Canon 5D Mark III Dynamic Range
I could care less about the Nikon vs. Canon argument, specifically the D800 vs the 5D Mark III. The ONLY reason I bought a 5D III is that I already have a bunch of Canon lenses, and the 5D seemed like a pretty good camera. The D800 seems like a pretty good camera too, and if I had a bunch of Nikon lenses, I’d have bought that instead. So why write a post in defense of Canon dynamic range? I want to show that it’s possible to get good shadow recovery from the Canon 5D Mark III if you know what you’re doing.
Let’s start with the numbers. The new Canon 5D Mark III camera has been labeled as having less dynamic range “DR” than than both the new Nikon D800 AND the older 5D Mark II. DxO performs it’s own independent tests of camera sensors, and they rated the new 5D Mark III as having 11.7 EVs worth of dynamic range. By comparison, the 5D Mark II came in at 11.9, and the Nikon D800 came in at a whopping 14.
Photography is really all about pictures, so let’s get to it.
Image as edited to bring out max DR:
There are some blogs out there which state otherwise, but in my opinion the fact that I can blow an exposure that bad and still have something to work with is really something. In digital photography today, there really is no excuse for blowing the exposure the way I did (intentionally) in the original image. On board camera meters these days are incredibly accurate and in any of the auto modes (shutter priority, aperture priority, full auto) you can be fairly confident of a decent exposure under all but the worst conditions. And when you do encounter those worst-case conditions, check the histogram, adjust the exposure, and if possible, reshoot. If you can’t reshoot, use it as a learning experience for next time.
To blow the exposure that bad, I intentionally underexposed by 2 stops in what already was a demanding scene. In other words, I allowed the camera to gather just one quarter the amount of light that I should have, yet the image was still somewhat usable. That’s pretty good. And if you really truly need more shadow recovery than that, might I humbly suggest learning to create an adequate exposure to begin with!
For any practical purpose, the Canon 5D Mark III has plenty of room to manipulate the shadows.