Raw File Test: Canon 5D Mk II vs 7D vs Nikon D5100

Not long ago, we did a quick high ISO test of the Canon 5D Mk II, 7D, and Nikon D5100. We decided to revisit the test and perform another non-scientific comparison. This time though, we rated the high ISO value and the dynamic range of each camera.

So how did they do?

Gear Used

Nikon D5100

Canon 7D

Canon 5D Mk II

Canon 24-105mm F4 L IS

Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 G ED AF-S


All cameras shot approximately the same scene, had the same exposure levels and all shot at ISO 6400. The files were then brought into Lightroom 3 and had lens corrections done. For the high ISO test, the files were exported as is but resized to 2MB for the web. For the dynamic range test, each camera’s file was pushed hard to see what results could come.

All images were shot with the same metering method and same exposure values.

High ISO Test

Nikon D5100 high iso test

Canon 5D Mk II high iso test

Canon 7D high iso test

As we saw in the previous test, the Nikon D5100’s sensor absorbs more light at a given exposure level than Canon’s sensors. The Canon 5D Mk II still looks to be the best in my eyes with the D5100 and 7D being very similar in performance.

Dynamic Range Test

Nikon D5100 dynamic range test

Canon 5D Mk II dynamic range test

Canon 7D dynamic range test

All images had the recovery and fill light sliders tweaked as well as sharpness, clarity and noise levels tweaked. To my amazement, I actually disliked the 5D Mk II’s noise output the most. That’s a first for any camera on this site. The color noise would require me to go in and work with color levels.

With that said though, the 5D Mk II I feel captured lots more detail, though it required the files to be pushed more in order to equalize the histograms.

Overall though, I’m not quite what to think of this one. The D5100 had captured lots of detail in the shadows, but the 5D Mk II captured more details in the shadows.

This was just a quick test, so take it with a grain of salt. However, it does help to demonstrate how far the technology has come.

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Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.