Canon 5D MK III – Using the in camera HDR feature

I’m not a big fan of HDR photos. I prefer a more natural look to my photos, but I understand the reasoning behind them. The most basic premise is that you’re trying to capture photos with a dynamic range beyond the capabilities of the camera’s sensor to achieve something closer to what a human eye would see, particularly in high contrast situations. The only problem is that most people go a bit overboard and process the crap out of the photo to make it anything but natural.

Presented with a high contrast scene recently, I decided to try out the in camera HDR feature to see what it produced. There are 5 different settings to choose from: natural, art standard, art vivid, art bold and art embossed – the art vivid setting being my preference for landscape. There are a few straightforward settings to configure before taking the HDR shot then all you have to do is press the shutter button. It will take three exposures one after the other (a tripod helps but not necessary) and then combine them in camera after a short wait. The results below are straight from the camera with only a tiny bit of sharpening applied, click on the images to download a larger version.

Normal exposure:

Mangrove board walk Casuarina Coastal Reserve

In camera HDR, art vivid setting:

Mangrove board walk Casuarina Coastal Reserve

Normal exposure:

Mangrove board walk Casuarina Coastal Reserve

In camera HDR, art vivid setting:

Mangrove board walk Casuarina Coastal Reserve

As you can see the results are pretty good and quite natural looking. For some reason it zooms the image in slightly and there seems to be a slight loss in sharpness (compared to RAW), which I’m guessing is due to the zooming and/or the jpg format that it gets saved in. But for those not wanting to do any post-processing on the computer, the in camera HDR on the 5D MK III is a pretty good feature. And for those who do like to tinker with their photos, the bracketed exposures can be saved along with the final image.

I’ll definitely keep the in camera HDR in my bag of tricks in future.