CCD vs CMOS: Real World Testing (D60 vs D7000)

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The Big One
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CCD vs CMOS: Real World Testing (D60 vs D7000)
7 months ago

For a while, I have been interested in the recent 'CCD revival' among forum members here. Some swear by the differences (especially in skin tones) between CCD cameras such as D200, and are not fans of the modern CMOS skin tones (such as those from the infamous D7000).

Well, I decided to test some of these differences out myself, so I picked up a D60 yesterday, and have spent the morning doing some tests. First some comments:

  • I always shoot raw, and develop in Lightroom; thus, OOC JPGs don't matter much to me.
  • I am doing more portraits with lights + umbrellas, so low ISO is perfectly fine
  • In my tests, I used common settings in M mode, however I did use TTL so there may be some slight differences in exposure (but this is generally how I shoot portraits, so it is true to my real world experience).

Normally, when shooting portraits with the D7000, I import with default settings (using calibration option 'Adobe Standard'), and then adjust color to taste using (normally in this order) white balance, exposure, highlights / shadows, and finally vibrancy / saturation.

These sample portraits were taken using my Sigma 50-150/2.8, at f/2.8 and f/4, an SB-700 flash in commander mode on camera (with -1EV compensation), with an SB-600 behind a shoot-through umbrella softbox (on a lightstand camera left and above the subject). Both cameras were at 1/100s and ISO 100.

When I first imported them into Lightroom and set the white balance to 'flash', I noticed some very large differences; the D7000 was about 0.5EV brighter, with a slight greenish / yellow tint, while the D60 was darker with a very slight red tint. (It is hard to say which is more accurate... it is pretty much a mix of attributes. The D60 color is a bit more accurate, but I like the exposure on the D7000 better.) (And BTW, this is how he smiles... big mouth and all!)

Normally at this point when using just the D7000, I would proceed to change the picture using development settings as outlined above; however I decided I would experiment with the calibration controls at this point, to see if I could get similar default output on both the cameras.

So, next I started looking at the different profile options. The D60 has more options than the D7000 does; most notably the D2X modes 1 - 3. While playing with these settings, I found the D2X Mode 1 to be preferable: pretty close overall. For the D7000, Camera Portrait was nicest; slightly less green, but still not quite right:

Finally, I played with the sliders on the D7000 until it was very similar to the D60 in D2X mode. I ended up (for now, at least) with a boost to the blue saturation, a boost to the green hue, and a slight magenta tinge to the shadow white balance. On the D60 I also made a slight boost to the green hue as well. They ended up pretty close to each other; there are still differences (the orange on his collar looks almost florescent on the D7000, and I may have slightly overcompensated the reds on the D7000 as well; however at this point I don't think I could pick out which camera is which just by looking at the thumbnails, whereas I could before.

So, what have I figured out from this exercise?

Well, first and foremost, is that pretty much any camera released in the last 5 years is perfectly adequate as far as image quality is concerned. I would have no problem printing the shots from either of these cameras at my 'standard' size of 12x18. There is slightly more detail in the D7000 shots, but for portraits it would not make a difference; 10MP vs 16MP doesn't really give you *that* much extra detail. (Sure, landscapes would be a different matter...)

Second, is that different cameras do have different colors (or at least the default Adobe Standard implementations are quite different for the different cameras); however much of that can be compensated for in post processing if you shoot raw. I am sure that if I had a color checker swatch I could get them even closer, but even just eyeballing it is pretty decent.

Third, I probably should have adjusted the calibration settings before today!

Below are some other shots from today as well, shown using the calibrated settings described above. As you can see, they are very close when looking at skin tones; while after the initial import I could easily say which camera shot which, after the adjustments it would be pretty difficult.

If you have any questions please feel free to ask, and I will do my best to answer.

Cheers

 The Big One's gear list:The Big One's gear list
Nikon D60 Nikon D7000 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G II Nikon AF Nikkor 24mm f/2.8D Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D +4 more
Nikon D200 Nikon D60 Nikon D7000
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