Hold the Noise: Hands on with the Canon 5D Mark II

At last night’s COBA meeting, Jim Rose brought with him a production Canon EOS 5D Mark II, the hotly anticipated replacement for the original 5D. I was very interested in seeing the high ISO noise characteristics of the new camera, and it did not disappoint. Jim asked that I not upload any photos that I took, but what I’m seeing in the images is a complete lack of objectionable noise at ISOs 3200 and 6400 (12800 and 25600 had quite a bit of noise, but are suitable for web publication). While taking photos last week during Jared Polis’ congressional run, I frequently shot at ISO 1600, the usable limit on the 1D and 1Ds Mark II. Having the ability to jack up the ISO two stops without any noise creep is very important and is one of the reasons why I’m looking at the 5D as my next camera purchase. The other two reasons are the smaller form-factor and the HD video capability.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II at COBA

RED announced the Epic/Scarlet line of cameras today, and it’s clear the photo/video convergence marketplace is heating up. It’s an exciting time to be a still photographer and videographer, that’s for sure! The price for the full-frame sensor Scarlet body is tentatively set for $12,000, quite a pretty penny. The smaller sensor Scarlet varieties will weigh in between $2500 to $7000. Check out the website for all of the gory details, including great photos of the Scarlet in DSLR mode. What I like about these cameras is that to upgrade you just have to buy a new sensor module; the accessories like battery modules, grips, viewfinders, etc., remain the same. Of course, it doesn’t help that the sensor modules are the same price as a complete camera from Canon, Sony, etc., but hey it’s a start, no?

I wonder if Canon will ever radically reinvent the DSLR to be more of a modular system like the RED. You can be sure that they and their competitors are taking notes!

Next month’s COBA presentation will feature Oliver Klink on Bird Photography and Edward Casati on dance photography. It will also be our annual Holiday party, so be prepared to bring some drinks and food for the group!

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5 thoughts on “Hold the Noise: Hands on with the Canon 5D Mark II

  1. Was there any banding in the high ISO shots you took? There appears to be reports floating around the Interweb that banding is an issue with the 50D at high ISOs.

  2. Not in the photos that I shot at 3200 and 6400. Noise was very visible with some banding in the 12800 and 25600 shots, however.

  3. Awesome, as long as the photos are clean at 3200-6400, I’m happy. Looking forward to this cam. =)

  4. Edward Casati

    Regarding the modularity of “Red” cameras, I don’t think that it adds much value to still photographers. Our DSLR’s are modular already, with interchangeable lenses, focusing screens, removable grips, etc. You have to consider that when a new camera body comes out, you not only get an improved sensor, you also typically get improved focusing, improved ergonomics, improved preview display, etc. Just replacing the sensor doesn’t add much value to the overall system, and with all the other modules that you would have to replace, you might as well just get the integrated system.
    As I see it about the only item of deep interest to Still Photographers is the high frame rate in full resolution with some ‘special’ RAW algorithm. There is no reason that something similar can’t be implemented in a regular DSLR, now that Live-View is becoming common, so RED’s leadership in that space may be short lived.

  5. Im so glad i found this page, bookmarked and waiting for your next post. Thanks for sharing with us all.

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