Noise, resolution and sensitivity

These images show 72ppi (100% on a computer screen) sections
of images of a resolution chart, captured using the Sigma 105mm  f/2.8 macro lens. We show the section of the resolution chart where the camera starts to fail to reproduce the lines separately. The higher the number visible in these images, the better the camera’s detail resolution is at the specified sensitivity setting.

The D600’s 24.3-million-pixel resolution should mean there is a drop in detail compared to images taken with the D800, but it is still more than enough for most users. Cameras with similar sensors, such as the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, have produced resolution scores of up to 30, so we were expecting similar scores from the D600.

The results from our chart didn’t disappoint. At its base sensitivity of ISO 100, the D600 reached a score of 30 from the JPEG image and 32 from the raw file, when processed using the supplied View NX2 and sharpened in Photoshop CS4.

Although the initial scores are decent, perhaps what is more impressive is that they remained high throughout the ISO range. In the raw files the scores dropped to 30 at ISO 800 and then to 28 for ISO 6400 and the Hi2 (25,600) setting. Similarly, in the JPEG images the scores dropped to 28 at ISO 800, 26 at ISO 3200 and 24 for theHi2 setting.

Noise levels are well controlled, with luminance noise only showing faint signs from ISO 1600 and being still non-intrusive at ISO 6400. The Hi2 setting (ISO 25,600 equivalent) shows more significant luminance noise and some colour noise in the shadows.

Images: Noise is well handled by the D600, even at higher ISO values. Shown is the same scene shot at ISO 6400 and the Hi2 setting (ISO 25,600 equivalent).

Luminance noise is present at ISO 6400, but the image remains well detailed.

In the Hi2 setting, chroma noise becomes visible, too.

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