Raw and raw conversion

Supplied software

The Canon EOS 5D Mark III is provided with the 'Canon EOS Solutions Disk' which includes:

  • Canon ZoomBrowser EX 6.5 - Easy to use image browsing and organization with a unique interface. Includes rudimentary image editing, printing and e-mail. This latest version of the software also provides some very basic video editing. - Windows only.
  • Canon PhotoStitch 3.1 - Panorama stitching utility.
  • Canon Digital Photo Professional 3.11.26 - Advanced image workflow and editing, specialized in RAW conversion with a range of adjustment and output options. *
  • Movie Uploader for YouTube - Tool for uploading videos to the Youtube website.
  • CameraWindow - Tool for transferring images to a computer

* Universal Binaries (Intel / PowerPC) for Mac OS X.

Digital Photo Professional is an image workflow and RAW conversion application that provides for the browsing and management of images in a folder structure as well as tagging, rotation etc. In addition it also provides an extensive range of RAW conversion features which include digital exposure compensation, white balance, tone curve, color, picture style, sharpness and lens correction parameters.

A number of different tools can be accessed from the tools menu. The Quick Check tool allows you to browse through a selection of images and assign check marks to them. The Trimming tool can be used to apply a crop to an image (the image itself is not modified, this is simply saved in the recipe).

The Stamp tool works in a similar way to the clone stamp or healing brush in Photoshop (although it is primary designed for the removal of light or dark blotches).The Rename tool can be used to change the filename of a selection of images based on a rule set. Finally you can convert multiple RAW files at a time using the batch conversion tool.

Digital Photo Professional has a comprehensive feature set. RAW conversion (in this image you can see the Edit window) certainly offers enough to satisfy even the most advanced user. In fact you can easily end up spending way too long trying the different sliders.... One of the main advantages of working with RAW files: DPP offers much more control over noise-reduction than the in-camera settings.
Tone curves can be adjusted for each color channel separately. The lens aberration window offers correction of light fall-off, chromatic aberration, distortion and color blur.

This latest version of Digital Photo Pro which is provided with the EOS 5D Mark III includes a new, fairly comprehensive lens correction module which allows you to correct your raw files for vignetting (peripheral illumination, purple fringing (color blur) and chromatic aberration based on lens profiles. While the same 'image imperfections' can be corrected in-camera the software gives you more control over the process. For the vignetting, CA and distortion correction you have sliders which allow you to apply a partial correction between 0 and 100%. There is also a slider to indicate the subject distance the image was taken at which helps optimizing the distortion correction.

The Lens aberration correction dialogue opens as a separate window within DPP. It contains the full image view and a magnification area at the top right. There is also the option for a grid-overlay which is useful when correcting distortion.

Raw conversion

As is normal in our reviews we like to compare the supplied raw conversion software, any optional manufacturer raw conversion software and some third party raw converter. For the purpose of this test we've picked Adobe Camera Raw, DXO Optics Pro 7 and the Canon software. Here we compare these two converters to the camera's JPEG engine to see how each of them pulls detail out of the images.

  • JPEG - Large/Fine, Default settings
  • DPP - Digital Photo Professional
  • ACR - Adobe Camera raw 6.7
  • DXO - DXO Optics Pro 7

Sharpness and Detail

Like we've seen with many Canon DSLRs Canon's Digital Photo Professional emulates the output of the camera's JPEG engine very closely. Color rendition and tonality are as good as identical but DPP applies at default settings a touch more sharpening which results in images that are, at a pixel-level, a little crisper.

Adobe Camera Raw's output is less contrasty with more subtle, small-radius sharpening and less noise reduction in the shadow areas. The end result is a more appealing rendition of the image with more natural tonality and more fine detail. DXO Optics Pro shows similar levels of detail to ACR but applies stronger sharpening and a touch more saturation at default settings. The increase in detail will only be visible at a 100% magnification and is therefore only really relevant if you plan to display your images at very large sizes but in any case processing your raw files gives you the flexibility to customise image parameters for your specific requirements.

Digital Photo Professional ->JPEG (Default settings)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crop
Adobe ACR 6.7 raw ->JPEG (Default settings)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crop
DXO Optics Pro 7.2.3 ->JPEG (Default settings)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crop
JPEG out of camera, High quality setting (all settings default)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crop


The resolution chart confirms the observations we've made when looking at the crops above. DPP applies more aggressive sharpening than the out-of-camera JPEGs while Adobe ACR's sharpening is more subtle with a smaller radius, resulting in better fine detail. As a consequence ACR resolves details up to marginally higher frequencies than DPP and the camera JPEGs. Again, DXO resolves similar amounts of detail to Adobe ACR but applies a little stronger sharpening. Keep in mind though that these are the results of the default settings and you can improve the output further but customizing the sharpness settings in the conversion process.

JPEG from camera Digital Photo Professional (raw)
Adobe Camera raw (raw) DXO (raw)


The 5D Mark III's 22MP sensor in combination with Canon's fine L-series lenses is capable of capturing very high levels of detail. However, as we've seen in the samples above you can squeeze some additional detail out of the raw files compared to the 'out of camera' JPEGs. By applying customized sharpening (Amount 43, radius 0.6, detail 49) to the image low contrast detail in the distant foliage in the real-world sample image below is revealed. The sample below was shot at ISO 100, 1/400th sec, F8 at a focal length of 82mm with the 24-105mm F4 Canon L-lens.

JPEG from camera Adobe Camera Raw (raw)
100% crop 100% crop

Even if pixel-level detail is not your number one priority the ability to modify shooting parameters after an image has been taken, in raw conversion, can be extremely useful. Depending on the light source Auto White Balance systems don't always work 100% reliably and if you don't have the time to take a custom reading you can still snap away and take care of the problem in post-processing.

The picture below was taken under artificial light with Auto White Balance which resulted in a reddish cast. In Adobe ACR we modified the color temperature and slightly lifted the exposure to create a more pleasant end result. The sample below was shot at ISO 640, 1/60th sec, F7.1 and a focal length of 70mm.

JPEG from camera Adobe Camera Raw (raw)

Raw conversion is also very useful for improving the image detail at high ISOs. The Canon's JPEG noise destroys a lot of fine detail and a customized mix of luminance and chrominance noise reduction applied in raw conversion can generate results with better fine detail. We demonstrate this in more detail on the following page.

Raw files for download

Don't just take our word for it - take a look at the Canon EOS 5D Mark III's raw files for yourself, and run them through your own software and preferred conversion settings. Here, we provide you with a selection of raw files of 'real world' scenes, and if you want to take a closer look at the 5D Mark III's studio scene shots, you can download original raw files from our compared to (raw) page.