Nikon V3 Review -- Image Quality Comparison

Below are crops comparing the Nikon V3 with the Nikon V2, Canon G1X II, Olympus E-PL7, Panasonic GM1 and Sony RX100 III. We chose to include a variety of sensor sizes in this comparison to show what you could expect as ISO rises, as all models listed here are in roughly the same general price bracket.

NOTE: These images are best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction and using the actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). Your own results with RAW conversions may of course vary somewhat. All interchangeable lens cameras in this comparison were shot with our very sharp reference lenses except for the Nikon V2, as we did not currently have a 1-series prime lens in our test lab, so note that the quality will be slightly lower given that it was shot with a kit lens and not a reference prime.

Nikon V3 versus Nikon V2 at Base ISO

Nikon V3 at ISO 160
Nikon V2 at ISO 160

The new Nikon V3 displays a noticeable improvement in image quality over the previous model, especially in the bottle and mosaic crops with cleaner images and more fine detail. As noted above though, the V2 was shot with a kit lens and we didn't yet have a reference prime for this series. The only area of concern for the V3 is the fabric swatches, which look better on the V2. However, there could be slight focus variation contributing to the difference.


Nikon V3 versus Canon SL1 at Base ISO

Nikon V3 at ISO 160
Canon SL1 at ISO 100

The V3 fares quite well against the larger, APS-C-sensored Canon SL1 here at base ISO. V3 images are clean and sharp, with some aspects such at the bottle labeling appearing actually sharper than that from the Canon. The Canon, on the other hand, does a little better with the fabric swatches, especially the pink fabric.


Nikon V3 versus Olympus E-PL7 at Base ISO

Nikon V3 at ISO 160
Olympus E-PL7 at ISO 200

While the level of fine detail and clean noise is very similar between the V3 and E-PL7 in the bottle crops, the E-PL7 trumps the V3 in fine detail in other areas, especially in the mosaic and pink fabric.


Nikon V3 versus Panasonic GM1 at Base ISO

Nikon V3 at ISO 160
Panasonic GM1 at ISO 200

Similar to the E-PL7 comparison above, the GM1 also features a larger Micro Four Thirds sensor, and the fine detail between it and the V3 is very similar in the bottle crop area. The GM1 has the edge in fine detail in the mosaic crop, but it's a closer comparison here than between the E-PL7. The GM1 gets the nod with the detail performance in the fabrics.


Nikon V3 versus Sony RX100 III at Base ISO

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Nikon V3 at ISO 160
Sony RX100 III at ISO 125
Battle of the latest 1-inch sensors! Both cameras do very well with detail at base ISO, though fine detail in the mosaic looks ever-so-slightly better from the Sony. The Sony also handles the fabrics better than the Nikon.

 

Most digital SLRs and CSCs will produce an excellent ISO 100 shot, so we like to push them and see what they can do compared to other cameras at ISO 1600, 3200, and 6400. Recent advances in sensor technology have made ISO 1600 look a lot more like ISO 100, but there are still cameras whose quality starts to fall apart at this setting. We also choose 1600 because we like to be able to shoot at least at this level when indoors and at night.

Nikon V3 versus Nikon V2 at ISO 1600

Nikon V3 at ISO 1600
Nikon V2 at ISO 1600

Like the V3 vs. V2 base ISO comparison, the new model has superior image quality to its predecessor in most areas. Noise at ISO 1600 is quite similar, though fine detail in both the bottle and mosaic tile pattern is better in the new V3. Both cameras struggle, though, with the fabric swatches here.


Nikon V3 versus Canon SL1 at ISO 1600

Nikon V3 at ISO 1600
Canon SL1 at ISO 1600

While the base ISO comparison of these cameras looked very similar in their level of detail, here at ISO 1600 the difference is more apparent, and in the favor of the Canon SL1. While shadow noise looks less evident and finer-grained on the V3, the fine detail in areas like the mosaic is sharper and more visible on the SL1. Both cameras struggle with the fabric swatches, but the Canon has the edge over the V3 here as well.


Nikon V3 versus Olympus E-PL7 at ISO 1600

Nikon V3 at ISO 1600
Olympus E-PL7 at ISO 1600

While noise reduction processing is more visible in the shadow areas on the E-PL7 as compared to the V3, the new Olympus bests the Nikon V3 in all areas with this ISO 1600 comparison. The E-PL7 displays sharper, crisper fine detail in all three crops, and while the fabric patterns are difficult for both cameras, the E-PL7 does a better job at producing some semblance of the leaf patterns.


Nikon V3 versus Panasonic GM1 at ISO 1600

Nikon V3 at ISO 1600
Panasonic GM1 at ISO 1600

Yet again a similar comparison here with the GM1 as with the E-PL7: the larger sensor helps the GM1 capture more fine detail at ISO 1600. The NR processing on the GM1 is also a little strong, but does a great job at reducing noise and the appearance of grain as compared to the V3.


Nikon V3 versus Sony RX100 III at ISO 1600

Nikon V3 at ISO 1600
Sony RX100 III at ISO 1600

At ISO 1600, the Sony RX100 III does a nicer job at fine detail in some areas like the black part of the mosaic tile pattern and with the fabric swatches. However, the noise reduction processing appears more aggressive in the shadow areas and on smoother surfaces, like the bottle crop at the top, whereas the V3's noise looks more "natural" and pleasing to the eye.



Today's ISO 3200 is yesterday's ISO 1600 (well, almost), so below are the same crops at ISO 3200.

Nikon V3 versus Nikon V2 at ISO 3200

Nikon V3 at ISO 3200
Nikon V2 at ISO 3200
High ISO performance still appears to be a tough nut to crack for the Nikon V-series cameras. While there is an improvement in some areas over the V2 -- smooth surfaces and fine text as well as ever-so-slightly better dark tile detail in the mosaic -- there is not a large overall improvement in high ISO image quality in the V3.

Nikon V3 versus Canon SL1 at ISO 3200

Nikon V3 at ISO 3200
Canon SL1 at ISO 3200

At ISO 3200, the Canon displays that the larger APS-C sensor can handle higher ISOs better than the V3 and its 1-inch sensor. While there's visible noise in images from both cameras, the Canon SL1 is able to resolve more fine detail in the mosaic and the pink fabric. Both struggle significantly with the red fabric.


Nikon V3 versus Olympus E-PL7 at ISO 3200

Nikon V3 at ISO 3200
Olympus E-PL7 at ISO 3200
The larger Micro Four Thirds sensor of the E-PL7 shows its power over the V3 here at ISO 3200 with less noise (though NR is enabled at the default level) and fine detail is much better, especially in the mosaic. Both cameras struggle with the red and pink fabric, though the Olympus does a noticeably better attempt at it.

Nikon V3 versus Panasonic GM1 at ISO 3200

Nikon V3 at ISO 3200
Panasonic GM1 at ISO 3200

Like the E-PL7, the GM1 here trumps the V3 in all areas at ISO 3200 with less noise and better fine detail. Again, like many other cameras, the GM1 also struggles with the red fabric, though it does a noticeably better job at the pink fabric than the V3.


Nikon V3 versus Sony RX100 III at ISO 3200

Nikon V3 at ISO 3200
Sony RX100 III at ISO 3200

It's a pretty tough call here at ISO 3200 between the V3 and RX100 III. Noise levels look more or less the same, but fine detail in the mosaic crop is slightly better from the Sony, while both struggle with detail in the red fabric.

 

Detail: Nikon V3 versus the Nikon V2, Canon G1X II, Olympus E-PL7, Panasonic GM1 and Sony RX100 III.

Nikon V3
ISO 160
ISO 3,200
ISO 6,400
Nikon V2
ISO 100
ISO 3,200
ISO 6,400
Canon SL1
ISO 100
ISO 3,200
ISO 6,400
Olympus E-PL7
ISO 200
ISO 3,200
ISO 6,400
Panasonic GM1
ISO 200
ISO 3,200
ISO 6,400
Sony RX100 III
ISO 125
ISO 3,200
ISO 6,400
Detail comparison. High-contrast detail is also important, pushing the camera in different ways, so we like to look at it, too. Compared to the predecessor, the Nikon V3 is noticeably sharper at very high ISO detail in high contrast areas. However, compared to larger sensor cameras, it's obvious that the V3 is at a disadvantage. Even compared to the Sony RX100 III with its 1-inch sensor, the V3 lags behind at both ISO 3200 and 6400 for very finely-detailed areas, such as the thin red lettering or thin lines inside the black lettering.

 

Nikon V3 Print Quality

Overview: Good 24 x 36 inch prints at ISO 160/200; a nice 11 x 14 at ISO 1600; a good 4 x 6 at ISO 6400.

ISO 160/200 images are good at 24 x 36 inches, showing reasonably good detail and accurate color reproduction. Wall display prints are possible at 30 x 40 inches.

ISO 400 shots look good at 20 x 30 inches. 24 x 36's here introduce a marginal amount of noise in flatter areas, but are certainly usable for less critical applications or wall display purposes.

ISO 800 prints are good at 13 x 19 inches. There is just a mild trace of noise in flatter areas, but it has a nice enough "film-like" appearance that it does not significantly degrade the print. 16 x 20 inch prints are still usable for wall display.

ISO 1600 results are not bad at 13 x 19, but don't quite pass our "good" standard. 11 x 14's tighten up nicely here and retain good color and fairly low noise, although there is a typical loss of contrast in our target red swatch.

ISO 3200 yields a good 8 x 10 inch print. Most all contrast detail is lost in the red swatch at this point, and there is minimal noise in flatter areas of our target, but still a good print.

ISO 6400 prints warrant a reduction in size to 4 x 6 inches, as there's too little detail and too much noise in larger prints to call good here.

ISO 12,800 does not yield a good printed image and is best avoided.

Summary: The Nikon V3 is a clear step up from its predecessors in overall image quality, and the print quality results are encouraging. With its 1" type sensor, a good 8 x 10 at ISO 3200 is a really good result, and on par with the popular Sony RX100 III with a similar type sensor. After that, results fall off quickly, but that's typical of virtually all sensors smaller than Four Thirds size. All in all, a good showing in the print quality department for the V3 given its sensor size.

 

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