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Compared to...

Studio scene comparison (high ISO)

They may share the same sensor resolution, but the two Canons here (EOS-1Ds Mark III and 5D Mark II) show the difference a year of sensor development (and the new Digic IV processor) can make. Not only does the EOS 5D Mark II stretch the available ISO range to 25,600, it offers a small - but easily visible - improvement at more reasonable high settings, offering better retention of fine detail at ISO 1600 and less chroma noise at ISO 3200.

At 21 Megapixels the 5D Mark II is second only to the Sony A900 in resolution in this group and matches the Nikon D700's maximum ISO setting (25,600). This combination of resolution and high ISO was an ambitious target to try to reach, but the good (and somewhat surprising) news is that for the most part Canon has achieved it.

In terms of 'per pixel' sharpness (particularly in JPEG) the 5D Mark II is second only to the original 5D in our studio test. This holds true as the ISO settings rise, with the Mark II retaining fine detail quite well all the way up to ISO 6400. In this group of cameras the Sony A900 is the worst performer; it is also notable how well the original 5D holds up in this test. All the way up to ISO 3200 the 5D and 5D Mark II are about equal in terms of fine detail retained and noise on a per pixel basis, with the D700 slightly ahead. At the highest three settings, the D700 continues to be slightly ahead of the 5D Mark II, but the difference is not huge - about one stop advantage to the D700. Quite impressive performance for a 21 megapixel camera.

ISO 1600

Canon EOS 5D Mark II Sony DSLR-A900
Canon EOS 5D Nikon D700
 
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III  

ISO 3200

Canon EOS 5D Mark II Sony DSLR-A900
Canon EOS 5D Nikon D700
 
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III  

ISO 6400

Canon EOS 5D Mark II Sony DSLR-A900
 
  Nikon D700

EOS 5D Mark II Vs Nikon D700 Higher ISO settings

Canon EOS 5D Mark II ISO 12,800 (H 1.0) Nikon D700 ISO 12,800 (H 1.0)
Canon EOS 5D Mark II ISO 25,600 (H2.0) Nikon D700 ISO 25,600 (H2.0)
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