Methodological Validity of Comparisons of Canon 5D II and Nikon D700

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by landrum_kelly, May 9, 2009.

  1. When DPREVIEW.COM does its comparisons of the resolutions of DSLRs, does it err in presenting comparisons of the resolving power of cameras with sensors with vastly differing numbers of megapixels?
    Specifically, since (for example) the Canon 5D Mark II and the Nikon D700 give files of such vastly differing sizes, can one validly disregard or omit downsampled images in the comparisons?
    The problem is not unique to DPREVIEW.COM, of course. To avoid copyright issues, here is the page that I am drawing from in the images that I will be attaching below:
    I am presuming here that in "journal articles" (and our forums are essentially brief online journal articles) one may use small images without violating fair use provisions. In any case, as I have said, above is the link to DPREVIEW.COM so that persons can look at their pictures (without doctoring such as I have done below) and try to answer the question for themselves. In any case, I have in the comparison below used one sample image directly from that site, and one sample image which has been downsized to approximate files of the same size. The downsizing of the Canon image is approximate, but the trees are close enough in size to get a pretty good approximation. The native noiselessness of the D700 is not being disputed here, and the effects of noise reduction "smearing" on the Canon image are likewise obvious.
    Still, the practical questions remain: (1) Are such comparisons without downsized images valid? (2) Are they all that useful?
    The core of the problem from a practical perspective is that, without downsampling or downsizing images of differing sizes it is very difficult to tell whether or not claims about superior resolution make very much sense.
    I have chosen two images, both shot at quite high ISO: 12,800. The reason for this particular comparison is that ISO 25,600 produces images in both cameras that are essentially worthless, whereas images shot at ISO 6400 are reasonably clean for both cameras. The question of usability (and thus of making valid comparisons) is most obvious to me in that problematic area of marginally useful ISO, in this case 12,800 for these two particular cameras.
    I will post the Canon image first, downsized so that the tree is about the same size as the tree in the Nikon image.
  2. Here is the corresponding Nikon D700 image, cropped but without downsizing.
  3. CORRECTION: Both images have been cropped, with only the Canon image also being downsized.
    Please see the DPREVIEW site for the actual comparisons of the completely unmanipulated images with attendant discussion:
  4. I checked this site but I think scans from a magazine page, as apparently the published photos are, cannot be used to evaluate image quality, particularly when expected differences are subtle.
  5. I understand the limitiations of doing this, Vasilis, which is why I direct persons back to the DPREVIEW.COM site more than once:
    I do find the issue compelling, however, even if I don't have the images to support my position that we could make better comparisons in at least some cases with downsized images.
    Anybody out there own both the Canon 5DII and the Nikon D700? I would like to see comparisons. I confess that the final proof would be in the prints, but I hope that the practical point of raising these questions is obvious enough.
  6. One more point, Vasilis, is this: this issue is not finally a purely methodological or other theoretical issue.
    That is, the results of such comparisons do bear upon the very practical real world issue as to whether the cleaner image of the Nikon translates into anything meaningful in reality--especially the decision as to whether one should buy the Nikon if better noise control is the driving concern (as opposed to, say, faster shooting or faster or more accurate auto-focus).
    It seems to me that, once downsizing is taken into consideration, the advantage of shooting the D700 because of more noise-free shots at high ISO virtually (if not completely) disappears.
  7. Keep in mind also that at ISO 12,800 we talking about a SEVEN-STOP ADVANTAGE in terms of light-gathering ability over ISO 100.
    That is, if we can downsample huge files and get virtually noiselessness at 12,800, the implications for shooting in very low light without a flash are enormous.
    I am seriously beginning to want the 5D II. I told myself for the longest time that the 5D and the 1DsII that I have could give me results that are just about as good. Well, maybe so, but "just about" is not quite there when it comes to low-light shooting.
    I would like to see more shots made at ISO 12,800 made with the 5D II. Does anyone have any?
  8. fjp


    I tried ISO12800 and even ISO 25600 for a few night shots and I've got reasonably good results.
    To get the best results, I slightly overexpose (1/2 stop), and later, doing post-processing I correct the exposure,
    apply some noise reduction to the RAW file and finally rescale/downsize the image.
  9. Hi
    I am not trying to advertise my site here.
    If you follow the link below you will see two images I snapped and downloaded from the card at 25600 ISO. No modifications.
    If you go to the upper right hand side of the image you have an option to see the image full size straight out of the camera.
    I know they have no merit as images so no critique required.
    I will leave them there for 7 days.
    I hope this helps the discussion.
  10. I too have done a lot of comparisons using These are not scans of magazines. They are studio images, and in this case we are looking at the printed labels on a beverage bottle in that scene. While not a great subject to compare, oddly enough these bottle labels are the main ones that I have used in the past as well.
    I have no idea why dpreview insists on displaying images of different physical size when they go to the necessary trouble of using equivalent focal length lenses for their tests. An 85mm shot from two full frame bodies taken at exactly the same distance with exactly the same scene should be presented at exactly the same cropping and presentation size.
    When I choose to make serious, image on monitor comparisons (as poor as that may be) I download their full size images, save them to my hardrive, and then align them in photoshop at the same physical size without altering resolution and file sizes etc. I crop each window to the same size and then pan around each image comparing the same details from each. I compare many of the printed labels as well as some of the objects in the scene.
    When comparing I use both their studio scenes and their outdoor scenes to make my own reasonable conclusions. I often don't agree with their evaluation of their own images. Sometimes I wonder if they lose detail when they create their internet pages. There have been times when I wondered if they actually got the focus correct in some of their shots.
    I also wish they would set up one studio scene and leave it that way permanently! Just take an air hose to it every once and awhile to remove the dust.
  11. fjp


    Sample 5D2 ISO12800 image after downsizing.
  12. Well, according to some people on this forum, the 5DmkII has awful noise and apparently is inferior to 1DmkIII and 5D. Not that I agree with them. I expect that you'll be hearing from them soon, since they're so fond of trashing the 5DmkII.
  13. I am very impressed with the 5D2s ISO performance. I really don't see much point in going higher then 3200 in almost any situation.
  14. I haven't seen a comprehensive High ISO noise review yet. Including this one.
    Virtually every generation of bodies has increased high ISO noise performance over it's predessor. It's rapidly becoming the single most important factor to consider when upgrading. High ISO capabilities in recent DSLRs have changed the way every one of us can and do shoot.
    I feel that proper review of this subject should be equal in length and breadth to the review of pro lenses, including shooting in a variety of real world situations, with a subjective evaluation of the results, laboratory testing with more objective evaluation of the results, and complete comparative testing with not only competitors, but also predecessors.
  15. I'd like to make two points. Firstly, they do compare cameras based on price, and in some markets the Canon and Nikon are close. Secondly, looking at what a camera can do at 12800 ISO is pointless, don't you think? The images are crap. How many people do that and expect good results? 3200 is a practical limit in my book, even though 12800 is only two stops faster. One can gain* one stop by using a faster or better lens, and one more stop by going to a slower speed using VR or a resting on a monopod.
    One of the celebrity papparazzi was asked about this in one of our magazines and he said he stays with Canon 40/50D because they are fine to 3200, relatively cheap and DX gives him extra reach. He uses the *method above if its dark.
  16. Roy and Fernando, thanks for the great shots. One thing that came through for me while downloading (and then resizing) your shots is that all are potentially usable, depending on the amount of resizing one intends to do. (It would seem that some images that are not good enough for large printing might be good enough for the web--if downsized and post-processed correctly.)
    Another thing that came through from viewing original files is just how much image degradation really does occur between ISO 12,800 and 25,600--but, in spite of that, just how potentially usable 25,600 could be. Roy, your shots are proof of that. I hope you don't mind that I downloaded them and then resized them to varying degrees to see what I could get (for my private viewing, of course). Those are very good test shots, in my opinion.
    John, I share some of your same frustrations about the site in question, although it is surely one of the more reliable sites around, and I go to it frequently. (I knew that the photos were not scans from a magazine, but I let it go. I'm glad you didn't.)
    Peter, I'm sure you're right about the naysayers. If this thread survives long enough, they will surely get here.
  17. looking at what a camera can do at 12800 ISO is pointless, don't you think?​
    Stephen, I generally agree with you, although I have to repeat that, at least for web posting, shooting at such high ISO could be useful--not least of all for snaps to be sent to be relatives, when a flash is such a bother and no one is going to print them at any size anyway. Even so, with Fernando's results at 12,800, I am inclined to think that 12,800 just might be useful, even when 25,600 might not be.
    Thanks to all who have responded. I will be interested in seeing what else people have to say.
  18. Images can be manipulated in so many ways using so many different programs that it makes it quite difficults to validate many of test results. While shooting at ultra high ISOs should be a last resort option, it is a viable option when necessary and both cameras can give good results with a bit of creative post processing.

    "(1) Are such comparisons without downsized images valid? (2) Are they all that useful?" Perhaps and perhaps. I have seen numerous references to images such as the ones you point to and others. Often the differences are so small that simple PP would equalize the visible differences. If, when pixel peeping, the images are very close in IQ, you can bet that you won't see any difference in normal sized prints.
    I am a DXO user and have processed ultra high ISO images with DXO with impressive results that are far different (superior) to unprocessed images.
  19. My comparison would have been better, I think, if I had brightened the downsized shot borrowed from DPREVIEW.COM:
    Marcus, I also would like to see "a comprehensive High ISO noise review." No, this thread is not that, either, but perhaps someone will be inspired to do it if they think that shooting at high ISO is as potentially promising as I think that it is going to be--and increasingly already is.
  20. fjp


    ISO 25600 shows a lot more noise than 12800.
    I'm a Linux user and thus I cannot use all of the fancy software available for Windows/Mac.
    Fortunately I've found the UFRAW freeware program to process RAW files, including a wavelet noise filter.
    I shot this picture just to test ISO25600 (handheld).
    These pictures are far from perfect, but in some extreme cases the images can be used for some low-res applications.
  21. Fernando, ISO 25,600, handheld at night! Wow! Sure, it has been downsized, but it is still equivalent to shooting more than five megapixels. That surely is not trashy for me--even for prints, since I have gotten some pretty good prints from five-megapixel cameras.
  22. I have no expertise on these things, but I think the best way to compare cameras with different resolution is by making same sized prints. and do this type of comparison.
  23. Lalon, if someone has done a side-by-side comparison of the 5D II and the D700 at high ISO, I have not been able to find it.
    As a Canon user, it is nonetheless sobering for me to see what Nikon has been able to accomplish. On the one hand, one may say correctly that the D700 has less noise [in large part] because it is "only" trying to pack 12 megapixels onto the same size sensor that the 5D II has packed 21 megapixels onto. On the other hand, it is quite a shock to see that the D700 gives its admittedly awesome results without any downsizing, as these shots from a Japanese website show:
    About the only thing that I can say so far is that, even if one were to control for downsizing, the Nikon would surely still win on the high ISO/low noise tests--and shoot more frames per second and have superior autofocus performance to boot.
    On the other side of the coin, the 5D II gives results at low light that are still rather awe-inspiring, considering that one also has this capability in a landscape/studio camera that can still blow the D700 away in deliberate, unrushed shots with plenty of light.
    Nothing that I have said in this thread is meant to suggest that there is not a trade-off to be made, and persons are sometimes going to disagree vehemently on which attributes are most important--not necessarily because of brand loyalty, but because of the type of shooting that they do. Elliott Bernstein's surfing shots on his main page are a case in point. He shoots the D3 on those and gets the results he wants--he needs the extra frames per second and the quick AF to get those shots. Another Nikon user, however, might want the extra megapixels of the D3X--and have the bucks to make it happen.
    Perhaps we should be calling for a side-by-side comparison of the D3X and the 5D II, or--even better--the D3X and the (surely, sometime real soon now) forthcoming Canon 1Ds Mark IV.
    Yes, I said Mark IV. If and when it comes out, I would hope that, our own Bob Atkins, and others will give substantial attention to low light performance comparisons. If Sony comes out with a good high-ISO camera to follow the A900, watch out!
    All that I can say at this point is that, for my purposes, I think that the Canon 5D would be the best mix of the available choices for me--and I am frankly in awe of the shots at high ISO that some of you are getting with it, without claiming for an instant that it can even begin to outdo the D700/D3 at high ISO. It is pretty clear that it cannot. I am still impressed, given what else it can also do.
    I yet suspect that Nikon's in-camera processing must still be superior. That is, not all of the high ISO advantages are traceable to the respective number of megapixels on each brand's full-frame sensor. There is something else going on here that Canon needs to catch up on, in my opinion. The 5D II was a great leap forward, and it is an excellent candidate for "Best All Around DSLR"--for some of us. It will yet soon be history--and one wonders what Nikon already has in the pipeline.
  24. I did a few comparison shots with the 5D Mark II. The top shot is at ISO 800, the 2nd shot is an unprocessed shot at H2 and the bottom shot is the H2 shot processed with DXO 5.3 (standard settings).
  25. Here is an extreme, extreme crop:
  26. Additional advanced processing of the above images would produce even better results.
    While I find the various sites showing comparison photos offer valuable information that can assist in decision making, the results can often be misinterpreted or may require some consideration as to what the true differences between the various test shots mean. Landrum's example illustrates this point well. Often a small amount of PP can easily adjust for the differences in images and negates any differences. I may do a D3/D700 vs 5D Mark II side-by-side comparison in the future.
    At this point in time, a tripod and low ISO is still a photographer's best choice when photography of a low light stationery subject is required. Dynamic and color range drop quite a bit as the ISO increases above ISO 1600. The DXOmark site illustrates this well.
  27. Thanks, Elliott. I was hoping that you would weigh in again. I went to the DXO site last night and was favorably impressed by the results and the comparatively low cost. I shall have to look into that further.
    Back to existing comparisons, I also went browsing and found this on Photography Bay:
    There are also some Ken Rockwell comparisons, but I haven't rechecked those.
    Thanks to everyone for their contributions.
    Elliott, what you are telling us is that "it ain't over till it's over"--until the post-processing is done. I'll buy that.
  28. fjp


    Yes, with some postprocessing these H2 images can be made usable.
    For instance if you want black and white photos, you can get better results
    since most of the 5D2 noise seems to be chroma noise.
  29. That's an awesome shot, Fernando. Coincidentally, while I was comparing some Nikon v. Canon high-ISO shots last night, I was also struck by the high chroma noise in the Canon.
    Not that we were not warned by . . .
    Since the 5D II has variable noise reduction, what happens when one reduces it or turns it off? Does the chroma noise go crazy, or does the lumina noise hit you in the face? I am presuming that it is the latter, since Canon's bludgeon-like noise reduction must be being directed toward the suppression of that kind of noise.
    There has got to be a better way.
  30. Landrum, your thinking about turning noise reduction off is on track with my thinking. There are many exceptional noise reduction programs available that offer full control to the user, which, in the end, will likely give the photographer the best possible photograph.
    The comments that appear after the photo comparisons (referring to the last link you provided) give a lot of insight into the difficulties in testing images from different cameras and lenses.
    Post processing levels the playing field of most cameras in the same class and can greatly affect/impact test results to the point that some may not even be valid. For example, in the sample test crops above where Landrum 'fixed/equalized' the Mark II photo, the initial observations made are no longer valid.
    Is the D700 and excellent camera at high ISO? Yes. If the 5D Mark II also an excellent camera at high ISO? Yes. Which is better? After PP, I don't know that one can clearly win out over the other.
  31. Thanks, Elliot. Thanks also for keeping us on topic. You've pulled us all the way around to the original question in a way that I never could have anticipated.
    Gotta get that DXO software. . . after I get the camera!
  32. From

    About 5DMkII:
    "At higher ISOs, the 5D Mark II's images held together surprisingly well. For 13x19 inch prints, ISO 6,400(!) was about the limit, as the noise in shadow areas began to be noticeable at that size, and detail was obliterated in areas of subtle contrast. This is really a remarkable performance from a camera with this much resolution: Comparing their images side by side, prints from the Canon 5D Mark II at ISO 6,400 were quite comparable (similar or slightly higher luminance noise, lower chroma noise, a bit softer overall) than those of the EOS-1Ds Mark III at ISO 3,200"

    About D700:
    "High ISO images were really extraordinary: Together with the D3, the Nikon D700 clearly leads the field in high-ISO performance, thanks to its large pixels, CMOS sensor technology, and Nikon's excellent noise-reduction processing. D700 images shot under incandescent lighting (always the tougher test) looked great when printed at 8x10 inches, all the way up to ISO 6400. At ISO 6400 and at that size, there was a little noise present, but we had to look close to see it (closer than you'd normally view a print of that size), and it was very fine-grained. - There's also almost no chroma component to the D700's noise at ISO 6400, making it even less apparent than noise patterns from many other cameras with similar "grain" size. Shot under daylight-balanced lighting and printed at 13x19 inches, the D3's ISO 6,400 shots were softer and somewhat noisier than those at lower ISOs, but the results were still pretty amazing."
  33. Here is an interesting link, though it may not look like directly related to the current topic, it actually is:!
  34. I've been saying this for ages. Yes, when viewed on screen at 100% the D3 and D700 are superior to the 5D2 when it comes to noise control. But, the images from the Nikon cameras are a lot smaller.
    So, when making prints the images from the 5D2 almost always turn out better AT ANY ISO. If you make a large print eg 20x16, the Nikon images have to be enlarged a hell of a lot more than the Canon ones and therefore lose resolution and the noise at high ISO becomes more noticeable. Likewise, if you make a smaller print eg 12x10, the Canon images have to be downsized considerably which makes any difference in high ISO capability vanish due to the shrinking of the much larger file size.
    I think in practice, all things considered, when making prints the 5D2 and the Nikon D3 and D700 are fairly evenly matched when it comes to noise control. I am not biased towards any manufacturer but I would honestly rather have the 5D2 than ANY Nikon camera (D3x included) for the image quality alone. Yes, the Nikons have better weather sealing, better frame rate and superior AF but when it comes to IQ the 5D2 is superior.
    Look at the D3x. Its resolution is only marginally higher than the 5D2 but it tops out at ISO 1600. What does that tell you? It tells me that Canon currently have the high ISO advantage. If Canon had been just a little more sensible and made the 5D2 with a 15MP resolution it would have set a completely new standard for low light photography. Perhaps they will consider this with the 1D mk 4.
  35. Errr... Jamie, thank you for your response. but I really dont think that for the same sized print 5D Mk II has better high ISO performance than D3X. There is a good chance that it is actually other way round. (I dont have any proof, but you may see this link: D3X has recommended ISO upto 1600 because it is designed as a studio and landscape camera - not necessarily because it has worse high ISO performance.
    Apart from this, I agree with what you wrote.
  36. Lalon,
    I stand corrected. I have never used the D3x and I wasn't aware that it had an ISO 6400 option. You are indeed correct.
  37. Actually, Jamie, the Nikon D3X can be boosted to ISO 3200 and 6400--and, if the pictures are to be believed, it does very well at both:
    (I always assumed that Nikon did not go for 12,800 and 25,600 on the D3X because shooting in near darkness is really not a strong marketing point for a studio/landscape camera--and who wants to go stumbling around in the dark taking flashless snaps with an $8,000 camera?)
    Interestingly, on this comparison did what we have been asking for: resizing files before trying to make final comparisons, although in this case doing so with the D3X and the D3/D700.
    As for the rest, Jamie, you may well have it right, but I think that Elliot is on target when he says that IQ of both brands at high ISO comes down to post-processing--and, let's face it, Canon's in-camera processing in the 5D II is arguably too strong on luminance noise control, but not strong enough on chroma noise control. If one shoots RAW, however, and uses third party software (e.g ., DOX), perhaps the noise control problem can be remedied.
    Since I have yet to hold any of these cameras in my hand, however, I am operating in a personal empirical vacuum. My equipment is strictly "last generation" (5D and 1Ds II). My personal opinion carries no weight at this point.
    I do want to have the 5D II in my hands, however, and when I do I intend to put it through the wringer at high ISO on my Epson 3800 (17" wide). I doubt that I will ever try to have the files printed any larger--unless I go Fernando's route and shoot it at high ISO with black and white post-processing to take care of the chroma noise (pretty darned effectively, I dare say!). Taking and printing the Nikon files I will have to leave to someone else.
    I've been on this "low-light kick" since the winter of 2008, when I went out shooting at night with a mid-sixties vintage Canon 7 rangefinder--with the 50mm f/0.95 lens. The light-gathering ability of the lens was awe-inspiring, but the image quality just was not that good when the lens was shot wide open--and, if one did not shoot it wide open, what was the point of having a 50mm f/0.95 lens in the first place?
    Regardless of which brand one shoots, when it comes to low-light photography, we have come a long way--and digital has made it all possible. As a life-long resolution freak (in my case, splitting double stars with telescopes when I was thirteen) and now a low-light freak, I can only say that these are great times to be alive, and I am glad to have lived long enough to see it all happen.
    What some of you will live to see I can only imagine.
  38. Sorry, guys, but on my very long post I cross-threaded both of you. Sorry for the redundancy.
    Lalon, I haven't been trying to ignore your posts, but you have said it all so well that you left me nothing to challenge or add.
  39. This is just a personal opinion, but I do not like post processing that much. Every camera should have a "standard" setting for color, contrast and noise reduction that should produce "perfect" result for printing straight out of the camera. For advanced users, who like post processing, there sholuld be other settings available (muted/ neutral and high/low noise reduction etc) or they can shoot raw. Just like we do not frame carelessly thinking that we will crop later- "perfect" outputs straight out of camera can give a lot of pleasure.
  40. Lalon, by "perfect" I presume that you mean "lifelike" or "realistic." I won't even get into the problems with that, except to say that, to the extent that photography is art, it surely has to do more than give a realistic portrayal of reality.
    As for the present thread, what would that mean? It would mean that shots made in near darkness would be underexposed, not at all what most of us who have addressed these issues are concerned with .
  41. Landrum
    I own the 5D2 and it is every bit as good as people say it is. A lot of the high ISO performance is due to extremely good in camera processing (and also good processing in DPP for example). But, whatever the reason... the fact remains that it is very good indeed in low light especially when compared to the last generation of DSLRs.
  42. That's good to hear, Jamie, 'cause I've now got one on order!
    As for the original topic of the thread, I found this on dating back to last fall:
  43. Landrum, by "perfect", I didn't mean lifelike. I donno the proper words to define it, but it actually means something like - "can give excellent print in terms of color, sharpness and noise without further post processing". And it's true that photography is an art. A photographer does not try to show what we actually see. Instead he tries to show what he wants us to see. That is what art is about . And I myself is very fond of high ISO photography. Thank you for your opinion, Landrum.
  44. Just to clarify it further, I want my camera to give perfectly usable (for print) high ISO result without any post processing. This is what I tried to mean.
  45. I can't disagree with you there, Lalon. The issue of what the default settings ought to be always comes up, but I understand your point.
  46. 5dmkII is the best, PERIOD!
  47. The 'diglloyd' guy has a pretty bulletproof method for a rational comparison of the characteristics of DSLRs with differing MP counts. He also cites DxO in his analysis. Both parties are likely to be more trustworthy than DPReview's methodology, which is already under the gun from observers over at Fred Miranda.
    Lloyd was looking into low ISO noise performance of the 5D2 and Nikon's D3x; his site has some pretty compelling evidence of the ugly noise characteristics of the Canon at ISO100, together with mention of the measurement of an additional 2 stops of DR delivered by the Nikon. It is not uncommon for landscape shooters to work up the shadows by two stops or more. Many lenses lose that much to optical vignetting in the extreme corners in any case, and the highlights' LV determine your shadows in any case. So it is far from an outlandish thing to do...And the 5D2 has some unsettling noise patterns, very 'digital', whereas the Nikon was super smooth, even under duress.
    Being in the market for a big print-making DSLR for landscape work in extreme light conditions (Himalayan region) I have decided to await Nikon developments re a 5D2 competitor. 2 stops of dynamic range together with ultra clean low ISO noise RAW files is a quite persuasive, even compelling factor in this decision. Too bad, as Canon produce the 70-200/4IS, several other functional if not spectacular f4 zoom lenses, and can accommodate a host of fabulous low cost alternative lenses via adaptors.
    Like a lot of shooters, I am sick of the merry-go-round and want a body for 2-3 years at least...and with the demands these high Mp DSLRs place on lens quality, lens apertures and shooting technique, we are closing in on an decent threshold of quality, a watershed in DSLR development, speaking as a 6x7 photographer.
  48. These crops are from in-camera JPEGs thus the comparison is worthless to start with. Also to judge sensor performance you have to look at photos at 100% (i.e. one pixel and sensor = on pixel on screen), otherwise it is meaningless.
    When making a print at certain size both photos have to be resized for print, but that is not how you compare sensor performance (which is what does).For example, you can down-sample the photos to 6 mpixels and all of the current cameras will be perfect with no visible difference. So are not comparing prints but native sensor noise performance.
    Also from about 5 thousand shots I have snapped with my MKII and D700, high ISO is excellent on both with D700 having an edge over the MKII at native size, by the time you down-sample MKII to D700 native size they are very close but 5DII still has some residual color noise blotches left which you need to eliminate with NR sw. 5DMKII has more chroma noise in shadow areas in lower ISOs as well, but the sharpness and detail makes up for it.
    At any case, the weakest link for 5MKII is not its sensor by any means but it is the lens, I did a test with D700 and 14-24 f/2.8 AF-S vs 5DMKII 16-35 f/2.8 L II, at 18mm f/8 and then printed the output at 18X12 and to my surprise D700 print was much better thanks to the 14-24. MKII print had very soft edges with color fringes that were quite visible to trained eyes, so I kept the 700 print and gave the MKII print to one of my friends who also bought my 16-35 ;) In order to make use of all 5DII's pixels you need an L prime or telephoto, I use it with my 400 f/5.6L, 70-200 f/4IS and 50 f/1.4 and you can make excellent large prints.
    print from D700:
  49. I think nobody here will deny that D700 has a sensor that has lower noise in higher ISO than 5D Mark II. What we are trying here is to figure out what it translates into (lower noise 12MP vs higher noise 21MP sensor) in terms of output. Here is a quote from article: ".....Moreover, the measuremnt above corresponds to 1:1 viewing conditions on a screen. Except for image retouching and examining details, this is probably not useful way to view the image. A fit to screen viewing or a print on a given-size paper format is a more likely use case." And the noise comparisons in high ISO that are done in dpreview use JPEG, not RAW (personally I do not have any objection though).

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