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).

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