EOS-5D Upgrade

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by michael_morris|3, Jun 26, 2007.

  1. A whilel back I received my first DSLR camera as a gift. It is a Sony Alpha. It is a good entry level camera
    but has some issues. The noise levels are very high at any ISO above 100. Also the autofocus is, well,
    inconsistent. I have been using it on a daily basis and now have found the limitations of the camera in
    many cases. Mostly low-light and focus critical.

    I am ready to step up a level and am seriously considering a Conon EOS-5D. The reasons are, noise,
    autofocus, ready availability of lenses and accessories.

    The questions I have are:
    What is the noise like at higher ISO, 800, 1600?
    How is the autofocus operation?

    Any other comments will also be appreciated.
  2. Noise is present, no question about that, but you'll find that the 5D has less noise at a given ISO than most other cameras. I don't know your current camera so I can't say anything concrete like "The 5D's noise with the ISO set to X is about the same as the Alpha's noise with the ISO set to Y." I looked at dpreview's review of the Sony A100; it shows that at higher ISOs, the Canon 30D has significantly lower noise levels. The 5D's noise levels are lower than the 30D's, so it's pretty clear that you will get less noise from a 5D than from an A100, if that's the model you currently have.
    The AF system in the 5D is very good, particularly if you choose your lenses wisely; I don't know about the Alpha, but in the Canon system, the AF motor is in the lens, and not every lens has the same AF motor. The body tells the lens what to do, and then the lens does it, but some lenses do it more rapidly than others. In good light, focus acquisition and accuracy should be fine with just about any lens. In lower light, generally, a faster lens will help a lot. If you're considering the 50/1.4, though, you might want to read previous threads about it; some people find it hunts for focus in low light, while others don't.
    What sort of shooting do you do? For instance, if you shoot things that stay still and you're using a flash, the flash will have an AF assist beam emitter which will let it focus on just about anything even if the ambient lighting is very poor and/or if you're using a slow lens. But if you're shooting things that move, you'll be in servo AF mode, and the AF assist beam will not be used, so a fast lens will be a huge benefit (as well as the obvious benefit of a higher shutter speed to freeze action).
  3. DP Review does some good noise comparison tests for the 5D:


    I just upgraded from a 10D to a 5D. I'm impressed by the lower noises in the 1600-3200 range, but it's far from noise free. I've also been very impressed by the auto focus perf compared to my 10D. It seems to do low light focusing much better and be able to use the non-center focal regions more reliably.

    Here's an example of 3200, pushed about 1 stop in post processing. (It looks noisier than it would with proper exposure)

  4. The Alpha is supposed to be a pretty decent little camera. Don't take this the wrong way,
    but do check carefully to make sure that your focus and noise issues are not due to

    For example...

    If you shoot .jpg and let the camera perform automatic adjustments and processing to the
    image (e.g. - saturation, levels, sharpening, etc.) it is possible that an underexposed
    image will appear to be correctly exposed when you see it. However, if it was originally
    underexposed you will definitely see a lot of noise - both because underexposure itself
    increases noise and because the adjustments that compensate for underexposure
    accentuate this noise. If you don't already do so, check your histogram display as you
    shoot and verify that the histogram display is properly placed.

    Bottom line: you should get good noise performance on any modern crop sensor DSLR at
    100 ISO, 200 ISO, and even 400 ISO. In fact, you can get good results at higher ISOs if you
    shoot the right subjects and are careful about exposure. A 5D can provide a bit more DR
    and a bit less noise at a given setting (I use the 5D) but it won't exactly be "night and

    Focus problems are often (most often, perhaps) not due to a problem with the camera.
    Other issues can include shooting a lot at wide open apertures (both because lenses tend
    to be less sharp there and because depth of field is so narrow) and camera shake. Try
    shooting the Sony at about f/8, photographing a nice detailed high contrast subject, and
    preferably with the camera on a tripod. Does the focus improve?

    Don't get me wrong... the 5D is a wonderful camera. But I'd hate to see you spend a ton of
    money for a new body and lenses just to fix a problem that might be resolved in other

    Take care,

  5. The 5D has the lowest noise, no doubt about it. Whether that is worth the extra cost, it's a matter for you and only you to decide.
  6. I just upgraded from the 10D to 5D, the AF is incredible, noise is better, however it's heavier and slightly bigger. If you have alot of Minolta / Sony lenses I would stay with it, and buy a copy of neat image or noise ninja.

  7. Steve,

    I do mostly nature photography. Landscapes, macro, and wildlife. The wildlife is the
    biggest problem because of the noise at greater than ISO 100. Also, the AF is very slow to
    lock in. I was sitting in the middle of a prarie dog colony shooting the animals at about
    8:30AM a few days ago. I had the AF set to focus on the center and it was occasionally
    unable to lock onto the animal. Fortunately he was hungry and ignored me for about 20
    minutes. But in good light, 7 - 10m it should not have trouble locking focus.

    We also missed several shots of deer earlier becuse with my f/4 lens and ISO 100 the
    shutter speed was way too low to hand hold a 200mm or 300mm lens. (around 1/8 sec).

    I also find myself needing a different lens so I was thinking 2 camera would be useful.
  8. Aubrey,

    That photo is at about the same noise level I see at ISO 400. That is simply amazing.
  9. Dan,

    No offense was taken. when I see a problem, I always try to determine if it is technique or
    equipment first. Usually it is the technique and that has improved greatly because of the
    attitude of "okay, what am I doing to cause this".

    Yes, the Alpha is a good camera. It has a couple of issues that are frustrating but I have
    been pleased with it overall. I tend to use manual setup mostly to be able to control the
    exposure and I am pleased with that. My skills in exposure management have grown a lot
    since switching to manual mode. I have set the camera on a tripod and tried the same
    shot in different ISO levels and found that the noise is high anywhere over ISO 100.

    The issue with autofocus is not a focus issue. It is the camer's ability to lock AF correctly.
    When allowing it to select the point, it jumps around even when there is a good strong
    subject. It also has a lot of trouble locking on subjects with lower contrast. The
    photographer sometimes has focus/shake issues, but that can only be solved with more

    A friend who has been a professional photographer for several years was working with my
    camera recently. I said nothing to him until he started asking about the strange AF
    behavior. That told me is is probably not the user, but the limitations of the equipment.
  10. Michael, instead of having 2 cameras (the Alpha and the 5D) how about selling the Sony and buy just the new Canon 1D MkIII instead. The MkIII probably has the best high ISO performance in the market today (quite useable even at ISO 6400). The Auto focus should also be better than the other 2 (despite some reports of possible problem in some early models). It is weather sealed, has self-cleaning sensor, and has incredable frame rate. Down side is the price, and incompatability with your existing lenses (but so is the 5D). I think it is well worth considering for what you need.
  11. I have the 5D and 1DS-II and the 5D has slightly lower noise at high ISO's. I'd say the 5D is the high-ISO noise champ of the world. That said I've compared shots with the 20D and 30D and the 5D gives very little improvement in high-ISO noise considering the price difference.
  12. Thanks everyone for the comments. It is greatly appreciated.

    I went to look at a 5D today and it ended up adopting me.
  13. I'm curious what lens did the 5D have on it?
  14. Manh,

    I ended up with a kit that had the EF 24-105L f/4 IS USM lens included. I am very impressed
    with this lens. I also picked up the EF 70-200L f/2.8 IS USM lens as long as I was there.
    Have not had the opportunity to shoot with that one yet. Will be in the dsert @ sunrise
    tomorrow though.
  15. You will love the 70-200 (other than potentially its price, size, and weight). I have the same lens and it's excellent.
  16. After 2 dawn shoots in the desert, I am in love with the camera and lenses.

    The noise is 2 - 3 stops better than the Sony. The autofocus is amazing. The sharpness is
    impressive. I have some very good lenses for the Sony as well but the 5d is significantly
    sharper. Color saturation and contrast appear to be very close.

    The operation of the 5d is comfortable and it only took a few hours to settle into the
    differences. This is one amazing camera, IMO well worth the cost.

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