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Author Topic: D3, 1DsMKIII, D300  (Read 32426 times)
Graeme Nattress
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« on: December 07, 2007, 07:43:39 AM »
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I thought  the Canon ISO1600 shot seemed better, whereas the Nikon high ISO shots all seem to have heavy noise reduction in them, less detail, a sort of  painterly smudginess about them.

Graeme
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michael
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« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2007, 08:03:37 AM »
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Graeme,

The consensus view of 22 pairs of eyeballs at my gallery last week was that the D3 ISO 1600 files looked better. But, this just goes to show how subjective these evaluations can be.

Michael
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2007, 08:18:55 AM »
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Michael,

Thank you ever so much for this VERY IMPORTANT review. As you may have seen - if you've had the time - I started a thread on the subject of noise, and what you've written is so very topical to what I'm experimenting with just now - but without the luxury of a slew of cameras for comparisons. The comparisons however are important because they put the whole issue in perspective. Over the weekend I hope to be gaining insight into a question on my mind as to whether there is any variance of sensor performance from one camera to another within the same camera model. I would hope not - at this price point (D3, 1DsMK3) one must presume they are individually tested to meet a minimum standard that is also a very high standard.

Another important aspect I believe, based on the preliminary testing I've managed to complete over the past couple of days, is how one exposes and processes the images. For example, if you look at the crop of Jay's eye in the section of your report starting with "ISO 1600", from what I can see on my well-calibrated and profiled LaCie 321, your observations about these two images are correct. But I would go one step further and observe that the Nikon image is generally more contrasty - nothing wrong with that - just a fact which perhaps needs to be thrown into the list of explanatory variables. One can see this insofar as, like you say, there is more shadow clarity in the Canon shot (obversely Jay's eye is darker in the Nikon shot), the skin tone in the Canon shot is darker than in the Nikon and there is more eyebrow detail in the Nikon shot, because there is more aggressive tonal separation between the hairs having different shades of grey. Now - I want you to understand, please Michael - this is NOT *pixel peeping*, but it IS *splitting hairs* (literally)   . The serious point about it is - one wonders whether the higher contrast of the Nikon image either suppresses noise or causes less visibility of noise than does the slightly lower contrast Canon image, especially if the causes of these contrast differences relate to any differing placement of identical subject along the histogram. I.E. if more of the skin tone in the Canon shot is further to the left on the histogram than happens in the Nikon shot, could this perhaps explain why there would be slightly more visble noise in the former compared with the latter? I'll have a bit more to say about this matter related to my own images in the thread I started. I had hoped to publish it last night but I fell asleep in front of the TV watching the news. (Yes, for our Canadian readers, the Mulroney-Schreiber hearing was good theatre, but it put me to sleep after a long day of shooting and pixel peeping.)

One other technical point - from what I saw of the images you printed at the gallery during the workshop, it is not only the amount of noise that has changed, but also how it looks. While I have not yet done the intended comparison with my 1Ds 11.1MP, I have a sense that the "look" of the noise isn't what it used to be. Except in the deep dark tones where the green/magenta blotches look familiar, the darkishness of other noise further up the tone curve is - well - less dirty-looking and more granular, which harking back to the film days many would consider more "acceptable".

The three bottom shots in your article are astounding in terms of the clarity, tone quality and resolution achieved at such a high ISO.

Cheers,

Mark
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2007, 08:22:41 AM »
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The bottom line from these tests -- 2008 is going to be a very excitimg year.  Thanks Michael.
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RomanJohnston
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« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2007, 08:39:09 AM »
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I must say...nice informal comparison. And good real world conclusions. I too belive the D3 has a slight edge now over Canon...(which I am sure Canon will answer) and if such a race ensues...we the users of each brand will only benifit.

I just sold my D2X to get the D300 and I cant be any more pleased. Yes...the D300 has more noise issues than the D3. But it is worlds of improvment over the D2X.

I would be very interested to know what you think of the new lenses also from Nikon (the 14-24 and the 24-70 that just came out) I have heard some good things even from Zeiss users. Would love to hear a more informed and trustworthy opinion.

Thanks Michael for your intersting read...and as always...your timely information.

Roman
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Graeme Nattress
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« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2007, 08:41:40 AM »
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Graeme,

The consensus view of 22 pairs of eyeballs at my gallery last week was that the D3 ISO 1600 files looked better. But, this just goes to show how subjective these evaluations can be.

Michael
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Indeed, highly subjective! So let me rephrase my question:

Why do the images look the way they do?

As you know I'm more interested in this from the POV of sensor design and what is state-of-the-art given my current work, but I'm still interested as a photographer.

It's fairly quick and easy to take both the Canon and Nikon images into Photoshop, go into LAB mode and see what A and B, the chroma channels are doing. The Nikon here shows much less detail, which is indicative of noise reduction that's strongly aimed at chroma noise. Given how these sensors works, that makes sense. However, it also means we're not comparing like with like.

Does putting noise reduction algorithm A in camera, help or hinder you using noise reduction algorithm B on post? Is it better to do all NR in post, or is some split more effective?

One of the things that it's very hard to do is actually visualize raw camera data. Without seeing that, you're not seeing what  noise is the sensor and what noise is the processing. You're not using like for like demosaicing algorithms (which can do noise reduction as part of their action). All you can do is compare the end result, which is what matters for photographers - it doesn't matter how you get there, as long as you like where you're going, but doesn't always elucidate the optimum route in terms of time, effort and money.

Adrian's comment about contrast is a good one, as shadow noise can be somewhat changed in appearance by cropping off the noise in the near blacks, giving an elevated black level, but having it effectively noise free, and increase contrast, but reduced dynamic range. You can also loose some detail doing this.

So to me, the other question is, not what is the comparison of noise, but what is the dynamic range of each camera, and to measure that, you need a controlled test with a backlit wedge test. I'm sure this information will come out, but I'm keen to know if the D3 sensor is revolutionary or have Nikon just got good NR in there.

Graeme
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2007, 09:00:06 AM »
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Quote
...............
Adrian's comment about contrast is a good one, as shadow noise can be somewhat changed in appearance by cropping off the noise in the near blacks, giving an elevated black level, but having it effectively noise free, and increase contrast, but reduced dynamic range. You can also loose some detail doing this.

So to me, the other question is, not what is the comparison of noise, but what is the dynamic range of each camera, and to measure that, you need a controlled test with a backlit wedge test. I'm sure this information will come out, but I'm keen to know if the D3 sensor is revolutionary or have Nikon just got good NR in there.

Graeme
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Graeme, the point about contrast was mine, not Adrian's. I was thinking more in terms of the initial exposure, implicitly suggesting that if the same material ends-up on different spots of the histogram between the two cameras this can contribute to different noise levels without differing sensor quality being the determinative cause. Are we saying the same thing in different words, or are you adding another dimension to the concept?

Higher DR suggests to me more space between white and black - but how would this impact noise?
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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michael
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« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2007, 09:19:12 AM »
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Indeed, highly subjective! So let me rephrase my question:

It's fairly quick and easy to take both the Canon and Nikon images into Photoshop, go into LAB mode and see what A and B, the chroma channels are doing.

Graeme
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Graeme,

For this to make sense it would have to be done with the raw file, not a JPG off the web. Also, one needs to consider what inherent noise reduction has been performed by the raw processor, which all do some even with settings at zero.

Finally, while looking at the file in LAB is interesting, it does not always correlate well with how the image actually looks in a print, which for me is where the rubber meets the road.

Michael
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Gary Jean
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« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2007, 09:43:12 AM »
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Thank you for another informative comparison.  I am a Canon shooter and have never been a Nikon shooter, but it is exciting to see real competition.  The end result can only be better tools for us.

I understand your comments about DPP and Capture NX, but I look forward to seeing (somewhere, if not here) comparisons of these proprietary developers along with Lightroom.

DPP is terrible for workflow, but to my eye often gets cleaner output than LR/ACR.

Jay has great eyebrows.
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bjanes
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« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2007, 10:06:02 AM »
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Graeme,

The consensus view of 22 pairs of eyeballs at my gallery last week was that the D3 ISO 1600 files looked better. But, this just goes to show how subjective these evaluations can be.

Michael
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Michael,

A very informative comparison showing how the cameras stack up in real world shooting conditons. As to noise, the quants will be interested in standard deviations at defined areas in the shadows, perhaps with un-demosaiced data to avoid the variables introduced by the raw converter. Other things being equal, the camera with the larger pixels will have a lower standard deviation. However, the noise spectra will be different for the two cameras. The camera with the higher resolution may have a larger standard deviation, but the noise will be finer grained and perhaps perceived as less bothersome.

Did you actually make 16 by 14 inch prints to compare these subjective differences?

Bill
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John Sheehy
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« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2007, 10:17:35 AM »
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I thought  the Canon ISO1600 shot seemed better, whereas the Nikon high ISO shots all seem to have heavy noise reduction in them, less detail, a sort of  painterly smudginess about them.
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Well, the D300 only has slightly less read noise than the D200, and about the same image shot noise and greater pixel shot noise than the D200.  It is nothing revolutionary.  It should not be included in the class of low-noise performance in the D3 or 1DSmk3.

For the D3, the JPEGs look like Nikon is so used to having higher noise that they forgot to use less NR on the D3.
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djgarcia
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« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2007, 10:19:24 AM »
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And the good news is, both Canon and Nikon users have reason to be happy! Merry Christmas & Happy Hanukka!
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« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2007, 10:21:02 AM »
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I will have to say both cameras is impressing. I would be happy to have any off them. As a Nikon shooter I am very pleased with Nikons better noise performance. Myself doesnt choice cameras from the noise the most important factor.

I am very impressed with the Canon 1ds MKIII. Even with the almost the double pixel count it holds up very good. I dont think it is night and day. I can understand that noise is important for some people for their style off photography. But it isnt such a "big deal" like some self-chosen forumguru experts made a point off.The evolution off camera sensor technology is nothing about fantastic on both brands.

I thought my puny amateur Nikon D80 got good noise   . But I came from another world today some people would claim such noise level render the camera to disposable camera.

If you are pro working hard lighting conditions I understand the obsession with low iso noise. But I almost irritated today as it is hard to read anything about image quality that dont concern high ISO image quality.

I think most people are obsessed with no good reason as most people dont print large, maybe this forum is exception with many landscape guys. ISO noise is often very forgiving in large prints when cram in alot off pixels in alot smaller area than a computer screen. 72 dpi is very low resolution and off course you can even see a dead pixel. I challenge someone to see a dead pixel in print, maybe you can. But then you see alot better than me.

Nothing to write down the effort off the comparison between the cameras. But I want shake some sense into people that both cameras are probaly renders great prints.

I want to read about renderings, low iso, color, AA filter and other stuff that is relevant for my kinda slown down tempo shootings. I am just as egoistic like the other guy.

Quite a long post, but wanted share my view. This forum is also grown up enough so I took my time share my view. Thanks if you read this far

Cheers,
Daniel
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« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2007, 10:25:36 AM »
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While I'm not arguing with the way the "tests" were performed as to the question of image size vs. pixel size, my experience in this has given me some reasons for going with the image size crowd.

I was a partner in a commercial photo lab here in New york for many years, and have seen mucho photo's come through, in addition to my own early work in fashion and advertising. The one thing I've seen time and again, is that the final image size is the thing. Whether using film or digital, it must be sized to the final purpose.

In regards to that, and the medium used, we see the differences in format, and sensor size, and rez. The same for film. ISO, obviously plays a very big part.

An 11 x 17 two page mag spread will remain the same regardless of the original medium used. The same of a gallery print.

Assuming the lenses are capable of resolving close to the limit of the film or sensor, the rez of the medium will be a determining factor. This, I have seen, affects noise as well. What I have found is that, talking about digital (though film is similar), a sensor with significantly higher rez, assuming equal noise at equal final pixel size, shows less apparent noise on the image. The reason is simple, the pixels are much smaller, and the noise is therefore finer, and less observable. Since we purpose our images for a specific image size, that's what really matters in the real world.

Of course, if one is a "cropper" things may come out differently.

But, otherwise, it's like printing a 16 x 20 of an ISO 100 film vs printing it from a 400 ISO film. If the 100 film grain is enlarged to equal that of the 400 film, the "noise" may be about the same, but for the same image size, the 100 film will have the lower noise, and greater sharpness.

I realize there are various ways of looking at this question, but I've never seen anyone print to the grain size for any normal work. The medium chosen is usually that which will give the required quality at the needed image size.
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erikhaugen
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« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2007, 10:31:21 AM »
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Thanks for this comparison; these cameras are amazing.  ISO 25600!!

I would like to natter about comparing noise characteristics of cameras with different resolutions, and will try to be grown-up and polite:

As you allude to in the article, in general the "problem" with high-resolution cameras as that each photosite/pixel is smaller, so it collects less light, and therefore needs to be amplified more for a given ISO level than a photosite on a lower-resolution camera with the same size sensor.  This higher amplification, of course, causes noise.  Now, in reality this isn't much of a problem, hence the quotes around "problem," because you can "get it back" by lowering the resolution of the picture.  If you use a good algorithm for lowering the resolution, the noise will be reduced, yielding a picture of similar resolution and quality as from the lower resolution camera.  I'm assuming PS will use a good algorithm, but I don't own it or use it so I'm not sure.

So - I think the best way to compare the noise characteristics of a full-frame 21mp camera and a full-frame 12mp camera is instead of showing two 100% crops, show a 100% crop of the 12mp camera and a ~75% crop of the 21mp camera.  This should result in two crops that are the same size on screen and show the same crop of the picture.  Notice the two 100% crops in the article are of different sizes, since the Canon sample has more pixels for the same composition.

I suspect this will eliminate some of the "one stop noise advantage to the new Nikon" that you see, and this is a very meaningful comparison, since the real question is: "For a print of a given size of such-and-such scene, which camera will be less noisy?"

thanks,
Erik Haugen
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bjanes
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« Reply #15 on: December 07, 2007, 10:48:51 AM »
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This higher amplification, of course, causes noise.  Now, in reality this isn't much of a problem, hence the quotes around "problem," because you can "get it back" by lowering the resolution of the picture.  If you use a good algorithm for lowering the resolution, the noise will be reduced, yielding a picture of similar resolution and quality as from the lower resolution camera.  I'm assuming PS will use a good algorithm, but I don't own it or use it so I'm not sure.
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Sceintific sensors, which are nearly always CCDs rather than CMOS, allow pixel [a href=\"http://www.photomet.com/library/library_encyclopedia/library_enc_binning.php]binning[/url] to achieve the advantages you mention. As explained in the link, binning reduces read noise, since the binned pixels are read out with about the same noise as the individual pixels. When reading individual pixels, the same read noise in inserted with each read. After the fact binning will reduce noise (shot noise), but will have no effect on read noise.

Bill
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Ray
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« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2007, 10:54:07 AM »
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Assuming the lenses are capable of resolving close to the limit of the film or sensor, the rez of the medium will be a determining factor. This, I have seen, affects noise as well. What I have found is that, talking about digital (though film is similar), a sensor with significantly higher rez, assuming equal noise at equal final pixel size, shows less apparent noise on the image. The reason is simple, the pixels are much smaller, and the noise is therefore finer, and less observable. Since we purpose our images for a specific image size, that's what really matters in the real world.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=158960\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I think this is broadly true although the reason is not necessarily that the pixels of the higher rez camera are smaller, when different formats are being compared.

I always remember my surprise when I first read the review of the 1Ds at dpreview comparing its noise characteristics with the earlier Canon D60. Up to about ISO 400, noise in the 1Ds was actually slightly worse than the D60, yet the 1Ds had bigger pixels.

Of course, when dpreview compares noise, they compare it on a pixel-for-pixel basis; grey patches of equal size.

But the point was made by dpreview that this apparent lower noise of the D60 would not be evident in equal size prints and I'm sure those who used both cameras would have been very much aware that the 1Ds had lower noise in practice.
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« Reply #17 on: December 07, 2007, 11:02:13 AM »
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I can appreciate the whole "noise" debate and recognize that it's a concern but what interest me more as predominately a studio shooter at ISO 100, is a direct comparison as to how well these cameras can hold up when enlarging an image to 24x30.

Michael
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« Reply #18 on: December 07, 2007, 11:06:34 AM »
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For the D3, the JPEGs look like Nikon is so used to having higher noise that they forgot to use less NR on the D3.
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If you read Michael's postscript, you will see that the shots were in raw and rendered in Lightroom. They are not in camera JPEGs. Of course, Nikon may have done some NR behind Michael's back to the raw file.

Bill
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michael
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« Reply #19 on: December 07, 2007, 11:08:40 AM »
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I can appreciate the whole "noise" debate and recognize that it's a concern but what interest me more as predominately a studio shooter at ISO 100, is a direct comparison as to how well these cameras can hold up when enlarging an image to 24x30.

Michael
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A 24X30 print would show a clear advantage to the Canon. There's no way that a 12MP camera can make a print that size the way a 21MP camera can.

And as I indicated in my article, at print sizes that are within the capability of both cameras the IQ differences at low ISO would be a quibble, and likely subject to the vagaries of processing as much as anything else.

Michael
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