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.

1 comment:

  1. I've spent a lot of time and effort writing "Canon 40D Noise Levels," Parts 1, 2, and 3, just to show that, if you pixel-peep, the 40D is better than the 50D, 7D, and D300s. However, I think the exercise is also, to a large extent, rather pointless. The fact is, today's (cropped sensor) DSLRs are so good that they're *all* capable of producing excellent images. To say that one camera is "better" than another really has little meaning. If you print photos from all four DSLRs and present them to the average person, he won't be able to discern any qualitative difference among them.

    Canon's efforts in creating higher resolution cameras merely allow you to print larger or with finer detail (you'd need a loupe to notice). Nikon's efforts in creating higher ISO cameras merely allow you to shoot in more challenging conditions. But for most practical purposes (including 100-3200 ISO), the four DSLRs I've examined are perfectly adequate for most photographers -- they all produce great results. The only way to do better is to go full frame, and there, the same conclusion applies: pixel-peeping separates out the contenders (eg, 5D Mk II, D700, 1D Mk IV, D3s), but they're all capable of producing excellent images (at 100-12800 ISO).