Canon 90D: Image Noise

I picked up my 90D this fall, and so far I have had just a few opportunities to get out and start shooting with it. I am looking forward to getting the chance to use it even more in Yellowstone coming up.


The first thing I wanted to assess is what the noise is like on the 90D. Given that it is 32.5 megapixels on a cropped sensor, I had a feeling that I would not see much of an improvement in noise, compared to what I experienced with the Canon 7D Mark II.  Well my assumption was correct.  The noise performance falls behind that of what I experienced with the 7D Mark II.


This photo of a Great Gray Owl taken at ISO 6400 is quite noisy, however it’s not easy to see on the web version of the photo.  I have not done any noise reduction on the image, I took it from Lightroom, and performed a few small edits in Photoshop, and compressed to to 2400 pixels on the long end.  That being said, the noise is manageable in the post production, and you are able to make a cleaner, less noisy image with it.


I also had the chance to compare the 90D with the D500 to compare the ISO performance on the two cameras (using 70-200 f/2.8 lenses).  And I am sad to report that the noise performance on the 90D falls behind the Nikon D500.    When looking at the test images, the Canon is almost a full-stop behind the Nikon D500, so the noise at the Nikon at ISO 6400 is more comparable to ISO 3200 on the Canon 90D.  I attribute this partly to the more reasonable sensor size of the Nikon having only 20.8 megapixels.


The following are the images of the Canon 90D at various high ISOs and the sample of the D500 at ISO 6400.  These were all compressed to 2400 on the long end in photoshop using bicubic.

Canon 90D @ ISO 3200

Canon 90D @ ISO 6400

Canon 90D @ ISO 12800

Nikon D500 @ ISO 6400


Also, here are two comparisons of ISO 6400 between the D500 and 90D, with the images cropped to 2400 pixels (no other adjustment made to image size).

Canon 90D @ ISO 6400

Nikon D500 @ ISO 6400


As you can see, the Nikon is less noisy.


I am going to take more time to test it out while I am in Yellowstone, but so far, I am not noticing much improvement in ISO performance. Additionally, I want the opportunity to test out the autofocus and overall image quality of the camera.  But at this point I’m not sure if it will get a permanent spot in my camera kit.  I really think that having a cropped sensor with so many megapixels is really the downfall of this camera.  If I get the opportunity to get my hands on the 7D Mark II to compare it to the 90D, I will report on my findings.


If you are interested in more information on the 90D, please feel free to email me to discuss further.