Canon EOS 6D Ken McMahon, March 2013
 
 

Canon EOS 6D vs Nikon D600 Noise JPEG

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  Canon EOS 6D results
1 Canon EOS 6D Quality JPEG
2 Canon EOS 6D Quality RAW
3 Canon EOS 6D Noise JPEG
4 Canon EOS 6D Noise RAW
5 Canon EOS 6D Sample images

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Canon EOS 6D and the Nikon D600, within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

The Canon EOS 6D was fitted with the Canon EF 24-105mm f4L lens and the Nikon D600 with the AF Zoom-Nikkor 24-85mm f/2.8-4D IF lens (the only one available to us at the time of testing). Both lenses were set to their maximum 24mm wide angle setting to provide an equal field of view.

Image stabilisation was disabled for this tripod-mounted test and all other settings were left on the defaults.



The image above was taken with the Canon EOS 6D fitted with the EF 24-105mm f4L lens. The sensitivity range of the EOS 6D is 100-25,600 ISO expandable to 50-102,400 ISO. For the initial shot I set the sensitivity to 50 ISO and set the aperture to f8 in Aperture priority mode. To produce the same exposure as the Nikon D600 I set +1EV exposure compensation on the 6D resulting in an exposure of 1.3s at f8 and 50 ISO.

Canon's newly designed 20.2 Megapixel sensor gets off to a flying start here with a very clean 50 ISO crop with a good level of detail and no visible noise. In fact the 50, 100 and 200 ISO crops all look very similar and all lack any hint of noisiness. There's a slight difference in quality between the 50 and 100 ISO crop, the latter looks to me to be a tiny bit more contrasty (as you'd expect given 100 is the base sensitivity), but even at 100 percent I dont think it's possible to spot much difference between the first three crops.

The 400 ISO crop shows a very slight increase in texture which you spot in the text area, you still have to be looking quite hard and the same goes for the 800 ISO crop, but the flat coloured wall in the background still looks texture free. At 1600 ISO the text takes another little bit of a hit with the noise affecting the fine detail. There's now also some colour noise entering the picture, but overall the noise levels are very low, and the result is superior to what you could expect from an APS-C sensor of the same resolution.

At 3200 ISO, the softness that was only slightly apparent at 1600 ISO is now much more obvious, so there's a bit of a double whammy effect - first the noise breaks up the finer detail, then the suppression softens it a little resulting in a step change in quality from the earlier crops. Having said that, the 3200 ISO crop still looks reasonable and though the quality is now a long way from where we started still looks very good, particularly at smaller than actual size.

At 6400 ISO we've got some smearing to contend with, so we're now into territory where getting the shot overrides any quality considerations. Even, so some of the text is still legible and, while they don't look pretty at 100 percent, at smaller sizes the 12800 and 25600 ISO settings produce passable results for use at web resolutions. Beyond that, all you can say about Canon's extended 51200 and 102400 ISO settings is that they boldly go beyond the 25600 maximum of the Nikon D600, which is mainly what they're there for. Finally, for the record I've included a crop from the Handheld Night Scene mode which shoots 4 frames using automatic ISO and exposure settings and composites them into a low noise single shot. At 3200 ISO, as on APS-C Canon bodies, Handheld Night scene produces a slightly softer result with lower noise and superior detail to the single-shot equivalent.

The crops from the D600's 24.3 Megapixel sensor show a smaller area with larger detail than those from the 20.2 Megapixel 6D. As with my outdoor comparisons, there's fractionally more detail from the D600, but it's very close. In terms of visible noise when viewed at 100 percent though, there's little to separate these crops in the 50 to 400 ISO range. At 800 ISO the D600 crop looks to have a little bit of a texture in the wall but you have to look hard to spot it. At 1600 ISO though, it's definitely more apparent, there's a graininess and some colour noise in the flat coloured wall to the right of the memorial panel that's absent in the EOS 6D crop on the left.

From there upwards you can see the usual processing strategies of Canon and Nikon at work. Canon remains quite noise averse and turns up the processing to eliminate visible speckles at the cost of smearing. Nikon continues to prefer a more hands-off approach with lower noise reduction meaning more visible artefacts, but greater detail remaining. This is most apparent at 12800 ISO, and it's really down to personal choice which you prefer. What we're looking at here though is mostly different approaches to processing and noise reduction. To find out how much noise there is without processing, we'll need to look at RAW files with noise reduction turned off, and you can see how they look in my Canon EOS 6D RAW noise results page. Or head over to my Canon EOS 6D sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.


Canon EOS 6D JPEG
 
Nikon D600 JPEG
     
50 ISO
50 ISO
     
100 ISO
100 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
     
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
     
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
     
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
     
12800 ISO
12800 ISO
     
25600 ISO
25600 ISO
     
51200 ISO
51200 ISO Not available
     
102400 ISO
102400 ISO Not available
     
Handheld Night Scene 3200 ISO

Canon EOS 6D results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise


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