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finnbay

Lens Comparison

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As Steve and I had talked, I figured to do some side by side comparisons with some lenses at high ISO's. I had my 100-400 and my 70-200 with me today so shot about 200 frames at various ISO's, Av priorities and manual settings. These were taken with gym lighting and I tried to control as many factors as I could. Camera on a tripod with remote release. Both lenses set to a focal length of 150. Shot with large jpeg from the Canon 50D, one shot AF and center weight meter. I have more data than I can process. All I'm going to do to start with is to compare, side by side, the 70-200 and the 100-400 at the same ISO, f-stop and shutter speed. Shots are directly from the camera, the only processing I did was to reduce the image to 600 pixels on the long side and save for web. If you have specific questions beyond what you see here, please ask and I'll see if I can find some data for you. Photos on the left are the 70-200L 2.8, and photos on the right are the 100-400L 4.5/5.6:

ISO 3200, f/5.6 1/125 (Shots of my buddy Spaulding)

28-3200-56-125.jpg56-3200-56-125.jpg

ISO 6400, f/5.6 1/125

28-6400-56-125.jpg56-6400-56-125.jpg

ISO 12800, f/5.6 1/125

28-12800-56-125.jpg56-12800-56-125.jpg

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Yep, Mike. Polaris is correct. Screen resolution on my computer allows them to sit side by side. On my other computer the 70-200 is on top and the 100-400 is on the bottom.

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They are side by side on mine. I think it would have been better to be at the correct exposure for the first two sets. As you ramp up the ISO you make corrections to the other settings. As long as the settings are the same for each lens it would be OK.

The first two sets are underexposed which is not really showing me what either lens is producing in terms of noise. Does that make sense?

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Yep, Mike. Polaris is correct. Screen resolution on my computer allows them to sit side by side. On my other computer the 70-200 is on top and the 100-400 is on the bottom.

That's what I assumed, but wanted to be sure. Could just be my laptop, but I can't see much difference. I detect just a tad more noise with the 100-400, but overall, they're all quite impressive.

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A couple of clarifications. I did not want to have either lens at either end of their range, hence I chose some middle ground where both lenses could reach. I attempted to have each lens as close to 150 mm as I could muster.

Yep, the first two are underexposed. The f/5.6 is understandable because that's as low at the 100-400 will go near that range. The 1/125th was an attempt to show a consistent SS that might be usable in a gym to take at least some standing shots. I would be happy to post properly exposed comparable shots at 1/40th of a second or so if you'd like to see them.

In all honesty, whether it is a surprise or not, what my initial conclusion is, is that they are amazingly close at these settings. The 2.8 would certainly be an advantage when shooting in the gym, but that's not what my comparison was meant to be about. More so, did the lens make a difference as to noise at high ISO's.

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ISO 3200 f/5.6 1/40 again, the 70-200 on the left or on top

28-3200-56-40a.jpg56-3200-56-40a.jpg

Overall, these are the shots I took:

With the 70-200 2.8, Av priority at 2.8, 5.6 and 8.0, at ISO's 800, 1600, 3200, 6400 and 12800; then on manual f/5.6 and shutter speeds of 1/40, 1/80, 1/100, 1/125, 1/200, 1/250, 1/320 and 1/500 at each of the same ISO's, 800 through 12800

With the 100-400 4.5/5/6, Av priority at 5.6 and 8.0, same ISO's and the same manual settings through the ISO's.

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Thanks Ken. I might, and boy its close but I might give a slight advantage to the 100-400. But in all honesty that becomes pixel peeping! It looks like slightly more saturation and contrast in the 100-400 shot which may be masking ever so slightly any noise. That may likely be a characteristic of the lens.

But really look at these results at 3200 ISO. I so no reason not to be impressed no matter which lens is used! I've got around 2,000 shots on mine now but just about all of it is outside shooting. I just haven't had a chance to bring it indoors for a good workout.

I've found the AI Servo tracking on objects moving at me to be very good which was a major performance question I needed answered. It's better than either the 20D or 30D. Not Mark II good but very acceptable with a low throw away ratio.

I still think you've shown just how clean this camera can be. Thanks Ken for your work. I hope to post some high ISO shots in the near future, I'm just too swamped at the moment fulfilling contract work!

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thanks, Dan. I started taking shots today with good intentions, and soon realized just how much info there was to be had. You could write a book with all the comparisons possible. Bottom line, the 50D is an amazingly noiseless camera if you can expose properly.

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I agree, you can spend way too much time looking at pixels! I'm with you I've not seen this clean of high ISO's on a properly exposed photo with a Canon sensor. I at this point consider the camera a keeper and money well spent on an upgrade. I can't wait to really see what it will do this winter in our local dungeons!

Any err99's? I've still not had one. I understand we will see a firmware update possibly by the end of the week or next week.

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Dan,

Had one err99 yesterday that turned out to be a battery issue. Got the message, turned off the camera, detached the lens and fired up again. Same err99. The battery signal was blinking so changed the battery and message left with no further problems. By the way, that was the first battery change after I got the camera with about 1000 shots. Lots of chimping in there as well.

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Great stuff, Ken. Thanks for going through those motions. I also hadn't seen any side-by-side comparisons of those lenses on similar subjects, and was re-impressed with how good the 100-400 can be. smilesmile

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Noise is the specks that show up in a photo when it is underexposed. The more noise, the less sharp the photo. Noise can get bad enough that sometimes it will show up in lines or "bands". In the film days, the same effect was called grain. An underexposed photo or sometimes a high ASA film would be called "grainy".

The early digital cameras could seldom be used above 400 ISO because the image quality would be so noisy the pictures would be unusable. As digital technology has advanced, the ability of sensors to pick up light has improved along with making the images much cleaner. The last couple of generations have made big strides. Nikon's latest, and now Canon's latest have been the best yet.

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