Sunday, February 28, 2010

Canon 40D Noise Levels, Part 3

Noise is the enemy of detail.

I've compared sample images (small crops) from Imaging Resource...

40D NR=0 at 400 and 3200 ISO:
(Source: Imaging Resource)


50D NR=0 at 400 and 3200 ISO:
(Source: Imaging Resource)



The 40D shows a bit more detail, especially with the peppers in the oil bottle. (The 400 ISO samples are there to show what the details should look like.)

Similar comparisons with the 7D and D300s show the same outcome...

7D NR=0 at 400 and 3200 ISO:
(Source: Imaging Resource)


D300s NR=0 at 800 and 3200 ISO:
(Source: Imaging Resource)



By the way, other parts of the original sample images (eg, text on bottle labels) may show the 50D to be cleaner and more detailed. This is because of good lighting conditions. The oil in the oil bottles attenuates the light, thereby simulating a low light environment. This is where you will see the effects of noise more clearly (ie, noise obliterates detail). Also note that in the 40D images, focus seems to be imprecise on the right side, giving the impression of less detail.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Canon 40D Noise Levels, Part 2

Most camera review image data show that the 40D has lower noise levels than the 50D and 7D. I wondered why.

Then it hit me. While I was researching at DxOMark, I discovered this comparison. The charts for 'Screen' output show the general superiority of the 40D to the other two DSLRs, whereas the charts for 'Print' output show the opposite! To wit:






This explains, for example, why camera reviews judge the 50D to be noisier than the 40D. Because in screen output, it is!

The evidence shows that if you're mostly interested in displaying your images on computer screens, televisions, and digital picture frames, the 40D is superior to the 50D and 7D. If you're more concerned with printing your photos, then the 50D and 7D are better choices.

I have no interest in printing whatsoever. So the 40D is easily the best camera for me.

Spartacus: Blood and Sand

Man, I love this show!!! You ain't seen nothin' like it on television...ever! This week's episode, the fifth, is the best one yet. Theocules, the most feared and fearsome gladiator in all the world, has come to Capua to challenge the famous Crixus. Theocules is undefeated, and despite being cut a thousand times, he has never fallen! Out of hundreds of battles, only one man has ever survived the arena with Theocules: Doctore.

Because no single gladiator can possibly beat Theocules, it is decided that a team of two shall battle him. Crixus is paired with the much less experienced Spartacus. However, these two hate each other's guts. The gladiatorial trainer Doctore just cannot get these two to work together. As he says, either they fight as one to defeat Theocules, or they die as two.

The final battle is the best I've ever seen on television or in the theatre. I'd pay to watch this stuff! The ending will leave you flabbergasted. And, remember, this show is very bloody and very gory. Nobody under 18 should be watching it. (Nobody over 18, either.)

Also note: at one point in the show, we see Crixus totally naked, (shaved) private parts and all, as a Roman official's wife checks him out. Trust me, every man wants to have his kind of body. It's the stuff of comic books, Greek mythology, and Heavy Metal.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Canon 40D Noise Levels

I've done a comparison of my beloved 40D's noise levels with those of the latest DLSRs from Canon and Nikon, using sample image data from prominent photographic websites.

EXHIBIT A

RAW noise: 40D vs 50D
(Source: dpreview.com)

At 800 ISO

At 1600 ISO

At 3200 ISO


Clearly, the 50D has more chroma and luminance noise than the 40D.


RAW noise: 40D vs 7D
(Source: dpreview.com)

At 800 ISO

At 1600 ISO

At 3200 ISO


The 40D looks a little cleaner than the 7D.


RAW noise: 40D vs D300s
(Source: dpreview.com)

At 800 ISO

At 1600 ISO

At 3200 ISO


The 40D looks a little cleaner than the D300s.


Note that the original reviews of the 40D, 50D, and 7D/D300s are roughly one year apart. However, dpreview.com do try to maintain testing consistency over time, which is why they can compare image data for all four cameras.

EXHIBIT B

With standard noise reduction: 40D vs 50D
(Source: cameralabs.com)

At 800 ISO

At 1600 ISO

At 3200 ISO



So at least with standard in-camera noise reduction, the playing field is levelled somewhat. The 50D is not quite as good as the 40D in terms of detail (eg, look at the red flowers), but it's fairly close.


RAW noise: 50D vs 7D
(Source: cameralabs.com)

At 800 ISO

At 1600 ISO

At 3200 ISO


The 7D is about as good as the 50D, but no better. Since the 50D has more RAW noise than the 40D, as previously established, this means the 7D has more RAW noise than the 40D, as well.


RAW noise: 7D vs D300s
(Source: cameralabs.com)

At 800 ISO

At 1600 ISO

At 3200 ISO


To quote cameralabs.com:
Up to 1600 ISO, we’d say the Canon EOS 7D and Nikon D300s actually exhibit similar degrees of noise using the RAW settings described here, and there’s not a lot to choose between them when viewed at 100%. But crucially, if you’re reproducing these images at the same size, the artefacts will appear smaller on the EOS 7D thanks to its higher resolution, giving it the edge over the Nikon.

At 3200 ISO, the D300s noise is rather grainy, whereas the 7D noise has random artifacts. Overall, however, the two cameras perform similarly at high ISO.

We've seen that the 40D has less RAW noise than either the 7D or D300s. This last RAW noise comparison is consistent with the conclusion, which is that, in terms of noise, the 40D is the overall winner.




UPDATE - I decided to compare the 40D to the 1D Mark IV, as well. Yes, I know, they're in different leagues, but the two cameras have essentially the same pixel pitch, and it would be interesting to see how far Canon have improved high ISO between these two DSLRs.

RAW noise: 40D vs 1D Mark IV
(Source: dpreview.com)

At 800 ISO

At 1600 ISO

At 3200 ISO


I don't know about you, but I think the improvement is pretty slight. Of course, all the latest DSLRs allow you to shoot at ever higher ISO, but frankly, above 3200 ISO they're pretty noisy (I'm talking about RAW images).