Nikon Noise Test

Around a week ago Andreas E posted the results of a massive Nikon noise test in which he compared the ISO performance of 11 Nikon digital SLRs. That’s almost all of Nikon’s lineup from the original D1 through to the just-released D40x, with the exception of the D100, D70s, D2Hs and D2Xs (the original D70, D2H and D2X were tested).

It’s obvious that Andreas E took a lot of effort to execute the test in as controlled a setup as possible. I was also pleasantly surprised by his target choice, which mixed large dark areas, objects with fine detail, objects with varying color saturation and a color patch chart. Combining these attributes in a single setup allows you to evaluate their response to camera processing.

Quick take? Later is better. At least with noise.

With each body iteration Nikon appears to tweak its processing to cut down on noise across uniformly colored regions and maintain color saturation over increasing ISOs while avoiding smearing fine detail. It’s amazing to see how the D40X improves on the D70 especially considering the former’s extra 4MP resolution.

That said, when the D80 was released I resolved to wait out Nikon’s current DSLR lineup, which, since 2004 has been built around iterations of four sensor families – 4MP LBCAST, 6MP and 10MP Sony CCD and 12MP Sony CMOS. I wonder if the next generation bodies will use more of the same or whether we’ll see substantial technology changes.

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