D70 vs. D600 ISO Comparison

(Note: It’s 7am as of my writing this, and I have things to do this afternoon, so I’m going to declare this post a work in progress for now and go to bed. more details to come.)

My recent YouTube video comparing the nine year old Nikon D70 to the 9-months old full frame Nikon D600 has received a lot of attention. And it has also received a lot of criticism for being a very sloppy, uncontrolled test. The intention of the last batch of tests was to show the differences you get when you just pick up the camera and go. The output was neutral profile Jpegs, no sharpening or noise reduction. Each of the cameras exposed the shots differently, rendered colours differently, and handled noise differently.

This second batch of tests was a lot more strict. Auto white balance was the only area where the camera got to think for itself.
I used manual exposure mode, and used the exact same settings between cameras.
I shot RAW, not JPEG, to ensure the cameras weren’t doing anything sneaky to the images.
I took screenshots from inside Darktable, my RAW editor of choice, showing each of the images zoomed in to 100%, along with the camera settings.
The results were saved as PNG files, so there would be no softening as the images were compressed.

I’ll go from worst to best, starting with the D600. Click on the image to see the original, full size PNG screenshot.

D600 25600

D600 12800

D600 6400

D600 3200

D600 1600

D600 800

D600 400

D600 200

Keep in mind that the ISO 200 shot is a 13 second exposure. Noise increases during long exposure shots, so in regular light, 200 would be cleaner than this. I should also point out that this was the very first image taken of the bunch, and the D600 had absolutely no trouble locking focus.

I didn’t bother to shoot an ISO 100 shot with the D600, I knew it would look great, and the D70 doesn’t go that low so I wouldn’t be able to compare it against anything. So just know that the D600 can do better than that last shot.

D70 1600

D70 800

D70 400

D70 200

From these tiny thumbnails, I prefer the colour of D70 shots. One interesting thing I noticed, and this was an oversight on my part, was the white balance. I had both cameras set to auto white balance, and the shots on the D600 are very consistent; the sliders only move by a few notches. The D70 is another story; those colour temperature controls are jumping all over the place!

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Kyle Clements

Kyle Clements is a Toronto-based artist and nerd. During his thesis at the Ontario College of Art and Design, Kyle began working on his Urban Landscapes series, a body of work that aims to capture the energy and excitement of life in the fast-paced urban environment. After graduating from OCAD in 2006, Kyle spent a year living in Asia to gather source material and experience in a different kind or urban environment. His work is vibrant and colourful. Whether painting the harsh Northern landscape, or capturing the overwhelming buzz of life in the city, his acrylic paintings hover between representation and abstraction.

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