D4s vs D4 high ISO comparison with Zeiss 55/1.4 Otus @ f/4

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onasj
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D4s vs D4 high ISO comparison with Zeiss 55/1.4 Otus @ f/4
9 months ago

I had the opportunity to test both a D4s and a D4 together. Here is a side-by-side comparison of their high ISO performance using the world's best DSLR lens (believe the hype), the Zeiss Otus 55 mm f/1.4. I carefully AF fine tuned both cameras with this lens using Lens Align II, then shot the same object, an extraordinarily finely carved vessel, at f/4, the aperture at which the Otus is sharpest in the center.

Picture control settings were identical, sharpness and noise reduction settings were identical (default), exposure adjustment was set to 0.0 for both, and WB was auto for both. Auto ISO was used for both (which is why the photos do not exactly match in ISO value in one case, for which I included D4 pictures with ISO values slightly above and slightly below that of the D4s. You'll see that the auto WB resulted in a much whiter (less warm) picture from the D4s than from the D4 despite the same ambient light (~2700K indoor lighting from LED and CFL bulbs). The D4 auto WB reflects more accurately what the image looks like to the human eye, though the D4s auto WB much more accurately represented what the object would look like in more balanced studio lighting (closer to 4000K or 5500K)

You can see that the D4s indeed has significantly better high ISO performance than the D4. The test actually favors the D4 since the D4s exposed brighter than the D4, presumably because the D4s images were taken with whole-frame autoexposure, whereas the D4 images were taken with center-weighted exposure (perhaps this also accounts for the WB differences?). But even with that disadvantage, the D4s clearly has the better low light / high ISO performance. In fact whereas I considered 12500 to be the ISO limit for the D4 under most circumstances (I'm picky, I realize), I consider 33000 to be quite acceptable for the D4s, giving it more than 1 stop of advantage. Even at ISO 7200 you can clearly see the advantage for the D4s. Of course at more reasonable ISOs (< 4000), noise was very low for both cameras.

All the attached files are 100% enlargement screen captures in ViewNX2 of the unprocessed 14-bit RAW files (NEFs).

D4, 7200 ISO

D4s, 7200 ISO

D4, 30800 ISO

D4s, 30800 ISO

D4, 20800 ISO

D4, 25600 ISO

D4s, 22800 ISO

I hope this comparison is interesting and useful to people.  Frankly, I was surprised after seeing Alain's Df vs D4s comparison and did not expect such a significant difference in high ISO performance.  Part of that difference could be simply because the Df has (supposedly) better low-light performance than the D4, but I doubt that's the entire story here.

Best,

David

Nikon D4 Nikon D4s Nikon Df
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onasj
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Re: D4s vs D4 high ISO comparison with Zeiss 55/1.4 Otus @ f/4
In reply to onasj, 9 months ago

One more note: you can see that the D4s is doing unusual things with the out-of-focus regions of the image, presumably to better control noise at high ISOs.  To my eye the out-of-focus regions of the D4s image actually look less natural (more artifacts) than those of the D4 because of this processing.  However, there is no doubt that the amount of chroma noise, especially in the shadows and dark grey bottom third of the vessel, is MUCH lower with the D4s than the D4.  Since these images were all shot RAW and I'm showing the RAW renderings in View NX2, I presume this means the actual sensor and raw file output of the D4s is significantly different than that of the D4.  I.e., the apparent improvements in the D4s are not simply attributed to better NEF-to-JPG conversion.

-David

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Shotcents
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Re: D4s vs D4 high ISO comparison with Zeiss 55/1.4 Otus @ f/4
In reply to onasj, 9 months ago

I must say that the WB issue is what concerns me more here than anything with noise.

Robert

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onasj
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Re: D4s vs D4 high ISO comparison with Zeiss 55/1.4 Otus @ f/4
In reply to onasj, 9 months ago

I was curious why the WB was so different between the D4 and D4s, and I believe a potential explanation is the partial incompatibility of View NX2 with D4s NEFs.  View NX2 was not able to use different WB settings with the D4s NEFs (greyed out slider and WB menu), whereas the D4 NEFs could be manipulated easily in ViewNX2.

So I installed Nikon's new Capture NX-D (who names these things???) beta software, and re-rendered the D4 and D4s NEFs under an incandescent WB setting.  I also decreased the EV of the D4s images by -0.3 to compensate for the different exposures.  Here are the results (showing only ISO 7200 and ISO 31500):

D4s, ISO 7200

D4, ISO 7200

D4s, ISO 31500

D4, ISO 31500

-David

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inasir1971
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You exposed the D4s for longer than the D4
In reply to onasj, 9 months ago

I' sorry but your comparison is pointless as your exposures are different - your test wasn't properly done.

In both cases your D4 exposure was shorter i.e.. 1/125s and 1/500s for D4 vs 1/100 s and 1/400s for D4s.
Check your exposures - you are giving longer exposures to the D4s than the D4.Since this is well into digital gain territory, when you equalize brightness, you are effectively lowering the D4s ISO.

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onasj
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Re: You exposed the D4s for longer than the D4
In reply to inasir1971, 9 months ago

Thanks; here's a comparison with the same shutter speed (1/320):

D4s, 1/320 s, f/4, ISO 22800

D4, 1/320 s, f/4, ISO 20800

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Thilo
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Re: You exposed the D4s for longer than the D4
In reply to onasj, 9 months ago

You need the same speed, f-stop, ISO, WB and RAW-converter, otherwise it's pointless to compare...

Best regards

Thilo

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David314
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Too many variables changed
In reply to onasj, 9 months ago

onasj wrote:

I had the opportunity to test both a D4s and a D4 together. Here is a side-by-side comparison of their high ISO performance using the world's best DSLR lens (believe the hype), the Zeiss Otus 55 mm f/1.4. I carefully AF fine tuned both cameras with this lens using Lens Align II, then shot the same object, an extraordinarily finely carved vessel, at f/4, the aperture at which the Otus is sharpest in the center.

All the attached files are 100% enlargement screen captures in ViewNX2 of the unprocessed 14-bit RAW files (NEFs).

I hope this comparison is interesting and useful to people. Frankly, I was surprised after seeing Alain's Df vs D4s comparison and did not expect such a significant difference in high ISO performance. Part of that difference could be simply because the Df has (supposedly) better low-light performance than the D4, but I doubt that's the entire story here.

Best,

David

unfortunately, too many variables changed between images - and Nikon has often changed the amount of noise reduction that is applied between cameras, in their View NX2 and Capture NX2 software -

I know it is a lot of work to post these kind of test and it is appreciated,

what would be truly useful is two raw images at the same ISO, shutter speed, and aperture.

so no auto ISO

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Dewcal
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Re: You exposed the D4s for longer than the D4
In reply to onasj, 9 months ago

Thanks for doing these tests - good to see "real life" images.  You seem to have been able to use a fairly short shutter time indicating a fiar amount of light available.  If you had time, I would be interested to see how the D4s can behave in low light - say 1/25sec @ f2.8, 12,800 ISO or even lower light.

Thanks again

Dave

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David314
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You want shadows
In reply to Dewcal, 9 months ago

Dewcal wrote:

Thanks for doing these tests - good to see "real life" images. You seem to have been able to use a fairly short shutter time indicating a fiar amount of light available. If you had time, I would be interested to see how the D4s can behave in low light - say 1/25sec @ f2.8, 12,800 ISO or even lower light.

Thanks again

Dave

there would be no difference - but what would be more useful is having an image with more dynamic range, particularly having dark shadows where the noise is more visible

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RedFox88
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Re: You exposed the D4s for longer than the D4
In reply to onasj, 9 months ago

This time you used different ISO.  Do you know how to use an SLR camera in a non-auto mode?

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onasj
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Re: You exposed the D4s for longer than the D4
In reply to RedFox88, 9 months ago

I had a brief window to capture these files; all subsequent analysis therefore had to be done with that one set of files, which you would know if you looked carefully at the data. Thus there is no 'this time' Red Fox, and I'm sorry if this information did not meet your sense if entitlement. Perhaps you will share better information with us, soon I hope.

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reginalddwight
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Re: D4s vs D4 high ISO comparison with Zeiss 55/1.4 Otus @ f/4
In reply to onasj, 9 months ago

Props to the OP for the efforts.

However, conclusions from these comparative photos between the D4 and D4S cannot be drawn with a strong level of confidence due to the dissimilar settings.

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CFynn
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Nice pot
In reply to onasj, 9 months ago

Nice pot. Where is it from, and what period?

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