Canon 5D Mark IV -- Image Quality Comparisons

The high-end enthusiast and professional camera market continues to see advances in image quality as successive models arrive year after year, and we thought it would be interesting to go ahead and post some side-by-sides for you from our Still Life test target of the 5D Mark IV as compared to its popular predecessor, the 5D Mark III, as well as to some current high-end competing full-frame models from Nikon, Pentax and Sony in the D810, K-1 and A7R II.

It's interesting to note that four of five of these heavyweight models sport dramatically different sensor resolutions, and as a result it's sometimes difficult to gauge noise levels when viewing at different apparent 1:1 sizes. For this reason in the ISO 6400 comparisons we've shown them first "as-is" at 100%, and then also with the higher resolution model down-sampled in order to show them at a similar apparent size to make them easier to compare. First let's take a quick look at the competitors.

Full Frame DSLR Competition
Model
Resolution
Native ISO Range
Date Released
Current Price
Canon 5D Mark III
22.3MP
100-25,600
March 2012
US$2600
Canon 5D Mark IV
30.4MP
100-32,000
September 2016
US$3500
Nikon D810
36.3MP
64-12,800
July 2014
US$2800
Pentax K-1
36.4MP
100-204,800
April 2016
US$1800
Sony A7R II
42.4MP
100-25,600
August 2015
US$3200

[Editor's note: all crops are from in-camera JPEGs with default settings and displayed 1:1 unless otherwise noted. Clicking any image will take you to the full lab test image at full resolution. You may also access the RAW file for most of these from that camera's lab samples page.]

Canon 5D Mark IV at base ISO
Canon 5D Mark III at base ISO

The 5D Mark III image here at base ISO looks quite good, and yet the 8MP boost in resolution of the 5D Mark IV is clearly an advantage for overall image quality at least at the native base ISO of 100. The 5D Mark IV resolves more fine detail while applying similar if not slightly lower default sharpening. While noise is very low from both cameras here at base ISO, luminance noise appears a little higher from the 5D IV in flatter areas. Overall color from both cameras is very good as we've come to expect from Canon, however the 5D IV renders orange with less of a shift to yellow than the 5D III.

 

Canon 5D Mark IV at base ISO
Nikon D810 at base ISO

The jump in resolution to 36MP is a big benefit to base ISO image quality for the Nikon D810, as there's simply far more detail and clarity apparent in the D810 crop as compared to the 5D IV. Keep in mind the D810 does not have an AA filter while the 5D Mark IV does (although it looks to be a weak one), which accounts for at least some of the D810's extra sharpness (Nikon's default sharpening is also more effective). Noise levels appear to be slightly higher from the D810, though, despite its lower base ISO of 64, while colors in general are more accurate from the Canon.

 

Canon 5D Mark IV at base ISO
Pentax K-1 at base ISO

With the same resolution as the D810, the Pentax K-1 is also able to wrest more detail from our test target here at base ISO and with default in-camera JPEG settings. The difference is not quite as pronounced as with the D810 comparison, though, due to less aggressive default sharpening and contrast than both the 5D IV and D810. And like the D810, the K-1 exhibits slightly higher noise levels than the 5D IV at default settings. Again, it's the Canon that produces more accurate colors.

 

Canon 5D Mark IV at base ISO
Sony A7R II at base ISO

And for the megapixel beast of the bunch, the Sony A7R II certainly extracts noticeably more detail with its 42MP sensor. The image is also more crisp than the 5D IV's, though not as crisp as the D810's overall. However Sony's default sharpening is much more refined with hardly any sharpening halos compared to both the 5D IV and D810. Again, the 5D IV shows lower noise levels than its higher resolution rival here, and produces more accurate colors.

Fortunately for the 5D Mark IV, its base ISO performance excels that of the eminently popular 5D Mark III, but at least with default in-camera processing it's not able to match stride for fine detail with the rest of the current full-frame high-end competition here, even though it's priced higher than all of them. It is better with overall color accuracy.

Canon 5D Mark IV - Image Quality as ISO rises

ISO 6400 is a useful setting at which to gauge IQ differences among these competing high-end, full frame cameras. It's high enough that each model in the group begins to show some strain from noise and anti-noise processing, but isn't into the ridiculously high settings that frankly most photographers seldom use for critical shooting applications. We're displaying the 1:1 images side-by-side, with the apparent size difference due to the difference in resolution, and then also displaying them with the higher resolution models down-sampled in order to give a gauge of normalized image quality using Photoshop Bicubic Automatic. No additional sharpening was applied after downsampling. Initial analysis is written below the resized comparisons.

Canon 5D Mark IV at ISO 6400
Canon 5D Mark III at ISO 6400
Canon 5D Mark IV at ISO 6400 (resized)
Canon 5D Mark III at ISO 6400

Overall sharpness and clarity are roughly the same between these two models, but with higher contrast from the new model. However, the 5D Mark IV is able to render this detail while offering up less noise, especially as seen in the shadows behind the bottles.

 

Canon 5D Mark IV at ISO 6400
Nikon D810 at ISO 6400
Canon 5D Mark IV at ISO 6400
Nikon D810 at ISO 6400 (resized)

The D810 clearly shows more noise in this crop (both luminance and chrominance) even after downsampling, as seen in the bottle and shadows. However it continues to render far more detail in virtually all areas of the crop than the 5D IV, which looks quite soft in comparison and smudges out some of the detail found in the bottle and the scene on the label.

 

Canon 5D Mark IV at ISO 6400
Pentax K-1 at ISO 6400
Canon 5D Mark IV at ISO 6400
Pentax K-1 at ISO 6400

The K-1 is also still able to extract more fine detail from this image than the 5D IV here at ISO 6400, but luminance noise is much higher even when downsampled, giving the Pentax image a very grainy look in comparison.

 

Canon 5D Mark IV at ISO 6400
Sony A7R II at ISO 6400
Canon 5D Mark IV at ISO 6400
Sony A7R II at ISO 6400

Similar to the K-1 above, the Sony A7R II also pulls more fine detail and clarity from the above crop at ISO 6400, but the noise in the shadow areas is a bit splotchy and unnatural. There's also a noticeable loss of definition along the edge of the bottle's neck, more so than from the 5D IV.

As with the comparisons at base ISO, the Canon 5D Mark IV excels its predecessor 5D Mark III for overall image quality at ISO 6400, and bests the competition for overall noise levels. However, it is unable to render as much in the way of detail, clarity or image sharpness, with aggressive default anti-noise processing robbing the image of a great deal of the fine detail in our test target. But keep in mind these are default in-camera JPEGs and your own personal experience with processing from RAW files or using different in-camera settings should help in this regard.

Below is our standard comparison against the Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 5DS R, Nikon D810, Pentax K-1 and Sony A7R II, as well as our print quality analysis.

NOTE: These images are from best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction and using the camera's actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). All cameras in this comparison were shot with our very sharp reference lenses. Clicking any crop will take you to a carrier page where you can click once again to access the full resolution image as delivered straight from the camera. For those interested in working with the RAW files involved, click these links to visit each camera's respective sample image thumbnail page: Canon 5D Mark IV, Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 5DS R, Nikon D810, Pentax K-1, and Sony A7R II -- links to the RAW files appear beneath those for the JPEG images, wherever we have them. And remember, you can always go to our world-renowned Comparometer to compare the Canon 5D IV to any camera we've ever tested!

Canon 5D Mark IV vs Canon 5D Mark III at Base ISO

100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon 5D Mark III test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon 5D Mark III test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon 5D Mark III test image taken at ISO 100
Canon 5D Mark IV at ISO 100
Canon 5D Mark III at ISO 100

As mentioned above, the 8-megapixel increase in resolution of the 5D Mark IV over its predecessor is quite evident at least here at the native base ISO of 100. The 5D Mark IV resolves more fine detail while applying similar if not slightly lower default sharpening. While noise is very low from both cameras here at base ISO, luminance noise appears a little higher from the 5D IV in flatter areas. Contrast is a bit lower from the 5D IV in our red-leaf fabric, but some of that is because the camera resolves more of the fine thread pattern than the Mark III, breaking the leaf pattern up. Furthermore there are also moiré patterns interfering with the leaf pattern from the Mark IV which the Mark III does not display. Overall color from both cameras is very good as we've come to expect from Canon, however the 5D IV renders orange with less of a shift to yellow than the 5D III, and overall saturation is a bit lower (more accurate) from the Mark IV.

Canon 5D Mark IV vs Canon 5DS R at Base ISO

100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon 5DS R test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon 5DS R test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon 5DS R test image taken at ISO 100
Canon 5D Mark IV at ISO 100
Canon 5DS R at ISO 100

Since the street price for the 5DS R is within a couple hundred dollars of the 5D Mark IV, we decided to include crops from it as well, though keep in mind performance and features aren't really comparable. As you can see, the 50.6-megapixel 5DS R easily outresolves the 30.4-megapixel 5D Mark IV here at base ISO as you'd expect, however noise levels are slightly higher as well. It'll be interesting to see how they compare at higher ISOs.

Canon 5D Mark IV vs Nikon D810 at Base ISO

100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Nikon D810 test image taken at ISO 64
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Nikon D810 test image taken at ISO 64
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Nikon D810 test image taken at ISO 64
Canon 5D Mark IV at ISO 100
Nikon D810 at ISO 64

The jump in resolution to 36 megapixels is a big benefit to base ISO image quality for the Nikon D810, as there's simply far more detail and clarity apparent in the D810 crop as compared to the 5D IV. Keep in mind the D810 does not have an AA filter while the 5D Mark IV does (although it looks to be a fairly weak one), which accounts for at least some of the D810's extra sharpness (Nikon's default sharpening is also more effective). Noise levels appear to be slightly higher from the D810, though, despite its lower base ISO of 64, while colors in general are more accurate from the Canon.

Canon 5D Mark IV vs Pentax K-1 at Base ISO

100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Pentax K-1 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Pentax K-1 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Pentax K-1 test image taken at ISO 100
Canon 5D Mark IV at ISO 100
Pentax K-1 at ISO 100

With the same resolution as the D810, the Pentax K-1 is also able to capture more detail from our test target here at base ISO and with default in-camera JPEG settings. The difference is not quite as pronounced as with the D810 comparison, though, due to less aggressive default sharpening and contrast than both the 5D IV and D810. And like the D810, the K-1 exhibits slightly higher noise levels than the 5D IV at default settings. Again, it's the Canon that produces more accurate colors.

Canon 5D Mark IV vs Sony A7R II at Base ISO

100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony A7R II test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony A7R II test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony A7R II test image taken at ISO 100
Canon 5D Mark IV at ISO 100
Sony A7R II at ISO 100

The 42-megapixel AA-filterless Sony A7R II certainly extracts noticeably more detail than the 5D Mark IV. The image is also more crisp than the 5D IV's, though not as crisp as the D810's overall. However Sony's default sharpening is much more refined -- at least at low ISOs -- with hardly any sharpening halos compared to both the 5D IV and D810. Again, the Canon 5D IV shows lower noise levels than its higher resolution rival here, and produces more accurate colors.

Canon 5D Mark IV vs Canon 5D Mark III at ISO 1600

100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon 5D Mark III test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon 5D Mark III test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon 5D Mark III test image taken at ISO 1600
Canon 5D Mark IV at ISO 1600
Canon 5D Mark III at ISO 1600

The Canon 5D Mark IV continues to resolve a bit more detail than its predecessor in most areas here at ISO 1600, but its stronger chroma noise reduction blurs away a lot of fine detail and contrast in our tricky red-leaf swatch. This is however a common trend with newer cameras often struggling more in this regard than older models because of more effective chroma noise suppression.

Canon 5D Mark IV vs Canon 5DS R at ISO 1600

100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon 5DS R test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon 5DS R test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon 5DS R test image taken at ISO 1600
Canon 5D Mark IV at ISO 1600
Canon 5DS R at ISO 1600

The 5DS R continues to resolve a lot more detail than the 5D IV at ISO 1600 in all areas, however luminance noise levels are much higher.

Canon 5D Mark IV vs Nikon D810 at ISO 1600

100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Nikon D810 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Nikon D810 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Nikon D810 test image taken at ISO 1600
Canon 5D Mark IV at ISO 1600
Nikon D810 at ISO 1600

The Nikon D810 also continues to resolve more detail than the 5D Mark IV at ISO 1600, but again, noise levels are noticeably higher. The D810 does a bit better in our tricky red-leaf swatch but is also blurring some of the detail way, in addition to strong moiré interfering with the red-leaf pattern.

Canon 5D Mark IV vs Pentax K-1 at ISO 1600

100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Pentax K-1 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Pentax K-1 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Pentax K-1 test image taken at ISO 1600
Canon 5D Mark IV at ISO 1600
Pentax K-1 at ISO 1600

The Pentax K-1 manages to resolve a bit more high-contrast detail than the 5D Mark IV here at ISO 1600, however it really struggles to reproduce most of the fine detail in the red-leaf swatch and also shows much higher noise levels.

Canon 5D Mark IV vs Sony A7R II at ISO 1600

100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony A7R II test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony A7R II test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony A7R II test image taken at ISO 1600
Canon 5D Mark IV at ISO 1600
Sony A7R II at ISO 1600

Here at ISO 1600, the Sony A7R II continues to easily out-resolve the Canon 5D Mark IV, however noise levels are definitely higher.

Canon 5D Mark IV vs Canon 5D Mark III at ISO 3200

100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon 5D Mark III test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon 5D Mark III test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon 5D Mark III test image taken at ISO 3200
Canon 5D Mark IV at ISO 3200
Canon 5D Mark III at ISO 3200

Similar to what we saw at ISO 1600, the 5D Mark IV resolves a touch more detail in areas with high contrast, but the Mark III does better in our troublesome red-leaf swatch. Noise levels are similar, however the Mark IV continues to produce slightly more accurate colors.

Canon 5D Mark IV vs Canon 5DS R at ISO 3200

100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon 5DS R test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon 5DS R test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon 5DS R test image taken at ISO 3200
Canon 5D Mark IV at ISO 3200
Canon 5DS R at ISO 3200

Much stronger noise from the 5DS R starts to reduce its resolution advantage over the 5D Mark IV here at ISO 3200, though it still resolves more detail in areas with higher contrast. The 5DS R however really struggles with our red-leaf swatch, though it does noticeably better with fine detail in the pink swatch.

Canon 5D Mark IV vs Nikon D810 at ISO 3200

100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Nikon D810 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Nikon D810 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Nikon D810 test image taken at ISO 3200
Canon 5D Mark IV at ISO 3200
Nikon D810 at ISO 3200

The Nikon D810 continues to capture more detail than the 5D Mark IV here at ISO 3200, however luminance noise remains higher as well.

Canon 5D Mark IV vs Pentax K-1 at ISO 3200

100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Pentax K-1 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Pentax K-1 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Pentax K-1 test image taken at ISO 3200
Canon 5D Mark IV at ISO 3200
Pentax K-1 at ISO 3200

It's a similar story here against the K-1 with the Pentax resolving a bit more high-contrast detail, but luminance noise is much higher in flatter areas, and pretty much all detail has been flatten out in the red-leaf fabric.

Canon 5D Mark IV vs Sony A7R II at ISO 3200

100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony A7R II test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony A7R II test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony A7R II test image taken at ISO 3200
Canon 5D Mark IV at ISO 3200
Sony A7R II at ISO 3200

The Sony image is much crisper and continues to contain more detail, however stronger noise and noise reduction artifacts give the Sony images a more processed looked in flatter areas.

Canon 5D Mark IV vs. Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 5DS R, Nikon D810, Pentax K-1, Sony A7R II

100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon 5D Mark III test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon 5DS R test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Nikon D810 test image taken at ISO 64100% crop from Pentax K-1 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony A7R II test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon 5D Mark III test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon 5DS R test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Nikon D810 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Pentax K-1 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony A7R II test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 5D Mark IV test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Canon 5D Mark III test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Canon 5DS R test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Nikon D810 test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Pentax K-1 test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Sony A7R II test image taken at ISO 6400
Canon
5D Mark IV
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Canon
5D Mark III
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Canon
5DS R
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Nikon
D810
ISO 64
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Pentax
K-1
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Sony
A7R II
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Detail comparison. High-contrast detail is also important, pushing the camera in different ways, so we like to look at it separately here. As you can see, the Canon 5D Mark IV does well against its peers in this regard, While some cameras like the Nikon D810 and Sony A7R II produce slightly higher contrast, the Canon 5D Mark IV holds up well as ISO sensitivity climbs, and captures finer details than it predecessor. Of course it's no surprise the 5DS R leads the pack in sheer resolution even though contrast isn't as high. Interestingly, the Pentax K-1 starts off behind the pack with lower contrast and the most false colors, and its image quality drops off more quickly than others as ISO rises.

 

Canon 5D Mark IV Print Quality Analysis

Excellent, high-resolution prints at 30 x 40 inches up to ISO 800; Solid print quality with sizable 11 x 14 inch prints at ISO 12,800; Usable 4 x 6 print up to ISO 51,200.

ISO 50/100/200 images all look fantastic and make excellent prints up to 30 x 40 inches and larger. The images in this range are all nearly identical, with sharp detail and vibrant color. 30 x 40 is the largest size we print for our testing, but the 30-megapixel full-frame sensor in the 5D IV could certainly work for larger prints; it just depends on how much you're willing to push its resolving power.

ISO 400 prints also do very nicely up to 30 x 40 inches. There's an ever-so-slight decrease in very fine detail compared to base ISO prints, but not nearly enough to negatively impact print sizes.

ISO 800 images show extremely minimal, if any, visible noise, but there's a subtle drop in detail in lower contrast areas, such as some of the fabrics in our test shot scene. However, the overall level of detail and minimal noise still lets us call the print size up to 30 x 40 inches, though 24 x 36 inch prints look fantastic.

ISO 1600 prints top out at an impressive 24 x 36 inches. Detail is great up to that size, and noise is extremely minimal with little to no visible graininess.

ISO 3200 images begin to show some visible background/shadow noise, but it's quite well controlled, making prints up to 20 x 30 inches more than acceptable.

ISO 6400 prints look great up to 13 x 19 inches. Shadow noise is more apparent now, and fine detail loss is more noticeable at larger print sizes.

ISO 12,800 images make for excellent prints up to 11 x 14, which is certainly an impressive feat at this ISO, as not many cameras can offer a usable print at such a size at this sensitivity. Any larger, however, and the loss in detail and stronger noise do become an issue.

ISO 25,600 prints begin to suffer from stronger noise and noticeable detail loss, making a 5 x 7 inch print the highest we're willing to accept. However, with careful post-processing, or for less critical applications, an 8 x 10 inch print could be acceptable at this sensitivity.

ISO 32,000 images look practically identical to ISO 25,600 images, and therefore print up 5 x 7 inches, as well.

ISO 51,200 prints are quite noisy and show a significant drop in detail, forcing us to call the maximum print size at 4 x 6 inches, though a 5 x 7 might be usable for less critical applications.

ISO 102,400 images are too noisy, with heavy luminance and chrominance noise, and an overall lack of fine detail for us to call any acceptable print size at this ISO.

With its higher-resolution sensor and updated image processor, the fourth-generation of Canon's popular 5D series of DSLRs makes a very solid showing in our print quality testing. From extended low ISO all the way to ISO 800, the Canon 5D Mark IV is capable of excellent, sharp prints up to 30 x 40 inches. As ISO sensitivity increases, the camera displayed very well-controlled noise characteristics, allowing for some impressively large prints, such as 13 x 19 inch prints at ISO 6400 and 11 x 14 at ISO 12,800. While the native ISO range of the 5D Mark IV stops at ISO 32,000, the camera still managed a usable 4 x 6 inch print at its first expanded ISO of 51,200; however, prints should be avoided at the maximum expanded setting of ISO 102,400.

About our print-quality testing: Our "Reference Printer"

Canon PRO-1000 Printer ImageTesting hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer, which we named our "Printer of the Year" in our 2015 COTY awards.

The Canon PRO-1000 has a lot of characteristics that make it a natural to use for our "reference printer." When it comes to judging how well a camera's photos print, resolution and precise rendering are paramount. The PRO-1000's more than 18,000 individual nozzles combine with an air feeding system that provides exceptional droplet-placement accuracy. Its 11-color LUCIA PRO ink system delivers a wide color gamut and dense blacks, giving us a true sense of the cameras' image quality. To best see fine details, we've always printed on glossy paper, so the PRO-1000's "Chroma Optimizer" overcoat that minimizes "bronzing" or gloss differential is important to us. (Prior to the PRO-1000, we've always used dye-based printers, in part to avoid the bronzing problems with pigment-based inks.) Finally, we just don't have time to deal with clogged inkjet heads, and the PRO-1000 does better in that respect than any printer we've ever used. If you don't run them every day or two, inkjet printers tend to clog. Canon's thermal-inkjet technology is inherently less clog-prone than other approaches, but the PRO-1000 takes this a step further, with sensors that monitor every inkjet nozzle. If one clogs, it will assign another to take over its duties. In exchange for a tiny amount of print speed, this lets you defer cleaning cycles, which translates into significant ink savings. In our normal workflow, we'll often crank out a hundred or more letter-size prints in a session, but then leave the printer to sit for anywhere from days to weeks before the next camera comes along. In over a year of use, we've never had to run a nozzle-cleaning cycle on our PRO-1000.

See our Canon PRO-1000 review for a full overview of the printer from the viewpoint of a fine-art photographer.

*Disclosure: Canon provided us with the PRO-1000 and a supply of ink to use in our testing, and we receive advertising consideration for including this mention when we talk about camera print quality. Our decision to use the PRO-1000 was driven by the printer itself, though, prior to any discussion with Canon on the topic. (We'd actually been using an old Pixma PRO 9500II dye-based printer for years previously, and paying for our own ink, until we decided that the PRO-1000 was the next-generation printer we'd been waiting for.)

 



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