5DM3 vs D3s vs D800 ISO 6,400 to 25,600

Started Jun 17, 2012 | Discussions
Horshack Veteran Member • Posts: 8,680
5DM3 vs D3s vs D800 ISO 6,400 to 25,600

Incandescent lighting (2700K), all shot using Zeiss 50mm MP @ f/2 manually focused in LV (on the Canon P&S image in the B+H catalog), processed in ACR 6.7/CS5 all defaults except WB, downsampled to 8MP via bicubic, exposure adjusted digitally as necessary to match luminance (D3s required most +exposure comp, followed by D800, none for 5DM3).

100% comps:

ISO 6,400 Crop #1
http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-Vbg9BGv/0/O/i-Vbg9BGv-O.jpg
ISO 6,400 Crop #2
http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-3PXb4QM/0/O/i-3PXb4QM-O.jpg
ISO 6,400 Crop #3
http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-6b6qKwg/0/O/i-6b6qKwg-O.jpg

ISO 12,800 Crop #1
http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-ZGp4FwD/0/O/i-ZGp4FwD-O.jpg
ISO 12,800 Crop #2
http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-mTdWg2R/0/O/i-mTdWg2R-O.jpg
ISO 12,800 Crop #3
http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-GKrNV6P/0/O/i-GKrNV6P-O.jpg

ISO 25,600 Crop #1
http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-R9DjbmH/0/O/i-R9DjbmH-O.jpg
ISO 25,600 Crop #2
http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-sBMrTtJ/0/O/i-sBMrTtJ-O.jpg
ISO 25,600 Crop #3
http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-jkRhqWZ/0/O/i-jkRhqWZ-O.jpg

Full-sized images (8MP)
ISO 6,400
5DM3: http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-mSSdL2D/0/O/i-mSSdL2D-O.jpg
D3s: http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-kZ8fQSr/0/O/i-kZ8fQSr-O.jpg
D800: http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-v5PHBW4/0/O/i-v5PHBW4-O.jpg

ISO 12,800
5DM3: http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-MXscpMx/0/O/i-MXscpMx-O.jpg
D800: http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-hnvcXkD/0/O/i-hnvcXkD-O.jpg
D3s: http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-KTj2PWb/0/O/i-KTj2PWb-O.jpg

ISO 25,600
5DM3: http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-FCSsdsN/0/O/i-FCSsdsN-O.jpg
D3s: http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-N9x8NzS/0/O/i-N9x8NzS-O.jpg
D800: http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-sHXD4Q8/0/O/i-sHXD4Q8-O.jpg

Canon EOS 5D Nikon D3S Nikon D800
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Photo Pete Veteran Member • Posts: 5,424
Re: 5DM3 vs D3s vs D800 ISO 6,400 to 25,600

Thanks for taking the time to compare these three in 2700K light. A lot of the high ISO samples posted elsewhere seem to be based on balanced daylight, which doesn't really represent critical usage for High ISO.

I've only looked at the full size iSO 12800 shots, but have to say that they all look incredibly grainy. I don't think I've ever had a D3s image at ISO 12800 that contains that much harsh grain.

Any chance of posting the RAW files?
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Photo Pete

OP Horshack Veteran Member • Posts: 8,680
D800 ISO 25,600 with and without black frame subtraction
OP Horshack Veteran Member • Posts: 8,680
Re: 5DM3 vs D3s vs D800 ISO 6,400 to 25,600

Photo Pete wrote:

I've only looked at the full size iSO 12800 shots, but have to say that they all look incredibly grainy. I don't think I've ever had a D3s image at ISO 12800 that contains that much harsh grain.

The grain is a function of the modest exposure. All the cameras metered roughly for how I exposed but in reality the scene could use +1EV.

Any chance of posting the RAW files?

Sure, I'll get to it later tonight.

rapeck Regular Member • Posts: 173
Re: D800 ISO 25,600 with and without black frame subtraction

Beautiful job you did with the pictures and you made my day. I thought I had done adequate homework and I just purchased a D800 3 days ago. Then the next day I got a copy of Popular Photography and read the 5D Mark III review. They gave the Canon an excellent rating on ISO from 50 through 12,800, but called the D800 unacceptable at ISO 6400.

From your examples, the D800 is doing very well if not better than the Canon. It looks like DXOMark test is more accurate than POP.

Bob
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Photo Pete Veteran Member • Posts: 5,424
Re: 5DM3 vs D3s vs D800 ISO 6,400 to 25,600

Horshack wrote:

Photo Pete wrote:

I've only looked at the full size iSO 12800 shots, but have to say that they all look incredibly grainy. I don't think I've ever had a D3s image at ISO 12800 that contains that much harsh grain.

The grain is a function of the modest exposure. All the cameras metered roughly for how I exposed but in reality the scene could use +1EV.

Any chance of posting the RAW files?

Sure, I'll get to it later tonight.

Many thanks.

It will be interesting to have a play with these in the RAW converters. I'm interested in how these will appear when printed. I suspect there will be very little difference visible in resolution, with perhaps a little better tonality for the D3s images. Either way it is beginning to look like there is virtually nothing between these cameras for printed output between 3200 ISO and 12800 ISO.
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Photo Pete

OP Horshack Veteran Member • Posts: 8,680
The pitfalls of comparing at native pixel sizes

Here's a quick demonstration showing the noise differences at the pixel level between the D3s (at 12MP) and the D800 (at 36MP), followed by the same comparison with the D800 downsampled to the D3s's resolution (12MP). Note that this is a little unfair to the D3s since the D800 benefits from the sharpening affects of the downsampling whereas the D3s does not, but this is more a demonstration showing the fallacy of comparing the cameras' High ISO performance at their native pixel sizes, in particular the noise.

D3s 12MP vs D800 36MP:
http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-tCwmfKk/0/O/i-tCwmfKk-O.jpg

D3s 12MP vs D800 12MP:
http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-7DSfV52/0/O/i-7DSfV52-O.jpg

OP Horshack Veteran Member • Posts: 8,680
Raw files (links good for 5 days only)
(unknown member) Senior Member • Posts: 2,305
Pop Photo

This once really good magazine slowly became an absolute rag, completing the process quite long ago. You would do better to use Tarot cards to get information on cameras.
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Photo Pete Veteran Member • Posts: 5,424
Re: The pitfalls of comparing at native pixel sizes

Surely the comparison needs to be tailored to the intended method of display? If the final display is to be an A1 sized print then the comparison would be better done by upsizing the D3s File. If it is for an A3 print then the comparison would be better done by downsizing the D800 file.

Trying to compare images from the cameras without optimising for the intended method of display is a bit like trying to determine whether a chainsaw is better than a hacksaw without taking into account what you want to make.

I suspect, based on the images that you've posted, that for an A3 print the D3s output (with a bit of sharpening) will win due to the improved tonality and colour retention of the image. For an A1 print I suspect the outputs to be fairly equal in quality, but for different reasons. The D3s file is likely to still have better tonality and colour, but will show visibly less resolution and more intrusive grain.

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Have Fun
Photo Pete

u007 Senior Member • Posts: 1,681
Re: 5DM3 vs D3s vs D800 ISO 6,400 to 25,600

It's SO easy to tell which files are Nikon and which is Canon.

The wall is a bit pink with Canon and totally green with Nikon. Nikon just LOVE green.

Thanks for the comparison!

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Photo Pete Veteran Member • Posts: 5,424
Re: Raw files (links good for 5 days only)

Many thanks again.

I've just had a bit of a play with the ISO 12800 nefs in Capture NX and Lightroom, and produced a few quick prints.

The colours and tonality are definitely better with the D3s files, but a few levels tweaks can improve the D800 files considerably (although not quite to the level of quality of the D3s files).

The sharpness and nature of the grain in the D800 files is quite astounding and not at all what I'd expected from your downsized jpegs.

On this basis I would say the D3s ISO 12800 files are very slightly better up to A3 size due to the better tonality and colour, but the D800 files are clearly better for anything above due to the better control of grain and the higher resolution.

This is pretty much the same as I'd seen with previous samples... very little difference up to A3 size prints, with the D800 starting to appear better for A2 prints and above. What has really suprised me though is how darned well the D800 copes with 2700k lighting. I had expected the D800 to fall apart a bit in less than ideal low light conditions, but it hasn't.

Quite an achievement for a 36mp camera to perform like this at high ISO.

Personally I'll still be sticking with my D3s as I very rarely print larger than A3 and very occassionally A2. The improved frame rates, build quality and ergonomics of the D3s, coupled with the ability to produce high iso quality with very little post processing, make it the better camera for me.

But... these images have changed my view of the D800's low light ability. I don't think I'd choose a D3s over a D800 purely based on its low light performance... there just isn't enough difference between the two in the final print to say that the D3s is the better low light camera.
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Photo Pete

OP Horshack Veteran Member • Posts: 8,680
And just for fun

Here's a photo I took last night, D800 w/14-24mm @ 14mm, f/2.8 ISO 1600 20-second exposure

OP Horshack Veteran Member • Posts: 8,680
Re: Raw files (links good for 5 days only)

Photo Pete wrote:

The sharpness and nature of the grain in the D800 files is quite astounding and not at all what I'd expected from your downsized jpegs.

On this basis I would say the D3s ISO 12800 files are very slightly better up to A3 size due to the better tonality and colour, but the D800 files are clearly better for anything above due to the better control of grain and the higher resolution.

This is pretty much the same as I'd seen with previous samples... very little difference up to A3 size prints, with the D800 starting to appear better for A2 prints and above. What has really suprised me though is how darned well the D800 copes with 2700k lighting. I had expected the D800 to fall apart a bit in less than ideal low light conditions, but it hasn't.

Quite an achievement for a 36mp camera to perform like this at high ISO.

Personally I'll still be sticking with my D3s as I very rarely print larger than A3 and very occassionally A2. The improved frame rates, build quality and ergonomics of the D3s, coupled with the ability to produce high iso quality with very little post processing, make it the better camera for me.

But... these images have changed my view of the D800's low light ability. I don't think I'd choose a D3s over a D800 purely based on its low light performance... there just isn't enough difference between the two in the final print to say that the D3s is the better low light camera.

I agree with your findings. It's hard to convince others just how good the D800's High ISO performance is, esp. D3s owners. Our inclination to view pixels at 100% I think factors into it, esp. since a lot of PP work requires we look at that level (such as sharpening). One aspect where the D800 excels is ISOless High ISO DR, where you shoot at a low ISO and then push in post, which preserves the D800's DR advantage whereas the D3s holds the advantage for higher nominal ISO shooting. I plan to do a comparison of this in the next week or so. Until then here is a sample of it on the D800: http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1107037/0#10567574

rhlpetrus Forum Pro • Posts: 26,379
Re: The pitfalls of comparing at native pixel sizes

It's about even, so good job from D800. Now that bluish cast ...

Horshack wrote:

Here's a quick demonstration showing the noise differences at the pixel level between the D3s (at 12MP) and the D800 (at 36MP), followed by the same comparison with the D800 downsampled to the D3s's resolution (12MP). Note that this is a little unfair to the D3s since the D800 benefits from the sharpening affects of the downsampling whereas the D3s does not, but this is more a demonstration showing the fallacy of comparing the cameras' High ISO performance at their native pixel sizes, in particular the noise.

D3s 12MP vs D800 36MP:
http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-tCwmfKk/0/O/i-tCwmfKk-O.jpg

D3s 12MP vs D800 12MP:
http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-7DSfV52/0/O/i-7DSfV52-O.jpg

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Lucas Jarvis Regular Member • Posts: 475
Re: Raw files (links good for 5 days only)

Horshack wrote:

One aspect where the D800 excels is ISOless High ISO DR, where you shoot at a low ISO and then push in post, which preserves the D800's DR advantage whereas the D3s holds the advantage for higher nominal ISO shooting.

Do you think that camera's will employ a digital ISO if this is the case? Allowing the camera to retain it's dynamic range while pushing low iso's to simulate high iso's? Maybe there are disadvantages that come along with this method I'm not sure, but maybe it could be a custom function toggle to enable it as to let the user decide what they prefer.

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Lucas

gigamel Regular Member • Posts: 178
Re: Raw files (links good for 5 days only)

On the subject of low ISO DR - we all know that is where the D800 excels - what I don't understand is why there is such a great difference between the D700 and the 5D3

The 5D3 looks like crap at ISO 200 + 4 stops (ISO3200)

http://dslr-check.info/2012/0511_5D3_ISO200+4EV.jpg

http://dslr-check.info/2012/0511_D700_ISO200+4EV.jpg

And that despite the read noise, DR and SNR being about equal for the two cameras

To me it seems like the D700 has a 2 stop advantage over the 5D3 - giving the D800 a 5 stop advantage over the 5D3 - way more than the measured 2,5 stops?

Is it all about banding, that is not measured in the DxO numbers?

Is there a good way (metric) to measure banding?

Horshack wrote:

One aspect where the D800 excels is ISOless High ISO DR, where you shoot at a low ISO and then push in post, which preserves the D800's DR advantage whereas the D3s holds the advantage for higher nominal ISO shooting. I plan to do a comparison of this in the next week or so. Until then here is a sample of it on the D800: http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1107037/0#10567574

OP Horshack Veteran Member • Posts: 8,680
Conversion redone with Camera Neutral profile

The original raw-> jpeg conversions comparisons I posted used Adobe Standard. Here are ISO 12,800 and 25,600 comparisons using Camera Neutral. The positive exposure compensation I had to apply to the D3s in the original set was due to the Adobe Standard profile for that body; with camera neutral the luminance matches much more closely between the bodies so the exposure adjustments have been reworked. The ACR exposure adjustments for this new set are:

ISO 12,800
5DM3: +.25
D3s: +0
D800: +.20

ISO 25,600
5DM3: +0
D3s: +.10
D800: -.15

In this new comparison the 5DM3 fares a bit more poorly to the other bodies, esp in the color reproduction/noise.

100% comps:
ISO 12,800 Crop #1
http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-CkcZ5M2/0/O/i-CkcZ5M2-O.jpg
ISO 12,800 Crop #2
http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-SfRCM5v/0/O/i-SfRCM5v-O.jpg
ISO 12,800 Crop #3
http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-78jBLKP/0/O/i-78jBLKP-O.jpg

100% comps:
ISO 25,600 Crop #1
http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-HB2nbWR/0/O/i-HB2nbWR-O.jpg
ISO 25,600 Crop #2
http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-VSwNxmh/0/O/i-VSwNxmh-O.jpg
ISO 25,600 Crop #3
http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-3pngf9X/0/O/i-3pngf9X-O.jpg

Full-sized images (8MP)
ISO 12,800
5DM3: http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-zNGvH4v/0/O/i-zNGvH4v-O.jpg
D800: http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-5dXWNc5/0/O/i-5dXWNc5-O.jpg
D3s: http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-MTPHvG4/0/O/i-MTPHvG4-O.jpg

ISO 25,600
5DM3: http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-tWMMb7R/0/O/i-tWMMb7R-O.jpg
D800: http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-VqCMwkW/0/O/i-VqCMwkW-O.jpg
D3s: http://horshack.smugmug.com/photos/i-xZBNvrD/0/O/i-xZBNvrD-O.jpg

tomboy Senior Member • Posts: 1,107
Re: 5DM3 vs D3s vs D800 ISO 6,400 to 25,600

what i seen D800 is darn good ..better than i expected ..to my eye better than 5d mark3 ..

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Shotcents
Shotcents Veteran Member • Posts: 4,472
Re: 5DM3 vs D3s vs D800 ISO 6,400 to 25,600

IF you know what you're doing, ISO 6400 (and higher) can look better with the D800 than a D4, D3s and certainly the 5DIII.

The OOC results mean little. Assuming you've nailed the exposure the D800 RAW file preserves MUCH more detail. Using NR programs with skill will render a better final photo with the D800.

It aint an opinion as I've seen extensive PP work with all of the files from the cameras I mentioned. The D800 is the high ISO champ, but you need to open in NX and use a good NR program to get the most out of it.

Robert

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