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Friday, 29 August 2008


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I so much look forward to the day when someone, anyone, that speaks about a new body will speak to the Dynamic Range and NOT about the megapixels. I won't hold my breath.

Oh Boy, more megapixels. The race continues. "Size matters"...as they say and it does when it comes to pixels. Quality over quantity counts with larger pixels, not necessarily more of them. My 12mp computer with a lens makes images of stunningly good image quality (and resolution.) I'd rather have a skosh more dynamic range and a tad bit less noise at high ISOs. When the dust in this race settles, I believe it will always come back to "...its what you do with it" that counts.

Ah yes, the megapixel race. Funny, I still use my old Canon D30 on a daily basis (3 MP). It still makes stunningly good photos, if not huge photos. I can make a great looking 8x10 with that camera. But, to go bigger, I need my 20D at 8.7 MP. Do I need 15 MP? Nope. Or maybe 21 MP for a new 5D mkII? Nope. Will I still buy a 5D or a 50D? Yep. :-)

the sensor is completely redesigned, so you can bet on better dynamic range as well. don't complaining before you see the results.

"Conservative incremental upgrade of the 40D"

Let's see a 50% increase in pixel count with less noise. ISO expanded from 3200 to 12800. LCD expanded from 230K pixels to 920K pixels. Processor from Digic3 to Digic4. Added HDMI output. Totally new sensor.

We have all become spoiled. In the days of film if one feature was added it was revolutionary. Most of all I remember the revolutionary new yellow Hasselblad 500's.

I'm tempted to say: Another camera, so what?

Here, Here, Tom and Dennis.

>I so much look forward to the day when someone, anyone, that speaks about a new body will speak to the Dynamic Range and NOT about the megapixels.

To some extent, Nikon did with the D700. They did not up the MP from the Canon 5D, but the active d-lighting really does increase the dynamic range. It seems to do it by modifying the sensor read because it works with RAW files. It not just a JPG tweak. (It cuts the buffer capacity almost in half, so I suspect it might involve a double read of the chip.)

What about colour and overall image quality? There is, by my observations, still a cartoonish element to "digital images". Landscape photographers have made this their own, but it is not optional. A sort of compulsory "velviaization".

I was hoping, increasingly praying, that Canon might one day update the EOS-1V (EOS-1F?). By old school ways it is due for an update in 2011, 10 years from the last model. This was once a proud boast, of Canon, that their flagship model would be around for 10 years before being replaced. Clearly with digital technology changes this is not practical, but 12 months? (And still the boast!)

Even though I'm always sceptical when I read of massive MP increase in compact digicams & bridges, I tend to be more nuanced with DLSR's, especially with Canon.
Most preview sources speak of noise level being kept reasonable (1 to 1 and a half stop advantage over 40D is often mentioned) thanks to micro lenses,sensor electronics and signal processing advances. If Canon's conservationist history is of any significance, the 50D might showcase an excellent brand new sensor design in order to keep noise at low noise levels like they've done for years. They've been reluctant to go higher than ISO 1600/3200 and they're now speaking of 12800 on a aps-c 15MP sensor. It's either craziness or bold confidence.

As opposed to DR, Noise levels,etc which I think Canon is handling fine enough, I wish Canon would concentrate on side aspects such as metering, AF, body design and ergonomics features such as : autoiso, AF adjust(50D has it), weathersealing, AF assist light, intervalometer, ...

"Most preview sources speak of noise level being kept reasonable (1 to 1 and a half stop advantage over 40D is often mentioned)..."

What does it mean to have a 1 to 1.5 stop advantage in noise level? I don't really understand how noise could be measured in stops.

I think a "one stop advantage in noise" would mean that the noise level at EI 800 on one camera, say, matched the noise level on another camera at EI 1600.

Mike J.

I know people here aren't videographers for the most part, but I'm of the mind that Nikon's D90 crossing over into HD is a "breakthrough" in a way that Canon hasn't done since the 5D. Moving into higher ISO values with good quality is welcome and some would say overdue for the X0D line... I think it carves up the Canon market in a less profound way than the D90 carves up the DSLR market as a whole however. And I'm still waiting for a profound upgrade to the 5D, without massacring the fantastic qualities it already has. They could have released a camera with my entire wish list of features a year ago with existing tech, so I'm a little frustrated, and hopeful that they haven't been just buggering themselves for the past year and actually have something to offer. What's on the 50D doesn't in any way meet my hopes or wishes, and diminishes my hope that they'll do anything profound or profoundly satiating with Mk II.

Dear Mike Jones,

I believe you may be confusing poor craft (or even deliberate preference by the photographer) with inherent image characteristics. I also detest the Velvia look. I can assure you that it is entirely optional and in no way compulsory. It's a consequence of choices made by the photographer... or lack of choice, if they are insufficiently skilled.

A lot of software, even professional stuff, defaults to excessive saturation (and sometimes contrast) when importing photos. That's because that's what most snapshooters like to see (LOTS of marketing data on that). But it's not an inherent nor unavoidable part of the data.

pax / Ctein

It's amazing how soon we forget the limitations of the film world and nit pick on digital cameras. A few 8 gig cards at $30 ea. will hold thousands of photos in your choice of color or B&W at ISO from 100 to 12,000 or better. You would need a truck to carry all that film and the cost of processing would be astronomical. The new digital cameras & PS have an image recording versatility way beyond our imagination of 10 years ago. The improvements though subtle at times, will put a better camera in the hands of new photographers. It's unfortunate, but to keep the technology improving and camera companies in business we have to keep buying their new products. It's sort of like feeding your cat or dog or your self for that matter.
Pass the 50D and a new lens, Please.

Digital to film. I'll use JPeg's as an example as it's not that bad today. Using the Canon 40D you can shoot over 2200 photo's on a $30 8 gig CF card and thats at any ISO up to 3200. At $15.00 for film and processing 36exp roll (guess) limited to ISO 400 today. That would be 60+ rolls of film & processing-- costing around $900.
Very close to the price of a digital camera and lens today.

It's unfortunate that people are focusing on – and making unfounded derisive conclusions about – the pixel count in the 50D without looking at the results. People similarly bemoaned the increase from 6 to 8 megapixels, 8 to 10 and 10 to 12, yet in well-designed DSLRs this increase has effectively been a non-issue. And Canon is not in the habit of making claims about image quality and noise handling without being able to back it up, so give it some time for reviews and user results to come out before you write this camera's obituary.

For those who are interested in qualities of a DSLR which improve still photographs I think the 50D is a much bigger step than the D90, which unlike the 50D retains 12-bit capture and does not have lens autofocus adjustment.

Nikon will surely make a bigger splash with high quality (but jiggly-imaged [non-stabilised] monophonic sound) video, and it's a good first step in the merging of these two consumer product lines, but for those who shoot landscapes or deal with underexposed images or who may need to crop images, the 50D has more utility.

Lightroom 2.0..? Canon 50D..? Nikon D90..? and more from Photokina very soon..? I don't know about anyone else but this feels like
Xmas with generous rich uncles come to town.
Viva la dRevolution..!!!

I'm coming down on the side of fewer megapixels here:

I specifically chose the Nikon D90 over the Canon 50D because I prefer to stay with 12 megapixels.

Hello Ctein,
I used Velvia as a convenient analogy, not to suggest that digital images look like Velvia.
My main source of digital imaging is from magazines, and I have noticed that digital images (DSLR) have certain characteristics- not all bad- but compared to modern slide films definitely lacking. Overly sharp foregrounds, together with indeterminate distant detail (I’m not talking about bohka , which appears to vary with the lens and camera), and exaggerated colours of limited/graduated gamut. Not that these things are always glaring or unpleasant, but they are there on all digital images. It is like having a camera with only one type of film.
In May’s National Geographic (on China) I noticed that most images where not displaying these characteristics, and found that nearly every shot had been taken on film (http://ngm.typepad.com/editors_pick/)- so they are definately there. The problem is that no one is looking for them, we are obsessed with sharpness in lenses and pixels in cameras, not overall image rendition.

Dear Mike Jones,

I think we're on the same page in what we like in a photo. I like accurate contrast and saturation, not exaggerated c & s. Understood that Velvia was just an example.

Problem is that almost everyone else likes that look! Dunno if you ever used Kodak's Ektachrome Professional (EPN). The most accurate slide film they ever produced, and a mainstay in their catalog forever-- predates T-grain, DIR couplers, etc. Grain- and sharpness-wise it's only so-so, and the color dyes could also be improved.

So back in the mid-late 90's, Kodak decided to revise it-- retain (even improve) the color and contrast characteristics, but bring the deficiencies up to current quality.

When they field tested it, it bombed. Amateurs and pros alike all wanted goosed-up saturation and 'snap'. The EPNv2 was the least favorite of the films Kodak field-tested. So they shrugged, gave it up, stuck with the old EPN, and released new films with goosey color.

That's what you're seeing when you look at the mags. It's not 'inherent' in digital, it's that with digital it's completely easy for the photographer (or editor) to create that look so they do, because it's what they LIKE! With film the color, contrast and saturation characteristics are built into the emulsion.

In other words, you are definitely not seeing anything that's digitally obligatory; what you're seeing is a mass preference.

Don't blame the tech, blame the people.

pax / Ctein

Benito, Your right--Canon 50D is 14 bit at 15 megapixels and the Nikon D90 is 12 bit at 12 megapixels.
I think the Rebel has better specs. including the lens.
If people are concerned with file size then the movie feature is not for them
I'll stick with the Canon and 14 bit color for shooting stills.

Carl et al.,
I admit I was planning to buy the "40D successor" (50D, although we didn't know the name until recently) if it had IS in the body.

You know what they say: "Oh well."

Mike J.

"'Conservative incremental upgrade of the 40D'

"Let's see a 50% increase in pixel count with less noise. ISO expanded from 3200 to 12800. LCD expanded from 230K pixels to 920K pixels. Processor from Digic3 to Digic4. Added HDMI output. Totally new sensor."

Michael Eckstein,
No, actually I said, "...the excitement here is the sensor and software...OTHERWISE [emphasis added], it's a conservative incremental upgrade of the 40D...". Ya gotta read *all* the words...they're all there for a reason. ;-)

Mike J.

Here is a link to sample pics from the 50D.
granted 3 of 4 are with L glass....

Most interesting to me is the electronic lens calibration/adjustment feature. I'd venture to guess anyone with L glass - may have already spent the equivalent of a used 40D body getting some of those lenses re-calibrated for maximum performance for different bodies over time; outside regular lens maintenance costs.

Anyone have any real-world feedback on how well this adjustment option worked on the 1DIII, vs sending the body/lens out for factory recalibration (at $200 to $300 a pop)???? Of course if the AF circuit is out of mechanical alignment, the electronic adjustment would not help.

Of secondary interest is the new preview screen that might be actually sharper than the cotton-candy grade one on the 40d.

15megapixels also gives sports/wildlife photographers who cannot afford the 1D series a little more breathing room for cropping. I have a 30" monitor which is unforgiving of any resolution woes at full screen; and on this monitor, the 7MB sample landscape picture is ridiculously detailed. Perhaps as good as medium format back of perhaps 4-5 years ago or so? For $1300 bucks!?

Mike Jones:

Learning what digital images look like from pictures in magazines is a bit like learning what women look like from pictures in magazines...

Possibly so, but magazines are a genuine outlet for photography (National Geographic, Leica Fotografie International, Aperture). I rarely see "real" digital prints as galleries still appear to prefer "wet prints", and certainly not from some DSLR, more likely medium format. Equally, few who respond here will have seen a well projected slide this side of the millennium--that is my medium. Slides were always rated "better" than prints. Jeff Wall is a photographer who uses large back lit transparencies; have you seen them?

I have had several lenses -- new and old -- adjusted by Canon to match my elderly EOS 1-D Mark II bodies, through their CPS program. I was not charged for this, though of course the new lenses were in warranty (and your mileage may vary.)

I did get to play with a 1Ds Mark III last month, and found the focus adjustment feature worked well with my fast primes. (The 24/1.4 needed a lot of adjustment.) However, my understanding is that the camera-based adjustment works best with primes; for zooms, you are better off having Canon do the adjustment.

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