Measuring Canon EOS 5D Sensor Noise

I continued my sensor noise measurements, this time with a Canon EOD 5D. The setup was the same as previously, the only change being the exact location of the WhiBal card.

Surprisingly (at least to me) there is a little noise evident even at the very lowest ISO settings. I realize that my setup is designed to maximize visible noise but I guess my expectations where slightly off the mark. See for yourself here.

Up to ISO 400 noise is present but barely visible. Noise Ninja manages to clean up the image perfectly.
At ISO 800 noise becomes visible, but not intrusive. Noise Ninja cleans the image up perfectly.
At ISO 1600 noise is, to my eyes, intrusive but Noise Ninja manages to do a good job cleaning it up. At ISO 3200 noise becomes inacceptable. Noise Ninja leaves some clearly visible artifacts.

I recently measured the Canon G9, so what would be more natural than comparing these two very different cameras? The results without noise removal are shown below:

  Canon EOS 5D Canon G9
ISO 50 / 80 Canon EOS 5D ISO 50 f4.5 1/30s Canon G9 ISO 80 f3.2 1/60s
ISO 100 Canon EOS 5D ISO 100 f4.5 1/60s Canon G9 ISO 100 f3.2 1/80s
ISO 200 Canon EOS 5D ISO 200 f4 1/125s Canon G9 ISO 200 f3.2 1/160s
ISO 400 Canon EOS 5D ISO 400 f5.6 1/125s Canon G9 ISO 400 f4.5 1/160s
ISO 800 Canon EOS 5D ISO 800 f5.6 1/250s Canon G9 ISO 800 f6.3 1/160s
ISO 1600 Canon EOS 5D ISO 1600 f5.6 1/500s Canon G9 ISO 1600 f8 1/200s
ISO 3200 Canon EOS 5D ISO 3200 f5.6 1/1000s N/A

Some of the claims that I have read of the Canon G9 having “DSLR-like quality” are definitely … optimistic. Even at the lowest ISO setting (50 for the 5D, 80 for the G9) there is a noticable difference in the amount of noise. The difference becomes more and more clear as we move up the ISO scale. At ISO 400 and above, the two are definitely in a different league.

Is that surprising? The 5D has a full frame (36×24 mm) the G9 a 1/1.7” (7.6×5.7 mm) sensor. That is an almost 20-fold difference in sensor area. The only thing that is surprising to me is that the G9 is so good.

Let’s look at the images after being run though Noise Ninja:

  Canon EOS 5D (Noise Ninja) Canon G9 (Noise Ninja)
ISO 50 / 80 Canon EOS 5D ISO 50 f4.5 1/30s Canon G9 ISO 80 f3.2 1/60s
ISO 100 Canon EOS 5D ISO 100 f4.5 1/60s Canon G9 ISO 100 f3.2 1/80s
ISO 200 Canon EOS 5D ISO 200 f4 1/125s Canon G9 ISO 200 f3.2 1/160s
ISO 400 Canon EOS 5D ISO 400 f5.6 1/125s Canon G9 ISO 400 f4.5 1/160s
ISO 800 Canon EOS 5D ISO 800 f5.6 1/250s Canon G9 ISO 800 f6.3 1/160s
ISO 1600 Canon EOS 5D ISO 1600 f5.6 1/500s Canon G9 ISO 1600 f8 1/200s
ISO 3200 Canon EOS 5D ISO 3200 f5.6 1/1000s N/A

Under ISO 200 there is almost no difference that I can see. At ISO 200 the G9 shows a little bit of noise while the 5D is still absolutely clean. At ISO 400 and above the G9 is clearly inferior to the 5D, no further comment required.

It would be interesting to compare the 5D to other DSLRs. Unfortunately, I do not have access to any at the moment. If you do, let me know if we can collaborate.

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