Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Canon 5D Mark III Silent Mode: Why doesn't Canon promote this more?

I was one of the many people waiting for the Canon 5D Mark III to come out. I had been using the 5D Mark II cameras for many years and wanted to see some things updated, specifically:

* Cleaner images at higher ISOs
* Faster frame rate
* Better LCD on the back of the camera

When I saw that all of these had been addressed with the 5D Mark III, I ordered one camera to evaluate. As it turned out, I really liked the new features of the camera and the improved user interface. All was good. And then, after reading the manual and playing around a little more, I stumbled on the silent shooting mode. "Huh? What the heck is this?" I thought. And so I gave it a try.

Oh my goodness, this feature is amazing! Some people may not care about a silent mode, but since I spend a lot of time shooting inside temples and churches, in an environment where the sound of a camera shutter is distracting, this is HUGE. Seriously, this feature is a real game changer for me!

I can not tell you how many times I have shot images of a religious service and had the clergy look back at me with that disapproving look. Well...that does not happen any more. Some DSLR cameras have silent modes that frankly aren't that silent.  Heck, even the Canon 1DX supposedly has a silent mode, but it sounds like a machine gun compared to the 5D Mark III. I actually tried using the 1DX inside a temple a couple of weeks ago and that did not go well. After only shooting 4 images, I got that "look of death" from the Rabbi. Hmmmmm... I won't do that again.

In my area, there are numerous venues where they allow video capturing but not still photography. Sometimes they will give me a good reason for this rule, but other times, they just say "that's the rule" with no further explanation.  With the silent mode of the 5D Mark III, I can ask for permission to shoot in "video mode" and fire off stills without disrupting anyone. As I said , this is a game changer! I can now shoot images in venues where many of my competitors can't.

This is not only an amazing feature for people shooting weddings, bar mitzvahs, quinceaneras, or other quiet events. This would be perfect for those wildlife photographers who want to shoot photos of a skittish animal. Or better yet, how about those photographers trying to take pictures of a Tiger? Tiger Woods that is. He is always complaining about the photographers taking photos of him when he is about to hit a golf ball. Sure, the burst rate of the camera goes down from 7 frames a second to 3.5, but in most cases, this is still a good trade off.

With all of this said, I should mention that when I am not shooting in a quiet environment, I still prefer to shoot in normal continuous mode. Why? Because I really like to hear the shutter in action. I have been shooting long enough that I can judge my shutter speed by the sound of the shutter. 

So anyways...my big question to Canon is: "Why aren't you guys promoting this feature more in your marketing materials?" This particular feature is a unique selling proposition against their competitors. Now, when people ask me my opinion on the 5D Mark III, this is my first comment. Yep, even more so than the clean shooting at ISO 3200.

I am curious to know if other 5D Mark III users have had similar experiences. All I know is, I am silently happy as can be! Shhhhhhhhhhh.

Here is a video file for you to play to see and hear the difference between the regular shooting mode and the silent shooting mode of the Canon 5D Mark III. (I should also mention that the shutter is actually quieter than this video makes it sound.)


Paul said...

Hi Jeff,

I have a Canon 7D with two silent mode options: I find both practically as loud as normal mode.

I came across the following issue this week: while in live view, my remote flashes wouldn't fire. After many hours of searching, someone mentioned disabling silent mode. It seems I had left my 7D on silent mode, useless as that was. Once I had disabled silent mode, I could remote fire my flashes in live view. Have you come across this issue with the 5D Mark III?


* Love the blog and your B&H videos.

Jeff Cable Photography Blog said...

Paul - that is the first I have heard of this. I have never actually owned a 7D, but have many friends who use it. It sounds like another one of those small irritants that nobody seems to understand.

Al Foote III said...

Hey Jeff --

I shoot for theatrical productions and the 5Dm3's silent shooting mode was an AMAZING discovery! It's so nice to be able to shoot and not feel like you're being a distraction to those in the house or on the stage.

I'm with Paul -- thank you for your generosity with your knowledge and talent!