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The T3sk3y Defenestrator

A Tale of Two Cameras

As many of you have seen on Twitter, I was the lucky recipient of a much-heralded Canon 5D Mark II for Christmas. The reviews of this camera have been righteously positive – with a couple of cautionary tales around some early firmware problems. Since I’ve been nothing but happy with my 40D since I got it a year ago – I wanted to do a stress test to see if the 5D lives up to the hype.

This is really unscientific. I’m not using a tripod. Heck, I even shot the pictures a day apart. It’s also not fair – the 5D Mk II is about double the cost of the 40D. But, is it 2x better?

For the test, I set both the 5D Mk II and the 40D to ISO3200. On the 40D, I had to enable a custom function to get 3200 (shown as ‘H’ on the LCD). In both shots, I used Canon’s superb 24-105L lens. Here are my results:

Canon 5D Mk II @ ISO 3200

Canon 5D Mk II @ ISO 3200

Canon 40D @ ISO 3200

Canon 40D @ ISO 3200

Exif info:

5D Mk II version: Canon 24-105mm @ 105mm, ISO 3200, f/4.0, 1/80 sec

40D version: Canon 24-105mm @ 58mm, ISO3200, f/4.0, 1/125 sec

Clicking on either picture will open up the original (note: careful, they are BIG – especially the 21.1 megapixel 5D image!).

My impressions?  Wow, is 3200 good on the 5D Mark II.  I’d totally use that shot. It’s clearly better than the image taken with the 40D. The 40D image shows a lot of noise in the red portion above the Christmas balls. The balls themselves look ‘crispy’, as does the ironwork on the 40D shot. I gotta say though – the 40D shot looks way better than I would have guessed.

I also printed each @ 4×6 with my Canon i9900. The shot from the 5D Mk. II is noise free and looks great – very vibrant and lifelike. The shot from the 40D looks very noisy, even in print.

Conclusion? At least in terms of low light performance – the 5D delivers. I’ll be looking forward to finding out what else it can do.


  1. December 27th, 2008 | 2:03 pm

    Nice. What’s been your impression of the video quality of the 5D Mk II?

  2. December 28th, 2008 | 1:01 pm

    Great! It’s amazing how big and clear 1080p really is. The downside is that it needs crazy horsepower to decode and there aren’t many PC apps that will edit it. An external mic is also a must – the internal mic picks up the IS of the lens and any focusing noise.

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