Friday, February 19, 2010

1D4 + High ISO = Love

I've had my 1D Mark IV going on almost a month how.  I've had plenty of time to wring the new body out and to get an idea of how it's going to work for me until the Mark V hits the streets in 2-3 years.

One of the first things I wanted to find out was how well it handled high ISO.  I shoot in low light fairly often and as I get more into event/wedding photography being able to hit ISO 6400 safely is becoming more and more important to me.

My 5D Mark II can easily venture into this realm without concern, and that's one of the reasons I really enjoy shooting that body.  But how does the 1D4 stack up?

I set up a scene in my studio with a colorful toy donated by my son, a tripod and my 24-70L lens.  I did use the same lens on both bodies for this test.  I let the camera meter the scene and I used auto white balance.  Here's how the images turned out.

5D Mark II

ISO 6400:

ISO 12800:

1D Mark IV:

ISO 6400:
ISO 12800:

You may click on the images to see larger versions.

First you'll notice the 5D Mark II tends to under expose by about 1/2 stop.  This has been an ongoing complaint of mine since first getting my 5D2.  At this point I don't believe Canon intends to address the issue with a firmware update.  We'll see.

But upon close inspection, I would say that the 1D4 actually produces slightly cleaner images than the 5D2.  Unfortunately what I think I see doesn't appear to be supported by DXO Labs tests.

According to DXO Labs, the 5D2 edges out the 1D4 in high ISO performance.  But in looking closely at the images from my own testing, the 1D4 appears to have less chroma noise than the 5D2 images.  As such, I'm willing to call it a draw.  It's close enough that even on the DXO rating scale it's a mere fraction of a stop difference between the two.

When compared to the 1D Mark III the new 1D Mark IV shows a noted improvement in low light performance on the DXO Labs test report, but again in reality it's only a fraction of a stop improvement.  The real benefit is the fact the 1D4 can now be set all the way up to 102,400 ISO if you so choose, although anything past 12800 is completely useless in my experience.

Just for grins, I putter around the house armed with my trusty 1D4 and snap pics of various things at different settings just to see how the new body performs.  My cat is the most frequent subject of these informal testing sessions.  Here are a couple of high ISO shots for you to consider as well.

1D4 ISO 3200:

1D4 ISO 6400:

1D4 ISO 12800:

Again, click on the images for a larger picture.

In the end I'm very impressed with the performance in the high ISO department of the 1D4.  I don't think I'll have many complaints about it's performance going forward given what I've seen thus far.

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