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Artificial light White Balance

The EOS 5D's automatic white balance in artificial light has certainly improved since the EOS 20D, most noticeably in incandescent light. That said it's still not perfect and I personally wouldn't rely on using automatic white balance indoors, it's almost always safer to use a preset (or ideally manual preset).

Incandescent - Auto WB
Red: 6.0%, Blue: -9.4%
Incandescent - Incandescent preset WB
Red: 2.1%, Blue: -4.1%
Fluorescent - Auto WB
Red: 0.0%, Blue: -1.8%
Fluorescent - Fluorescent preset WB
Red: -1.0%, Blue: -3.1%

Long Exposure noise reduction / Night shots

The EOS 5D has typical 'dark frame subtraction' noise reduction for exposures of one second or longer, this can be enabled or disabled via the camera menu. Dark frame subtraction NR works by taking a second equal exposure immediately after the first but with the shutter closed, any hot pixel noise in this second exposure can then be subtracted from the first to produce a cleaner image. With noise reduction off we were only able to identify two or three 'hot pixels' in our 30 second exposure, switched on these are gone with no black pit artifacts.

Noise reduction Off Noise reduction On
ISO 100, 30 sec, F9 ISO 100, 30 sec, F9


The EOS 5D features the latest version of Canon's flash metering system, E-TTL II. This utilizes additional 'distance information' provided to the camera by the lens (although not all lenses provide this). The lens used on the shots below as the EF 24-70 mm F2.8L, exposure mode P. As you can see the results were fairly good, although obviously could have been improved with a little tuning. Flash power was well metered and of course the bounced shot looks the best. No color cast in any of these shots, WB communicated well between the flash and camera.

Canon 430 EX direct Canon 430 EX bounced
Canon 430 EX direct  

Vignetting & Light Falloff

Vignetting and light falloff aren't something we would normally test in our digital SLR reviews, primarily because cropped sensor digital SLR's and don't exhibit much falloff. However the game moves on and the EOS 5D will put full frame sensors into the hands of amateurs who may well be surprised to see it, especially if they are upgrading from a cropped sensor camera (such as the EOS 20D).

Technically vignetting refers to a darkening of the corners of the frame due to a physical obstruction such as the rim of the lens barrel or a filter, light falloff refers to a reduction in the amount of light reaching the far corners of the frame due to the angle of incidence of the light reaching there. Light falloff is sometimes referred to as cos4 vignetting. In this section of the review we will refer to this effect as falloff for simplicity (and more likely accuracy) however it could well be either or both vignetting / light falloff.

It was my experience of shooting with the EOS 5D that it is certainly possible to see falloff in every day shots, although mostly only at large apertures. In an attempt to measure and compare we improved on a test first designed for our prosumer camera reviews.


Measurement Areas
We aim the camera at a white wall (about 0.5 m away) which is evenly lit by two soft boxes (producing about 10 EV across the entire wall), the lens is manually focused to be about 1m out of focus (to avoid picking up texture detail from the wall). A sequence of shots are now taken at every aperture from maximum to F11 (beyond this there's only a very slow roll-off from the lens & camera combinations we tested), for zoom lenses at both wide angle and telephoto.

These images are then processed by our own analysis software which derives an average luminance (Lum) for the four corners of the frame (5% each) as well as the center (10%), the corners are averaged and the difference between this and the center of the frame is recorded. This value can then be plotted (see graphs below) as a representation of the approximate amount of falloff.

Hence falloff of -30% would mean that if the luminance center of the frame was at exactly 100% (pure white) the average luminance of the corners would be 70%. Anything more than -20% may well be visible in everyday shots, although this depends on the framing of the shot and the exposure.

Range of falloff

The chart below demonstrates the difference that these figures above can make, we took the blank wall luminance value of 75 (about 190,190,190 RGB) as our normal level. Remember that these patches are solid and the actual effect of shading is a softer gradual roll-off which would not necessarily be so obvious.

Zoom lenses

As you can see the EOS 5D fully reveals the 24-70's falloff characteristics, naturally worse at wide angle and maximum aperture. At wide angle (24 mm) you would be able to avoid noticeable falloff from about F5.0 onwards, at telephoto from F3.2 onwards. Put the 24-70 on the EOS 20D and you would never have to worry about falloff, it is below noticeable levels even at maximum aperture. The interesting result here is from the EF-S lens on the EOS 20D which does exhibit what could be noticeable falloff at wide angle from F4.0 to F5.6.

Lenses: EF 24-70 mm F2.8L, EF-S 17-85 mm F4.0-F5.6 IS

Canon EF 24-70 mm F2.8L thumbnail examples

Canon EOS 5D
Canon EOS 20D

Prime lenses

Again the EOS 5D fully reveals the falloff characteristics of these lenses, although to be fair this probably wouldn't be noticeable on the 50 mm lens beyond F2.2 or the 100 mm lens beyond F3.5. However the comparison is pretty stark, you would get the same level of falloff on the EOS 20D with the 50 mm lens at F1.4 as you would on the EOS 5D at F2.5.

Lenses: EF 50 mm F1.4, EF 100 mm F2.8 Macro

Canon EF 50 mm F1.4 thumbnail examples

Canon EOS 5D
Canon EOS 20D

Conclusion / Is it really a problem?

So we've been able to observe the falloff characteristics of the EOS 5D combined with a few lenses. The big question is will the affect my everyday shots. The short answer is probably not if you understand that it exists and avoid using wide apertures on certain (mostly wide angle) lenses. It also depends on the framing of the scene, we can clearly make out falloff in the example below because of the consistent swathe of blue created by the sky.

EF 50 mm F1.4 @ F7.1 EF 50 mm F1.4 @ F2.2

* Note that if you are shooting in RAW it is possible to (mostly) remove the vignetting effect using Adobe Camera RAW, see our samples gallery for an example

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Total comments: 16

Still worthy 10 years on because you can shoot it at any selectable ISO in RAW and it`ll be excellent, doesn`t ever get noisy (about half a stop or less noisier than the D700 or D3S in Capture one at ISO3200) , even the DR is good - JPG engine is both dated and limited but as a RAW only camera, it stands up .. Pixel level sharpness (therefore resolution of fine details) is better the D700 or D3 due to a weaker AA filter .

Focus is fast enough , though really best seen as a centre focus only system due to the lack of cross sensors anywhere else , excellent on batteries too.


Totally agree, except for the focus part, it can be improved for that value.

Hai Ching Lee


I bought one last month for Usd500 in super good and working condition but without any lens......
I bought an L Lens 24-105mm f4 for another Usd 500...... a 50mm f1.4 for Usd350.......
After much testings around, I noticed 5D is not good at Indoor unless with the help of a Flash......However , at Outdoor I must say it is a Super duper Good Full Frame machine even though it is around 8 years old........!!!

I still feel it is a Good Investment as far as dollars and cents counts......
An FX cameras from Nikon like the D700 body will cost Usd1.3k in Malaysia......

I also own a Nikon D90 with standard kit lens 18-105mm, 70-300mm Tel lens, a Fx 24-50mm f3.5-4 and 20mm f2.8 and others...
Recently I bought an Adapter for Nikon lens to Eos FX body like 5D..........It WORKS very well but have to Manually focus......So now I can have Nikon lens on 5D body which safe me a lot for a start....!!
Used 5D MK-II is selling here at around Usd1.6k which I am looking forward to...!!


I am using a nikkon D 5100. Have the opportunity to purchase a cannon eos 5d in excellent condition for $500 with 50mm f1.8 lens. Any advantages to this camera vs what I currently have besides FF? Good investment? I currently do not own any pro lenses from nikkon.

Pascal Parvex

Well, that is a great deal. I would do it.


The 5D was and is my first digital camera. It has served me with spectacular results. It's main minus for me has been its inability to use the higher ISO's, as anything higher than 200 produces visible grain in images that I print very large on my epson 24" printer. I almost always shoot with a monopod to assure the results.
Technology has changed and improved and I am searching for a replacement. I am invested in excellent Canon lenses and want to stay with Canon. I also want a camera that is not as heavy as my 5D (I am old and am fatigued by the weight of the 5D which I affectionately call "my brick".) Price is an issue too.
Still casting about trying to find a replacement.

frosty 7

hi i jus bot a canon eos 5d from a friend am i able to record video with the camera ?


No, unfortunately you are not able to shot video, neither by installing Magic Lantern (because the camera is not equipped with live view).


Easy answer: Buy a Sony A7 mirrorless and a metabones adapter to use all Canon AF lenses.


Since you have invested in Canon lenses, I think the Canon 6D is what you are looking for, if you are still looking.


I wish you guys would do a new comparison with the 5D, would love to see it vs the newer dslr's


Agreed! In all cameras announced around that time, only EOS 5D still attracts many discussions in DPR forums. How many are still talking Nikon D200 that announced just three months later these days? If you don't print/view in very big size, EOS 5D actually withstands most today's FF cameras very well till ISO 800/1600 in IQ, no mention crop cameras.


I love my 5D.
Using the 5D with quality Canon L lenses produces images that I do not see a difference between them and those taken by a newer camera (5D II, 5D III).

If video is not needed or required, then finding a clean 5D would be prudent.
Some very well kept, used lightly by some hobbyists can be found at around a $1,000 or less.

I have no immediate plans to shell out $3,000 or more for a newer model that is not going to give me much over the 5D, in terms of image quality.

But for commercial photographers, that's a different situation.


Ditto. I could not be happier with my 5D. I'm also disappointed that the set up for image comparison keeps changing. It makes it difficult to compare any older digital camera with anything contemporary.


I just sold my trusty old 5D. I love the camera but I will not miss cleaning the sensor every other week and fixing dust spots in lightroom! That was always a royal pain in the neck. Still a great camera.

Pascal Parvex

I don't know what you mean. I own the 5D since 2006 and have cleaned the sensor only once.

1 upvote
Total comments: 16