It will be interesting to compare these two cameras at 1600 ISO and see if Nikon has set the noise reduction algorithms different according to the camera’s predicted audience.
Nikon D80: Jpeg Fine, Optimize Image: Normal, AutoWB, ISO1600, 1/125,
Nikon D200: Jpeg Fine, Optimize Image: Normal, AutoWB, ISO1600, 1/125,
As one can see, the sharpening level has been reduced in both cameras. In a similar way to the low level test, the Nikon D80 shows a little bit stronger sharpening than the Nikon D200.
In most areas of the image the detail level is pretty much the same. In the dark zones we can say that the Nikon D200 shows a little bit more detail.
demosaicing, false colors
The aggressive noise reduction system helps preventing demosaicing and false colors problems. Thats the reason we didn’t see any of these problems in both cameras.
Contrast and color
Nikon maps the D80 colors further than the D200, making them more saturated, more vivid. This can affect the noise either way; in cut 1 and 9 the noise in the hair gets a stronger color and shows that the noise reduction algorithms didn’t work properly in this area of the image. A similar affect can be seen on the left cheek of the girl in cut 5 – the noise that was not removed gets a stronger color and is easily noticed. On other the hand, the strong red in cut 10 helps to conceal the graininess.
Nikon D80 uses a more contrasted curve that creates a less grainy image especially in the dark zones.
It seems that Nikon is using the same noise reduction algorithms in both cameras. The algorithm has a hard time removing noise from the edges. This can be easily seen in cut 1 and 9. Even with these problems this is still the most progressed noise reduction system in the market today that can remove completely (in specific brightness levels) color noise.
Nikon has increased the level of the algorithm working on the luma layer in the D80. In the dark zones of the D80 there is a stronger noise reduction and therefore less grain.
The basic principles of the noise reduction are the same in both cameras but the D80 usually benefits from the more “aggressive” processing of color and creates a better result. One of the only complaints we have about the D200 is the graininess in the dark zones. If there is any noise left in the D80 it is sometimes emphasized by the color processing of this camera.
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