I decided to start a new thread taking off from Jack's "mini review" because I'm on a specific tangent about noise performance. In Jack's thread, I raised a question, which I subsequently helped myself to answer about the impact of the HTP option on noise, and I ended-up agreeing with Canon's instructional manual that enabling it causes more noise than not enabling it.
Moving on from there, of course a performance characteristic one tests with a new camera is *noise*. I have read many of the reviews, including Michael's - and in the latter case seen results first hand, so I have every reason to believe that their observations about the camera's noise performance are correct based on their own work. The overwhelming view seems to be that noise performance is excellent in the range of ISO 100 to 800.
I'm only at the early stages of my testing work, but so far I am somewhat less enthusiastic, and this raises questions about (1) me and my expectations, (2) what I'm observing, and (3) whether what I'm observing is normal or abnormal. As this will be a compact evolving process, I thought it useful to start this thread now eventhough my work isn't nearly done, so I could solicit views about how I should consider the issue. I shall make images available one way or another once my work has reached the point where I'm ready to put some rigorous, systematic stuff up on the web for public viewing.
But until then, I need to say a few things in general about the three questions above. Re (1) based on what I've read, at settings in the range of 100~200 I should see no noise. I don't really expect noise to hit me in the face up to ISO 800, but from say about 600 upward I don't expect it to be totally silky-smooth either. In particular, I don't expect to see any noise in skies and skin tones at least to ISO 400. In dark tones upwards of 200 I expect a minor amount of noise no matter how good the camera. These expectations are rough translations of numbers to what I see based on what I've read before I started working with the camera myself. There is no better scientific basis for them, so don't ask. The issue here is whether my expectations are "in the ball park". As for me, I've been told I have a keen eye for small differences in colour and texture, so we'll leave that one at that, but could it mean I see more than I *should* (i.o.w. and unvarnished - amd I too much of a crank)?
Re (2), in the few tests I've managed over the past few days - haven't had that much time - I'm noticing slight granularity in blue skies and caucasian skin tones at ISO 400 and above, on the monitor at magnifications of 25%, 50% and 100%, both in the raws and in the rendered images after moderate sharpening in CR 4.3, with color noise reduction at the default 25% and luminance noise 0%. Noise Ninja is showing noise values in the 14~23% range for these images, much of it Luminosity noise.
Re (3) - that's the question - is what I'm getting "par for the course", or am I doing something wrong in my workflow relative to the needs of this camera, or is my camera somehow not working properly?
I know this is hard to discuss without seeing images, but as I say, I started this before I'm ready to post the evidence because I think there may be some experience out there which can respond to some of this without seeing test images. So it is a tentative discussion and it will evolve. I'd much appreciate any suggestions that will help clarify these issues and provide guidance for my on-going testing work, which I hope to complete by the end of the weekend.