Review Canon 5D MK3: Measurements

This test report can be read as the appendix of our Canon 5D MK3 test. The measurements for this Canon 5D MK3 test have been carried out with the aid of Imatest. For the test method and explanation of terms, see FAQ. The conclusion and practice shots are in the test of the Canon 5D MK3.


Sensor resolution

Completely as expected the Canon 5D MK3 performs, in terms of resolution almost the same as the Canon 5D MK2, but slightly better. With a good lens like a Canon 100 mm IS Macro, the Canon 5D MK3 gives you a jpg file with a constant resolution of nearly 2000 LW/PH over a wide ISO range.

With a standard processing of the RAW files in Lightroom (Release Candidate 4.1), a greater sharpness impression is obtained, which translates into a resolution of 3000 LW/PH. Only at ISO 6400 that decreases a little bit, measurable but not visible.

Dynamic range of the sensor

The total dynamic range is more than 11 stops below 200 ISO and falls doen to 8 stops at 25.600 ISO. A good performance. The Canon 5D MK2 got this value in our test too.

But more important than the overall dynamic range of the sensor is the usable dynamic range.

The signal to noise ratio in the shadow reduces the dynamic range of jpg files to a usable dynamic range of nearly 9 stops at 100 ISO to 2 stops at ISO 25,600. If you work in RAW, the usable dynamic range at 50 ISO is 8 stops. That is high. We test the RAW files without using noise reduction. As a result, you maintain the highest possible detail in the shots. noise reduction.


Comparison of the noise in jpg files with the measured noise in RAW files without noise reduction shows that in terms of noise, there is up to 400 ISO little difference between the in-camera jpg files and the RAW files without noise reduction. You can even print a 25,600 ISO image on A3+ without the noise being present disturbingly. In our Canon 5D MK3 test, you can see a few examples of high ISO shots, which are magnified up to 100% on the screen.Below are examples of a photographed gray card at different ISO settings. Left, image croppings of RAW pictures without any noise reduction are shown. Right, you see the corresponding jpg files directly from the camera. The image croppings show a detail as you would show the picture full size on your screen. By applying noise reduction, even better results for RAW files can be achieved.

Color reproduction in daylight

Color reproduction (Delta E 94) Canon 5D MK3 in daylight

  • Average 6.0 (RAW) / 5.8 (jpg)
  • Best 5.1 RAW @ ISO 6400
  • Worst 6.4 RAW @ ISO 400
  • Skin tone: 4.9 (RAW) / 6.4 (jpg)
  • Natural colors: 5.7 (RAW) / 5.6 (jpg)
  • Bright colors: 6.1 (RAW) / 6.7 (jpg)
  • White balance: 2.9 (RAW) 3.6 (jpg)

The color reproduction is tested with the Canon 5D MK3 set to Picture Style “Neutral.” The Canon 5D MK3 delivers RAW files with a very good color reproduction in daylight. The illustration shows the color errors of an ISO 200 jpg image shot in daylight. The further the ideal color (square) is removed from the color reproduction of the camera (round), the greater the color difference. However, the bright colors (numbers 13, 14, 15, 16, 18) are displayed slightly too saturated. For the test method and explanation of terms, see FAQ.

Color reproduction artificial light

Color reproduction (Delta E 94) Canon 5D MK3 in artificial light

  • Average: 13 (RAW) / 11 (jpg)
  • Best: 11 jpg @ 3200 ISO
  • Worst: 16 RAW @25.600 ISO
  • Skin tone: 14 (RAW) / 11 (jpg)
  • Natural colors: 12 (RAW) / X (jpg)
  • Bright colors: 10 (RAW) / 9.1 (jpg)
  • White balance: 9.6 (jpg) 16.4 (RAW)

In artificial light, you cannot blindly rely on the auto white balance for both jpg and RAW files, as shown in the depicted results for a 200 ISO jpg file. The color deviation (delta E 94) of shots taken in artificial light is about twice as large as the color deviation in daylight. The Imatest measurements show that the Canon 5D MK3 has an orange color cast when using the automatic white balance in artificial light. All cameras that we have tested so far suffer from this.

The extent to which the orange cast of artificial light shots occurs with the Canon 5D MK3 is not that bad by the way, as you can see from the example shown here.

Move your mouse over this image for a comparison of a shot taken in daylight to a shot taken in artificial light. Both shots were taken with a Canon 5D MK3 at 50 ISO for this test.

Conclusion and field test images are shown in our Canon 5D MK3 review.


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