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Author Topic: An Embarrassment of Riches  (Read 10116 times)
ndevlin
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« Reply #40 on: May 02, 2012, 04:29:34 PM »
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Mark says that the the D800/800e is "a game changer", but I have to disagree. .. Useful, yes, desirable, yes but to call it a game changer smacks of overworked hyperbole.

Wile Mark is prone to over worked hyperbole, as opposed to mere hyperbole  Wink,  I have to come to his defense on the 'game changer' issue.  It is in the same league as the original 1Ds in its potential for impact on the industry.

Photographically, it delivers IQ performance which leaves very little reason to purchase medium format, while simultaneously performing at gob-smacking ISOs, all with dead-on autofocus.

Economically, it obviates the high-end crop-dslrs as 'pro-sumer' cameras. Most people with the money for serious glass and a serious interest in photography will find little appeal in a $1500-1800 APS-C camera when a D800 can be had for $3K.

It's not fan-boy talk to say this camera will likely be looked-back on as a real milestone in the digital camera industry.

- N.
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« Reply #41 on: May 02, 2012, 04:47:16 PM »
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Regarding print size and comparison to paintings, it is worth noting that the great Dutch master Vermeer painted on small canvases as opposed to really big.  I have an Ansel Adams Yosemite special edition print (Merced River in Autumn) that is 8x10 and it's magnificent. 
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BJL
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« Reply #42 on: May 02, 2012, 05:33:44 PM »
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John,
There is one very obvious difference between making a painting and making a photographic print: the resolution given by paint brushes and by the manual dexterity of most painters is garbage by photographic standards. It is clearly easier for a painter to work with brush and line widths of several mm or more (miniaturists are a special case, requiring far more difficult technique).

To be generous, most painters naturally operate at the equivalent of 1mm or greater line width, and with that, the detail of even a very modest 2MP, 1600x1200 image requires 1600x1200mm, or about 64x38 inches. I leave it to others to work out how large a canvas would need to be in order to render the detail of a D800 image in oils!


But in case I was misunderstood: there are perfectly good cases for making some big prints suitable for viewing from half-way across a room, just as there long has been for bigger than average paintings.  My complaint was with the idea that jumbo size is a _necessary_ condition for a gallery-worthy print, or that this is or should now be the norm for sufficiently "worthy" prints.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2012, 05:36:54 PM by BJL » Logged
BJL
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« Reply #43 on: May 02, 2012, 05:50:36 PM »
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Economically, it obviates the high-end crop-dslrs as 'pro-sumer' cameras. Most people with the money for serious glass and a serious interest in photography will find little appeal in a $1500-1800 APS-C camera when a D800 can be had for $3K.
I do not see that at all, so long as the smaller formats continue to offer higher sensor resolution in lp/mm (smaller pixels) and thus genuinely allow the use of less long telephoto focal lengths and thus smaller, lighter lenses ... along with the saving of say $1500, or the equal-cost alternative of having several more lenses, or carrying two bodies and so having two lenses ready for immediate use.

Also, for anyone interested in using high frame rates in action photography, there are many better and far less expensive options than the D800; it is a great camera, but not a universal tool by any means.

It is interesting though to see the same fact (the D800) used by some to predict a move away from larger formats and by others to predict a move away from smaller formats! An "inkblot test" of peoples' format preferences, perhaps?
« Last Edit: May 02, 2012, 05:53:08 PM by BJL » Logged
Morris Taub
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« Reply #44 on: May 02, 2012, 06:20:20 PM »
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I do not see that at all, so long as the smaller formats continue to offer higher sensor resolution in lp/mm (smaller pixels) and thus genuinely allow the use of less long telephoto focal lengths and thus smaller, lighter lenses ... along with the saving of say $1500, or the equal-cost alternative of having several more lenses, or carrying two bodies and so having two lenses ready for immediate use.

Also, for anyone interested in using high frame rates in action photography, there are many better and far less expensive options than the D800; it is a great camera, but not a universal tool by any means.

It is interesting though to see the same fact (the D800) used by some to predict a move away from larger formats and by others to predict a move away from smaller formats! An "inkblot test" of peoples' format preferences, perhaps?

personally, I'm looking at the d800/e like i did my d700 camera when i bought it...as a great all 'rounder body, though the d800 has obvious improvements...but of course there's better solutions for certain things like sports and action,...just like i'm guessing some would never give up their large format cameras or M9's...i guess that's what bjl just said...

again, personally, it's a tool, and small pocket cams, m4/3's, etc. have their place if they fulfill your needs...I can see having an olympus em5 as a take everywhere cam or maybe fuji's xpro1 with a couple of lenses, plus nikons d800 for what it can do...use what i need when i need it to get the job done...

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Sharon Van Lieu
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« Reply #45 on: May 02, 2012, 07:32:27 PM »
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w

Until recently, the reason for small photographic prints was clear -- common negative sizes simply didn't hold up in larger prints. You had to go to very large format cameras, and very large format enlargers, to do that, and those were appropriate for only limited kinds of photography. That's no longer so true. Size is now opening up, and I think that larger photographs will become the standard. Because of the way printers work, I suspect that 13x19 all probably become the standard "small" print, at least for a while.


There are more reasons to print small other than resolution considerations. It is also a choice that should affect the overall composition. I saw an excellent interview with Stephen Shore about an exhibition where he chose to only show contact prints. He said he often chose to exhibit small prints because they required more interaction from the viewer and were a more intimate experience. You have to get close and really look at a small print.

I've never painted, but I doubt I would choose to paint the same thing on a small canvas that I would print on a very large one. Photographers have to make the same compositional choices.

Sharon

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MatthewCromer
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« Reply #46 on: May 02, 2012, 10:42:29 PM »
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I guess like just about everybody I'm interested in the D800, and I've tried one.  I'm sure it lets you make very big, sharp prints, but I don't think it's for me.  I just didn't much like the feel. The big sticking point for me is just what Matthew Cromer said in an earlier post: Live View is just crippled without a tilting screen. So I'm going to stick with my (not actually discontinued yet, Matthew) Olympus E-5, despite a sensor which most here wouldn't even bother to sneer it, because of it's fabulous usability as a photographic tool which, now & then, gets me shots that a Nikon D800 probably wouldn't.  

However, a D900 with the E-5's screen, that might tempt me :-)

(oh, and add me to the "sometimes big is TOO big" faction, too)

David,

The E-5 doesn't have phase detect AF in liveview mode, does it?

I thought the only Olympus (and the first dSLR!) to do this was the E-330.

In my experience, contrast detect AF is way too slow for moving subjects using dSLR lenses.  But perhaps the E-5 does it and pulls it off?
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MatthewCromer
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« Reply #47 on: May 02, 2012, 11:09:22 PM »
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because of it's fabulous usability as a photographic tool. . .

This is the absolute crux of it for me.  You've nailed it.

The D800 is a fabulous dSLR, but with essentially no innovation in the "fabulous photographic tool" department over the capabilities of the F100 over the intervening baker's dozen years since.  And of course Nikon doesn't even make the sensor or the LCD!

Why did we have more innovation from Canon and Nikon in the film SLR era than the digital SLR era?  Autofocus, auto aperture, image stabilization, eye-start etc. all came before the digital era.  What innovations does Nikon bring to the table with the D800?  Writing a fat check to Sony to source their latest sensor?!

Why are some of the best and most talented photographers out there writing articles like this one talking about how to work around glaring, obvious deficiencies in the abilities of their gear to deliver the goods?  It was obvious ten years ago what dSLRs needed to become.  Why have Canon and Nikon utterly failed to deliver that?  Why are their cameras only useable for action or social photography "stuck to your head" unless you are shooting video, in which case they are alternately completely useless through the viewfinder (and lack functional autofocus, period)?!
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Colorado David
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« Reply #48 on: May 03, 2012, 09:12:27 AM »
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I've got a couple of analogies that I think are instructive.  Aviation is a mature technology just as digital photography is a mature technology.  When Beechcraft built the Starship, Cessna Chairman, Russ Meyer said that aviation is evolutionary not revolutionary.  He was correct.  You will never find a Beech Starship now.  Many of the advancements you mention were developed during the film era for Nikon and Canon, and they were great advancements, but they were evolutionary.  After a certain point in the development of a technology, advancement comes at a slower pace and every increment is hard-earned.  That doesn't mean there isn't value in the advances or that it would be better to hold them in reserve until a larger advancement could be debuted.  As far as the manufacture of components goes, Cessna Citations are among the most advanced of light jets and they have an enviable safety record, and yet they don't build the engines.  Pratt and Whitney builds most of the engines.  I think that point is irrelevant.  I don't care that Nikon doesn't manufacture the sensors or displays.  I would rather they source the best they can or develop strategic partnerships and work at their highest value developments.  We live in an age of undeniable technological mastery.  As photographers we have tremendous tools that would be unimaginable just a few years ago and yet we can complain over the lack of even greater advancement.  My grandfather was a British Army officer and served at a time when cannon were hauled around behind horses, yet he lived to see manned space flight.
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BJL
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« Reply #49 on: May 03, 2012, 10:12:54 AM »
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As far as the manufacture of components goes, Cessna Citations are among the most advanced of light jets and they have an enviable safety record, and yet they don't build the engines.  Pratt and Whitney builds most of the engines.  I think that point is irrelevant.  I don't care that Nikon doesn't manufacture the sensors or displays.  I would rather they source the best they can or develop strategic partnerships and work at their highest value developments.
I completely agree: there is a silly dogma [pandemic in internet forums] that it is _always_ better to do everything in-house, whereas the reality is far different. Pardon the overworked territory, but Apple's amazing resurgence and growth to its current success was driven in part by a move away from an excess of in-house proprietary components and manufacturing to a policy of more outsourcing and sharing of state-of-the-art components (like Intel processors) where appropriate. With a suitable dose of in-house secret sauce too, of course; going to the other extreme of commoditizing the product as a whole is also risky.

Also, given that Nikon is the dominant customer for Sony's DSLR-sized sensors (selling far more through its cameras than Sony and Pentax together do through theirs) the relationship is likely to be akin to that between the government and a military contractor, or between a wealthy home buyer and architect/building company, not the more basic retail style of a person purchasing one of many identical manufactured single-wide houses off a display lot. Especially given that Nikon has a significant amount of IP in the realm of sensors, which it likely shares with Sony (or whoever) for its sensors.

In recent years, sensor teams like Sony-Nikon-Pentax, and even Panasonic-Olympus, seem to have made better progress than the DIYers at Canon, Samsung, and Fujifilm.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2012, 12:58:47 PM by BJL » Logged
Isaac
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« Reply #50 on: May 03, 2012, 11:33:25 AM »
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Why did we have more innovation from Canon and Nikon in the film SLR era than the digital SLR era?
Perhaps the low hanging fruit has been taken.
Perhaps continuity is also important to their customers.
Perhaps those corporations are content to reap the profit from previous innovation until their market share is threatened.
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Rob C
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« Reply #51 on: May 03, 2012, 12:25:57 PM »
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Colorado Dave. Goodness me, I thought it was only old girl photographers (young girls, old photographers for the pedants amongst us) like moi had ever even heard of Russ Meyer! Exactly what his input on aircraft is worth beats me, but then much does, so I won’t push it. Head honcho of an aircraft firm even! Wow! All that and chickies too: luck favours the lucky. ;-(

MatthewCromer. Um… exactly what was this great era of innovation from CaNik during the film slr era? I seem to remember having a brand new Exakta Varex llA in the 50s and then a llB and they were as hot as it got; replete with film cutting knife built in, they allowed all sorts of tricks with film lengths/use. Interchangeable screens, finders, interchangeable lenses, pre-set diaphragms, it was already all there in the 50s and much earlier, without CaNik. And don't forget the Asahi, Miranda and similar competitors of the era.

I bought a new Nikon F when I could, a new F2 and then a new F4s (whose ‘innovation’, semi-auto film spooling sucked big time) until, getting rid of that, I took a step backwards to a real 35mm slr and a new F3. Backwards progress, you might say, but progress nonetheless for me. As for the tricks such as af etc, yes, if you feel you can’t live or work without it, but thousands already did and probably many (again, like myself) still do. Come to think of it, the F did everything valuable that the F4 could do other than be as fast in the shutter, and it took the cheapo FM and FM2 to bring in higher synch speeds. In essence, those flagship cameras stood still, bar some ergonomic changes such as softer edges that played more gently in the hands when held for hours of the day.

If anything, I’d suggest that ‘progress’ in dslr cameras is a cynical ploy to give the market a priapic woodie (tautology?) and that to make things even more cynical, if that’s possible, quality control departments have been closed in the factories and new, external departments opened, called General Public, where running costs are negligible and no pension schemes need be applied.

Was a time that one could buy a Nikkor and just know that it was as good as it got; now, go buy a lens somewhere and you know nothing, and have to find out afresh with each new purchase whether, like Friday night, you brought home a lulu or a lemon.

Yep, things sure are a lot better now. Other than photographs, of course: they were as good then as they have been since.

Rob C

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Colorado David
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« Reply #52 on: May 03, 2012, 12:32:37 PM »
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Colorado Dave. Goodness me, I thought it was only old girl photographers (young girls, old photographers for the pedants amongst us) like moi had ever even heard of Russ Meyer! Exactly what his input on aircraft is worth beats me, but then much does, so I won’t push it. Head honcho of an aircraft firm even! Wow! All that and chickies too: luck favours the lucky. ;-(


I'm confused by your post.  I don't know who you're referring to, but Russ Meyer was the Chairman of Cessna during a period of great innovation.
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JohnBrew
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« Reply #53 on: May 03, 2012, 02:02:12 PM »
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Rob, different Russ Meyer! Rob is refering to the porno king who had an obsession with large, make that huge, mammary glands.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #54 on: May 03, 2012, 03:01:13 PM »
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Size
"Game Changer"
Image Quality

The three main themes in this discussion - so far, and a few thoughts about them:

Size - I can't think in terms of what's big or small, nor do I think it's important. I think "right-sizing" an image IS important. There was a superb essay on this website a long time ago - I forget whose - discussing this subject in depth. Some pictures just want to be 40*60 inches and others just want to be 8*10 inches, and others in-between. hard to say what the "rules" are making this the case, but it is. Most likely it's the subject matter - some is very expansive and like space, other is introspective and prefers concentration within a narrow space. The nice thing about a camera like the D800 is that we can have all of it in one convenient portable package. We don't need to take positions on image size to appreciate the scope and flexibility of this camera.

Game Changer - the first question that crosses my mind when I hear this term is "what game is being changed?" I think in this case there is an answer and its not hyperbole. It's the first time ever that 36 very high quality megapixels has been put into such a compact, user-friendly (even with the tripod) package, and by the way gotten DxO's highest ever rating for sensor performance of any camera it has EVER tested, including Phase One digital backs. Yes, it's evolutionary along a continuum, but evolution reaches a point that it s, and the game this camera will change is the absolute NEED to buy an MF system for anything higher than 24 MP. So for people who want to make large, very high resolution prints from a camera that's easy to carry around and less of a PITA to use than any MF system I've seen or handled, this does change the game. I expect it and its successors will make the kind of inroads on most (not all) MF gear that the Canon 1Ds made on Hasselblad film systems - basically compress demand for them below the level of commercial viability. Models and companies will exit the industry. Hold on to this prediction for three years and let's revert to see if I was right. Predictions are predictions after all, but I think this one has a reasonable probability of occurrence.

Image Quality - It depends on image size, resolution, DR of the sensor, lenses, subject matter and skill. I trust Mark's test results because he knows how to perform these tests and what to look for and he tells us what he sees. I could have been tempted to run a competition between a friend's Nikon D800 and my Phase D40+ system, but I won't do it, because I think it would be a waste of time. Like in the evolution of printers, important IQ differences attributable solely to the gear is becoming a thing of the past as the technologies mature. That too is a game changer.

And one final note: the value of used gear begins to fall exponentially soon after you leave the shop with it. It's just a brutal fact of life these days. So whatever I buy from now on (a) I really "need", and (b) I intend to keep using for a long time.

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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Alan Goldhammer
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« Reply #55 on: May 03, 2012, 03:22:44 PM »
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And one final note: the value of used gear begins to fall exponentially soon after you leave the shop with it. It's just a brutal fact of life these days. So whatever I buy from now on (a) I really "need", and (b) I intend to keep using for a long time.
For those of us considering an upgrade, we realize that our existing body is worth a lot less right now than two months ago.  In my case if I do make the plunge the D300 goes into a blind drawing between my two daughters to see who gets it (maybe I don't want to present at this event???).  What I'm interested in is the performance of my legacy nikkor lenses from the old time film days (they seem to be quite good on my D300 despite not autofocusing or aperture adjusting, though the latter is less important since I usually keep that fixed).
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #56 on: May 03, 2012, 03:29:09 PM »
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Good question about the lenses Alan - the issue is of course that they are not "optimized" for digital, and the resolution of that sensor is so fine it could make a difference to ultimately achievable image quality; so the real question is whether what you will get using those lenses meets your expectations and from there, whether investing in a D800 is worthwhile paired with those lenses. I don't know the answer, but I suggest there is a real question here.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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John Camp
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« Reply #57 on: May 03, 2012, 04:40:37 PM »
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Regarding print size and comparison to paintings, it is worth noting that the great Dutch master Vermeer painted on small canvases as opposed to really big.  I have an Ansel Adams Yosemite special edition print (Merced River in Autumn) that is 8x10 and it's magnificent. 

There are, of course, small paintings, but not all small paintings are small because the artist preferred smallness. For example, Vermeer's most famous painting, the Girl with the Pearl Earring is 15x17 inches, more or less, which is somewhat bigger than the common "large" size print back in the dark(room) ages, of 14x16. But the reason Vermeer painted it that size, I believe, is that it's a portrait, and it's nearly life-sized. When you're in the room with it, it's like you're talking to somebody. On the other hand, his arguably second-most-famous painting, View of Delft, which is about a ten-second walk from the Girl, is about 39x46 inches.

There are all kinds of reasons to make photos (and paintings) different sizes, both large and small. But not many people really had the option to print large, until recently, and for a whole lot of mechanical reasons, rather than artistic preferences...which was my point.
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BJL
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« Reply #58 on: May 03, 2012, 05:07:56 PM »
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But not many people really had the option to print large, until recently ... which was my point.
True; only dogmatists would deny that there is a place, and a time, and a season for very large photographic prints. But my point in response was that, conversely, most painters did not have "the option to paint small", given the relatively pathetic resolution limits of paint brushes. So their size choices were subject to some constraints that do not apply to photographs. Most paintings have to be viewed from a yard or more away if you wish to see the image rather than the blobs and streaks of paint (an oily version of pixelation?)

Actually, the "Girl with a Pearl Earring" is a fascinating example: get too close, and the ear-ring is a crude, ill-formed squiggle that in isolation you would have trouble recognizing as an earring or a pearl, but as you back off, it becomes strikingly recognizable. (A fine illustration of the disconnect between resolution and artistry: are you listening, KLaban?)


To put it another way: one thing that painters don't have to worry about is being diffraction limited!
« Last Edit: May 03, 2012, 05:11:21 PM by BJL » Logged
dreed
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« Reply #59 on: May 03, 2012, 05:15:04 PM »
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Wile Mark is prone to over worked hyperbole, as opposed to mere hyperbole  Wink,  I have to come to his defense on the 'game changer' issue.  It is in the same league as the original 1Ds in its potential for impact on the industry.

It was 5 years after the arrival of the 1Ds before the D3 arrived (Nikon's first full frame camera.)

I wonder if it will be another 5 years before Canon is able to deliver something as good as, or better than, the D800?
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