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Author Topic: Is high iso D700 enough? Or need D3s?  (Read 12868 times)
ivokwee
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« on: August 08, 2010, 10:57:23 AM »
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I know the Nikon D3s is about 1-2 stops better, but I wonder how many D700 owners feel the high ISO is really enough in practice. Are there many occasions that you need the high ISO as the D3s? Just wonder if the extra headroom is worth the costs. Thanks.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2010, 10:57:53 AM by ivokwee » Logged
Chairman Bill
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« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2010, 11:55:45 AM »
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The D700 is quite remarkable in terms of low-light photographic ability. If you want to shoot black cats in coal cellars, get a D3s. For everything else there's the D700. I suppose you simply need to ask yourself, how often do you need that extra one or two stops? Now, if I was in the market for either a D3 or D3s ...
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JohnBrew
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« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2010, 03:42:45 PM »
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Very happy with my D700 and at the moment I see no reason to need a higher ISO than what the D700 provides.
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raysem
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« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2010, 04:05:55 PM »
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The D700 (or at least my sample) works VERY well up to ISO 3200, and is quite manageable (with good NR software) at ISO 6400.

The question remains - do you need to get those extra 1-2 stops?

I can't remember the last time I shot anything above ISO 800 - but then I mostly do landscapes and studio work (with controlled lighting).

I suggest renting both units for a day and compare for yourself.....
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2010, 04:25:04 PM »
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Quote from: ivokwee
I know the Nikon D3s is about 1-2 stops better, but I wonder how many D700 owners feel the high ISO is really enough in practice. Are there many occasions that you need the high ISO as the D3s? Just wonder if the extra headroom is worth the costs. Thanks.

The biggest difference is probably more in terms of form factor. Depending on your application and preferences the additional bulk of the D3s could be either a potential deal breaker or a godsend. If you have not had the chance to do so yet, I would suggest you spend time playing with both cameras and understand how they feel in your hand.

As far as high ISO goas, the gap is very significant for sports shooters and PJ work, probably irrelevant for most other applications. Depending on what camera you are coming from, the D700 will probably feel like a big improvement while the D3s will feel like pure magic.

Cheers,
Bernard
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BobFisher
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« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2010, 05:44:24 PM »
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Having moved fairly recently from Canon to Nikon and shooting with the D700, the higher ISO capability of the Nikon is really good.  I did some night shooting recently with the D700 at ISO 1000 (I know, not all that high) and there is zero noise in the images.  None.  With my previous 5D or 40D, while the shots would have been good, there still would have been noise present.  Based on what I've seen so far, I'd have no problem using the D700 up to ISO 3200.  I've shot sports in fairly dark arenas with both the 5D and 40D at ISO 1600 so needing to go beyond 3200 would probably be a pretty rare circumstance unless you were a PJ doing a lot of low light/night work.
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Ray
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« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2010, 11:34:00 PM »
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Quote from: ivokwee
I know the Nikon D3s is about 1-2 stops better, but I wonder how many D700 owners feel the high ISO is really enough in practice. Are there many occasions that you need the high ISO as the D3s? Just wonder if the extra headroom is worth the costs. Thanks.

The advantage is probably closer to one stop than two. However, any improvement in high-ISO performance is welcome. The question for most would be, 'does the additional cost of the D3s justify the benefits?' There is also the additional weight to consider; about another 300gms at least.

For the amateur who likes to take shots of anything that interests him, whatever the lighting conditions, and who doesn't have available a truck-load of lighting equipment to create his owns conditions, and sometimes may not even have a tripod, high-ISO performance is a God-send.

Bear in mind, it's not just noise that is the issue but resolution. A D3s shot at ISO 6400 should be at least as good in every respect as a D700 shot at ISO 3200, and possibly slightly better (assuming same scene, same lighting and same lens).

I rarely use ISO 6400 with my D700, not because I rarely need it, but because image degradation becomes too obvious at that ISO setting.

However, if one examines the conditions where one is likely to need to use a very high ISO for best image quality, it will generally be in situations where a fast shutter speed is required to freeze camera or subject movement, or the lighting is just plain poor in situations where flash is not appropriate (or not allowed) and/or tripod is not available or not allowed, or when a good DoF is required which prohibits the use of a wide aperture.

With the exception of the requirement to freeze subject movement, a good lens with a good image stabilisation system will do the trick.

The D3s costs a lot more than the Nikkor 14-24/2.8, yet such a lens with a VR II image stabilisation system (boasting up to 4 stops advantage - call it a certain 2 stops and a likely 3) would be far more useful with the D700 than the switch to the very expensive D3s. Of course, the combination of the D3s with a VR version of the the Nikkor 14-24 would be something to drool over, provided there was no compromise in ultimate lens images quality, which possibly would be the case with the current state of technology.

I've recently been reading reviews of the Nikkor 16-35/F4 which claims to be the first wide angle lens with image stabilisation. I'm searching for another lens for my D700, but refuse to move backwards. What my D700/14-24 combination cannot do, my Canon gear can do.

I'm disappointed in the ultimate MTF 50% results for this lens, compared with the 14-24. This lens quality issue can affect the usefulness of image stabilisations, but one needs lots of comparison images taken under the  same conditions to determine how significant this factor may be.

For example, I notice from Photozone's tests of these two lenses, that the 16-35 VR at F8 and 16mm has worse resolution outcomes, across the entire image, from corner to corner, than the 14-24 at F2.8. At 16mm the 14-24 would be even better.

Now F8 certainly provides a more extensive DoF than F2.8, and if DoF was a major issue, the 16-35 VR would be the choice within its FL range, in poor lighting conditions.

However, if I were photographing a frescoe in a church, where flash and tripod is generally not allowed, I would have to consider whether the 16-35 VR used at ISO 200 and F5.6 or F8 (at a slow shutter speed, or F2.8 at an unnecessarily high shutter speed), produced better results than the 14-24 at F2.8 and ISO 200. You get my drift?

I'll say that Nikon have done a marvelous job in raising high-ISO standards in the DSLR. I just wish they would develop some high quality, portable, VR lenses for the FX format. As Bernard says, the money is buried in the back yard. I'd really like to buy another Nikkor lens to comlement the qualities of the D700 body.
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MarkL
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« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2010, 06:44:14 AM »
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As a wedding shooter the D700 was a game changer but another 1-2 stops is pretty significant would be very welcome in dark churches and dark interiors.
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ivokwee
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« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2010, 01:27:11 PM »
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Thanks all for the great responses. But still it's a tough choice. Leaning towards the D700 now. Just to inform, i have currently the D2x and I really like the large body. But true, I probably seldom go beyond 3200. Thanks again.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2010, 01:27:39 PM by ivokwee » Logged
frugal
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« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2010, 07:13:18 PM »
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Thanks all for the great responses. But still it's a tough choice. Leaning towards the D700 now. Just to inform, i have currently the D2x and I really like the large body. But true, I probably seldom go beyond 3200. Thanks again.

I regularly shoot with my D700 at 12,500 and it's grainy but compared to film it's phenomenal. On a couple of times I've had to go up to 25,000 and then it's definitely noisier but tameable. Maybe it's because I've shot film until very recently but I don't find the noise all that bad and I find the pattern to be very "grain like" so it's not offensive to my eye.

Haven't worked with the D3s so I can't comment on how much better it may (or may not) be at 3200, 3200 on the D700 is pretty damn good.

If you like the form factor of the bigger body and budget is a concern then maybe try the D700 with the battery grip.
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trogon
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« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2010, 10:09:59 PM »
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Unless you're shooting indoor concerts or doing photojournalism work, I doubt you'll get much benefit from the D3s over the D700. After heavily using the D700 for over a year I bought a D3s for PJ work and I have to say the added ISO capabilities are stunning. If not for that, however, I would have been perfectly blown away by the D700. For landscape photography or general all-around work, I don't need ISO 12,800--but with the D3s, when I do I have it and there's virtually no noise. Even at 25,000 ISO the noise is easily rectified.
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jankeirse
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« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2010, 01:06:09 PM »
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A couple of things to consider (I own 2 D700 body's, shooting at least 30% of my work at ISO3200, but no D3s) :
- There is noise at ISO3200, not much but it's there. Without noise reduction this is visible in prints as small als 20x30cm. If that is a problem or not depends on your work (it is not for me, but depending on what you shoot it may be for you.)
- The dynamic range at higher iso' s (above +/-2000) is significantly reduced. You have to make sure your exposure is spot on or you can get into problems. Especially with very fast changing light (concerts for example) this can be a little problem. Also, in scenes with backlight (or even worse, light sources in the frame) that still require higher iso's every stop you can get can be worthwhile. Even when shooting at low iso's the difference in dr you get in a RAW file may be worthwhile. There are people shooting medium format digital backs for the extra dynamic range alone.
- I really wish I had 2 card slots in my camera. I had 1 card that suddenly gave me an error once in the middle of a shoot. I was able to recover all photographs, but the card could not be written to anymore. Who tells me I will not one day have a card I can no longer read either? (I am using original cards from a respected brand, not cheap nobrand -you may get what you pay for- cards.)
- Another thing to consider is the 100% viewfinder.

For me all the above still does not justify the extra price the D3s implies, but I would not be surprised if any of those points (especially the 3th point) does for anyone else.
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pixjohn
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« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2010, 02:14:12 PM »
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I would wait until after PMA next month to see if anything new is coming out. I also have a D700. I mainly use it for snap shot,s since I shoot MFD but its a great camera.
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LKaven
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« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2010, 02:45:08 PM »
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It is not a matter of "how many stops" because there are qualitative differences.

I've had both D3 and D3s.  The D3/D700 has a problem with blooming around blown highlights that becomes visible as a smear across the frame horizontally, especially when dark regions surround the blown highlights.  For a certain narrow class of applications (eg, the ones I needed it for), this was a problem.  The D3s has no such problem. 

The D3/D700 excels in low light when the scene is evenly lighted, as is the case in sports shooting where the arena is lighted evenly, but the need for a high shutter speed forces the use of a high ISO setting.  It is a great sports camera.

The D3s excels in low light situations without limits.  At ISO 6400/12,800 it has surprisingly deep blacks and dynamic range, yielding a full tonal palette and satisfying shadow response in challenging situations.  Pattern noise is vanishingly low.  Below ISO 3200, however, you will scarcely notice any difference between the two.

For basement club shooting, the D3s made a crucial difference over the D3, enough to justify the switch for me.  Now I can do things like frame-busting performance shots at 180mm, f/2.8, 1/160th sec at ISO 12,800.  That's a kind of "critical mass" capability for me.
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kpmedia
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« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2010, 10:25:28 PM »
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I was shooting a D3 at 6400 regularly in dark gyms for about 2-3 years, and images were clear and colorful. What little noise crept into the image was easily filtered out with the color noise slider in Adobe Camera Raw. The D700 is the same.

I could push it to about 10,000 ISO and it still looked better than ISO 3200 on the D200. Maybe about the same as ISO 1600.

I'd suggest that "enough" depends on where you are.

I want a D3s for video. If I did not need video, I'd just buy a D700 and call it good.
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Long time Nikon user. Currently using D200 + D3s for sports photography.
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