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Canon EOS 7D vs Nikon D300
Side-by-Side ISO Comparison

October 9th, 2009

Canon EOS 7D vs Nikon D300 comparison images were provided by:
Keith Tharp
Orchard Point Studios

Keith is a professional sports, stock, wedding photographer and cinematographer.

In part one of this side-by-side comparison I showed a split screen of the Canon EOS 7D against it's bigger brother, the 5D Mark II. In part 2, thanks to Keith Tharp of Orchard Point Studios, we are bringing you a side-by-side comparison of the EOS 7D against the ISO capabilities of the Nikon D300, which should also be identical to the new D300s which added video capabilities to its offering.

To get the samples below, Keith placed the model car against a black background and lit the subject using the light coming in from a glass sliding door and an overhead incandescent ceiling light. The Canon EOS 7D was equipped with the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4, the Nikon with the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8. Both cameras were set with an aperture of f/2.0, RAW capture, manual focus, and spot metering was set on both cameras.

In order to get a corrected exposure Keith set the 7D to 1/3 under exposed and the Nikon D300 to 2/3 under. Shutter speeds then remained identical between the two cameras as the ISO increased.

The RAW images were then imported into Lightroom and reset all sliders to their default settings. The RAW images were then exported as 16-bit TIFFs then imported into Photoshop where he matched up the crop areas in order to be able to show 100% views, side-by-side. The side-by-side views were then exported as JPEG's using the highest quality settings.

The examples below start at ISO 200 since the Nikon D300 does not offer ISO 100.

Here is the full setup from which the crops were taken from. You can click either of these to get the full-size JPEG version. These examples were shot at ISO 800.

Nikon D300

Canon EOS 7D

Click each example below to see the full 100% crop

Overall, both camera's have their strengths and weaknesses. With regard to ISO, which this comparison is really about it looks to met that the Nikon has a slight edge starting at ISO 1600. I say "slight" only because it appears that the Canon 7D holds its own in shadow areas but shows more noise in the red areas. I don't believe there is more noise in the red area just that the higher contrast image (deeper blacks) is allowing us to see it more clearly than with the D300 images.

Keep in mind that when comparing these images the Canon is using an 18-megapixel sensor, the D300 a 12-megapixel sensor. That means even with similar noise levels the Canon 7D will likely show less noise when printing due to the smaller pixel characteristics of the higher megapixel sensor. Also, from these sample images, it appears that the 7D is much sharper and offers greater dynamic range and contrast compared to the D300, although the lens on the D300 shows virtually no chromatic aberration, whereas the Canon lens shows quite a bit in the highlight areas of the images (purple fringing).

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