Think snap shot. Think completely auto exposure. Not 3200 ISO, not 6400 ISO, but 12,800 ISO. Here’s what I would expect:
First, this shot is a problematic one for an auto exposure. It is 100% back lit and as a result, most cameras are fooled into believing that the brighter light is the primary exposure, so the face (the only truly important element in this photo) would be underexposed. But without any forethought or exposure compensation, the Canon Mark IV nailed the exposure. The face was exposed perfectly and the highlight on the side of the face didn’t even blow out, and this was a JPG, not a RAW. I would anticipate even more latitude from a RAW shot. My first auto exposure expereince with the camera was a very good one. The camera made all the right decisions and maintained information in every important highlight and every important shadow. We’ll see how it performs over time, but this was a problematic situation and it got it right.
Furthermore, I would like to point out that at ISO 12800, I was able to shoot an indoor photo with a small 40 watt lamp as a back light with no other lighting and get a nice little snap shot. 1/80 sec shutter speed (fast enough for a 50mm lens) and f2.5. Any other camera in my bag can’t get that done at those settings.
Second, at an extreamly high ISO, bulky grain structures that would soften the photograph and disrupt the thin lines of an eye-lash or other fine details. Thus making a sharp focus look soft. But the Canon Mark IV has a pretty fine grain structure at 12,800 ISO. Notice in the detail below, the eyelashes are indeed sharp and do not look fuzzy like they might on a 5D Mark II at 6400 ISO. This is due to what appears to be a much finer grain structure, which describes these fine details far more accurately.
I would also expect major color noise. In fact, my 5D Mark II at 6400 ISO is always turned to balck and white. They look nice, but color is problematic. In fact, as you can see, I initially turned the photo to black and white to avoid color noise. But again, I was pleasantly surprised at the lack of color noise. You will recall yesterday’s post, I was impressed with the color noise of the lower ISO settings. Now I am really impressed. Using the default color noise suppression settings in Lightroom of 25, I got absolutely no color noise at 12800 ISO. This means that I can use this camera at every ISO setting in color or black and white.
I have to admit, I am thrilled so far with the camera. The lack of color noise and the fine grain structure at even the very highest ISO settings is just short of miraculous. I’ll be tracking a bunch of moving children with auto focus tomorrow. We’ll see how it reacts to that rigorous test. For that matter, we’ll see how I react to that rigorous test…