Canon 5D Mk4 Review – Conclusions

Canon 5D Mk4 Review – Conclusions

2ppi 400x400 Canon 5D Mk4 Review   Conclusions

So, this has been a long time coming, but I like to be thorough you know.

The question everyone wanted answering was “is the Canon 5D Mk4 ‘better’ than the 5D Mk3 Andy”..?

The short answer is, ‘in my opinion’ a very affirmative YES.

But of course I’ve got to justify the ‘yes’ and that can be done by stating the important improvements – better image quality and autofocus.

Just the same as with its high performance cousin the 1DX Mk2, the Canon 5D Mk4 has had an impressive IQ boost brought about by one thing above all else – the SENSOR and its recorded Output.

The auto focus system has had the same overhaul found on the 1DX Mk2, and so there’s another big improvement.  Nope, the 5D Mk3 AF was NOT the same as that found on the original 1DX….

If you are a ‘tech slag’ then you’ll love the ‘touch screen’ menu, and the GPS too.

The touch screen drove me nuts when I first got hold of this camera – I hated it.  But I’ve gotten so used to it now that when I turned it off the other day I soon turned it back on – changing settings is tedious without it!

The SENSOR.

Nikon have had the lead over Canon for quite a while when it comes to RAW recording:

  • Lower noise levels – especially at low to mid-range ISOs (100 to 6400)
  • Better shadow recovery
  • Option to shoot fully uncompressed 14bit RAW

Ok, so Canon (stupidly in my opinion) still refuse to allow you to shoot true uncompressed RAW, but on the other two counts they have at long last just about caught up with the boys from Minato.

For Canon users the sensor and its recorded RAW output on both the Canon 5D Mk4 (and 1DX Mk2) is something quite revolutionary; while as a Nikon user I’ve been used to it for ages!

What is it I’m talking about?  The benefit of having the ADC ‘on sensor’ or ‘on die’ to give it the correct terminology.

Canon have previously had their ADC circuitry buried deep in their DIGIC chips which are separate from the sensor, and so require wired connection.  This leads to two distinct problems:

  1. Number of connections is physically limited.
  2. Signal Entropy!

I’ll do a separate blog post covering sensor makeup shortly.

But now with the above two camera body sensors they’ve gone the Nikon way, using ADCs integrated within the sensors themselves.

It’s a well known fact that Nikon have used Sony sensors, or made sensors of Sony design by ‘special arrangement’, for ages.

In output terms, the Canon 5D Mk4 and Canon 1DX Mk2 sensors do bare such a spookily strong likeness to the Sony Dual Pixel Exmoor design – the coincidence is staggering!

What this means is basically:

  • A lower noise floor.
  • Greater potential shadow and highlight recovery over its predecessor.

Canon 5D Mk4 Dynamic Range

There are all sorts of reviews/claims plastered across the web that claim the Canon 5D Mk4 has a greater dynamic range than the class leader Nikon D810.  These claims, all by ‘third party idiots’ mind you, not Canon, are based on test results published by DXO Mark.

Screen Shot 2017 01 03 at 10.49.29 600x311 Canon 5D Mk4 Review   Conclusions

If only the idiots could read a graph!

According to the graph, at base ISO the Nikon D810 kills it by well over a stop, and doesn’t fall behind until base + 2.5 stops – 300 ISO indicated.

For landscape and other high definition/resolution photography you are going to be using your camera at base ISO to maximize DR, so basically the 5D Mk4 doesn’t even come close in this respect.

Having said all that, the way DXO Mark conduct their testing is somewhat circumspect in a lot of folks opinions – mine included.  Nonetheless, these results are being regularly misinterpreted and misquoted  everywhere!

When it comes to actual ‘tripod on the ground’ dynamic range you will always and without fail find that the ‘real’ DR is lower than the ‘oft quoted’ version – why?  Because the ‘testers’ try too hard and use complex methodologies that involve maths, or ‘scaling’ techniques that look test images as 13″x19″ prints – crazy!

All I’m interested in is how much of a scenes brightness range can I record on the sensor with one single exposure; and will I need to bracket exposures.

So let’s have a look at the performance of the 5D Mk4 sensor and see how much we can milk it for:

1D9A6372 Edit 600x400 Canon 5D Mk4 Review   Conclusions

So here’s a scene outside ‘Chez Andy’ on a dull and rather overcast day – this gives the camera a better fighting chance than it would have on a bright blue sky day will full bore sunshine.

Evaluative metering gives a manual exposure reading of 1/30th sec for f8 at 100ISO (base ISO from what I can gather).

The two main regions of interest are obvious in any test of dynamic range – brightest highlights and darkest shadows, the areas indicated by the red circles, together with their spot metered values.

The indicated spot for the sky is a bit misleading – I actually pointed the camera straight up at the sky with the lens defocused and nothing but ‘sky’ in the frame!

Also, bare in mind that camera meters give you an exposure to record a tone as 50% grey!

So I shot a bracketed sequence from 1/250th to 4 secs, at 100ISO and f8.

Screen Shot 2017 01 03 at 13.43.27 600x375 Canon 5D Mk4 Review   Conclusions

The scene brightness range runs to a metered 11 stops, so if DXO Marks published test DR of 13.59Ev at 100 ISO (64 ISO as they would call it) is correct then one or more of these frames WILL contain detail in both the bright highlights and darkest shadows.

We might have to ‘recover’ that detail in post, but it should all be there within the recorded sensor output.

Guess what – it isn’t.  Very nearly, but not quite. Feel free to download the raw files yourself by clicking here (approx 2mins download).

To save a ton of typing and image uploading I’ll run a short video on how I do a quick assessment of the images to obtain a ‘real world’ ball-park DR value:

And purely as an exercise, what can we pull out of this single frame?

Screen Shot 2017 01 04 at 11.26.50 600x375 Canon 5D Mk4 Review   Conclusions

Looks somewhat HDR-ish because of the dramatic highlight and shadow recovery settings, but it just goes to show what you can pull back on this Canon 5D Mk4 sensor – you’d never pull this off on a single frame shot done with a 5D Mk3.

If I run the same type of rough analysis on the Nikon D810 and a descent bit of Zeiss glass I get a DR approximating 11.5 stops, and pretty much the same for the D800E.

More importantly, for the Canon 5D Mk3 the result is no more than 9.5 stops, but I’ve only tested it using the older 16-35mm f2.8 Mk2.

Just to clarify the DXO Mark ‘thing’ – while I either question or argue the numerical value of most of their sensor tests, the ‘trends’ identified within those results are pretty much spot on.

A good place to view more realistic DR values for a large number of sensors/cameras can be found here.

And as a final caveat regarding ANY sensor DR test – the test is based on the RECORDED SENSOR OUTPUT.  This is solely comprised of the ADC and image processors ‘digitised interpretation’ of the true ‘analogue output’ of the sensor. 

Is this a distortion of reality?  Maybe, but for the moment it’s what we’re stuck with!

So I think the Canon 5D Mk4 does pretty good on the dynamic range front, but the crazy high values the ‘third party idiots’ bandy about are just pie in the sky.

Frankly DR values of 13 to 14+ stops from a 14 bit ADC and a 36×24 sensor are something of a ‘step beyond’.  A 16 bit ADC on a medium format sensor on the other hand……but then that’s what you pay the big bucks for!

But just so we’re clear, the Canon 5D Mk4 DR is very noticeably greater than that of its predecessor.

Autofocus Performance

Now I’ve already posted about this HERE. So if you haven’t already read that then do so first.

I find the Canon 5D Mk4 noticeably faster in AF acquisition the the Mk3, and a lot more responsive when tracking subjects moving directly towards the camera.  It’s not a 1DX Mk2 under these circumstances, but I was surprised at just how close it came to its big brother in this respect.

However! Unlike the 1DX Mk2 which ‘sticks to a subject like glue no matter what’ in the tracking department, the Canon 5D Mk4 can sometimes chuck its toys out the pram when subjected to lens flare.

This means that back lit subjects CAN sometimes present a bit of a problem.

1D9A5645 600x400 Canon 5D Mk4 Review   Conclusions

Back lit compositions against a dark background and without flare cause zero problems.

But introduce a bit of flare and things can go pear-shaped very quickly:

1D9A5610 600x400 Canon 5D Mk4 Review   Conclusions

Please note: I said ‘can’ not ‘does’ – it doesn’t happen all the time.  But when it does, even keeping the AF tracking active and on target doesn’t help you when it does ‘stuff up’ – if it’s not focused in the desired plane at frame 1 it stays that way for the entire frame sequence.

This can most likely be cured with a firmware update, but as it stands at the time of writing then this shot, done with the 1DX Mk2 could be problematic:

11I5845 600x400 Canon 5D Mk4 Review   Conclusions

…when you consider it’s just one frame from a long action sequence with lens flare where every frame is sharp.

Screen Shot 2016 09 24 at 16.26.31 600x357 Canon 5D Mk4 Review   Conclusions

But then again, the 5D Mk4 isn’t trying to be a 1DX Mk2; it’s just trying to be better at everything than the 5D Mk3 is/was.

ISO Settings – Noise

Hopefully you will have already read my post Camera ISO Settings – The Truth About ISO

If you haven’t then may I suggest you do – pronto!

ISO, or ‘post exposure applied gain’ is all relative to the number of photons passing through the lens and being collected by the photosites on the sensor.

The net result is that a shot at base ISO can look like crap if you are trying to photograph the ubiquitous ‘black cat in the coal house at midnight’, and 10,000 ISO can look epic in the presence of huge photon counts:

1D9A4186 600x400 Canon 5D Mk4 Review   Conclusions

Great Tit. Canon 5DMkIV, Canon 500mm f4 L IS II, ISO 10,000

The Canon 5D Mk4 IS less noise at any ISO setting than its predecessor 5D Mk3, again simply because of the ‘on die’ or sensor-integrated ADC.

As I said earlier, the older Canons – and that includes the crackpot 5DS and SR – have off dye ADC components, and this limits the number of connections between the sensor and the ADC. This number was (I’m fairly certain!) limited to 8 with cameras fitted with a single Digic processor, and 16 in those with twin Digics.

In order for the system to turn a respectable image processing time this low number of communications channels or buses had to carry all the sensor data to ADCs that needed to chew it up and spit it out at a great rate of knots – in other words they are high frequency ADCs.

And here is the kicker; there is a rigid and inflexible bond between operating speed/frequency and noise.  This is the noise seen in your shadows – especially when you try to recover them by even a modest amount.

Moving the ADC ‘on die’ allows for more connections. This in turn allows for the use of ADCs with lower operating frequencies, which in turn results in a lower noise floor.

I’m not going to produce a raft of comparison shots between the Canon 5D Mk4 and its predecessor – hell, this post is long enough as it is, and there are plenty of them already on the net.

In Conclusion – Major Improvements over the 5D Mk3

The Canon 5D Mk4 IS a better camera than its predecessor in the two major attributes of a stills camera:

  1. Faster Auto Focus with greater flexibility and control.
  2. Improved Dynamic Range, Noise Floor and post-process latitude – all of which can be attributed to the switch by Canon to ‘on die’ ADC circuitry.

These above two improvements are major, and possibly more far-reaching than a lot of you may imagine.

Other Improvements:

  1. More megapixels if that floats your boat.
  2. Frame rate increased from 6fps to 7fps – though I don’t like a fixed fps personally.
  3. Touch screen menu system.
  4. Built-in GPS – which can drain the battery BTW if not set properly in the menu.
  5. Built-in Wi-Fi – which I have yet to get working!

Things I Don’t Like:

  1. Dual Pixel Raw – God in Heaven what a crock!  Dual pixel tech was created to give phase detection AF for video. But Still Camera Setting 2 on page 1 is like Canon thought “how can we turn this into a USP for the gullible stills-only camera buyer”.
  2. SD media slot – come on Canon – twin CF (not twin C-Fast) or switch to XQD.
  3. It eats batteries if you forget to turn off WiFi and GPS.
  4. Pathetic lack of proper viewfinder blind – seriously Canon!
  5. The persistent refusal of Canon to offer uncompressed RAW recording. It would take the smallest of firmware updates.  To me it just seems ridiculous not to give the user the choice as Nikon and others do.

So yes, in my opinion, the Canon 5D Mk4 is a better camera than the 5D Mk3.

If you own a 5D Mk3 have you GOT to trade it in?  That depends on what you want out of your camera and only you know that.

Would I trade in my D800E for one?  Hell NO!

But if you do fancy the upgrade from the Mk3 then, based on the review example I have here, you will see a considerable beneficial difference in your images – unless of course your name is Neil Burton!

Big thanks to Reece Piper and Calumet for supplying the Canon 5D Mk4 for review.

Don’t forget to subscribe to this blog, and my YouTube channel if you’ve viewed the video there, and as ever if you can spare a small donation via PayPal I’d be eternally grateful.

Cheers Folks!

 

 

Buy the Canon 5D Mk4 in the UK here Calumet Photographic

Canon 16-35mm f2.8 Mk3

Canon 16-35mm f2.8 Mk3

D8E6995 1 400x400 Canon 16 35mm f2.8 Mk3

Wow, it’s a bit big!  That was the first thought I had when getting hold of this lens for the first time – I thought for a second the lovely Leanne at Calumet Manchester had given me 24-70 by mistake.

It’s longer, fatter in the barrel and somewhat heavier than its Mk2 predecessor – but is it any better?

I suppose I can be a bit more objective than most reviewers of this lens when it comes to Canon wide glass because I never use it!

Canon has always seemed to have a different ethos to that of Nikon and TPMs such as Zeiss when it comes to wide glass design.

For sports/photojournalism they have always functioned perfectly well because they are usually quite light, fast to use, versatile, cheap(ish) and adequately sharp for the job -and they’ve sold millions over the years…and rightly so.

But if you wanted a high resolution wide angle with good micro contrast and superb sharpness then, as a landscape photographer for example, you’d be struggling.

Low resolution, poor contrast, vignetting, axial and lateral chromatic aberration, extreme corner distortion and coma are typical faults with wide angle lenses across the board, but Canon wide glass has had more exemplars of these faults than most.

Don’t get me wrong, Nikon have produced some real ‘dogs’ too – just not quite as many!

Let’s face it, no Canon wide could slip into a line up of of Zeiss glass and go optically unnoticed.

When Nikon brought out the 14-24 f2.8 why did Novoflex start flogging mount adapters to Canon shooters?

The only folk who will argue with me are those that have never tried Nikon or Zeiss.

As Canon WA glass goes, the 16-35mm f2.8 Mk2 does an OK job with landscapes, and for the most part produces results very much like the Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 when both lenses are shot at around 26mm to 32mm, but it leaves more than a bit to be desired when being shot wide open.

Its worst fault for me, shooting wide open, is the vile level of COMA.  There’s been many a wide-field astro shot consigned to the bin because if it.

D8E7003 400x400 Canon 16 35mm f2.8 Mk3

Canon 16-35mm f2.8 Mk3 with the Mk2 on the right.

So, is the new Canon 16-35mm f2.8 Mk3 an improvement – it needs to be for the price.

D8E6997 1 400x400 Canon 16 35mm f2.8 Mk3

Canon 16-35mm f2.8 Mk3 with the Mk2 on the right.

The Canon 16-35mm f2.8 Mk3 takes the same 82mm screw mount filters.

There is a newly re-designed lens hood.

Typical of this style of wide zoom, even though its an internal FOCUS lens, like its predecessor, it’s not strictly an internal ZOOM.  The front element moves in and out as the zoom ring is rotated, being furthest forward at 16mm, furthest back at around 26mm and then creeping forward again as we go to 35mm.

Designs like this have ‘compromise’ stamped all over them.  The legendary Nikon 14-24mm does the same sort of external zooming with its front element group, but is furthest forward at 14mm and furthest back at 24mm.  The Nikon is a super wide zoom while the Canon is a super wide to standard wide zoom.  Standard wide angle requires a different element design and layout – so COMPROMISE!

This moving front element makes all lenses designed this way ‘suckers and blowers’ so the cautious among you might want to put one of those lens protect filters on the front.

If you do, then PLEASE, don’t pay thousands for a lens and then be a cheapskate.  You lose light with every air/glass surface you place in the optical pathway.  And a lot of these filters SAY they are optically correct when they are most definitely NOT.  The finest lens in the world turns into a turd if you stick a cheap filter on it.

D8E7011 1 400x400 Canon 16 35mm f2.8 Mk3

Canon 16-35mm f2.8 Mk3 with the Mk2 on the right.

So let’s take a look at vignetting.  We’ll do that in two ways.

Firstly, let’s see how the vignetting at f2.8 changes with focal length, with the Mk2 on the left, and the Mk3 on the right:

Mk3f2.8FLVig 246x400 Canon 16 35mm f2.8 Mk3

Vignetting of the Canon 16-35mm f2.8 Mk II & III at various focal lengths at a constant f2.8

Next, let’s stay at 16mm focal length on both lenses and look at the vignetting through the aperture range:

16mmVgTest 1 407x900 Canon 16 35mm f2.8 Mk3

Vignetting of the Canon 16-35mm f2.8 Mk II & III at various apertures and a constant 16mm focal length.

Now these vignette results didn’t leave me in a state of shock and awe in the slightest.

You need to view the images at 100% to see the subtle improvements in the Canon 16-35mm f2.8 Mk3.

In the first test – maximum aperture vs focal length, the new variant looks equal to or slightly worse than the Mk 2 at 16mm.

But things begin to improve a bit once we are getting towards 24mm.

On the second test – 16mm vs aperture range, again we see the awful maximum aperture vignetting compared to its predecessor.

From f5.6 to f16 it’s perhaps a sliver better than the Mk2. But, notice that the images are a bit brighter.  This is most likely to do with the improvements made to the multi-coatings.

Canon 16-35mm f2.8 Mk3 vs Mk2 Image Comparisons

Let me begin by saying this – 16mm on the Mk3 is NOT the same 16mm that the Mk2 has!

1D9A6348 Canon 16 35mm f2.8 Mk3 1D9A6347 Canon 16 35mm f2.8 Mk3

Mouse over the slider – see what I mean?

Both shots are 16mm @ f11 on the Canon 5DMk4.  The camera was locked down on my heavy Gitzo, and the camera was triggered with a Canon TC-80N3 – in other words NOTHING moved!

The images have not been adjusted in any way – no lens correction profiles – as shot.

Notice the Mk3 image has greater ‘contrast’ and is less flat-looking?

Okay, so let’s look at the ubiquitous ‘brick wall’ test.

We are doing shots on the 5DMk4 using both Mk2 and Mk3 lens variants.

  • at 200ISO
  • at f2.8, f5.6 and f11
  • at 16mm, 25mm and 35mm
  • at a fixed ‘Cloudy B1’ manual camera white balance
  • manual focusing
  • the camera has been re-focused using x10 live view between each frame.
Screen Shot 2016 12 30 at 13.03.17 600x375 Canon 16 35mm f2.8 Mk3

IMPORTANT – CLICK IMAGE to view at full size in new window.

Screen Shot 2016 12 30 at 14.24.56 600x375 Canon 16 35mm f2.8 Mk3

IMPORTANT – CLICK IMAGE to view at full size in new window. 16mm @ f5.6

Screen Shot 2016 12 30 at 14.27.56 600x375 Canon 16 35mm f2.8 Mk3

IMPORTANT – CLICK IMAGE to view at full size in new window. 16mm @ f11

The above screen grabs give you a great ‘feel’ for all the differences in contrast and lens colour cast between the Mk2 and new Mk3 variants – these are quite significant.  Even more so when when you look at the vignetting, distortion and AoV differences.

Moving on to the full resolution comparisons:

Again, no adjustments at all other than Lightroom standard profile sharpening, and we are looking at the frame centers at 1:1 ratio:

Screen Shot 2016 12 30 at 13.19.28 600x375 Canon 16 35mm f2.8 Mk3

IMPORTANT – CLICK IMAGE to view at full size in new window. 16mm @ f2.8

At 16mm @ f2.8 (above) the Canon 16-35mm f2.8 Mk3 is noticeably sharper than its predecessor.

Screen Shot 2016 12 30 at 13.31.01 600x375 Canon 16 35mm f2.8 Mk3

IMPORTANT – CLICK IMAGE to view at full size in new window. 16mm @ f5.6

Stopping down to f5.6 @ 16mm yields a better sharpness on the older Mk2 variant.  Is there a tiny bit of improved sharpness on the new Mk3 – perhaps.

Screen Shot 2016 12 30 at 13.42.08 600x375 Canon 16 35mm f2.8 Mk3

IMPORTANT – CLICK IMAGE to view at full size in new window. 16mm @ f11

Now at 16mm @ f11 both lenses seem ever so slightly less sharp.  But that is not down to diffraction as you’ll see later with the 25mm and 35mm tests.  I could be an error on my part when focusing, but for me to make the same mistake on two different lenses is a bit of a long shot.  I’ve re-shot and got the same result – methinks it might have something to do with that ‘compromise’ I mentioned earlier on….or, it could be me!

Moving from 16mm to 25mm and 35mm:

Screen Shot 2016 12 30 at 14.32.48 600x375 Canon 16 35mm f2.8 Mk3

IMPORTANT – CLICK IMAGE to view at full size in new window. 25mm @ f2.8

Screen Shot 2016 12 30 at 14.33.04 600x375 Canon 16 35mm f2.8 Mk3

IMPORTANT – CLICK IMAGE to view at full size in new window. 25mm @ f2.8

Screen Shot 2016 12 30 at 14.34.28 600x375 Canon 16 35mm f2.8 Mk3

IMPORTANT – CLICK IMAGE to view at full size in new window. 25mm @ f5.6

Screen Shot 2016 12 30 at 14.34.47 600x375 Canon 16 35mm f2.8 Mk3

IMPORTANT – CLICK IMAGE to view at full size in new window. 25mm @ f5.6

Screen Shot 2016 12 30 at 14.35.32 600x375 Canon 16 35mm f2.8 Mk3

IMPORTANT – CLICK IMAGE to view at full size in new window. 25mm @ f11

Screen Shot 2016 12 30 at 14.35.46 600x375 Canon 16 35mm f2.8 Mk3

IMPORTANT – CLICK IMAGE to view at full size in new window. 25mm @ f11

Screen Shot 2016 12 30 at 14.36.28 600x375 Canon 16 35mm f2.8 Mk3

IMPORTANT – CLICK IMAGE to view at full size in new window. 35mm @ f2.8

Screen Shot 2016 12 30 at 14.36.44 600x375 Canon 16 35mm f2.8 Mk3

IMPORTANT – CLICK IMAGE to view at full size in new window. 35mm @ f2.8

Screen Shot 2016 12 30 at 14.37.24 600x375 Canon 16 35mm f2.8 Mk3

IMPORTANT – CLICK IMAGE to view at full size in new window. 35mm @ f5.6

Screen Shot 2016 12 30 at 14.37.38 600x375 Canon 16 35mm f2.8 Mk3

IMPORTANT – CLICK IMAGE to view at full size in new window. 35mm @ f5.6

Screen Shot 2016 12 30 at 14.38.21 600x375 Canon 16 35mm f2.8 Mk3

IMPORTANT – CLICK IMAGE to view at full size in new window. 35mm @ f11

Screen Shot 2016 12 30 at 14.38.36 600x375 Canon 16 35mm f2.8 Mk3

IMPORTANT – CLICK IMAGE to view at full size in new window. 35mm @ f11

Make sure you have viewed all the above screen shots at full resolution.

Okay, so we have visually covered iteration comparisons for the Canon 16-35mm f2.8 Mk3 and its predecessor in terms of distortion, vignetting, field/angle of view and sharpness.

In terms of stopped-down sharpness, on the Canon 5DMk4 at least, I’d expect to get into the realms of aperture diffraction around f14 to f16.

Wide open the Mk3 version stomps all over the Mk2, and I think it stays ahead through to at least f11 across the entire focal length zoom range.

Chromatic Aberration

The Mk2 16-35 f2.8 has a somewhat noticeable chromatic aberration problem, so how does the new Mk3 version measure up in comparison – both shots are 16mm @ f11:

1D9A6347 Edit 2 600x400 Canon 16 35mm f2.8 Mk3

Click the image and a full size jpeg (80% quality) will open in a new window.

1D9A6348 Edit 2 600x400 Canon 16 35mm f2.8 Mk3

Click the image and a full size jpeg (80% quality) will open in a new window.

Compare the lamp post on the right and the window and alarm box on the left of the shots.

Though still present, chromatic aberration is much reduced on the new Canon 16-35mm f2.8 Mk3.  Along the middle axes of the image – especially the horizontal – there have been big improvements.

The Lightroom ‘remove chromatic aberration’ function cleans the raw file up beautifully without having to go anywhere near the manual corrections – just tick the checkbox. But doing the same to a Mk2 image usually leaves vestiges of both red and green fringing at the frame edges at 16mm.

Coma Test:

What’s Coma? It’s a lens design flaw which renders ‘tails’ and ‘wings’ on off-axis points of light.

And here is a shining example, courtesy of the Mk2 16-35:

J6Q7329 Canon 16 35mm f2.8 Mk3

Coma on the Canon 16-35mm f2.8 Mk2 variant.

Mmmm…yummy!

It’s not exactly the best time of year for Milky Way astro shots here in the UK – New Year as it is.  But we ventured out at midnight the other night just to test this Mk3 version of the lens.

The area is fairly local and surrounded on all sides by huge light polution but it served the purpose of the test.

Shooting wide open f2.8 @ 6400ISO, stacking 8 shots done in quick succession here’s the truth about the coma on the new Mk3 16-35mm variant:

1D9A6327 18 600x400 Canon 16 35mm f2.8 Mk3

Click the image and a full size jpeg (80% quality) will open in a new window.

It’s not the best astro you’ll ever see, but it does show that the coma is still there, but it’s a lot less intrusive.

In Conclusion

So there we have it – the new Canon 16-35mm f2.8 Mk3.

Is it better than it’s Mk2 predecessor?  Well yes, it is – and in pretty much every aspect I’d say.

The vignetting at 16mm f2.8 is quite strong – nearly 4 stops darker than the image center.  This WILL cause you problems if you have peripheral deep shadow areas, as even on the 5DMk4, pulling 4 stops will make the shadow areas go a bit noisy.

I also think that 16mm is now more like 18mm, but what’s a couple of mills between friends ehh!

Would I buy one? Well, that depends.

If I had a Mk2 variant and needed the lens format then I would be looking to trade in immediately.

Wedding, street, sports/photojournalism and events photographers would be mad if they didn’t have one of these in their bag. And I think wildlife photographers would benefit as well – I reckon it would be perfect on the 1DX Mk2 for just about anything.

Not being a Canon shooter for anything below a 200-400 I won’t be putting it on my ‘wants’ list at all, but if you are ‘Canon-only’ then I strongly recommend you have a look at this lens.

As for landscapes and wide field astro, erm…..let’s just say there’s more than one way to skin a cat, and some are better than others.  Having said that, if you are a landscape shooter with a Mk2 variant and you can’t afford/ just don’t want a plethora of glass for specific tasks then it’s a big improvement on what you’ve already got.

Where to buy this lens in the UK – buy it here Calumet Photographic

Many thanks to Reece Piper, Leanne and Richard from Calumet for loaning this lens for the purposes of review.

And a big thanks to June Lown for the loan of the Mk2 to make the comparison.

17.5 hours that’s taken – Jesus, it’s like having a full-time job!  If this review has been useful to you then please consider chucking me a small donation – or a big one if you are that way inclined!

Many thanks to the handful of readers who contributed over the last week or so – you’ve done your bit and I’m eternally grateful to you.

Happy New Year everyone!

Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate Paper

Brilliant Supreme Lustre Paper Review

(26/07/2015: Important update added at end of post re: Canon Pixma Pro 1 .icc profile from the Brilliant website).

Printing an image is the final part of the creative process, and I don’t think there are many of my peers who would disagree with me on that score.

Whenever I’m teaching printing, be it a 1to1 session or a workshop group, I invariably get asked what my recommendation for a good general purpose printing paper would be – one that would suit the widest spread of image styles and subjects.

Until quite recently that recommendation was always the same – Permajet Oyster.

It’s a wide gamut paper – it reproduces a lot of colour and hue variation – that has a high level of brightness and is really easy to soft-proof to in Lightroom. And even though it’s not absolutely colour neutral, it’s natural base tint isn’t too cool to destroy the atmosphere in a hazy orange sunset seascape.

But, after months of printing and testing I have now changed my mind – and for good reason.

BSLU Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate Paper

Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate paper from Calumet is my new recommendation for general printing, and for anyone who wants printing with the minimum of fuss and without the hassle of trying to decide what paper to choose.

Let’s look at how the two papers stack up:

Paper Weight:

Permajet Oyster 271gsm

Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate 300gsm

A heavier paper is a good thing in my book; heavier means thicker, and that means a bit more structural stability; a boon when it comes to matting and mounting, and general paper handling.

Paper Tint & Base Neutrality:

Permajet Oyster:     RGB 241,246,243

Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate:     RGB 241,245,245

The above RGB values are measured using a ColorMunki Photo in spot colour picker mode, as are the L,a,b values below.

L,a,b Luminosity Value:

Permajet Oyster:     96.1

Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate:     95.8

So both papers have the same red value in their ‘paper white’, but both have elevated green and blue values, and yes, green + blue = cyan!

But the green/blue ratios are different – they are skewed in the Permajet Oyster, but 1:1 in the Brilliant paper – so where does this leave us in terms of paper proofing?

The image below is a fully processed TIFF open in Lightroom and ready for soft-proofing:

BSLU2 600x375 Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate Paper

Now if we load the image into the Permajet Oyster colour space – that’s all soft proofing is by the way – we can see a number of changes, all to the detriment of the image:

BSLU3 600x375 Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate Paper

The image has lost luminance, the image has become slightly cooler overall but, there is a big colour ‘skew’ in the brown, reds and oranges of both the eagle and the muted background colours.

Now look at what happens when we send the image into the Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate colour space:

BSLU4 600x375 Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate Paper

Yes the image has lost luminance, and there is an overall colour temperature change; but the important thing is that it’s nowhere near as skewed as it was in the Permajet Oyster soft-proofing environment.

The more uniform the the colour change the easier it is to remove!

BSLU5 600x375 Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate Paper

The only adjustments I’ve needed to make to put me in the middle of the right ball park are a +6 Temp and +2 Clarity – and we are pretty much there, ready to press the big “print me now” button.

The image below just serves to show the difference between the proof adjusted and unadjusted image:

BSLU6 600x375 Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate Paper

But here is the same image soft-proofed to pretty much the same level, but for Permajet Oyster paper – click the image to see it at full size, just look at the number of adjustments I’ve had to do to get basically the same effect:

BSLU7 600x375 Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate Paper

Couple of things – firstly, apologies for the somewhat violent image – the wife just pointed that out to me!  Secondly though, after testing various images of vastly differing colour distributions and gamuts, I consistently find I’m having to do less work in soft-proofing with the Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate paper than its rival.  Though I must stress that the adjustments don’t always follow the same direction for obvious reasons..

Media Settings:

These are important.  For most printers the Oyster paper has a media setting recommendation on Epson printers ( someone once told me there were other makes that used bubbles – ewee, yuck) of Premium Gloss Photo Paper or PGPP.  But I find that PSPP (Premium Semi Gloss Photo Paper) works best on my 4800,  and I know that it’s the recommended media setting for the Epson SCP600.

See update below for Canon Pixma Pro 1 media settings and new updated .icc profile

Conclusion:

Buy a 25 sheet box A3 HERE or 50 sheet box A4 size HERE

They say time is money, so anything that saves time is a no-brainer, especially if it costs no more than its somewhat more labour-intensive alternative.

Gamut1 900x840 Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate Paper

The gamut or colour spaces of the two paper ‘canned profiles’ is shown above – red plot is the Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate and white is Oyster – both profiles being for the Epson 4800.  Yes, the Calumet paper gamut is slightly smaller, but in real terms and with real-world images and the relative colour-metric rendering intent I’ve not noticed any short-comings whatsoever.

I have little doubt that the gamut of the paper would be expanded further with the application of a custom profile, but that’s a whole other story.

Running at around £1 per sheet of A3 it’s no more expensive than any other top quality general printing paper, and it impresses the heck out of me with relatively neutral base tint.

So easy to print to – so buy some!

I’ll be demonstrating just how well this paper works at a series of Print Workshops for Calumet later in the year, where we’ll be using the Epson SC-P600 printer, which is the replacement for the venerable R3000.

UPDATE:

Canon Pixma Pro One .ICC Profile

If anyone has tried using the Lustre profile BriLustreCanPro1.icc that was available for download on the Brilliant website, then please STOP trying to use it – it’s an abomination and whoever produced it should be shot.

I discovered just how bad it was when I was doing a print 1to1 day and the client had a PixmaPro1 printer.  I spoke to Andy Johnson at Calumet and within a couple of days a new profile was sorted out and it works great.

Now that same new profile is available for download at the Brilliant website HERE – just click and download the zip file.  In the file you will find the new .icc profile which goes by the name of BriLustreCanonPro1_PPPL_1.icc

I got them to add the media settings acronym in the profile name – a la Permajet – so set the paper type to Photo Paper Pro Lustre when using this paper on the Pixma Pro 1.

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