Camera Tests – Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Sony, iPhone

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Camera Tests – Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Sony, iPhone

As photographers we are always trying to find the best cameras to do the job that we want to do. It is easy to be lured by the temptation of a shiny new toy and it can be hard to work your way through the minefield of information and review that the manufacturers advertise. So recently I got together with a friend and we pooled the cameras we use for both work and play and put together a test…

We were specifically looking at high ISO performance. This is because for weddings you may be working in quite a dark church or ceremony venue without being able to, or wanting to use, flash. On camera flash is quite harsh and unflattering as well as being quite a distraction during the wedding ceremony so this particular element of camera performance is important for what we do. If you primarily photograph landscapes on sunny days then it may not be as relevant 🙂

We took 6 cameras ( or 5 cameras and a phone !) and put them to work….

We use tape to mark the studio floor for the camera position and also to line up the focal plane marker on the camera (if it was present). The cameras were set to 50mm for full frame or the equivalent for the cropped sensors. Apart from the iPhone they were all set to manual, we metered the light hitting the wine bottle and set the cameras to ISO3200 1/200 f5.6.

The images were downloaded to Adobe Lightroom, the camera calibration profile was set to Adobe Standard for all of them and no other adjustments were made. I then cropped the images to show the label on the wine bottle…..

This is the full scene:

Whole Scene


and these are the results (the camera names are under the photos):

Canon 5d Mk2

Canon 5dMk2


Canon 5d Mk3

Canon 5dMk3



iPhone 5


Nikon D800

Nikon D800


Olympus OMD EM-5

Olympus OMD-EM5


Sony RX100Sony RX-100


A few things stood out from this :

1. All the cameras tested performed quite well at this level; far better than the earlier digital cameras did.

2. You can see a difference between a camera that costs £400 Р£500 (Sony RX100) and one that costs about £2,400 (Canon, Nikon). As you spend more money the image quality improves.

3. There are definite colour differences between camera sensors. This is quite noticeable between the 5dMk2 and the 5dMk3. This is something I had already found when editing images taken in sequence on both cameras, it can take time to get the colour to match especially in mixed lighting conditions (the type normally found in a church !)

4. The one camera that stood out for me was the Nikon D800 – lovely colour straight from camera and lovely quality 🙂

One thing that is vitally important is correct exposure. If you start having to correct exposure the image quality goes down hill rapidly (I will be posting some tests of this in the next few weeks). An iPhone is a fun thing to use and you always have it with you but if you want to print those large images in gorgeous albums then it really does pay to use a decent camera to start with ! The Olympus OMD-EM5 is quite close in quality to the Canon 5dMk2…. it would be interesting to test one of the new EM1 cameras to see if the image quality has improved further and I’m sure that in a well lit environment it would be difficult to see such a difference between the cameras. The Canon 5dMk3 and Nikon D800 are very similar in noise levels.

I think the next few years are going to be quite interesting in camera development. With the improvements in sensor technology the arguments for a full frame size sensor are not as strong as they were a few years ago. Having a large sensor also means that you need large pieces of glass to go in front of it and this keeps the weight of the wide aperture lenses (and the cost !) quite high. As I have been saying for the last few years if you were designing a digital camera from scratch why would you bother with a complicated mirror/prism mechanism ?? I do think their days are numbered….. The flip side to this is the money that everyone has invested in lenses and accessories; if you change camera brand/system then you have to buy everything from scratch and when you have tens of thousands of pounds invested in kit this isn’t a decision to be taken lightly.

Anyway, I hope this has been interesting to see how these cameras perform in the “real” world used by ordinary photographers.



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