Canon working on 'black dot' fix for new SLR

The camera maker is "investigating ways to improve and/or mitigate" the black dot problem along with vertical banding on its 5D Mark II. Good news: it's a firmware fix.

Updated 9:27 and 9:45 a.m. PST with further details from Canon USA announcement.

Canon has acknowledged the "black dot" problem that mars some shots taken with its new 5D Mark II camera and is preparing "correction firmware" designed to deal with the problem, the company said.

Canon's 5D Mark II full-frame SLR
Canon's 5D Mark II full-frame SLR Canon

"We are currently investigating ways to improve and/or mitigate these phenomena. An announcement will be made on the Canon Web site when measures to address these phenomena have been decided," according to a statement dated December 17 that appeared on Canon's Australian support and service Web site.

A later Canon USA service announcement was largely identical, but also said Canon is "examining measures to reduce or eliminate these phenomena by providing correction firmware."

Firmware fixes can be downloaded and installed, a much cheaper and easier process than the physical repairs the company undertook to help with Canon 1D Mark III autofocus problem .

Canon described the problem the same way many who've complained about it have: "When shooting night scenes, the right side of point light sources (such as lights from building windows) may become black. The phenomenon may become visible if the images are enlarged to 100 percent or above on a monitor or if large prints of the images are made." For some examples, check farther down this post.

Canon 5D Mark II 'black dots' problem.
These magnified close-ups that Stephan Hoerold took with his Canon 5D Mark II show lights on a building at night. The dark spots appear to the right of the very bright areas. The three shots show images taken at ISO 100, ISO 200, and ISO 3,200. Photo used with permission. Stephan Hoerold

The company also said it's looking into vertical banding noise that can show when shooting files in the sRAW1 mode, which produces a smaller file size than regular raw images.

Here are the three options Canon suggested for dealing with the banding issue:


• Set the recording format to RAW or JPEG. br>
• Set C.Fn II-3: Highlight tone priority to 0: Disable if the recording format is set to sRAW1. br>
• The vertical banding noise is not noticeable if the recording format is set to sRAW2, but please set C.Fn II-3: Highlight tone priority to 0: Disable if you are concerned about noise. br>

The note closed with an apology: "Canon always strives to provide the highest quality products to our customers. We apologize for any inconvenience these phenomena may have caused. We appreciate your kind patronage and support."

Canon USA has last week said it expected to issue a statement on the 5D Mark II black dot issue .

Also, Rob Galbraith rounded up the links for Canon Europe, Canon Japan, and Canon Korea.

(Via Rich Legg.)

Hoerold's original shot of San Francisco by night, at ISO 100.
Hoerold's original shot of San Francisco by night, at ISO 100, taken with a Canon 5D Mark II. Stephan Hoerold
Above, a 300 percent crop of one section of Hoerold's photo. This is at ISO 100.
Above, a 300 percent crop of one section of Hoerold's photo. This is at ISO 100. Stephan Hoerold
Above, a 300 percent crop of one section of Hoerold's photo. This is at ISO 200.
Above, a 300 percent crop of one section of Hoerold's photo. This is at ISO 200. Stephan Hoerold
Above, a 300 percent crop of one section of Hoerold's photo. This is at ISO 3,200.
Above, a 300 percent crop of one section of Hoerold's photo. This is at ISO 3,200. Stephan Hoerold
About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.

 

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