NP101: Long Exposure Noise Performance of the Canon 6D

I love capturing beautiful nightscape photography, and I’m always happy to share what I know and what I learn. I’m keen to inspire others to head outside and look up at the sky, and to photograph the sky.

So I’ve started a series of posts with the theme ‘Nightscape Photography 101‘ – sharing tips and tricks to help you take better nightscape photos.

In this seventh article in the series, I’m going to share some results from a long-exposure night test of the Canon 6D.

Whenever Canon or Nikon bring out a new camera, for nightscapes photographers, the question is always – What’s it like at night?

Which means, what’s the low-light sensitivity like? What’s the High ISO performance like? What’s the noise like after long exposures?

What's the long exposure noise performance like in the Canon 6D?

What’s the long exposure noise performance like in the Canon 6D?

I’m not trying to answer all of those questions at once with this post, but hopefully I can answer one of them for you – What’s the noise like after long exposures?

At the IISAC2013 star party, I captured a 30 minute exposure with the Canon 6D, and for those interested, I’ve uploaded the full-frame unedited shot (just saved as 100% quality jpeg) as well as a 100% crop.

Settings

  • Camera: Canon 6D
  • Lens: Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens
  • Focal Length: 70mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/5.6
  • ISO: 640
  • Exposure time: 30 minutes
  • In-Camera Noise Reduction: OFF
  • High ISO Noise Reduction: OFF
  • Dark frame subtraction: NONE
  • Ambient temperature: Approx 16° C

Click the image to download the full-res jpeg (11mb).

Unedited 30 minute exposure. Click to download full res jpeg. (11mb)

Unedited 30 minute exposure. Click to download full res jpeg. (11mb)

I’ve also attached a 100% crop of part of the image.

100% crop of a 30 minute exposure

100% crop of a 30 minute exposure. Click image for larger.

I’ll let you make your own judgement, but I was very impressed with the lack of noise in the image. If I’d tried a 30 minute exposure with my Canon 20D or 40D, it would’ve been filled with noise, hotpixels, and amp glow.

Even though some noise is present after a 30 minute exposure, it cleans up very nicely using a good noise reduction plugin. Personally, I use Topaz De-Noise for Photoshop. Some hot pixels still remain, but in most cases you can clone them out if they bother you.

Below is the final image after processing. I should’ve cloned out the hot pixels in the foreground! 🙂

Thanks for looking. Comments are welcome, and if you’d like any other tests with the Canon 6D, please just get in touch or comment below.

I hope this post about Long Exposure Noise Performance of the Canon 6D helps you decide whether you’ll purchase a 6D or how you’ll use it! In the coming posts, we’ll talk about everything you ever wanted to know about nightscapes, including:

  • capture techniques for the different types of nightscapes
  • processing tips and tricks
  • focusing at night
  • noise reduction techniques
  • my thoughts about what makes a good nightscape photographer

and much more.

Please feel free to ask questions in the comments section below. Let me know your challenges and frustrations and questions about nightscape photography, and I’ll add them to the list of topics I’ll cover!

Make sure you don’t miss any posts in this Nightscape Photography 101 series!

I hope you will enjoy this series and your feedback and comments will always be welcome. Please share with your friends too!

 

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