THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS | A PRO PHOTO & VIDEO BLOG

Nikon D7000 vs. Canon 60D Lowlight Video Shootout

Posted in Equipment, Video by Nathan Lee Bush on October 27, 2010

The two features attracting the most scrutiny in the latest faceoff of mid-range DSLRs are low-light performance and HD video capabilities. With that in mind we’ve had a busy couple of days trying to answer the million dollar question of the moment: Between the Nikon D7000 and the Canon 60D, which has the cleanest video performance in low-light/high ISO situations.

To that end I made two tests.

In the first test the D7000 seemed to be the clear winner. But, although I used the same Zeiss Distagon 35mm f/2 lenses on each, the first battle attracted a little criticism for not having consistent white balance (it was left on Auto WB for each). Also, some people thought the 60D output looked too soft to be focused correctly.

So out I went the following night with Marco, Adorama’s own in-house video guru, with a renewed vigor to attend to every technical aspect. I checked the focus about 50 times, and we set the white balance to 3330k on the Nikon and it’s nearest equivalent, 3300k on the Canon.

So which has the better low-light chops? It turns out the softness in the first test wasn’t a fluke! The Canon just went all mushy on us.

My theory was that Canon intentionally softens its video output at high-ISO. Another resident video wiz, Atif, thinks that the softness in the Canon image results from the increase in noise at high ISO. The Nikon footage, he says, interprets pixelation more on a grayscale, with more of a raw output resulting, while the Canon high-ISO video looks more compressed and picks up the greenish cast you see.

Nathan Lee Bush is a photo and video artist in New York City. His pictures are on his site and blog, and his videos are on Vimeo.

Advertisements
Tagged with: , , , ,

45 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. omarspencephotography said, on November 4, 2010 at 1:44 am

    The Nikon looks coarser, when filming in an ambient light setting like that, the smoother look of the Canon is a lot more pleasing to the eye. The Nikon also looks a lot redder

    • Sam said, on November 5, 2010 at 12:24 pm

      So, which camera do you think is shooting closer to the truth? The reddish or the greenish one?

  2. Bob said, on November 4, 2010 at 3:21 am

    The Canon does look a bit softer but I found it far less distracting than the Nikon’s more visible noise.

    • edward said, on November 4, 2010 at 8:13 am

      I liked the Nikon a little better – pretty close though. I was actually surprised at these results … I thought it would be a total blowout with Canon easily winning since Nikon isn’t really pushing the video aspects. I thought Nikon’s video (in the present DSLR’s) was more of an afterthought and just an attempt not to give Canon a free ride.

  3. Anthony said, on November 4, 2010 at 10:50 am

    I think it’s a disadvantage to have nikon user rate canon equipment. I have used canons in low light and I still get a very sharp image. A lot of times what I hear from nikon users is you can’t get as sharp of an image from canons, and I find that is only the case when a nikon user hoes out and attempts to use a canon camera with out knowing what they are doing. Look guys photography is photography and if your good you can use any brand and still come up with great results. And every brand has an advantage and disadvantage. Nikons tend to be better in low light because of the low pass sensor. Canons are great for sports because they have a higher shutter speed. Both companys make great cameras for everything in between. As far as video is concerned the nikons are better in low light because of their low pass sensor but use both in the day and you can see the difference between the nikon and the canon and who has the advantage. The canon is 1080p the nikon is 720p the resolution on the canon is better and going to give you a sharper image. Now in low light the nikon will win almost everytime due to the low pass sensor, that’s great for low light. Honestly a good photographer can learn how to use either camera to get great results. Keep shooting and keep learning, brands are not even 10% of what makes a great photographer.

    • Adorama Rental Co. said, on November 10, 2010 at 12:18 am

      @ Anthony from Nathan. True I do use Nikon as my primary stills cameras, because I prefer the ergonomics, autofocus and lowlight (though Canon indeed excels in other areas, and I consider the two brands roughly equivalent), but I’ve shot waaaay more video with Canons than with Nikon, because up until now, the quality was so much superior across the entire range. I’ve shot extensively both stills and videos with Canon 5D Mark iis and 7Ds. Though I was unfamiliar with both cameras at the time of the test, I brought along one of our foremost video tech guys to assist me, so that I had a second pair of eyes ensuring I wasn’t screwing anything up.

    • Derek said, on November 13, 2010 at 2:49 am

      Anthony, I understand where you are coming from. However, it goes both ways. What nikon does on its sites, Canon does the same on its sites. Without question they are the best brands on the market. I have used both and I agree that Nikons are a little better in low light. I disagree that Canons are faster and better for sports. Both systems have a top speed of 1/8000 of a second. The fastest Canon shoots 10 FPS, Nikon hits 9 FPS. Under real conditions neither of these cameras will ever see those numbers. However, being able to crank up the ISO will allow more FPS under normal sports lighting. The two systems are almost identical. And, I am seeing as many Nikons at NFL, NBA and MLB games as Canons. If I were to give either an advantage it would be like this. Nikons are made better and Canons are more affordable.

      • Luan said, on November 13, 2010 at 10:14 am

        Nikon D3 shoots up 11 fps w/o AF tracking. Canon 1D Mark IV shoots 10 fps, like you said. I use both brands. Nikon ergonomics, lens, focus and construction are great and, yes, Canons are more affordable.

    • jimmyo said, on November 13, 2010 at 3:55 am

      isnt the nikon d7000 1080p?

      • Nathan Lee Bush said, on November 13, 2010 at 6:24 am

        Yes, both these videos were shot at 1080p/24fps.

    • Anthony´s papa said, on November 13, 2010 at 11:46 pm

      ha ha ha, Anthony, you got peanuts sized brains to write BS like this

      (“Nikons tend to be better in low light because of the low pass sensor.”)
      what the hell do you mean by that?

      and what is this crap suppose to mean ?(Canons are great for sports because they have a higher shutter speed.)
      Do you really think you know what your are whining about?
      learn something about photography first and stop writing bullsh-t you silly canonfanBOY.

      • George said, on November 15, 2010 at 3:23 pm

        Wow, talk about NerdRage…

        Yes, each brand has benefits. I shoot a lot of technical work, and I WISH I could have Canon glass on a Nikon body. Canon’s strength, in my humble opine, is in the large number of high-quality lens available. Nikon DOES, again merely in my opinion, have an advantage on imaging quality and ergonomics. Both are excellent systems, and the vast majority of photographers (even so-called professionals) will probably never be able to see the difference. As Adam said, it really all is in the eye of the beholder. If I remember correctly, you can set the Nikon to a softer capture, resulting in the same effect as the Canon produces. Dealing with more technical issues, I wouldn’t be happy with the softer capture of the Canon. I looked at the taillights, and which gave me the clearest image of the license plate to work with. Neither was optimal, but the Nikon was a bit better.

  4. adam said, on November 4, 2010 at 11:02 am

    wow, i agree. aside from the technical aspects, the Canon looks more pleasing. and me, a Nikon user for life! i’m sure if you play with the settings on both cameras you could find a happy medium, but for what the test results show, *cringes* i would prefer the look of the Canon.

  5. Dennis said, on November 4, 2010 at 11:36 am

    Course. Soft. Red cast. Green cast. They both look great. As far as I’m concerned they both hit home runs, expecially now that you can AF while shooting (not like my D90).

  6. ProVideo said, on November 4, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    The Nikon is clearly better. The Canon is not pleasing at all.

    Talk about looking through rose colored glasses…..

  7. Sam said, on November 5, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Nikon has the crisper quality expected from an HD production. The Canon was murky, closer to a VCD production. What a disappointment!

    • teko said, on November 12, 2010 at 9:09 pm

      I agree. I think for HD production, sharper is better. If you want it smoother, you can add it in post-production.

      Also for white-balance, both cameras’ settings can be adjusted.

  8. […] Nikon D7000 vs. Canon 60D Lowlight Video Shootout. […]

  9. Peter said, on November 12, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    Whatever.

    If the comparrison is video only and it’s this close then I’d say for the $300 less Nikon is charging the D7000 is better. I own a 7D and I love it but it’s old and that’s all there is to it. Personally I think the Nikon output is fantastic here.

  10. Sachin said, on November 12, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    This recording is questionable. How can he make video from 2 different camera from same place of same set of people walking with same cars at same position in 1st video.

    • Nathan Lee Bush said, on November 13, 2010 at 6:27 am

      You put two tripods right next to each other and then sync by sound in FCP. What you don’t see is me clapping before each shot so I can sync in post. The wonders of modern tech… two cameras can record at the same time 🙂

    • James said, on November 13, 2010 at 7:58 am

      This is not overly constructive, but lol 🙂

    • Tom said, on November 13, 2010 at 11:54 pm

      Muppet

  11. craigc said, on November 13, 2010 at 12:00 am

    both are performing at a great level for the money. I believe both are performing at 1080 Anthony.

  12. gnohz said, on November 13, 2010 at 12:26 am

    The green cast is slightly worrying in the first video, and Nikon does look considerably sharp. But due to the moving vehicles in the 2nd video taking up most of the frame, it was rather difficult to judge the sharpness in that one. I would guess that results are more or less similar 🙂 Thanks lots for the comparison!

  13. keith said, on November 13, 2010 at 2:51 am

    If you shoot canon, you’re going to say “the canon was more pleasing to me!”

    If you shoot nikon, you’re going to say “the nikon was more pleasing to me!”

    The test is legit, but our interpretation of it is too wrapped up in the identities we’ve built around brand names.

    We take it as a personal insult if the opposing brand produces something “better.”

    That being said – I’m going to break free from the stereotypes for a moment:
    I shoot canon, but I can agree that Nikon did a better job with video here. For two reasons:
    1) you can always make video softer in post-production – but you can never make it sharper. Here, the nikon retains more detail.
    2) the video should not pick up a different color cast just because you’ve increased ISO. that makes no sense. it doesn’t matter if you find the color cast “pleasing” – consistency is the name of the game.

    Anyway, I think video is advancing at an alarming rate – and I’m sure canon will produce something noteworthy in the future as well.

  14. Derek said, on November 13, 2010 at 2:59 am

    The Nikon looks sharper and is much warmer. However, I buy a camera to take pictures so it does not really matter to me what the video looks like.

  15. steve said, on November 13, 2010 at 5:00 am

    I cannot believe some of these comments the Nikon was in a different league.
    So much sharper than the Canon.
    The Canon was already bad at ISO 1600 so soft looking & with far less detail than the Nikon.
    I’ve never shot video only photos & i like sharp pictures with plenty of detail.
    Not sure why anyone would prefer soft & smeary over sharp & detailed.

    • John said, on November 13, 2010 at 10:20 am

      Because they’re Canon guys, and Canons can’t get sharp images.

  16. martijn said, on November 13, 2010 at 10:24 am

    i prefer the nikon for a simple reason.
    the softening can be done in post, sharpening and getting details back is hardly possible.
    so thats why i think nikon is the winner on this one.

    but i think if u are shooting 2 totally different things, it would be hard to tell which is which. just shoot it and everyone will probably love the video’s if they’re interesting enough

  17. Riggle said, on November 13, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Thanks for doing this Nathan. It is very helpful and well done.
    I’m a Canon user, but I would say the Nikon video is slightly more superior. Both are quite good from what was available just over two years ago from SLRs. Ha!

  18. lucho said, on November 13, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    excellent test, muy buen trabajo, thanks for sharing

  19. Tasos said, on November 13, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    I thought the nikon rendered a better video. Not that I use the video function.
    I like shooting canon for portrait sessions and I like shooting nikon for event, low light, and landscapes. At the end of the day the differences are quite small and the real deciding factor lies in the hands of the operator.

  20. carl said, on November 13, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    how about doing a third test, and not reveal which footage was from which camera until the very end? that way, people won’t have any bias on the footage they see. (although at this point, i think people are able to tell which footage belongs to the d7000 and to the 60d)

  21. Jay said, on November 14, 2010 at 12:12 am

    I’m a new to any of this DSLR movie, and seem close with the Canon a slight green cast. But doesn’t the Nikon have a 2-3 stop advantage? Wouldn’t it have been better to have the D7 in this shootout ?

  22. David said, on November 14, 2010 at 3:08 am

    Maybe i’m not understanding your test correctly, but what would the results be if
    you used the same folcal length on both cameras. The Canon images are closer
    and therefore no as crisp. Am I missing something here, I am a beginner? I know that
    the Canon has !8mp and Nikon 16mp, but there may be a difference if items in the
    images were the same size.

    Thanks

  23. vagtanklan said, on November 14, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    When I first got my D3100, and later D7000 I had to have another look at the few videos I shot with my 550D – just to compare.

    My findings echo yours exactly, Nikon clearly apply less NR and are coarser, but retain more detail than the clips I got from the 550D.

    If you look at the clips on a HD flat panel – chances are that the TV set will apply smoothing at any rate – so I’d prefer the no NR approach.

  24. Pablo said, on November 16, 2010 at 5:31 am

    If you compare the Nikon D7000 and the Canon 7D, how important is for you the lack of 30fps @ 1080 in Nikon?

    Could you please recommend three basic lenses under $2,000?

    Thanks!

  25. Ryan said, on November 22, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    Just out of curiosity, where was the focus point for both cameras.

    I agree with people’s opinion that they would prefer the camera with the sharper image, but I’ve NEVER seen footage out of a Canon that was that soft in any of my shoots.

    Were the video files decompressed the same way? How were they edited? I really like Nikon moving into the video world because competition is best for all of us. But I feel like something is missing here.

  26. The People of Detroit said, on November 22, 2010 at 11:57 pm

    Love comparos 🙂 I shoot Canon. Love my 7D, but the Nikon video looks sharper here.

    I would like to see how the D7000 measures up against the 7D. Also, was the noise reduction set to “off” on both cameras?

    I never use NR when I shoot stills. Haven’t shot and video yet.

  27. […] Photo and Video Tests: Nikon D7000 vs. Canon 60D Lowlight Video shootout […]

  28. mert4646 said, on November 30, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    good A lot of times what I hear from nikon users is you can’t get as sharp of an image from canons, and I find that is only the case when a nikon user hoes out and attempts to use a canon camera with out knowing what they are doing. Look guys photography is photography and if your good you can use any brand and still come up with great results. And every brand has an advantage and disadvantage. Nikons tend to be better in low light because of the low pass sensor. Canons are great for sports because they have a higher shutter speed. Both companys make great cameras for everything in between. As far as video is concerned the nikons are better in low light because of their low pass sensor but use both in the day and you can see the difference between the nikon and the canon and who has the advantage A lot of times what I hear from nikon users is you can’t get as sharp of an image from canons, and I find that is only the case when a nikon user hoes out and attempts to use a canon camera with out knowing what they are doing. Look guys photography is photography and if your good you can use any brand and still come up with great results. And every brand has an advantage and disadvantage. Nikons tend to be better in low light because of the low pass sensor. Canons are great for sports because they have a higher shutter speed. Both companys make great cameras for everything in between. As far as video is concerned the nikons are better in low light because of their low pass sensor but use both in the day and you can see the difference between the nikon and the canon and who has the advantage

  29. ahamedia said, on January 1, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    Great to read these

  30. Kety said, on August 13, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    i’ve always loved cameras…. i’ve had many digital cams and always wanted a ptofessional digital camera… they were always really expensive and i never really knew which one i would buy when i had the money….well i saved up and did some research and at last decided to buy the Nikon D5100… i’m still learning how to use it well to get all the advantages it has to offer but its been a month and i’m sooo happy with this camera…i’ve found it very easy to use… i’ve gotten a couple of lens and well still learning… every time i grab it i’m like : wow i can do that? and i’m so amazed at the quality!!! lol i’m just overall exited!!!

    if anyone has any pointers for me or suggestios on how to use it or accessories i should get……PLEASE let me know!!!! i would really appreciate it!!!

    tks

  31. […] from: Nikon D7000 vs. Canon 60D Lowlight Video Shootout « THROUGH … This entry is filed under Uncategorized and tagged a-busy-couple, and-the, answer-the-million, […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: