Studio Comparison (Low light)

The low light scene is shot with Auto White Balance, to show how the camera's JPEGs look under artificial light. Any 'keep warm tone' options are left at their default setting.

The low light scene Raws are processed to demonstrate the capability of cameras in low-light shooting situations. Noise reduction is minimized and the white balance is neutralized to reveal blue channel noise. The black level is lifted to prevent noise being hidden by clipping. A standardized amount of sharpening is applied in Photoshop.

Note: this page features our new interactive studio scene. Click here for instuctions on the widget.

At low ISOs in low tungsten light the Canon EOS 70D shows a tendency toward a more amber hue than its Nikon D7100 competitor. Manufacturers argue that this helps retain the 'atmosphere' of a scene but, given that under-correcting white balance is a convenient way of hiding blue-channel noise, it's easy to be skeptical when a scene looks this orange. This strong cast means both cameras struggle with purple tones in dim light at ISO 100, with deep violet being rendered very dark by ISO 1600. Despite the orange cast, the 70D handles skin tones reasonably well in this tricky lighting, and certainly does a better job than the Olympus E-M1, which gives some skin tones an unnatural orange glow (though the E-M1 does have a menu option to more fully correct for tungsten lighting, if you prefer).

The 70D's tendency to apply quite a lot of sharpening to make up for the amount of noise reduction it's applying works "pretty well" at moderate ISOs. At higher ISOs you can see the Canon taking a slightly less noisy but also less detailed approach than the Nikon, which is clearly seen if you "compare at a common output size".

In terms of noise and detail, the 70D has a slight edge over the smaller sensor "Olympus E-M1", giving a result that gives up very little, compared with the "Nikon D7100". At the highest ISO setting, both cameras are struggling but, if you have a look at how noisy the "Raw data" is, it's pretty impressive that both cameras are able to produce "JPEG images" with any discernable detail at all. Overall, then, the 70D offers a slight detail and noise advantage over the existing "18MP sensor" used in the 60D and 700D.