Yesterday, I was at Reifel, busy minding my own business and whenever there was a photographer, “Hi” and I moved along.

Then this guy accosted me from behind, asking me about my setup. He also had a Canon 7D but with a Canon 100-400L while I had my Sigma 120-400. I don’t remember how the conversation went but he ended up saying that Canon really screwed-up. The best ISO is 160 then 320… and not 200 or 100 blah, blah… I should set mine blah, blah…

Never heard about it. So decided to look into it. There may be something to it. From my research, this was started on Marvel’s film blog at: http://marvelsfilm.wordpress.com/2009/10/10/canon-7d-noise-and-iso-test/. Take a look at the images of the noise. They claim that the lowest noise is at ISO 160.

Vincent Laforet, as part of creativeLIVE, recently came to same conclusion with the Canon 5DMk2.

So what to do?

  • Switch to ISO 160 and multiples like 320, 480, 640, 800…?
  • Stop pixel peeping?
  • Process the photos with a “reasonable” software that will take care of these problems?

I don’t think that I will do anything about it.

  1. I haven’t done any “scientific” test, but I’ve tried the ISO 160 and ISO 320 and can’t see the difference.
  2. This was started by Marvel’s film blog. The keyword is film. Does the combination of the sensor/CPU behaves in the same way in video mode as in the standard mode? I don’t know. Nobody has proved it either way.
  3. Like I said in previous posts, I’ve stopped pixel peeping. I usually view the photos in Lightroom at 1:2 and only use the 1:1 to check the focus.
  4. Lightroom does a very good job of reducing the noise.

The secret to having good photos at high ISO is nailing the right exposure. That’s why you can have photos at ISO 3200 with less noise than underexposed photos at ISO 400.


It’s Monday morning and I see at least a dozen posts on the Canon’s base ISO. Although the posting was done on 28-Mar-2011, I wrote it a week ago on 21-Mar-2011.