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Nikon D3000 Gordon Laing, October 2009

Nikon D3000 results : Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise

Nikon D3000 vs Canon EOS 1000D / XS vs Sony Alpha A230 Real-life resolution


To compare real-life performance we shot the same scene with the Nikon D3000, Canon EOS 1000D / XS and Sony Alpha A230 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings, lowest base sensitivities and default processing options.

Each camera was fitted with its respective kit lens (see details below) and adjusted to deliver the same vertical field of view. Each shot was taken in Aperture Priority at f8 with Auto White Balance.

The image above was taken with the Nikon D3000 at a sensitivity of 100 ISO and the kit lens set to 24mm f8; the original Large Fine JPEG file measured 4.49MB. The crops below are taken from the areas marked by the red squares and presented at 100%.

The most obvious difference between the three models below is a softer overall image from the Nikon D3000. This initially looks like a slight focusing error, but we retook the same composition multiple times with the same result. We also shot an alternative test composition, this time with the lenses zoomed-in, and again the same thing happened.

As you'll see in our RAW comparison at the bottom of this page though, the softness seen here is down to comparatively mild sharpening being applied to in-camera JPEGs. For some subjects you don't really notice, but at other times, such as here, the D3000 can come across as looking quite soft. This becomes all the more obvious when the Canon and Sony models pictured alongside have their sharpening settings turned-up higher than Nikon by default, but if you’re after something punchier from the D3000, it’s easily adjusted using the Picture Controls.

Beyond sharpening differences, you’ll notice Canon and Sony have opted for comparatively warm and cold white balances respectively, as we’ve also seen on their previous models. Finally, the Canon kit lens is exhibiting the most obvious coloured fringing in the mountain ridge crop although look closely and you’ll also see evidence of it on the Nikon and Sony samples too. The D3000 doesn't appear to correct fringing in-camera like other current Nikon DSLRs.

Looking beyond the sharpening differences, all three cameras are delivering essentially the same degree of real-life detail, which isn’t surprising considering they share the same sensor resolution and are operating here under ideal conditions at 100 ISO, f8 and bright sunlight. Despite these technical similarities though, there’s noticeable differences to how they handle noise at higher sensitivities, so to see how they compare, check out our Nikon D3000 High ISO Noise results.

Alternatively if you can wait a moment longer, scroll down to the bottom of this page to see what benefits there are to shooting in RAW with the D3000.

Nikon D3000
with Nikkor DX 18-55mm VR
Canon EOS 1000D / Rebel XS
with Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS
Sony Alpha DSLR-A230
with Sony DT 18-55mm SAM
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO

Nikon D3000: JPEG versus RAW

We additionally photographed the scene pictured above using the D3000's RAW plus JPEG mode, allowing us to compare images taken with exactly the same original data; (note the D3000 saves Normally-compressed JPEGs with its RAW files rather than the Fine compressed version used in the samples above). Below are crops taken from the in-camera Large Normal JPEG alongside the RAW version, processed using Nikon's optional Capture NX 2.2.2 using the default settings.

The processed RAW file below shows a dramatic improvement in sharpness over the in-camera JPEG, as if a veil has been lifted. Considering both crops below are made from the same original data it eliminates concerns over focusing errors discussed above. The fact is the Nikon D3000 applies relatively modest in-camera sharpening to its JPEGs by default. This is easily corrected – if desired – by boosting the Picture Control settings, but perhaps Nikon should have made the default settings for this budget model at little punchier by default. Its target audience of first-time DSLR owners may find it a little refrained when upgrading from a point and shoot.

To be fair to Nikon though, the earlier D60 went over-the-top in the other direction, with unrealistically vibrant processing. We criticised the D60 for this and are pleased to find a more natural approach here, but again just a little extra sharpening and contrast can work wonders on the D3000.

Now head on over to our High ISO Noise results page to see how it compares across its sensitivity range.

Nikon D3000: JPEG
with Nikkor DX 18-55mm VR
Nikon D3000: RAW
with Nikkor DX 18-55mm VR
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO

Nikon D3000 results : Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise

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