Brunei Darussalam

Canon EOS 5D Mark III Incredible ISO 12800 Performance a Smashing Hit

Back in 2009 when I wrote I Jump. Do You? in an effort to demonstrate my newly acquired 5D Mark II’s ISO 6400 performance and AI Servo tracking capability, some readers suggested that the test was flawed. That was then, this is now. III years on (pun intended) and again I find myself holding a 5D Mark III at the same sports hall where I conducted the 2009 test and I’ll let you be the judge of this test: EF 70-200mm f/2.8, @ ISO 12800, 1/500 sec, Auto White Balance.

Of course, I know that 600 pixel wide images do not mean anything until you see one of reasonably large size to pixel peep. For that, I include an unedited RAW converted JPEG image (1.4 MB) that I think is good enough to show you just how clean ISO 12800 is (remember, though the venue is a dedicated badminton court its lights are rows of fluorescent lights not spot lights that you’re probably used to seeing at world class tournaments). Many thanks to Cyril who took charge of the 5D Mark III while I was getting an intense workout!

Click on image to see a larger version (1000px) of an unedited RAW-to-JPEG file (1.4 MB)

 This 620 pixel wide image is post-processed for contrast and colour like I always do.  The EXIF files show ISO 12800, 1/500 sec, Auto White Balance. If you’re a seasoned photographer these numbers tell you a lot.

On another occasion, I took the unusual step of fitting a Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 lens to the 5D Mark III to shoot badminton because where I was allowed to sit during the tournament, that focal length made the most sense. Read more in my other post EOS 5D Mark III + EF 50mm f/1.4 at ISO 12800 for Sports Photography?

Chung Hua Middle School KB contestant Edward reaching for the shuttlecock captured using EF 50mm f/1.4 at ISO 12800 f/2.5 1/1250 sec.

Using multiple AF points in the EOS-1D X and 5D Mark III | Even more incredible: Canon EOS-1D X

Related EOS 5D Mark III stories
Canon EOS 5D Mark III: Improvements That Matter. Or Not.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III: File Name Customization and Other Features That Make Sense

Canon EOS 5D Mark III + EF 100mm f/2.8 L Macro Lens an Appetizing Combo (Shooting Food at ISO 6400)

12 thoughts on “Canon EOS 5D Mark III Incredible ISO 12800 Performance a Smashing Hit

  1. YOU JERK!!! I WAS happy with my 5D Mark II. But seeing ISO 12,800 looking so clean has me lusting after the Mark III. DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT MY WIFE IS GOING TO DO TO ME WHEN SHE SEES A $3,500 CHARGE? DO YOU?!!! 😉


  2. Draper, Look at the bright side, your wife will be so please with the photos you taken with her in it. Extra please that you’ll be pampered for 3 months!


    1. This is the badminton hall of Brunei Shell Recreation Club (BSRC) in Seria, Brunei Darussalam where I play almost for certainty on weekends and sometimes squeeze in a game or two during the week.


  3. Shooting in continous mode did you experience white balance drift in your consecutive shots? I just tested the 5D3 in a Table Tennis stadium with multiple rows of Fluroresent lighting. The first shot would come out clean but the subsequent shots had blotches are yellow and brown


    1. Due to the nature of ALL fluorescent lighting undergoing colour shifts during each second because of the ballast (60 times in US/Canada, 50 in Europe, most of rest of world) white balance fluctuations while shooting in high ISO are expected. I encountered this a few years ago when I used to shoot quite a bit in ISO 6400 with my 5D Mark II. Unfortunately, switching to fluorescent white balance does not make it better.


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