Canon EOS 5D Mark III Review
To illustrate how much dynamic range you can pull out of the shadows in RAW conversion with the Canon EOS Mark III's images we have taken the base ISO RAW shots of our studio test scene and developed them in Adobe Camera RAW with a +3.0EV digital exposure compensation to lift the shadows. We've then taken crops in the darkest areas of our scene to compare the level of shadow noise on the EOS 5D Mark III, its predecessor, the Mark II, and its arguably closest rival, the Nikon D800. Applying the digital exposure compensation makes shadow noise more visible and at 100% magnification it becomes clear that the Nikon D800 produces noticeably less shadow noise than the two Canons which are on a similar level.
|Canon EOS 5D Mark III||100% crop|
|Canon EOS 5D Mark II||100% crop|
|Nikon D800||100% crop|
Take a look at the real-life sample below to see what the test above means in day-to-day shooting. The image below was taken on a sunny day against a bright sky without any exposure compensation which resulted in a nicely exposed blue sky but an underexposed subject. The hull of the plane is very dark with very little visible shadow detail. Converting the raw file in ACR 6.7 and applying some 'Fill light' brightens up the subject, bringing out color and detail, but there is also a lot of chroma noise in the affected image areas.
|JPEG - default||ACR 6.7 - Fill Light 60, NR default|
|JPEG - NR Off / Sharpness 5||100% crop|
Unfortunately, at a pixel level the 5D Mark III's low ISO JPEG output looks a little soft and mushy with poorly rendered low-contrast detail. For example the camera's JPEG engine seems incapable of of rendering the subtle contrast required to represent the texture of distant foliage. We suspect this is mainly due to the application of luminance noise reduction (even with noise reduction switched to 'Off') at base ISO. The results you can achieve from the same image files in raw conversion (see below) would support this suspicion.
|JPEG - default (NR Standard / Sharpness 3)||100% crop|
|JPEG - NR Off / Sharpness 5||100% crop|
|ACR conversion - custom sharpening||100% crop|
The sample above was taken with the 28-70mm L-lens at F10 and default JPEG settings (NR Standard, Sharpness 3). We then re-processed the raw file in-camera with noise reduction switched off and the sharpness increased to level 5. Despite Canon saying in the manual that noise reduction is applied at all sensitivity levels the former has, at base ISO, no visible impact on the rendition of low-contrast detail or other aspects of image quality.
Increasing the sharpness gets you a little more 'crispness' in the image but no additional detail is revealed. You also get a quite unpleasant 'digital' look with visible sharpening halos in some image areas (look of the white flowers of the tree in the center of the frame). Overall playing with the camera's JPEG parameters can help tuning the JPEG output toward your personal taste but none of the settings are capable to reveal the sensor's true potential.
This can only be done by processing your images in a raw converter. The last image above was processed in Adobe Camera Raw with custom sharpness settings (amount 33, radius 0.5, detail 81) and the difference to the out-of-camera JPEGs is staggering. The fine sharpening reduces artifacts and squeezes a significant amount of additional low-contrast detail out of the camera's raw files. In the 100% crop above the individual needles of the tree have become visible and the rendition of other fine detail such as the grass in the foreground has visibly improved.
Admittedly you only need to be concerned about pixel-level detail if you want to display your images at large sizes or crop them significantly, but in any case, if you want the best possible image quality out of your 5D Mark III you will have to add an extra step to your workflow and process your files in a raw converter.
Overall Image Quality
When talking about the Canon EOS 5D Mark III's image quality you have to distinguish between the camera's JPEG output and the raw data it captures.
With its 22MP sensor the Canon EOS 5D Mark III is capable of capturing large amounts of detail but when examining the Canon's out-of-camera JPEGs at a pixel level it becomes clear that the JPEG engine isn't making full use of the sensor's potential. Even at base ISO some visibly destructive noise reduction is applied which results in a slightly mushy appearance of the image and a loss of fine low-contrast detail. Combined with a fairly aggressive default sharpening this means the Canon JPEGs can look a little over-processed up-close. At base ISO turning off the noise reduction does not make any difference and the in-camera sharpening parameter does not give you any control over the sharpening radius which means it's pretty much impossible to squeeze any additional detail out of the camera's JPEGs by modifying the image parameters.
Processing the camera's raw files however makes a big difference. Reducing the noise reduction and applying some customized, small-radius sharpening reveals unexpected levels of detail and shows what the 5D Mark III's sensor, in combination with a good quality lens, is really capable of. We've printed some ouf our sample images and in low-contrast detail the difference between a converted raw and out-of-camera JPEGs becomes visible in prints larger than 8x12in.
At higher ISOs the Canon EOS 5D Mark III continues to apply strong noise reduction which results in comparatively clean images but also a loss of fine detail. When shooting at ISOs lower than 25600 we would recommend to disable the in-camera noise reduction. This doesn't actually mean that no noise reduction is applied (even with NR disabled there is a base level that cannot be switched off) but it gets you some additional low-contrast detail. Only at the very highest sensitivities does the chroma noise become sufficiently intrusive to make the 'Standard' noise reduction setting the better option. Like at base ISO processing raw files can get you better results than the out-of-camera JPEGs. The 5D Mark III's raw noise levels are comparable to other cameras in this class and if you have the time, a customized mix of chroma and luminance noise reduction in post-processing gets you high ISO images with better detail and a more pleasant 'grain' than Canon's JPEG engine can manage.
Overall the Canon EOS 5D Mark III's JPEG output across the ISO range offers good colors, tonality and dynamic range with a very smooth highlight roll-off. Both metering and auto white balance are consistently reliable. However, if you want the maximum detail at a pixel level you have no other choice but to shoot in RAW mode and spend a little time processing the files. Ultimately we would expect a large proportion of the EOS 5D Mark III's 'target audience' to shoot and process raw anyway, not only to get maximum detail out of the images but also for the added flexibility that raw files offer when making more 'in-depth' tonal adjustments on a computer.
- 16 HDR modes
- 17 Lens Corrections
- 18 Noise and Noise Reduction
- 19 Dynamic Range
- 20 Resolution
- 21 Raw Mode
- 22 High ISO
- 23 Image Quality Tests
- 24 Movie mode
- 25 Video opinion (EOSHD.com)
- 26 Image Q. Compared (JPEG)
- 27 Image Q. Compared (Hi ISO)
- 28 Image Q. Compared (RAW)
- 29 Conclusion
- 30 Samples gallery
|Hot Air Balloons Over Bagan by User9320321874|
|Blue mood by darub|
from Fixed lens shootout.
|Yellow Warbler by LeeS|
from A Big Year - birds
|Waiting for the Parade by tcoker1103|
from - La Vida Loca - (Black and White Street Photography+ A Border)
The Pictar grip provides a number of customizable physical controls for your iPhone camera, but at its price point we would like to see better materials and build quality.
Peak Design's 'consider every detail' approach shines in the Everyday Backpack. While expensive, it's one of the best options out there for a photographer who needs to pack a lot of stuff in addition to gear.
If you're thinking of using Canon's sports glass on the Sony a9, think again. The ultra-fast camera slows way down when you attach off-brand glass.
The Polish town of Katowice is not known as an area of beauty, but as all photographers know, that doesn't mean that beauty can't be found if you know where to look. Mariusz Pietranek used a drone to look down on the colorful sedimentation tanks at an ironworks.
New York Times video journalist Ben Solomon spent a harrowing three weeks accompanying Iraqi Major Sajjad al-Hour as he and his men fought to retake Mosul from I.S. forces.
The 3D VR camera launched through a crowdfunding campaign in 2015 goes on sale beginning June 26.
Noctilucent clouds, a crescent moon and Venus were visible in the pre-dawn sky over Budapest yesterday. Photographer György Soponyai captured NASA's astronomy picture of the day.
Squirming pets won't sit still for photos? A Kickstarter campaign is looking to help.
Find out how Chris Burkard shifted from editorial photography to his true passions: landscapes, conservation and, of course, surfing.
The updated EyeEm app scans your camera roll and picks images that are composed particularly well, have the best quality, or highest chance of selling on EyeEm Market.
It's three years old but still a solid option for a Micro Four Thirds shooter looking for a high-quality, fast, wide-angle prime. Take a look at how we got along with it.
Tamron has announced the longest all-in-one zoom lens currently available, the 18-400mm F3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD. Designed for Canon and Nikon crop-sensor cameras, the lens will be available in July.
When you're ready to step-up to full-frame from an entry-level or midrange camera, the choices can be overwhelming. Find out which models came out on top in our $1200-2000 enthusiast ILC roundup.
Just a guy wearing a VR headset, smashing invisible Goombas in Central Park.
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this gorgeous aerial photo of the Martian landscape. And if you look really close, you can actually see the Mars Curiosity rover in the very middle.
The city of Laguna Beach, California has provided some clarification around the kinds of photography permits it offers.
Later this year, a VR180 camera will be Joining Yi's Halo and 360 VR cameras, which will offer stereo 3D capture, yet be as easy to use and compact as a 2D camera.
Caltech researchers have developed an 'optical phased array' chip that uses time delays instead of a lens to focus the incoming light.
Pricing and shipping have finally been revealed for two highly anticipated lenses from Sigma, announced in February.
These macro photos of clouds of paint billowing through clear water might look like high-quality CGI, but they're real photographs. And photographer Alberto Seveso told us how they were made.
Facebook is testing a feature that prevents people from saving, sharing, or even taking a screenshot of your profile picture.
We've reshot the Sony a9 in our studio. The short story: it's sharper! The long story... well you can read it all here.
The collection will be officially launched during the Europeana Transcribathon Campus Berlin 2017 crowdsourcing event which will be held on 22 and 23 June at the Berlin State Library.
Light gives us some insight into the preparations for the launch of the pre-order shipments of its much anticipated L16 multi-lens camera.
OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei has confirmed in a tweet that the second lens on the back of the OnePlus 5 uses a 1.6x optical zoom and that digital zoom is used to reach the claimed 2x zoom factor.
Fujifilm recently unveiled the second in its series of affordable cine lenses, the MK50-135mm T2.9. We got our hands on it for a couple days and took it for a spin.
Leica's first attempt at an M-series digital rangefinder was rough around the edges, but set a pattern for all of the cameras that came after it. In this week's Throwback Thursday article, Barney remembers the M8.
No stranger to extreme situations, legendary climber and filmmaker Jimmy Chin talks to Outside Magazine about his career, and the challenge of filming Alex Honnold's rope-free solo climb of El Capitain.
A company backed by Android co-founder Andy Rubin is attempting to make video conferencing less terrible.
Rangefinder magazine asked five professional portrait and wedding photographers about posting on Instagram; no surprise, they got five different answers.