Canon EOS 70D Gordon Laing, September 2013

Canon EOS 70D vs Nikon D7100 Quality RAW

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To compare real-life RAW performance I shot this scene with the Canon EOS 70D and the Nikon D7100, within a few moments of each other using their RAW modes; my noise comparison is on the next page.

The Canon EOS 70D was fitted with the Canon EF-S 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 STM kit lens and the D7100 with the DX 18-105mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens. Both lenses were adjusted to deliver the same picture width as seen opposite. I hope to retest both bodies in the future with higher quality lenses.

Image stabilisation was disabled for this tripod-mounted test and all other settings were left on the defaults.

  Canon EOS 70D results
1 Canon EOS 70D Quality JPEG
2 Canon EOS 70D Quality RAW
3 Canon EOS 70D Noise JPEG
4 Canon EOS 70D Noise RAW
5 Canon EOS 70D Sample images

The image above was taken with the Canon EOS 70D. The camera was set to f5.6 in Aperture priority mode and the sensitivity to 100 ISO; I'd previously confirmed that f5.6 delivered the sharpest result with the EF-S 18-135mm STM kit lens. I used the same aperture for the Nikon D7100 and DX 18-105mm, again having pre-determined this to deliver the best results. Both cameras were using their default settings for picture styles, contrast enhancements and lens corrections.

I processed both files in Adobe Camera RAW using identical settings: Sharpening at 70 / 0.5 / 36 / 10, Luminance and Colour Noise Reduction both set to zero, the White Balance set to 4800K and the Process to 2012 with the Adobe Standard profile. These settings were chosen to reveal the differences in sensor quality and isolate them from in-camera processing. The high degree of sharpening with a small radius enhances the finest details without causing undesirable artefacts, while the zero noise reduction unveils what's really going on behind the scenes.

On the previous page we saw how the EOS 70D, like most Canon bodies, applies quite hefty contrast to in-camera JPEGs with a result that looks punchy in isolation, but a bit over-cooked when viewed side-by-side with, say, Nikon's more natural approach. On this page I've applied the same recipe to RAW files from both cameras and with Canon's default JPEG style removed, what you're left with are very nice-looking images from the 70D with lots of detail and a more natural appearance. I'd say the crops here from the 70D look much better than those from the in-camera JPEGs.

Meanwhile, the crops from the Nikon D7100 share the same natural look as its in-camera JPEGs, but the high degree of RAW sharpening I've applied has made them even crisper than before - and they remain visibly sharper than those from the EOS 70D.

Now as mentioned on the previous page, the kit lenses are impacting the ultimate quality you're going to see here, but it's easy to look through this and see the Nikon D7100 is recording slightly finer details due both to its slightly higher resolution and lack of low pass filter. But the results from the EOS 70D are still very good, and as seen here, it can benefit greatly in terms of ultimate sharpness and natural appearance by shooting in RAW. Now let's see how both cameras compare at high sensitivities in my Canon 70D noise results, or skip straight to my Canon 70D sample images.


Canon EOS 70D RAW
with Canon EF-S 18-135mm STM

Nikon D7100 RAW
with Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO

Canon EOS 70D results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

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