Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Canon 5D at ISO 1600

This weekend I'm off to Christchurch to attend Promise Keepers - a christian men's event that runs from friday through to saturday night. It will be the fourth time I've attended the event (there are different speakers and a new theme every year), although this time it will be very different - I'm one of the official photographers for the event!

I'm very excited about this because I think that it will be a: challenging, b: rewarding and c: fun (hopefully). In preparation for shooting the event, I've read up a little on concert/stage photography (although there are conflicting views and it's nothing I couldn't have figured out for myself), and bought a manfrotto monopod head to use with my 5D and 70-200mm f4 L.

Of course I'm taking the 5D, as well as the 20D with an assortment of lenses. There will be no flash during the presentations, but I'll take one anyway since I may get to use it during the breaks for group shots etc. I will also need to take my laptop for burning CD's and maybe for some quick editing? The event organisers would like as many images as possible supplied immediately - although there may also be the option of taking the files away and working on them for supply at a later date.

I know the venue reasonably well, and am happy that there will be plenty of room for me to work in. I can probably get as close to the stage as I like without actually getting on it(!) - so I may not even need to use the 70-200mm a lot? I'm actually thinking of using my 50mm f1.8 on the 20D (giving me a 75mm f1.8 effectively) for stage shots when the presenters are doing their thing, together with the 20-35mm f3.5/4.5 on the 5D for wide angle shots of the crowd, band etc? Then of course there's the 28-135mm IS lens on the 5D if I want a 'one lens fits all' kind of approach - and finally the 70-200mm f4L on either the 5D or 20D, depending on how much 'reach' I need?

Canon 5D @ ISO 1600
Having never really pushed the 5D in terms of high ISO's, I figured I had better do an 'experiment' before next weekend to see how comfortable I would be shooting at max ISO (which is 1600 for both the 5D and 20D without using the 'extra' high setting to go to 3200 on the 5D).

I simply focused on a dark area of my daughters bedroom - giving me both highlight and shadow detail - and made a shot at all the different ISO settings, up to the 1600 max. I then gave all the files identical processing in terms of sharpening, levels and curves adjustments, and then zoomed in to 100% to examine the results.

Without going in to too much detail, I'm very happy with the high ISO results the 5D gives, and won't have any worries shooting all weekend maxed out at 1600 if I have to.

The results above probably don't show up all that well on the internet - they probably all look much of a muchness? Even clicking on them for a bigger look probably doesn't help much - although you're more than welcome to do so :-)   Yes, there's noise there - of course there is. But it's not horrible, and there is still lots of detail as well. This is, after all, a full-frame sensor with a very large pixel size, so the detail isn't turning to mush (like it will with many compact digitals).

So really, what it does say, is that the high ISO performance of the 5D (and also the 20D which is said to be comparable in all the reviews I've read), is very good - and nothing to worry about. No, it won't be as good as the 5D MkII, or recent 7D, or even the new 60D - but it's good enough for me. Especially if I put the really good images through a noise reduction program later on when I can edit at my leisure. But even without it, they will be fine.

ISO 1600 should be enough to give me shutter speeds of around 125th sec when under the bright stage lights, especially if I can use the 50mm f1.8. It will be a different story when I turn around and shoot the crowds, but the monopod should help me to get steady shots - even around 15th or 10th of a second. Hopefully I can get the crowd to stay still for that long?  :-)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)


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