DxOMark review for APS-C camera 2010 : who takes the lead ?

Monday January 24 2011

Sensor Recommendations
Introduction | Use Cases: K5, D7000 and A580 take the lead. | SNR: K5, D7000 and A580 at the top | Dynamic Range: K5 rules! | Case Study: D90 vs D7000 vs D700: | Conclusion

Case Study: D90 vs D7000 vs D700: Are new APS-C sensors better than the previous generation and better than “old” full-frame sensors?

The very good behavior of the sensors employed in the K5, D7000 and A580 is unquestioned. But how do they behave compared to their predecessors? To answer this question, we have analyzed the Use Case scores of the D90 versus those of the D7000. And the answer is simple: all of the metrics have improved, the most noticeable of which are the low-light ISO score (for which the D7000 is almost 1/3 stop better than the D90), and the dynamic range (which improved by almost 2 EV).

The improvements are important. Are they enough to close the gap with the “old” full frame sensors? Not yet. Even though the dynamics are better on the new APS-C sensors, and even though the color depth for both sensors is the same, the high ISO score is still far better on an old full-frame sensor such as that of the D700. The score is more than doubled on the D700, meaning that the difference is superior to 1 stop — quite noticeable. This tendency is confirmed by a closer examination of the SNR metrics, the D700 being ahead by almost 4 dB along the entire ISO range.
For a photographer, a full-frame choice is still the best choice for less noise, and without any competition when the ISO has to be raised.