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Author Topic: Nikon D800 - seems harder to justify Medium Format  (Read 30483 times)
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« on: April 24, 2012, 04:42:26 PM »
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Nikon D800 sells around $3000. Is it only me who thinks that it is increasingly harder to justify MF? I know it is a different look but those Nikon 50mm 1.2 manual focus lenses create some really amazing "MF like" photos....
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« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2012, 07:16:36 PM »
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To basically condense the other threads about this horrible argument:
The fact that you are comparing it to MF still is reason enough for those who need the extra power/dynamic range to stay using MF. There are niche areas of photography that require MF (ones that require a mirrorless system). If you are concerned about money and you are happy with the lenses available to small format systems..by all means sell your MF gear. Using one lens' rendition on a sensor is not enough motive to switch systems for most users.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2012, 07:22:20 PM »
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Nikon D800 sells around $3000. Is it only me who thinks that it is increasingly harder to justify MF? I know it is a different look but those Nikon 50mm 1.2 manual focus lenses create some really amazing "MF like" photos....

Besides the look, there still many reasons to prefer high end MF:
- higher pixel count in one shot,
- a more optimized thetered shooting experience,
- great support from VARs,
- a more pro looking appearance that matters to some clients,
- the satisfaction of owning the best,
- potentially still a bit more DR (to be checked).

But if 35 megapixels is enough for your applications and image quality is your concern then I would at least benchmark the D800/D800e.

Cheers,
Bernard
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Gigi
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« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2012, 08:13:31 PM »
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had a visit from a friend with a D800, with just a kit lens on it. A few first impressions:

- very impressive, very easy to use, lots of bells and whistles, could be a great "one stop camera"
- has lots of resolution , very fast previews, good high ISO

but:

- its a heavy camera
- needs a better lens (it really stunk with the stock plasticy lens. Needs good Nikon or Zeiss glass)
- suffers all the stability issues that the MFDB cameras do - with so much resolution, it calls for stability. Its hard to hold at eye level and get that. To this end, there is a Nikon PDF on tech'l tips on how to use the camera, including info on diffraction, etc.

By the time you add good lens and deal with stability, you aren't that far away from the use pattern of a MFDB solution. Lots of people will make lots of noise sbout how great this camera is, and in many ways it is, but.... in some ways, I'm not so sure. Its a great value, but operationally, it may prove to be a bit of a challenge. Not huge, but more than one might think. You can't hold it at the eye all day long. At least I can't.

Viewfinder is OK, not great. Resolution seems fantastic, video great, preview super. Tonalitiy - hard to tell. My guess is the MFDB (Leaf for example) are better.

The real fact is that a camera with this many MP requires a certain approach and technique. Once you do that, it doesn't matter what the camera is. Its a combination of the form factor and the use pattern that governs how the camera can be used. There is no way around this. So - as a replacement for a Canon, or for having lots of pixels, wonderful. But add the lens, add the weight, add the stability, and think long and hard before you abandon MFDB. The costs aren't comparable, but the use pattern is what governs. I like the flexibility of finders, of film, of rotating sensors and the better lenses (Schneiders). If one were going to a smaller form, the S2 Leica (at 10x the price!) seems better.

In short, the D800 may well be a great camera, but use of all its performance may be harder than one first thinks.

G
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Geoff
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« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2012, 08:31:39 PM »
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had a visit from a friend with a D800, with just a kit lens on it. A few first impressions:

- very impressive, very easy to use, lots of bells and whistles, could be a great "one stop camera"
- has lots of resolution , very fast previews, good high ISO

but:

- its a heavy camera

Just how many MFDB have you handled??
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« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2012, 08:54:58 PM »
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Image capture either digitally or chemically is an exercise of compressing information just as music recording is an act of compressing an orchestra into a track. It can be over vinyl, tape or electronically. Then you amplify (decompress) the small source to play the loudspeakers for the experience to come closer to the original source.

MF's bigger advantage is the big sensor. Pixels are secondary. If you take a given scene (life-size) and convert it (compress it) to 41X54mm to produce a capture, you will always get better quality information about the image than compressing that scene down to 24X36mm.

Taking a picture with a high megapixel but small sensor camera is analog to listening to mp3. You can't compress so much the information without losing important bits that make the music sound natural. It becomes piercing in the high frequencies and the lows sound somehow muffled.

Digital medium format and large chunks of film will always look better than megazillion pixels in "miniature" cameras.

Imho
Eduardo


  
Besides the look, there still many reasons to prefer high end MF:
- higher pixel count in one shot,
- a more optimized thetered shooting experience,
- great support from VARs,
- a more pro looking appearance that matters to some clients,
- the satisfaction of owning the best,
- potentially still a bit more DR (to be checked).

But if 35 megapixels is enough for your applications and image quality is your concern then I would at least benchmark the D800/D800e.

Cheers,
Bernard

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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2012, 10:17:40 PM »
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MF's bigger advantage is the big sensor. Pixels are secondary. If you take a given scene (life-size) and convert it (compress it) to 41X54mm to produce a capture, you will always get better quality information about the image than compressing that scene down to 24X36mm.

Taking a picture with a high megapixel but small sensor camera is analog to listening to mp3. You can't compress so much the information without losing important bits that make the music sound natural. It becomes piercing in the high frequencies and the lows sound somehow muffled.

Digital medium format and large chunks of film will always look better than megazillion pixels in "miniature" cameras.

Hum... do you have any factual data (measurements) to back up these high level theoretical claims?

We have seen again and again that sensor technology has a much larger impact on sensor performance than basic physics:
- There can be 2 stops DR gap between sensors of the same size/generation (5DIII vs D800),
- A small 4/3 sensor like that of the Olympus OM-D is superior accross the board to the full size sensor of the 1Ds,
- ...

So in the end, size is just one characteristic with the potential to impact performance, but the only thing that really matters is measured performance.

Cheers,
Bernard
« Last Edit: April 24, 2012, 11:17:30 PM by BernardLanguillier » Logged

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eronald
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« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2012, 10:33:08 PM »
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I agree with everything you say, except the heavy. To most of us here it would feel like a toy; and indeed with a 50/1.8 plastic fantastic you can drop it into a photovest pocket. These cheap series prime lenses from Nikon or Canon are called plastic fantastics because they cost nothing by MF standards, feel like cardboard, and have excellent optics, somehow. Of course Zeiss optics are deservedly respected, but the older among us may prefer lighter lenses with the benefit of AF.

The D800 I tried was incapable of accurate portrait eye focus, yet another reason why Phase/Mamiya users will feel right at home. Before I get yelled at by people with Nikon experience, let me state that I now use a D4 every day, and this focuses very well indeed.

My instinctive dislike of the D800 comes from my unpleasant feeling about its AF, and the horrible finder. Alright, the "ok, but not great" finder. I am sure there is nothing the matter with the files.

Edmund

had a visit from a friend with a D800, with just a kit lens on it. A few first impressions:

- very impressive, very easy to use, lots of bells and whistles, could be a great "one stop camera"
- has lots of resolution , very fast previews, good high ISO

but:

- its a heavy camera
- needs a better lens (it really stunk with the stock plasticy lens. Needs good Nikon or Zeiss glass)
- suffers all the stability issues that the MFDB cameras do - with so much resolution, it calls for stability. Its hard to hold at eye level and get that. To this end, there is a Nikon PDF on tech'l tips on how to use the camera, including info on diffraction, etc.

By the time you add good lens and deal with stability, you aren't that far away from the use pattern of a MFDB solution. Lots of people will make lots of noise sbout how great this camera is, and in many ways it is, but.... in some ways, I'm not so sure. Its a great value, but operationally, it may prove to be a bit of a challenge. Not huge, but more than one might think. You can't hold it at the eye all day long. At least I can't.

Viewfinder is OK, not great. Resolution seems fantastic, video great, preview super. Tonalitiy - hard to tell. My guess is the MFDB (Leaf for example) are better.

The real fact is that a camera with this many MP requires a certain approach and technique. Once you do that, it doesn't matter what the camera is. Its a combination of the form factor and the use pattern that governs how the camera can be used. There is no way around this. So - as a replacement for a Canon, or for having lots of pixels, wonderful. But add the lens, add the weight, add the stability, and think long and hard before you abandon MFDB. The costs aren't comparable, but the use pattern is what governs. I like the flexibility of finders, of film, of rotating sensors and the better lenses (Schneiders). If one were going to a smaller form, the S2 Leica (at 10x the price!) seems better.

In short, the D800 may well be a great camera, but use of all its performance may be harder than one first thinks.

G
« Last Edit: April 24, 2012, 10:44:45 PM by eronald » Logged
Gigi
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« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2012, 10:37:57 PM »
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Just how many MFDB have you handled??

Not sure what is meant here, but owned two, handled most of them. Prefer WLF for the reasons above. Cameras like the Contax have the same issues (perhaps that is what you meant).

to Eronald: +1.
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Geoff
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« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2012, 11:48:42 PM »
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Just how many MFDB have you handled??

Your comment was ill founded and contributes nothing to the thread unlike Geoff's useful comparison.  I suspect the truth is you're the one here who hasn't shot MFDB - at least it appears so from your images which all have that 3::2 DSLR crop look to them.     Actually that's one reason I prefer the Medium formats cameras.   I find the 3:2 crop very restrictive.   
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eronald
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« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2012, 12:31:58 AM »
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I find the 3:2 crop very restrictive.  

I think what we really need this fine morning is a format flame war.
This does have the advantage of my misplaced sense of humor (maybe I left it in my other handbag?)
I should like to champion the square format; after all on the MF forum this puts me on the side of orthodoxy.

Edmund
« Last Edit: April 25, 2012, 12:34:06 AM by eronald » Logged
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« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2012, 12:40:15 AM »
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I think what we really need this fine morning is a format flame war.
This does have the advantage of my misplaced sense of humor (maybe I left it in my other handbag?)
I should like to champion the square format; after all on the MF forum this puts me on the side of orthodoxy.

I don't think any of those come close to a real long and narrow 3:1 panoramic format.

Cheers,
Bernard
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« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2012, 12:44:08 AM »
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Your comment was ill founded and contributes nothing to the thread unlike Geoff's useful comparison.  I suspect the truth is you're the one here who hasn't shot MFDB - at least it appears so from your images which all have that 3::2 DSLR crop look to them.     Actually that's one reason I prefer the Medium formats cameras.   I find the 3:2 crop very restrictive.   

To be fair, John's comment made a lot of sense, and was perfectly well founded.

When evaluating the pros and cons of a D800 against a MFDB solution (which was the precise context of the discussion), to bring up the weight of the D800 as a negative (indeed the first negative point mentioned) is an odd thing to do.

Although it should be stressed that it's not the bodies themselves so much, more the addition of the back, and the heavier lenses:

645DF: 1kg.
80mm AF: 0.45kg
Digital back: .7kg (roughly?)

D800: 0.9kg
50mm f/1.8: 0.15kg

Let's be honest here though. Comparing DSLR bodies with MFDB bodies such as the Phase One DF is a bit of a joke really. The DSLR's are years ahead with regards functionality and usability for the VAST majority of users.

BTW - that's coming from someone who owns a 1D Mk IV and the Phase One AF, and to be honest - I couldn't care less about the crappy functionality of the AF in comparison to the 1D. As long as I can stick great manual lenses on the front of it, and a great back on the back of it, all I really care about is framing the shot and picking the right shutter speed.

Regards,

Gerald

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« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2012, 01:10:03 AM »
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When I wrote ill founded, my point may have been clearer to those focused only on gear if I had used the phrase "ill placed" as Geoff knows MF cameras.   I was not referring to weight but to the flippant remark. 

Now go back to the endless DSLR vs MFDB debate mostly driven by people who don't shoot MF.....

Besides number of pixesl,  DR and other specs there are many differences that could cause a person to choose one format or the other.   My solution has always been to have both.
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« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2012, 02:15:36 AM »
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Maybe the D900 will have a swivel screen like the D5100...it works quite well as a WLF with LV...

...and NO it doesn't come anywhere close to looking through the AFi's WLF or the RZ's WLF, and YES I know it costs just a bit more than 2Kgs of sugar...
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« Reply #15 on: April 25, 2012, 02:44:39 AM »
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...and NO it doesn't come anywhere close to looking through the AFi's WLF or the RZ's WLF, and YES I know it costs just a bit more than 2Kgs of sugar...

In case you have used one, how do you feel about the image quality?

Cheers,
Bernard
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« Reply #16 on: April 25, 2012, 03:15:01 AM »
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Of an RZ? Absolutely amazing!

In case you have used one, how do you feel about the image quality?

Cheers,
Bernard

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« Reply #17 on: April 25, 2012, 03:16:53 AM »
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In case you have used one, how do you feel about the image quality?

Cheers,
Bernard


The D5100? It's an excellent holiday/ family camera...Image quality is not bad, better than the D5000 I had before especially at high iso although not having a super zoom that is good at all focal-lengths & apertures is a major hindrance...

If I compare it to a 10 yr old Leaf Valeo 11 (11MP, 24x36mm Dalsa sensor) then I think the Valeo is better in terms of sharpness, detail, colour and DR (at low iso, obviously...). Especially sharpness and colour. Note that this is not a side-by-side comparison, this is just an observation from looking at some old files

I haven't tried the D800 yet (been busy with the Credo launch...) other than some quick snaps with horrible lighting in a trade event so I'd rather not comment until I've had more experience with it.
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« Reply #18 on: April 25, 2012, 03:36:24 AM »
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Is the D800 as good as a GFH2 in low light conditions?

For web work I sometimes use the 15Mpx GH2... and I have a set of Nikon lenses... so, in a few months' time I might pick up a D800 for a grand or so?
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« Reply #19 on: April 25, 2012, 04:56:49 AM »
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A H1, Digital Back and 50-110mm lens. That's heavy.
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