20D vs D60 ISO test

Started Jan 3, 2005 | Discussions thread
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Ron Parr
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20D vs D60 ISO test
Jan 3, 2005

I'm in the process of evaluating my 20D in comparison to my old D60. To this end, I took a series of shots at varying ISOs, ranging from -2 underexposure to +2 overexposure.

For the impatient, here's the link to the pictures:

http://bellman.cs.duke.edu/~parr/train/

The directories are pretty self explanatory. The files are numbered in order of increasing ISO (100-800 on the D60, 100-3200 on the 20D). The exif headers are intact in case you get confused about which file is which.

I converted everything in EVU 1.2 (DPP doesn't support the D60 and ACR doesn't push well). I set sharpening to 0, WB to tungsten, and saved as highest quality jpeg.

I'll talk in general about pulling first, and then go into a discussion of specific ISOs. Neither camera recovered from overexposure well. The 20D seemed to blow out to white/gray a little sooner than the D60. (Note the highlights on the gold bells/valves on the train in the pushed shots.) However, the 20D was better behaved overall in the sense that it tended towards desaturation more than wild color shifts. It seems that neither camera really has a full stop of latitude here, so another test with less than one stop of overexposure is probably required.

A comment about pattern noise: There has been much talk about banding in 20D shots. I definitely see it in some of the shots posted here at dpreview. For ISO 100-1600, with a little imagination I can see some faint banding in the +2 pushed shots that I've posted, but it really takes some imagination. With pushed ISO 3200, I can definitely see banding but I never expected perfect pushed ISO 3200 shots. Interestingly, I can also see some banding in areas of some of the D60 shots if I use my imagination.

A comment about noise reduction: I see no evidence of smoothing type noise reduction applied by either camera. 20D jpegs straight from the camera are a bit softer at ISO 1600 and 3200, but this appears to be something with the camera's jpeg engine. This does not occur in RAW converted files. More discussion of this:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1019&message=11601465

ISO 100: The 20D is noticeably inferior to the D60 here with more noise in the shadows and less latitude to push. This is really evident when comparing the +2 pushed ISO 100 shots from both cameras.

ISO 200: These are very close with perhaps a slight edge to the D60.

ISO 400: The 20D has the edge here.

ISO 800 and up: The 20D pulls ahead by a large margin. ISO 1600 from the 20D is better than ISO 800 on the D60.

Conclusions: Overall, I'm a bit disappointed with ISO 100 on my 20D, but very pleased with the higher ISOs.

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