Firmware Update for Canon 5D Mark lll; Download it Now

Its not unusual for a new camera to have a firmware update shortly after release. Canon has just posted such an update for the 5D Mark lll. You should definitely download and install this update if you own a Mark lll, and should check the firmware version in any Mark lll you purchase in the future, to be sure that the latest version is installed. There appear to be some Mac OS X Firmware Updater limitations, so OS X 10.7 (Lion) users please read to the end of this article for details.

FROM CANON:

Firmware Version 1.1.2 incorporates the following improvements and fixes.

1. Supports a new accessory, GPS receiver GP-E2.
2. Fixes a phenomenon where a pink cast may develop over the image when the shutter is completely pressed with the camera’s power turned off (by the auto power off setting).
3. Fixes a phenomenon where the camera operation stops after one shot when shooting in High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode.
4. Fixes a phenomenon where the Shooting Date/Time in the EXIF data of the image shows a later time than the actual shooting time.
5. Fixes the time zone for the Samoa Islands.
6. Corrects errors in the Finnish menu screen.

Downloading the  EOS 5D Mark lll Firmware Update is a fairly straightforward process. But the link to get to the Drivers & Software page does not always trigger the list of available content as it should. If you get a blank page, between the list of pages (Overview, What’s in the Box, Brochures & Manuals, etc) and the footer (prices and specifications may vary…) back up a screen or two and try again. If that still fails, then try a different browser. You can also check that a popup survey window hasn’t been missed, which is stalling the loading of the page content. Once you have the list of contents available, the bottom of the center section should contain Drivers and Software. Downloading  will take a bit of time, since this is about an 18mg file.

Screen, as it looks with Options Missing

Please note that this firmware update is listed as being available for Mac OS X 10.5 and 10.6, but not for 10.7; which is Lion, Apple’s latest Mac version. Since firmware resides in the camera, not the computer, this leads us to assume that the Firmware Updater used to install such updates has not yet been updated to function under 10.7, unless Canon has made an error. Since all our systems are updated to 10.7, this required borrowing a 10.6 MacBook Pro for the update process, since firmware updating is a fairly serious matter, and disregarding Canon’s recommendations would not be advisable, even if it is possible.

Firmware Update NOT Available for OS X 10.7

Firmware update available, for 10.5 and 10.6

This shows you how to acquire the update, if you are under Lion, since it won’t show if you list that as your OS version. Please feel free to leave comments if any further news on Lion compatible firmware updates becomes available. If you are viewing this article from the blog’s main page, click on the article’s title to enter the article itself, where comments will be visible.

UPDATE: People are reporting success with loading the memory card with the disk image for the firmware update from OS X 10.7, and even OS X 10.8 beta. I find it hard to believe people are willing to play Russian Roulette with bricking their new $3500 camera bodies, but its reassuring to hear that they are getting away with it…

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page

Free Accessory for Canon 5D Mark lll; Don’t Leave Home Without It

Whenever you get a new camera, there are always controls and settings to learn or relearn. It can be frustrating when a simple task like setting the ISO or changing to modes keeps you from being able to shoot. Reading the user’s guide is one solution, but its so similar to the previous models, and so long that your eyes may glaze before reaching the parts that are most needed. And many people learn best from hands-on experience. So one helpful accessory is a copy of the Pocket Guide in a place where you’ll always have it handy: on your smart phone or tablet.

Downloading the Pocket Guide PDF for the Canon 5D Mark lll  is a fairly straightforward process, since the file is only about a meg and a half in size. But the link to get to the Brochures and Manuals page does not always trigger the list of available Brochures and Manuals. If you get a blank page, between the list of pages (Overview, What’s in the Box, Brochures & Manuals, etc) and the footer (prices and specifications may vary…) then try a different browser. You can also check that a popup survey window hasn’t been missed, which is stalling the loading of the page content. Once you have the list of contents available, the bottom of the Guides and Manuals section should contain the Pocket Guide (EOS 5D Mark lll). Downloading should not take long, since its a fairly small file.

Next email the file to yourself, and download it to all your mobile devices. I put it on both my iPhone, which has the advantage of always being with me, and my iPad, which has the advantage of a larger screen. Now you’ll have basic directions to key functions with you when you need them, and without digging into your camera bag in search of a printed copy. Happy shooting!

Sample Page from the 5D Mark lll Pocket Guide

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page

Canon 5D Mark lll, Lightroom 4 Shadow Detail at 100%


Following yesterday’s post on 5D Mark lll shadow detail I’ve had numerous requests for a pair of shadow detail images, one of the full shot, the other of a 100% detail from the same image. The image below was shot in direct sunlight, with deep shadows in the seaweed, and highlights in the barnacles for a broad dynamic range in the image. (For the geeks, this was shot at ISO 100,  f/11, 100th of a second, at 65mm with a Canon 24-105 f/4L IS USM lens). Here’s a jpg reduction of the full image, cropped in height for the subject, but the full width (minor direction) of the original file:

Mermaid's Wigstand

Below is a crop from the center of the image, at 100%, so its showing the individual pixels, with minimal jpg compression in this version of the image. The image was opened into Lightroom 4.1. Three adjustments were made, all of them lens-specific. A sharp prime lens would probably require less, if any, adjustment for all three of these controls. They  were: an increase to Shadows, and increase to Clarity, and an increase to Saturation. Your mileage (and lenses) may vary. Please click on the detail below for a 100% view. For more articles on the 5D Mark lll, and on Lightroom 4, please consult the right column.

Mermaid's Wigstand Detail at 100%

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page

Canon 5D Mark lll, Lightroom 4 Shadow Detail


The shot below was taken the day after Easter, with the Canon 5D Mark lll. Two things we are always looking for from a new camera is more resolution, and more dynamic range. In this case the shot was time-sensitive, so switching to the 70-200mm lens which was in the camera case in the back of the car would have cost me the shot. Instead I stepped out of the car door, to remove the windshield from the photo, zoomed the current lens (24-105mm) to its longest throw, and shot just in time to capture this frame, before the crow flew away with his prize Easter egg.

Crow with Easter Egg; 5D Mark lll crop, Lightroom 4.1 processing

So the question is: what would have been more useful here, more resolution, so that I’d have more pixels in this heavy crop, or more dynamic range, which allowed me to open up the shadows to bring definition to the crow? For those of you not yet reading between the lines, I’m asking if Canon’s choice in the 5D Mark lll in favor or not increasing resolution, and using that capacity to improve dynamic range instead, offered more to this shot; or if I would have been better off with Nikon’s new 800d, which would have produced half again as many pixels, but without an equivalent boost to the dynamic range.

Given the amount of character the detail in the feathers, and especially the eye, provide to the image, I’m not sorry it was the 5D used. And credit is due to Lightroom 4.1 as well, since the ability to bring out such shadow detail without undue noise and artifacts is something that previous versions of Lightroom could not have managed.

Another factor I should note is autofocus: I have used all my previous DSLR cameras almost exclusively in manual focus mode. The 5D Mark lll has such amazing autofocus I find I am using it more and more. Here, the time to manually focus was lacking, and it was only the fact that the camera was already in autofocus mode that saved the day. Picking the crow, tiny in the original image, out from the array of other highly detailed elements in the center of the frame was little short of amazing.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page

Color Calibration Comparison: Canon 5D Mark lll from Different Profiles

In my recent article comparing the color response of the Canon 5D Mark lll in Lightroom 4.1 with and without SpyderCheckr calibration received a lot of interesting responses. The most frequent questions were: what profile did you use (answer: Adobe Standard, for reasons that will become apparent below), and what effect would changing that profile have on the color? That seemed like a valid line of enquiry. I also thought it appropriate to also show what would happen if I build a calibration on top of each of these profiles, and applied these calibrations for comparison. The usual caveats about what you see on your (possibly uncalibrated) monitor through your (possibly non-color managed) browser apply.

First its necessary to understand the importance of defaults in such settings as Tone Curves and Profiles. Images are imported into Lightroom, and unless  you build a special Preset, and specifically include things like a Tone Curve and a Profile into that preset, and remember to import all images through that Preset, then you (like 99% of Lightroom users) will end up processing your images on top of the default settings. So my standard recommendation is to leave the Tone Curve and the Profile at the default, and to build your custom SpyderCheckr camera calibration (and your SpyderCube white balance and exposure adjustments) on top of those settings. That way you won’t have to remember what settings were in place when you created the calibration, and the chance of you having the wrong settings in place when you apply the calibration are minimized.

Also note that pushing the Reset button in Lightroom’s Develop Mode will reset the Tone Curve in Process2012 to Linear, and the Profile to Adobe Standard, even though you might not have intended either of those actions. One more reason its safest to build on top of the defaults, to ensure consistency, and minimize errors.

Next, I built three different calibrations in the SpyderCheckr software, all from the same shot of the SpyderCheckr target, taken with the Canon 5D Mark lll camera. In all cases I left the Tone Curve set at the new default of Linear. In all cases I left the intent in the SpyderCheckr application set to Colorimetric, the most literal setting. For one calibration, I left the Lightroom 4.1 Profile set at the default profile of Adobe Standard. For another I set the Profile to Camera Standard. And, to test one of the “flavored” choices, I also build a calibration with the Profile set to Camera Portrait.

I then opened the same 5D Mark lll test image I used in my previous articles in Lightroom 4.1, at its default Profile setting of Adobe Standard, and captured what the color from that looked like. I then applied the Lightroom Preset I had build for the Mark lll at Adobe Standard, and captured that as well. These two images were combined side by side into an Uncalibrated/Calibrated image. That image is below. Click on it to see the results at 100%.

Results using Adobe Standard, Uncalibrated, then Calibrated

These results, though I created a new calibration, and newly applied it to the image, are similar to the results in the previous article, as the same configurations are used. Next I repeated the same test, with Lightrooom 4.1 now set to the Camera Standard Profile. The results for this pair of images are below.

Results using Camera Standard, Uncalibrated, then Calibrated

These results are quite similar to the first pair. Camera Standard is not quite as oversaturated to Adobe Standard, showing a bit better color detail since it is not as bleary, and with a somewhat different hue. Calibration, starting from these two different hues and levels of oversaturation, is satisfyingly similar. This is what calibration is supposed to do. Calibration takes two inaccurate and dissimilar monitors, and makes them both correct and similar by calibrating them. Camera calibration similarly corrects both versions of the image, and as a result makes them a closer match as well. This is very reassuring.

Now to test with a “flavored” Profile. One intended for Portraits is shown below.

Results using Camera Portrait, Uncalibrated, then Calibrated

Here the  reds are less oversaturated then either of the previous cases, but the near whites show much pinker and more saturated. Note that the calibrated result on the right adds a bit more color detail in the reds, and reduces the over saturation and excess density in the near whites considerably. As a calibration can’t fix everything, there are compromises required. The worse starting point of this Profile resulted in less accurate reds than the other calibrations, in the process of curing the heavily over saturated and too-dark near white zone. This result would indicate to me that one of the other Profiles would be a better starting point for calibration, much as it is possible to choose a better media setting in a printer driver before profiling the printer.

It makes sense that avoiding intentional flavorings and non-linear Profiles in advance of creating a Camera Calibration is a good idea. The fact that the default (Adobe Standard) Profile offers good results in convenient, as it allows users to feel comfortable doing what is easiest: calibrating on top of the default, for the least chance of later errors in applying the calibration to future images as they are imported.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page

Color Calibration: Canon 5D Mark lll

Calibration Corrections for the 5D Mark lll

In my recent article comparing the color response of the Canon 5D Mark ll to the 5D Mark lll, I showed the calibration adjustments from Datacolor’s SpyderCheckr for both cameras. Today I am focussing on the Mark lll, and what calibration does to improve its color response, so I will limit myself to the Mark lll correction chart only.

Color Corrections for Canon 5D Mark lll from SpyderCheckr

While there are several colors where the combination of hue and saturation adjustments are fairly significant, I will limit my examples to the primary color channels with the largest Hue shift (Green, with Hue -16, and Saturation -4) and the largest Saturation Shift (Red, with Hue +6, and Saturation -15). The first question is: are these adjustments visible in real world images? And the second is: do they actually improve the results in images where they are visible? I selected images from my first test shoot with the 5D Mark lll that showed these adjustments clearly, and which can be used to judge the value of these calibration adjustments.

Limitations of Web Color

The images you will see below were color accurate on a calibrated display. On an uncalibrated screen, or with a non-color managed browser, the results may not be as accurate. However they should still show the degree of difference, even if the colors are not exactly as they would be under color management. So try to visualize what the text describes for color and saturation, and use the images to compare the degree of change, if the actual changes described are not reflected on your screen.

First the Reds

To judge the effect of red adjustments, I selected am image with saturated red flowers, and cropped a section at 100 percent. The red flower petal in the center of the image moves forward from the point of focus, and becomes less focussed in the lower regions. The reds are extremely saturated, and the trained eye sees a color that will be problematic to print as well as having the bleary quality that over saturated colors often exhibit.

5D Mark lll Reds, Uncalibrated

Next we’ll examine a similar closeup from the same image after the SpyderCheckr calibration has been applied to the image. Here the colors look more believable, and show a good deal more color detail, that was lost the the bleariness of the uncalibrated version. The Hue Shift, while far smaller then at the Saturation reduction, also improves the realism of the image, accurately reflecting the transition from magentas to a more orangey red in this type of flower. Its often surprising to see that color correction does not just improve the colors; it improves the color detail, which results in a more detailed image; something we tend to associate with focus and lens quality, when it can actually be an artifact of incorrect color.

5D Mark lll Reds, Calibrated

Now the Greens

Next we’ll move on to the greens, which are a subtler situation, since it is the Hue, not the Saturation, that has the largest adjustment. Here the issue is less one of lost detail, than one of lost color richness. Leaf greens must contain an appropriate yellow component to read correctly to the eye; an emerald green leaf looks as false as the Emerald City, painted onto the Wizard of Oz backdrop.

5D Mark lll Greens, Uncalibrated

Now we’ll compare this with the calibrated green, which has a 16 point Hue shift towards Yellow, and a 4 point Saturation reduction. Here the greens read as much more realistic, with the necessary yellow component, and the slight reduction in saturation to produce photo-realistic foliage. This will be a much more printable green, and much more satisfying in print, as well as the improvement shown on screen.

5D Mark lll Greens, Calibrated

And the Rest

Other calibration corrections for the 5D Mark lll follow a similar pattern, but the effect is reduced for those channels requiring less adjustment. Overall, native color on the 5D Mark lll is very good, but calibrated results are truly excellent.

Personal Preference 

The color corrections shown above are aimed at accurate color portrayal. They are from the Colorimetric option in SpyderCheckr. Personal preference may lean towards emerald green leaves and over saturated flowers; thats fine as artistic intent, but it should occur by intentional adjustment, not by incorrect original coloration.

A Note to Nikon Shooters

Vincent Versace recently requested that I do a color comparison of the latest Canon and Nikon models. As a Nikon shooter, he as always felt that the Canon results were more saturated; perhaps too saturated. The calibration corrections above do tend to lean towards desaturation of the RAW file’s color; in fact there is not a single channel where calibration increases the saturation. I plan to analyze the color of the new Nikon D4 against its predecessor, the D3, and similarly the D800 against the D700. Once I have completed those results, I will be in a position to compare the 5D’s color saturation, and other color characteristics, to those of the D4 and D800. Perhaps the results will reinforce Vincent’s personal impressions. It will be interesting to find out.

A Note on Camera Color

What cabbage leave does camera color come out from under? It has two parents: the camera manufacturer, who is responsible for the hardware, and for the firmware that produces the proprietary file, and the RAW converter developer, who uses their own form of camera profiles to convert that proprietary camera format to a RAW file on screen. At one time, both these were the same parent; and we felt obliged to use the manufacturer’s RAW converter when testing the camera. But today the majority of RAW files, at least those from DSLR and subDSLR cameras, are processed in third party software. And by far the most common of those third party products is the Adobe engine used in Lightroom, ACR, and therefore Photoshop. So when I talk about camera color, I’m speaking of the camera color we are going to get in the real world, where we process our images in Lightroom or ACR. Using another third party RAW converter, or a camera manufacturer’s conversion utility, may produce different results. But given the success I have been having with the Adobe engine and a SpyderCheckr HSL correction set, I am quite comfortable with the color from this workflow, and don’t see any significant reason to be looking at less common or more complex workflows in order to achieve the results I need; especially with Lightroom 4’s much improved capabilities.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page