Which one is the best low light performer of these four full frame cameras - D700, D3, D3s and D3x?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by ann_overland, Jan 28, 2013.

  1. Has anyone tried the low light performance on these four cameras? Are there any substantial differences on ISO performance?
     
  2. Low-light photography ... you need to add in which lens you plan on using?
    The D700 and the D3 handle ISO 6400 well. Going to a higher ISO makes noise a factor.
    And no one can estimate the low-light condition(s) you are thinking of shooting in.
     
  3. I haven't bought any lenses yet. I only know about 'low light conditions' - are there different ones? :)
     
  4. Jerry, a comparison can be made without a lens.
    Just take a picture with a lens cap on at high ISO and at incremental exposure times, then compare results from the 4 cameras.
     
  5. High-ISO performance on the D700 and D3 are identical; the D3X doesn't do as well, and the D3S is the high-ISO champ of the four you mention.
     
  6. At which high-ISO do I get 'good enough' results with the D3 and the D3s?
     
  7. According to dxomark the D3, D700 and D3X is very close when resampled to the same resolution. The D3 is the best of those three but the D3s is better. At low iso the difference is small (the D3s about 1/2 stop better) but as the ISO gets up to ISO 6400 and higher the D3s will start to pull away a bit more from from the D3 (up to one stop).
     
  8. At which high-ISO do I get 'good enough' results with the D3 and the D3s?​
    What 's your standard? Compared to the D300 you will get about 2 stops better noise performance. The D3s has a little less noise at ISO 6400 then the D300 at ISO1600.
     
  9. According to dpreview, the D3s is a significantly better low light performer (link).
     
  10. According to DXOmark, who are one of the few bodies with the resources to do objective tests on a variety of cameras, the D3s has the best high ISO noise performance of the 4 - by a whisker. The D3x is in tail position.
     
  11. I would have to look at the links when my Internet connection is better again. I can't get through to DPReview at all now.
    I have always thought that my D300 was bad at ISO 1600. I am not sure if I have a bad copy in that regards or not.
     
  12. I have always thought that my D300 was bad at ISO 1600.
    This always makes me chuckle. Photographers have never had it so good with respect to clean, high ISO images. Anyone who thinks the D300 at ISO 1600 is "bad" obviously has no reference point to what bad "noise" really looked like ... on ISO 1600 color film.
     
  13. as a d3s owner, i can confirm it does well at high ISOs, which i would define as above 1600, maybe above 3200. i also have a d300s, which for me has usable ISO 1600, maybe up to 2500, with 3200 being fairly noisy. in contrast, ISO 5000 on a d3s is fairly clean in shadow areas. other factors can impact ISO performance, such as lens/aperture used, exposure time, and external lighting sources' brightness. because i shoot live shows often, i frequently shoot with fast primes at sub-2.8 apertures so i can get a high shutter speed, say 1/200 or more. depending on the venue, i'm sometimes well upwards of 3200, often in the 4000-5000 zone. any more than that and i tend to get overexposure from stage lights. that's not a fault of the D3s, more like a fact of physics. so, to shoot low light, you need hi-ISO performance and wide apertures for best results.
     
  14. Michael, all is relative :) I was thinking of trying ISO 1600 film. They are not all that bad now :)
    Eric, I think your D300s must be better than my D300 regarding high-ISO. So the D3s is not very good at ISO 3200 and above?
     
  15. I have a D3 and a D3s, and the latter is by far the best low light camera that I have ever used. I shoot all the time at ASA 12000 and it looks like 1600 on my older cameras.
     
  16. This always makes me chuckle. Photographers have never had it so good with respect to clean, high ISO images. Anyone who thinks the D300 at ISO 1600 is "bad" obviously has no reference point to what bad "noise" really looked like ... on ISO 1600 colorfilm.​

    Totally agreed! High speed film is so bad that I don't even use ISO400 film. I use ISO100 film most of the time. Sometimes Portra 160 and very rarely 200 film.
    I have used Fuji 1600 before and it was very bad.
     
  17. I have two D3s's, one D3x and used to have a D3 (have a D4 too but will ignore that for now).
    I've not owned a D700, but I understand that it has the same sensor as the D3.
    In my experience the D3s is the best in low light of the 4 models mentioned.
    Rob
     
  18. Are you shooting objects that stand still, Bebu? I can't imagine how ISO 100 can be enough. Maybe on a sunny summer day.
     
  19. Would you say that the difference is substantial, Robert? I didn't know that the D700 and the D3 have the same sensors. Good to know. One thing I would definately miss if I buy a D3 something camera, is the built-in flash. You get that neither in D3, D3s, D3x, and nor in the D4. It looks like you get it in D600, D700 and D800 (I have only looked at the photos of the cameras).
     
  20. Just be aware that there is a trade-off for superior low ISO performance, and that is resolution. The D700/D3/D3S are all identical at 12 MP and the D3X has 24 MP. I thought to mention since you included the D3X in your question. Perhaps it's resolution is worth a stop or two of high ISO performance.
    Coming from ISO 25 film, I still have a hard time moving the ISO on my DSLR any higher than 100!
     
  21. Based on personal experience, the D3s hands down...ISO3200 with no worries at all. A D4 on the other hand is even more incredible to the point where it's just plain silly...again based on personal experience.
     
  22. Ann, you may look also at http://home.comcast.net/~NikonD70/Charts/PDR.htm for dynamic range. That is one factor too. Select your camera(s) to compare at the right side menu.
    One thing to note is how the dynamic range drops as the ISO gets higher.
     
  23. Perhaps it's resolution is worth a stop or two of high ISO performance.​
    John, I am not sure about that since I haven't seen what any of these cameras are capable of first hand. But better ISO results is what I would really like to see now.
    What did you shot with ISO 25 film? :)
     
  24. Kari, I looked at that comparison. Very interesting. Maybe the graphs would be more or less similar when it comes to colors and increase in ISO. The D3s is the better of the four cameras regarding dynamic range.
     
  25. Ann, if your D300 isn't giving you good results at 1600, maybe there's something in your technique that you should adjust. Can you post links to some of your samples?
     
  26. If you look at that dynamic range chart, I should rather be getting a D600 and not one of these four cameras.

    Andy, I do know how to expose fairly well. Maybe I should buy another D300 just to see if it is better? They are pretty cheap now :)
     
  27. Ann, if you show some examples of scenes where the D300 didn't do well we can probably give you some tips. 1600 on a D300 isn't that high. I've done crazier crap than that, like shooting night time water polo with a D90.
    But anyway - the answer to your original question is the D3S. Probably the best low light camera you can get.
     
  28. Never had a D3 or 3x, but have owned two D700's, a D3s, D800, and D600. For me, I worked combinations to keep the D700 at 3200 or below if possible. The D3s seemed good to somewhere between 6400 and 12000, so I agree with many reviewers that put the D3s generally about 1.5 stops more usable than the D700.
    Various color temperature lighting might influence these numbers. The lighting was and is simply BAD in the two venues where I shoot sports frequently
    The D800 and D600 Cameras I am using now seem similar in capability to the D3s when downsampled to 12MP.
    I never tried DXO with the D700 and D3s high ISO raw files, wish I had. Might have been able to stretch out a little more quality or ISO.
     
  29. I am surprised you did not included the D800. ISO performance needs to be evaluated on same sized images. I believe the D800 will
    beat the others based on that basis
     
  30. I can't have those huge file sizes, Steve.
    I am checking out a D3. It is more or less the same price as the D600. I don't know if that is wise. Probably not from what you all have said in this thread about it's ISO performance. The D700 is less expensive than the D3. I am not sure what they charge 'locally' for a good copy of a D3s. They don't have one at the moment. I think it will cost quite a lot more than the D3.
     
  31. If all that matters is high ISO image quality, take the D700 over the D3. They're equal in image metrics but the D700 sells for less money. But, really, think about technique too. That you're not getting good results from your D300 at medium ISO might means there's some adjustments you'd also need to make to get good low light performance from an FX camera.
     
  32. As the D300 gets used at ISO1600, the exposure has to be dead on for the specific subject you're shooting, and for the manner in which you're going to use the images.

    How will the output from these cameras be put to work? They're all disappointing if all you do is pixel peep. They're all various flavors of wonderful if you use them in realistic ways. Say, in prints made on decent equipment/media, or rationally sized on-screen display - either way, with sensible post-production treatment.

    Deciding between all of the bodies mentioned seems premature without discussing the subject matter, shooting style, and ultimate output/display format.
     
  33. I shoot my D700 as a matter of routine at 3200 ISO with any lens I have. Results are excellent with 11x17 prints looking perfect with no noise.
     
  34. I shoot my D700 as a matter of routine at 3200 ISO with any lens I have. Results are excellent with 11x17 prints looking perfect with no noise.
    00bIAG-516735584.jpg
     
  35. I can't imagine how ISO 100 can be enough.​
    Us film users use ISO 100 all the time. I don't see why everyone is obsessed with ISOs in the thousands now unless you are all photographing black cats in coal cellars at night.
     
  36. As the D300 gets used at ISO1600, the exposure has to be dead on for the specific subject you're shooting, and for the manner in which you're going to use the images.​
    i dunno, i used to have a d80 and shot it at ISO 1250-1600 all the time. the d300 was an improvement in that regard for sure! at base ISO up to about 800 the d300's dynamic range is good (when used with good lenses). but i did find that for shooting in low-lit clubs, ISO1600 plus a fast prime wasn't enough. when i got the d3s, being able to push the ISO to upwards of 3200 and not worry about noise was liberating. i could just concentrate on shooting.
    00bIAd-516741584.jpg
     
  37. and here's an ISO 5000 D3s shot...
    00bIAh-516743584.jpg
     
  38. Are you shooting objects that stand still, Bebu? I can't imagine how ISO 100 can be enough. Maybe on a sunny summer day.​
    1970, Nikon Ftn, 50mm f 1.4 lens, Plus-X pan (iso 125), 1/15 sec. Dusk (sun is down) outdoors.
    http://www.photo.net/photo/1179717&size=lg
     
  39. "If you look at that dynamic range chart, I should rather be getting a D600 and not one of these four cameras"

    If you look at all the stats on these cameras with regard to IQ, the D600/D800 will give you far improved IQ and features. Pictures look better overall at pretty much all print sizes with Nikon's newest bodies.
     
  40. I can't imagine how ISO 100 can be enough.​
    When I was shooting Kodachrome 25 and 64, ISO 100 once seemed more than enough. And when I first tried Kodachrome 200, it was too much. (Didn't like the quality.)
     
  41. The D3s wins hands down, it is arguably as good or better than the D4. The D600 might be a better option though if you don't need the framerate and you'd get higher resolution for a cheaper and newer camera.
     
  42. I don't know if this will help to give any perspective to the D300. Soon after I got my D300 I took a trip to visit some friends. The D300 is/was my first DSLR and I was still using it in Program mode. Pretty much auto-everything. The example pic was taken with the D300 and a 17 - 55 f/2.8 at 17 mm ISO 3200 1/15 sec f/2.8. Hand held. No flash. 8 pm in March at the Gilbert AZ Buffalo Wild Wings. First pic converted to JPG from RAW in PSP X4
    00bIGa-516831684.jpg
     
  43. This pic 100% cropped and resized only
    00bIGd-516833584.jpg
     
  44. Post processed for dummies in PSP X4
    Digital noise removal and sharpened...using the dummy controls...no sliders or anything.
    00bIGf-516833684.jpg
     
  45. I mis-spoke about the restaurant. It was the Native New Yorker in Gilbert
     
  46. I shoot at ISO 100 when doing "low light photography."
     
  47. Those are great film shots, Steve. Very nice :)
    Thomas, I don't know about the D600. Somehow it doesn't feel right for me. Maybe it is because the D300 is better than the D600 in some areas. I like an action type camera better. But the D3 series and the D4 don't have a built-in flash, and I am using the flash all the time. I don't have to bring an extra flash when I am out in the evenings and it is dark. When there is no artificial light, you have to have flash light. Why do they make these cameras without a flash on board? They managed to put a flash into the D300, and they did that quite well too.
     
  48. If you look at all the stats on these cameras with regard to IQ, the D600/D800 will give you far improved IQ and features. Pictures look better overall at pretty much all print sizes with Nikon's newest bodies.​
    Elliot, are you using both of them? I usually don't print much. But that can change.
     
  49. My vote would be for the D3. Its the best performance / value play of all the cameras you mentioned. There is something to be said about a full on pro-body. D3s would be best for low light, but the extra $ is not worth the margin of improvement. As for the flash, just get the little sb-400. Its small and light and way better than any built in flash. Leave it on camera or just through it in the bag or a coat pocket.
    Good Luck
    Anthony
     
  50. My vote would be for the D3. Its the best performance / value play of all the cameras you mentioned.​
    Anthony, I think you may be right. I guessed that the SB-400 is what I would have to use, but sadly it can't trigger my SB-R200. In this D300 shot I held the camera in one hand and triggered the SB-R200 in the other with the built-in flash. I surely would miss the built-in flash's ability to trigger a bunch of other flashes. The set up is so fast and simple.
    00bJ9z-517493584.jpg
     
  51. Ann, I shoot ISO6400 and up much of the time, and have owned all of the listed cameras, D3/D3s/D3x/D4. If you are serious about low light work, I would not under any circumstances buy the D3/D700. They suffer from severe pattern noise and blooming at those settings. The blooming in this case is shown as a stripe all the way across the frame through any pixel in which the saturation point has been reached. Examples of this might be a candle flame, even a pinpoint light in the distance. It doesn't matter. These cameras are no good past ISO6400 in circumstances where they really count.
    The D3s fixed all the design flaws of the D3/D700, and is good for producing artistically pleasing images well beyond ISO12800. I've made images at ISO25600 in which only the only lighting was blue and the image was made almost entirely from just the blue channel. The D4 has proven as good. I make images at ISO25600 using the D800 too, and these are very nice, but require some special procedures for noise reduction to achieve optimal results. The results are fine for album covers, and I've done many with them.
    The D3x is a camera optimized for low ISO use, and I'd recommend to using it at ISO800 and below. It is possible to push it further, but again, it requires some special considerations.
     
  52. If you want the best high iso performance the D3s is head and shoulders above the others. Not even close. It's not just
    about noise, but all the other factors that make up IQ. Noise is only one component. You can get usable files all the way
    up to 52,000 with a D3s. Everyones opinion of usable is different, but I'm happy with many of the files I get out of my D4
    above 12,800 and the D3s very comparable. You may want to convert to B and W at 25k and 52k, but the detail is still
    maintained amazingly well. In my opinion you can get an additional 1-1.5 stops of usable ISO with the D3s vs. the D3 or
    D700.
     
  53. Actually reading all of these posts, Luke Kaven's post above is right on point, in my opinion. He is clearly more
    experienced and is able to articulate some of the precise reasons why the D3s would be better. I just know they look
    considerably better. In real ISO terms many would say they are only 1- 1.5 stops better than the D700 or D3, but in many
    components of IQ the D3s may be 2, dare I say 2.5 stops better. That blue channel example being a perfect example,

    Not everything comes down to test numbers and the difference between the two can sometimes not be quantified by
    numbers alone.
     

Share This Page