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Sunday, 30 November 2008


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With this kind of ISO sensitivity, we might end up not needing body-based image stabilization any more, as an increase in sensitivity is a more elegant solution.

Well that pretty much makes me want one even more.

I don't think I've seen anyone's really talked about it, but shooting at 2000-6400 opens up some amazing balanced indoor flash options as well. For anyone that shoots often in dark reception halls it could be pretty darn amazing.

Hey Mike,

Did you make any prints?
some people still do that don't they?
I know it sounds terribly subjective, but a popular Nikon forum has a few people saying that the IQ in prints is better than expected, comparing it to D300/D200 etc. Could be just rationalization for the added cost, but I'm curious and looking for a comment from a non-Nikon observer. You know, that kinda "snap" or "air" or whatever term we make up to describe the indescribable.



Was this necessary? Just when I began putting the thought of buying a D700 away? Grr!! I don't need that camera, I don't need that ... I don't ... @*!#

Ah, yes. Winter has come here to Wisconsin.
Anyway, a d200 user (10mp to non-Nikon folk :), who prints "small", i.e., 8x10ish, and shoots at base iso, mostly.

But i find myself salivating over the D700. Part it is the collection of old AI-s glass i have.

Two questions, re the D700:

1. IQ-wise, any benefit for the likes of me?
3. How do ya like the 35mm F/2 AF D?

Somehow knew this would happen. The small digital image recording device has passed from being a small child to a teenager to now being
an adult. Note I did not say "mature" adult.

This device needs some time to mature and been
seen and make itself known.

Was advised by a good friend who tempted me this weekend for an hour, with his D700;
to simply wait. Nikon hopefully will introduce other full 35mm film sized frames
in other devices in due course. He's a
professional who uses his gear in an
industrial setting on a daily basis. And the
D700 he purchased for his own use, not for
the use of his company. What the full frame
camera means is many lenses of earlier design
can now be used as they were intended.

Personally the monetary cost is way too high
for me, an infrequent photographer. Bring
the price to about the price of the D90
or less and I might be willing to purchase.

Asking those in the retail trade if the D700
has been selling well, the reply was no,
everybody is watching their pennies these days. So as noted, bring the price down,
to say a D80 style body with D80 features
and maybe the full frame will sell.

Well, it'd be more impressive if ISO 3200 was really 3200. Wait... what was that you said about pers-spec-tive?

On the other hand, the K20D will stabilize *every* lens you through at it. That's also 2 to 4 stops, depending on the shooting situation.

I've been shooting in a snowshower, last week, at ISO 200 with my K10D and a 25 years old Pentax SMC-M 2.8/35 mm lens at f5.6 and 1/8th of a second. No tripod. Tack-sharp pictures:


All that without needing to spend a fortune on every lens with its own built-in stabilization.

Oh, and there's no bad shooting weather. Only inadequately tropicalized cameras. The K10D was dripping wet afterwards. :-)


I like the shot of the knives in the sink. The burnished pewter look is very attractive.

As for 3200 - it is a wonderful thing. It means a person can shoot in reasonable light and stop things in their tracks without even thinking about the compromises.

I sold my D70 a long time ago because I didn't like the colour it produced. Then I saw some shots taken with a D70 that told me I had a lot to learn about digital photography.

I shoot a D200, and for portraits I like how it looks at ISO800. It's slightly wispy and sketchy.

But I am used to DX, not FX. And I have some DX-only lenses. And I want to keep on shooting DX for some things.

So Mike, do you have a DX lens to put on the camera, and assuming so, what do those shots look like?

Mike, well pretty much confirms the general buzz about the D700. Tho its real nice to hear it from from a guy that knows film. The K10D still acquits itself pretty well for around 1/3 price wouldnt you say?
I think my darkroom and film experience makes me a better photographer - tho some might say I'm kidding myself!
I remember shooting concerts with my Spotmatic and 135 mm lens open wide...Tri-x cranked up to ASA800 at 60th sec as my starting point. No idea what I had till I went home later and processed. Prints??? Hours in the darkroom - any colour you like as long as its B&W!
Now we have a darkroom on steroids (Photoshop) and can see what we're gettin' right off the bat - and with bleedin histogram!
So all you digital guys ought to go out and 'lick road with tongue' right now! Dennis F.

Mike if you really want to see what a D3 or D700 can do try those hi ISO files in Nikon NX. And you thought they were already good. NX is far better way up in the ISO's than ACR.

I'm pleasantly surprised to read that your results with the K20d are "better" than the D700 in "normal" light.

I've got results in daylight that remind me of medium format, and they print really well at 17 x 22. Of course, things go south quickly past 1600 iso, and 3200 is strictly grainy B&W teritory. However, it's nice to know that I can run with the "big guys" that cost around three times as much.

On the plus side, a K20d with a pancake lens is easy to shlep around and doesn't scream out PHOTOGRAPHER!! every time you hold it up to your eye.

Apart from crummy viewfinders, we are well in truly spoiled in the digital age

Maybe I am not palsied enough yet, but I am not that impressed with image stabilization, except for telephoto lenses. It does work fine, but it does nothing for shooting pictures of things that move, and if they are not moving, and I really care about sharpness, I can use a tripod or something to brace against. I find the high ISO of the D700 much more useful for low light shooting of people and events.

any second thoughts about the necessity of image stabilization with prime lenses? =)

I really like the grittiness of the grain in that knife shot. Unfortunately for me, I'm invested (both financially and emotionally) in the rangefinder/M-system - results at high ISO can't be said to match the Nikon:


Mostly my despair comes from the attitude of those defending this miserable performance in the face of so-called 'plasticky' files from Canon and Nikon. With friends like this... as the saying goes.

Okay, I'm a digital guy. I shot a lot of film for yearbook in high school, but I never learned that much about it. I quit in my poorer college years and didn't take photography up again until 2005, when I could afford a used digital SLR. After I got that, I shot. And shot. And shot. I learned, I chimped, I cried, I laughed with joy. But mostly, I learned.

About a year ago, I bought a Canonet (the one with the f/1.7 lens, whose exact designation I can't remember... Q3?). Since then I've picked up an Olympus XA and a film body to attach my Canon EF lenses to. I've learned a lot, albeit somewhat slower, in the past year. I've learned to shoot slower, to be more deliberate, to be more selective, to be more sensitive to lighting conditions.

I've also learned what a pain in the butt it is to have a camera with only one speed of film loaded into it! As soon as I got my DSLR I was pushing the low light boundary with it, trying to shoot concerts and roller derby (the latter being actually darker than the former) with natural light, underexposing f/1.4 shots by a stop or more just to stop the action, or trying to shoot portraits under foggy streetlights at midnight. Now when I go out and only have a roll of 400, I feel the bite.

The upcoming high-ISO cameras are something I've been waiting for. To be able to shoot in such low light... and have latitude in any of the exposure parameters (those extra few stops will probably go to the aperture just as much as the shutter speed) is hopefully going to be amazing. So, although I'm pretty much a digital guy (and have the tattoo to prove it), I'm very grateful for 3200 being the new 400 and for 12800 being the new 1600.


My D700 replaced both my Canon and Leica gear.

if the M8 cannot do it for you, ditch it. The right (low light) tool for the right (low light) job!

Thanks, Mani, I just learned a new word: "punter." Which describes me, apparently, because I shoot with Canon. Using plastic lenses. But man, I can shoot at ISO 3200 without any horizontal banding at least.

Check out the bottom of this post for a shot from a Canon 50D I took at ISO 6400: http://destructionoftheemptyspaces.blogspot.com/2008/11/canon-50d.html

No noise reduction applied in post (I never use NR in post). All I did was fiddle with the levels and convert to B&W, because the color noise was bothering me.

I know my example isn't great (and down-rezzed for the web), but it goes to show that the "plasticky" cameras and lenses can help us make some great photos, with no need for extensive post-processing.

3200?! That's just sick.

At some point, discussions like this wander often off into the ether...so here is at least one step in that direction:

A number of pretty well-regarded people on forums like Luminous Landscape and the Leica user forum have suggested that the major camera manufacturers treat the output of their cameras in slightly different ways. Despite the fact that the files are called RAW, they inevitably have some "pre-processing" before they can even be viewable, and that the manufacturers slip various amounts of sharpening, color correction, etc. into the mix before the image is output to anything. Further, I've seen it commonly offered that of the major companies, Nikon is the most conservative in this, and because of their conservative pre-processing, Nikon images have a little more overhead for post-processing (and without it, initial images tend to look a little "flat" compared to other cameras' output.) As Neil Swanson suggests above, a Nikon-specific post-processor may demonstrate this.

I don't know anything about this, but I would like to see some commentary on it from somebody who is knowledgeable in the area, and has no major ax to grind. If it's just BS, that would also be a useful thing to know. Does anybody know of an on-line discussion of the question that seems legit?


Dear Cameron,

Heh heh, you actually had me going up until the last "word." Very good!

Be warned, though, some readers here are a little weak on the tongue-in-cheek concept. Considering there was someone in the DxO thread who was actually on top of a one half of one percent difference in ISOs, there may be some who take you seriously.

(Explanation for the neodigifans: Cameron is talking about a DxO result that showed that the real ISO was one third stop less than as labeled on the camera. Film photographers know that that's the normal margin of tolerance in ISO in color film manufacturing. Really experienced photographers know that you can't even meter accurately, as opposed to precisely, to one third stop in the field.)

~ pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

Interesting, your 'seat of the pants' method of arriving at ISO 2500 as an everyday setting agrees pretty well with Dxomark's Low Light ISO metric of 2303 for the D700. If I understand correctly the Low light ISO is the highest ISO that maintains a S/N of 30 dB.

The observations about the image quality of the present top end cameras like the D700 and the medium range ones aka. K20D support what I had to learn in almost one year of useless pixel-peeping the assumed imperfect results of my A700: The current generation of cameras is with only minimal restrictions appropriate for all my kinds of photography, and in many cases opens up possibilities I did not have with film.

Meanwhile I can read discussions about IQ with level-headed interest, but without immediate G.A.S. cramps. And I do go out shooting more.

"Well, I'm dating myself, but what the hell, it's my turn to be the old guy: I still remember the days when 400-speed color neg films got decent."

Haha, Mike, for a moment there I thought you were using "dating myself" in the Doonesbury sense: "I'm just wacking off here"...

I used Sakura (Konica) 400 ISO color film late seventies (early eighties?)... *man* was the grain bad! Even on 4x6 inch prints. And the colors sucked too.

Just this night I took some photos of the first snowfall with my Nikon D90 at 3200 hand-held, under street lights, in the dead of night!


The present Leica is not great for high ISO. An article in a british mag suggested that the solution is the new Leica F:0.95 lens... at a cost of over $10k. I suggested better results with a Nikon D90 or Canon 50D, at less than a fifth of the price.

As a past Canon user and sponsored by them, I had the opportunity to use all of their gear. I switched to Pentax in January of 2007 and was sponsored by them until about 6 months ago. I am still using their gear and am doing so primarily because of their glass and the K20D's. I have been very impressed with the output of the K20D up to 800 iso which I rarely use. I generally stay at 100 iso in RAW. At that setting the K20D has consistently out performed the Canon 1Ds Mkll, Canon's 16 mega pixel FF camera. It does so in the shadow detail as well as the overall detail captured by the Samsung/Pentax sensor. The only reason I would gravitate away from the Pentax is if I require higher resolution. In that case I would use a MF camera with a 39 mega pixel back or larger. 15 mega pixels is more than enough for what I need, i.e. double page spreads in magazines of adverts up to 80 x 60 cm. A lot of people say that they do not like the colors rendered using the Canon's. I personally miss the output of the Canon. Perhaps that has more to do with what I became accustomed to in digital, as Canon was my first Digital SLR. I do find that the sensor of the K20D closer to the output of the Canon's that the earlier K10D's Sony sensor. None the less, I'll stay with Pentax for now..Looking forward to what the future will bring.


I do not know of this comment to an old thread will be read at all (except by the moderator ;-), but I would like to challenge the notion that the advantage of a full frame camera like the D700 over a camera with a smaller sensor like the D300 (or D90, which happens to be the only one of the mentioned cameras which I have used, so there is your grain of salt) is at high ISOs.

If you shoot at ƒ/5.6 and ISO 2500 then, according to the measurements at dxomark.com, I will get similar image quality (and actually better dynamic range) shooting my D90 at ISO 1250. For the same shutter speed I would have to set ƒ/4, but I could: Since I would obtain the same field of view with a shorter focal length, the absolute aperture, and hence the depth of field, would be the same.

By this argument, at higher ISOs the D700 does not have an inherent advantage over the D90, it becomes more a question of the availability of appropriate lenses. My 50mm/ƒ1.8 on DX might match a 80mm/ƒ2.8 on FX, but where is my 50-135mm/ƒ2 or ƒ1.8 DX to match a 70-200mm/ƒ2.8 FX?

It seems to me that for 12MP the DX sensor is big enough to produce photographically equivalent results to the FX sensor at the ISOs discussed here.

On the other hand, if you shoot the D700 at ISO 200 its image quality should beat anything that the D90 can produce.

This armchair photographer would appreciate comments based on real world experience.

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