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Author Topic: What's better, High ISO or High Resolution  (Read 2055 times)
donkittle
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« on: March 28, 2011, 03:38:20 PM »
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I shoot a combination of people (families and portraits), concerts, landscape and birds and currently own a D700 and a D300S.  I bought the D300S to give me extra reach when shooting birds and animals.  What I find, however, is that in 'low light' (ie, the golden hour or on an overcast day), the photos from the D300S are less than stellar.  It seems to be that the photos loose dynamic range as ISO increases, and when you add in the noise they look flat and lacking in detail.  Photos taken a moment later with the D700 look much better (more vivid and detailed).

I'm thinking about picking up either a D3X or a D3S.  I know for portraiture the D3X would be fantastic, but I'm not sure I'd be happy with using it in 'lower light'.  The D3S is stellar at high ISO and I get the feeling that'll lead to more vivid, more details photos of animals in lower light.

Will that actually be the case (that the high ISO performance of the D3S would lead to more pleasing images than even the D3X at ISOs of 800-3200)?

I'd want at least one of my bodies to shoot video (ya, I know what you are going to say, but I do Smiley ) so the D3X/D700 combo isn't appealing to me.

Thanks, Don
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~ Don in Toronto
Rob C
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« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2011, 05:09:16 PM »
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Get two D700 bodies and let video live with the videographers.

Rob C
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RobSaecker
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« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2011, 08:22:36 PM »
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D7000. Same low light performance as the D3s, same reach as the D300.

OTOH, given the current status of Nikon's facilities in Japan, if you're serious about buying a pro body you might not want to wait too long. There's no telling when production is likely to resume.
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Rob
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Ray
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« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2011, 12:29:46 AM »
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There's no doubt that the D3s is the king of low light performance, producing better DR and lower noise at high ISO than either the D3X or D7000.

However, at base ISO both the D3X and D7000 produce a substantially wider dynamic range than the D3s at normalised print sizes. That means that the deepest shadows will be substantially cleaner, but not necessarily the mid-tones.

At 18% grey, around the tonality of correctly exposed skin tones, the D3s should produce a smoother result than the D7000, even at base ISO.

At ISO 3200 and above there would be no contest between the D7000 and the D3s, whether in terms of DR or SNR. The D3s should have substantially better DR (about 1.67 stops better), noticeably smoother tonality, and would probably be sharper as a result.

The D3s should even have substantially better DR (at ISO 3200) than the D3X, although only marginally better SNR at 18% grey.
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stamper
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« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2011, 02:41:24 AM »
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When you compare the d300s with the d700 are you using the same lens? Have tried using a tripod for the low light? You should look at all your options. How much ISO are you actually using? You maybe using more than you need. A careful selection of your aperture and shutter speeds may help. Lastly are you using auto? Using aperture priority and picking a larger aperture will mean less ISO. ISO isn't a magic bullet, it is a last resort when all else has been considered. Cool
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Rob C
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« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2011, 03:52:52 AM »
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When you compare the d300s with the d700 are you using the same lens? Have tried using a tripod for the low light? You should look at all your options. How much ISO are you actually using? You maybe using more than you need. A careful selection of your aperture and shutter speeds may help. Lastly are you using auto? Using aperture priority and picking a larger aperture will mean less ISO. ISO isn't a magic bullet, it is a last resort when all else has been considered. Cool


The man's right: that's why I have to use it on my music shots where I'm already shooting wide open and at the slowest shutter speed that I dare. It becomes the last chance to make an image, any image!

Rob C
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donkittle
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« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2011, 09:57:03 AM »
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Thanks everyone!

Ray, great into - thanks!

Stamper, for animals/birds I'm using both bodies with Sigma's 500 f/4.5 on a gitzo tripod and Wimberly head.  For concerts I use either the 70-200mm or Sigma's 85.  For moving animals I try to shoot at 1/500th or better, flying birds 1/1250th and concerts 1/125 or 1/160th.  Most times I find myself shooting at ISO 1250 (cloudy or early morning) to 3200 (concerts) to maintain those shutter speeds.  Well, swimming birds at 1/500th I can get 'clean' shots of but the ISO quickly creeps up in other situations.

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~ Don in Toronto
stamper
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« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2011, 10:18:59 AM »
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You seem to have the technical side of things nailed down. You don't state if you are a Photoshop, or similar program, user. You - imo - need to have a good knowledge of a program to make up the deficiencies  of the camera. Noise reduction and boosting contrast, saturation etc. Are you using a fixed ISO? Try auto ISO which means that only the least amount of ISO is added instead of a fixed amount. I have the d700 and the d300 but not the D3X or the D3S so I can't say if they are better.
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donkittle
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« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2011, 01:57:24 PM »
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I try to stay in Lightroom as much as possible.  I tweak colors and contrast there, but have also been trying to use it's noise reduction which seems to not do that great of a job.  I'm going to try out Noiseware and see if that helps...

I generally shoot in 'manual' with auto-iso (gotta love Nikon Smiley ) or shoot in aperture priority with a fixed ISO and floating shutterspeed.  If I'm in full daylight I'll shoot in A with auto ISO.

My preferred store up here is only allowed to sell D3S or D3X bodies to NPS members right now so it looks like I'll have to live with my existing setup.  While the D7000 looks like an interesting option, I'd rather not buy different sized memory cards, and have to adjust to a smaller body/buffer.  I'll just wait for the pro bodies to return to their 'normal' availability...

Thanks for your advise all!
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~ Don in Toronto
Ray
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« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2011, 10:05:28 PM »
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Of course, there is another issue that's sometimes overlooked when comparing a full frame camera like the D3s with a cropped format like the D7000, and that relates to DoF.

There's no doubt that the larger sensor compared at a specific aperture, shutter speed and ISO will collect more light and as a consequence will tend to produce less noise and a smoother tonality than the smaller sensor. This is something that MFDB owners are very much aware of.

However, if one chooses a specific shutter speed necessary to freeze motion, and a specific aperture for a desired DoF, say F11 on full frame to ensure that both the foreground and background are in reasonable focus, the aperture setting on the cropped format camera can be at least one stop wider and the ISO setting one stop lower.

Instead of a 200th at F11 and ISO 800 on the D3s, we would need a 200th at F8 and ISO 400 on the D7000. So, when comparing noise and DR from the two cameras, it makes sense to compare the D3s at ISO 800 with the D7000 at ISO 400, for example.

When we do this, comparing ISO 800 on the D3s with ISO 400 on the D7000, we see that the D3s has no DR advantage whatsoever in these circumstances. In fact, the D7000 still retains a marginal 1/3rd stop DR advantage.

However, in these circumstances the D3s still has marginally lower noise at 18% grey, marginally better tonal range and marginally better color sensitivity. But one wonders how noticeable this would be in practice.

Nevertheless, it's clear that above ISO 800 the D3s streaks ahead and its DR advantage over the D7000 becomes more obvious, even when compared with the D7000 at one stop lower ISO.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2011, 11:31:09 PM »
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Hi,

Two comments:

1) Lloyd Chambers investigated this toughly on his DAP site (it's a pay site), what he came up with was essentially that D3X trounced the D3 at reasonable ISOs. D700 performs similar to D3, I think, while D3s is improved.

2) If a 24 MP Image is downsampled to 12 MP noise will also be reduced.

You could also check DxO-mark:

http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Camera-Sensor/Compare/Compare-sensors/(appareil1)/485|0/(appareil2)/628|0/(appareil3)/441|0/(onglet)/0/(brand)/Nikon/(brand2)/Nikon/(brand3)/Nikon

Best regards
Erik




I shoot a combination of people (families and portraits), concerts, landscape and birds and currently own a D700 and a D300S.  I bought the D300S to give me extra reach when shooting birds and animals.  What I find, however, is that in 'low light' (ie, the golden hour or on an overcast day), the photos from the D300S are less than stellar.  It seems to be that the photos loose dynamic range as ISO increases, and when you add in the noise they look flat and lacking in detail.  Photos taken a moment later with the D700 look much better (more vivid and detailed).

I'm thinking about picking up either a D3X or a D3S.  I know for portraiture the D3X would be fantastic, but I'm not sure I'd be happy with using it in 'lower light'.  The D3S is stellar at high ISO and I get the feeling that'll lead to more vivid, more details photos of animals in lower light.

Will that actually be the case (that the high ISO performance of the D3S would lead to more pleasing images than even the D3X at ISOs of 800-3200)?

I'd want at least one of my bodies to shoot video (ya, I know what you are going to say, but I do Smiley ) so the D3X/D700 combo isn't appealing to me.

Thanks, Don

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