ISO Sensitivity / Noise levels (contd.)

Nikon D70 vs. Canon EOS 300D - scene comparison

Test Scene

Graphs and grey crops are useful for comparing the characteristics of one camera against another but often it's difficult to visualize just how much noise we would see with a standard deviation of '4' (or whatever). Below are a sequence of 100% crops taken from shots of the same moderately lit scene at each camera's full range of ISO sensitivities.

Test notes:

  • Shots taken at approximately 21°C (~70°F)
  • Lighting was daylight (approx. 6 EV)
  • Auto white balance
  • Aperture Priority (F10 - for good DOF & lens sharpness)


  • Nikon D70: Nikkor 50 mm F1.4 lens, Aperture Priority, Auto WB,
    Default Parameters, JPEG Large / Fine
  • Canon EOS 300D: Canon 50 mm F1.4 lens, Aperture Priority, Auto WB,
    Default Parameters (Standard), JPEG Large / Fine
Canon EOS 300D (1.6 sec, F10), 1,992 KB
Nikon D70 (1 sec, F10), 2,206 KB
Canon EOS 300D (0.8 sec, F10), 2,247 KB
Nikon D70 (1/2 sec, F10), 2,442 KB
Canon EOS 300D (0.4 sec, F10), 2,582 KB
Nikon D70 (1/4 sec, F10), 2,702 KB
Canon EOS 300D (1/5 sec, F10), 2,865 KB
Nikon D70 (1/8 sec, F10), 2,307 KB
Canon EOS 300D (1/10 sec, F10), 3,034 KB

It's clear that there really is very little visible difference between the noise levels of these two cameras. At ISO 1600 the D70 perhaps a little better than the 300D by keeping color noise to a minimum (its noise being more monochromatic). The other thing to consider is that both of these cameras in their default state have slightly different tone curves, the 300D being more contrasty. It's fair to say that both cameras are completely usable up to their highest sensitivity (ISO 1600) and are cleanest from ISO 400 downwards, the 300D with its silky smooth ISO 100 would perhaps be able to produce cleaner images in good light.

White Balance

As we have come to expect from the majority of digital cameras (be they SLR or compact) the D70 performs well in daylight and less well in artificial light. Outdoor white balance was very good with no hint of a cool or warm cast to the test chart or any of our 'everyday' samples. Under incandescent light the camera produced a warm pink cast, under fluorescent (cool white) light it produced that instantly recognizable green cast. The preprogrammed preset for incandescent light worked well, less well for fluorescent. Manual preset white balance was of course spot on every time, indeed Nikon should take some comfort that the D70's manual preset system never tripped up.

Settings: Parameters: Normal, ISO 200, Nikkor DX 18-70 mm, Small/Fine JPEG

Outdoors, Auto Outdoors, Cloudy (Sunny/Shade) Outdoors, Manual
Incandescent, Auto Incandescent, Incandescent Incandescent, Manual
Fluorescent, Auto Fluorescent, Fluorescent Fluorescent, Manual

White Balance Fine Tuning

Should the preprogrammed presets not perfectly match your lighting you can fine tune them by an arbitrary value of -3 to +3. As you can see from the samples below -3 produces a warmer white balance (less blue), +3 produces a cooler white balance (less red).

Settings: Parameters: Normal, ISO 200, Nikkor DX 18-70 mm, Small/Fine JPEG

Incandescent -3 Incandescent +0 Incandescent +3


The D70's internal flash produced balanced results which weren't over-powered nor suffered from obvious color cast. Skin tones appear natural but not washed out and our color chart test had almost perfect white balance. Unfortunately the D70 refused to communicate with our SB-50DX flash unit so we were unable to carry out our normal external flash comparison.

Settings: Parameters: Normal, ISO 200, Nikkor DX 18-70 mm, Large/Fine JPEG, Internal Flash

Night exposures / noise reduction

The D70 features an optional dark frame subtraction noise reduction feature which can be used to remove 'hot pixels' in long exposures. In our experience however the D70 produced clean images at long exposures even without noise reduction.

Settings: Parameters: Normal, ISO 200, Nikkor DX 18-70 mm, Large/Fine JPEG

Noise Reduction off Noise Reduction on
ISO 200, 30 sec, F16