Canon 5D Mark II vs. Mark III: High ISO test

I’ve been reading a lot of reviews about how the 5D Mark III seems to have less noise while shooting video at higher ISOs, but at a cost of sharpness. So, I decided to test this case using a fiber-optic lamp from IKEA with an orangish wall as a backdrop. To provide movement, I used a fan on low, pointed towards the lamp and located slightly below and to the left side of the setup.



Videos from both cameras were acquired using the exact same settings:

  • f/8.0
  • 1/30s
  • 50mm
  • 1920 x 1080
  • 30 fps

I used the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens. Almost every video setting was set to their default values in both cameras, except compression, sharpening and noise reduction. On the 5D Mark III, the compression was changed to ALL-I, and any in-camera sharpening or noise reduction was disabled. There was no post-processing done to any of the videos.

The white balance was set at auto for both cameras, and the white balance was not off on either; the wall was orange, not white.

The ISOs tested are 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 10000, 12800, 16000, 20000, and 25600. The ones listed in bold were used on both cameras for comparison. The other ISOs were only available on the 5D Mark III, so a comparison couldn’t be made.

Please note, the 5D Mark II videos are on the left, and the 5D Mark III videos are on the right.



Some comments

Through ISO 400, the noise in the video looks similar.  However, upon close inspection, you can see more of the fiber optic strands near the base of the lamp at around ISO 200 on the 5D Mark III. At ISO 400 you begin seeing the orangish wall backdrop on the 5D Mark III, and that background becomes more obvious at ISO 800 as compared to the 5D Mark II. At ISO 800, it seems the 5D Mark III has more noise in the background, for some unexplainable reason. However, at ISO 1600, the 5D Mark III has noticeably less background noise, and sharpness appears to be similar to the 5D Mark II.

The 5D Mark III has less noise and similar sharpness up to ISO 1600.

At higher ISOs, the 5D Mark III continues to have much less background noise than the 5D Mark II. However, now I feel that the video is softer. After pausing the video and reflecting on this for a moment, I believe it’s due to the lower contrast between the white fiber optic strands compared to the orangish background. However, it’s important to note, that the color of the background wall is more accurately represented on the 5D Mark III.

At higher ISOs, the 5D Mark III has much less background noise, but the contrast between the objects and the background seems less, leading to a perceived loss of sharpness.

Anyways, I leave you to decide what you think of these videos. We appreciate your comments on this video and suggestions for future ones!

Until next time!


1 Comment

  • Something weird was happening with my computer screen during the ISO 800 part of the video when I initially viewed it. After I reviewed the Vimeo video, ISO 800 seems fine. I have deleted that comment I previously made about the extra noise at ISO 800 on the 5D Mark III. Thanks.

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