Canon 7D vs Nikon D300s ISO Test

by on October 27, 2009

in Canon

A couple of years ago, after Canon announced the 40D, Nikon dropped a bomb with the D300 and D3 combo.  I remember the cover of Popular Photography read in bold print “Nikon Strikes Back.”  That was a very fitting description in the face of what many thought was a rather mild upgrade to the Canon 30D, which was in turn a mild upgrade to the 20D.   A year later, Canon failed to really “wow” us with the 50D; however, I found the 50D to be an excellent performer.

Fast forward to Summer 2009 and the stage is set for both Nikon and Canon to take another turn at “wowing” us.  The D300s is mostly a rehash of the D300, along with video capture.  Canon, however, stepped out with the feature-packed 7D, which also featured video, but added a spec-list that made it look like a 5D Mark II Jr.

Since the introduction of the D300 was Nikon’s turn to “Strike Back,” will the Canon 7D, in response to the D300s, be “Return of the Jedi Canon”?  Keep on reading this first round of comparisons, which takes a side-by-side look at the ISO performance of these two prosumer cameras.

About the Cameras

If you aren’t familiar with the specifications of these two cameras, let’s take a very brief look at some of the key features of the 7D and D300s.

The cameras are close in price, with the 7D retailing at $1700 and the D300s retailing at $1800.  Looking at max resolution though, the 7D offers 18-megapixels, while the D300s features 12.3-megapixels.  Both are CMOS sensors.  Nikon has been using this sensor (or a version of it) for several different cameras now.  Both cameras offer a high speed frame rate, with the 7D at 8 fps and the D300s at 7 fps.

The 7D offers native sensitivity settings of ISO 100-6400 and is expandable to ISO 12800 equivalent.  The D300s offers native settings of ISO 200-3200 and has both low and high expansions to cover the equivalent of ISO 100 and ISO 6400.

Testing Details

All images were captured in Large/Fine JPEG format.

Long exposure noise reduction was turned OFF.

High ISO noise reduction was set to Standard/Normal.

On the 7D, Highlight tone priority was disabled and Auto Lighting Optimizer was set to Standard.  On the D300s, Active D-Lighting was set to Normal.

Picture Style/Control was set to Standard.

Lenses used were the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 and Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.4G.

Custom white balance was set using the Expodisc white balance tool.

All images were shot at f/8 and the following shutter speeds at the respective ISOs:

  • ISO 100 @ 13s
  • ISO 200 @ 6s
  • ISO 400 @ 3.2s (3s on the D300s due to setting limitations)
  • ISO 800 @ 1.6s
  • ISO 1600 @ .6s (.625s on the D300s)
  • ISO 3200 @ .4s
  • ISO 6400 @ 1/6s
  • ISO 12800 @ 1/10s (D300s shot at ISO 6400, then pushed +1EV in post-processing)

Sample Images

Here is the complete image shown at ISO 200.  Below are 100% crop samples taken from the focus point of each image.  No post processing was performed on any of these images other than the crops shown below.

You may download samples of each image for personal inspection by clicking on the links below each sample (right-click and choose “Save as…”).  Do not republish the images on the Internet or elsewhere without express written permission, which may be obtained by email.

Nikon D300s vs. Canon 7D ISO 100

Nikon D300s ISO 100 Sample

Canon 7D ISO 100 Sample

Nikon D300s vs. Canon 7D ISO 200

Nikon D300s ISO 200 Sample

Canon 7D ISO 200 Sample

Nikon D300s vs. Canon 7D ISO 400

Nikon D300s ISO 400 Sample

Canon 7D ISO 400 Sample

Nikon D300s vs. Canon 7D ISO 800

Nikon D300s ISO 800 Sample

Canon 7D ISO 800 Sample

Nikon D300s vs. Canon 7D ISO 1600

Nikon D300s ISO 1600 Sample

Canon 7D ISO 1600 Sample

Nikon D300s vs. Canon 7D ISO 3200

Nikon D300s ISO 3200 Sample

Canon 7D ISO 3200 Sample

Nikon D300s vs. Canon 7D ISO 6400

Nikon D300s ISO 6400 Sample

Canon 7D ISO 6400 Sample

Nikon D300s vs. Canon 7D ISO 12800

Nikon D300s ISO 6400 (underexposed) Sample

Canon 7D ISO 12800 Sample


Due to a question and claim about the RAW file noise control in the comments, I have included a screen shot of the 7D and D300s RAW images at ISO 6400.  The 7D file is on the left and the D300s file is on the right.  Both were captured alongside the above JPEG files and in 14-bit RAW (click the image to see the larger, 100% crop version):


This test has been updated in a second round comparison – this time without any noise reduction.  The updated results can be found here.


I was really surprised when I looked at some of these images at higher ISOs on the computer monitor.  I think the Canon 7D really starts to set itself apart at ISO 1600 and above.  It looks like Nikon’s noise reduction may be a little to aggressive.  ISO 6400 was so bad compared to the Canon 7D that I actually went back and re-shot is several more times; however, the D300s just didn’t get any better at ISO 6400.

I’m really amazed at how good plain old JPEG images look like at ISO 6400 and 12800 from the Canon 7D.  While there’s a lot more to a camera aside from high ISO performance, the Canon 7D is looking pretty sharp at this point.

I’ll be taking a closer look at the Canon 7D’s remaining features and performance soon.  Look for more soon.  Additional updates will be published on Photography Bay’s Canon 7D Reviews and Resources.  Likewise, you can can find more D300s info on the Nikon D300s Reviews and Resources.

The Nikon D300s and Canon 7D are both available from B&H Photo.  You can order these cameras or search for other photo gear by using the following links:

Nikon D300s at B&H Photo

Canon 7D at B&H Photo

By making your photography purchases at B&H Photo through these links, you are helping Photography Bay to continue bring quality camera tests, news and reviews.  Thanks for your continued support.




1 Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 11:35 am

Wow, your studio lighting for this test is terrible. In addition, it looks more out of focus, or like a dirty lens on the D300s.

2 Eric October 27, 2009 at 11:41 am

@Anonymous – No studio lighting. Just a single overhead tungsten ceiling light. Sorry to disappoint, but the D300s was not out of focus and the lens was not dirty.

3 dusanmal October 27, 2009 at 12:04 pm

@Anonymous the whole point of testing high ISO/noise requires poor lighting.

Quick observations from materials and processing point of view:

-Nikon has problem with sensor material quality: blotchy patches of noise at high ISO. I wonder if they test sensors and put better ones into more expensive cameras? Test D300 vs. D700? (Much less of this in Canon images)

-Canon has problem with data transfer from the sensor: visible particularly at the highest ISO – look for “streaks” of noise as opposed to points and blotches. (Notice lack of such streaks in much noisier Nikon images – Nikon is doing that part better).

4 ossme October 27, 2009 at 12:09 pm

prepare to be flamed! :P

seriously though, I own a 7d and until this post I thought that the D300s is better than the 7d because of the sensor size and density. I wonder how the 1d mark IV will be compared to the D3.

I would say that any body who buys a D300s still won’t regret it. It is basically a mini D3.

5 Eric October 27, 2009 at 12:18 pm

@ossme – It always happens with these ISO comparisons.

I agree with your sentiments regarding the D300s. I don’t think there’s any reason to shy away from the camera. It’s still a heckuva performer. I wouldn’t hesitate to shoot just about anything with it. It has plenty of resolution and noise can be contained pretty well from RAW files. Anyone with a bag full of Nikon lenses would be well-served by this camera. Remember, we’re looking at unprocessed JPEG files at 100%…

6 Sean Phillips October 27, 2009 at 12:20 pm

The good news is that both cameras appear to produce very usable images at ISO 3200, and the 7D even extends that to 6400. I tend to agree with @Anonymous that the D300s images seem to be out of focus. If that’s really not the case then the 7D produces much sharper images at all ISO settings.

7 Photoguy October 27, 2009 at 12:26 pm

This was a great test! It shows Canon really did their homework before going to a higher megapixel APS-C sensor. Now i’ll just sit back and watch all the nikon fan boys make up lighting excuses. :D

8 aaron October 27, 2009 at 1:08 pm

Haha, i love it.. Despite the proof that canon did a better job with noise some people just can’t accept it.. I remember just a few weeks ago people saying “Ohh canon is on a megapixel war, and the noise is gonna be reaaaaly crappy compared to my Nikon (fill in the blank)”

I for one am glad that canon did some obvious work on iso quality something they’ve been a bit behind on from time to time.

9 neonyme October 27, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Active D-Lighting should have been disabled on the Nikon before doing these tests, its effect is very apparent on these images at all ISO settings (less contrast). This feature amplifies the noise when the camera is processing high ISO images.

10 Photoguy October 27, 2009 at 3:12 pm

@neonyme – Thats the same as “Auto Lighting Optimizer was set to Standard” on the Canon. Seems they were both shooting on equal footing.

11 Sean Phillips October 27, 2009 at 6:47 pm

@neonyme IMHO turning off Active D Lighting would invalidate the test, because people really use the camera with it turned on. So if extra noise is created then that’s a problem with the the way Active D Lighting works, not with the test.

12 Mozzie71 October 27, 2009 at 10:06 pm

Wow.. great test. Thank you. Will save those pennies for the 7D… Currently using the 400 and not happy with it.. Good to see Canon have ramped up their game.

13 Micah October 28, 2009 at 2:33 am

First off, thank you for no making the mistake you’ve made in past ISO comparisons–you’ve used the same -exposure- settings on both cameras this time. Whether that was chance or a decision, I don’t know…but it’s nice to see for a change.

Now, onto the mistakes: #1 you show the d300s with the battery grip attached, but rate it at only 7fps. Without the grip, it is indeed 7fps, but with it attached as shown, it is spec-ed at a solid 8fps. Not a big deal, but confusing.

I’ve shot with both these cameras and I own a d300. Your 7d shots correlate with my experience for jpgs from the camera. However we come to problem #2, you appear to have “High ISO NR” set to “high”. That is the only way I could reproduce your results with my camera. I don’t believe “high” is the default setting, and I would never use the camera at this setting. “Normal” is pretty ugly, but that is the default setting. “Low” kills most chroma noise in the shadows and is the best setting in my experience. Low gives results similar to the 7d pictures you’ve posted.

#3 you don’t mention how the raw files look. My experience with raw files from both is that at high ISOs the d300 has much less noise and more exposure latitude than the Canon, as well as retaining a more accurate palette into both exposure extremes of shadow and highlight. Also the Nikon kept more accurate color information under extremely warm tungstens. At least that’s what my mini color checker told me.

So yeah, I could reproduce your d300/d300s results with a 50/1.4g, if I set my camera completely opposite of how I normally use it. Your test says more about your technique than the tools. I get great results with my camera set properly, which unfortunately is not how it comes out of the box. Do you leave your car set exactly as it came from the factory as well?

I don’t use Auto Dynamic at these high ISOs either. There’s plenty of shadow detail at high ISO without it.

14 Eric October 28, 2009 at 3:21 am

@Micah – Your point regarding frame rate is aptly noted; however, the D300s is only rated at 8 fps when using the grip with the EN-EL4a battery. The grip with a standard EN-EL3e battery is still rated at 7 fps according to Nikon specs. Accordingly, the grip alone does not spec the camera as an 8 fps camera. Additionally, you need to purchase the separate BL-3 battery chamber cover for the MB-D10 to use the EN-EL4a batteries in it.

I have double-checked my settings regarding your concern about High ISO NR. This setting was indeed set to “Normal.”

As for noise control in RAW settings, I did shoot RAW+JPEG and took a look at your claims that the D300s has much less noise than the 7D. I have updated the post with an ISO 6400 side-by-side screen capture. I’m going to have to give the edge to Canon on the RAW file noise control as well. In fact, I think the Canon CR2 file looks just about as good (if not better) at ISO 12800 as the D300s NEF file looks at ISO 6400.

Different folks use different settings on their cameras. This is not necessarily my “technique;” however, I chose middle-of-the-road settings for both cameras to put them on equal footing. While many people shoot in RAW formats, many others use JPEG files straight out of camera. How a camera processes image data to a JPEG output is an important consideration to many. I appreciate your points; however, I feel that this was a fair test that doesn’t necessarily give the advantage to either camera based on the settings.

15 fotomark October 28, 2009 at 2:45 am

You should compare the Raw noise at high ISO to be accurate.

I own both system

16 David Chin October 28, 2009 at 3:28 am

I think mirror slap has affected the ISO6400 result from the D300S.

17 coldplug October 28, 2009 at 3:34 am

Why don’t you give us these two RAW files so we can make our own conclusion on our software?

18 Eric October 28, 2009 at 3:45 am

@coldplug – Unfortunately, the Canon CR2 file is simply too large (over 29MB) for Photography Bay’s platform, Wordpress.

19 Micah October 28, 2009 at 5:01 am

…if you can’t give us RAW files (which is totally understandable), can you at least give us an example where they’re both adjusted to look similar?

I’m not sure if you’re using defaults, auto adjust or what, but the d300s image is obviously not adjusted to look like the jpeg, while the 7d image is. It’s hard to tell with the image adjusted like that, but color balance could be tweaked wrong too. Seriously, compare the image you posted to the jpegs you’d previously posted. Something is very wrong.

20 Eric October 28, 2009 at 5:59 am

@Micah – I made no adjustments to either of the RAW files. This was actually the first time they were opened up in Lightroom. I just put them in a collection, zoomed to 100% and took the screen cap shown above.

And, to be clear for anyone that may be confused what we are discussing, the above JPEG files were processed in-camera on the D300s using Nikon’s algorithms at the settings noted at the top of the post.

Going back to my comments at the end of the post, I think what’s wrong is Nikon’s JPEG noise reduction. I think it’s a little too aggressive; however, it has to be aggressive because of the amount of noise at ISO 6400. This creates the blur effect that looks so terrible at 100%. At normal view, the image looks OK, if a little soft. When you look at the RAW files, I think it’s easy to see what’s going on – Nikon pulls the noise way back for in-camera JPEG processing; however, the trade-off is the “soft” image.

Again, I don’t think the D300s is a bad camera. I really liked it if you read my recent review; however, if I were shooting high ISOs and had to choose between the two on noise control alone, I think the 7D is the clear winner here – RAW or JPEG.

21 Micah October 28, 2009 at 6:10 am

I’m going to have to disagree and say that raw example is as misleading as the jpeg comparison.

Please try a -1 exposure correction to the d300s image. I think you’ll find they look quite similar if you do. It has nothing to do with noise reduction and everything to do with proper post-processing, which is what raw is about. If that’s the default setting in Lightroom, then the default is whacky. Look at your jpegs…you don’t see something wrong with your raw exposure?

22 Marcel October 28, 2009 at 9:08 am

Thank you very much for your excellent High ISO comparison.
I would like to know how you processed the ISO 6400 Raw files coming from both the 7D and D300.
And could you please do the same with an D90 vs 7D Raw noise comparison?
Because it’s well known, that the D90 performs way better than the D300.

Thanks in advance.


23 Ray October 28, 2009 at 9:35 am

I think I understand your thought process.

“Should I try my best to do a fair comparison of ISO noise between two similar cameras with vocal fanbases, or should I stab myself in the head with a fork ? …. Oh lets be adventurous and do the ISO comparison”

I for one, thank you for the effort, but if you get one Nikon fan who honestly says “gee the canon really is better at noise” rather than questioning the testing methodology, well then I’ll stab myself in the head with a fork :)

24 William Blake October 28, 2009 at 11:32 am

Thanks for the test.
Sorry but you obviously have a big problem with the d300s, how come it gives pictures which are that blurry comparée to Canon at iso 200 and so on… Is it a joke… Maybe thé lens has a big problem or else, but this test is clearly wrong.

25 Micah October 28, 2009 at 2:27 pm

Here for crap’s sake…I did it myself:

All I did was drop the exposure setting -1.75 in ACR…on your jpeg! (of course only to the right side)

Also default sharpening in ACR is radius 1.0. I have mine set to 25/0.5/75 by default in ACR, as I find this is sharper with less noise/artifacts. As is, your jpeg looks over sharpened compared to the Canon in the raw comparison.

I’m not critical of the 7d. It looks like a nice camera. You comparison is all wonky though. I’m not vocal as a fan of Nikon–I’m vocal as a fan and user of best practices for post!

Further to respond to comments above: you can see from the raw files, that Eric’s test is properly focused. Any setting above “low” for the “high ISO NR” setting makes the images look mushy and out of focus. “Normal” and “High” settings are totally useless garbage in my opinion…and well most people here mistake those settings for out of focus, so it seems they agree.

This is the same on the d300. Why wasn’t this updated, Nikon? Makes me happy not to “upgrade”.

26 don October 28, 2009 at 3:48 pm

I think the 7D clips the shadow earlier than the D300 which is the main difference up to ISO 3200. The D300 is clearly lighter in the black patch.
Regarding sharpness: According to DPR Nikon’s known for having softer default output. Either that or Nikon sucks at sharpness.
I usually use sharpening +something on my Nikon for JPEG.

I have no idea as to what happens at ISO 6400 though. The D300s looks totally bad. Of course 6400 isn’t a certified ISO setting in the D300s, but I really thought it would do better. Compare this to the DPR results of the D300:
No halo at ISO 6400 in a similar scene (white text on black background).

Maybe the D300s in your test has a defect?

27 TimH October 28, 2009 at 4:28 pm

Thanks for a very thorough test. I find the magnification differences due to the different resolutions a little hard to reconcile. Would it be better if the test frame was set so 100% crops covered the same content?

Clearly the Nikon goes off the rails at 6400. The Canon takes a noticable hit there too, but not as bad as the Nikon.

However, the Nikon noise (not necessarily sharpness) looks better to me up through 3200. Anyone agree?

Full disclosure: I’m a Nikon shooter.

28 Johannes October 29, 2009 at 7:24 am

Eine tolle Kamera!!
Meine Eos 5D Mark II ist mir aber doch lieber ;)

29 alex October 29, 2009 at 9:48 am

there’s something wrong with your test. the exposure on d300s is much higher than on canon. canon’s full image is more than 1 f-stop darker.

so this is just another fanboy test. it’s kinda sad…

i suggest readers go to a standard test like imaging-resource or dpreview. at least those people know how to operate the cameras

30 Photoguy October 29, 2009 at 12:18 pm

@TimH – How can you say that when even at ISO 3200 the Nikon is clearly noisier? And im not taking the soft image into account. To test your theory, i had a friend look at each set of photos, not showing him the brand/ISO settings above the pic. He chose the Canon’s image on the right all the way down. And he has no bias to brand names. If anything, from what people are replying, it says to me the 7D has better performance out of the box with default settings compared to the D300s. The nikon requires a number of adjustments in camera and in post processing to match the 7D’s noise/sharpness level.

31 Eric October 29, 2009 at 2:31 pm

To all Nikon fan: Is it inconceivable that Canon’s quality has gotten better than the crap they released a few years ago? I own both older Canon 20D, new 7D and Nikon D300. 7D has performance equal to or better than D300, period. I’m not biased toward either Canon or Nikon, just a fan of photography.

My conclusion comes after I raised both 7D and D300 sharpness level from their default setting. Both camera’s out of the box have soft focus issues, nothing that can’t be adjusted… Active D Lighting off/ Auto Lighting Optimizer off. As the photo’s above show the default saturation levels appears deeper on the Canon, but once again, you can adjust that in-body or using any rendering program of your choice.

Lenses used: Canon 50mm 1.4 and Nikon 50mm 1.4 AF

I find it insulting for people who have never shot a 7D to discredit its capabilities. If you don’t own one, how can you compare?

To Nikon’s defense, I love my D300! And will never get rid of it. If you’re a Nikon fan, D300/D300S is a spectacular choice; if you’re a Canon fan or new to photography, check out the 7D. Either choice will reward you dividends for years of terrific photos!

32 BigRoar October 29, 2009 at 2:53 pm

This was an objective test of how the cameras shoot out of the box. It wasn’t a test of how the image can be tweaked in order to make the Nikon image look like the Canon’s. I found this test with a Google search because I, too, was concerned over the possibility of noise problems with the APS-C sensor, which was an issue with the 50D. And I’m sold on the 7D; the fact that the D300s can be manipulated to produce similar images does nothing to warm my heart to the Nikon, but the 7D is light-years beyond my 40D, which will become my second body. I am disappointed, thought, with the poor level of discussion from some of the posters: Default settings are how the manufacturer expects most users will want to use the camera and beating up the reviewer is just unfair.

33 Rob October 29, 2009 at 5:30 pm

I think this is a pretty pathetic discussion. The 7d obviously performs better at high-ISO. That is the way the camera is, period.

Further, it is very easy to insult the creator of the test behind an anonymous username. Don’t be obnoxious; take credit for your words.

If you don’t agree with the test, shut up and do your own. The methods here were sound, so don’t let company bias cloud your logic.

34 Micah October 29, 2009 at 5:39 pm

So changing a default setting is “manipulating” the image?

Does focusing count as manipulating or tweaking the image then? I bet the reviewer changed the focus mode selector on the back–does that count? Do you drive with your headlights off, because that’s the default setting? The test is about noise level at given ISO. A High ISO noise reduction is a relevant setting to mess with.

These cameras lack the “scene” modes of more “consumer” grade cameras. They are targeted at advanced amateurs and professionals, who are very unlikely to use default settings. I’m suggesting one crucial setting change on the camera, that truly makes or breaks the results.

Anybody using a raw work flow is already into areas requiring advanced knowledge, and ought to recognize that hey, there’s clearly at least a one stop difference between what I see on the screen and the jpegs from the camera. If that was the default setting in the reviewer’s copy of Lightroom (which could have been mistakenly changed, since it doesn’t match the default on any copy of PS I’ve sat down at), then it’s obviously set wrong.

It’s such an obvious mistake that it calls into question all of the results, the level of professionalism of the reviewer, and in the end, the neutrality of the review. And the reviewer’s inability to identify the mistake, admit it, fix it, and apologize for such a screw up, just makes this that much worse.

The Canon looks nice, especially the new AF sensor. But I know this Nikon gear, and these results diverge so much from my experience with the d300 that I couldn’t believe it. So I tried it out on my own camera and found the problem which, being familiar with the camera, was really obvious to me.

I came here looking for advance information on new gear. I’d subscribed to the feed. But this review is such crap, either because of a fan boy attitude or incompetence, and I can’t tell which, that you lost a reader.

35 5D Mark II Team October 30, 2009 at 12:35 am

I think this is very simple and clear, and we should accept it and not keep on trying to go around: Canon is achieving better results with this camera than we would’ve expected.

I used to think Nikon’s sensors (and images produced by their cameras) were “always” better (in “noise terms”). But that is not true (and won’t always be true).

Canon is achieving an amazing result in both: stills and video performance with their latest cameras…

I use Nikon and Canon, but I don’t get married with any of them.

Since while ago Canon is doing an excellent and AMAZING job in my opinion, delivering more resolution (more MP) while keeping low noise level. That’s simple, and that’s all.

Canon designs, develops and manufactures its own sensor, and that’s a key factor… Nikon doesn’t do that (at least not all the time, not even often)

I’m sure the 1Ds Mark IV will be outstanding… (in both worlds: still photography and movie/video capabilities).

Canon is certainly going MANY steps ahead in many aspects…

36 Eric 2 October 30, 2009 at 12:51 am

That last posting was a different Eric from the first posting. Sorry for the confusion. (see the User Key, different)

37 Alan October 30, 2009 at 1:19 am

Actually, why do you guys keep on comparing ISO?
How often we will shoot a photo by using so high ISO?!

As long as the camera can produce a good photo, then
it is a good camera, regardless it is Canon or Nikon.

38 Rio October 30, 2009 at 2:08 am

Actually, high ISO performance is important. For instance, the max Auto ISO setting on 7D is 3200. Indoor, more often than not, my Auto ISO will be pushed to 3200. So that makes a large proportion of my indoor shots taken at 3200.

39 Jared October 30, 2009 at 4:17 am

Cannon has come a long way and has certainly produced a very good product that is worth considering. All of the Nikon suggestions shouldn’t and don’t take anything away from that.

With that said, and to take nothing away from the Cannon, I agree with Micah – I too have a D300 and would also consider the settings that you used are extremes with a Nikon and why it caused allot of noise at 1600 on up. After I read your setting I already knew what the images would look like. I do appreciate that you tried to match the settings between the two cameras but alas they are not the same. You might try setting Active D-lighting to off (I’m sure that is most of the issue here), Noise at normal, and JPEG compression to optimal quality. If you add a 1/3 under exposed to the Nikon I would believe that would be a more normal setting for the Nikon. The Cannon looked about a third of a stop under exposed compared to the Nikon due to the loss of definition of the lip on the film case.

Cannon has defiantly produced a camera to compete head to head with Nikon. When that happens we all win! Now only if I had enough $ to be able to switch systems like 5D Mark II Team.

40 Patrick October 30, 2009 at 8:59 am

@Alan – I do a lot of gig photography without flash in poorly lit venues so high ISO is important to me. I’m sure it is important to many other photographers as pointed out by Rio.

41 Ray Hainsworth October 30, 2009 at 9:07 am

Maybe it’s my eyes, but to me the D300 shots are better than the Canon all the way up to 3200, which is a realistic ISO maximum for either of these camera. If you want to shoot above 3200 go D700 or 5mk11.

42 Jim Jim October 30, 2009 at 9:35 am

In another year (hopefully) Nikon will produce another camera that out performs the 7d. If companies are competitive, then there will always be a back-and-forth advancement. Remember when the 5d came out? and later the D3?

If Nikon doesn’t counter, Canon won’t either and we all lose.

I personally hope that the video continues to advance. It will open up the world of independent film-making to the public.

43 Jack October 30, 2009 at 9:57 am

I guess evaluating a camera at ISO 12,800 is like testing a car at its top speed. It’s interesting to know, but how relavant is it? I rarely use ISO 800. If it’s worth shooting, it’s worth dragging along the tripod.

44 David October 31, 2009 at 11:20 am

The meer fact that you cut out the red Kodak from the canon picture and kept it in the Nikon shows you are biased. What are you hiding?

45 Eric October 31, 2009 at 11:53 am

@David – The Canon has more megapixels.

I didn’t cut anything out. I used the same starting point in the top left corner of each 300px x 300px crop. Because the Canon has more megapixels, there’s less of the scene shown.

Additionally, the full-resolution samples are available for you to download and inspect for yourself. Nothing is hidden from anyone.

46 NikonCanonUser November 2, 2009 at 1:16 pm

I am surprised about the result, but somehow I’m not convinced because if you notice from the pictures taken with the D300 at ISO 200, it seems to me that the pictures taken from the D300 is clearly out of focus and the two pictures that is being cropped and compared is not of the same zoom factor. ( Notice the pixel on the pencil on the 7D is much more focus. I own both 5DM2 and D700 (for personal reasons as both cameras have their pros and cons)and non bias to any brand but I know how Nikon handles noise levels. Well we just have to wait and see other reviews from other websites and compare and see what the experts say. But hey I’m a fan of the 7D and both the D300s, :) , I think both cameras are excellent choices for cropped bodies..

47 NikonCanonUser November 2, 2009 at 1:21 pm

By the way guys, checkout the comparison at the bottom of the page for the D300s vs the 7D ISO comparison. Notice the ISO 400 ON THE D300s compared to the Canon 7D the difference is really apparent…

48 Sal November 2, 2009 at 6:43 pm

It’s a universal truth, and all professional photographers, no matter which part of the world they live will agree never to use high ISO films unless it’s an absolute must. Setting the camera to higher ISO in low light is not an absolute must, or is it? Higher ISO add noise to an image more so than increasing sharpness. The image sharpness can also be achieve through other means. Thus, I am not very convienced when I read reviews or discussion about higher ISO sensitivity. If I search the internet it’s full of this same annoying discussion – high ISO sensitivity or high mega pixels – an absolutely pointless discussion without much help indeed!

The above comparison perhaps confirms that Canon has done a very good job. However, this test by no means confirm that 7D is a better choice nor does the test will convience the professionals or amature photographers alike.

When we compare the camera bodies we must not ignore the importance of getting the right type of lens. More often than not, buying the right lens is more important than buying a camera body. After all, good image is as good as it’s optics. Moreover, we must remember that at it’s not the camera that makes the best quality image but the photographer.

D300 and D300s is used by many professionals today; It has proven to be one of the best yet affordable DSLR to date at least in Europe where I live Europe. Here the D300 or D300s outsales other DSLR at perhaps due to variety of lens choice. Canon 7D is comparatively a new release with not much reviews been written so far. It it will be very helpful to see more detail and side by side comparision of 7D with other popular Digital SLRs present in the market. It would also be nice to read laboratory test reports as such published by based in Germany or in the US. However, I believe further reviews and test results will tempt me to get a 7D if the price for (full frame) Nikon D700 or Canon EOS 5D Mark II does not drop. Thank you.

49 Alan November 2, 2009 at 11:19 pm

@Sal, I agree with your points.

50 Rick November 3, 2009 at 10:10 pm

I thoroughly enjoyed the review. I was originally going to purchase the 50D but after various reviews have ordered the Canon 7D. It has not arrived yet but I am hearing similar reviews on the Internet indicating that the 7D is indeed a better camera than the Nikon D300s. This appears to be the dream camera for 2009. Money well spend, with lens I paid $1723 including shipping and taxes.

51 Idan November 5, 2009 at 8:11 pm

This comparison seems authentic, and I think that Canon did a great job with the 7D, it is an excellent camera by any means. I have read many comparisons which you can clearly see the advantage in high ISO quality in favor of the 7D, kodus canon.

52 Chris November 6, 2009 at 12:50 am

Micah, you sound like the fanboy. While your adjusting of the Nikon image made the exposure look closer to the Canon, the noise is still higher.

I’m not sure exactly what can be proven without some sort of very careful apples to apples comparison, and Eric’s use of default settings and/or settings that are otherwise intuitively similar between brands makes sense. To make a comment about a default focus is completely asinine.

The differences in this test are so great that I doubt the Nikon can equal the Canon even with an exposure change. Removing the NR as in round 2 tseting the Nikon is still behind, although much closer. I posted over there already and in the big scheme of things I’m not sure why new buyer would go for the Nikon unless there’s some other area where it has a distinct advantage. If you’re already a Nikon user then your lens/accessory set would be a big factor, of course.

While Nikon has historically had a noise edge over Canon, the 7D appears to have ended that. (Let’s leave out the 5D II for now since it’s more $$.) The fact Canon did it with a slightly smaller sensor with more MP crammed on it is quite impressive indeed.

53 NikonCanonUser November 6, 2009 at 5:41 am

Chris, how can you conclude the ISO TEST ON The camera labs website? ? Can you explain why the pictures on the D300s is clearly better??

54 Sony-Canada November 6, 2009 at 12:04 pm

This is strange ISO test going on here……. remember The weakiest part of the camera is YOU……so get a Grip and not a VG Grip…

55 Sal November 15, 2009 at 1:45 pm

A good understanding about film exposure can put an end to all the debate around ISO. A very well known photography teacher from the United States, Brian Peterson wrote the best selling book called ‘Understanding Exposure’ and ‘Understanding shutter speed’ which sold like a hot cakes all over the world. This books can help those who are real confused about camera ISO performance.

Mr. Peterson in his book “Understanding Photograhpy Field Guide – How do shoot Great Photographs with any Camera@ appropriately quoted – “The internet photo chat rooms were abuzz with everyone jumping on he bandwagon of this latest innovation (Nikon D3′s ISO 25’000+ feature), I, however, was not. Having a camera with fine-grain high ISOs sounds cool, for sure, but what does it really mean for creative exposure? When will I ever use ISO 6400 or even 800, for that matter?

Many reviews are saying that 7D ISO performs better over D300s. Many swears that D300s is an all rounder and can output better results in most situations. How does either 7D or D300s decides on a “creatively correct exposure”? Vidoe clip from Brian Peterson below can provide further understanding:

If you must know, has published an ISO test result between 7D and D300s.

Wishing all happy shooting with what every camera you have!

Zurich, Switzerland

56 massimo November 16, 2009 at 6:31 pm

Ciao, ho scaricato ed esaminato i file dei 200 iso, 1600 iso e 3200 di entrambe le macchine.

ho utilizzato NX2. della Nikon. devo dire che Canon a livello rumore è leggermente meglio da 3200 in su. fino a 1600 siamo li, la bilancia pende dalla parte di Canon forse perchè ha una riduzione rumore migliore di Nikon , quat’ultima troppo aggressiva, e smangia dettagli.
la cosa invece che salta all’occhio è la nitidezza, nettamente a favore di canon. strano comportamento anche perchè ho avuto d300 e devo dire che la nitidezza non gli manca specioe a bassi iso. inoltre la minore concentrazione di pixel della d300 dovrebbe aiutate l’ottica a risolvere più dettaglio. in effetti le foto della D300s sembrano leggermente fuori fuoco.
basta guardare gli occhi della renna. se la differenza di nitidezza è invece dettata dal fatto che la reflex di Casa Canon sia effettivamente più nitida. allora tanto di cappello alla nuova potrebbe essere che la nitidezza di default on camera delle 2 reflex siano tarate su parametri differenti. ricordo che con D300 scattavo in neutra con nitidezza 6 (3 è default). contrasto +1 e sopratutto D-Light disattivato, salvo situazioni critiche.
e mi restituiva dei file niente male.

da notare anche la differente resa cromatica delle due rivali.


57 peach November 19, 2009 at 12:51 am

Anyone reading this please do more research before coming to conclusions. I’m afraid this may be a flawed test based on the dozen other’s I’ve read/viewed.

Apples to apples, not oranges.

58 peach December 10, 2009 at 2:40 am

Different conclusion here. The 7D is the camera to have for some, for others it’s the D300s. Both cameras are excellent image-making machines and it’s the person behind the lens that makes the biggest difference. Both bodies offer features the other lacks, making neither superior. Just different. YOu can’t go wrong investing in either format.

59 Ilan December 19, 2009 at 4:29 pm

Disclaimer: I do not own nor have ever used a 7D or D300(s or no s).

About lenses: all lenses are not equal. Same exposure on both bodies is good, but are both lenses of a similar luminosity? If one lets more light in, expose of the scene ends up being different on the two bodies.

About bodies: stated ISO sensibility might not be the actual sensibility. If for example a given body always “cheats” and states higher ISO than it actually exposes at (for example says 400 but exposure is made at 320), all shots in a test might end up under exposed, hence more noise.

The better comparison for a given scene with a given light is to fix the aperture and shutter, then find for each camera the ISO that gives the better result and compare the resulting shots. The aperture and shutter are what really matters when shooting. The ISO used is a means to an end.

@Jack: “If it’s worth shooting, it’s worth dragging along the tripod.”. You must not be shooting much moving subjects… There are evenings where I shoot 1000+ photos, all at 3200 ISO.

60 Alan February 8, 2010 at 7:49 pm

Im not bothered either way Canon or Nikon I use both.
Which system does the tester gravitate towards?

61 Patrick February 11, 2010 at 12:26 am

I was doing research for a friend as to what camera to buy . . . I just want to note that this example completely contradicts the tests done at

Or more specifically: for ISO 6400 which shows more noise from the Canon over the Nikon.

I honestly don’t care either way. Either you’re wrong or depreview is.

62 Alan February 15, 2010 at 3:50 am

I agree with patrick ,I also Dont care either way but who is wrong dpreview or this test.
The simple fact is one of them HAS to be wrong.

I feel the Nikon fares so badly in these images that something has gone wrong with this test.

63 Dan February 20, 2010 at 9:49 pm

You are either blind, or an idiot, or even worst a nikon fanboy….the dpreview test still clearly shows that the 7d outperforms the d300s which outperforms the older 50d. Even more the cameralabs guy took the same test approach then Eric here and he even says that the 7d outperforms the d300s especialy at 6400iso….
This is still not taking into consideration the 18mp vs 12mp coverage area and how better an 18mp print would be with less noise of smaller size.
In terms of sensor technology the Canon has clearly done a far better job…and will continue to do because they design and manufacture their own CMOS.
Go take picture instead of wanting your camera to win the blogs…

64 Jim March 26, 2010 at 4:00 pm

I have seen 3 other MAGIZINE reports clearly showing that the Canon has higher scores. also, even gives it the highest recommendation (over anything else)!

65 gerard March 27, 2010 at 6:33 am

jai eu les 2 en main!
le canon est de loin plus agréable a utiliser (viseur exceptionnel) mais ils sont relativement identiques!

66 Nour El Refai April 2, 2010 at 1:43 pm

The Canon 7D looks better over ISO 1600, did you try also turning off high ISO noise reduction ! I guess the one in Nikon did a terrible job in ISO 6400.
Thanks for those tests

67 JeffP April 2, 2010 at 1:59 pm

Competition between N & C are fantastic. The consumer is the one that wins in the end regardless of which brand you prefer. They are both amazing DSLR’s. We couldn’t have imagined this quality in this price range 5 years ago.

68 Seed April 3, 2010 at 10:01 am

Wow, the long discussion became the scene of a bloody battle between not the companies, but the shooters !!!
Been a Nikon user for years which ended two years ago with D300, then switched to Canon.
Honestly I always liked the sharpness of Nikon pictures and really missed it on my Canon’s, but in noise reduction terms, I really hated the way D300 handled it and never used an ISO higher than 800 ( 800 was damn useless itself ).
You may say my Nikon was defect or my settings was wrong or I didn’t know how to use it, whatever, but in real life use of that body (which I really liked it), the noise handling was terrible ! Now I’m switched to Canon, I don’t have that razor sharp details of Nikons and os the ugly noise !
There’s been lots of news out there that Canon has put lots of effort on the ISO noise reduction and has achieved some great results ! Combining those with my experience with D300′s ugly noise, to me it doesn’t seem to be far from truth if the Canon new product produces better results !!!!
Comparing to others, products form different companies get different results and capabilities in time !!
No company or product is/stays always better or worse the the rest, the race is turning in different ways all the time !
P.S.: I’m still a Nikon lover and my favorite camera is Nikon D700 !!!

69 Quazi Ahmed Hussain April 5, 2010 at 4:37 am

Well it’s better to be a quality lover rather than being a particular brand lover. Having said that, different camera systems suit different needs. I think for action, nature, wildlife and birding purposes; Canon probably offers wider array of choices particularly in lenses and high burst rate bodies.

On the other hand, Nikon users are producing amazing images with nice colors and sharpness in event photography.

The above statistics is based on majority users. Of course both the systems can be used for either purpose.

It is also worth looking at Pentax and Olympus systems. Both are long traditional imaging equipment producers. The rest are yet to justify their presence in this field.

70 Tarun May 5, 2010 at 3:12 am

Considering the all technical quality 7D is better then D300s, I am agree with some friends commands that, man behind the camera is a important factor but I think technical quality also important factor. So that 7D is suitable

71 Balto Photo May 5, 2010 at 11:17 am

How can you call this a fair test? For one, you have different color ranges in your test shots. I think you are partial to Canon and wanted your test to turn out with these results. I have been shooting the Nikon 300 for 2 years now and have never had results such as the ones seen in your test. If you are reading this trying to make a decision in a camera to buy, please use the reviews at rather than this one.

72 David May 9, 2010 at 2:34 pm

I actually see there are some problems with white balance in the test, the white balance looks completely different when looking at the resulting photos. Improper white balance could contribute to results for either camera. Was the white balance adjusted with a grey card, or is it auto-white-balance on 7d and D300?

73 Micah May 22, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Wow. The comments are still going here! A friend looking at reviews found this with my previous comments, so here I am again.

I’ve now used the 7d extensively and I stand by what I said before. Canon has their NR really dialed in for jpegs. The Nikon does suffer at 6400 for jpegs. Below that the Nikon’s noise is so low you can turn NR off and it still looks great.

I couldn’t see any difference in image quality between the D300 and D300s. They produced the same result to my eye.

With raw, the 7d and D300 are quite comparable. There are slight differences, but really considering sensor alone, they give images indistinguishable in print. Kudos to Canon for what they’ve accomplished. Resolution doesn’t really set them apart in print however.

What does absolutely set these cameras apart is their focusing abilities. The 7d system may have more cross type focus sensors, but they aren’t as densely packed as the 51 point system in the top Nikons. For action, the Nikon system wins, hands down. The 51 point system is more comparable to the sensor array in the Canon 1d series than the new array in the 7d. More is better in this case, since the system with less gaps does indeed track better.

The 7d is a nice camera, but it ultimately fails to hit it’s mark of parents attempting to capture their kids in action and weekend sport shooters.

74 Jenna June 3, 2010 at 5:57 am

those photo test are obviously inaccurate. I’ve worked with D300s before, and this isn’t the case. There are alot of brand biased photographers out there and this reviewer is obviously one of them.

75 Leo July 2, 2010 at 7:07 am

A couple of years ago Nikon made a nice big step, but Canon set the record straight and is numero uno again, like you can see here. I also like the fact that Canon camera’s and lenses are made in Japan and Nikon saves money to make them in Thailand. We all know what that means. :)

76 Thomas July 4, 2010 at 1:50 am

This test is totally floored, just look at the different size pics.. not even worth talking about.

77 John October 23, 2010 at 12:26 pm

I have a D300, and I’ve never had a shot @ ISO 6400 look that bad… Me thinks there is bias…

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