One verdict is in on Canon's EOS 5D Mark II: its sensor ranks very high on DxO Labs' test of sensor performance.
The black-spot issue notwithstanding, Canon's new full-frame SLR came in at fourth place with a score of 79.0, bumping Sony's 78.9-scoring Alpha A900 down a peg but still trailing Canon's top-end EOS-1Ds Mark III at 80.3. Nikon's D700, the closest rival to the 5D Mark II, is a notch ahead at 80.5.
More relevant for the potential upgrade market, new Canon SLR's score is significantly better from that of its predecessor, the 5D, whose score is 70.9. On a pixel-by-pixel basis, the 12.8-megapixel 5D's sensor actually has a lower signal-to-noise ratio, but when measured over an entire 8x10 print, the 5D Mark II's higher 21.1-megapixel resolution wins on that measurement.
The DxOMark Sensor test measures how well a camera's sensor fares when it comes to dynamic range, color depth, and low-light performance. The test doesn't measure any number of other camera issues such as autofocus, value, or image processing. But it's still useful given DxO Labs' engineering rigor and the central role a sensor plays in the abilities of a camera.
Pixel-peepers have been devouring DxO's new statistics; the curious can try this link to a comparison of the 5D Mark II, Nikon D700, and Sony A900. However, it should be noted, DxO Labs considers that scores must be at least of 5 points apart to be significant.
There's been much discussion about whether the $2,700 5D Mark II performs better than the $6,500 1Ds Mark III, which has the same resolution. The DxOMark tests give the edge to the top-end model based on its better color and dynamic range--the ability to capture both bright and dark regions--but the 5D Mark II wins out in low-light performance. Digging deeper into the charts, though, the 5D Mark II fares better in dynamic range at higher ISOs.
All these cameras perform better than the common herd by virtue of full-frame sensors measuring 36x24mm, the size of a full frame of 35mm film. Most digital SLRs have a smaller sensor that can't capture as much information overall, but those models are vastly more affordable. … Read more