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Nikon D7000 Gordon Laing, December 2010
 

Nikon D7000 results : Real-life resolution (JPEG) / Real-life resolution (RAW) / High ISO Noise
 
Nikon D7000 vs Canon EOS 60D High ISO Noise (JPEGs using default settings)

 
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To compare noise levels under real-life conditions we shot this scene with the Nikon D7000 and Canon EOS 60D within a few moments of each other using their best-quality JPEG settings and at each of their ISO settings. See our upcoming review for RAW results. Scroll down this page for a comparison with the Nikon D90.

Each camera was fitted with its respective kit lens, the Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR and Canon EF-S 18-135mm IS, both set to f8, adjusted to deliver the same field of view, and focused using Live View at the highest magnification.


Noise Reduction was set to the default options on each camera, although we disabled any automatic contrast-enhancing modes as these can artificially introduce noise. As such, Active D-Lighting on the D7000 and Auto Lighting Optimizer on the Canon were disabled. The image above was taken with the Nikon D7000 at 100 ISO with an exposure of 1 second and the lens set to 24mm f8; the original Large Fine JPEG measured 6.04MB. The crops below are taken from the area marked with a red square and presented here at 100%. The crops from the Canon EOS 60D show a slightly smaller area due to its slightly higher resolution.

Note the D7000, like other Nikon DSLRs we've tested, initially suggested a longer exposure using its Matrix metering system - in this case, an exposure of 1.6 seconds. While this produced a fairly pleasing result to look at, most of the shadow areas were brightened to a point where any effective comparison of noise levels proved impossible; the bright highlight areas also became saturated. So we applied -0.7EV of exposure compensation to the D7000 to deliver a series of images which contained true shadow detail for comparison; the resulting exposures were also much more faithful to the original scene.

With -0.7EV applied, the D7000 metered an exposure of 1 second at f8 / 100 ISO. Coincidentally that was the same exposure metered by the Canon EOS 60D without any compensation applied. This comes as no surprise though as in previous comparisons we've found Nikon DSLRs regularly metering longer exposures than Canon models; you can see another example of this in our first Outdoor results page.

Moving onto the crops below, the first thing that's obvious is a different approach to image processing. Each camera's Auto White Balance has evaluated the scene slightly differently, with the EOS 60D looking a little warmer, although it's no better for it. More importantly the D7000 looks noticeably crisper using its kit lens and default JPEG processing style, leaving some of the colour details on the EOS 60D looking comparatively muddy. The EOS 60D's two extra Megapixels may be delivering a slightly tighter crop, but there's no obvious benefit in resolved detail here, at least again with the kit lenses and default processing style.

The pixel-peepers among us will notice evidence of subtle noise textures on both cameras even at their lowest sensitivities, but most would be very happy with the output at 100 and 200 ISO.

With the sensitivity increased to 400 ISO, the noise patterns have become more obvious, as have each camera's strategy for handling them. The D7000, like its predecessors, has opted to leave its fairly fine-grained noise reasonably visible, while the EOS 60D has attempted to iron some of it out with what looks like slightly higher noise reduction. This becomes more apparent at 800 and 1600 ISO, and while the preference in style is entirely personal, we'd say the D7000's noise pattern looks a little more natural than the EOS 60D's.

What's important and impressive though is both cameras are still delivering detailed and very usable results at 800 and 1600 ISO.

At 3200 ISO, both cameras are exhibiting higher noise levels, but the D7000 has taken a visible lead in detail retention, while the EOS 60D has become relatively muddy and ill-defined.

With the sensitivity increased to 6400 ISO, the story takes a dramatic turn: the EOS 60D's quality takes a significant dive, and while the D7000 is also noisy at this point, it looks much preferable. Likewise at 12800 ISO, where the EOS 60D is visibly suffering to a greater extent. The D7000 then attempts a piece of pointless one-upmanship with its maximum setting of 25600 ISO, which unsurprisingly delivers a horrible-looking result, albeit one which isn't far removed from the EOS 60D's 12800 ISO sample had greater noise reduction had been applied.

So default processing strategies aside, we'd say both cameras perform similarly up to 800 ISO. At 1600 and 3200 ISO, the D7000 begins to enjoy a small but noticeable benefit, then at 6400 ISO and above, the D7000's lead becomes decisive. While the 25600 ISO setting is a step too far, the results here for the D7000 are very impressive. Like its predecessor, noise may be visible from low sensitivities, but it's always natural-looking, and overall the camera delivers very pleasing results throughout its range using the default settings.

Speaking of the D7000's predecessor, see how it compares against the D90 by scrolling beyond the crops below. Alternatively check out more real-life images in our Nikon D7000 sample images gallery, where you'll also be able to download several files for evaluation on your own computers. Or if you've already seen enough, head straight to our Verdict.


Nikon D7000 (JPEG using in-camera defaults)
with Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR
 
Canon EOS 60D (JPEG using in-camera defaults)
with Canon EF-S 18-135mm IS
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
     
H1.0 (12800 ISO)
H (12800 ISO)
     
H2.0 (25600 ISO)
25600 ISO not available


Nikon D7000 vs Nikon D90 High ISO Noise (JPEGs using default settings)

 
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To compare noise levels under real-life conditions we shot this scene with the Nikon D7000 and Nikon D90 within a few moments of each other using their best-quality JPEG settings and at each of their ISO settings. See our upcoming review for RAW results.

Each camera was fitted in turn with the same sample of the Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR kit lens, set to f8, adjusted to deliver the same field of view and focused using Live View at the maximum magnification. A comparison with the EOS 60D is above.


Noise Reduction was set to the default options on each camera, although we disabled any automatic contrast-enhancing modes as these can artificially introduce noise. As such, Active D-Lighting on both the D7000 and D90 was disabled. The image above was taken with the Nikon D7000 at 100 ISO with an exposure of 1 second and the lens set to 24mm f8; the original Large Fine JPEG measured 6.04MB. The crops below are taken from the area marked with a red square and presented here at 100%. The crops from the Nikon D90 show a larger area due to its lower resolution.

Despite its less sophisticated metering system, the D90 actually suggested exactly the same exposure as its successor here: 1.6 seconds at 100 ISO and f8. As above though, this delivered an image that was too bright for a usable comparison of noise levels in shadow regions. So we applied -0.7EV of exposure compensation to both Nikon bodies to deliver a series of images which contained true shadow detail for comparison; the resulting exposures were also much more faithful to the original scene.

With -0.7EV applied, the D7000 and D90 metered an exposure of 1 second at f8 / 100 ISO. Coincidentally that was the same exposure metered by the Canon EOS 60D without any compensation applied. This comes as no surprise though as in previous comparisons we've found Nikon DSLRs regularly metering longer exposures than Canon models; you can see another example of this in our first Outdoor results page.

In terms of processing styles using their default settings, both the D7000 and D90 are fairly similar, although the crops from the new model look a little crisper and contain finer details; it's not a massive difference, but the D7000's output is certainly preferred here.

At lower sensitivities, both cameras share a similar approach to noise and noise reduction, with roughly the same degree and style of artefacts when viewed at 100% - although obviously the D7000's higher resolution means these artefacts will appear smaller if images from both cameras were printed at the same size.

At 1600 ISO and above though, an interesting difference begins to emerge: the D90 gradually loses saturation, until it becomes quite dull at its maximum sensitivity of 6400 ISO. In the meantime, while the D7000 shares a similar degree of background noise, it impressively manages to hold onto colour much better - or at least compensate for it automatically using the default settings.

So the D7000 manages to increase its resolving power over the D90 while maintaining roughly the same degree of noise artefacts when viewed at 100% - and remember when images from each are printed the same size, the D7000's noise artefacts will appear smaller thanks to its higher resolution. Then at the highest sensitivities, the D7000 retains colour saturation, while the D90 gradually loses it. Overall, this is an impressive result for the D7000 and bodes well for other cameras employing the same 16 Megapixel sensor.

Now lets see more real-life images in our Nikon D7000 sample images gallery, where you'll also be able to download several files for evaluation on your own computers. Or if you've seen enough, head straight to our Verdict.


Nikon D7000 (JPEG using in-camera defaults)
with Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR
 
Nikon D90 (JPEG using in-camera defaults)
with Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR
100 ISO
L1.0 (100 ISO)
     
200 ISO
200 ISO
     
400 ISO
400 ISO
     
800 ISO
800 ISO
     
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
     
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
     
6400 ISO
H1.0 (6400 ISO)
     
H1.0 (12800 ISO)
12800 ISO not available
     
H2.0 (25600 ISO)
25600 ISO not available


Nikon D7000 results : Real-life resolution (JPEG) / Real-life resolution (RAW) / High ISO Noise



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