISO 3200.
Minutes later, with the sun far below the horizon, we walked through Battery Park City towards the Hudson. We flipped to 12,800 to snag ferries hovering above the river, layered afront the New Jersey skyline.
Then, ISO 25,600 became the norm, as we were able to capture daffodils at 1/40 second, and freeze cyclists and joggers mid-stride, lit by nothing but ordinary street lamps.
Next, a stop at an elevated position just above a small pedestrial bridge, with blue street lamps and a view of Jersey City in the background.
Just past the waterfront, we happened upon a view of a fog-covered 1 WTC, which you can see below as photographed from the southern tip of Manhattan.
We then made our way over to Stone Street, to capture the happy hour excitement, lit by a variety of dim street and building fixtures.
We've singled out these high-ISO shots, compiling them in the gallery below, though you'll want to download our original JPEGs to get a better feel.