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Archive 2012 · Re-assessing the D800 sensor as a Canon alternative
  
 
splathrop
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Re-assessing the D800 sensor as a Canon alternative


Since it was announced, I have been gravitating toward Nikon's D800, but waiting to see more. I have also mentioned my desire that Canon license that camera's sensor, and build its own camera around it. In short, I have been one of the many who almost uncritically accepted that the new Nikon sensor was a breakthrough, and a game changer, and an embarrassment for Canon. It may be all of that, but now I am less confident.

Now there is more to see. On the Nikon thread there is a D800e image thread that runs 17 pages, with varied images throughout. After reviewing it, I have impressions to offer, and questions to ask. And maybe some opinions to revise.

First, there is a forceful impression of subdued color that runs through the entire thread. The first time I noticed some of the landscapes that appear there, I thought, wow, that is a tasteful, restrained approach to color. Different, but I kind of liked it. On second thought, if it's the only kind of color you can have, it doesn't look as good to me. Is it?

Is this maybe a by-product of higher dynamic range? An unavoidable by-product? Or is it maybe what happens when shooters stop crowding the highlights, because they feel newly safe lifting the shadows? Does that starve their images of photons and squash contrast? What's going on?

Whatever it is, it probably has something to do with what for me is the most dismaying revelation: The new Nikon seems to be delivering people who tend to be corpse-colored. And that seems to be true no matter what lens goes on the camera, even the standard greats from the Zeiss lineup—all notable for superior color, at least on older Nikon and Canon bodies.

I don't welcome these impressions, because I much preferred my previous opinion that Nikon had delivered a breakthrough that opened up new possibilities for my own landscape work, and that would push Canon hard. And although I more and more believe the 5D III was initially under-estimated as an improvement, it will never be a notable improvement for my kind of work. I doubt I will ever buy one. Which makes reluctance to switch to Nikon equivalent to feeling boxed in. It's frustrating.

I would be interested to hear others' comments on these observations, if anyone would care to offer them. Contradictory evidence and testimony especially welcome.




Oct 13, 2012 at 02:40 AM
bbasiaga
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Re-assessing the D800 sensor as a Canon alternative


Nikon always has, to my eye, rendered people differently than Canon, so I agree with you there. On the technology limiting color saturation, I have no idea. I'm a geek, but not that kind of geek.

The 5DIII is, by most internet folks but only a few actual shooters, underestimated as an upgrade. Its enhancements come maybe not primarily in the sensor (save for the incredible high ISO), but in the versatility and capability it offers in a single body.


And on feeling boxed in - If you've really, truly pushed your gear to the limits of its abilities, rejoice in your mastery instead of feeling limited. Read up on Ansel Adams and his use of filters and gels to create different effects, and see if you can replicate it. If you really can't take your skill level up to get more performance from your gear, then maybe its time to try a type of photography that requires adding to your skill set.

-Brian



Oct 13, 2012 at 02:56 AM
Gochugogi
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Re-assessing the D800 sensor as a Canon alternative


Ah dunno, isn't that how pale folk should look? E.g., corpse-colored? Maybe try photographing brown folk in Honolulu. If brown folk are rendered "corpse-colored" I would be very concerned. But, yes, the colors in the before mentioned thread are a bit restrained but a few strokes in Aperture or PS would make the color however you want it. What my eye picks out is D800 contrast seems to be reduced: tonalities appeared compressed together. However, I'm guessing everybody engaged in PP to open shadows and lower mids, so low contrast may not be the fault of the sensor.

Personally I'm happy with my 5D2 for landscape and travel. It has more dynamic range I can see on my monitor or print on paper (unless I compress tonalities).



Oct 13, 2012 at 03:15 AM
thw2
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Re-assessing the D800 sensor as a Canon alternative


You need to get used to Nikon colors if you plan to switch. Nikon tends to render skin tones with a yellowish cast while Canon goes for pink. Of course, if you shoot raw, you can always pp every shot to suit your taste.


Oct 13, 2012 at 03:23 AM
BluesWest
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Re-assessing the D800 sensor as a Canon alternative


Of course, if you shoot raw, you can always pp every shot to suit your taste.

+1. Maybe you should try to understand this point before investing $3,000 in a DSLR?

John



Oct 13, 2012 at 03:47 AM
skibum5
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Re-assessing the D800 sensor as a Canon alternative


splathrop wrote:
Since it was announced, I have been gravitating toward Nikon's D800, but waiting to see more. I have also mentioned my desire that Canon license that camera's sensor, and build its own camera around it. In short, I have been one of the many who almost uncritically accepted that the new Nikon sensor was a breakthrough, and a game changer, and an embarrassment for Canon. It may be all of that, but now I am less confident.

Now there is more to see. On the Nikon thread there is a D800e image thread that runs 17 pages, with varied images throughout.
...Show more

Nothing to it. If you don't like that just crank contrast and saturation a bit more, make a custom color profile, use a different tone curve, if you do take advantage of more DR tone map in a different way, etc. It has a purer color filter so the colors should be better, if anything, under natural lighting conditions and it has less noise in the shadows at low ISO which can never make anything worse.



Oct 13, 2012 at 03:53 AM
splathrop
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Re-assessing the D800 sensor as a Canon alternative


To all you demon post-processing-fixes-all-ills types, what say you to the notion that unrecorded contrast is detail lost forever? And that the subtlest gradations of color are a species of contrast?


Oct 13, 2012 at 04:43 AM
skibum5
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Re-assessing the D800 sensor as a Canon alternative


splathrop wrote:
To all you demon post-processing-fixes-all-ills types, what say you to the notion that unrecorded contrast is detail lost forever? And that the subtlest gradations of color are a species of contrast?


How does the Nikon sensor lose such subtle shadings?? It doesn't. And since it has stricter color filters under natural lighting it should record MORE fine, subtle differences between colors, if anything.



Oct 13, 2012 at 05:03 AM
galenapass
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Re-assessing the D800 sensor as a Canon alternative


It sounds to me like you do not have a lot of experience with post processing. I have been shooting Nikon and Canon since I owned both a 20D and a D200. I can make any Canon file look just like a Nikon file and vice versa. Things I have not been able to make adjustments for were banding in the shadows, resolution due to inherent differences in the sensors (e.g. D700 vs a 5DII) and dynamic range. Color and contrast are an easy fix. Micro contrast can also be a function of the lens used. I do not have a D800e, but after looking at many examples (and downloading raw files) of the sheer detail and dynamic range captured by this sensor, IMO there would be no problem getting good "punch" out of the images with a little PP.


Oct 13, 2012 at 05:48 AM
bbvaj
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Re-assessing the D800 sensor as a Canon alternative


D800E/D800 has the 3rd/4th best color depth ratings on DXOmark. The sensor records a lot of color its not lost... Its just that the curve can be bent to your liking...


Oct 13, 2012 at 06:51 AM
 

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n0b0
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Re-assessing the D800 sensor as a Canon alternative


Well, the last time Nikon embarrased Canon with their AF, Canon responded with the 7D, 5D3 and 1DX. My guess is, Canon will come up with its own sensor tech that will match if not exceed the Exmor.

It's a reactive market where the 2nd best (seller) will always have to offer more and the best (seller) then move to match or exceed it to stay on top.



Oct 13, 2012 at 10:34 AM
splathrop
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Re-assessing the D800 sensor as a Canon alternative


galenapass: It sounds to me like you do not have a lot of experience with post processing. I have been shooting Nikon and Canon since I owned both a 20D and a D200. I can make any Canon file look just like a Nikon file and vice versa. Things I have not been able to make adjustments for were banding in the shadows, resolution due to inherent differences in the sensors (e.g. D700 vs a 5DII) and dynamic range. Color and contrast are an easy fix. Micro contrast can also be a function of the lens used. I do not have...Show more

Another possibility you could consider is that I have enough experience with post processing to see and object to flaws some other people overlook.

Here is a hypothetical for you. Consider an image file that includes minutely-adjacent contrast (color or density) targets A, B, C, D...etc., with the file as a whole chock full of so many finely visible distinctions that your printer's capability to represent all of them is taxed to the fullest. What happens to the printed presentation of contrast boundary C/D when you spread A/B with a curve? (Or for that matter, more distant boundary Y/Z, which will enjoy less of your focus as you work on A/B?)

Does that kind of work thereby increase the available gamut of your printer? Or does your A/B work wipe out detail previously discernible elsewhere?

Consider the difference between the situation when you begin with an image file that leaves substantial parts of the printable gamut unused, compared to a file that more fully occupies every niche. One of my concerns is that the Nikon D800/D800e represents the latter case, and may be producing files notably more challenging to color correct. Maybe because contrast boundaries are more fully occupied across the printable gamut—which could put at a premium the sensor's ability to deliver the color you prefer right out of the camera.

If the D800/D800e doesn't deliver that preferred color/contrast initially, don't you need a reserve of essentially unused contrast space into which to move all your bystanding contrast boundaries during post processing, the ones you aren't editing and don't want smushed together so you can't see them anymore? Otherwise, getting what you want may prove damnably difficult without wiping out other stuff willy-nilly. If with D800/D800e images there isn't as much empty-but-printable contrast space into which to move non-target color and density values during post processing, do you have less post processing flexibility—or maybe need yet-to-be-invented printing capabilities to enable flexible post processing of those images—the kind of post-processing flexibility that some of the responders here are accustomed to and are urging me to consider.

That's one of the questions this admittedly imperfectly experienced practitioner of the art is asking. And if the answer is yes, you could benefit from improved editing and printing capability to deal with these new kinds of files, then isn't it a corollary that you had better like the as-delivered color quality you get out of the camera, or at least be able to live with it?


Edited on Oct 13, 2012 at 12:34 PM · View previous versions



Oct 13, 2012 at 11:40 AM
splathrop
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Re-assessing the D800 sensor as a Canon alternative


brian: And on feeling boxed in - If you've really, truly pushed your gear to the limits of its abilities, rejoice in your mastery instead of feeling limited.

Is that really what mastery consists of? Seems to me it would be something more like a triumph in the struggle to match your work product to your imagination. I'll have more insight, I suppose, if I ever get there.



Oct 13, 2012 at 11:59 AM
bbasiaga
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Re-assessing the D800 sensor as a Canon alternative


splathrop wrote:
Is that really what mastery consists of? Seems to me it would be something more like a triumph in the struggle to match your work product to your imagination. I'll have more insight, I suppose, if I ever get there.


My statement is based on the truth that the current canon cameras are capable of far more than most users get out of them on a regular basis. Examples are rife - just think of all the forum posts of people astonished to learn some pros are using very basic gear to get very impressive shots, or the posts where people just know the new body they just bought will finally get the the results they want, but are disappointed in the end. If you can get everything out of your current body that it is capable of delivering, you have certainly achieved some type of mastery.

-Brian



Oct 13, 2012 at 01:11 PM
PhilDrinkwater
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Re-assessing the D800 sensor as a Canon alternative


Find some raw files and try them out yourself? I'm sure you will find them around the place.

I'm pretty/very sure the issue will be post production related. Push a raw as far as you can. I'm sure you'll find it's fine.



Oct 13, 2012 at 01:15 PM
jstntym
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Re-assessing the D800 sensor as a Canon alternative


bbasiaga wrote:
My statement is based on the truth that the current canon cameras are capable of far more than most users get out of them on a regular basis. Examples are rife - just think of all the forum posts of people astonished to learn some pros are using very basic gear to get very impressive shots, or the posts where people just know the new body they just bought will finally get the the results they want, but are disappointed in the end. If you can get everything out of your current body that it is capable of delivering, you
...Show more

Well said! I for one will admit that I certainly fall into this category of users. Though I have relatively good gear, it affords me the opportunity to grow into it's seemingly endless capabilities between the camera gear and PP. I enjoy the challenge and feel I'm up to it, God willing time available. I've never enjoyed the challenge and learning as much as it offers. I can see and feel a steady improvement, though certainly not near ready for prime time, the benefits are personal and I get great enjoyment seeing all the possibilities with other folks that share their talent so freely. Priceless!



Oct 13, 2012 at 03:18 PM
AGeoJO
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Re-assessing the D800 sensor as a Canon alternative


bbasiaga wrote:
My statement is based on the truth that the current canon cameras are capable of far more than most users get out of them on a regular basis. Examples are rife - just think of all the forum posts of people astonished to learn some pros are using very basic gear to get very impressive shots, or the posts where people just know the new body they just bought will finally get the the results they want, but are disappointed in the end. If you can get everything out of your current body that it is capable of delivering, you
...Show more

+ 1,000 Very well stated.



Oct 13, 2012 at 04:57 PM
scalesusa
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Re-assessing the D800 sensor as a Canon alternative


I bought a D800 and it is indeed very good at ISO 100, but at 800 or higher, it looks grainy.

It also takes a lot longer to pp images, and I may do 1000 in a night. This and the fact that I use high ISO's 6400 or higher made me decide to give it up.

Of course, Nikon foes not have a 100-400L or 400 f/5.6L, or competition for the 135mmL, and many other lenses are not as good as Canon has.

However, if you want to just do landscape, it will be better.



Oct 13, 2012 at 05:06 PM
galenapass
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Re-assessing the D800 sensor as a Canon alternative


splathrop wrote:
Another possibility you could consider is that I have enough experience with post processing to see and object to flaws some other people overlook.

Here is a hypothetical for you. Consider an image file that includes minutely-adjacent contrast (color or density) targets A, B, C, D...etc., with the file as a whole chock full of so many finely visible distinctions that your printer's capability to represent all of them is taxed to the fullest. What happens to the printed presentation of contrast boundary C/D when you spread A/B with a curve? (Or for that matter, more distant boundary Y/Z, which
...Show more

A lot of words, but they don't really makes sense. As noted above the D800 has the highest score for color depth among full-frame SLRs. The information is there it's up to you what you want to do with it.



Oct 13, 2012 at 06:09 PM
StillFingerz
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Re-assessing the D800 sensor as a Canon alternative


I don't need a Corvette to enjoy the wind in my hair, screaming down the boardwalk in my wheelchair at 5mph is just fine, 36mp is not needed in my case nor is a static test like dxo produces.

It's my eye that counts, what I see, feel, looks best to me, is fun, 36mp would make me work to hard, shooting and in post, it's not worth the pain-in-my-arse-n-budget-n-time.

I like Canon's colors and gear.



Oct 13, 2012 at 06:23 PM
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