DSLR Comparison Test 2

This test was requested by Chris Sweet. I am comparing a Nikon D200 and D300 at ISO 800 and 1600. Chris wanted to see NEF files to check camera performance if he processed them with ACR.

Update, Dec. 17, 2007:

Chris Sweet did an analysis of the images, and provided full size JPG's processed in ACR. His comments are below the images, and I have provided links to the JPG's as well.

Test Conditions:

I simply took one picture at each ISO setting on each camera of a pot of flowers in my kitchen, using incandescent lighting. I even put a couple of old Kodak grey cards I had in back of the vase, in case someone wants to check white balance.

I wanted to have all cameras be set the same way, so I:
-Used the same lens (Nikon 50F1.8)
-Used Manual mode
-Metered with a Sekonic incident meter
-Set both cameras to ISO 800, and then 1600
-Used the same aperture (F2.8)
-Used the same shutter speed (1/30th of a second for ISO 800, and 1/60th for ISO 1600). Incidentally, matrix metering on both cameras nailed the exposure right on in this test.)
-Shot in RAW mode
-Used a sturdy tripod, trying to get the same angle of view on each camera.
-Set both cameras to Incandescent white balance.
-Turned of D-light, Noise Reduction, and set all cameras to Neutral or Factory Defaults.
-Turned off RAW Baseline adjustments (color aberration and noise reduction) that were suggested by CaptureNX. -Resized to 640x480 Saved as JPEG in highest quality mode for the links below.
-Uploaded the JPG's and NEF files here.

The focus was set to AF-S, single point, center focus point of each camera, and focused on the matchbox in the middle of the frame, without focus assist light.

D200 ISO 800 Test Shot - click on image for NEF file (12MB).

Click here for full size JPG

D300 ISO 800 Test Shot - click on image for NEF file (12MB).

Click here for full size JPG

D200 ISO 1600 Test Shot - click on image for NEF file (12MB).

Click here for full size JPG

D300 ISO 1600 Test Shot - click on image for NEF file (12MB).

Click here for full size JPG

Make your own judgements.

Christ Sweet comments, after processing the RAW files:

These comments are lifted from a thread in the D100/D200/D300 forum at forums.dpreview.com.

"OK so here are the crops. Processed in ACR. Crops in PSCS3. Saved to JPEG quality 10.

I had to set the D300 file to -.60 Exposure with Highlight Recovery of 20 to equal the D200.

This is a very real and fair advantage the D300 has. It is more sensitive to light. By the looks of things about a half to 3/4 of a stop. Also I had to tweak the WB between the two. Both at 2500 but the D200 at +3 and the D300 at -1. This is because I have not run calibrations for these particular cameras yet so I did this as a rough way of equalizing them. Noise reduction was set to 0,0 and Capture sharpening was set to 95, .6, 40, 25."


"The focus might not be exactly perfect but I think you did a great job. These are as close as you can come to a level test. I left the D300 crops larger because that is a real advantage it has.

I have spent a few minutes looking at them in PS and ACR. My take is that the D300 is as good or maybe slightly better at ISO1600 than the D200 at ISO800. About a stop maybe a little more. Also adding a mild NR in ACR, like 5, 15 seems to help quite a bit without sacrificing too much detail."