If you didn’t get enough in the first Canon 7D vs. Nikon D300s ISO Test (and I know a lot of you didn’t, based on the lively comment section), we’re back for Round 2.
This time, we’ve got a couple of additional variables to mix things up a bit — and to see if the claims of some of the Nikon shooters in the comment section of the first round bear fruit.
First off, we’ve thrown a new camera into the mix – the new 12.3-megapixel Sony A500, which is a covers a sensitivity range of ISO 200-12800. And, we’ve still got the same Canon 7D and Nikon D300s from the last test.
This time, based on popular demand, we’ve turned off all noise reduction, dynamic range and auto-lighting optimizers. The exception being the Sony A500, which Sony must have felt it necessary to keep noise reduction turned on all the time as there are only two settings – Normal and High. As a result, we’ve gone with the lesser of the two evils and set the Sony A500 to “Normal” Noise Reduction.
Finally, we’ve bumped the exposure +1/3 stop from the last test.
If you’re expecting more of the same, get ready for a surprise.
Here is a sample of the complete scene. 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 vs. Canon 7D vs. Sony A500 ISO 200
Nikon D300s vs. Canon 7D vs. Sony A500 ISO 400
Nikon D300s vs. Canon 7D vs. Sony A500 ISO 800
Nikon D300s vs. Canon 7D vs. Sony A500 ISO 1600
Nikon D300s vs. Canon 7D vs. Sony A500 ISO 3200
Nikon D300s vs. Canon 7D vs. Sony A500 ISO 6400
Canon 7D vs. Sony A500 ISO 12800
Canon 7D and Nikon D300s RAW Images
The following 7D and D300s were opened in their native RAW formats using, Canon Digital Photo Professional and Nikon ViewNX, respectively. No edits were made before the files were exported to JPEG format for display here. Sorry, but I haven’t had a chance to install Sony’s software yet – look for that soon though.
If you’re one of the Nikon shooters that commented in the last round about Nikon’s noise reduction, feel free to chime in with an “I told you so” whenever you feel like it.
I think the biggest lesson to take away from this is that Nikon’s in-camera noise reduction blows and should probably never be used. In the above samples, I really don’t see much noise worth reducing, especially in-camera.
As for the RAW image conversions . . . I’m a huge fan of Lightroom and use it for all of my day-to-day photography, but the differences between how Lightroom and ViewNX handle noise in a RAW file for the D300s is a tough pill to swallow. I’ll cut Adobe a break on the 7D files since it’s not officially supported yet, but the D300s noise is out of control at high ISOs in Lightroom 2.5. However, if you’re working with images at higher ISO settings, don’t dismiss opening up the manufacturer’s native RAW conversion software if things aren’t quite looking right in Lightroom or ACR.
Finally, you can see the Sony A500 is really hurting from the noise reduction as ISO creeps on up. I’ll also point out that the A500 seems to have missed the focus point, which was upon the Kodak emblem on the film canister. In the full images, the focus point was actually about half an inch behind that point on the joker card in the scene (not where I put it). And yes, I tried manual focusing with these cameras; however, my eyes don’t have the accuracy that they used to. Again, we’ll be looking at the A500 a little closer very soon.
I’ll leave the rest of it to you in the comments below.
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