Review Nikon D700: measurements

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On this page you will find the results of image quality measurementst carried out using Imatest. Sample images and conclusions of our review are given in our Nikon D700 review. 

For a brief description of the test method and explanation of terms, see the FAQ section.

nikon  d700

Sensor resolution

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The Nikon D700 will, combined with a good lens such as the Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED IF AF-S VR, deliver a jpg file with a resolution of 1100 linewidth / pictureheight (LW/PH). Developing the RAW file in Lightroom, employing no noise reduction and a standard amount of sharpening, yields a much higher sharpness impression and an average resolution of 2300 LW/PH. That's quite an improvement! You can see sample images in our Nikon D700 review  demonstrating this in practice visible difference.

Dynamic range

The total dynamic range is 12,3 stops on average for a RAW file, which is almost the maximum attainable for a 14 bit sensor. The total dynamic range of jpg files is 10,3  stops on average. Just as with the Canon 5D MK2, there is a difference between the total dynamic range of RAW and pf files, in favor of the RAW files, at lower ISO values. For a description of the test method and explanation of terms, see the FAQ section. totdynber2
Dynamic range is, because of noise in the shadows, reduced to a usable dynamic range of 8 stops at 100 ISO and further down to almost 6 stops at 6400 ISO. Which is very good! The usable dynamic range of jpg files shown in the figure is - because of in-camera noise reduction - higher than RAW files. That is the result of the development parameters we have chosen for Lightroom. Dynamic range of RAW files is tested without using any noise reduction. By doing that, one maintains the highest possible detail in the images (50% higher in comparison with jpg files). The noise in these developed RAW files, although measurable and clearly visible at 100% on your monitor, will not be visible in print.
Adjusting contrast, sharpening and noise reduction for RAW files, we obtained a usable dynamic range of 9 stops at 100 ISO, which matches with the Nikon D700 review at Imaging Resource.
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Noise

Comparison of the noise in jpg files with the measured noise in RAW files without noise reduction shows that noise reduction occurs at all ISO settings at the jpg files. At higher ISO settings (from 1600 ISO), the noise of Nikon D700 NEF files is much lower than that of the RAW files from the Canon 5D MK2. In both cases, no form of noise reduction is applied. Even at 2300 ISO, the noise of the Nikon D700 is so low that noise reduction is actually not needed. From experience, we know that if the noise is less than 2.5%, a photo can be printed on A3 + size without the noise to be experienced as disturbing.

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Below sections of a gray card, photographed at different ISO settings, are shown. As mentioned earlier, we didn't use any form of noise reduction for the RAW files. By applying noise reduction to the RAW files even better results would have been achieved.
A comparison of the greycard patches and the measurement data shown in the charts of this test with those in our Canon 5D MK2 review, shows that the difference between the Nikon D700 and the Canon 5D MK2 is about 1 to 2 stops in favour of the D700. The lowest measured noise performance for the Canon 5D MK2 jpg files (at 50 ISO) equals exactly the lowest noise performace of the D700 jpg files (@ 400 ISO).

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Color accuracy @ daylight

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Daylight color accuracy (Delta E94)

DaylightRAWjpg
Average5.86.4
Best5.25.8
Worst6.87.4
Skin tones6.84.6
Natural Colors5.96.6
Bright Colors5.37.4
White Balance4.73.8

We measure the color difference "Delta E94" which, unlike "Delta AB" corresponds with our observation: a twice higher value means twice as big a difference to our eyes. In this image (move your mouse over it for a larger version) you see the measurement data for the color accuracy of the Nikon D700 at daylight (the circles) compared with the theoretical values (the squares). The further a square is removed from the corresponding square, the greater the color difference between the camera and reality. The further away a square or circle lies from the center, the more saturated ("brighter") is the color. The Nikon D700 delivers saturated RAW files (between 106 and 115%), with an average Delta E94 of 5,8 almost just as good as the color accuracy of the Canon 5D MK2.

Color accuracy @ tungsten light

Tungsten color accuracy (Delte E94)

Tungsten lightRAWjpg
Average1413
Best136
Worst1414
Skin tones1314
Natural Colors1414
Bright Colors1111
White Balance1811

Using auto whitebalance in tungsten light will, especially for the jpg files, yield images with a clear color cast, as you will see in the above shown measurement data for color accuracy in tungsten light (for 100 ISO jpg file). A sample portrait image is included in the Nikon D700 review. The color accuracy of RAW files taken in tungsten light are much better

Ivo Freriks
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.

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