Canon 5D Mark II: High ISO Samples

You want full resolution, high ISO files from the Canon 5D Mark II? You got it.

Photographer Damien Lovegrove was at Canon's launch of the new camera representing the wedding industry and had the opportunity to put the camera through its paces. Canon supplied a model and Damien went to work, and has posted full resolution samples from the 5D MarkII at ISO 800 to ISO 6400. One should note that thes full resolution images are posted in Adobe RGB color space and are best viewed in a colorspace-aware application.

In addition, has posted an exclusive set of samples from the new camera, with a variety of scenes and sensitivities put to the test.

If you've been waiting to see what Canon's latest camera can do at high ISO, the above links are some of the first meaningful samples we've seen. Here are a few first impressions on these new 5D Mark II samples.

Very Well Controlled Chroma Noise:

The first thing that grabbed me about both sets of samples is the distinct lack of chroma noise, right up to ISO 6400. It really looks like Canon has taken a page from Nikon's playbook when it comes to this type of noise reduction, especially in contrast to the previous generation of cameras. Whatever Canon is doing with DIGIC 4, it's keeping color noise very well controlled.

This very low level of chroma noise is something many have associated more with Nikon's processing rather than Canon's, most notably with the D3/D700 sensor, so it's interesting that Canon has also adopted this direction.

Noise vs Detail:

For me, the most interesting file from these two new sets of samples is Damien's shot at ISO 800. Above this sensitivity, it's clear that noise reduction is taking precedence over fine detail.

What the bridal shoot at ISO 800 shows, to my eyes, is a fine balance between noise suppression and fulfilling the expectation of detail. Looking at the hair and other areas of detail, which are not free from noise reduction, it's not a perfect balance, but most likely the closest mix from the sensitivities represented.


If it weren't for the Nikon D3 and D700 that preceded it, I think Canon's work with the 5D Mark II's sensor would only mildly short of mindblowing in regard to high ISO performance.

As it stands, I think the processing Canon is achieving with DIGIC 4 is still quite impressive, especially in consideration of the 21 megapixel count.