Sunday, September 19, 2010

D700 versus D300 ISO Ladder

WIth the new D7000 coming along with 16mp and people hallucinating that it looks as good as the D700, I thought it time to try a comparison of my two cams. They have the same generation of CMOS sensor, one APS-C and one full frame. Both are at 12mp. This predicts that the image quality as determined by noise should remain between 1 and 2 stops higher as we get into the higher ISOs.

I performed a very similar shoot to that I did for the F300EXR and the rest ofthe EXR long zoom family. Here, I used the good tripod with the two cams mounted ion exactly the same location. The Tamron 28-78 at f/8 served as the lens for both. Dialed to 50mm for the D300 and 75mm for the D700. This should have given identical framing. The fact that it did not quite do that indicates that the Tamron at 75mm is shorter than it should be. No shock, but annoying all the same.

Here are the images at 100 ISO in 800px form. And for sh-ts and giggles, I will include the F300EXR image for small sensor representation.


DSC_3604_d300_100iso[1] D700

DSC_6862_D700_100iso[1] F300


Not much difference … even the small sensor can keep up mostly …

Now let’s see them at their highest practical ISO …

D300 at 6400 ISO

DSC_3610_D300_6400iso[1] D700 at 25600 ISO
DSC_6870_D700_25600iso[1] F300 at 1600 ISO


All three are pretty similar where noise is concerned … the D300 retains a lot of detail, in fact almost all that I can see, with only a few spots (e.g. center of flower) starting to look a wee bit mushy from shadow noise. This applies to the D700, but at 25600.

The crops will show this more clearly.


These were shot in jpeg with slight capture sharpening in ACR and slight tweaking of noise and sharpness on the top ISOs. This to represent how well these hold up. The probabilities based on the crops are that the noise is pretty much equal to the D300 at 6400 somewhere between 12800 and 25600 for the D700 …

I.e. it is as predicted by DXO Labs:


The Fuji at 1600 looks very nice for a small sensor … but areas like the halo around the head make it quite clear that low contrast details are long gone.

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