1600 ISO Tests - 400D vs. 350D

Started Sep 3, 2006 | Discussions thread
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Häakon Regular Member • Posts: 137
1600 ISO Tests - 400D vs. 350D

So we've seen scattered images starting to show up and rumours already pouring in that the 400D just can't cut it in low light or high ISO settings. Well guess what haters: the 400D not only holds its own against the 300D in most settings, but actually surpasses it in some cases!

I bought my 400D just yesterday afternoon and already I've been deluged with requests for 1600ISO images due to the speculation that more pixels meant more noise on the same size chip. Well, I not only went out tonight and shot some high ISO images for y'all, but I brought along my 350D as well (I still haven't sold it if anyone's interested!) and did some nice side-by-side tests for everyone to look at and pick apart.

My findings? The 400D is no more noisy than the 350D and they are almost identical in color and DR. The one thing that the 350D does have going for it is that it appears to be a good half to full stop more sensitive than the 400D, meaning that it requires less light to expose the same image normally. I had to set my 400D about 1/2 stop more open than the 350D to get the same results (the 350D also metered the images more brightly in most cases as well). However, this difference is subtle and can easily be compensated for, so it shouldn't be enough to sway your decision one way or another.

Here are the final images I have chosen for this test:

All images were shot at 1600 ISO with the 18-55mm kit lens in standard mode. All crops are untouched, unaltered images straight from the cameras.

And now, the results:

These are 100% crops from both images. You can see the 400D on the left and the 350D on the right. Note that the both handle the blowout of the streetlights in an almost identical matter and the detail is even across both images. In fact, the images themselves look extremely comparable - much more than I thought they would. Certainly at 1600 ISO they both exhibit a degree of noise, but it's not unusable and it's actually more pleasant to me in the 400D image; it's less chromatic and seems to have a smoother appearance. Of course, the extra megapixels give us a larger image as well, which gives us more to work with. Overall, I'm extremely impressed with the 400D here.

On to set two:

Here's a tougher image for the cameras to handle - lots of gradient in the color and a big smooth sky for that noise to show up in. Again, the colors between images are remarkably identical, with lush greens in the trees and a consistent white balance between the two. The 350D image appears to be just slightly sharper, however the aperature was closed down slightly in that image as that camera is seemingly more sensitive and because the shutter was already at its maximum duration of 30 seconds, that was the only way to maintain consistent exposure. The noise again seems to be ever so slightly more plentiful in the 350D image. I also have a dead pixel on this camera I wasn't aware of before! Shucks.

Set three:

This set shows us essentially more of the same; colors are even and highlights are handled in a similar manner between the two cameras. The 350D does exhibit some flaring that the 400D does not. The shadows are pretty noisy in this location, so it's a great place to compare and do some testing. Again, the 350D is actually just a tad noisier overall, and the appearance of the noise is also more pronounced. Look at the silky white paint on the left of the 400D image - the whites are noise free and very smooth. Even the highlight on the handrail shows more chromatic abberation in the 350D image.

My conclusion: the 400D hands down produces an equal if not better image than the 350D in low-light/high ISO settings, and its new ergonomic design, bigger screen, faster response time, innovative dust reduction system, and better display easily make this the new king of Canon's "affordable" dSLR line.

I will post links to the full-sized images shortly for those who are interested.

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