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Is that a Canon 5D Mark III which I see before me?

Canon's 5D Mark II SLR is due for an update, and a California photographer might have stumbled across its successor in Kenya.

Long in the tooth, Canon's EOS 5D Mark II is due for a replacement.
Long in the tooth, Canon's EOS 5D Mark II is due for a replacement. Canon

Photographer Stephen Oachs didn't go to Kenya to take product photos, but he might have gotten a doozy anyway--shots of an unreleased but highly anticipated Canon SLR.

It's not clear what exactly Oachs found, but he posted photos of the apparent Canon SLR on his blog for those who want to take a guess. The usual caveats about prototypes and other uncertainties apply, of course, but it's definitely possible that he stumbled across a prototype of the Canon 5D Mark III.

The design looks in many ways similar to a Canon 7D, a 2009-era SLR released after the 5D Mark II from 2008, but there are differences: the "Q" button is moved near the back-mounted selection wheel, some other buttons are shuffled around, and to my eye at least the display is wider and likely including an HD aspect ratio. And I don't see any signs of a pop-up flash--something today's 7D has but the 5D Mark II lacks.

"The battery grip seems to have a joystick. I also noticed a 'Rate' button," Oachs added. "Is this the new 5D Mark III, or maybe the 7D Mark II? This info I was not able to determine." The Japanese man using the gear said he worked for Canon, Oachs said.

Oachs also posted photos of the man using an upcoming Canon 200-400mm supertelephoto lens that Canon announced last year but hasn't yet begun shipping. Oachs said the man expected a March or April release, which sounds plausible to me but hardly definite enough to book my own safari trip.

The Canon 5D Mark II was a big hit for Canon. It employs a comparatively large full-frame sensor for better resolution and dynamic range than smaller sensors such those in the 7D or lower-end SLRs. And although Nikon has fought its way to top competition with Canon in the SLR market, the 5D Mark II kept the rival at bay with video abilities good enough to catch Hollywood's attention.

The supposed 5D Mark III--Canon hasn't said boo about it--presumably would have to one-up its predecessor in the video department. Last year, Canon revealed a prototype SLR that can shoot 4K video, which is roughly four times the pixel count as 1080p video, but it's a stretch to assume the 5D Mark III will have it--especially given the uninspiring choice to use the Motion JPEG technology to encode the prototype's 4K video.

Extrapolating from other trends, a 5D Mark III likely will have much-needed autofocus performance improvements, new metering technology, more megapixels for the studio and landscape crowd, and some of the low-light shooting improvements that have made their way to the new flagship Canon EOS-1D X SLR. Video is nice, but still photography will remain job No. 1.

Via Canon Rumors