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Cameras, Lenses and Accessories: Discuss Noise On 5D Mk2 And 20D...From reports I have been reading the noise levels at high ISO settings is vastly superior on the 5D Mk2 ...
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Old 23-11-2008, 10:05   #1 (permalink)
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Noise On 5D Mk2 And 20D

From reports I have been reading the noise levels at high ISO settings is vastly superior on the 5D Mk2 when compared to the 20D. I have always understood that two sources of noise are small pixels and their close proximity on the sensor; yet the pixel density on both cameras is near enough the same. Why then, is the noise performance so much better on the 5D Mk2 compared to the 20D? I should very much appreciate some explanation from the experts on the forum.
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Old 23-11-2008, 10:14   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Noise On 5D Mk2 And 20D

Well the 5Dii is not yet widely available and its likely that only a few select reviewers have had chance to put it through its paces. Until they are generally available we won't have enough independent reviews and examples to form opinions from. On saying that the noise in pictures in made up not just from the density of the pixels in the sensor but also from the way the camera processes the data. In the 5Dii you have Canon's latest Digic logic processor which technology wise is a lot more advanced than that found in the 20D.

There is a great thread and review of the different noise levels seen from some of Canon's popular DSLR cameras here. Dave Canon spent quite some time gathering the data and it includes samples from both the 20D and the 5DmkI, unfortunately the 5DmkII is not included at this time for the reasons I outlined above. I am still sure you will find it a useful and informative read though.
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Old 23-11-2008, 10:20   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Noise On 5D Mk2 And 20D

Rob has also made a post on his first look and hands on with a 5DII here. He briefly covers the amount of noise visible in the shots at different ISO's there, so that may be of some interest too
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Old 23-11-2008, 10:34   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Noise On 5D Mk2 And 20D

Thank you Steve. I have followed your link and yes, it is interesting and informative.

John
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Old 23-11-2008, 11:02   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Noise On 5D Mk2 And 20D

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Rob has also made a post on his first look and hands on with a 5DII here. He briefly covers the amount of noise visible in the shots at different ISO's there, so that may be of some interest too
Steve, I've looked that up too. It's excellent, thank you.

John.
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Old 23-11-2008, 11:06   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Noise On 5D Mk2 And 20D

I am glad the links helped you out. As said your question comes just a couple of weeks too soon to get the feedback from the early adopters but if you stick around I am sure we will read and see many examples of what the new 5DII is capable off.
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Old 23-11-2008, 11:51   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Noise On 5D Mk2 And 20D

From the preliminary reviews it appears that high-ISO noise levels on the 5D MkII (and on some of Nikon's latest cameras ) are astoundingly low, and that it should capable of producing very usable images even at ISO 6400 and above.

But let's get this in perspective. I've shot at ISO 1600 and 3200 with the 30D and 40D and the results have been quite acceptable after a basic Noise Ninja clean-up. These cameras were praised for their high-ISO performance when they were released. The 5D MkII is even better, but it still gives its best at lower ISO so it's preferable to shoot as ISO 100 or 200 if possible.

And then there's the price. You wouldn't expect a Ford Fiesta to out-accelerate a Porsche 911, but both will get you where you want to go. The 5D MkII is about four times the price of a 40D, and you'd expect it to be better in some respects. But the 40D can produce very good results that, at normal viewing sizes, would be difficult to distinguish from the output of the 5D Mk II etc.

And then there's the question of file sizes. If you need to print at A2 or want to crop heavily, there may be some advantage in very high sensor resolution - although I think we're now at the point where lens resolution/sharpness is the limiting factor. However, for printing at up to A3+ or displaying on screen, these high resolutions do little except chew up disk space and slow down processing.

Let's imagine that you can't fit any more prints on your walls and your main method of viewing photos is on a computer monitor. Very few monitors now have a horizontal resolution greater than 2000 pixels, but let's look to the future and assume that huge screens with a resolution of something like 3000 x 2000 will be available before too long. Great! Except this equates to just 6 Megapixels so the old 10D would fill the screen quite happily.

Maybe they'll go hgher still? How about 4000 x 2500? That's 10 MP, so the 40D would be quite sufficient. And if the monitor pixel pitch is the same as on current screens, that would be a 52 inch monitor!

I'm not knocking the current generation of high-res cameras (50D, 5d MkII, etc) but I would question whether those resolutions are of much use to most people, and whether they may cause as many problems (storage space, processing speed) as they solve. I had hoped that the 50D would be similar to the 40D but with better high-ISO performance. Instead they've continued to ride the megapixel bandwagon and have produced something with worse performance and (for me) uselessly large files.

So by all means buy the 5D MkII or the 50D (or a Porsche 911 ) if you'll really benefit from it, but don't be too surprised if there's not much difference between photos from that and the 40D when viewed on your 52" screen in a few years' time.
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Old 23-11-2008, 12:33   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Noise On 5D Mk2 And 20D

Very well put silkstone.That explains the whole subject of pixel saturation and file size exactly!
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Old 23-11-2008, 13:31   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Noise On 5D Mk2 And 20D

Yes it seems Canon took a slight stumble when they decided to go for MP power in the 50D, reports have cited a drop in IQ from the 40D, and some even increased noise levels...of course we can't say if that's true or not, but still...
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Old 23-11-2008, 14:35   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Noise On 5D Mk2 And 20D

Very interesting points Silkstone. For me youv'e put your finger on it in paragraph 4 because I am mainly interested in bird photography. These little monsters are not very obliging when it comes to staying put whilst you approach closely enough to fill the frame, even though I use a 400mm lens, so I do crop heavily. For this reason I have been considering the 1D mk3 which would maintain auto focus with a 1.4 x extender fitted. The problem with the mark3 is with landscapes, for which I don't really want a crop factor of 1.3 because I like my wide angle to remain a wide angle.

All things considered then, I will go for the 5D mk2, that is, unless some one converts me before I finally make the purchase. Suggestions like keep the mark 5d Mk1 won't work because, even though I will keep it, I'm pushing 80 and it takes me all my time to carry one camera and the lenses, never mind two.

Last edited by John F; 23-11-2008 at 14:41. Reason: Add last paragraph
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Old 23-11-2008, 15:18   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Noise On 5D Mk2 And 20D

Just one thing to add to Silky's comments about not buying too high due to varying limiting factors, all of which I completely agree with.

A full frame sensor with more pixels is not only good for extra large pictures, it also gives the processor more data to play with in terms of the areas of a picture that can otherwise be very troublesome, mainly the shadows and highlights. Being able to resolve more of the detail in those areas is another reason for going higher.

However, it is absolutely right to say that if you take a 12" x 8" photo from a 40D and an identical photo with a 5D2, you will need a powerful magnifying glass to see any difference. After all, at 300ppi, a 12" x 8" picture is 3600 x 2400 pixels, ie 8.64 megapixels. Given that both cameras have above that number, logic tells you there are some pixels you are not going to see.

Would you see a detail difference within that picture, well probably. If it is a general lighting situation then probably not but if it is a difficult lighting situation then you might get greater resolution of tones. A lot comes down to the processor within the camera as well as just the sensor and lens combination.

Has anyone read anything that scientifically describes the amount of resolution that a cheap lens has and compared that to a top quality lens? Obviously the pro lenses have a much better ability to resolve smaller circles of confusion (disregarding the sensor capability to also resolve them at this stage) but at what megapixel point does, for example, a Canon EF 35-70mm lens (about 50 second-hand if that) fail to resolve enough points of light to allow a sensor to define each point separately? If one point of light is falling on two pixels then the lens is failing to resolv the detail enough to make use of the sensor to its fullest potential. And then, how would a Canon 24-70mm L series lens (about 500 second hand) improve the situation?

I'd be interested if anyone has any links to sites that have done a study on this point.

Cheers,
Rob
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Old 23-11-2008, 15:52   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Noise On 5D Mk2 And 20D

Interesting points you make Rob. Touching on resolving power of lenses, I can't refer you to anything on the web, nor can I remember my source, but I do remember reading that the theoretical maximum resolving power of a lens is given by:-
1600/f number. This theoretical figure is only approached by the best lenses after closing down two stops. This was written in my note book many years ago and I do recall that it was taken from a thick, yellow annual about A5 size.
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Old 23-11-2008, 16:07   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Noise On 5D Mk2 And 20D

Bigger file sizes sell for more money so if all things are equal I'd love a 24MP sensor. The 5D MKII will no doubt move the game on again. It looks like Nikon's response is already on it's way so I think it could be an interesting time.
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Old 23-11-2008, 19:33   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Noise On 5D Mk2 And 20D

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So by all means buy the 5D MkII .. (or a Porsche 911 )
My exact quandary in life
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Old 23-11-2008, 20:09   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Noise On 5D Mk2 And 20D

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Yes it seems Canon took a slight stumble when they decided to go for MP power in the 50D, reports have cited a drop in IQ from the 40D, and some even increased noise levels...of course we can't say if that's true or not, but still...
Thought you had signed the armistice Jack
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Old 23-11-2008, 20:13   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Noise On 5D Mk2 And 20D

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My exact quandary in life
They're both pretty fast but the 911 has a bigger screen and built-in stabilisation so I should go for that.
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Old 24-11-2008, 13:19   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Noise On 5D Mk2 And 20D

From my detailed tests that I posted in another thread, I have concluded that the image quality of the 50D is better than the 40D but not by as much as the pixel count would suggest. I do hope to subject the 5D MkII to the same test in due course but for now one can only speculate about its performance. It is true that it will be slightly more dense pixels than the 20D but apparantly the sensor performance is directly related to the square root of the pixel density multiplied by the number of pixels. On this basis the 5D MKII should have a better noise performance than the 20D. If you would like to read more about this by someone who really knows then follow this link:

Clarkvision: Digital Camera Sensor Performance Summary

As for how good a performance do you need. I print at A3 size say 16.5 " by 11.7" which at 300 PPI requires 17.3 M Pixels. In reality, I often print just a little smaller than A3 and could set the PPI to a little lower than 300 so 10-12 M Pixels would be fine. However, for competition pictures I do need the artistic freedom to crop so typically 25-30% of the image may be lost. I have concluded that ideally I need around 14- 17M Pixels. So although the 21 M pixels of the 5D MKII is a bit over the top, its low noise is attractive for me. If you never print larger than A4, these figures are far larger than you need as Sikstone suggests. However, I regularly look at competition photographs at my club and images produced from cameras of the 5D quality or equivalent do look visibly better on A3 prints.
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