When the 5D Mark IV was announced it had a lesser talked about but really intriguing feature: Dual Pixel RAW. Everyone wondered what it was and how powerful it would be. Some even imagined it would reach the same level of customization as Lytro’s odd light field cameras. Canon, to their credit, was quick to downplay these assumptions, providing a more explicit series of examples and tips for how to best use it and how it can help you save an image. It’s still always best to see what you can do when you actually get your hands on it.

I really wanted to stress test the files to see what I could do in a real world shoot, so I got the EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens and got a close-up of my Caliper watch. I opened up the aperture to get the shallowest depth of field in order to get the most exaggerated effects in post and took this photo. Nothing fancy but it’ll work for our purposes.

DP RAW Original Photo
This is the original Dual Pixel RAW image taken for testing purposes.

First, I wanted to check out the Focus Microadjustment. These adjustments are are the strongest settings just to see the difference between the shots.

As you can see it is really tough to tell a difference between these images. There is a slight difference, but it really is only going to be useful if you are literally just a hair off with your focus. Even at 100% in Photoshop I could see it shift, but couldn’t really tell if it was actually moving the point or just performing and advanced sharpen and blur to “shift” the focus point. In any case, if you notice your photo isn’t quite in perfect focus while shooting, reshoot if possible, because Dual Pixel RAW isn’t going to be reliable enough to guarantee a save.

The next thing was the more interesting Bokeh Shift setting. This actually can have a significant effect on the perspective of the shot.

Looking at these two shots, you can see how much you can actually change the image this way. Now, I really can’t think of that much of a reason why I would need this for most shots, but I’m sure someone out there has wanted to nudge their photo over just a little bit at one point.

There are some other tools I couldn’t quite test, such as the ghosting correction, but those are fairly straightforward options. Also, a disappointing thing was that you can only use one of these tools at a time, meaning you can adjust the focus and shift the bokeh, so if you have both issues you are currently out of luck. Not to mention that you need to use Canon’s Digital Photo Pro software, and I know most shooters aren’t looking to add yet another piece of software to their workflow for such marginal gains.

Is Dual Pixel RAW a nice feature to have? Sure. Is anyone going to use it? Probably not, since it bloats file sizes and requires use of Canon’s painful to use DPP software. Feel free to download the photos to take a closer look, though keep in mind that these are half resolution files.

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