How does the D3 achieve such high ISO?

Started Feb 17, 2008 | Discussions thread
Marianne Oelund Veteran Member • Posts: 7,788
Re: Why? And, 1Ds3?

SDRebel wrote:

I'm not certain I understand the implications of all the numbers.
Nevertheless, at the very least I have several questions.

First, why is the D3 producing better marks in your analysis?

If you mean physically why, there are two contributions:
1. Sensel size. The D3's larger sensels occupy about 38% more area.

2. Quantum efficiency. The D3's microlens design (plus, perhaps other unknown changes secret to Nikon) gives it about 25% greater efficiency at converting photons to captured electrons.

Combining the two, the D3 will produce about 70% more electrons per sensel, for the same exposure. More electrons equate to better signal/noise ratio, since this statistical contribution to noise (termed shot noise) only varies as the square root of the number of electrons captured.

Other than the above, there is little difference between the cameras regarding noise levels, i.e., sensor read noise is not significantly different.

Second, how the does 1Ds3 stack up (I assume you were reporting on
the 1D3 numbers)?

Yes, they are 1D Mk III numbers. I haven't seen data for the 1Ds Mk III yet.

But, what about resolution and dynamic range?

Coincidentally, the D3 read noise is higher by about the same proportion as its electron count, thus DR of the two cameras comes out nearly the same.

Resolution comparisons are fraught with points of contention, and I'll not venture there. Suffice it to say that, in my type of work, I find that optical quality and user technique are more important than the sensor's pixel count, when comparing sensors in the same resolution "ballpark."

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