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| 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.