Canon EOS 70D Gordon Laing, September 2013

Canon EOS 70D vs Nikon D7100 Quality

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To compare real-life performance I shot this scene with the Canon EOS 70D and the Nikon D7100, within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings; my RAW 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; you're basically looking at out-of-camera JPEGs below, although I have a second comparison using RAW files on the next page.

Before starting, it's worth reminding ourselves about what we're comparing: both the Canon EOS 70D and Nikon D7100 employ APS-C sized sensors, although the one in the Canon, like all their APS-C models, is fractionally smaller. In terms of resolution the Canon EOS 70D has 20 Megapixels compared to 24 Megapixels on the Nikon D7100, so in the 100% unscaled crops below, the latter will show a slightly smaller area of the complete image. In terms of low pass filters to combat moire, the EOS 70D has one and the D7100 does not. And finally as noted above, both cameras are equipped with their respective kit zooms.

A quick glance at the crops below reveals the kit lenses on both models to be far from perfect. In particular there's some softness at the top of the Nikon image as seen in the first crop, and at the bottom of the Canon image as seen in the last crop. In both cases, this softening is due to the kit lens and not the bodies. While this is clearly not ideal if you want to isolate the body performance alone, it does at least illustrate what you can expect if, like many, you buy and use these cameras with their kit lenses. I'll try and make an additional comparison in the future using higher quality lenses.

Returning to the crops below, another major difference concerns the image processing for in-camera JPEGs using the default settings. We've seen it before, so it's no surprise to find the Canon EOS 70D applying greater contrast and digital sharpening for punchier-looking images straight out the camera. In contrast, the D7100, like most Nikon bodies, prefers a more restrained approach, although one which to my eyes looks more natural.

In previous comparisons the Nikon JPEGs would also look a little softer compared to the Canon using the default settings, but on the D7100's side this time there's an additional crispness leant by the absence of an optical low pass filter, plus of course the small benefit of a slightly higher sensor resolution. These in turn see a slightly higher degree of fine detail on the D7100, most obviously in the stained glass windows, particularly in row three.

Unfortunately the kit lenses here have prevented a comparison of the ultimate image quality between both bodies, but I'd say those who are pixel-peeping at 100% will still see a small advantage to the D7100 in terms of resolution, crispness, and natural processing, at least when capturing JPEGs using the default settings. But what happens when images are processed using the same settings? Find out in my Canon 70D RAW quality results page, or skip straight to my Canon 70D noise comparison!


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

Nikon D7100 JPEG
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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