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Author Topic: Is Sony a viable pro platform?  (Read 23960 times)
Ray
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« Reply #40 on: April 16, 2008, 07:51:23 PM »
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That might be nice in lolipop wonderland, but it's not going to happen, I don't think, anytime during our stay on the planet.

In terms of lenses - MTF graphs have their use, but they really can't be compared between manufacturers, and then again they don't always tell us how a lens performs in that pesky thing called "the real world". Lenses are balancing acts - and there is more than just sharpness to the equation. A lot of people, particularly in the forums, seem to have sharpness as the only attribute of lens quality that matters, when there is actually quite a bit more. So there's really no way to test for that - and on top of that, lenses are often designed to task - certain things are "given up" to gain something else in an area that matches a task - so there's no really good way for a single "lens grade" to indicate that either, much to the dismay of the folks who can't handle the reality that subjective evaluation is neccessary for lens selection.

(we could go into tons of other factors - some lenses are better at distance, some better at closer range, some balanced - are you going to have 30 scores for a set of attributes in order for us to arrive at a conclusion? And then again, how are you going to test all of that?)

So at the end of the day, it's guys like Mark Welsh (on the canon centric side) and guys like Bjorn Rorslett (on the Nikon side) and personal evaulation that ultimately lets me know if a lens is going to cut it for what *I* do - no single MTF graph or brand zealot trumpeting some chart is going to tell me what I need to know.

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There are many defects in lenses which can be corrected to some extent in post processing, such as chromatic aberration, color fringing, vignetting, barrel distortion. But one thing you cannot do is create detail where none was captured.

The issue I'm referring to is really just about quality control at the fundamental level. The type of MTF charts that Photodo produced would probably be sufficient.

Because it would be too cumbersome for any manufacturer to provide full and extensive technical information on every aspect of the performance of each individual lens, it does not therefore follow that some attempt at providing at least some reliable information about the most critical parameters should not be made.

It would be a poor excuse for a book publisher to state that they would never publish an encyclopedia because sush a reference could not contain full information on every subject.

There is clearly a demand for sensors with higher pixel count (which means higher pixel density). The Sony 24mp sensor, if it's priced right and has the expected low noise and no major drawbacks in the camera design, is inevitably going to be extremely popular.

The major issue with such a camera will be the sharpness of lenses, not the quality of bokeh.
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NashvilleMike
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« Reply #41 on: April 16, 2008, 11:29:58 PM »
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The major issue with such a camera will be the sharpness of lenses, not the quality of bokeh.
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Actually, another and potentially the biggest major issue with such a camera will be the shot discipline of the photographer. The lenses of course matter too. If you're not maxxed out on shot discipline with a top tier tripod/ballhead for your landscape stuff and so forth, you'll not even remotely get close to what the better lenses are capable of doing though. You move that ISO up a couple of notches, you'll be surprised at how much ultimate resolution loss you'll occur too. Take the time to do some tests with a rez chart someday at various ISO levels with your best lens and you might be surprised.

I don't disagree about providing some form of "proof", persay, of quality control - that definitely would be handy for sure and I'd welcome it. Quality control definitely seems to have slipped in the past several years compared to what it was many years prior and that bothers me as I'm sure it does you.

What disturbs me greatly is the "sharpness over everything" pixel peeping mentality along with the desire for a single quantifying number that gives quality of a lens when the reality is that it simply can't be given.

As a side story, I did an experiment - took the same shot of a Death Valley scene, once with the 50/1.8 Nikkor - a lens that tests quite well stopped down, very very sharp. Then the same shot with the 28-70/2.8 zoom, a very good lens (nowhere as good as the new 24-70, but quite good), but one that doesn't test out the same as the 50 prime in resolution. Shot at F/8. Made large prints. You want to know which shot looked better? - not the technically "sharper" one from the 50 - but the one from the 28-70. Do you want to know why? Because it had a more realistic presentation of the depth of the image - it got the tonal seperations and tonal gradations correct and offered a coherent view of the scene while the 50 offered a slightly sharper but more two dimensional and disjointed looking rendition of the scene. Side by side it was noticeable which image was better. Point being - sharpness is of course very much important, but is absolutely not the only aspect of lens design that counts. That's probably falling on many deaf ears, but there are a few of us out there who realize that once we've gotten past a certain point in sharpness, other aspects of lens performance are far more important. The differences I (and others) saw can not be corrected in photoshop either.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #42 on: April 17, 2008, 12:01:24 AM »
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Hi,

This is a bit similar to my experience with the Zeiss ZA 16-80 on my Sony. I did not do a lot of comparison shots between my lenses. I have done some tests using Imatest, tough. What I see is that I need to stop down the Zeiss 16-80 to aperture 8 to match my 80-200/2.8 APO or my Konica-Minolta 28-75/2.8 lenses. Edge sharpness at large apertures is definitively lacking.

On the other hand the lens works really well in real life shooting. It performs well in the center and "draws" nicely, even at maximum aperture. Stopped down it is really good. Probably not "world class" by my definition, but good enough for me.

Regarding Sony and Zeiss I would say that it is good for both firms. Sony is certainly helped by the Zeiss lenses and Zeiss I think needs a camera to put their lenses on, now that Contax went into RIP and Hasselblad uses lenses from Fuji.

I'm pretty sure that Zeiss lenses are good, mostly, but they have made a few lenses which don't live up to expectations. The new ZF lines seems to be quite impressive but they seem also have pretty significant sample to sample variations. Lloyd Chambers has a well researched article about the ZF lens line, available for purchase here: http://www.diglloyd.com/diglloyd/infos/Zei...nses/index.html

Best regards
Erik Kaffehr


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Actually, another and potentially the biggest major issue with such a camera will be the shot discipline of the photographer. The lenses of course matter too. If you're not maxxed out on shot discipline with a top tier tripod/ballhead for your landscape stuff and so forth, you'll not even remotely get close to what the better lenses are capable of doing though. You move that ISO up a couple of notches, you'll be surprised at how much ultimate resolution loss you'll occur too. Take the time to do some tests with a rez chart someday at various ISO levels with your best lens and you might be surprised.

I don't disagree about providing some form of "proof", persay, of quality control - that definitely would be handy for sure and I'd welcome it. Quality control definitely seems to have slipped in the past several years compared to what it was many years prior and that bothers me as I'm sure it does you.

What disturbs me greatly is the "sharpness over everything" pixel peeping mentality along with the desire for a single quantifying number that gives quality of a lens when the reality is that it simply can't be given.

As a side story, I did an experiment - took the same shot of a Death Valley scene, once with the 50/1.8 Nikkor - a lens that tests quite well stopped down, very very sharp. Then the same shot with the 28-70/2.8 zoom, a very good lens (nowhere as good as the new 24-70, but quite good), but one that doesn't test out the same as the 50 prime in resolution. Shot at F/8. Made large prints. You want to know which shot looked better? - not the technically "sharper" one from the 50 - but the one from the 28-70. Do you want to know why? Because it had a more realistic presentation of the depth of the image - it got the tonal seperations and tonal gradations correct and offered a coherent view of the scene while the 50 offered a slightly sharper but more two dimensional and disjointed looking rendition of the scene. Side by side it was noticeable which image was better. Point being - sharpness is of course very much important, but is absolutely not the only aspect of lens design that counts. That's probably falling on many deaf ears, but there are a few of us out there who realize that once we've gotten past a certain point in sharpness, other aspects of lens performance are far more important. The differences I (and others) saw can not be corrected in photoshop either.
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Ray
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« Reply #43 on: April 17, 2008, 12:30:16 AM »
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That's probably falling on many deaf ears, but there are a few of us out there who realize that once we've gotten past a certain point in sharpness, other aspects of lens performance are far more important. The differences I (and others) saw can not be corrected in photoshop either.

That's the key to understanding your detailed post, 'once you've gotten past a certain point in sharpness'.

The fact is, that a sharp lens at any given aperture that is not limited by diffraction, will give a shallower DoF than a less sharp lens. The over all effect will be different.

There are also differences in sharpness (or accutance) at different spatial frequencies. One lens might be sharper than another at 20 lp/mm, but less sharp than the other same lens at 50 lp/mm. The former lens is known as a 'contrasty' lens. The results on print might well look better. However, this type of characteristic can be relfected in Photodo-type MTF charts.

Unless you have detailed information on each lens under consideration, it's difficult to pinpoint what's actually causing those differences, unless you are knowledgeable and experienced on such matters, which I don't claim to be, but I do know something.

Also, when you claim such differences cannot be corrected in Photoshop, one has to ask, cannot be corrected by whom? Photoshop to me has always seemd to offer the possibility of correcting for almost everything, if you have the skill, except creating 'real' detail that was never captured in the first instance.

I'd like to be more adept at photoshop manipulation, but I'm an old codger who got into this activity (the computer aspect) a bit late in life.  
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John Camp
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« Reply #44 on: April 17, 2008, 01:15:20 AM »
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I thought about getting Zeiss ZF lenses for my D3/D300. Three or four lenses would give me great range over the two bodies, and they're not as expensive as you would expect. I've hesitated because the reviews I've seen suggest that they're not much better, and sometimes not as good, as the Nikon AF equivalents. I don't believe you could pick out one or the other from a group of photos, although you might be able to see some differences in side-by-side comparisons. Sean Reid discusses some of this on his excellent website; it's not that the Zeisses are bad, it's just that they're not significantly better.

The OP suggests that Sony will have established itself as a major pro alternative by the end of the year. I have to disagree. If Sony works hard at it, perhaps by the end of the next decade.

Why would a pro (or a budding pro) choose an alternative with a much smaller system, unless (and this is the big unknown) the price was so much radically lower that it made up for the other deficits? I don't know Canon (except that it's a good system) but in Nikon, for example, there's an extremely well-developed, very subtle flash system; both Canon and Nikon have extremely well-developed shift lenses; Nikon, like Pentax, has a huge inventory of affordable heritage lenses which provide very different qualities to photographs -- not sharpness, but different drawings; if you're at a big event, with a Canon or Nikon system, there's always a possibility of borrowing a lens or two if you have an equipment problem. Not so easy if you're the only guy there with a Sony. Because of this, if I were a budding pro, I'd simply go with the established systems (except for the possibility of a radically lower price.) You really can't go wrong with Canon or Nikon - why mess with Sony?

I say this not so much because I'm a Nikon guy, but because I bought into the Kodak DSLRs -- they were expensive cameras backed by the biggest name in photography, and they are now gone. That thought is always tucked away in the back of my head.

JC
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BJL
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« Reply #45 on: April 17, 2008, 11:01:01 AM »
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Because of this, if I were a budding pro, I'd simply go with the established systems (except for the possibility of a radically lower price.) You really can't go wrong with Canon or Nikon - why mess with Sony?
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"Why not Canon or Nikon?" is indeed the question that all other SLR systems need to answer with many potential customers, with the SLR market share gap between those two and everyone else actually growing recently. (In 2007, #2 Nikon moving up sharply in market share to about 40% while the next two systems, Olympus/Panasonic and Sony, stayed about the same at around 6% each.)

The only good sort of answer I can think of is offering something distinctly different from current and likely near future offerings of the big two, not trying to offer "exactly the same but better/cheaper". Sony seems to be planning on offering a different combination of resolution (24MP) and price (under $3,000-4,000?), not even close to being matched by current Canon, Nikon or medium format options, and suited to "advanced amateur/pro" markets other than pro sports or journalism.

However, pixel count leads tend to be short-lived: the big two have the ability to compete there if they wish to. Based on details extracted from recent Nikon D3 firmware, a 24MP D3X is likely soon (probably in a higher price range than the Sony though), Nikon almost certainly has the option of using Sony's 24MP sensor in an "advanced amateur/pro" FX model, and Canon could easily be working on a replacement for the 5D that matches up with the Sony flagship (actually I am guessing 22MP, $3,000-3,500: close enough.)
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sojournerphoto
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« Reply #46 on: April 17, 2008, 11:46:40 AM »
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Canon could easily be working on a replacement for the 5D that matches up with the Sony flagship (actually I am guessing 22MP, $3,000-3,500: close enough.)
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That of course is the BIG question:)

I'll get me coat now
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douglasf13
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« Reply #47 on: April 17, 2008, 12:20:59 PM »
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That of course is the BIG question:)

I'll get me coat now
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  Granted, this is ALL speculation, but most are expecting a 5D(ii) of around 16-17MP.  That will give people a more all around type camera in the Canon, and a high resolution monster in the Sony.  I'm a "budding" studio pro, and I'm investing in the Zeiss lenses and Sony system because I'm expecting a 24MP camera for a lot less than the Nikon D3x or 1Ds III.  If the Sony is the price of the next 5D, I'll be able to get the body, and all three fullframe Zeiss lenses for the price of the 1Ds III.
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Plekto
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« Reply #48 on: April 17, 2008, 12:27:14 PM »
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That of course is the BIG question:)

I'll get me coat now
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Heh.

I commented on this in the MF area a while back.  That Sony and others will eventually, and likely within five years, have consumer cameras with essentially MF sensors in them.   $3000 for such a camera that makes a 20-25MP digital back essentially moot will be a great thing.   They have been charging insane prices for nearly two decades for digital backs.  Of course the new digital backs will suddenly jump to 40+MP, but since you don't really need more than 25MP or so for most MF stuff...

Sony's exactly the company to break into that market at affordable prices.(though Canon might beat them to it.  I suspect the next major SLR they come out with will be ~30MP.)
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sojournerphoto
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« Reply #49 on: April 17, 2008, 03:15:42 PM »
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Heh.

I commented on this in the MF area a while back.  That Sony and others will eventually, and likely within five years, have consumer cameras with essentially MF sensors in them.   $3000 for such a camera that makes a 20-25MP digital back essentially moot will be a great thing.   They have been charging insane prices for nearly two decades for digital backs.  Of course the new digital backs will suddenly jump to 40+MP, but since you don't really need more than 25MP or so for most MF stuff...

Sony's exactly the company to break into that market at affordable prices.(though Canon might beat them to it.  I suspect the next major SLR they come out with will be ~30MP.)
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Away from the original topic, but certainly Sony's entry will push things along a bit, it will be interesting to see how things develop. Bigger pixel counts will mean that you only benefit from all the lenses potential resolution at increasingly large apertures (already the 1Ds3 is revealing diffraction by about f8 up), however, perhaps that will free us up in our approach to selecting aperture and we will see more shot at f16 to f22 again!! If it proves feasible to retain 5D like (or better) per pixel s/n ratios then I'm delighted to have more resolution from the sensor. It may even be beneficial to buy some more lenses, though the current ones won't get any worse (although actually, the 1Ds3 has made me consider the zeiss 100mm macro as well as the 35 f2)

Mike
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #50 on: April 22, 2008, 12:40:52 AM »
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Hi,

Depends on what you mean by "pro". Hasselblad is definitely a "pro" camera although you won't see millions of photographers at the Olympic Games with H3D-s, nor will Hasselblad probably have a service center at the games.

I don't think that Sony is focusing on the professional news/sports market. There are lot of other areas for selling high quality equipment. Studio photographers, landscape photographers and wealthy amateurs more interested in MTFs than pictures, just to mention some.

The Zeiss lenses may be designed by Carl-Zeiss but they are made by Sony in Japan. Some of the lenses are old designs, like the 85/1.4. The 135/1.8 is a new design with two ED-elements and is supposed to be a very good lens.

There are some positive reports about the new 24-70/2.8 but I think the final judgement as still out.

Sony probably tries to build an adequate lens program for the A900. I guess they will have like:

16-35/2.8
24-70/2.8
70-200/2.8
300/2.8
400/4.5 (reborn?)

And possibly some more fixed focals.

Erik


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I thought about getting Zeiss ZF lenses for my D3/D300. Three or four lenses would give me great range over the two bodies, and they're not as expensive as you would expect. I've hesitated because the reviews I've seen suggest that they're not much better, and sometimes not as good, as the Nikon AF equivalents. I don't believe you could pick out one or the other from a group of photos, although you might be able to see some differences in side-by-side comparisons. Sean Reid discusses some of this on his excellent website; it's not that the Zeisses are bad, it's just that they're not significantly better.

The OP suggests that Sony will have established itself as a major pro alternative by the end of the year. I have to disagree. If Sony works hard at it, perhaps by the end of the next decade.

Why would a pro (or a budding pro) choose an alternative with a much smaller system, unless (and this is the big unknown) the price was so much radically lower that it made up for the other deficits? I don't know Canon (except that it's a good system) but in Nikon, for example, there's an extremely well-developed, very subtle flash system; both Canon and Nikon have extremely well-developed shift lenses; Nikon, like Pentax, has a huge inventory of affordable heritage lenses which provide very different qualities to photographs -- not sharpness, but different drawings; if you're at a big event, with a Canon or Nikon system, there's always a possibility of borrowing a lens or two if you have an equipment problem. Not so easy if you're the only guy there with a Sony. Because of this, if I were a budding pro, I'd simply go with the established systems (except for the possibility of a radically lower price.) You really can't go wrong with Canon or Nikon - why mess with Sony?

I say this not so much because I'm a Nikon guy, but because I bought into the Kodak DSLRs -- they were expensive cameras backed by the biggest name in photography, and they are now gone. That thought is always tucked away in the back of my head.

JC
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douglasf13
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« Reply #51 on: April 22, 2008, 06:26:54 PM »
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I wouldn't call the Zeiss ZA 85mm an "old" design.  While it is a bit more traditional than the 135mm, it has more elements/groups than any Zeiss or Minolta 85mm that I've seen.  It was a brand new lens when it arrived, and it wasn't just a rebadged Minolta like some think.
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douglasf13
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« Reply #52 on: May 01, 2008, 03:37:48 PM »
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Here is a review of the new Zeiss 24-70, FWIW:

http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct...uct/1181/cat/83
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #53 on: May 01, 2008, 08:34:29 PM »
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Thanks!

Quite impressive!

Erik

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Here is a review of the new Zeiss 24-70, FWIW:

http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct...uct/1181/cat/83
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The View
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« Reply #54 on: May 02, 2008, 03:15:12 AM »
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Sony puts noise reduction into the RAW files.

That's a big turn-off.
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« Reply #55 on: May 02, 2008, 03:35:29 AM »
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As opposed to processing out noise before it becomes a raw value?
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douglasf13
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« Reply #56 on: May 02, 2008, 01:09:09 PM »
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Sony puts noise reduction into the RAW files.

That's a big turn-off.
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  Thanks for the talking point.

  This has been talked about to death, and has gotten nowhere.  A big problem was that Adobe wasn't processing the A700 files well, but the new updates of ACR and Lightroom are much better, and the differences between the D300 and A700 are negligible.   Basically, if you want a bit more grainy detail in the high ISO, go with the Nikon D300.  If you want a little less detail, but more accurate color rendition at high ISO, go with the Sony A700.  Getting into the semantics of when and what NR ALL of these camera makers use is fruitless.

  Personally, I probably like the Nikon approach a bit more, but it is so close that it isn't enough to swing me either way.  
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The View
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« Reply #57 on: May 02, 2008, 11:44:00 PM »
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Thanks for the talking point.

  This has been talked about to death, and has gotten nowhere.  A big problem was that Adobe wasn't processing the A700 files well, but the new updates of ACR and Lightroom are much better, and the differences between the D300 and A700 are negligible.   Basically, if you want a bit more grainy detail in the high ISO, go with the Nikon D300.  If you want a little less detail, but more accurate color rendition at high ISO, go with the Sony A700.  Getting into the semantics of when and what NR ALL of these camera makers use is fruitless.

  Personally, I probably like the Nikon approach a bit more, but it is so close that it isn't enough to swing me either way.   
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I'm referring to the dpreview review.

Why do you think they are wrong?
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The View
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« Reply #58 on: May 02, 2008, 11:45:10 PM »
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If the A700 has better color rendition and detail, all the better.

I haven't heard that yet, and would be interested to know which testing you were referring to.

Can you post a link?
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The View
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« Reply #59 on: May 02, 2008, 11:48:49 PM »
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As opposed to processing out noise before it becomes a raw value?
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I'm referring to the Sony A700 review at dpreview.

They were saying that noise reduction was applied to the RAW files of the A700, and therefore making the use of any other noise reduction software difficult.

I'm just repeating what they were writing, but can't tell if they are right or wrong.

Camera tests should always be taken with a decent amount of salt when it comes to esthetics of image quality, but this would be a technical detail that can be measured.

Obviously, douglasf13 thinks it is a false statement.
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