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10 Megapixel DSLR group test Gordon Laing, October 2006

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

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Canon EOS 400D / XTi vs Nikon D80 vs Sony Alpha A100 real-life noise

Nikon D80 with 18-70mm lens at 27mm f11  

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions we shot this scene using the Canon 400D / XTi, Nikon D80 and Sony A100 at each ISO setting. The Nikon's High ISO Noise Reduction was set to Standard. The D80 again 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 f11 in order to accommodate the high ISOs under bright conditions.

The image above was taken with the Nikon D80 at 27mm f11, with a sensitivity of 100 ISO; the original JPEG measured 4.23MB; the Canon 400D / XTi and Sony A100 images were taken with the same exposures and their 100 ISO samples measured 3.77 and 3.11MB respectively. The crops are taken from an area just below and to the left of the centre.

Starting with the lowest ISOs, the Nikon D80 clearly delivers the most detail in the crops below, although as explained on our first results page, the Canon is let down by its kit lens. Quality remains good through to 400 ISO, although at 800 ISO and above, greater differences emerge.

At high ISOs the Sony A100's noise levels become the highest in the group, while detail in turn becomes noticeably reduced. The Canon crops also appear increasingly noisy compared to the Nikon, although closer examination of these and other samples reveal a different noise reduction strategy. At high ISOs, the 400D / XTi sacrifices noise levels (especially chroma noise) for retained detail, whereas the D80 tends to smoothes out noise for cleaner results, but sometimes at the cost of a little smearing.

Which approach is preferable is entirely personal, although one thing's for certain: the Canon 400D / XTi and Nikon D80 perform better at high ISOs than the Sony A100.

Canon EOS 400D / Rebel XTi
Using EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6
Nikon D80 (standard NR)
Using DX 18-70mm f3.5-4.5
Sony Alpha A100
Using DT 18-70mm f3.5-5.6
Canon EOS 400D at 100 ISO   Nikon D80 at 100 ISO   Sony A100 at 100 ISO
100 ISO, 1/125, f11
100 ISO, 1/125, f11
100 ISO, 1/125, f11
Canon EOS 400D at 200 ISO   Nikon D80 at 200 ISO   Sony A100 at 200 ISO
200 ISO, 1/250, f11
200 ISO, 1/250, f11
200 ISO, 1/250, f11
Canon EOS 400D at 400 ISO   Nikon D80 at 400 ISO   Sony A100 at 400 ISO
400 ISO, 1/500, f11
400 ISO, 1/500, f11
400 ISO, 1/500, f11
Canon EOS 400D at 800 ISO   Nikon D80 at 800 ISO   Sony A100 at 800 ISO
800 ISO, 1/1000, f11
800 ISO, 1/1000, f11
800 ISO, 1/1000, f11
Canon EOS 400D at 1600 ISO   Nikon D80 at 1600 ISO   Sony A100 at 1600 ISO
1600 ISO, 1/2000, f11
1600 ISO, 1/2000, f11
1600 ISO, 1/2000, f11
    Nikon D80 at 3200 ISO    
3200 ISO unavailable
H1.0 (3200 ISO), 1/4000, f11
3200 ISO unavailable

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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Nikon D80

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Sony Alpha A100
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All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2017 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

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