Monday, 29 December 2008

High ISO performance of Canon EOS 5D Mark II

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1/60, f/2.8, ISO 6400, +1 EV, 200mm (70-200mm f/2.8 L IS)

I shot part of a wedding with my new Canon EOS 5D Mark II last week. I had the opportunity to check out its performance at high ISO when taking candids of the guests during the meal. Light levels were very low, with illumination provided primarily by candlelight.

In my opinion, noise levels at ISO 6400 on the 5D Mark II, under these conditions, are equivalent to about ISO 1250 on the 5D, an improvement of over 2 stops. Zooming to 100%, the noise is visible, as shown on the left in the image above. The result of running the image through NeatImage, using the custom noise profile I created for my camera, followed by sharpening in Photoshop with an unsharp mask, and then a minor tweak to brightness, is shown on the right. A nice improvement in image quality.

The post-processed image is shown above. Noise levels increase considerably when moving to ISO 12,800 and 25,600. However, ISO 6400 in combination with a fast prime lens and a Speedlite will allow you to get great results in the darkest of venues.

It would be interesting to see what the images from this sensor looked like at very high ISO if it only had 12 megapixels, as in the 5D. I'm sure I'm not the only one to wonder this!

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8 comments:

George Bain said...

Good to read David. I got my 5D MkII this afternoon. I can't wait to try it out tomorrow in my spare time.

So did you find anything about it not up to your standards?

Cool!

David said...

Good to read David. I got my 5D MkII this afternoon. I can't wait to try it out tomorrow in my spare time.

So did you find anything about it not up to your standards?

George Bain


Hi George,

Looks good so far. Full review will appear soon.

Yours,

David

ederivi said...

Hi David,

Thanks for posting.
Which format did you use when you compared the 5DmkII to the 5D? (iso 1250 vs. iso 6400). JPEG or RAW? If RAW which program did you use to convert the files?

Thanks,
Ivan

David said...

Hi Ivan,

I always shoot in RAW and convert with Adobe Lightroom 2.2.

Yours,

David

Lloyd Sturdy said...

Hi David

I shoot a lot of low light event photography with a 5D and 5DII and have always had to dial out lots of red when the dominating light is tungsten (or candle) shooting auto white balance. The 'shot at' white balance when converting raws is always way out. Do you find this?

Thanks

Lloyd

David said...

Hi Lloyd,

Yes, I do. Canon's auto white balance system struggles with tungsten lighting. One of the problems might be the range of colour temperatures and colour casts that occur with this type of lighting.

I find Adobe Lightroom's ability to sync settings between shots very useful for this during post-processing - get the white balance right for one shot and then paste these settings it into all the other shots taken under the same conditions.

Yours,

David

Matt Evans said...

David,

I'm struggling with concept of aperture used at long focal lengths. Close-up I understand how wide apertures demand accurate focusing, but what about at a long distance. It seems much more forgiving. Another layer to my question is how a long focal length will compress the background - does this have an impact on apperture use too?

Thank you!

David said...

Hi Matt,

This is such a good question that it deserves a blog post of its own.
Watch this space!

Yours,

David