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Canon EOS 5D Mark II Gordon Laing, December 2008 / updated June 2009
 

Canon EOS 5D Mark II results : Real-life resolution / Studio resolution / 5D Mk II vs A900 vs 5D Noise / Noise Reduction

 
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Canon EOS 5D Mark II High ISO Noise Reduction

The Canon EOS 5D Mark II offers four different High ISO Noise Reduction settings: Disable, Low, Standard (the default) and High.

To compare their effect, we photographed our High ISO Noise composition throughout the 5D Mark II's sensitivity range, at each of the Noise Reduction settings.

Canon states noise reduction is applied at all ISO speeds when enabled, so we've included samples at every setting.


Note: Auto Lighting Optimizer was Disabled for this test since it can artificially increase noise levels; Highlight Tone Priority was again Disabled by default. The image above was taken with the Canon EOS 5D Mark II at a sensitivity of 100 ISO, using the EF 24-105mm f4.0L IS lens at 24mm f8; the original Large Fine JPEG file measured 4.93MB. The 5D Mark II slightly underexposed this shot, so we applied +0.3EV compensation. The crops are taken from the centre and presented here at 100%.

From 50 to 400 ISO, the crops essentially show no difference between the different noise reduction settings. At 800 ISO, there's a very slight hint of chroma noise in the background of the sample taken with noise reduction disabled, but it's pretty subtle.

At 1600 ISO, this chroma noise has become more apparent on the crop taken without noise reduction, and a little texture - albeit without the chroma element - has crept into the version with Low noise reduction. The versions with Standard and Strong noise reduction remain clean without noticeable loss of detail.

At 3200 ISO, the crop taken without noise reduction exhibits greater chroma noise, and again the version with Low noise reduction shows roughly the same degree of textures, but little to no chroma noise. The version with Standard noise reduction has again smoothed-out much of the texture, but at the cost of some fine detail. The version with Strong noise reduction is beginning to apply noticeably greater smearing.

6400 ISO upwards essentially repeats the same story, but with greater artefacts at each step. Interestingly at first glance, the Disabled and Low noise reduction settings appear to deliver roughly the same amount of noise textures, but upon closer inspection (including the entire frame not seen in the crops below), the version without noise reduction suffers from chroma artefacts, whereas the version with Low noise reduction manages to eliminate most of them.

While the top two sensitivities remain off-limits for all but emergency situations, some may prefer to shoot with noise reduction Low or even Disabled between 800 and 6400 ISO, as there's potentially a small amount of fine detail which could be retrieved with more sophisticated processing later. In the meantime, the Standard noise reduction setting appears to offer a fair compromise between lack of visible noise and retention of fine detail, although it's revealing to find the chroma noise familiar to many 5D owners is still present behind the processing at high sensitivities. The Strong setting is a step too far for all but the most noise-averse.

Now let's have a look at some more real-life examples including several low-light indoor compositions in our Canon EOS 5D Mark II sample images gallery.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II
High ISO NR Disable
 
Canon EOS 5D Mark II
High ISO NR Low
 
Canon EOS 5D Mark II
High ISO NR Standard (default)
 
Canon EOS 5D Mark II
High ISO NR Strong
     
L (50 ISO)
 
L (50 ISO)
 
L (50 ISO)
 
L (50 ISO)
             
     
100 ISO
 
100 ISO
 
100 ISO
 
100 ISO
             
     
200 ISO
 
200 ISO
 
200 ISO
 
200 ISO
             
     
400 ISO
 
400 ISO
 
400 ISO
 
400 ISO
             
     
800 ISO
 
800 ISO
 
800 ISO
 
800 ISO
             
     
1600 ISO
 
1600 ISO
 
1600 ISO
 
1600 ISO
             
     
3200 ISO
 
3200 ISO
 
3200 ISO
 
3200 ISO
             
     
6400 ISO
 
6400 ISO
 
6400 ISO
 
6400 ISO
             
     
H1 (12800 ISO)
 
H1 (12800 ISO)
 
H1 (12800 ISO)
 
H1 (12800 ISO)
             
     
H2 (25600 ISO)
 
H2 (25600 ISO)
 
H2 (25600 ISO)
 
H2 (25600 ISO)



Canon EOS 5D Mark II results continued...

Real-life resolution / Studio resolution / 5D Mk II vs A900 vs 5D Noise / Noise Reduction


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