There are a few ways to process the files. We shot RAW + JPEG to see what the in-camera processed JPEGs looked like compared to the RAW files. We then used Canon’s Digital Photo Professional software, giving the manufacturer the chance to show how they feel the files should look, and taking advantage of every bit of the “special sauce”, or the detailed camera data that the brands reserve for their own processing software.
We then processed the files in Adobe Camera RAW using the “Default” setting, which utilizes the Adobe-generated camera profiles for the make and model of the camera. As you’ll see, this can be a problem. The 7D, for example, is not officially supported in Camera RAW 5.5, and the newer version, 5.6 is still in development, or beta, mode. We got some pretty interesting results processing the files in 5.5, a little better in 5.6b, and we’re using the X-Rite Passport software to try making a processing profile of our own, the results of which we’ll post separately later.
Finally, we’re taking some representative shots and looking at them sized to 8 x 10”- a pretty standard size whether you’re shooting a page spread for a magazine or prints for Grammy’s mantle, and we’ll see how those compare.
To shoot these we had to make sure all the in-camera settings were at the same spot, and we chose Normal picture setting, normal sharpening, the color space set to sRGB, with the white balance set to Daylight. They were all shot at f11. Here’s what we got for the three cameras, on the figure set.
Even just by eye, the images have a bit of variation in the color cast. The 5DMII has a slight magenta cast, the 7D is more neutral but with a bit of yellow, and the 50D has a pronounced shift to yellow.
At 100%, we get some interesting results. All of the images have a slightly soft feel to them, yet the areas of contrast, the higher contrast areas like the zipper show a good focus. Take a look, again, 5D MII, 7D, D50.
Digital Photo Professional (DPP)
Now, let’s see what the Canon software does to these files in their RAW form.
We processed the files at the Canon defaults, and simply exported them as TIFF files. The white balance differences remain the same, however the files appear slightly sharper.
Here are the 100% shots.
They responded much better to the Unsharp Mask in Photoshop. Here’s a sample of that.
Especially visible in the wisps of hair, the USM helps the file appear considerably more crisp.
Adobe Camera RAW
Now, the same files processed in Adobe Camera RAW, also at the Default settings.
Again, the color casts remain fairly consistent throughout, but in this case the 5D MII seems to be closer to neutral. The 7D is decidedly yellow, the 50D is magenta.
These files were considerably crisper. Here’s a sample of the 5D MII shot with USM applied. Not only is the hair snapping, but the skin textures are defined and clear, too.
Here are files from all three EOS cameras, applying the same amount of USM and viewed at 100%. Take a look.
Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Canon EOS 7D
Canon EOS 50D
Here’s where you’re seeing what that big sensor in the 5D MII gives you. Look closely at the hair; in the 5D MII samples you see every hair. In the 7D you’re seeing the areas of hair that have contrast, and the highlights. The 50D gives you just the highlights, with the rest of the hair being rendered, well, generally- as a texture rather than a detail.
This is what landscape photographers call the “Foliage Effect”. To get a really good feel for what a sensor does, take a look at a landscape with leaves, and zoom right in on the leaf areas. The great thing about leaves is there are big ones and small ones, and you can see when a camera can render every leaf, big or small, or just get the texture- the general idea. You get just the same thing with hair.
The big place this is going to show up is with either big enlargements of shots like this, or with group shots. Think the wedding family shots. Not only are you going to see better results from the 5D in the hair and skin textures, but in the textures of the dresses as well.
For a quick gauge of resolution, here’ s a headshot from the 18-megapixel Canon EOS 7D.
At 100% with the standard USM applied. And yes, that is her contact lens you see.