In this post, I compare the Sony NEX-7 with the Nikon D3s operated in full-frame mode, with the Sony images resized to the Nikon’s 12 megapixels. I used the Nikkor 35mm f/2 D on the NEX-7, and the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 G on the D3s, providing approximately the same angle of view. The NEX-7 did well against the Nikon when the Nikon was operated in DX mode and the Sony images were downsized to the 5 megapixels of that mode. This test will be harder on the NEX-7, because the Nikon gets to use its entire sensor, and the Sony images won’t be downsized as much. Both lenses were set to f/5.6.
All images were processed in Lightroom 3.6 to remove most visible noise, with the Nikon image settings limited by a desire to retain the greatest amount of image detail consistent with low noise. The Sony images were resized down to 4256×2832 using Perfect Resize with the default settings. Presented here are crops 360 pixels wide, magnified 2x using nearest neighbor.
At ISO 3200, the Nikon image required very little de-noising:
Also at ISO 3200, the NEX-7 image is close in quality, but not quite as sharp. Some processing artifacts are visible around the red lettering.
At ISO 6400, here’s what the D3s did:
At ISO 6400, the NEX-7 is performing credibly, but it not as sharp and is noisier:
The Nikon turns in a pretty amazing performance at ISO 12800:
While the detail on the NEX-7 falls apart and the color saturation suffers at the Lightroom noise settings required to control the color noise.
In the sixties, there used to be a saying in sports car racing circles: “You can’t beat cubic inches.” The photographic equivalent seems to be: “You can’t beat sensor area.” Still, the Sony didn’t do badly, and this set of posts has demonstrated that you can effectively trade resolution for noise in post processing.
Chuck Kimmerle says
Well-written and reasoned series of articles, especially for those of us without the patience to do such comparisons ourselves.
Thanks, Chuck. I looked at your web site. Really nice work. I especially like the North Dakota winter series.