Nikon beat Canon, DxO Labs

Prolog:

If you want to know which cameras and lenses are the best, this article is for you, it is consise of DxO Labs data which maybe too difficult too understand if we read directly in DxO Labs web.

Products

DxO Optics Pro is a software which corrects various optical aberrations, notably image distortion, with corrections tuned to particular lenses and cameras. It also adjusts lighting and color rendering. The software reads the Exif file to gather informations about the camera, the lens and the settings that were used.
Its automatic optical adjustment can fix:[2]
  • Distortion of curved line (should be straight)
  • Color fringes
  • Light fall off of vignetting
  • Make same sharpness (not soft) from center to corners
DxO ViewPoint allows the user to correct perspective and lens distortions.
DxO FilmPack emulates the appearance of various conventional films digitally.
DxO also provides image processing software OEM to camera manufacturers. Their DxO Analyzer product is used to measure lens distortions and sensor performance.
DxO uses PACE Interlok piracy protection.
The Perceptual MegaPixel (P-MPix) rates the resolution a camera produces when paired to a particular lens.[3] DxO Labs claims that P-MPix is a more accurate and relevant value for photographers to consider when weighing-up camera sharpness[4][5][6][7] As of mid-2013, the Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM mounted on a Nikon D800 has the highest measured P-MPix. However, with a value of 23 MP, it still wipes-off more than one-third of the D800's 36.3 MP sensor.[8]

Technology and the Image quality

Based on the DxOMark Sensor Score, we know that:[9]
  • Usually larger sensors outperform smaller ones ...
  • ... but newer models usually outperform same sized older models. And even the newest APS-C sensor outperform the older 1.3x crop sensors and moreover some old full-frame sensors.
  • Whether a DSLR or MILC from the same brand with the same sensor, both have same image quality.
  • No one of Canon cameras are best-in-class, except for the 1/1.7" segment. Mostly the dynamic range score, called "Landscape", is lower, which is caused by low effective number of bits of the analog-digital conversion.
  • Sensors from Sony (which are used by both Sony and Nikon) perform better than sensors from other makers.
CCD sensor quality is not so good as CMOS or more advance BSI-CMOS sensor quality (Not old CMOS without BSI). Leica M9, Leica M9 P and Leica M-E Typ 220 used CCD Full frame sensor and the DxOMark Sensor Overall Scores are 69, 68 and 69, respectively. Leica M-E Typ 220 is launched in September 2012 with MSRP $5,450.[10] Although Leica M System offers simple control, portability and well known as first class engineering, the Leicas have the worst sensor quality among cameras used Full frame sensor, except the ten-years Canon EOS-1Ds[11] with old CMOS sensor (not BSI-CMOS) got Sensor Overall Score 63 which it is launched in September 2002. When Leica M-E Typ 220 is launched Leica also launched the Full frame Leica M Typ 240 CMOS sensor with MSRP $6,950[12] and got Sensor Overall Score 84. In the same month there are also another 4 Full frame cameras are launched, Canon EOS 6D, Sony SLT Alpha 99, Sony RX1 Fixed Focus Lens Compact Camera and Nikon D600 which got Sensor Overall Score 82, 89, 93 and 94, respectively.[13] Canon EOS 6D, Sony SLT Alpha 99 and Nikon D600 are not a Compact Camera. The real competitor of Leicas are Sony Alpha 7 Full frame MILC with larger body than Leicas and the Crop format MILC Sony NEX-7 which got Sensor Overall Score 3 points behind of Leica M Typ 240, but surpassed a lot of other Leicas. With APS-C sensor size, the Sony NEX-7 is categorized as a Compact camera, although has a grip. The MSRP of Sony NEX-7 is $1,350.[14]

DxO Rating

On May 18, 2014 DxO Labs made Sensor Rating of 267 cameras and Nokia smartphones from 16 brands (not 18 brands, because Casio and Sigma is still empty). While Camera & Lens Rating list about 7,150 combinations of camera & lens from only 8 camera brands, Canon (with 26 cameras), Nikon (26), Olympus (14), Panasonic (8), Pentax (9), Ricoh (only Ricoh GR), Samsung (only Samsung NX20) and Sony (23), totally 107 cameras or about 40 percent of 267 cameras and smartphones which have Sensor Rating, mainly DSLR and mid-to-high-end of DSLT and MILC.

Sensor Rating

The DxOMark Sensor Score measures the RAW image quality data without considering the resolution, speed or lens sharpness.
DxOMark Sensor Overall Score consists of three components:
  • Color Depth for Portrait
  • Dynamic Range for Landscape
  • Low-light ISO for Sport
For general use and easiness we can use DxOMark Sensor Overall Score only.
The top 15 positions for image quality among cameras tested by DxO Labs
as at June 19, 2014[15]
PositionLaunch DateBrandCamera TypeDxOMark Sensor Overall Score
12014-06Nikon D810Full frame DSLR97
22012-02Nikon D800EFull frame DSLR96
32013-10Sony A7RFull frame MILC95
42012-02Nikon D800Full frame DSLR95
52012-09Nikon D600Full frame DSLR94
62013-10Nikon D610Full frame DSLR94
72012-09Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1Full frame Fixed-lens compact camera93
82011-01Phase One IQ 180Medium format91
92013-06Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1RFull frame Fixed-lens compact camera91
102013-10Sony A7Full frame MILC90
112013-11Nikon DfFull frame DSLR89
122012-01Nikon D4Full frame DSLR89
132008-07Phase One P65 PlusMedium format89
142014-02Nikon D4SFull frame DSLR89
152012-09Sony SLT Alpha 99Full frame DSLT89
Note:On the table above, we can see the image quality of All Medium format cameras have been surpassed by certain Full frame DSLR in February 2012 and no significant different of the image quality among Full frame DSLR, Full frame compact camera and Full frame MILC
For commercial use, DxO Labs stated that the best Sensor Overall Score is 101 points for the movie camera Red - the Epic-M camera with the Dragon sensor which has size only 56 percent of a Full frame sensor size,[16] however the still image quality between the Red Dragon and Nikon D800 which got 95 points are almost the same.[17]

The image quality cameras tested by DxO Labs outside the best 15 positions,
but at least have DxOMark Sensor Overall Score 80up as at August 1, 2014[15]
Launch DateBrandCamera TypeDxOMark Sensor Overall Score
2008-12Nikon D3xFull frame DSLR88
2014-04Sony A7sFull frame MILC87
2009-04Phase One P40 PlusMedium format87
2012-09Leica M Type 240Full frame MILC84
2012-11Nikon D5200Crop format DSLR84
2013-02Nikon D7100Crop format DSLR83
2013-10Nikon D5300Crop format DSLR83
2010-03Pentax 645DMedium format82
2009-10Nikon D3sFull frame DSLR82
2012-08Pentax K-5 IIsCrop format DSLR82
2014-02Sony Alpha ILCE-6000Crop format MILC82
2014-05Sony Alpha 77 IICrop format DSLT82
2012-08Pentax K-5 IICrop format DSLR82
2014-01Nikon D3300Crop format DSLR82
2011-10Canon EOS 1DxFull frame DSLR82
2012-09Canon EOS 6DFull frame DSLR82
2010-09Pentax K-5Crop format DSLR82
2012-04Nikon D3200Crop format DSLR81
2012-03Canon EOS 5D Mark IIIFull frame DSLR81
2011-08Sony NEX-7Crop format MILC81
2007-08Nikon D3Full frame DSLR81
Note:In March 2010, Pentax 645D Medium format got image quality 82, but 6 months later Pentax K-5 Crop format DSLR got the same score. Since September 2010, some crop format DSLRs have relatively same image quality with -medium-class- Full frame DSLRs. Higher prices are not mean better image quality, even among the same brand, such as Nikon D5200 and Nikon D7100. Nikon D3200, D5200 and D7100 have different prices with different features and casing materials, but have 24.2MP same sensors with relatively same image quality. No Canon crop format get DxOMark Sensor Overall Score above 80, the highest Canon crop format image quality get score 66 for Canon EOS 550D. In February 2014, only Nikon, Pentax and Sony with crop format sensor got score above 80. Since February 2012, the Micro Four Thirds system camera Olympus OM-D E-M5 with sensor size 68 percent of APS-C Canon sensor toppled all Canon crop factor APS-C 1.6x camera by score 71. And even the newest Canon EOS 70D which is launched in August 2013 only got score 68. The best Micro Four Thirds camera is Olympus OMD EM1 with score 73, but even the Lite version Olympus PEN EPL5 got score 72 as the expensive ones of Olympus PEN EP5, the different is only in the features. The Canon Crop Factor 1.3x APS-H Canon EOS-1D Mark IV got only score 74, although the sensor size is 2.4x the Micro Four Thirds sensor size.

DSLR sensor quality growth

Entry-level DSLR
as at November 20, 2013[18]
Launch DateBrandCamera TypeDxOMark Sensor Overall ScoreStatus
2012-11Nikon D5200Crop Format DSLR84The best
2004-01Nikon D70Crop Format DSLR50The worst
2010-01Sony Alpha 450Crop Format DSLT66Initial steep increase
There are progressive curve of Sensor Overall Score vs Launch Date since beginning of 2010. From Nikon D70 to Nikon D5200 needs about 7 years (x-axis) with Sensor Overall Score increase by 34 points (y-axis), so the tangential slope is about 34/7=4.8. And from Sony Alpha 450 to Nikon D5200 needs almost 3 years only, so the tangential slope is about 6 (more steep).
Semi-Pro DSLR
as at November 20, 2013[18]
Launch DateBrandCamera TypeDxOMark Sensor Overall ScoreStatus
2012-02Nikon D800EFull frame DSLR96The best
2008-11Olympus E-30Micro Four Thirds DSLR55The worst
2003-02Canon EOS 10DCrop format DSLR57
Olympus E30 with Micro Four Thirds sensor format is so bad and behind Canon EOS 10D with larger sensor which is launched almost 6 years before. Olympus is excluded from analysis of the graph. From Canon EOS 10D to Nikon D800E needs about 9 years with Sensor Overall Score increase by 39 points, so the tangential slope is about 4.3. The graph shows linear increase of Sensor Overall Score vs Launch Date.
Professional DSLR
as at November 20, 2013[18]
Launch DateBrandCamera TypeDxOMark Sensor Overall ScoreStatus
2011-01Phase One IQ 180 Digital BackMedium Format DSLR91The best
2003-07Nikon D2HCrop format DSLR40The worst
2002-09Canon EOS 1DsFull frame DSLR63
Nikon D2H with APS-C sensor format is so bad and behind Canon EOS 1Ds with larger sensor which is launched almost 1 year before. Nikon D2H is excluded from analysis of the graph. From Canon EOS 1Ds to Phase One IQ 180 Digital Back needs about 8 years with Sensor Overall Score increase by 28 points, so the tangential slope is about 3.5. The graph shows linear increase of Sensor Overall Score vs Launch Date, but the increase is not so steep as Entry-level DSLR and Semi-Pro DSLR. Professional camera sensor (and the processor) seems is not so good as Semi-pro DSLR, but the Professional camera is provided with battery pack and fast & long burst shoots capability such as Nikon D4 Full frame DSLR with Sensor Overall Score 89.

MILC sensor quality growth

Hybrid camera (MILC)
as at November 22, 2013[19]
Launch DateBrandCamera TypeDxOMark Sensor Overall ScoreStatus
2013-10Sony A7RFull frame MILC95The best
2011-08Sony NEX-7APS-C MILC81Second best
2011-06Pentax Q1/2.3" MILC47The worst
2008-09Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1Micro Four Thirds MILC53
2013-08Sony NEX-5TAPS-C MILC78
Sony A7R use Full frame sensor and got advantage by 14 point from Sony NEX-7. Pentax Q and a few cameras are too bad because use small 1/2.3" sensor and behind Panasonic Lumix DMC G1 with larger sensor which is launched almost 3 years before. The successors of Sony NEX-7 have draw back and the latest Sony NEX-5T set 3 points behind the predecessor. For better graph, Sony A7R, Pentax Q and Sony NEX-7 are excluded from the analysis. From Panasonic Lumix DMC G1 to Sony NEX-5T needs almost 5 years with Sensor Overall Score increase by 25 points, so the tangential slope is more than 25/5=5. The graph shows linear increase of Sensor Overall Score vs Launch Date and similar with Entry-level DSLR curve in the long run. The tangential slope more than 5 means in average every one year the highest Sensor Overall Score increase by more than 5 points for MILC category.

Point & shoot small sensor quality

Point & shoot camera with small sensor
as at November 22, 2013[19]
Launch DateBrandCamera TypeDxOMark Sensor Overall ScoreStatus
2013-06Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II1" Fixed Lens Compact Camera67The best
2012-06Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1001" Fixed Lens Compact Camera66Second best
2013-08Canon PowerShot S1201/1.7" Fixed Lens Compact Camera56Third best
The best of 1" Fixed Lens Compact Camera got Sensor Overall Score 67 and 66 or only 1 and 2 points behind from the latest Canon Crop Format Semi-Pro DSLR Canon EOS 70D with 68 points. The bigger the sensor size is not directly the better the sensor quality and all the data struck the sensor will be processed with proprietary software. For reference 1" sensor size is about 37 percent of APS-C Canon sensor size, while 1/1.7" sensor size is about 13 percent of APS-C Canon sensor size.

Camera & Lens Rating

There are two scores:[20]
  • DxOMark Score,[9] which gives an overall score of a lens used with a specific camera body (in this article we use term Camera & Lens Combination Score to avoid confusion with DxOMark Sensor Overall Score).
  • Optical Metric Score, gives a score of each sharpness, distortion, vignetting, transmission and chromatic aberration of a lens, but still tested on a certain camera.
DxoMark Score is easier to use and based on low-light conditions, 150 lux and 1/60s exposure time, because low-light photography is important for today photography and furthermore in sufficient/abundant light, good image can be achieved even by a small diameter lens with small diaphragma opening (big f/ number).[21]
On February 9, 2014 about half of all lenses and cameras combination tested are zoom lenses. Canon and Nikon cameras dominated the tested with about 40 percent each.
The best-10 of DxOMark Score of all categories are all certain fixed/single focus (not zoom) lens. The top-3 is dominated by Carl Zeiss Distagon T* Otus 1.4/55 ZF.2 Nikon tested on Nikon D800, Nikon D610 and Nikon D600 and got Camera & Lens Combination Score 45,43 and 42 points, respectively. Sony FE Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 55mm F1.8 ZA got 42 point and set at fourth. Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G tested on Nikon D800 set at the fifth with 40 points and tested on Nikon D600 set also 40 points as the sixth. And when used slower lens Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G tested on Nikon D800 still got 40 points. Nikon lenses dominated a half of the best-10, 2 types of Carl Zeiss list 4 positions and Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM A Nikon tested also on Nikon D800 got score 39 points.
The best zoom lens of all categories is Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 D1 VC USD Nikon, best at f=100mm and f/2.8 tested on Nikon D800 and set at 149 position, got excellent scoring 31. And then Sigma 120-300mm F/2.8 DG OS HSM S Nikon, best at f=120mm and f/2.8 tested on Nikon D800, got score 30 and set at 190 position. The rest got score above average, average or below (29 or below). The third is also Sigma 120-300mm F/2.8 DG OS HSM S Canon, tested on Canon EOS 5D Mark III, got score 29 and set at 198 position; the best at f=300mm and f/2.8 (different when tested on Nikon D800) means Nikon and Canon have different approach on processing. The fourth is Tamron SP 70-200mm tested on Nikon D610, set at 205 position with score 29 points and best at f=100mm and f/2.8 same as when tested on Nikon D800. The fifth is Tamron SP 24-70mm F2.8 Di VC USD Nikon got score 29 points when tested on Nikon D800. The sixth is a Crop Format DSLR Nikon D5300 when tested Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM A Nikon got score 29 points. So, when use a certain small magnification zoom lens, a Crop Format DSLR is no significant different with a Full frame DSLR. All zoom lenses above have small magnification zoom, below 3x.
There are more than 500 Nikon DX Crop Factor Format lenses and cameras combination tested. The best is a zoom lens Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM A Nikon tested on Nikon D5300, got score 29 and when tested on Nikon D7100 got score 28 as the second, tested on Nikon D3200 got score 26, tested on Nikon D5200 got score 26 and tested on Nikon D7000 got score 23. The third position is Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G, tested on Nikon D5300, got score 27 and when tested on Nikon D7100 got score 26 or above average, followed by the fifth position is also fixed focus lens Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC HSM A Nikon tested on Nikon D7100, got score 26. In the best-10, Sigma 18-35mm share 4 positions, Nikkor 35mm share 3 positions and Sigma 30mm share also 3 positions.
There are about 450 Canon EF-S Crop Factor Format lenses and cameras combination tested. The best-5 is not fixed focus lens, but zoom of third party lens Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM A Canon ($973) tested on Canon EOS 70D, 100D, 700D, 7D and 500D, all best at f=18mm and f/1.8, get score 27, 26, 25, 24 and 22 points, respectively. No one of Canon EF-S lens set in the best-10, all are dominated by Sigmas (zoom lenses and fixed focus lens).
Note: All the positions are among all of the lenses and cameras combination tested and not in certain category. The position are changing from time to time and uses as rank purposes only and also to know the position is near each other or not.

Fast lens

Among the best-10 of Nikon Camera & Nikon Lens Combination Tested by DxO Labs
Full Frame DSLRSensor Overall Score[22]Lens NameCamera & Lens Combination Score[23]
D80095Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G40
D60094Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G40
D80095Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G40
D60094Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G40
D80095Nikon AF-S Nikkor 200mm f/2G ED VR II39
D60094Nikon AF-S Nikkor 200mm f/2G ED VR II37
One of the best DSLR camera was Nikon D800 which got Sensor Overall Score 95 and followed by Nikon D600 with Sensor Overall Score 94. The Nikon D800 (body only) price is 60 percent above Nikon D600 (body only). The lens with faster lens speed (f/1.4 compare to f/1.8) certainly more expensive than the slower ones. The tested on Nikon D800 and Nikon D600 result above gave us the Camera & Lens Combination Excellent Score of same 40 of both Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G and Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G, but the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 200mm f/2G ED VR II gave slightly different when it is tested on Nikon D800 and Nikon D600 with Camera & Lens Combination Excellent Score 39 and 37, respectively.

Constant widest aperture along the zoom range

The best crop factor format camera and the zoom lenses
Crop format DSLRSensor Overall Score[24]Zoom Lens NameCamera & Lens Combination Score[25]
Nikon D520084Tamron SP 24-70mm F2.8 Di VC USD Nikon19
Nikon D520084Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 GX DC OS HSM Nikon19
Nikon D520084Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC MACRO OS HSM C Nikon18
Tamron SP 24-70mm price is about $1,300, while Sigma 17-50mm price is about $570. Sigma 17-70mm ("C" version) cover previous both zoom lenses range, although is F2.8-4; the price is only about 80 percent of Sigma 17-50mm or only about 30 percent of Tamron SP 24-70mm, furthermore all of its gave relatively same Camera & Lens Combination Score (slight/very slightly different). Please noted that the Sigma 17-70mm has big "C" mark near focusing ring and means is a Contemporary lens (new version) as a compact general-purpose zoom for everyday photography,[26] an about $40 more than without "C" which got only 15 points in Camera and Lens Combination Score.

Kit (zoom) lens

Nikon and Canon Crop DSLR Camera & Kit Lens Combination Tested by DxO Labs
Crop format DSLRSensor Overall Score[27]Zoom Lens NameZoom MagnificationCamera & Lens Combination Score[28]
Nikon D520084Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR3.1x14
Canon 700D61Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM3.1x13
Although Nikon D5200 got 84 points of Sensor Overall Score and Canon 700D got 61 points only, but both got relatively same of Camera & Lens Combination Score. Both cameras are launched by 4 months different, Nikon in November 2012 and Canon in March 2013.

Canon and Nikon Crop DSLR Camera & Kit Lens Combination Tested by DxO Labs
Crop format DSLRSensor Overall Score[29]Zoom Lens NameZoom MagnificationCamera & Lens Combination Score[30]
Canon 70D68Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM3.1x14
Canon 70D68Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM7.5x13
Canon 70D68Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS11.1x10
Nikon D9073Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR5.8x11
The Canon 70D is launched in July 2013 and sold in body only or with one of the three kit (zoom) lens. The 18-135mm kit (zoom) lens is relatively has same image quality with the 18-55mm kit (zoom) lens, but the 18-200mm kit (zoom) lens is become worse.
The five-years old Nikon D90 is launched in August 2008, but until late of 2013 is still sold in new status with kit (zoom) lens. Its Sensor Overall Score is only 73 points and the kit (zoom) lens 18-105mm is only got Camera & Lens Combination Score 11 points.
There are no Kit (zoom) lens got Excellent Camera & Lens Combination Score, all only got Below Average.
The different of Camera & Lens Combination Score between Kit (zoom) lens and Big magnification zoom lens as below on Crop DSLR is not much and more depends on the quality of each zoom lens and not so much depends on the Sensor quality (Sensor Overall Score).

Prime Wide-angle to Portrait Zoom Lens

Prime Wide-angle to Portrait Camera & Zoom Lens Combination Tested by DxO Labs
Sensor format typeCamera brandSensor Overall Score[31]Zoom Lens NameCamera & Lens Combination Score[32]
Full frameNikon D80095Tamron SP 24-70mm F2.8 Di VC USD Nikon29
Full frameCanon EOS 5D Mark III81Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM28
Full frameNikon D 80095Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED28
APS-CPentax K-3/K-5 IIs/K-5080/82/79Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC HSM Pentax21/20/19
Micro Four Thirds SystemOlympus EP5/EM1/EM572/73/71Olympus M ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-40mm F2.8 PRO20/20/19
Micro Four Thirds SystemPanasonic GH3/GX1/GH271/55/60Olympus M ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-40mm F2.8 PRO18/18/18
APS-C NikonNikon D5300/D710083/83Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC HSM Nikon20/20
APS-C NikonNikon D530083Nikon AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G IF ED19
APS-C CanonCanon 70D/100D/7D68/63/66Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM Canon17/16/16
APS-C CanonCanon 70D/7D/100D68/66/63Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 iS USM16/15/15
Wide-angle to portrait zoom lens is mostly used in indoor photography for superb image quality. All the above lenses have same f/2.8 constant widest aperture along the zoom range.
The full frame systems are the best with its larger sensor and bigger lens diameter than crop cameras.
Pentax systems gave the best of crop cameras, although used the third party lens. Good news for non-loyalist users, because more options now, not only Nikon and Canon, but also Pentax has in the top line of APS-C crop format DSLR.
But the stars are Micro Four Thirds Systems which followed Pentaxs. With smaller sensor, but still big diameter of the lens/filter (62mm) Olympus M ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-40mm F2.8 PRO gave only maximum one point behind of Camera & Lens Combination Score than Pentaxs when tested on Olympus EP5, EM1 and EM5. Similar zoom range of non-fast Crop DSLR lenses have lens thread 52-58mm only. And when tested on Panasonic GH3, GX1 and GH2 got same Camera & Lens Combination Score 18, although Panasonic GX1 and GH2 got only Sensor Overall Score 55, and 60. It means processing is more important than sensor quality. As has mentioned at APS-C versus Micro Four Thirds Section, for Micro Four Thirds Systems, Olympus is still better than Panasonic for its cameras and lenses.
Nikon Crop format DSLR systems is better than Panasonic, but only same with Olympus, but Nikon systems is always better than Canon system as the worst image quality which seems more difficult for Canon to catch its rivals image quality progress, Canon now priorities for touch screens, lightest DSLRs or non-image quality features.
The cheapest lens is Sigma 17-50mm for about $569.

Big magnification zoom lens

Nikon and Canon Crop DSLR Camera & Lens Combination Tested by DxO Labs
Crop format DSLRSensor Overall Score[33]Big Zoom Lens NameBig Zoom MagnificationCamera & Lens Combination Score[34]
Nikon D5200/Nikon D530084/83Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR16.7x14/15
Nikon D5200/Nikon D530084/83Tamron AF 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC LD Aspherical (IF) Macro Nikon15x13/13
Nikon D5200/Nikon D530084/83Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS Nikon11.1x12/13
Nikon D5200/Nikon D530084/83Nikon AF-S DX VR Zoom Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED11.1x12/13
Nikon D5200/Nikon D530084/83Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM Nikon13.9x12/13
Nikon D5200/Nikon D530084/83Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM Nikon11.1x12/12
Pentax K-5079Pentax smc Pentax DA 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 ED AL (IF)13.9x13
Pentax K-5079Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM Pentax11.1x13
Pentax K-5079Pentax smc Pentax DA 18-270mm F3.5-6.3 ED AL (IF)15x13
Olympus OM-D E-M1/EP5/EM573/72/71Panasonic LUMIX G VARIO 14-140mm /F3.5-5.6 ASPH /POWER O.I.S.10x13/13/13
Canon 70D68Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC MACRO OS HSM Canon13.9x11
Canon 70D68Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM Canon11.1x11
Canon 70D68Tamron 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Canon15x11
Canon 70D68Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS11.1x10
Canon 550D62Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC MACRO OS HSM Canon13.9x10
Canon 700D61Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC MACRO OS HSM Canon13.9x10
Canon 700D61Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM Canon11.1x10
Canon 700D61Tamron 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Canon15x10
Nikon D5300 has no anti aliasing filter and has Sensor Overall Score one point behind of Nikon D5200 which has the anti aliasing filter, but with new Expeed 4 processor, Nikon D5300 is same or one point better of the image quality than Nikon D5200.
All the above lenses for Nikon have relatively same Camera & Lens Combination Score and same F/3.5-6.3, except Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR and Nikon AF-S DX VR Zoom Nikkor 18-200mm has f/3.5-5.6G which initial G means Gold (premium?) lens with price $1,000 and $847 respectively, while Tamron AF 18-270mm price is less than a half of Nikon lenses. The other lenses for Nikon are cheaper, Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM Nikon and Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM Nikon, both have Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) and the prices are less than $300.
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR as the longest superzoom has vignetting at wide-angle positions and fall-off (darkened corners) at the rest of the zoom positions with aperture number smaller than f/8 (f/8-f/3.5) due to the diameter of the lens is relatively small when is compared to its lens barrel length (120mm at idle position, not yet expanded). The best image with relatively no fall-off is 50mm f/5.6 position. However use Nikkor 18-300mm at the longest end is still better than uses Nikkor 18-200mm and then crop/enlarge to 300mm, moreover on the table above Nikkor 18-300mm got the best Camera & Lens Combination Score, so by overall still better than the other lenses, if the 828grams weight and the price are not the issues.[35]
Pentax K-50, Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus OM-D E-P5 and Olympus OM-D E-M5 have same score of Camera & Lens Combination Score and better than Canons by 2 or 3 points. Pentax K-50 system will give the cheapest price, mainly if use $239 Sigma 18-200mm lens. Pentax K-50 is also the smallest mid-range camera,[36] but for compactness Olympus systems (with lenses) are the smallest.
All the above lenses tested on Canon 70D have relatively same Camera & Lens Combination Score and same F/3.5-6.3, except Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS. Tamron 18-270mmm with Piezo Drive (PZD) price is $449 and the other lenses are cheaper with Sigma 18-250mm and Sigma 18-200mm both have same HSM (non-IF) and prices, a $100 lower than Tamron 18-270mm price.
And when the above lenses tested on Canon 550D and Canon 700D, it will give relatively same Camera & Lens Combination Score compared to Canon 70D.

Nikon Full frame DSLR Camera & Lens Combination Tested by DxO Labs
Full frame DSLRSensor Overall Score[37]Big Zoom Lens NameBig Zoom MagnificationCamera & Lens Combination Score[38]
Nikon D80095Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM Nikon10x19
Nikon D80095Nikon AF Zoom-Nikkor 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED7.1x17
Nikon D80095Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR10.7x17
Nikon D80095Tamron AF 28-300mm F/3.5-6.3 XR Di VC LD Aspherical (F) Macro Nikon10.7x16
Nikon D70080Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM Nikon10x13
Nikon D70080Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR10.7x12
Nikon D70080Nikon AF Zoom-Nikkor 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED7.1x12
Nikon D70080Tamron AF 28-300mm F/3.5-6.3 XR Di VC LD Aspherical (F) Macro Nikon10.7x12
Tested on D800, Sigma 50-150mm give Camera & Lens Overall Score 19, but Sigma zoom range is not initial from wide angle. With different of Sensor Overall Score between D800 and D700 by 15 points, the Camera & Lens Combination Score tested on D800 and D700 give significant different result. With Sensor Overall Score 80, the Full frame Nikon D700 give Camera & Lens Combination Score no significant different with the current Crop format DSLR when use all the lenses with the focal range as above. Nikon D600 and Nikon D610 which got Sensor Overall Score 1 point and 2 points behind Nikon D800 gave same image quality (Camera & Lens Combination Score) with Nikon D800 when tested the biggest magnification zoom lenses from wide-angle to long-zoom, Nikon and Tamron 28-300mm. The price of Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G CD VR is about $1,047 with length 115mm and weight 800grams,[39] while Tamron AF 28-300mm F/3.5-6.3 XR Di VC LD Aspherical (F) Macro Nikon is about 60 percent of Canon lens, more compact design with length 78mm and weight 555grams.[40]
To use zoom lens with big magnification, a current Crop format DSLR is sufficient. To give a better result, a Full frame DSLR with Sensor Overall Score as high as it can should be used with good but expensive zoom lens (third party lens is not so expensive with relatively same or even better than the principal lens).

Small magnification zoom lens versus Fixed focus lens

Nikon and Canon DSLR Camera & Lens Combination Tested by DxO Labs
Sensor format typeDSLR brandSensor Overall Score[41]Fixed focus/Zoom Lens NameSmall Zoom MagnificationCamera & Lens Combination Score[42]
Full frameNikon D80095Carl Zeiss Distagon T* Otus 1.4/55 ZF.2 Nikon1x45
Full frameNikon D80095Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD Nikon2.9x31
Full frameNikon D80095Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM S Nikon2.5x30
Full frameCanon EOS 5D Mark III81Carl Zeiss Distagon T* Otus 1.4/55 ZE Canon1x38
Full frameCanon EOS 5D Mark III81Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM S Canon2.5x29
Crop formatNikon D710083Carl Zeiss Distagon T* Otus 1.4/55 ZF.2 Nikon1x35
Crop formatNikon D710083Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM A Nikon1.9x28
Crop formatCanon EOS 70D68Carl Zeiss Distagon T* Otus 1.4/55 ZE Canon1x27
Crop formatCanon 70D68Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM A Canon1.9x27
The Crop format Nikon D7100 has better sensor quality than the Full frame Canon EOS 5D Mark III, although Nikon D7100 sensor size is only 43 percent of Canon EOS 5D Mark III sensor size. Both give relatively same image qualities when using Fixed focus lenses.
When use Small magnification zoom lenses all of it give relatively same above average image qualities, no matter use Full frame DSLR or not, Nikon or not. The interesting things is the focus of best image quality when use Tamron SP 70-200mm set at 100mm, Sigma 120-300mm tested on Nikon D7100 at 120mm and Sigma 120-300mm tested on Canon 70D at 300mm. It means Nikon and Canon have different proprietary processing approach of the (zoom) lenses.
Full frame DSLR is only superior when use Fixed focus lens and Nikon (not Canon) Crop format DSLR is not too superior when use Fixed focus lens. Professionals should use Fullframe DSLR with Fixed focus lens (not zoom lens) to give maximum image quality, but for General use when zoom lens is frequently/flexible needed, a Nikon or Canon Crop format DSLR is adequate. The crop cameras, Pentax such as Pentax K-5, Sony such as Sony NEX-7 and other brands give the Camera & Lens Combination Score Average or Below Average when tested Fixed focus lenses and when tested the zoom lenses become worse.

Relation between Sensor Rating and Lens Rating

Relation between Sensor Rating and Lens Rating[43]
Launch DateBrandCamera TypeDxOMark Sensor Overall ScoreColor DepthDynamic RangeLow-light ISOBest Lens TestedCamera & Lens Combination Score
2012-02Nikon D800Full frame DSLR9525.3 bits14.4 Evs2853 ISONikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G40
2012-09Sony SLT Alpha 99Full frame DSLT8925 bits14 Evs1555 ISOSigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM A Sony34
2008-07Nikon D700Full frame DSLR8023.5 bits12.2 Evs2303 ISONikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G28
2009-07Nikon D300sCrop format DSLR7022.5 bits12.2 Evs787 ISOSigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM A Nikon22
2004-02Fujifilm FinePix S3 ProCrop format DSLR6020.9 bits13.5 Evs346 ISOOngoing Test
2005-02Canon EOS 350DCrop format DSLR6021.8 bits10.8 Evs637 ISOSigma 18-35mm F1.8 DG HSM Canon18
2004-01Nikon D70Crop format DSLR5020.4 bits10.3 Evs529 ISOSigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM A Nikon16
The table above represents relative relation between DxOMark Sensor Overall Score with all of the three components and also the best lenses tested.
  • In Color Depth, the DxOMark Sensor Overall Score increase in line with bits increase
  • In Dynamic Range, Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro got higher than Nikon D700 with 13.5 Evs and 12.2 Evs, respectively, but as a consequence Fujifilm got only 346 ISO. In Sensor Overall Score Nikon D700 got 20 points higher than the Fujifilm
  • In Low-light ISO, Nikon D700 got 2303 ISO and as a consequence got only 12.2 Evs. Nikon D700 is better in Low-light ISO, but lack in Dynamic Range compare to Sony SLT Alpha 99 which got Sensor Overall Score 9 points better than Nikon D700
So, as mention above for General use and Easiness we can use Sensor Overall Score only, but Professionals or photographers with specific purposes such as Landscape or Sport should see all the three components. Furthermore, Big Camera & Lens Combination Score is in line with Big Sensor Overall Score. The bigger Sensor Overall Score, the bigger Camera & Lens Combination Score can be achieved.
Lens performance has strong relation with sensor performance and same lens can give different image quality when tested on different camera bodies, so DxO Labs has abundant combinations lenses tested on cameras, including lenses from different parties[44] which sometimes better than the lens of camera principal.

APS-C versus Micro Four Thirds

APS-C versus Micro Four Thirds[45]
Launch DateBrandCamera TypeDxOMark Sensor Overall ScoreBest (and Second Best) Lens TestedCamera & Lens Combination Score
2012-11Nikon D5200APS-C DSLR84Carl Zeiss Distagon T* Otus 1.4/55 ZF 2 Nikon32
2012-11Nikon D5200APS-C DSLR84Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM A Nikon30
2013-07Canon EOS 70DAPS-C DSLR68Carl Zeiss Distagon T* Otus 1.4/55 ZE Canon27
2011-08Sony NEX-7APS-C MILC81Sony E 50mm F1.8 OSS23
2010-09Pentax K-5APS-C DSLR82Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM A Pentax22
2013-06Pentax K-50APS-C DSLR79Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM A Pentax24
2013-10Pentax K-3APS-C DSLR80Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM A Pentax27
2013-09Olympus OM-D E-M1Micro Four Thirds73Olympus M Zuiko Digital ED 75mm F1.827
2013-09Olympus OM-D E-M1Micro Four Thirds73Panasonic Leica Summilux DG 25mm F1.424
2013-05Olympus PEN E-P5Micro Four Thirds72Olympus M Zuiko Digital ED 75mm F1.827
2013-05Olympus PEN E-P5Micro Four Thirds72Panasonic Leica Summilux DG 25mm F1.424
2012-02Olympus OM-D E-M5Micro Four Thirds71Olympus M Zuiko Digital ED 75mm F1.827
2012-02Olympus OM-D E-M5Micro Four Thirds71Panasonic Leica Summilux DG 25mm F1.423
2012-09Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3Micro Four Thirds71Olympus M Zuiko Digital ED 75mm F1.824
2012-09Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3Micro Four Thirds71Panasonic Leica Summilux DG 25mm F1.421

In the category of APS-C there are 3 groups:
  • The best is Nikon D5200 with the highest Sensor Overall Score 84 and Camera & Lens Combination Score 32 when tested Carl Zeiss Distagon T* Otus 1.4/55 ZF 2 Nikon
  • Canon EOS 70D got Sensor Overall Score 68 and when tested Carl Zeiss Distagon T* Otus 1.4/55 ZE Canon got only Camera & Lens Combination Score 27, while Pentax K-3 got same Camera & Lens Combination Score 27, when tested Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM A Pentax, although got Sensor Overall Score 80 and significant better than Canon EOS 70D got.
  • Sony NEX-7, Pentax K-5 and Pentax K-50 Sensor Overall Score a few points behind Nikon D5200, but the Camera & Lens Combination Scores are worse than Canon 70D. It means the proprietary processor software of Canon is better than Sony and Pentax have. Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM A Pentax tested on Pentax K-5 got Camera & Lens Combination Score 22 and on Pentax K-50 got 24, but Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM A Nikon tested on Nikon D5200 got Camera & Lens Combination Score 30 (significant different), so it means the proprietary processor software of Sony and Pentax are the worst, but if see Pentax K-3 which is launched 3 years after Pentax K-5 and the newer got Sensor Overall Score decline by 2 points and got Camera & Lens Combination Score increase by 5 points, it means there are progress of Pentax proprietary processor software. Without knows about the sensor quality and processing, by the end of 2013 Pentax has matched Canon in image quality result.
Since 2012,the Micro Four Thirds (MFT) cameras initial to show its good sensor and image quality. Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus PEN-P5 and Olympus OM-D E-M5 got relatively same Sensor Overall Score and better than Canon 70D and when tested Olympus M Zuiko Digital ED 75mm F1.8 and Panasonic Leica Summilux DG 25mm F1.4 got Camera & Lens Combination Score relatively same, no matter are (M)ini version as Olympus OM-D E-M1 or Olympus OM-D E-5 or not. Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 got Sensor Overall Score 71 same as Olympus OM-D E-M5, but when tested Olympus and Panasonic lenses above got only Camera & Lens Combination Scores 24 and 21, respectively. Although Olympus and Panasonic cameras have relatively same quality sensors, but Panasonic proprietary processor software seems not so powerful as Olympus proprietary processor software, because Panasonic cannot gave Camera & Lens Combination Score better/same than Olympus did, even for its own Panasonic lens.
After see the Sensor Overall Score and the Camera & Lens Combination Score above, we can see also that the image quality of Micro Four Thirds can compete with all APS-C, excluding Nikon.

Fullframe DSLR versus APS-C DSLR

Fullframe DSLR versus APS-C DSLR[46]
Launch DateBrandCamera TypeDxOMark Sensor Overall ScoreLens TestedCamera & Lens Combination Score
2012-03Canon EOS 5D Mark IIIFullframe DSLR81Carl Zeiss Distagon T* Otus 1.4/55 ZE Canon38
2012-03Canon EOS 5D Mark IIIFullframe DSLR81Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM17
2012-03Canon EOS 5D Mark IIIFullframe DSLR81Tamron AF 28-300mm F/3.5-6.3 APO EX DG HSM Canon14
2013-02Nikon D7100APS-C DSLR83Carl Zeiss Distagon T* Otus 1.4/55 ZF 2 Nikon35
2013-02Nikon D7100APS-C DSLR83Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR15
2013-02Nikon D7100APS-C DSLR83Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-5.6 DC OS Nikon13
2013-02Nikon D7100APS-C DSLR83Nikon AF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED13
2012-11Nikon D5200APS-C DSLR84Carl Zeiss Distagon T* Otus 1.4/55 ZF 2 Nikon32
2012-11Nikon D5200APS-C DSLR84Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR14
Canon EOS 5D Mark III and Nikon D7100, both are Semi-Pro DSLR, but Canon uses Fullframe sensor, while Nikon uses APS-C Nikon sensor. With the Sensor Overall Score relatively same, the Camera & Lens Combination Score of Canon is slightly better than performance of Nikon, but not significant.
The interesting thing is Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR announced in June 2012 as the biggest magnification Superzoom (16.7x) available for any interchangeable-lens camera system which claim up to 4 stop slower benefit with its image stabilization for handheld uses.[47] The lens got Camera & Lens Combination Score 15 points or 2 points better than Nikon AF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED. So, impression that longer zoom is bad is not always true.
The body only price of Canon EOS 5D Mark III is about $3,300 and the body only price of Nikon D7100 is about a third of Canon price, while Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM price is about $2,400 and Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR price is about 40 percent of Canon lens price and has longer zoom (450mm in equivalent 35mm).
Nikon D5200 is not a Semi-Pro DSLR, but an Entry-level DSLR with one point advantage over the Semi-Pro DSLR Nikon D7100 of Sensor Overall Score, but the Nikon D7100 got Camera Lens Combination Score slightly better than the Entry-level DSLR, although relatively give same image quality. Both use Nikon EXPEED 3 processor, so Nikon seems still differentiate between its Semi-Pro DSLR and Entry-level DSLR. The price of Nikon D5200 is about $450 lower than the Semi-Pro DSLR, but lacks of weather sealed and a built-in focus motor, while the Nikon D7100 has both.
DxO Labs says that "15 points on DxOMark Sensor scale shows a 1-stop increase for performance, and similarly, 2X for the surface sensor also adds 1 stop to the image quality performance".[48] Canon Fullframe sensor size is about 2.3x of Nikon APS-C sensor size. The Sensor Overall Score of Canon EOS 5D Mark III and Nikon D7100 are relatively same and also the Camera & Lens Combination Score of both cameras are relatively same, seems the Canon EOS 5D Mark III cannot maximize its larger sensor.
Using APS-C cameras for nature, wildlife, and sports enthusiasts will get advantage from the increased focal length of crop factor magnification.[49]

DxO Mobile Rating

To realize that Mobile devices (mainly smartphones) will surpass digital point-and-shoot cameras when take photos, DxO Labs has launched DxOMark Mobile in 2012 and tested smartphones (also tablets and other mobile devices) since 2011.[50]
DxOMark Mobile is Mobile Overall Score and consists of: DxOMark Mobile Photo and DxOMark Mobile Video.
DxOMark Mobile Photo consists of details as below:
  • Exposure and control
  • Color
  • Autofocus
  • Texture
  • Noise
  • Artifacts
  • Flash
DxOMark Mobile Video details is same as DxOMark Mobile Photo details, except Flash is replaced by Stabilisation.

The best of DxOMark Mobile

Based on the best DxOMark Mobile (Overall Score), the fact is DxOMark Mobile Photo give better result than DxOMark Mobile Video. All the smartphones give good photos and almost all the details. But the details of DxOMark Mobile Video give some lacks.
So, if we want the smartphones only for Photo, we can directly see the DxOMark Mobile (Overall Score), but if we want to know the Video quality, we should know the details of DxOMark Mobile Video, mainly for Stabilisation, Autofocus and Noise.
DxOMark Mobile: DxOMark Mobile Photo and DxOMark Mobile Video[51]
BrandDxOMark MobileDxOMark Mobile PhotoDxOMark Mobile VideoVideo StabilizationVideo AutofocusVideo Noise
Samsung Galaxy S5[52]798079557687
Sony Xperia Z2798173665281
Nokia 808 Pureview778168394059
Apple iPhone 5S767872574775
Sony Xperia Z1767774596085
Samsung S4757968355266
Nokia Lumia 1020747964494553
LG G2737764464680
Nokia Lumia 925737569606259
Apple iPhone 5727470544947
Samsung S3727371486159
Apple iPhone 4S727468284744
With the 1/2.6" sensor size and 1/2.3" sensor size which only less than a third of Nokia 808 Pureview 1/1.2" sensor size, Samsung Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z2 respectively can topples Nokia 808 Pureview in DxOMark Mobile (Overall Score), so it means sensor size only is not a matter, but quality of the sensor and processing take more roles. Apple iPhone 4S got the worst Video Stabilization with only 28 points, the video stabilization quickly deteriorates in indoor and low-light settings.
Samsung Galaxy Note II got same DxOMark Mobile 72 score as Apple iPhone 4S, while iPad (3rd generation) is marketed as Apple New iPad got only DxOMark Mobile 59 score.

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External links

Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=DxO_Labs&oldid=619513355 (originally is copied from Wikipedia before is deleting due to too detail and makes jelously for the inferior)   

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