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Nikon D3200 Ken McMahon, June 2012
 
 

Nikon D3200 vs Sony NEX-7 vs Canon EOS T2i / 550D noise

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  Nikon D3200 results
1 Nikon D3200 Quality
2 Nikon D3200 RAW vs JPEG
3 Nikon D3200 Noise
5 Nikon D3200 Sample images

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions , I shot this scene with the Nikon D3200, the Sony NEX-7 and the Canon EOS T2i / 550D within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

All three cameras were fitted with their respective 18-55mm kit lenses set to their wide angle 18mm focal length and all were set to Aperture priority exposure mode with the ISO senstivity set manually.


The above shot was taken with the Nikon D3200 with the AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens. For these tests the camera was placed on a tripod and the D3200's Active D-Lighting tonal enhancement was turned off. Auto Lighting Optimzer on the Canon EOS T2i / 550D was disabled as was D-Range Optimizer on the Sony NEX-7. Noise reduction for all three cameras was left on default settings. In Aperture priority mode with the aperture set to f4 the camera metered an exposure of 1/4 at 100 ISO.The Canon EOS T2i / 550D metered the same exposure and the Sony NEX-7 was adjusted by 1EV to produce an equivalent exposure.

The 100 ISO crop from the Nikon D3200 is by no means noise free, you can see a little bit of texture in the cream coloured wall and the dark areas of the memorial frame, but it's not interfering with detail and you'd have to be looking very hard to spot it. The noise level increases appreciably in the 200 ISO crop, but it's still negligible.

At 400 ISO there's another ramp up and this time it's enough to make a difference to the amount of detail you can see in the crop. The text isn't as crisp as in the earlier two crops and edges are starting to get a little fuzzy. At 800 ISO you really don't have to look too hard to see the graininess over the whole of the crop area. Having said that, other than looking a little more contrasty and less saturated the 800 ISO shot is perfectly usable at less than 1:1 sizes.

At 1600 ISO we're definitely beyond the point where you'd consider the D3200's image quality good enough for 1:1 reproduction, but despite increasingly noisy and clumpy pixels, the 3200 to 12800 ISO settings provide passable results viewed at smaller sizes on screen.

Given the slightly more punchy results produced by the Sony NEX-7 in the outdoor test, you might have expected it to perform less well than the D3200 in this high ISO Noise test, but in fact the opposite is the case. At the base 100 ISO setting the NEX-7 starts out with a better result and at 400 ISO, where there's clearly visible grain in the D3200 crop the NEX-7 is looking a lot cleaner. The 1600 ISO crop provides a bit more of a clue to the cause of the difference, the NEX-7's noise reduction is simply more effective than the D3200's. To be sure, some of the detail in the NEX-7 crop looks smoothed, but I think this is overall a better result than the more laissez faire Nikon approach. And lest we forget the Sony also has the advantage of multi-frame noise reduction in its Handheld Twilight mode. I of course understand the NEX-7 is a more expensive camera, but it's interesting to see two different processing approaches to what are almost certainly the same sensor.

Compared to the 18 Megapixel Canon EOS T2i / 550D, at the lower ISO sensitivity settings there's actually very little in it, but from about 400 ISO upwards the T2i / 550D has cleaner crops with less visible noise than the D3200. It'll be interesting to see what sensor Canon has in store for its next range of entry-level DSLRs and how it compares to the D3200.

Now head over to my D3200 sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.


Nikon D3200
 
Sony NEX-7
 
Canon EOS T2i / 550D
100 ISO
100 ISO
100 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
Hi1 12800 ISO
12800 ISO
H 12800 ISO
16000 ISO Not available
16000 ISO
16000 ISO Not available

Nikon D3200 results : Quality / RAW vs JPEG / Noise



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