Info: Canon EOS 5D vignetting at wide apertures

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The buzz on the EOS mailing list is the significant vignetting in the corners seen on wide angle shots at open apertures with the new full-frame Canon EOS 5D. William Coburn was kind enough to show an example using a 20mm lens at f/2.8 versus f/5.6:

Now, some of this is undoubtedly due to the lens itself (most wide-angles suffer from corner darkening at full apertures), but digital sensors are susceptible to more vignetting (or more accurate, light-falloff) with wide-angle lenses* due to their surface microlens design. I decided to hold off buying the 5D until I had gotten more user reports and I'm glad to have done so. Let's see how this shakes out.

* The Epson R-D1 digital rangefinder camera has a software tool to reduce vignetting because of this problem. And people with Photoshop CS/CS2 can correct this in the RAW plugin too.

Update: Mehyar refers me to Michael Reichmann's excellent field report with a pre-production EOS 5D. Michael evaluates the cameras a photographer and not as a tech-geek.


Wow. I used to own the 20mm, very nice lens. Never experienced vignetting with it.

Since one of the main reasons for the 5D is being able to shoot wide again, this is quite a disappointment IMO.

Anyway, I will buy the 350D today :)

Well, the jury is still out. Wide-open is difficult for any wide-angle lens and the 5D may simply just be exacerbating the situation one or two stops beyond what the lens is doing, thus causing a +4 light loss. Stopped down, it looks quite good.

I'm waiting to see more data samples. If anyone sees anything, please post to this page.

Well, that was to be expected. I don't know any full-frame digital cameras that doesn't have this problem! Actually the German magazine FotoMagazin tests lenses now for film, full-frame sensor and APS-C sized sensor. There you can almost always see a similar performance on an APS-C sensors compared to film, but a pretty bad performance on a full-frame sensor. The only problem on the APS-C sensor is, that you get a smaller part of the image due to the crop factor...

It would have been almost a miracle, if you could use (old) lenses on the 5D with the same results as using film!

Carsten -

True, it'll take a while before the manufacturers redesign their lens lineups so that the wide-angles use greater reverse-telephoto (aka retrofocal) designs than in the past. Canon has redesigned their 'L' zoom lineup, but their primes are showing their age and I think the fellow in question was using the EF20mm f/2.8 -- a $400 lens but one that uses ring USM and hasn't been updated in a while. - Karen

Mind you, the Epson RD-1 isn't even full frame and still exhibits the problem, although I think those were extreme wides (15mm etc). Is this why the digital M "cannot be done"?

True, you can always crank up the ISO and stop down, but about us lovers of bokeh (not that there is much OOF in wides, but still).

I just shot something at f/2.8 and f/5.6, 16mm, with a Canon 16-35L on a 5D. There is certainly vignetting, but I don't think it is worse than I'd see on film. f/2.8 at 16mm is vignette territory.

I'm tempted to shoot some film through that lens to see the difference (if any).

Eric -

Thanks for the data point! The 16-35mm f/2.8 L is a redesigned lens. They basically optically push the rear nodal point forward in these retrofocal designs. This gives better corner-to-corner illumination.

The older optical designs have the rear nodal point very close to the film/sensor surface. Since the sensors cannot catch off-axis light very well, they vignette in corners. Film doesn't suffer from this problem.

I just bought the 5d and I got the Tamron 28-75 2.8. The first thing I noticed was significant vignetting. I am also getting dark bands of light randomly on pictures either on the top bottom or middle of the picture. It may, however, be the lens interacting with the full frame sensor. But then again, others with the same setup haven't experienced the problem. I'm bringing it back to the camera store to try it with other lenses and to determine the cause of the problem. I'll try to report back with the verdict.

How old is the Tamron -- not the lens itself but the lens design? Also, are you sure you have the lens hood on properly? One might laugh, but I've done a shoot with the lens hood on my 16-35mm f/2.8 L on improperly with my EOS 3D and it does cause problems with film. :-)

I often wondered why they don't put on the large digital sensors some kind of microscopic coating similar to the fresnel lenses they put on the reflex viewing glasses, to get rid of the problem of large angle incident lightrays ?

Can anybody tell me why ? raise an objection about this analogy ? or should I patent it ?


1. Reduction of resolution. Also fresnels are notoriously fragile.
2. You could only really optimize for one angle of incidence, all other angles would be non-optimal
3. This "problem" is easily solved by redesigning the lens and getting the consumer to buy new lenses.

Guess which solution Canon prefers! :-)

Does anyone know how the 28/1.8 does on the 5D? That's the widest lens I'd get if I were to go digital.

The 28 f/1.8 looks great on a 5D in my opinion. I'd be happy to post some test shots, if you like.

sorry i haven't checked back sooner. yeah, it'd be great to see some pics. got any wide open and closeup?

I bought the 5d recently and just had the opportunity to shoot with the Tamron 28-75mm, and my experience is the same as Jason's: vignetting. I was warned about vignetting on full-frame, but I must say I didn't expect that degree of vignetting. The worst scenario ocurred when I put the polarizer on. For those interested, I have uploaded some samples here:
Canon 5d vignetting

I would be glad to hear your opinions on these.

I just received my 5D today. The first shots shows significant vignetting at 28.0mm with my Canon 28-135mm IS USM lens. At 50mm it was fine. I took off the Cir-P and the UV filter and reshot at 28mm with no vignetting. I'm sure you would probably get the same problem with film.

I am also having the vignetting problem. I am currently in contact with Canon and I'm trying to get to the bottom of it. So far, they have told me that, basically, that's just the way it goes.
I've done a lot of testing on a gray card and of course the problem is the worst at f/4 28mm, but it still persists at 50mm and 70mm, which should not be happening. I have examples if anyone would like to see them. Please let me know if anyone finds the solution to this!

Selena -- which lens are you using? Is it one of the recent (i.e. post-digital) versions?

I have tried a 5D body with a range of lenses from 17-40/f4L, 24-105/f4L IS, 28-70/f2.8L, 50/1.4, 70-200/f4L and 70-200/f2.8L. The wide-angle lenses vignette badly wide-open and a degree of vignetting is still visible at f8. Even the 70-200 lenses show a degree of corner darkening wide open.

My tests were not a pure academic exercise (cf. reference to tech-geek) as I buy L glass to use them wide-open under low light conditions (typically in a church without flash at a wedding). Therefore, it's important that I am not restricted in my choice of aperture.

My dealer has now swapped the 5D body for another that I am about to test once more. I shall also conduct a parallel test with the same lenses on a film body. If the second 5D fails in a similar way then I will have no choice but to forego a full-frame dSLR until Canon resolve this issue, perhaps with a different sensor design.

David - all wide angle lenses have some corner darkening -- even with film. Its just that digital tends to accentuate this.

If you're taking indoor church/wedding photographs, the corner darkening actually enhances the mood of the photograph by placing more attention in the center. Slight darkening is also easy to remove using Photoshop filters, if you don't like it.

I don't think it's a deal-killer, but its certainly a little bit of a nuisance for those that don't like the look.


Jesus fucking christ i am sick and fucking tired of hearing about this shit. Shoot wide angle with some film sometime... oh fuck vignetting there also... learn to get the fuck over it. stop being whiney little faggots. move outta your moms house and get a fucking life you panty wearing fucking sissies.

I have a Canon 5D & just got a Sigma 10-20 lenses
and I was horrified w/ the level of vigneting. This is horrible. Too bad.

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This page contains a single entry by Karen Nakamura published on October 2, 2005 8:52 PM.

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