Hey there it’s Marlene Hielema and in this blog post I’m going to be comparing the ISO of a half frame mirrorless camera to a full frame dSLR.
I’m really fussy when it comes to sensor noise
I’m doing this comparison because I’ve recently switched to using a Panasonic Lumix GH3 mirrorless camera in my photography and video. And I’m a real stickler when it comes to sensor noise. You could say I’m intolerant of high noise. Some people don’t mind it, but I’m not a fan. Plus I got this comment on a previous video I made comparing the weight GH3 and the Canon 5d Mk2: “you cannot beat iso and image quality of ff.”
I’m not trying to prove anyone right or wrong
I just want to know this for myself and instead of relying on anecdotal evidence, I’d like to see it with my own eyes!
ISO tolerance test
One of the things I like to do when I get a new digital camera is an ISO tolerance test. What is that? I like to push the ISO up on the camera in 1 stop increments and find out at what point is the noise TOO much for my liking.
In this video I compare the sensor noise of the GH3 with the Canon 5D Mk2.
A lot of people think the smaller sensor cameras like the GH3 can’t hold up to the full frame sensor cameras. I’m going to do a live test with no practicing or cheating to see if that’s true. So I’m going to shoot the pictures at the same ISO and exposure settings and then compare on the computer.
I shot raw files in this test because I’m a raw shooter. With raw files you can do quick and easy noise reduction using LR, Photoshop or Elements Adobe camera raw controls, but sometimes I don’t like the look that produces. I do a quick demo in the video too.
Check out the photos
Here are the photos that I shot, and they are just the small portion I looked at in the video.
As expected the larger sensor has less noise, especially over 800 ISO. As I mentioned in the video, the highest ISO I’ll shoot on my 5D Mark 2 is 1600, and on my GH3 is 800, unless I really have to go higher. There would have to be extraordinary circumstances for that to happen. I shot the video at the top at 800 ISO and you can’t see any noise at all.
I can live with a small sensor and some noise at high ISO because:
- the Lumix is lighter by 2.2 pounds than the equivalent Canon 5D Mk2 and 24-70mm 2.8 lens combination
- the Lumix costs less
- the Lumix has really good auto focus video, which my Canon does not have
- and I’m really happy with the sharpness of the 12-35 f2.8 lens I got with the camera. (Did you notice how sharp it was?)
- and I really like the flip around LCD screen on the back
What about you? Are you ready to make the move to a smaller sensor camera?
Let us know in the comments.