We test the Nikon D80 digital SLR camera for noise during longish exposures at night.
We have been living with the Nikon D80 dSLR now for some weeks and as part of our tests have taken a series of exposures at night to examine the image noise with this camera.
The test images below are all 100% sections from the center of the image, shot at varying ISO and aperture and a constant 8-second exposure. No processing was done on the images. Unprocessed RAW files of these images are available from the camera test page. Be sure to check the RAW files as you will get a more accurate impression of the noise levels than from the JPEGs here.
100ISO NR off
100ISO NR on
At 100ISO, the D80 produces reasonably noise free images, but not completely so. As we have come to expect, noise reduction does not improve the image and actually blurs it further.
200ISO NR off
200ISO NR on
Likewise at 200ISO, the image is fairly smooth and the noise reduction does not improve the image.
400ISO NR off
400ISO NR on
At 400ISO the noise is very well controlled and quite reasonable, though noticeable. Noise reduction does not improve the image.
800ISO NR off
800ISO NR on
By 800ISO noise levels are getting high and noise reduction does not help.
1600ISO NR off
1600ISO NR on
At 1600ISO noise reduction does help and the level of noise really does need whatever help is possible.
3200ISO NR off
3200ISO NR on
3200ISO is so noisy, it is, in my opinion, only useful in an emergency.
The D80 is not an very low noise camera. It is also not high noise, it falls in between. I would consider the noise levels on this camera well controlled at 400ISO and below. But above this it falls apart pretty quickly.