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Gear & Apps

If Canon Dual Pixel Raw Is So Good, Why Isn’t It On The Flagship 1DX II? Here’s Why

By Marlon Richardson on August 31st 2016

Admit it, when you first heard about Canon’s Dual Pixel Raw technology found in the new 5D Mark IV, just like me you dreamed of shooting portraits while later in post deciding which eye you liked better in focus. Or at the very least, shifting focus back from eye lashes a few millimeters down to an eye.

If you fantasized about any of things or perhaps something even more extreme being a possibility with Dual Pixel Raw files, thanks to [DPreview], I regretfully inform you the Canon 5D Mark IV is not your huckleberry. Within their testing of it, you’ll immediately notice the limitations, and therefore see its lack of application.

Let’s get real, if this feature was meant to be very useful would it not have debuted on Canon’s flagship 1Dx Mark II?

I Blame Myself

Did I expect too much? Maybe. Do I feel a bit taken? Kinda. Many writers who have not tested this camera have touted Canon’s Dual Pixel Raw feature as game changing and a major reason to upgrade from the 5D Mark III. Unfortunately, once the hype-machine took hold our imaginations went right along with it.

In reality, Canon has, for the most part, downplayed this feature from the moment it released specifications about the 5D Mark IV. Even in [Canon’s downloadable brochure] introducing the 5D Mark IV, Dual Pixel Raw is the very last feature mentioned. Canon, intelligently puts a heavier emphasis on Dual Pixel CMOS AF, and in-camera digital optimizer, and diffraction correction; all very useful new technology that, you guessed it, first appeared in the 1DX Mark II.


[REWIND: Canon 5D Mark IV | This is It, Finally]

Do I Need Duel Pixel Raw?

Canon touts this feature as a “unique post-shooting treatment” including image micro-adjustment to maximize sharpness and bokeh shift. However, the degree of correction appears to be so small that it hardly seems worth introducing increased softness to images (which Canon admits and suggests scaling the image after), doubled file sizes, and adding Canon’s clunky Digital Photo Professional software into your workflow. It’s perhaps surprising Adobe is working on adapting their software for a feature quite like this, though Adobe and Canon have a special relationship.

I’ll just say it. Don’t buy the Canon 5D Mark IV for Dual Pixel Raw. You’ll likely only be disappointed if you do. While the video features of the new 5D are well below class leading, it’s stills image improvements—the primary use of this camera—are definitely worth a hard look.

Was Canon’s Dual Pixel Raw feature included in the 5D Mark IV to boost the feature set of an otherwise modestly upgraded camera? Perhaps. Did many of us overestimate this features usefulness? Most definitely.

Source: DPreview

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Marlon is a South Florida-based wedding and portrait photographer, writer, and interactive designer. Involved in photography since the 90’s, his background began with repairing film cameras from a master Vietnam veteran, followed by years of assisting professional photographers then before starting his own business in 2006. Marlon at his heart is a tinkerer that has love for and adept in every medium of photography.

When not working Marlon is all about spending time with his wife, Naomi and two boys, Taze and Brassaï.

Q&A Discussions

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    very interesting comments Marlon . my story is different but close . i am an amateur; enthousiast and passionnate of nature and wildlife . i began with a canon 550 d 18 mpx without dual pixel . coupled with canon 300 f 4 and 400 f5.6 .
    A.F.  was not optimate with 550d and i change for the canon 80d 24 mpx dual pixel ; influenced by the marketing … and some compleasant lab review ….
    . what a surprise to discover that 400 f5.6 sharpness disapear in high iso AND  low iso also ….. . first  i suppose that i must calibrate my lense with the new dslr  and i test it with a mire and differents settings. conclusion; no problem of AF .it was ok ….. and why do have not good pictures ? as soon as at mimina of them in 550d …
    because of distorsion ……. dual pixel and increasing of mpx conduct to go from 18 mono mpx to 24 dual mpx ….equal (  ?  ) …… as soon as  48 mpx on the same surface ….
    my conclusion is that the new processor exceed cannot  compensate totally  these degradation .it work not to be desastrous … but in fact, my 80D is very very decepting ….
    actually i think to get the professionnal 1dx .known to be perfect with the 400 f5.6 . the first version( without dualo pixel )  is very difficult to find and the new is dual pixel ……. .i think for 6000 euros ( in France ) you can hope a very good and professionnal set …..
    i am french and maybe dont understand all you say ; sorry for eventual confusion …
    but diffraction is a very very important factor ….not only at close fstops .
    if you can give me a tip for cho0sing a good dslr for my 400 f 5.6 ( very light :i love it )
    may be a simple  old 70d , without these dual pixel technology ?
    why do they create hybrid phot and video ? .
    photographs exist and are ready to pay for a good set
    i shot birds in low light mostly and sometimes they are  mooving but not every time .
    thank you and bests


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  2. adam sanford

    Fair story, I appreciate it. A few thoughts:

    1) Offering a camera company your hopes and dreams is different than giving them $3,499. You can’t be ‘taken’ unless you ponied up *money* sight unseen just for this feature. I doubt you did that.

    2) The DPReview story emphasizes what Canon said on launch day with demonstration videos — it does *subtle* things. But even though the AF changes from DP RAW are subtle, please name me another camera (other than Lytro) that can rescue missed focus after the fact. Even a small amount could help.

    3) 100% agree — don’t buy a camera for one feature until you can either read comprehensive testing on how it performs or rent one to try out.

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    • Marlon Richardson

      Dual Pixel Raw isn’t going to rescue a missed focus image. That is beyond it’s capabilities from the tests I’ve seen. See this is why I wrote this article in the first place, so many Canon users are thinking this feature is Lytro level technology. Dual Pixel RAW is far weaker, less useful, and almost totally impractical to use.

      Think more in terms of this… If say you use a lens and don’t notice that it needs a small micro-adjustment to be tack sharp. If you shoot with this lens it’s possible that Dual Pixel Raw can allow you to perform a minor focus adjustment from the raw file using CPP. You still would’ve needed to nail the focus for Dual Pixel Raw to work it’s best.

      Even worse you have to enable DPRAW prior to the fact. DPRAW’s are roughly double in size to normal RAWS. Additionally, in all the tests I’ve seen showing the Bokeh Shift feature it just looks like some selective sharpening. Something we can already do with Google Nik Collection, which is freeware.

      For my money the lessor publicized Diffraction Correction is going to be way more useful to Canon shooters. The blurring effects of diffraction can be devastating using older glass on newer Canon’s.

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    • Adam Rubinstein

      “Dual Pixel Raw isn’t going to rescue a missed focus image. That is beyond it’s capabilities from the tests I’ve seen. ”


      Clinton Lubbe here says he’s been shooting on it. In his experience, the longer the focal length (starting ~85mm), the more correction is possible. So I wonder if it *could* be useful for highly compressed (135mm, 200mm) portraits, or bokehramas. Video is cued to when he’s talking about it.

      Of course, you have to set it beforehand, so even if it were Lytro-like, it still wouldn’t be a silver bullet. ;)

      Being a 6D user, I hungrily pre-ordered one. I’m curious to see what kind of difference it could make in the studio, if any.

      I think what we’re seeing is an ingenious Canon engineer noticing this was possible, and ran with it. This could be a tectonic shift, in its infancy. Or camera-makers could introduce proper Lytro-style systems in 10 years, and this will be an adorable footnote in the history of focus.

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  3. adam sanford

    Correction: DPAF is more than 3 years old, and actually first came out on a crop camera, the 70D.

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    • Marlon Richardson

      Dual Pixel CMOS AF capabilities in the Canon 5D Mark IV, enable continuous automatic AF and AF tracking at the pixel level at light levels as low as EV -4.

      I’m pretty sure the 70D couldn’t do that. According to Canon that’s the new part and it’s new to the 5D and 1D lines.

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    • adam sanford

      Yes, DPAF’s not new, but this version certainly seems to have been improved: I believe -4 EV in LiveView is a first — not even the 1DX2 claims that.

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