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Long Exposure Noise with the Nikon D3x, D3, Canon 5D Mark II

This page covers long exposure noise with the Nikon D3x, D3 and Canon 5D Mark II.

A “long exposure” is one taking a few seconds or more. This report covers exposures of 30 seconds, except that ISO 12800 used 15 seconds, and ISO 25600 used 8 seconds.

As seen in Pushing the Blacks, the Nikon D3x and D3 have exceptionally low noise in very dark areas, and the Canon 5D Mark II has far more. There are different types of noise with different causes, but a camera with poor control of shadow noise is likely to show other symptoms.

Indeed, as we’ll see below, the 5D Mark II also is extremely prone to hot pixels, an unfortunate family characteristic carried over from the original 5D (“fairy dust”). Hot pixels are possible even at ISO 50 at shutter speeds of 1/8 second on the its big-brother Canon 1Ds Mark III (personal experience), so hot pixels apparently are a fact of life with the Canon sensor line.

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Nikon D3x, ISO 800, 30 seconds
The test scene

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