Canon 5D MK iii HDR – High Dynamic Range

BellissimaPhoto Photographers 3 Comments

A new feature in the Canon 5D MK iii is the HDR mode. As a London wedding photographer I didn’t pay much attention to this new feature when I first read about it in the camera feature list upon announcement a few weeks ago. I thought it might be useful for landscape photographers and such like. However, today a fellow photographer and I took a wander around a few churches in central London. Besides for doing the obvious and playing about with outrageously high ISO’s, which by the way are in my opinion perfectly usable up to ISO 25600, I also gave the HDR feature a bit of a workout.

In HDR mode, three images are taken according to the following options:

  • auto
  • +/-1 EV
  • +/-2 EV
  • +/-3 EV

I selected the +/- 2 EV option for the images presented below. The idea is that the camera takes an image at a nominal exposure, two stops below and finally two stops above the nominal exposure value (or according to the options listed above). The three images are taken one after the other in a rapid fire fashion, so as long as the minimum shutter speed is sufficiently high for acceptable hand-holding, a tripod should not be required. The camera then takes a few seconds to process the three files and merge them into a single HDR image. The resultant HDR image is of course in JPEG format, so if you start wading through your RAW files looking for the merged camera-generated HDR file you will not find it there, but it will be amongst the other JPEG files. Looking at the HDR image, the camera seems to cope very well with the hand holding aspect causing minor changes in the composition versus if it were stable on a tripod with identical composition for each of the three shots.

Since many of our churches here in the UK are old and very dark, I see this new HDR feature in the Canon 5D MK iii as being pretty useful for wedding ceremonies, to get that wide HDR image when standing at the back of the church. Since the ISO is fantastic (see a high ISO test report here), along with the deadly accurate focussing amongst other factors, this camera is a real step up from the Mk ii version.

So below are the three bracketed images and below them is the final merged HDR image. The in-camera processing of the final image is set to Natural. There are a number of artistic processing options available. Please note that these are straight OOC (out of camera), totally untouched. All of my wedding images are shot in RAW and then processed for a lovely vibrant look but since the shots below are totally untouched JPEG files from the camera, they do appear somewhat flatter and less vibrant compared to my usual wedding and portrait images.

The three bracketed images:

Canon 5D MK iii HDR image by West London Wedding Photographer


The in-camera generated HDR image:

Canon 5D MK iii HDR image by London Wedding Photographer


So there it is, a feature which I will certainly start implementing during my wedding photography.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment below. You can also like and share this post on Facebook, Tweet, Google +1, or email this post to a friend using the buttons directly below. It would be great if you could like our Facebook business page and follow us on Twitter:

Comments 3

  1. Roy

    I also checked out the in camera HDR feature and also found it very satisfactory. However I really would like to work in Photomatix with RAW images to be able to create exactly the look I want. But I cannot figure out how to adjust the AEB exposure increments. When I select exposure compensation window in the SHOOT 2 menu, AEB is greyed out/non functional. Also no success in the C.fn1 settings menu. If you have tried this, I would love to know if you have had better success! Thanks for any light you can shed on this.

  2. Post

    Roy, thanks for your comments. To adjust the AEB exposure increments, all I did was go into the HDR menu item (camera icon menu item, then 3rd from the left), then in the “Adjust dynamic range” option you will see the four options I mentioned above. Hope this helps!

  3. Jorge

    This is a very fine result. I’ve just gotten my mk3 and have been playing around with the hdr feature. Have you found a way quickly to access the hdr mode as a custom function or via a switch? Thanks . . .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *