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Serious doubts on the D7100 at high ISO

Started Mar 25, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Re: Serious doubts on the D7100 at high ISO
In reply to edo21, Mar 25, 2013

Those shots you've taken, except for the last one, are rather challenging; most of the town's buildings in the first pair are in deep shadow (metering dominated by the bright sky), and it's only a bit better with the 2nd pair; there, the lighter rock helps. The direct sunlight shot of the church front looks really quite good. Considering that this is ISO 1600 straight out of the camera, and at ISO 1600 the D90 is generating a lot of chroma noise, I'd consider it signficantly better than what the D90 can do at that sensitivity. I stop at ISO 800 with my D90. If you still have the D90, a shoot-off would settle a lot of doubts for you.

At the pixel level, the D7100 and D7000 don't actually measure out any better than the D90 in the ISO 400-1600 range; the extra stop of DR you get with them actually occurs at ISO 100. Where their benefits accrue is in the higher ISOs where the D90 can't go, and especially when you print. Here's the screen (pixel-level) and print DR of the 3 generations:

Notice what's happened; when you downsize your images to typical viewing resolutions (DXO's comparison is taken at 8MP), the higher resolution and very fine, smooth noise characteristics of the D7000 and especially the D7100 provide real benefits. They're never more than a stop, though, in bulk (averaged) measurements - but perceptually the higher ISO shots hold up a lot better than a D90 shot when postprocessed and denoised.

The benefits of the D7100 for the OOC photog are in its superior AF and its extremely high resolution, which give it a huge flexibility over the D90 in many situations. You can already see by some of the postings from the birders on this website that it can provide fabulous images. However, with suitable lenses and limited cropping, you can get very satisfying images out of a D90; photogs have been doing so for years with the D300s.

The D7000 and D7100 are holding the line on noise levels with major increases in resolution, and improving color rendition and noise characteristics - all which make postprocessors ecstatically happy. The D7000 made a lot of D90 owners happy with images straight out of the camera. The D7100 is more evolutionary, but it's still better.

If you want serious improvements in fundamental noise performance and color rendition without postprocessing, you'll have to go full-frame, I'm afraid. Here's the screen DR of the D600 in comparison:

The good news about the D7100 is how small the differences between it and the D600 appear to be - about a half-stop or so. But the D90 is no slouch.

Consider the D7100 for what it is - an extremely versatile and fully-featured DX camera. We've reached the point of diminishing returns in bulk sensor performance and are relying upon other techniques to extend the acceptable quality range of DX sensors. Postprocessing is the future.

 mosswings's gear list:mosswings's gear list
Olympus XZ-1 Olympus Stylus 1 Nikon D90 Nikon D7100 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR +5 more
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