Compared to...

Studio scene comparison (higher sensitivities)

We've already looked in detail at the EOS 7D's high ISO performance in our the noise section of this review; here we're just taking a quick look at how it compares to the 50D, D300S and K-7 (at their default settings) when shooting our new studio setup at higher ISO settings - particularly in the shadow areas.

ISO 800

Canon EOS 7D
Canon EOS 50D
Nikon D300S
Pentax K7

ISO 1600

Canon EOS 7D
Canon EOS 50D
Nikon D300S
Pentax K7

ISO 3200

Canon EOS 7D
Canon EOS 50D
Nikon D300S
Pentax K7

ISO 6400

Canon EOS 7D
Canon EOS 50D
Nikon D300S
Pentax K7

ISO 12800

Canon EOS 7D
Canon EOS 50D

From ISO 1600 upwards all contenders are clearly starting to battle the noise. Both Canons use a slightly more aggressive approach to chroma noise reduction than the Nikon D300S which results in the removal of a little more texture. This is more obvious on the EOS 50D than on the 7D. All in all the D300S and EOS 7D deliver at higher ISOs the cleanest image and the best balance between noise reduction and loss of luminance. Which one you prefer is a matter of personal taste. The 50D has to deal with more noise to start with, which results in more loss of fine texture and a generally softer image. At the very highest ISO settings it also produces visibly more chroma and luminance noise than the 7D.

At higher sensitivities the K-7 follows at some distance behind the pack producing visibly more noise and noise reduction artifacts in its JPEG output. However, it's worth mentioning that these sample shots have been taken at each camera's default settings; all cameras offer control over the amount of noise reduction applied.