Canon EOS 5D Mark III Digital Camera Review$3,499.00
The Canon 5D Mark III's full frame sensor, excellent white balance metering system, and super processing allowed it to produce absolutely excellent color accuracy under friendly lighting conditions. With the 63-zone dual-layer metering system from the Canon 7D, the Mark III assigned accurate color values throughout the color range, with particularly strong results among darker colors. More on how we test color.
The Mark III features a number of picture styles, each of which provides a slightly altered value for sharpness, saturation, and color tone. The most accurate mode, "faithful," was able to keep color error to a superb 2.15, with a saturation level that was just a hair over perfect. This put the Canon 5D Mark III among the best cameras we have tested in this regard. That accuracy, combined with the camera's strong low light performance, gives you the ability to shoot in limited, natural light settings and get an image that accurately reflects the scene how it looked to your eyes.
NOTE: Because of the way computer monitors reproduce colors, the images above do not exactly match the originals found on the chart or in the captured images. The chart should be used to judge the relative color shift, not the absolute captured colors.
The Canon 5D Mark III allows users to select from the usual complement of picture styles for JPEG images (and the JPEG preview image associated with RAW files) in all modes except for automatic+. The modes include auto, standard, portrait, landscape, neutral, faithful, monochrome, and three user-definable settings.
The user-defined settings are set to standard by default, but like all the picture styles, they let you adjust contrast, sharpness, saturation, and color tone on a +/- four-stop scale. You can access these picture styles (as well as multiple exposure and HDR modes) by pressing the new, dedicated picture style button just at the top left of the rear LCD.
The white balance feature on the Canon 5D Mark III was exceptionally accurate in most settings, with the automatic white balance failing only in one test. If you've shot with any Canon DSLRs recently, from the Rebel series on up through the professional cameras then you know the frustrating drill.
Canon still hasn't elected to design a new way to take white balance readings using anything but an image that has already been captured. This requires you to take a shot, go into the menu, go to white balance settings, tell it to use that particular image, and then switch the white balance setting to custom. Most cameras let you do this right from live view or from something similar to Canon's quick control menu, but Canon requires, by far, the most amount of steps to do this. Now, we can understand the extra legwork if the results were much more accurate white balance readings than the competition, but the 5D Mark III (as well as other Canon DSLRs we've tested) don't do much better than your average high-end point and shoot when it comes to white balance performance.
Automatic White Balance ()
We found that the automatic white balance performance on the 5D Mark III was very accurate, right in line with most interchangeable lens cameras. The main issue that we saw was in tungsten lighting, where the automatic white balance ran into its color temperature floor. This left shots under tungsten, incandescent lighting with a strong, warm hue and a color temperature error error of over 2000 kelvin. Under compact white fluorescent and daylight settings, the error was kept under 200 kelvin, which is barely noticeable in most shots.
Custom White Balance ()
Custom white balance performance was also very good, solving the issues the camera had under tungsten lighting. When going through the frustrating process of taking a custom white balance reading, the 5D Mark III had an average error of right around 100 kelvin, which is very near to perfect.
White Balance Options
The 5D Mark III includes several white balance presets, as well as automatic, custom, and direct kelvin temperature entry. You can quickly switch between white balance settings with a dedicated button on the top plate of the camera. These settings can also be accessed by using the quick control menu, which is found by pressing the large "Q" button on the back of the camera.