I want to choose a camera with the best signal-to-noise ratio within my budget. I want to ignore producer's marketing BS and reviewer's presumptions that "something's really cool". I know about DPReview Studio shot comparison but here I have to rely on my eyes and it doesn't contain all camera models.

Camera manufacturers and independent sites offer sets of full resolution camera sample images. I can find similar (not identical) scene types, taken with the same ISO setting, the same physical focal length and possibly with the same aperture.

Is there a reliable method to compare e.g. 5 pairs of photographs to find out which camera offers better signal-to-noise ratio? Is there something better than my eyes?

  • \$\begingroup\$ S/N ratio at what ISO? It is often the case that one camera will do better at one ISO and another will do better at another ISO. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented May 29, 2015 at 22:26
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Quote from an answer by @jrista: "Photographers buy CAMERAS. We don't buy sensors. ;) If you are in the market to buy a camera, make sure you buy the camera that best suits your overall needs. Don't base your decision on one single factor out of a myriad of factors. Depending on the kind of things you photograph, you may need a high performance AF system and a fast frame rate more than you need anything else, including DR! Research cameras, don't research sensors." photo.stackexchange.com/a/47512/15871 \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented May 29, 2015 at 22:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MichaelClark: Sure. Other factors will be taken into account as well. I want to choose only among candidates with high S/N ratio though. Low noise goes first. Other factors then. High performance AF system is just a bonus - not really needed for my purposes. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 30, 2015 at 7:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you compile a list of cameras based on what you can find on online resources, then you can go to some local camera shop and ask if you can try out the cameras on your list. If you have a room that you can make totally dark, you can take pictures at exactly the same lighting conditions. To get the highest signal to noise ratio, you must then "expose to the right" and then normalize the brightness to the same value. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 30, 2015 at 11:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have to rely on my eyes: how is SNR a better metric than marketing BS, if you cannot see it clearly? \$\endgroup\$
    – null
    Commented Jun 12, 2015 at 15:34

1 Answer 1


Use the sensor database at dxomark.com. Their measurements are far more likely to be objective and empirically based than comparing sample images, since comparison becomes meaningless when the samples are not shot in the exact same conditions.

  • \$\begingroup\$ There's just a limited set of cameras but I find it a useful link. Thanks. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 12, 2015 at 14:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Late response sorry: Do you really find it limited? Which cameras are missing? I have found it extremely comprehensive in the past. Bear in mind that they have to physically test the camera, so there is a time delay between a camera's release and the results being available. \$\endgroup\$
    – RoG
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 7:35

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