Compared to...

For the sake of this review we're doing a direct scene comparison between the D30 and the Nikon D1 as well as a resolution and colour comparison to the S1 Pro (which we reviewed last month).

Even though Canon have made it quite clear that the D30 was never meant to compete with the D1 we have little else to compare it to, the D30 is certainly better than any "prosumer" compact digital camera so that really only leaves us with the S1 Pro and D1, as we now have a D1 in-house it was a simple enough job to compare the two cameras. The set up was as follows:

Canon EOS-D30: Canon EF 17-35mm L F2.8 lens, Manual Mode, Auto White Balance
Nikon D1: Nikon AFS 17-35mm ED F2.8 lens, Manual Mode, Auto White Balance
Lighting: 2 x 800W studio lights with dichroic daylight filters bounced off a white ceiling reflector.

Something to consider when looking at these images is that the D30 has 160 more horizontal and 128 more vertical pixels (should this have any major bearing on the interpretation of the D1's resolution). To be fair to the D1 we only compare it to the D30's ISO 200 image, if you're interested in the ISO 100 image you can grab it here.

Scene Comparison @ ISO 200, JPEG FINE

Exposure: 1/5s F9.0

Canon EOS-D30 @ ISO 200 Nikon D1 @ ISO 200

As I said earlier, D1 owners are begging (and have been for several months) Nikon for a firmware update which will fix the obvious problem with the D1's JPEG format, jaggies, over sharpening, poor colours and noise (where there really shouldn't be any) have forced many D1 users to switch to RAW for all their shooting (which produces much better results but is much more costly in storage and time). On balance I feel the D30 performs very well against a camera costing $2,000 more.

Scene Comparison @ ISO 200, RAW

Exposure: 1/5s F9.0. D30 image converted using Canon TWAIN, D1 image converted using Bibble (WB Sunny, No Auto Level, Gamma Corrected).

Canon EOS-D30 @ ISO 200, RAW Nikon D1 @ ISO 200, RAW
Download as:
8-bit TIFF 4,185 KB
Download as:
8-bit TIFF 4,512 KB
D1 NEF 3,961 KB

High ISO comparison

Early adopters of the D1 were disappointed to find very strong pattern noise (a repeated diagonal or vertical line pattern) across images at high ISO's (sensitivities). The comparisons below compare the D30's noise to the D1 at ISO 400, 800 and 1600.

ISO 400, 1/2s F9.0

Canon EOS-D30 @ ISO 400 Nikon D1 @ ISO 400

ISO 800, 1/3s F9.0

Canon EOS-D30 @ ISO 800 Nikon D1 @ ISO 800

ISO 1600, 1/6s F9.0

Canon EOS-D30 @ ISO 1600 Nikon D1 @ ISO 1600

Conclusion? Hmm.. Well I wouldn't want to use either of these cameras for anything too critical at ISO 1600, certainly nothing that wasn't going to be reduced in size. Shooting for the web, smallish prints or a family album and you could certainly get away with ISO 800. The D30's noise looks more "film like" in that it's random, not a defined pattern like the D1, so that probably makes it easier to remove, but overall I'd probably call this part of the comparison a dead heat.