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
|It's good to be at home by Nightcrawler12|
from Best photo of the week...
|Tiny tree by Kaappo|
The Olympus 17mm F1.2 promises to open up new possibilities for Micro Four Thirds shooters seeking razor-thin depth-of-field and smooth, 'feathered' bokeh. Take a peek at our extensive sample gallery.
Are you a speed freak? Hungry to photograph anything that goes 'zoom'? Or perhaps you just want to get Sports Illustrated-level shots of your child's soccer game. Keep reading to find out which cameras we think are best for sports and action shooting.
Still yearning for an Aperture replacement? Here's a quick overview of RAW Power, a Raw image editor for iOS that pairs with the Mac application introduced in 2016. Take a look at some of its capabilities.
Video features have become an important factor to many photographers when choosing a new camera. Read on to find out which cameras we think are best for the videophile.
Tech lover Albert Lee was one of the first to pre-order the intriguing 16-camera module Light L16. Two months in, here's what he has to say about using this not-so-little computational camera.
The public art installation featured blurred portraits, ostensibly captured by the artist under that same underpass... except they weren't. They were actually portraits of comedians, pulled from the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe Festival program.
Edelkrone has upgraded its SliderOne with a SliderOne Pro and introduced a new generation of Wing and Wing Pro models, all while simultaneously improving the app that controls its entirely lineup.
People have waiting a long time for the Canon 85mm F1.4L IS lens, but how does it compare to Canon's 85mm F1.2L and Sigma's 85mm F1.4 Art? Phillip Pettit of Lensrentals took all three lenses for a spin to find out.
Affinity Photo for iPad, one of the first full-featured Raw editors designed specifically for tablet use, has been named Apple's Best iPad App of 2017. And what's more, it's currently 50% off!
VSCO Messages allows VSCO X subscribers and free users alike to share text, images, photo editing 'recipes', VSCO journal entries and more.
Flickr has revealed their top 25 photos of 2017, and there are some truly stunning shots in the mix.
Testing of the Canon G1 X Mark III is well underway, inside of the studio and out. We've just added it to our test scene comparison tool, where you can take a look at its performance side-by-side against peers like the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 V.
Whether it's a trip to the beach for some snorkeling or scrambling up a 10,000 ft volcano, the Olympus Tough TG-5 proved to be a great travel companion for Jeff. That's why it's his 2017 Gear of the Year.
Last year, the DJI Mavic Pro and the Phantom 4 Professional took top honors in our end of year buying guide. Read on to find out who it this year for beginners, consumers, prosumers, and professionals at a price tag less than $2,000.
Meyer Optik Goerlitz is resurrecting yet another classic lens. This time, the company has set its crowdfunding sights on the Primoplan 75mm F1.9, a lens originally manufactured in a run of just 2,000 back in the 1930s.
The folks at Kolari Vision—an infrared camera conversion company based in New Jersey—recently tore down a brand new Sony a7RIII, giving everybody a peek at the camera's much-improved weather sealing.
Resource Travel's Brandon Cunningham recently joined The Giving Lens for a 10-day adventure in India. A trip he won't soon forget, to a country that left him in "sensory and soul overload."
Meet the new Freefly Movi, a handheld gimbal stabilizer designed by cinema stabilization pros for use with the iPhone. Freefly is calling this little beast "the world's most portable, adaptable, and intuitive cinema robot."
Photography portfolio site PhotoShelter is adding their voice to the growing group of online companies that are speaking out in favor of net neutrality, and against the FCC's upcoming vote to kill it.
The Direct app would replace the current Inbox on the Instagram app, doing for Instagram what the Facebook Messenger app did for Facebook on mobile.
Qualcomm's latest high-end mobile chipset offers higher frame rates and a wider color gamut, among other important camera improvements you can expect to see in next year's flagship smartphones.
Photographer Josselin Cornou recently got trapped in a blizzard in the Snowy Mountains of Australia with his Fujifilm GFX 50S and new Tamron 15-30mm F2.8 lens. Find out how they held up to 110km/h winds and -15°C temperatures.
While film nostalgia reaches an all-time high, Seattle-based pro photographer Sofi Lee is turning back to 'digicams' made between 2008 and 2011.
The fixed prime lens camera market may be a bit niche, but it's here that you'll find some of the best cameras you can buy. Sensors ranging from APS-C to full-frame are designed to match their lenses, which cover ranges from 28-75mm equivalent, so image quality is top-notch.
With a capacity of 512GB, Samsung's new UFS chips take built-in storage on smartphones to desktop-PC levels. Will this eliminate the need for microSD slots?
Photographer Josh Rossi decided to go big for this year's Christmas card, so he recreated the Star Wars: The Last Jedi poster using himself, his wife, and their two kids.
In response to a NY Times article about how some traffickers were using Instagram as part of the illicit animal trade, Instagram has added a content advisory screen that pops up to warn users any time they search for hashtags "associated with harmful behavior to animals."
Kodak is expanding its instant photography lineup today with the release of the Kodak Mini Shot Instant 10MP camera. A tiny little digital camera that spits out either 2.1 x 3.4-inch or 2.1 x 2.1-inch prints.
Huawei'e next high-end smartphone could be the first to take computational imaging to the next level with a triple-camera that spits out 40MP files.
Landscape photographer Spencer Cox recalls the single most rewarding—and frightening—landscape photography experience of his life: photographing a sandstorm.