In the first comparison of the Canon 1D Mark IV and Nikon D3s, we looked at JPEG image samples that came straight from each of these cameras; however, I promised to deliver images processed from the RAW files of each camera as well.
As we are well aware by now, the Canon 1D Mark IV and Nikon D3s deliver impressive results at what were previously ridiculous sensitivity settings. To see the results of the various RAW conversion methods on images produced by these class-leading cameras, keep reading.
In this comparison, we’re going to look at these RAW files and see how they stack up against each other as processed with each manufacturer’s software packaged in the box with the 1D Mark IV and the D3s. For the Canon 1D Mark IV, that means using Digital Photo Professional. For the Nikon D3s, ViewNX is the RAW converter software. Additionally, I have processed the RAW files using Adobe Lightroom 2 at both the default settings and by adding +50 luminance noise reduction.
For the sake of reference, I have again included a set of images that is a representation of the scene shot at ISO 12800 from each camera in order to give you an idea of what the entire image looks like in a small print format. Both sets of images were shot at 24mm (using the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM and the Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED) and used the same aperture (at f/8) and shutter speed settings for each ISO setting.
Canon 1D Mark IV ISO 12800
Nikon D3s ISO 12800
As you can see in the charts, I’ve labeled the settings for the software and in-camera settings.
You can download the full-res file (for personal use and inspection only) by right-clicking any of the links below the respective images and choosing “Save link as…” from your menu. Please do not republish any of these images on the Internet or elsewhere without permission.
Canon 1D Mark IV vs. Nikon D3s – ISO 100
Canon 1D Mark IV vs. Nikon D3s – ISO 200
Canon 1D Mark IV vs. Nikon D3s – ISO 400
Canon 1D Mark IV vs. Nikon D3s – ISO 800
Canon 1D Mark IV vs. Nikon D3s – ISO 1600
Canon 1D Mark IV vs. Nikon D3s – ISO 3200
Canon 1D Mark IV vs. Nikon D3s – ISO 6400
Canon 1D Mark IV vs. Nikon D3s – ISO 12800
Canon 1D Mark IV vs. Nikon D3s – ISO 25600
Canon 1D Mark IV vs. Nikon D3s – ISO 51200
Canon 1D Mark IV vs. Nikon D3s – ISO 102400
I think these results tell us that each manufacturer delivers superior RAW conversion over the in-camera processing and Adobe Lightroom 2. I am partial using Lightroom 2 in my everyday work flow and I hope that Lightroom 3′s promising noise reduction will level the playing field somewhat.
Still yet, the files are quite acceptable across the board up to ISO 6400 and maybe even to ISO 12800 for some applications. Lightroom 2 seems to fall apart after that point though, while Nikon’s ViewNX hangs in there quite well even up to the end of the world at ISO 102400 (relatively speaking, of course).
I’ll have at least one more round of commentary on the noise handling of these two cameras in a later update on print quality. We can peep at the pixels all day long, but what really matters to me is whether the files produce solid prints at these higher ISO settings. Given the 100% magnification that we’re looking at here, I think we’ll find that the prints hold up nicely even at the higher ISO settings. I should have those prints in hand soon and will share my thoughts relatively soon thereafter.
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