well the other day, I had the opportunity to have a quick play with a D7000, and you reckon I was going to say no!? (Thanks Helmut)
Of course I wanted to see how wel the camera handled high ISO, and from what I know of the D300, it's leagues above that(and hence the D90 and D300s too).
All images were raw mode processed the proper way via Nikon software.. but I did take the time with one version of an image to use LR3(considering that it has a very good noise reduction facility and USED to be miles ahead of CaptureNX2's ability to reduce noise. Well... that was until I got smart and really tried hard to get CNX2 to produce some proper NR editing.(if you are keen to know the guts of how to use NR in CaptureNX properly, I'm more than willing to provide some gory and boring details. But I will refrain from boring all other viewers with the tedium of such banal commentary.
NOTE: I had to go back into CNX2 to turn NR off, as Helmut had his D7000 set to NR on at high ISO(this switch is easily switched off in CNX on NEF images, so really makes no difference if you have it set to on or off. With NR turned on in camera there is a "develop" edit step in CNX where the NR used in camera is set to automatically be enabled. This can be subsequently turned off, and hence the extra applied NR is then not applied to the NEF. The camera does apply some noise reduction anyhow, but this is the intricate workings of the camera itself and cannot be configured by the user anyhow.. that's just how Nikon cameras work.(ie. if you don't like it, then bad luck!)
#1 NO NR at all.
you can see some colour(chroma) noise even in the full frame, viewed at 100% pixel level it may look disappointing with lots of red channel noise(but remember this is ISO12800!)
#2 NR applied in LR3, which I immediately liked for it's super easy to use ability(despite my lack of respect for LR3, and it's annoying quirks)
One thing I really tried hard to do was to get the image looking as close as I could to what ViewNX would produce. Using LR's idea of Nikon's Picture Control settings wasn't even close for starters, and it needed a few other tweaks. One thing I I finally gave into was the 'over saturation' of that gold colour on the lettering. it took me too long to get the images looking close to what I expect from Nikon.. so for the sake of comparative effort, I'm surprised I persisted for so long with this single image in LR3(I give up easily with PP). But as I already said, LR's noise reduction is brilliant for a non dedicated NR reducing software(like Neat Image or Monkey Ninja Noise Dfiner.
That was until I started playing with NR in CNX with a bit more dedication.
You simply can not do this in CNX using the Develop tool's NR reduction facility. Hence if you use CNX and want noise free images, remember to turn NR in camera to off, and do NR correctly via the edit step process. If you have NR in camera turned on, and you want more detailed NR edit steps too, you will find that it will be frustrating, because you end up going back to the Develop tool and turning it off anyhow!(so do your self a favour). Unfortunately there is no NR on off switch available in ViewNX.. so a loud complaint to Nikon to add one may be appropriate.
all images are the same image processed differently, with different software.
With image #1 all I did was to reset the Picture Control set in camera from Neutral to Standard via VNX(which BTW produced more noise) and then open the image in CNX to switch off NR set in camera. #3 was not processed in any way using CNX other than two NR edit steps. I think the only other 'processing' made to the two Nikon versions was setting Picture Control to Standard, and also WB to 5700K(also done in LR3 on that version. No brightening, no darkening, no curves nada! Just the two simple edit steps in CNX2.
#4 Again in CNX2 and only NR edit steps. ISO25600 this time and slightly over exposed.
and for pixel peeping confirmation that there is both great detail still left intact and almost zero chroma noise in the image...
the one or two percent 'hot pixels' is more than acceptable unless 100% detail retention is of absolute importance.
Now remember that the last two images are at the highest ISO setting on a Dx camera and the level of detail is (what I believe to be) amazing.. in coming from a D300. From my limited use and images I have from a D700, I still think that the D700 is better at ISO6400 in terms of noise quality, have no images made at ISO12800 and above from the D700, so I can't comment on those settings. But the D7000 is very usable.
If you are a Nikon software devotee, I can try to upload the NR edit steps I made for your perusal via the software itself. This would be easier than to describe the boring bits in detail and for you to subsequently find that it doesn't work for your camera, or on any particular exposure.
I haven't yet tried the edit steps on any of my D300 files as I don't have ISO12800 or 25600 available on that camera