The Canon EOS 1D Mark III is Canon’s latest DSLR, using the most advanced 10.1 megapixels CMOS sensor and DIGIC III image processing chip. The 12.7 megapixels Canon EOS 5D uses Canon’s last year technology coupled with last year’s DIGIC II image processor. It will be interesting to compare the two, especially as the EOS 5D has been considered one of the highest image quality camera of all times.
Test Notes – Field of view
The EOS 5D uses a full frame 35 mm sensor where the EOS 1D Mark III uses a sensor with a 1.3 crop factor. To achieve the same field of view with our 50 mm lens, we had to move the EOS 5D slightly forward. This is the most common act the photographer would do in real life. The full frame advantage is fully utilized in this comparison.
The new DIGIC III chip inside the EOS 1D Mark III has two Noise Reduction modes. With C. Fn II-2 set to OFF the EOS 1D Mark III reduces noise in a similar way to DIGIC II. However, when C. Fn II-2 is set to ON the new noise reduction produces a very different result. You can read more about the new noise reduction here.
C. Fn II-2 is set to OFF
Canon EOS 1D Mark III: JPEG large, Picture Style: Standard, AutoWB, ISO,
1600, 1/160, Canon 50mm@f8, NR OFF
Canon EOS 5D: JPEG Large, Picture Style: Standard, AutoWB, ISO
1600, 1/160, Canon 50mm@f8
- RGB View
- Luma View
- Chroma View
Canon seems to significantly reduce the sharpening amount with higher ISO settings of the EOS 1D Mark III. With the EOS 5D sharpening levels appear to be higher, strong edges look crisp and noise free.
As with 100ISO, the Canon EOS 5D is able to capture more detail, being closer to the scene. Even so we are quite happy with the amount of detail the EOS 1D Mark III is showing at 1600ISO.
demosaicing and false colors
Once again we see a very slight advantage for the EOS 1D Mark III, showing less demosaicing errors. False colors are still very much apparent.
Colors and contrast
With picture style color and contrast is very much the same with both cameras. There are small differences between two cameras, which is to be expected.
Noise levels from both cameras are very similar, but not the same. Luma noise seems to be a bit finer with the EOS 1D Mark III at midtones but slightly more filtered at the shadows. With chroma noise there is a bigger difference: the EOS 1D Mark III shows slightly less chroma noise. By looking at Chroma View you could see that Chroma data was being filtered slightly more aggressively (as a function of luminance). Overall, both cameras have very good signal levels and the differences are very small after noise reduction.
Both Cameras give excellent results, for 2005. At the time the EOS 5D was released this type of noise reduction was very common. Today, advanced chroma noise reduction systems are the new standard. This means that with C. Fn II-2 set to OFF the EOS 1D Mark III is producing old fashioned results, even with excellent signal levels that match the “noise famous” EOS 5D.
C. Fn II-2 is set to ON
- RGB View
- Luma View
- Choma View
Setting C. Fn II-2 to ON really upgrades things considerably. Chroma noise is almost completely eliminated with very little side affects, a few of which are a slight chroma loss at the shadows and vague but large color stains. Switch to Chroma View to view the chroma filtering differences between the two cameras.
Monochromatic grain is very pleasing, not too large but not to flat. Many camera makers have not got this part right (including Adobe and Nikon).
You can read more about noise and noise reduction here.
We have evaluated many noise reduction algorithms in the past, from many different camera makers. We must say that the EOS 1D Mark III is as good as it gets. We have never seen an high ISO result that is so well balanced and tuned as this. We’d like to declare the EOS 1D Mark III as the new king of high ISO, for now (with C. Fn II-2 set to ON). Well done Canon.
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