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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nikon D90 Beats Nikon D3100 At HIGH ISO!

I was surfing around the photo world online last night and was surprised to see DXOMark has the test results for the Nikon D3100 up already.

I was even more surprised to see that when I ran the Nikon D90 against the Nikon D3100, the D90 kicked the D3100's butt by a significant margin at HIGH ISO. This morning I see 1001 Noisy Cameras has done a similar comparison stacking up the Nikon D3100 against the Nikon D5000, Nikon D90, Nikon D3000, and Nikon D300s.

The DXOMark test results surprised me as it isn't what I've been seeing from my tests. Thom Hogan has also said that from his testing, the D3100 "seems to beat the old 12mp sensor cameras in my low light tests (but only by a small amount)."

So what is going on here?

Why are mine and Thom's initial findings on the Nikon D3100 not jiving with the DXOMark sensor evaluation?

Could it be software related? I don't think so as I've been processing both D90 and D3100 photos I've been using for comparison in Nikon ViewNX2.

I'm drawing a blank at the moment for other possible reasons. Thought about bit depth, but that shouldn't be a factor. Thought about noise reduction, but again, not a factor as shot in RAW and processed with the same software.

The good news is that the Nikon D90 is holding it's own very nicely.

The bad news is that these aren't the same observations I've seen when shooting my Nikon D3100 against the Nikon D90.

I'm hoping Thom will comment on this as he's sure to see the DXOMark results and be questioning them as well.


Nuno Barreto said...

From the graphic at DxOMark, it seems D3100 beats D90 in high ISO by a small margin...

As for the noisy cameras link, it is linking to Thom Hogan website.

Anonymous said...

D90 is over-rated on dxomark. It has sneaky RAW NR that's not detected by dxomark so it ended up scoring better than it really is. Simple as that.

Anonymous said...

As I said D90 is overrated on dxomark (sneaky RAW NR). There is no way it's better than newer cameras that came after it, D300s, Kx, and especially Nex-5/3 that Sony claimed has better sensor than the older 12 MP CMOS. You are confused by the dxomark score because you never considered that D90 was always overrated on dxomark.

Matt Ballard said...

Nuno, the margin isn't really that small, especially when it seems to me that the D3100 is better than the D90 at high ISO by a half to 3/4 of a stop.

Thanks for letting me know the link was wrong. I've fixed it.

Matt Ballard said...

re: Anonymous - Not sure where you're getting your info that the D90 is over-rated by DXOMark. I haven't heard of any "sneaky RAW NR", and I have to disagree with you.

I can tell you from experience that the D90 was the best high ISO crop sensor until the D3100.

Pentax and Sony have never been able to tweak their sensors for maximum performance as well as Nikon can.

Anonymous said...

You have never heard of D90's sneaky NR and being overrated? Now you have! D90 was never better than Kx, D300s, and others. Let's look at Nex-5 that was rated lower than D90 on dxomark vs D90 images

Yes, D90 was overrated. When Sony says the 14 MP CMOS is better than the older 12 MP that's what it means.

The 16 MP sensor is even better (totally different design -- short signal path to the ADC with the dual noise reduction system). It won't matter where dxo would rate the 16 MP sensor. It's way better.

Matt Ballard said...

re: Anonymous - Can't say I completely disagree with you on what you're saying.

I can tell you that I've owned a pair of Nikon D300 bodies (shot with them for a few years as my main cameras) and the D90 does produce a better file than the D300. Not by a large margin, but it is better.

Regarding Sony, there hasn't been a Sony DSLR yet that has produced a better image than a Nikon DSLR using the same size sensor.

That said, I read the article at the link you provided, and it jives with my initial findings with my Nikon D3100.

I do believe the D3100 produces a better files than the Nikon D90, and I know the D7000 does by a significant margin. I'm just curious why DXOMark doesn't seem to support the same conclusions.