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10 Megapixel DSLR group test Gordon Laing, October 2006

Outdoor / Resolution / Noise / Noise 2 / Corner sharpness / Fringe & macro / Geometry / Vignetting

Outdoor scene - Canon EOS 400D / XTi vs Nikon D80 vs Sony Alpha A100

   
Nikon D80 with DX 18-70mm at 26mm f13  
   
To compare real-life performance we shot the same scene with the Canon 400D / XTi, Nikon D80 and Sony A100 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings and 100 ISO sensitivity. The D80 metered a brighter exposure, but for consistency here, compensation was applied.

Each camera was fitted with their respective kit lenses: the Canon EF-S 18-55mm, Nikkor DX 18-70mm and Sony DT 18-70mm. These were adjusted to deliver the same field of view and set to f13 in order to accommodate additional high ISO tests under bright conditions.

The image above was taken with the Nikon D80 at 26mm f13, with a sensitivity of 100 ISO; the original JPEG measured 4.41MB; the Canon 400D / XTi and Sony A100 images were taken with the same exposures and measured 3.76 and 3.61MB respectively. The crops are taken from the upper left, center and lower right portions of the originals and presented here at 100%.


Canon EOS 400D / Rebel XTi
Using EF-S 18-55mm
Nikon D80
Using DX 18-70mm
Sony Alpha A100
Using DT 18-70mm
Canon EOS 400D / Rebel XTi crop 1   Nikon D80 crop 1   Sony A100 crop 1
1/100, f13, 100 ISO
1/100, f13, 100 ISO
1/100, f13, 100 ISO
         
Canon EOS 400D / Rebel XTi crop 2   Nikon D80 crop 2   Sony A100 crop 2
1/100, f13, 100 ISO
 
1/100, f13, 100 ISO
 
1/100, f13, 100 ISO
         
Canon EOS 400D / Rebel XTi crop 3   Nikon D80 crop 3   Sony A100 crop 3
1/100, f13, 100 ISO
 
1/100, f13, 100 ISO
 
1/100, f13, 100 ISO

At first glance, the two biggest differences in the crops above are the warmer colour balance the 400D / XTi's selected using Auto White Balance (most obvious on the first crop), and the softness of the Canon EF-S 18-55mm lens in the far corner (third crop); there's additionally some visible fringing on the Sony lens in the upper right crop.

Beyond these mostly lens related issues, the actual resolvable detail across the three cameras under real life conditions is essentially the same. These crops do however illustrate the benefit of a better lens: the Nikkor 18-70mm lens gives the D80 a visible advantage, especially over the Canon results, although to be fair it's a bigger, heavier and more expensive option.






JPEG and RAW - Canon EOS 400D / XTi vs Nikon D80 vs Sony Alpha A100

To compare the effect of in-camera processing and compression, we took the 100 ISO sample with each camera in their RAW plus Large Fine JPEG modes, and compared both files for each model below. We tried the Beta 3.6 of Adobe Camera RAW in order to support the Canon and Nikon models but were not satisfied by the results, so have instead used each camera's supplied RAW converter: Canon Digital Photo Professional 2.2, Nikon Picture Project 1.7 and Sony Image Data Converter SR 1.1.

We used each program's default settings then transferred the data to Photoshop CS2 with 16-bit tonal depth before converting to 8-bit, then cropping and saving using the same settings as the JPEGs above.

Canon EOS 400D / Rebel XTi
Using EF-S 18-55mm
Nikon D80
Using DX 18-70mm
Sony Alpha A100
Using DT 18-70mm
Canon 400D / Rebel XTi - JPEG   Nikon D80 - JPEG   Sony A100 - JPEG
JPEG, 1/100, f13, 100 ISO
JPEG, 1/100, f13, 100 ISO
JPEG, 1/100, f13, 100 ISO
         
Canon 400D / Rebel XTi - RAW   Nikon D80 - RAW   Sony A100 - RAW
RAW, 1/100, f13, 100 ISO
 
RAW, 1/100, f13, 100 ISO
 
RAW, 1/100, f13, 100 ISO

The Canon 400D / XTi and Nikon D80 are both clearly capable of delivering better quality with RAW than their best quality JPEG settings; this is particularly apparent on the Canon where the JEPG appears quite soft in comparison. There's a small improvement with the Sony in RAW, although not as significant as the others in the examples above. Different images and alternative RAW conversion software could of course result in greater differences.




Canon 400D / XTi vs Nikon D80 vs Sony A100 results continued...

Outdoor / Resolution / Noise / Noise 2 / Corner sharpness / Fringe & macro / Geometry / Vignetting



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Canon EOS 400D / Rebel XTi

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Sony Alpha A100
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All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2014 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

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