Canon Confirms “Light Leak” Issue in the 5D Mark III

Earlier this month, reports started emerging that Canon’s new 5D Mark III DSLR has a “light leak” issue. Photographers found that turning on the LCD backlight in a dark room directly affects the camera’s metering system (as seen in the video above). Canon published a product advisory today acknowledging the issue, saying,

In extremely dark environments, if the LCD panel illuminates, the displayed exposure value may change as a result of the AE sensor’s detection of light from the LCD panel.

The phenomenon […] has been confirmed when using the Canon EOS 5D Mark III Digital SLR Camera. Canon is now examining the countermeasures and once the countermeasures are decided, we will post the information on our Web site.

Problem is, the issue isn’t limited to the LCD’s backlight in a dark room. Apparently any light (e.g. sunlight) shining onto the LCD screen can affect exposure.

Here’s a video that shows how sunlight shining down onto the LCD affects the camera’s metering:

Canon has quite a mess on its hands if it’s unable to address this issue in a simple manner — it doesn’t seem to be a problem that a firmware update will be able to fix.

(via CanonWatch)

Update: Mitch points out that in the second video the user has the lens cap on, so the camera “thinks” it’s in a dark environment.

  • Ninpou_kobanashi


  • Zhemin

    Fail,  /point at Canon   ;’D

  • HD Cam Team

    This issue was reported by many sites, ours included. It wasn’t a good news indeed, but the product advisory is a good sign at the same time.

    Thanks to all the reports spread over the internet Canon was aware and published a product advisory acknowledging the issue very quickly. That’s a very good sign. Some other companies would have skipped it.

    Let’s hope Canon also offers a solution very soon.

  • Mallix

    I put some duct tape over my 5D’s LCD panel. Problem solved.

  • Ninpou_kobanashi

    Erm, and how do you use your LCD?

  • Sukiyaki12

    Real photographers don’t use the LCD ;)

  • David Thunander

    Drop the price by a 1000

  • Kyle Greenwell

    This is clearly a failure on the product design and quality assurance departments at Canon’s headquarters. I used to work in quality assurance in software, and finding bugs was a pretty big deal to my company. However, bugs in software are quite easy to fix. Bugs in the hardware or design of a product are nearly impossible to fix once the product has been released. It’s a shame Canon didn’t address this issue before the product came out, had it gone through extensive quality assurance inspections. The fact that its a professional-level product should merit extensive testing before release.

  • Jared Monkman

    Real photographers don’t say, “real photographers”

  • Jared Monkman

    Real photographers don’t say, “real photographers”

  • HD Cam Team

    100% agree with you.

  • Mrjeroul

    Does this warrant product recall on canon part?

  • Ninpou_kobanashi

    Hmm, I agree with you guys, but it may have been a manufacturing defect that was discovered late in the cycle.  I’m a Nikon person and I have seen some very very slight leakage in my AF-S 24-70mm.  It doesn’t affect most people and yet I think Nikon discovered that some foil that was supposed to help mask out lighting didn’t actually do the job.

  • Ninpou_kobanashi

    Hehe, you’re probably right, I don’t actually use mine that often.  But on Nikons, I need to know things like, RAW vs JPG, WB, etc.  I’m too lazy to hit the info button to light up the back LCD and generally only look at the top one.

  • David

    Is this really going to affect 99.99% of users? I reckon its not worth worrying about. Get it fixed when you have to send your camera in for some other more serious problem.

  • Jim Warthman

    Clearly a defect that Canon must fix. 

    That said, many are blowing the *importance* of this out of proportion. I mean, under real-world circumstances the problem is very unlikely to affect anything. Check out the second video. It shows the problem happens with bright sunlight hitting the LCD with an exposure of ISO 400, f/1.2, at 4 – 10 secs., which is approx. EV -4 or -5! This corresponds to shooting on a dark night, away from city lights, which would be an odd time to have direct sunlight shining on the LCD!

    Anyway, it’s simple to guard against in the unlikely event that you are shooting in very dark conditions and you need to turn on the LED backlight WHILE taking a meter reading! Anyone with an affected camera needs to know not to take a meter reading with the LCD backlight on.

  • Adarkness

    ” It shows the problem happens with bright sunlight hitting the LCD with an exposure of ISO 400, f/1.2, at 4 – 10 secs….”  WITH THE LENS CAP ON.  
    And take a look at the first video… the problem occurs with the body cap on…
    It is a stupid mistake on Canon’s part, but I can see how QA missed it.  Do you expect a lot of photographers to be making images in the dark (the dark, not the dim) with the LCD backlight as the only light source? It really does seem to be a non-issue.

  • U2ROX

     Umm…the LCD is the only way you can view the photo after you have taken it to make sure that it turned out okay. There have been quite a few times that I would not have known that my flash didn’t fire if I had not seen it on the LCD screen.
    Besides, you need the screen to access the menu settings.
    If you aren’t using the LCD screen for these things, you AREN’T a “real” photographer.

  • Jim Warthman

    U2ROX, we’re talking about the LCD panel on the top of the camera, not the big LCD on the back.

  • Zebra

    Yeah, and it’s not like this is happening on a $3500 professional camera or anything.. Oh wait, it actually is. 

    If I pay more than $3000 for a camera body, I think it would be reasonable to expect it will not have “non-issues” such as this.

  • Terrymcdonagh

    Free umbrella with every 5D111 sold, problem solved
    What a shower of gobshites!!

  • Terrymcdonagh

    You obviously only need a box brownie on your assignments, but I don’t, when you read all the canon hype about metering it seems like a total farce.

  • The_photographer_Tom

    Shoot manually. Once you’ve checked your image for the 1st exposure and assuming that the lighting isn’t changing too much, there shouldn’t be a need to look at the top LCD panel.

  • Sandra Chung

    I don’t use the LCD panel on the top, I use the screen on the back for checking my settings. I’ve always found the small panel up top too small to read.

    Does it need to addressed and fixed? Yes, but it’s not a disaster.

  • Jin C

    I see the same issue with my 5D2.. Doesn’t bother me that much.

  • Knur

    Beta testers (first buyers) are pised. :)

  • Knur

    hipsters are not real photographers. 

  • OSAM

    Agreed.  It might affect some people, but probably very very few.

  • Miki

    I see that most of you don’t work a lot in a studio. I’ve token a lot of pic in a dim place and using the lcd screen ilumination to check the exposure. This would mess things up! Definitly something that has to be fixed on a camera of this level.

  • A Y R T O N 3 6 0

    Buy a NIKON and forget this problem !!!

  • Chris

    Are we certain the light isn’t leaking onto the sensor as well?  I’m trying to think of how you could leak light into the meter but not the sensor and I’m not really coming up with anything.

  • Sandra Chung

    And just have to deal with other problems? No thank you.

  • Sandra Chung

    Ok, since I have a 5D-III I decided to recreate this ‘light leak’ as done in the video. No lens, body cap on, set to AV, in a dark room. Guess what? Nothing happened.  Also, how many photographers are going to adjusting their cameras without a lens, with just a body cap on it? 

  • Eric Nicolas

    Duct tape

  • Ewen Cafe

    Ok, I’ll start by saying that I’m not a Canon shooter, but seeing as exposure is affected in daylight then I see no option but for the product to be recalled simply because it’s not fit for purpose…

  • Kollektionz

    Canon need to do a recall.  My 5D3 is under exposing when I shoot in the sun at high noon.  Besides that, this camera is awesome.

    Do a recall or give back $1,000 and I can live with it by losing the top LCD with electrical tape.

  • Jim Warthman

    Sorry, but I’m a bit skeptical, when others (including the videos posted at the top of this article) indicate this issue only happens when metering in VERY DIM light as in -4 EV.

    If you are having exposure issues in broad daylight it’s more likely your own mistake, not the camera’s.

  • Jim Warthman

    You’re doing studio shots at -4 EV? Amazing!


  • Sandra Chung

    Being a family with more than one Canon camera, we were able to test this ‘problem’ with the 60D, the 7D and the 5D-III. Guess what? All three do this. It’s not, I repeat NOT,  a light leak, it’s the cameras trying to lock onto or find a light source to meter for exposure. It does this whether the lens cap, body cap is on or not.

  • Sandra Chung

    All I can say is if your images are underexposed, you need to adjust your settings.

  • Sandra Chung

    I took outdoor photos, using Program, TV and AV, and none of them are under exposed.  My bet is you’re spot metering, and metering on something extremely bright, and using the above.  It will expose for that light colored item, making everything else dark. Try evaluative, or partial, or center weighted average.

  • Barbu

    Ever taken a photo of the moonlight? Or worked in a studio, camera in the dark and the shooting area flooded with light? Both situations would *need* some kind of light on the secondary screen, if you want to use the autoexposure.
    I’m curious what would happen if someone would take a pic at an airshow or while birding (for example), with the top of the camera pointed straight at the sun (so the subject would be at a 90 degree). I’d sure do mind the under-exposure…

  • Zhemin

    Why would you use the LCD, everything is in display in the Viewfinder, None of the LCD on my camera ever get used.

    I dunno about Canon cameras, because im a Nikon user, or lower end cameras like the 5D MIII but on pro bodies, The viewfinder is all you need ;’D


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  • UserSix

    **********SPAM ALERT. *********

  • Sukiyaki12

    @a4bd34df2e49dc07cc9326ac7770ca4e:disqus & @Knur:disqus , so you are saying that film photographers are not “real” photographers?

    Also, @49cc2e3211b2dd055878669814f70217:disqus , what I said was meant as a joke, but I guess people don’t get sarcasm around here even when I was trying to be blatant about it (ever heard of a wink?)

  • Jared Monkman

    Relax man, sarcasm is hard to get across on screen.  No need to get your butt all in a twist.  I don’t think this issue is about using the LCD or not, because, regardless, it’s still there, and susceptible to this problem.  But, as people have suggested, this problem isn’t going to be a huge issue, and I wonder how many cameras it actually effects.

  • Slash_Cynic

    This same thing happens in Nikon cameras as well. Why isn’t Nikon recalling all their cameras?

  • Slash_Cynic

    Nikons have this issue too but no one is bitching.

  • photocanada

    Canon is full of genius engineers and the company does so many things right, that it bugs me more that they screw up something like this. Shouldn’t they have caught this in beta-testing, pre-release?