Noise, low ISO sensitivity JPEGs

JPEGs at low ISO sensitivities look good from a noise-profile perspective, with relatively clean-looking images up through ISO 1600. When you compare them with their raw counterparts, however, you see how much fine detail gets lost in the processing (see slide 3).
Updated:
Photo by: Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET / Caption by:

Noise, high ISO sensitivity JPEGs

ISO 12,800 and ISO 25,600 are more serviceable in low-light situations than lab tests would have you think.
Updated:
Photo by: Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET / Caption by:

JPEG quality

Frankly, I expected the JPEG processing at low ISO sensitivities in this camera to be a lot better than it is. Color differences aside (although you can see how much more tonal subtlety there is in the raw), the JPEGs are so much more mushy and overprocessed-looking, with a significant loss of detail -- and this is at ISO 200 with no raw processing at all, merely opening it at the default Adobe Camera Raw settings.

(1/250 sec, f9.0, ISO 200, spot metering, Standard Picture Style, 24-70mm f2.8L lens at 70mm)
Updated:
Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

JPEG, ISO 800

ISO 800 JPEGs look somewhat oversharpened in the default Picture Style, but there's no perceptible color noise, and the processing in the out-of-focus areas is better than average. Once again, the raws look better.

(1/80 sec, f3.2, ISO 800, spot metering, Standard Picture Style, 24mm f1.4L lens)
Updated:
Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

ISO 1600, no noise reduction

Like with the D800, the unprocessed color noise on midrange ISO sensitivity images looks very good. That said, there's generally a hair more noise in the brighter areas for the 5DM3 than the D800.

(1/80 sec, f4, ISO 1600, spot metering, Standard Picture Style, 24-105mm f4L lens at 32mm)
Updated:
Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

ISO 3200, raw vs. JPEG

Unlike at low ISO sensitivities, starting at about ISO 3200 the JPEG processing compares fairly well to the raw results; the raw offers a bit more detail if you're willing to put up with some graininess. Raw also allows for bringing back blown-out highlights, which become more common in the high-contrast, high ISO sensitivity images.

(1/60 sec, f2.8, ISO 3200, spot metering, Standard Picture Style, 24-70mm f2.8L lens at 70mm)
Updated:
Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

JPEG, ISO 6400

You can tell it's a high-sensitivity image, but it's quite acceptable for low-light work.

(1/80 sec, f5, ISO 6400, spot metering, Standard Picture Style, 24-105mm f4L lens at 28mm)
Updated:
Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

JPEG, ISO 12800

While the photos get soft at the higher ISO sensitivities, there's still quite a bit of detail and the brighter areas look pretty good, and I like the quality of the colored lights. I think the 5DM3 would make an excellent camera for concert photographers.

(1/125 sec, f5.6, ISO 12800, spot metering, Standard Picture Style, 24-105mm f4L lens at 28mm)
Updated:
Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

Highlight and shadow recovery

As The 5DM3 does preserve a fair amount of detail in otherwise blown-out areas, and while detail recovery on dark areas yields a fair bit of noise, it's about equivalent with the D800.

(1/250 sec, f6.3, ISO 200, centerweighted metering, Standard Picture Style, 24-70mm f2.8L lens at 70mm)
Updated:
Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

Color

On its default Standard Picture Style, the 5DM3 yields bright, contrasty, saturated colors with just a bit of hue shift.
Updated:
Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

Picture Styles

As usual, Canon's default Picture Style (Standard) pushes saturation and contrast more than I'd like, and it now offers an Auto setting, which pushes it even further. However, the Neutral and Faithful settings deliver the more-accurate color one expects from a professional camera.

(1/100 sec, f11, ISO 200, spot metering, 24-105mm f4L lens at 105mm)
Updated:
Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

Bright, saturated reds

The 5DM3 does a great job with deep, saturated reds, oranges, and purples, even in JPEGs. It retains detail in overbright areas with little to no hue shift.

(1/100 sec, f14, ISO 200, spot metering, Standard Picture Style, 24-105mm f4L lens at 105mm)
Updated:
Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

Video

Especially using the All-I codec, the 5DM3 renders reasonably sharp video with practically no artifacts like moiré, rolling shutter, or aliasing.

(1/30 sec, centerweighted metering, 24-70mm f2.8L lens)
Updated:
Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

Continuous shooting

This is a particularly hard shot for the AF system to keep up with; the dog is difficult to differentiate from the background, and he's moving erratically. It did a pretty good job, all things considered.

(1/500 sec, f5.0, ISO 400, centerweighted metering, Neutral Picture Style with sharpness +2, 24-70mm f2.8L lens at 70mm)
Updated:
Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

Video, low light

This gives you an idea of the tonal quality of the camera's night video. It's quite nice, with visibly less color noise than the D800's.

(1/30 sec, ISO 3200, 24-70mm f2.8L lens)
Updated:
Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

5DM2 vs. 5DM3, ISO 3200

The 5DM3 has more color noise in the unprocessed image than the 5DM2, but seems to apply more smoothing.

(1/50 sec, f2.8, ISO 3200, 24-70mm f2.8L lens)
Updated:
Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:
Hot Galleries

Last-minute gift ideas

Under pressure? These will deliver on time

With plenty of top-notch retailers offering digital gifts, you still have time to salvage your gift-giving reputation.

Hot Products