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Author Topic: A Biased Evaluation of The Differences...  (Read 107459 times)
CatOne
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« on: January 05, 2008, 09:56:58 AM »
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Nice review, Michael.  Sounds like a fun experiment that I'd love to do as well, if I could afford it  
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Steven Draper
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« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2008, 10:59:47 AM »
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Sounds like MR likes the Nikon then.

I like the idea of the 24 -1200 VR used to photograph his nephew!!! Oh your going to tell me it was a typo, damn that would be a perfect lens for some of my work!!!!!  
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michael
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« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2008, 12:35:43 PM »
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I wish it hadn't been a typo as well.

Interestingly, many in the Nikon community badmouth this lens, but it really isn't bad at all. It seems that early samples when the lens first appeared had problems, and so the common wisdom online is that it is a poor optic. It isn't, not for its focal range and price.

Michael
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Rob C
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« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2008, 01:10:55 PM »
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Michael

That´s an interesting concept: "at this focal length and price," because I always have this feeling that, somehow, optical engineering is arranged so as to stop short at one point or another, just to create a range of prices, rather than for any other good reason.

I find it hard to believe that in such mechanised production lines, with such apparently flexible QC values, that they wouldn´t be just as well going the whole hog and trying to produce a single, very best design for whatever focal length. Only then, when the best has been aimed at, the final QC stage of such a production would be split between the best and also-rans of that production run, the best going at a premium price with the lesser at lower prices. A new departure, perhaps, but at least with higher QC guaranteed, those willing to pay more would get what their money was supposed to be doing in the first place.

This feeling is not entirely unrelated to Nikon´s 300mm range of yore, where you had to mess about between the 2.8, the 4.5 and the later A/F 4. What a pantomime that was!

Rob C

PS   My bunker isn´t quite finished yet...
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Mort54
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« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2008, 01:18:39 PM »
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Hi Michael. As a long time Nikon user, and fan of this site, it's nice to see this kind of coverage. So thankyou for taking this on.

Regarding live histograms, I've read that the D3 (and maybe the D300) do indeed have it, tho activating it is obscure to say the least. Here is a link that supposedly describes how to activate it:

     http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp...essage=25971663

I haven't tried it myself yet (in fact, I haven't messed with live view at all yet), so I can't vouch for the validity of this, so take it for what it's worth.

regards,
Mort.

P.S. After perusing the manual, there does seem to be some verbage addressing this. It's on p 101, with some caveats on p 99. Apparently (if I'm reading this correctly), live histograms are only available in tripod mode, with active D-lighting and bracketing disabled, and no flash attached.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2008, 01:32:57 PM by Mort54 » Logged

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jackmacd
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« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2008, 02:01:26 PM »
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Thanks for the work. I am happy Nikon has finally given Canon competition. That will hopefully make Canon improve. Maybe mirror lock up.
I too chose Canon in the 90's for it's lenses. As you noted, Canon has tilt-shift that I needed, Nikon didn't. Now with post production, tilt-shift is not an absolute requirement. With such high resolutions, absolute sharpness is more of a requirement. I  use wide angles a great deal. Having a full sensor camera was a huge improvement six years ago. Now my Canon issue is not the body, but the lack of great wide-angles.
I used to be able to easily defend my choice in Canon. Going forward, I cannot. Interestingly, I got tired of sticking a huge camera from either Nikon or Canon in someone's face, and while waiting for the Canon D1sIII bought an M8. Then I discovered the sharper Leica wide angles on the M8 gave me better landscapes than the Canon. Had Canon improved their wide lenses, I might still be using the Canon for more than just sports or bird telephoto.
Finally, it will be interesting to see how many you upset with this comparison. For me, I thought your comparison of the handling of the two cameras was very welcome. I believe you have made your site much more valuable to the readers with your investment in the second system. You may help both firms improve their cameras in the future. Good show.
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NikosR
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« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2008, 02:10:13 PM »
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Michael,

Thanks for your insight.

One reason the D3 is offering selectable 14/12 bit depth might be the increased file sizes produced in 14bits. Remember one of the main target markets for the D3 is PJ's where the trade-off would not always be towards IQ (especially if talking about hard to see differences).
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« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2008, 05:53:09 PM »
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I liked Michael's article a lot. Very good.

Thanks to Michael for this analysis and for sharing with us his experience, and congratulations!


Quote
What this means is that a full frame sensor with, say, 12MP, will always have lower noise and thus inherently higher image quality than a full frame sensor with 21MP.

However, I cannot agree on that point. Noise isn't the only variable explaining perceived image quality. The question is more complex. Let me explain a bit.

1. "Preceived" Image Quality depends on many factors in a non-linear way: real detail, contrast (micro and macro), dynamic range, tonal variability, noise, light and subject properties, etc. and even a random variable.

2. Lenses have a lot to say about real detail finally captured. Given a size for the sensor, more pixels means a higher sampling frequency (better signal reproduction, as transmitted by the lens) and higher "reading" contrast (the sensors also have MTF functions). However, on the other hand, more megapixels means a bigger picture, this is, a bigger matrix that contains visual information. But the real amount of this visual information doesn't grow as fast as the image size (efficiency problem). Compare, for instance, the Canon 1Ds Mark II and the Canon 1Ds Mark III. The image size is much bigger (22 vs 17, 14 bits vs 12 bits), but the real detail differences aren't as big as that. This is due to decreasing contrast at higher frequencies in signal transmission by any lens. Summing up, more megapixels means more real detail, but there are disminishing returns.

3. Even if real detail and contrast improves with the number of pixels, there are other variables at play, dynamic range and tonal resolution or signal/noise ratio among others.

4. Therefore, it is true that a 12 MP camera can be better than a 22 MP camera in several points (dynamic range, tonal variability, signal-to-noise ratio) and not so inferior in others (real detail).

5. But... Better image quality can be easily perceived when all of these variables move together in the same direction. For instance, 22 megapixels from medium format versus 22 megapixels from 35mm format (at low ISOs). The MF image would be better in all respects. Or 12MP from 35mm versus 12Mp from APS-C at the same ISO value. Etc.

When several of these variables move in one direction and others in the opposite, the final result (image quality perceived) depends on other parameters not previously formalized (the subject, the output format and size, viewing conditions, etc.). Michael considers this when he talks about print size and resolution of a 12MP image, for instance.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2008, 10:14:45 AM by Nemo » Logged
michael
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« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2008, 08:06:09 PM »
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Your points are well made and serve to illuminate the complexity of the IQ equation. It isn't just any one factor that comes into play, but indeed all of them in combination.

Michael
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Ian Menuru
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« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2008, 08:21:40 PM »
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... I'd love to do as well, if I could afford it 
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=165192\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

It's all about priorities really. Possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars for his watches, cameras, and lenses but still has shag carpet long enough to lose an SD card in.      

Ian

PS: Great balanced essay Michael.
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« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2008, 08:23:03 PM »
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Michael,

I think your Nikon Canon article is very well done. I am a Nikon owner who gets to shoot the high end Canon bodies because one of my customers/employers is a very large Canon user. I have always liked both systems and have made pictures I like with both.

I would like to bring up one aspect of the new Nikon D3 body which is not up to the functionality of the older D2 body (except for the film in it, I thought the D2 was the perfect camera body).

The little piece I don't like about the D3 is the image playback. With the D2 body, you could scroll different information screens over the top of a single full frame image on the LCD. For instance, if you were shooting an outdoor fashion assignment with an art director following you around, you could look at an image with highlight blinkers scrolled on or the histogram over the image, but if the art director wanted a peek, you could scroll everything off so that all he/she saw was the image at full frame display.

With the D3 you have the option in menus to turn the blinkers and so other display functions on or off when a full frame image is displayed on the LCD, but you have to go back into the menus to turn this functionality off. To me this is a pain in the butt and not a help to my kind of shooting.

A person who did not have the pleasure of shooting much with a D2 would probably not be put off by the new system. However, I hope this "upgrade" to the system can be set back to the way it was in some kind of firmware update. Most of the D2 users I talk to who have upgraded to the D3 think this new "improved" image playback functionality must have been designed by engineers and not photographers.
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jjj
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« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2008, 09:47:57 PM »
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Interesting article as always Michael. Usuability is indeed what pros are interested in and you're right, when pros gather together, pixel peeping is not a conversational topic.
I'm so glad Nikon are finally giving Canon some serious competition. When I bought my first DSLR, there was only one option if you wanted FF, fast wideangles and good high ISO images. Now if I was buying, I'd actually have a choice, at least at the 12MP range. So let's hope Nikon bring out a camera to rival the 1DsIII as well. Competition is a good thing and Nikon have been trailing for some time now.

Though this line...
"Economics being what it is, few photographers own both systems at the same time. A couple of bodies and a selection of pro-grade lenses runs between $10-$20,000, and once a decision and investment has been made few bother to switch" ...shows how far removed you are from the average professsional photograper finance wise, if you can so easily add a Nikon system to your photographic colectionwhen you already have so much high end gear!!
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michael
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« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2008, 03:20:00 AM »
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"Economics being what it is, few photographers own both systems at the same time. A couple of bodies and a selection of pro-grade lenses runs between $10-$20,000, and once a decision and investment has been made few bother to switch" ...shows how far removed you are from the average professsional photograper finance wise, if you can so easily add a Nikon system to your photographic colectionwhen you already have so much high end gear!!
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=165338\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I have to say that I'm surprised at the apparent naivety of this comment.

Writing about equipment is part of how I make my living, along with lecturing, leading field workshops, consulting with companies in the industry, and of course publishing this site, videos, books, and tutorial downloads, all of which incur expenses along with the revenues. For me this is not a hobby, it's part of my likelihood.

That means that equipment that I buy is just that, a business expense. I could and sometimes do take "loaners", but these are sort term, and I need to be able to report on and teach about my long-term experience with various pieces of gear. I never accept "gifts", for all the obvious reasons.

Would you criticize a mechanic for buying a specialized set of tools so that he could do certain jobs? Likely not. Then why use a double standard?

My total cost for two Nikon bodies and six lenses was about $10,000. Frankly for any professional in almost any field this is, if not a trivial cost, then at least a low one compared to its revenue generation potential. Take into account the cost of money, and amortize over three years, and the expenditure is not even worth discussing so long as it generates moderate revenue, which I anticipate that this system will in terms of my ability to reach a new audience, teach new skills, publish new related articles on the web and in magazines, and maybe even do some photography with them that might not have otherwise been possible with the other tools that I own.

I think it's  you who might want to examine how far removed you are from professional financial realities.

With all due respect,

Michael
« Last Edit: January 06, 2008, 03:25:23 AM by michael » Logged
billh
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« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2008, 08:43:41 AM »
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Hi Michael,

I also used Nikons and Leica Ms as a newspaper photographer in the late 60s/70s, and made the switch to digital and Canon when I bought a 1Ds. I particularly like the image quality of the 1Ds2 and 50 f1.2, 85 f1.2, Leica 180 f2.0 and 300 f2.8IS lenses, but for the past 15 or so years I have done a lot of dog action photography, and I have wished for better AF tracking systems. Since hope springs eternal - even in older guys - I rented a D300, and was amazed to find a camera that would track these creatures almost perfectly. After trying and seeing the spectacular high ISO images from a D3, I ordered one. I find the D3 tracking AF of what Canon refers to as erratic subjects, is in a different league from the Canons. With my 1D2 and 1Ds2 I have to manage to keep a single AF point on a face that is rapidly moving all over the viewfinder. Even when I manage this feat, the plane of focus is frequently behind the face. The difference with the new Nikons is that I use what they call Dynamic AF with 51 points selected, and start (if possible) with the red AF point on the dogs face. From then on, regardless where the face is in the viewfinder, it remains in focus. For me, this difference in system performance is of even greater significance than the high ISO quality. My plan was to use the 1Ds2 and M8 for everything except action (and very low light), but the more I use the D3, the more I like this camera. Hopefully Nikon will release some new fast primes.....

I am very curious to hear your take on the 200-400. Except for weight, it seems an ideal replacement for the 70-200 and 300mm lenses. Hopefully you will try a 1.4x on it too....?

These are a representative few of the many thousands of in focus images I have taken with the D3 since it arrived on December 21. Most are with older, slow non-af-s lenses (80-200 f2.8 and 300 f4.0)

http://homepage.mac.com/billh96007/Trial-W...toAlbum265.html

I am delighted to see you delve into the Nikon world. I want a longer lens for birds, and had planned to buy one for the 1Ds2 or perhaps 1Ds3, but now I am going to wait and see what Nikon announces at the upcoming photo shows. Knowing you are interested too and will explore interesting new offerings makes the waiting easier!

Bill
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Russell Price
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« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2008, 10:32:22 AM »
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Michael is in the position to be able to afford and to test this gear.  I'm glad that he is able to write about the equipment without influence from the manufacturers.

Although, Nikon did miss the boat with full-frame by a couple of years, they seem to be on track and I had a chance to shoot the D3 and was blown-away by the quality of the files and the camera.

Although, comparing it to a 21MP Canon kinda seems silly to me.  It should be compared to the 1D Mark III not the 1DsIII.

I don't take sides, I take pictures.  Give me the best tool for the job.  I made the move over to Canon a few years ago.  I don't regret it.  Nikon caught up and I hope they continue to succeed.

I just hope Leica can improve upon the M8.  Maybe Nikon or Zeiss will come out with a digital rangefinder since the M mount is now out of patent.
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Rob C
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« Reply #15 on: January 06, 2008, 10:53:58 AM »
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billh

I never realised that those dogs were so fierce; more like fighting bears!

Rob C
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seany
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« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2008, 02:56:41 PM »
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Quote
My total cost for two Nikon bodies and six lenses was about $10,000. Frankly for any professional in almost any field this is, if not a trivial cost, then at least a low one compared to its revenue generation potential. Take into account the cost of money, and amortize over three years, and the expenditure is not even worth discussing so long as it generates moderate revenue, which I anticipate that this system will in terms of my ability to reach a new audience, teach new skills, publish new related articles on the web and in magazines, and maybe even do some photography with them that might not have otherwise been possible with the other tools that I own.

I think it's  you who might want to examine how far removed you are from professional financial realities.

With all due respect,

Michael
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=165376\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Well said Michael as one who retired from being a wage slave as soon as the opportunity presented I've always admired your style and independence of mind, whats the point of wealth if one doe's not fully avail of the freedom it confers to indulge ones passions.
I enjoyed your very detailed and practical review and comparison of the Nikon and Canon systems and look forward to further comments as you proceed on this voyage of discovery.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2008, 03:00:18 PM by seany » Logged
Mark F
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« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2008, 03:52:53 PM »
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Hi Michael,

Thanks for your customary informative and intelligently written article. As someone who is finally about to make the switch from film (Canon 1v) to digital, the introduction of the new Nikons makes this the best and worst of times.  Who said that having choices is good?      

If I were starting from scratch, the D3 would likely be the way I would go, but since I already have an investment in Canon L lenses this would be an expensive change. Putting cost aside, at the end of the day it seems to me that I wouldn't go wrong with either the D3 or the 1Ds3.  Still, I'll be interested to see your posted photos over the next year or two to see which system you wind up using more.

Mark F.
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billh
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« Reply #18 on: January 07, 2008, 08:21:55 AM »
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billh

I never realised that those dogs were so fierce; more like fighting bears!

Rob C
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Hi Rob,

This is a case where appearances can be deceiving. These two are just pups. The girl had her first BD on Dec. 27, and the boy won’t be one until the end of January. You get a sense of the puppy in them in this pic,

[a href=\"http://homepage.mac.com/billh96007/.Pictures/D3AFtest2/Cody,ISO6400,2449.jpg]http://homepage.mac.com/billh96007/.Pictur...SO6400,2449.jpg[/url]

The girl pup is a real type A personality and is given to grabbing her little brother (same dad, different mothers) by the collar and rolling him over and pinning him. He gets loose and “complains” loudly, but they are best friends and never do battle. Since my objective was to test the AF, the pics are all of them wound up in action, so their intensity comes through in the photos. They come from the Bouvier working lines in France, and what so attracts me to them is their intelligence, athleticism and enthusiasm for life. They really do have a soft, gentle sweet side too.

Bill
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fike
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« Reply #19 on: January 07, 2008, 09:25:09 AM »
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I always enjoy hearing Michael move past the pixel peeping and on to other important issues like usability in the field.  

I frequently tell non-photographer friends who want to spend $600 on a DSLR that it just doesn't matter too much which one they pick.  At that price, the differences are minor.  Pick one of the major brands that has the features and usability they like.  Much usability, from a photographers point of view, is sacrificed in this price-range, and they all have similar liabilities.  

When you move up the food chain a bit, the decisions becomes more complex because you learn to value specific features, properties, and capabilities more.  Michael's reviews always bring these elements to the fore.

Nikon, Canon....on the surface, it doesn't matter much....what are you looking for?

It is for this reason that I can't read DPReview forums because of the constant bickering over a gnats @ss of image quality difference.  

I was disappointed by this statement:

Quote
The cliche online is that there's nothing wrong with an older digital camera since it still takes pictures the same as it did the day it was new, and just because something better comes along is no reason for it to become obsolete. Ya right! Tell it to the judge. No pro is going to show up on a shoot with gear that's two generations behind the competition, and few except the most skint amateurs are happy to sit on the sidelines while better tools become available.

 This statement is just an extension of the non-photographer's statement "That is a great picture, what kind of camera did you use."
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