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Tuesday, 01 July 2008

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Ah ha! Direct competition for the Canon 5D. Excellent news for us Canon users, as perhaps the 5D Mark II is now actually imminent...

Technology marches on!
There is an online translation of Nikon's spec sheet available here:

http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=fr&tl=en&u=http://www.focus-numerique.com/news_id-851.

Key excerpts are the following:

• Catcher 12 Mpx
• Rafale to 5 fps or 8 fps with the handful of food (MB-D10 + EN-EL4a)
• System dust (identical to that which equips the D300)

Note that D700 frame rate increases with a handful of food!! A quarter pounder with cheeze is rumoured to drive this unit at 11.5 fps!!
Also glad to see Nikon have equipped the camera with D300 system dust. Save lots of spotting time if all my cameras have dust bunnies in the same location.
Cheers!
And thanks for a great site.

Damn, that's barely smaller/lighter than the D3. I hope Canon will bring out a 5D replacement which is rather smaller.

Funny, you always mention the small view on many DSLRs. I don't even notice the difference.

And now Nikon comes up to the plate. The pitch is right down the center (5D), and Nikon blasts it out of the park. That is 3 Home Runs in a row. And with D3x coming up to bat, it could become 4 in a row by September. Way to go Nikon. We all benefit!

Happy Shooting...

Michael Tapes

Although the 5D has very rarely left me wanting, I'm tempted by the D700. 90% of my use of the 5D has been with the Canon 50mm f/1.4, so I suppose I'd be using the Nikon 50mm f/1.4 on the D700. Can anyone tell me how those two 50mm lenses compare or point me to a link for a comparison?

Regards,
Amin

Nikon makes great cameras ... but I can't work out who the D700 is for. A backup camera for D3 owners. Wedding/portrait photographers that work in available light. Amateurs that wanted (but didn't need) a D3 but balked at the cost/size. And .... ?

Wonderful camera (according to specs), but I cannot really think about giving out so much money such a short time (<2 years) after the purchase of a D200, camera that wasn't that cheap either.

Oh, I miss so much using a 28mm prime! And no, 17mm is not 28mm equivalent, its' huge DOF simply sucks!

As a Buddhist, I am not supposed to be swayed by the ephemeral nature of the _camera du jour_. (Often as not, today's latest and greatest will soon enough be yesteryear's memory.) As a shooter who as long struggled with photographing dark temple interiors without a flash or tripod (both of which are often prohibited), I confess: I lust.

Ahh, here it is. If it were $1K cheaper, it would simply destroy the serious amateur market. At $3K, it leaves a nifty opening for the successor to the Canon 5D. Fun times ahead.

"The viewfinder, at 95%, .72x"
Whadda achieeeevement! In the camera for 3k$ and of the size of the small medium format.

There was time that I considered 0.84x (with 97% coverage) viewfinder as a significant drawback of the Oly OM-4 with respect to the OM-2's 0.92x. Both of those cameras was of the size of... well 35mm camera, not the medium format one.

The Viewfinder is one of the most important thing in the camera design! Especially in the camera which is designed for "fast" work on the street or so. I simply don't BELIVE that there is ANY physical barrier, that forces designers to be so much behind the viewfinders 30 years older. ESPECIALLY if the format is the same!

This comment should be marked with big S.A., but I hope there's not any offence in it.

This looks like a nice camera and I'm sure it will be a welcome addition to the long-malnourished Nikon enthusiasts. It's definitely Nikon's year.

It sure must be much easier on the payroll for Nikon to become a sharp dancer when they've had Arthur Murray (a.k.a. Canon) painting the steps on the floor.

What happened to D400,500 and 600?

Finally, the digital camera I've been waiting for and can't afford!

Well, I was pretty excited this morning. The heart palpitations died down though, when I reminded myself Nikon's lens lineup is still, uh, Nikon's lens lineup, and when I noticed that they replaced the CF card door lever with an "info" button (huh?).

The question for Mike, with his aging 7D, is: this is the camera you wanted from Nikon, the FX-L. Now that it's here, are you tempted?

It's a camera I've been anticipating, and now I can safely say that I have no reason to buy another cropped sensor camera in the foreseeable future unless Nikon announces a dwarfish $400 DSLR. Nikon now has that ultimate camera to dream about, the end of my upgrade path. Time to start saving -- another summer without AC, here I come!

Alexander V.,
Is it a sin for a Buddhist to lust in his heart?!?

Mike J.

Bernard P.,
Don't forget that Nikon has historically put a high premium on eye relief, ever since at least the F3HP. One could make a few arguments with regard to the design choice of the D700 finder: First, the 95% finder is not so bad considering that the viewing screen will probably show 100%; and don't forget that any "FX" finder is going to seem very large and visible to people who are used to DX finders on DSLRs. Anyway I doubt the finder will be a reason to avoid the D700--much more likely, the opposite, it will be a positive attraction.

Mike J.

Regarding the comment from Amin, far better to wait for the arrival of the 5D MkII than to jump ship from Canon to Nikon right now.

The 5D MkII might do all the D700 does - and then some more. Interestingly, some commentators still think the old 5D has better IQ at everyday ISO speeds than the D3, so if the sensor in the D700 is the same as the D3. . .

As regards lens quality, the rule-of-thumb in Europe over the past 30 years or so I've been a photographer is that Canon lenses have a slight edge on Nikon (of course there are exceptions - the Nikkor 14-24 is peerless). Conversely, I believe the general view in the US tends to favo(u)r Nikon.

"Nikon makes great cameras ... but I can't work out who the D700 is for."

Anyone who likes to take environmental portraits in sometimes dim places, using wides or standards, with control over depth of field, will (apart from the weight) love it.

"Is it a sin for a Buddhist to lust in his heart?!?"

Not a sin, just a source of suffering.

1. Drool.
2. Can the Nikon digital rangefinder be far behind?
3. Speaking of the forgotten camera thread, does this mean I should forget about the CLAs I was finally going to get for my OM-1 (foam issue) and OM-4t (shutter issue), and save up for this?

Stephen Best wrote:

"Nikon makes great cameras ... but I can't work out who the D700 is for."
________________________

This is the digital Nikon F100! It appears to be the editorial photographers dream camera (even the pop-up flash)!

The D700 is everything the 5D should be by now.................

*Bellissimo Nikon*

Cheers,
Chris

Should be a nice camera. I hope that when the dust settles both Canon and Nikon are going to turn (a bit of) their attention to redesiging those old 24/2.8, 28/2.8 and 35/2 lenses for those shiny new digital body's with those wonderful full frame sensors...

"Can anyone tell me how those two 50mm lenses compare or point me to a link for a comparison?"

Amin,
The Canon 50/1.4 is a more recent design, and apart from poor performance wide open is close to SOTA for a spherical lens. The AF Nikkor 50/1.4 (which I've never cared for because of its sometimes poor bokeh) is genuinely long in the tooth, essentially unchanged except in construction details for many decades now. It must be counted by today's standards as a good lens but not a great one.

Mike J.

Michael Tapes, while Nikon seems to slightly surpass the Canon 5D, but keep in mind that at this point the 5D is 3 years old... which is ancient in the digital camera world.

Do you know what *this* Canon user is most envious of with respect to the new Nikon announcements?

It's not the FF affordability, or focus points, or buffer size, or anything like that.

It's that (with the D700 and the D300) a photographer could carry both a pro-quality FX body and a pro-quality DX body with almost identical controls - the digital equivalent of a Leica on each shoulder, each with a different lens or different emulsion.

Unfortunately, none of the scenarios I've seen for Canon's future lineup include a comparable possibility. (The 1D/1Ds pairing doesn't qualify in my book, because it costs three times as much as the Nikon pair, doesn't give me the option of going light and gripless, and only gives me 1.3 in the smaller sensor, not 1.5 or 1.6.)

Hmmm. Don't quote me on this, but these kinds of things MAY help explain why 18 (yes, 18!) of the 20-highest-priced Nikon lenses (e.g., the premium/pro variety) are "Out of Stock" or "Backordered" at B&H.

There's clearly a lot of "migration" going on, and Canon may be skating on thinner ice than they realize....

The wait has now proved worthwhile for me.I have been using the Fuji S2 Pro all these years with my Nikon primes; shooting jpeg's and sometimes in Raw if the exposure demanded it; using Photoshop Elements; Printing 2ft x 3ft pictures and selling through galleries; waiting for the next camera to buy! And now I see the camera I have been waiting for. (Surely some buddhist somewhere would approve of my patience?)

"The question for Mike, with his aging 7D, is: this is the camera you wanted from Nikon, the FX-L. Now that it's here, are you tempted?"

Eric,
The D700 is indeed the FX-L. I and many others foresaw its coming.

Here's the downside as I see it, just off the top of my pointy head:

Remember that, in giving the D300 top ranking in my latest "Recommended Cameras," I wrote, "Caveat: hold one before you make the decision to buy. Although 'mid-sized' in relative terms, it's a BIG camera, especially so when mated with a big lens."

The D700, although smaller than a D3, is still really big. My personal "standard" for a "normal sized" camera is very approximately 5.5x4x2 inches, and 18 oz. The D700 is 5.8x4.8x3 and 38 oz. Size is a personal thing, but to me the D700 is an FX-L that isn't very L.

Also, it's essentially going to cost you $1,200 for the jump from the DX to the FX sensor.

I do think the sensor is one of the main points of a DSLR, and the D3's sensor is clearly a standout. I don't question the wisdom of putting the D3's sensor in a smaller body. The added cost will be worth it to many buyers.

My last criticism echoes something Nick said above--it's past due for Nikon and Canon to pay a little attention to their fixed-focal-length lenses in the range from 24mm to 50mm.

As for me, well, you can't take what I do as an indication of much of anything. I'm an unemployed (okay, semi-employed) single parent. It would be beyond irresponsible for me to spend $3k on a camera unless I'm directly using it to make money with. Really, it would be irresponsible of me to replace one $1200 camera with another $1200 camera after only two years. So, tempted? Pretty much a moot point.

Mike J.

The lights will be burning at the map Shinjuku Monolith in downtown tokyo tonight... they'll all be passing the buck on 'who was the brains who thought of 4/3rds'? The loser of this contest being invited to "bathe, dress in white robes, eat his favorite meal, complete his death poem before opening his kimono and releasing the claret.

I'm now waiting for Sony's full framer which will no doubt be followed eventually by their 5D/D700 contendor. Then if the talk about Pentax/Samsung is correct and they too want to play in the refined data-streams of full frame, whither Olympus?

Oly, and 4/3rds, WILL BE the oft retorted "entry in the photography database of good ideas that never quite made it".

The only good thing is they (Nikon) are still left with the Nikon lens line up, which is what stopped me getting a D300. [True]

The idea that 38 0z is "lite" is mind boggling. the great F100 was already too heavy at 27 oz -this is no digital F100, with all that weight and 3mm less eye relief.

Amin,I gave up shooting the 50mm f1.4 AF Nikkor (in favor of the 35mm f2)because though plenty sharp it could deliver some really awful bokeh. Never used the Canon but it has a much better reputation. Try googling "Mike Johnston bokeh rankings."

Mike J.

I agree with you on camera size. I have a D300 and love it. I am more interested in getting a smaller/lighter camera than a full frame camera that is about the same size but even heavier than the D300.

The camera that I am waiting for is the D80 replacement, which I expect will have the D300 sensor and D300 viewfinder in a D80 size body.

As far as the Nikon lens line up and lack of updated primes, for those of us who do not mind manual focus, we are very lucky to have Zeiss and Voightlander making F mount lenses.

Jeff K.

"...for those of us who do not mind manual focus, we are very lucky to have Zeiss and Voightlander making F mount lenses."

Jeff K.,
Very true, very true. This is a real advantage of Nikon and Pentax.

I'm testing the Zeiss ZK 28/2 right now.

Mike J.

Dear Mike,
I know the great quality of the optics used for the Nikon SLRs of the 80s.
I recall one of your SMP columns, in which you addressed the price changes of the CD players. And just as in case described there, here we have the situation, that the viewfinders stopped to be improved just because of the impression of quality in comparison to the ones of the DX-format cams.
But here we have only .72x which is, objectively not so great. You are surely right presuming that "the market" will meet the .72x happily (and generously ;)). But it doesn't change the fact that they (the company with such a great tradition in this respect) could quite easily make realy good viewfinder for the price easily fitted in 3k$ (which actually means that in Europe it should be some 4.5k$ equivalent).

Personally, I see the huge camera with not so great viewfinder. In reality not much more than the Nikon made copy of 5D.

Maybe I just have my dream camera of something like "Digitall OM-1" concept. The camera which could put stress again not on the new gadgets, but the "usability".
I'm waiting for it the same, as you wait for the DMD.

Delenda est Carthago! ;)

I like fast lenses because I shoot some photojournalism and also through glass cases in museums, where they often don't allow flash. Given that, for me the perfect travel lineup was three fast decent zooms and both the D3 and the D300, because of the 1.5 crop in the D300 gives you extra length on the long end while still putting 12mp on the target and the D3 gives you higher ISOs and width on the short end, using the same lenses.

However, I will confess that Nikon has irritated me a little by producing the D700 so soon after the D3, with no suggestion that it would be this capable or come this soon -- I would have waited for the smaller, cheaper camera. With the extra (cheap) battery pack, I don't see why anybody would now buy a D3; all the D3's extra capabilities are at the margin, and most people really don't need them. Nikon just managed to devalue the most expensive camera they've ever sold, six months after they released it and I bought it.

I will say that I just got my daughter a D60 and two kit lenses as a present, and it's a neat and capable little camera, and, of course, uses all the Nikon lenses. When they squeeze a FF sensor into the D60, *then* they will have something.

JC

Doesn't seem to matter what camera makers do - there's always the disgruntled consumers.
It's called Old Camera, New Camera.
"Too fast, too slow, too soon, too late, too small, too big... Wait."
"Just right...!?"
"Just *#%&#^! right?"

July 1st is Canada Day (what used to be called
Dominion Day). Similar to the USA's 4th of July, much celebrating however
we Canadians celebrate our
heritage in a more subtle manner.

That noted, perhaps Nikon should've introduced
this new design with a Canadian flag logo on the front, after all, it is Canada's birthday!

Re: Bernard Piechal. He wrote "Delenda est Carthago!"

In fact, the correct Latin is "Carthago delenda est," or "Carthage must be destroyed."

On a brighter note, I'm just wondering what is going to happen to the Oly system. I have two bodies (E300 and Lumix L1), and a complement of lenses. When Oly thought it up, chips were frightfully expensive, and no one - including me - had the sense to take Moore's Law into account.

Oh, well. I'll keep it until they both die, and then look at Canikon. Live and learn.

July 1 is also the 30th anniversary of self government for the Northern Territory of Australia!

D3-owner John Camp's irritation (above) points to the somewhat baffling timing of Nikon's announcement. Why did they announce the D700 now?

After all, assuming the D3 doesn't cost much more to make than the D700 but sells for almost $2000 more, Nikon could have had almost three more months of undiluted D3 profits before Photokina.

Or two months: if Nikon had waited (as they did last August) until Canon makes its big pre-Photokina announcements - announcing a 5D MkII in late August, for example - and then announced the D700 a couple of days later, Nikon would have completely stolen Canon's thunder.

No one expects the 5DII to be a superior all-around camera to the D700, for a number of reasons (including fear of making the 1-series cameras look grossly overpriced). Price is the only likely trump card Canon has in the mid-price FF category - i.e., choosing to price the 5DII noticeably under the D700 - and they wouldn't even have that advantage if Nikon hadn't gone first.

Mike,

Thanks for your comments regarding the Canon and Nikon 50s. While the Canon 50/1.4 is often criticized in the various forums, I have always enjoyed it on the 5D. Based on your opinion of the Nikkor 50/1.4, I think the D700 would be the wrong move for me.

What is the consensus here about the Zeiss ZF 50/1.4. Also, given that the D700 focusing screen is not user replaceable, is it safe to assume that it will be adequate for manually focusing this lens?

"...given that the D700 focusing screen is not user replaceable, is it safe to assume that it will be adequate for manually focusing this lens?"

Ah, no, given that nobody but a few reviewers have seen the camera yet, I don't think it's safe to assume anything yet.

Mike J.

Robert Noble asked:

"Why did they announce the D700 now?"

One possible answer to this question was suggested by Thom Hogan, so I can't take any credit for this idea.

Suppose the high megapixel full frame camera that Nikon will announce next is not a D3x in the "full size" body. It may be a D900, a D300/D700 sized camera using the Sony 24 megapixel sensor. Now if the Canon 5D replacement has say 16 or 18 megapixels, Nikon has bracketed that camera and also has a camera that competes with the Sony A900.

If that turns out to be the case, announcing the D700 before the "D900" makes a lot of sense for obvious reasons.

Disclaimer: I have no interest in a 24 megapixel camera.

Jeff K.

"Why did they announce the D700 now?"

My guesses: a) because they could (i.e., the camera was ready); b) because they steal some sales from Canon by getting the D700 out before the 5D Mk. II.

Just guesses.

Mike J.

Canon's 5DII will likely be 15 or 16mp, offering more resolution than the D700, and yet be priced about the same as the D700.

I'm surprised at all of the grumbling in the above comments. The D700 looks fantastic! If I were a Nikon shooter, this would be a dream camera. The great D3 sensor, but without the bulk of the D3 -- wow! The viewfinder would not be an issue for me at all.

I think it will sell extremely well for Nikon, for the same reasons that the 5D was so popular. It's relatively compact for a full frame camera, and it's perfectly positioned between the D300 and D3. It's the perfect full-frame upgrade for D200, D300 and D2X owners, and it's the ideal smaller camera for D3 owners.

How can anybody predict the demise of any format based on a $3000 body? It seems that with every new camera release some feel compelled to once again proclaim certainty that THIS time 4/3rds HAS to go away because its laughably small sensor cannot possibly compete with the big boys. So does doom await the D300 and its DX format because of the arrival of the D700 as well? Is the 5D outselling the 40D? I sincerely doubt it. And anyway, 4/3rds is growing into a very nice, well-thought-out system that has some of the best lenses around.

The D700 looks very tempting, and I'm excited about the move downmarket of FF sensors, but at $3000 it is hardly a harbinger of doom for other formats in the foreseeable future.

Doesn't the high ISO performance of this sensor make the whole idea of fast lenses moot? And if the 50/1.4 nikkor doesn't float your boat, get the 50/1.8 which is bloody brilliant, and cheap!

Now if they did something about the size/weight, we might have a winner. Back to my trusty Hexar RF + 50/2 Hexanon.

"When Oly thought it up, chips were frightfully expensive, and no one - including me - had the sense to take Moore's Law into account."

Well, you're still not taking it into account. :-)

But I really wish they come up with a better-specced E-4xx body.

"How can anybody predict the demise of any format based on a $3000 body?" (Zlatko).

Well, I wouldn't presume to predict the demise of anything but if I was happy with DX for now, but thought that as FF comes down in price I might consider a move upwards eventually, then Nikon currently offers me the most painless path. I can just buy FX compatible lenses, or perhaps some DX ones if I don't mind the crop on FX (which might be more then 5MP by the time I elect to upgrade) so the only hit will be the cost of my shiny new body, which I would replace eventually anyway. With Olympus, there is no FF strategy so as things currently stand I'd be looking at an expensive and painful move to another system if I had any aspirations to shoot FF in the future.

That means *for me* that if I was just about to purchase my first DSLR, Olympus wouldn't be a consideration. If I had some Olympus gear already, I'd be making a switch now rather than investing in more equipment that I believe doesn't offer a FF future.

Two thoughts. Nikon are going to sell a lot of new lenses if DX users switch to FX and the 5D is about to become really affordable.

Who cares? I mean, it's still a Nikon ;-)

"Doesn't the high ISO performance of this sensor make the whole idea of fast lenses moot?"

It means you can shoot in lower light with the same lens. This is how increased sensitivity has worked over the history of photography.

"get the 50/1.8 which is bloody brilliant, and cheap!"

And badly built with high sample-to-sample variation and a lot of single-coated internal surfaces and really awful highlight rendition.

It really is time that Nikon make a good fast AF 50. Preferably a 1.2 to compete with Canon's.

Voltz

I've been waiting for this camera for years. It's a digital F100.

Full frame, 'compact' body, big viewfinder, heavy duty build and the ability to use manual focus lenses if desired. It's not cheap, but not unobtainable, either. I'll take two, please.

Now, how about some pro level, weather sealed primes, with proper distance markings for scale focusing in manual mode? 1.4/28, 1.4.35, 1.4/50 anyone?

Forget about f1.2. It only adds bulk and bragging rights, but doesn't really buy you much in real life. I used to shoot with a Leica Noctilux f1/50 and ended up switching to a 1.4/50, because the extra stop wasn't worth the extra size and weight. Let's not make the same mistake Canon did, who made their L primes as big as a small zoom...

The D700 also begs the question if Fuji will release a fullframe S6 Pro featuring a high dynamic range SuperCCD...

Steve R said - "How can anybody predict the demise of any format based on a $3000 body?"

This body, like the 5D before it, is the harbinger of what's to come. 35mm size chips have become readily available both in price and, so far, in the two most popular mounts. Like I said above, Sony are aiming at 35mm as well and there's talk about Pentax/smasung. That will create an industry where you are either have APS and 35mm offerings or you have nothing.

4/3rds has always been a tough sell to new punters... and it not having an upgrade path to 35mm-ville will impede it all the more.

If you go on the DPR oly SLR forum, it's not a patch on how it used to be as anyone who had anything about him (photography wise), I mean those who'd do it for a living and could make informed, astute comments who you could learn off, have gone during the wait for the E-ventual. They all bought D200's!

4/3rds has some great lenses but they can't get hold of any decent sensors for that odd size and shape and that's been Olympus's problem all along.

Oly know what trouble they are in, the E-3 was initially released with 2 give-aways (Europe) to sweeten the pill (I think the US got rebates) and after 7 months, they're giving away their top flash with it. That tells me Olympus must think they can't sell the E-3 without such sweeteners at the price they want. Don't forget, this was their big hope.. their 'flagship'... their 'halo' product! And it couldn't stand on it's own feet even from the initial moment of release.

p.s I had to laugh when I saw the nikon claim that the SB900 flashgun was updateable from the body and it was a 'worlds first'. 4/3rds users have been moaning about updatable perepherals since 2004. ;-)

It means you can shoot in lower light....

Last time I checked, people use fast lenses for low light work. That's how bigger apertures have worked over the history of photography.

The point I was trying to make was that a usable ISO6400 makes super-fast lenses redundant. Especially when the difference is less than half a stop.

And badly built with high sample-to-sample variation and a lot of single-coated internal surfaces and really awful highlight rendition.

You mean just like the Canon 50/1.8?

"Doesn't the high ISO performance of this sensor make the whole idea of fast lenses moot?"

Sort of. It's true that I rarely shoot at f/1.4 for the sake of a shallow depth of field. Yet it doesn't make sense for me to use a large, heavy, and expensive f/2.8 zoom if I'll be shooting at 50mm nearly all the time.

"And if the 50/1.4 nikkor doesn't float your boat, get the 50/1.8 which is bloody brilliant, and cheap!"

As a Canon user, I never considered that the 50/1.8 lens might be better than the 50/1.4. I'll have to learn more about these lenses.

Regards,
Amin

Remember the 5DmII is likely to be a much lower spec body with a higher MP sensor. Nikon's likely just sent Canon scrambling again (rumour has it that the 5DmII was supposed to be a PMA announcement but Canon pushed it back because it was essentially a 16MP FF 40D and that spec wasn't looking competitive against the D300/D3 pair).

And yes, Nikon badly needs to revise its 20-50mm primes. All the really good Nikon non-specialty primes are in the 85-200mm range. Thankfully we've got the Zeiss ZF and Voightlander SLII manual focus primes (the Voighlanders even support P and S modes) and the new Sigma 50mm f1.4 HSM looks promising.

The D700 is the camera I wish I'd been able to buy when I got my D300. It's small enough for me (D3's too big, D300's about right) and has the incredible high ISO performance of the D3;. I don't need the speed the D3 brings to the table (don't even need the 8fps the MB-D10 adds) but the IQ advantages of the FX sensor would be nice. If only it had in-body VR.

I remain reluctantly content with my D200 and sampling of "old" nikkors. (I do have one Tokina "DX" in the case (12-24).

If I were any sort of "event" shooter, wedding, photojournalist etc. I would jump on this camera. but as a seemingly not for profit "enthusiast", I will patiently await the "next generation" of sensors without beyer array and hopefully a couple extra stops of DR. I do have to admit that the sample pics on Nikon imaging's site are scary good. I would love to see some prints.

dale

I still don't understand why so many digital photographers are dying to go full-frame. With film, the reason medium-format offers better IQ over 35mm is because you spread the same image over a larger film area. Given that physical grain density is the same for both films (let's assume this), you will be able to resolve more detail with MF because you cram more grain into the same viewing angle.

In the digital age, we can increase the "grain" by increasing the pixel count, so when 21MP APS-C CCDs become commonplace (in 18 months? 24 months?), reaching the resolution capabilities of good lenses...can someone explain to me why we might need FF sensors? And please don't say "high-ISO performance", because I'm pretty sure the vast majority of pictures in the world are taken below ISO400.

Am I missing something, or are we basing our digital needs on analogue concepts? Maybe an idea for an article, Mike?

The D700 is almost my perfect camera, I just wish it had an 100% viewfinder along with perhaps a 24MP sensor, well maybe I will get my wish late next month in the form of the D900. I don't know if Thom Hogan has any inside information, but have a read of his posting & make up your own mind.

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1021&message=28484728

"This body, like the 5D before it, is the harbinger of what's to come."

...Or, it could be a minor tributary that will become an evolutionary dead end. Fact is, nobody knows.

Mike J.

Mike,

I think I'm more excited about you getting your hands on a Zeiss ZK 28mm than I am about the D700 announcement. Please, let us know how it compares to the Pentax 31mm limited. One or the other of those really needs to find its way into my camera bag.

-Andre

"Am I missing something, or are we basing our digital needs on analogue concepts?"

The great advantages for me are not only the better viewfinders, better IQ, and high ISO noise control that can be had now, but, more importantly, the far greater depth of field control.

This is a double advantage, since not only are most DX wide and standard equivalents slow - 2.8,3.2 etc. as compared to 24/1.4, 35/1.4, 50/1.4,1.2, thus having considerably broader depth of field, they are also wider for the same field of view, which also increases their depth of field. A double negative.

If you don't want to isolate focus, you wont see it as a problem, but for those who do, DX is just plain frustrating.

Miserere,

High ISO performance is certainly it for me. If I want to take a decent picture indoors, I'm almost always at my lens' max aperture, and ISO 800-1600. While my photos of friends and kids don't warrant a $3000 camera, high ISO performance is exactly what makes me lust after the d3/d700 sensor.

I'm sure for anyone who shoots events of any kind (most of which are indoors), high ISO ability is crucial. It's easy to forget that not everyone else's habits are one's own.

It'll be really interesting if Thom Hogan's speculation is correct, and Nikon's next announcement is a 24+ mp sensor in the d700 body at a similar price point, giving users a choice between more megapixels or better low-light performance.

Predicting the demise of Olympus based on their lack of a camera with a FF sensor makes about as much sense as predicting the demise of Subaru based on their lack of a luxury model. Luxury models do add prestige to a product line, but for most products, lower cost, higher volume is where the real profits are. Olympus may never be a major player in the DSLR market, but as long as they offer products that appeal to the mass market, they'll do just fine.

I just noticed the "Built-in flash with wireless commander function"

At last a full frame camera with a built in fill flash. There is this idea that Japanese photographers won't buy a "pro" camera with a flash, which sounds dumb to me. If true, I could never understand why the canon 5d has that stupid "print" button , but no flash.

Don't see why people think it's olympus that should be nervous. This camera competes with 5D and other full frame cameras to be released shortly. Those are the ones that popped into my head when I read anout d700. As far as I know olympus is not planning to release such a camera so why should they worry?

People kept saying that Nikon was about to release a really affordable and small full frame camera that would relegate smaller sensors to entry level cameras only. Well... that didn't happen. Nothing has changed. It is still very expensive costing twice the price of an E3. Fullframe is not the goal everyone strives for. There is a place for smaller sensors and not just in entry level plastic bodies. If everyone else moves to fullframe in their prosumer/pro cameras then that's good for olympus. They'll be the only one catering to that market. Only argument against fourthirds seems to be that you don't have an "upgrage path". I say that worrying about a potential upgrade path to bigger sensors (just in case) is for people who don't know what they want.

"If you don't want to isolate focus, you wont see it as a problem, but for those who do, DX is just plain frustrating."

I believe Mike has addressed this in a previous post in the context of 4/3 sensors. The differences in DOF are practically moot.

Hypothetically, if I use a 24mm f/1.4 on APS-C at 1 meter I have ~.09 meters DOF. With a 35mm f/1.4 on FX at 1 meter I have ~.07 meters.

I will concede that I do not have as many good options for wide primes on APS-C.

"I'm more excited about you getting your hands on a Zeiss ZK 28mm"

Andre, the 2/28 was tested by Slrgear recently and it revealed what its MTF chart already said... it's excellent over a DX frame but not so much on an FX frame. The corners never pick up on FX before f/5.6, but past that they're ok.

See: http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1146/cat/98

So far my personal experience has been that the ZF 2/35 is as close to perfection as one can get. I've shot it on DX and film for quite a while, and I never tire of its beautiful drawing. The ZF 2/100 is also quite excellent.

I wonder why all Olympus critics in this thread still use their Canons, Nikons, etc - following their reasoning, weight, size, and price are never a problem - the more, the better. So they should all switch to digital medium backs :)

It's not that Canikon users don't care about price, weight or size... they're just willing to pay or carry a bit more because they feel they're getting something in return.

Sometimes what they want in return is promised future options, as others have chimed in. It's as much about perception of value as it is about dollars-and-cents value.

As for why the D700 is for me, it's a more immediate value that matters greatly to me... I prefer how the larger medium draws, just as I prefer how Zeiss lenses draw. Particularly the two together.

I knew this a while ago, and waited patiently for Nikon to get here.

I know there is a scientific explanation for the different drawings, and what parameters my preference represent, but I'm not qualified to explain it. A combination of MTF, S/N ratio, dynamic range, nyquist frequency, magnification, enlargement, etc...

@Sunny: "Doesn't the high ISO performance of this sensor make the whole idea of fast lenses moot?"

I do a lot of photography with a relatively low ISO and relatively wide-open aperture. A key part of the "art" of photography is playing with all the near-infinite combinations of aperture + iso + shutter speed which yield the "right" amount of light on the sensor but with varying effects. Relying solely on sensitivity can allow a fast shutter speed with narrow aperture (ie, everything is in focus). Relying solely on aperture can allow a fast shutter speed with luxurious iso clarity and make the focal subject "pop".

Sometimes one approach is "right" for your picture, other times the other approach. Often, a mix in the middle. Having really good smooth and sharp high-ISO AND really good smooth and sharp wide-open apertures gives you more options fo how your picture can look.

So, no, super-high ISO sensitivities are no replacement for good wide-open lenses, just like VR / IS is no replacement for a good fast lens or super-high ISO sensitivity. They are all tools which complement each other, and yield radically different results.

Olivier, Canikon users often carry "way more" than Oly users, not "a bit more".

Also, I don't get this talk of "future options" and "upgrade paths" - I just use what I need and can afford now, if I want to replace it in a few years, I will just sell it and buy something else.

BTW, an expensive camera body is always an investment disaster. And lenses? For optimal results, full frame requires a different set of them, so the only upgradable thing may be your flash :)

This and the following article have helped clarify something for me: the D700 is finally the camera I was waiting for ... about two years ago. It's getting me back to where I was, only with digital: I get to use my existing film lenses at their intended focal lengths and DOF limits, but in return I pay 400% of the film SLR price and lug 400% of the weight around.

Err...on reflection, no thanks. Rationally, I might as well avoid the expenditure and buy the Sigma 30/1.4 for DX instead - except it's hardly a small lens either. Maybe I should look again at the E420 with 25mm pancake.

To those who say the high ISO performance makes fast glass redundant, well it doesn't. I shoot a lot of low-light work, of the available darkness sort. ISO 6400 gets me in the 1/10-1/6 of a second range wide-open at f1.4. I'd love a sensor with an extra stop of sensitivity at the same IQ(I shoot a D300, so 6400 is the limit for me), I'd also love an extra 1/2 stop to a full stop from my lenses and/or in-body IS. f2.8 simply isn't fast enough.

One factor where Fourthirds works well is in zooms. Yes, a FF camera with primes is fantastic. However, if you want a zoom that covers a wide range, it's a whole different ballgame.

I took a look at SLRgear dot com, and compared the Olympus 14-54mm to the Nikon 24-120mm. If you look at blur plots and compare the Oly lens wide open (f/3.1) at 25mm to the Nikon lens at 50mm (same field of view) you find that the Nikon lens needs to be stopped down to f/11 to match the sharpness.

So, going for the same shutter speed and measured sharpness, the Olympus E-3 would be at ISO 100 and the Nikon D700 at ISO 1600. And I've looked at other tests, and even though it's only one factor of the image quality equation - the D3 has very low noise, but it is noisier at 1600 than the E-3 at 100.

Of course, this is all theoretical, with measurements all taken separately. I would love to see some real-world tests taken as a whole system, rather than just bodies with 50mm lenses as is the norm on most sites. Let's say:
1) Olympus E-3 and 12-60mm vs. Nikon D700 and 24-120mm
2) Olympus E-3 and 14-35mm vs. Nikon D700 and 28-70mm

It may not matter to some, but will to others, that if you add in a flash (FL-50R or SB-800) in #1 the Olympus is $1,415 cheaper, and in #2 the Olympus is $915 cheaper.

It's not that I'm knocking Nikon. There are many unique things about the D700 (or D300) that I quite like. My point is simply that FourThirds is by no means a dead-end, and FF is not the be-all and end-all in terms of image quality in all situations. Each has strengths and weaknesses.

I would like to touch on one aspect of the announcement which doesn't appear to have generated much comment - namely the new tilt-and-shift lenses. In my film days I migrated to ever larger film formats, and found my ultimate film camera in the Sinar P, for which I have both 4x5" and 8x10" backs. A beast to haul around, but an absolute beauty once it's sitting on the top of a (substantial) tripod. My favourite type of photography is landscape, landscape detail and architecture, which explains why this type of camera appeals to me.

Over the last decade and half I have not really had the time or the opportunity to have decent darkroom facilities suitable for large format. So I have switched to digital cameras, and in general found them very satisfactory - my main camera these days is a Nikon D200, which in spite of a repair caused by impact damage has served me well.

The set of new Nikon tilt-and-shift lenses at 24, 45 and 85mm corresponds well to the "standard" set of 4x5" lenses of 75/90, 150 and 300mm - and I don't think that's a coincidence. I am really looking forward to taking a D700 (or something similar), a good tripod and the set of tilt-and-shift lenses out in the field for some contemplative photography. I may even bring my black focusing cloth in order to best utilise the live view feature ...

Unfortunately, my bank tells me that time is somewhere in the not too immediate future ... ;-(

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