missing link in my "spectrum" of camera systems - suggesions?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by kaiyen, Jan 5, 2012.

  1. Hi all,
    I have put together a set of cameras or camera systems that cover my needs for different situations. I have a bit of a missing link in the high ISO area, though. I'd like some recommendations so that I can best put my own thoughts in order.
    I hope that it's safe to ask that you presume the existence of a higher-than-D3s-ISO camera of the same caliber. I think we'll know something for absolute certain in a couple of days but let's just say that a DSLR with "better" ISO performance is an option.
    This is what I have, and it meets my needs. I am not a PJ and recently, no longer a wedding photographer with a PJ-style. Nor am I shooting sports on a regular basis. I am not just landscapes in good light, though.
    • Point-n-shoot: Panasonic LX3
    • Small interchangeable lens system: Nikon 1 VH1
    • HD Video system: Nikon 1 VH1
    • DSLR: D300
    • Ridiculously high ISO DSLR: ???
    I come from a background of shooting black and white film at ISO 3200, 6400, etc. Sometimes just "really fast" in low light situations, guessing exposure, and then developing to the best I can. I"m probably out at 12,800 fairly often. I will still shoot film but if I have a DSLR with me that can get up there in ISO and give me _color_...that would be nice.
    One option is to keep using the D300 for high ISO. It does acceptably well at 1600 but I feel I am not getting the desired results at 3200. It's usable, for sure, but not quite the level I'd like. Most of the time I crank it up is when shooting sports, which isn't all that often and usually just for fun at friends' events, or when out with friends or at a social gathering in a restaurant or someone's house, where the lighting is relatively low. When I'm not shooting a wedding, I'm often not using flash. In these situations, I do feel a bit reluctant to turn up the ISO on the D300 and sometimes lose shots when I look at the results.
    I have some but not an overwhelming commitment to DX lenses. I also have several non-DX-specific lenses (I guess it's wrong to call them "FX lenses"). I'm not wedded to a format, in other words.
    I would "cannibalize" use of my D300 with any that does better at faster ISO, though. I'm not likely to keep grabbing the D300 for any particular purpose if I have another. Whereas I don't see myself in situations where I need HD Video when the VH1 wouldn't be a perfectly fine camera option (video would be for situations with family, etc).
    The other option is to look at either a D700, D3s or the "faster than D3s" option. The D700 is getting hard to find but it does use the same battery as my D300 and grip, too. I am happy with the AF performance on the D300 and metering, so I figure they'd be fine for me on the D700.
    The D3s uses a different battery but adds higher ISO performance. Its size doesn't matter much to me since I often have the grip on the D300 and that combination is actually bigger than the D3s alone.
    The last option would be the "even better than D3s" camera which would be even higher ISO, still needs new batteries, but throws in HD video to boot. It's also the latest of everything, whereas the D700 and D3s are, relatively speaking, long in the tooth. Whether that means they are "bad" is a different issue.
    There is obviously the issue of price but for the sake of this discussion since I"m willing to consider a D3s, which is double a D700, it's reasonable to presume that I'd consider another model that is perhaps $1000 more than the D3s is currently going for.
    So. If you're in my shoes, where really the only missing item is a camera that can perform in lighting situations that I've become accustomed to when using film and that are pushing the D300's performance...what would you do?
    I am fully aware that everyone is different, YMMV, etc. But I'm just looking for advice on how to look at the landscape of camera systems out there, and how I might fill this gap. I will still make the decision myself but respect and appreciate the input of others.
    thanks. if it is felt that my post is inappropriate I understand if it is deleted.
  2. "I come from a background of shooting black and white film at ISO 3200, 6400, etc."​
    You mean underexposing B&W film, since a film with a true ISO any higher than about 1200 has never yet been made, and is never likely to be now.
    My D700 gets shots in colour that I could only dream of getting with B&W film. So come on Allen, take off those anti-halation backed rose-coloured film spectacles and compare the results you got from 35mm film with what you're getting from a D300. Is the D300 really that far behind? I seriously doubt it.
  3. "but I feel I am not getting the desired results at 3200" Your problem is likely more software (post processing) related than hardware. Fast glass (f1.4/f1.8 apertures) will also help dramatically in keeping the ISO down and improving your results in low light. I have switch over from my zooms to primes for low light shooting and love the results.
  4. Here's a shot taken at a true ISO of 3200 with my D700 and converted to B&W (with a slight tweak to the curves). Notice the smooth tones and lack of any sandpaper texture?
  5. Sorry, made image too big to display inline for last post.
  6. My solution would be to buy a Leica M3 and shoot Ilford X3200. I've been doing that with a Voigtlander Bessa and love the big 6x9 negs. The Bessa looks like new despite being 75 years old, and it only cost about $150. I get some very classic looking images from it I couldn't get from my digital cameras.
    Kent in SD
  7. perhaps the new D4 will be for you but then again we do not know how it actually performs. The current Nikon hi-ISO leader has to be the D3s but the D700 would probably do okay for you plus you get some compatibility.
    ps. and here I thought that after base ISO, digital cameras achieved higher ISOs' by jacking more power to the sensor -ie., in a sense pushing them ...
  8. After reading your post I have come to the same Rodeo`s conclusion. I don`t have my D300 anymore, I don`t remember about its performance at 1600ISO or higher (I`d be surprised if it is as bad as, e.g., the results TMZ provides (one of the films I used to use, and at 1000ISO). At lower ISO, performance is almost indistinguishable to that on the D700.
    Anyway, it`s nice to have that 1600ISO quality of the D700. If you want it, the only way is to buy this one or its sucessor.

    What would I do? Sincerely, I`d wait, shooting with the D300 meanwhile. Do you use noise reduction tools? They are helpful! And there will be -always- a good ocassion to spend on an upgrade. But I suspect it`s not the answer you`re waiting for... :)
  9. Kent, did you mean Ilford Delta 3200? That only has a true speed of around 1200 ISO, as measured from its H&D curves, and in 35mm size you get two - maybe three if you're lucky - silver grains to the frame. I exaggerate the grain size slightly, but there's no denying it's pretty horrendous.
  10. there is no answer that I'm "waiting for" - don't worry. I just need input. BTW, I apologize for saying that I shot film at ISO 3200 or whatever. I meant EI. If you give a nit to pick...it gets picked, I know.
    well, in terms of color I think I am not able to get the results I like at 1600 or 3200. I can't compare color to black and white. In B&W I am very happy with the D300. But color I feel like I'm working a lot harder on the post processing.
    I can always "get better" at using software, I know. But let's also presume that I am "pretty good" at noise reduction software. Not a guru, perhaps in reality only "ok." But let's try and keep that out of the equation for now. Again, I am just looking for any kind of input to help me with perspective (ha), so taking that out of consideration is not, I hope, too much to ask.
  11. I'm in a similar situation like you:
    NEED: Larger Sensor, Small Body Interchangeable Lens System
    NEED: HD Video
    I have the LX-5 and the D700. I sold my D300 when I got the D700 as the high ISO was much much better, plus the body was way better too (AF, viewfinder, other stuff).
    I'm seriously looking at either the GH-2 or the Nikon V1 for small body/large sensor ILS with video (the GH-2 is the video king, but the V1 is the small body king)
    So if I were you I'd sell the D300 since you aren't doing sports and such that need telephoto more than wide and I'd get a D700 for low light, landscapes, etc. and take the savings in $$ over the D3s or new D4 and buy really good fast glass if you don't already have these lenses. The D700 is not much larger than the D300 and there will be some good deals on some used D700 bodies pretty soon . .
    My 2 cents.
  12. Hi Allen,
    If you don't need a range of lenses would a Fuji X100 fit the bill? If you do you might want to look at the Sony NEX-5 or 7
  13. oh - I already have a good set of lenses - zoom and prime - that makes a Nikon the best fit for me. Not all are the newer G, AFS versions (like the 50 1.4 I have is an AF-D) but I have several fast primes and 2.8 zooms. But thanks for the X100 suggestion.
  14. Ah, but the Fuji needs no lens, it already has one. Yes, one, a '35mm'.
    All reports and image postings evidence a superb high ISO ability. Saving my pennies for one right now...
  15. John, I may be missing something. I cannot see where the D700 body is "way better" than the D300 body... AF? Both are MultiCam 3500, same everything except the focus point concentration (which BTW, I believe most people prefer the D300 spread). The viewfinder? 100% on the D300 vs near 90% (and not centered) in the D700... Other stuff... ?
  16. Jose Angel [​IMG][​IMG], Jan 05, 2012; 02:27 p.m.
    John, I may be missing something. I cannot see where the D700 body is "way better" than the D300 body... AF? Both are MultiCam 3500, same everything except the focus point concentration (which BTW, I believe most people prefer the D300 spread). The viewfinder? 100% on the D300 vs near 90% (and not centered) in the D700... Other stuff... ?​
    Personally, if I had the money, I'd call the D700's viewfinder good enough to explain the purchase right there. As far as AF goes, the zones are tighter ... which does make it worse at picking out things around the edges of the frame. But to be fair, it would also (in theory) be better at tracking moving subjects held in the center of the frame. I say 'in theory' because I've never shot sports with a D700.
  17. Jose -
    My experience, having owned both side-by-side for a while is based on fast primes. My 28/2, 85/1.8, 50/1.2, 135/2 AIS - with the D300 viewfinder AND AF system I could never achieve repeatable focus with them wide open - even using the AF confirmation dot.
    With the AF of the D700 I am able to much more accurately/repeatably achieve sharp focus with my D700. The AF confirmation dot is much more sensitive, accurate, and repeatable.
    For slower glass they are the same. My experience anyways.
  18. You mean underexposing B&W film, since a film with a true ISO any higher than about 1200 has never yet been made, and is never likely to be now.​
    Ok a bit offtopic, but could not resist....
    Ilford Delta 3200, still used, still produced..
    In my opinion this is in reality a 1600 asa/iso film obtainable in 35mm and as 120 rolfilm ( the latter is the one i still like to put in my rollei from time to time...) works a treat on 1600 developed in DDX 1:4, still nice grain pushed to el 2400...
  19. Love that photo Joe
  20. Rodeo Joe wrote: Here's a shot taken at a true ISO of 3200 with my D700...​
    No, that's not correct. True iso of the D700 is ISO 200, well actually ISO 153 according to dxomark. All higher iso settings are underexposed sensor data, pushed electronically with gain when read by the camera after the actual exposure. In some cameras at some iso settings the firmware can also be involved to push and massage the data mathematically. A bit off topic...
  21. Pete, the difference is in where the gain is applied. Pushing the ISO of a digital camera involves increasing the analogue gain before digitisation. This ain't the same as simply re-shuffling digital bits. Sure, any noise gets amplified as well, but this sort of sensitivity increase genuinely results in more shadow detail being available at the digital output side of things. With film you really are just underexposing and increasing the contrast of the image by "push" processing. No such contrast increase is apparent with digital.
    There's also a slight difficulty in direct comparison between film and digital, of the ISO "standard" for digital sensor sensitivity not being much of a standard at all, but quite open to human interpretation.
    Having shot, processed and printed film for over 40 years, I feel qualified to say definitively that film is totally inferior to most modern DSLRs when it comes to low light capture. This could be even more improved if only the necessary gamma curve were to be applied to the analogue signal of a digital camera, rather than after digitisation.
  22. Joe, I'm not comparing the results you get when shooting film and digital.
    I'm just saying that the digital sensor's sensitivity is fixed contrary to what you get when using different speed films. Pushing the sensor (aka shooting at higher iso) will shorten the dynamic range and lower the color sensitivity because we are capturing an underexposed image on the sensor. Each photosite was only exposed partially. I think this is an important concept to understand.
    Just to make an example at ISO 3200 on a ISO 200 camera like the D700 we are underexposing 4 stops. Since the sensor captures light linearly it means that we are only exposing each photosite to 6.25% of it's full capacity.
  23. I'm with Rodeo Joe on this one. I like film as much as anyone, and I do shoot Ilford Delta 3200 when I need a high ISO with film; but Joe is right: it's only really about 1000-1250 or so. My D700 is my first choice when I must have a true ISO in the 3200 to 6400 range.
  24. I actually like the look of Ilford 3200 shot at ISO 3200. Remember, my newest film camera is a 1937 Bessa 6x9. I also actively shoot a 1914 Kodak Special 6x9.
    Anyway, didn't I just read somewhere yesterday that a new version of the Fuji X100 is coming with interchangeable lenses? MIght be fun to mount some small Leica or Voigtlander lenses to something like that.
    Kent in SD
  25. OK. Here are two side by side shots, one taken with a D700 set at 3200 "ISO" and the same subject taken on Ilford Delta 3200 rated at EI 3200 in an F2. The same lens was used (55mm f/3.5 micro-Nikkor) and I've attempted to match the same flat lighting. The film was developed in Microphen, which I consider gives the best speed/grain combination. Scan resolution was adjusted to match the digital image size as closely as possible with that from the D700.
    I'll leave it to you to decide which image is which(!), but it's obvious from the amount of shadow detail that both media have a very similar light sensitivity. It certainly doesn't look as if one image was shot at ISO 153 and then pushed to 3200, don't you agree? I also think you'll agree that there's a huge difference in quality between the two.
  26. Joe, your film image looks horrible. I have never shot delta 3200 but I shoot HP5 at 3200 with much better results than what you have shown. Not as good as the D700 though. However to see what digital cameras are capable of today check out this ISO 6400 shot from the new Nikon D4!
  27. The film was developed in Microphen, which I consider gives the best speed/grain combination.​
    Joe, I actually like that grainy shot i think i'tl look great when enlarged a lot and viewed from some more distance, it gets nicely abstract then ( i think) ...
    If you like to xperiment with Delta 32oo films pushed to EL 3200 you might want to try , if you can get hold of it, "PMK developper" ( Pyro Metal Kodalk) , I found this hint some time ago on the "whitching hour" on Steve Anchell's website, and this gives me a lot nicer grain at both EL 1600 and EL 3200 ...(I find the results very temperature critical though... )
    a new version of the Fuji X100 is coming with interchangeable lenses​
    I'm also very curious for that one, the web is full of speculations for a 'X-pro 1' that might have been introduced at the CES 2012 but it was not...
  28. did you mean Ilford Delta 3200? That only has a true speed of around 1200 ISO, as measured from its H&D curves​
    According to Ilford, it's ISO 1000.
  29. Joe, your film image looks horrible.​
    Why, thank you Pete.
    But if you think you've got something that shows Delta3200 in a better light, then let's see it - at the same magnification of course. ;-)
    C.P.M: I tried to interest myself in a 35mm film "revival" about 2 years ago, which is where the Delta 3200 shot above came from. I got sidetracked testing every type of film I could get my hands on in a homebrew developer I was, er, developing. The homebrew stuff was great for Tmax and FP4+, but turned out extremely grainy with Delta 3200. Microphen actually gave the smallest and tightest grain of all the developers I tried it with.
    Anyhow. It's the above kind of pointless distraction that turned me away from my attempted re-acquaintance with 35mm film. For me, digital capture offers a much more straightforward, reliable and quicker route to picture making. I've now given up the endless quest for a Holy Grail combination of film and developer that gives fine-grain, great tonality and useable speed. Face it; it doesn't exist. So let's move on and simply enjoy picture making with whatever tools work best for us. I'll stick with my D700 thanks.
    PS. Forgot to mention previously that the film and D700 comparison above only shows a small 100% zoom section of each frame. As a portion of the film frame it's probably about 3mm across.
  30. to John Hinkey: Critical focus with fast lenses using the electronic rangefinder aid is simply matter of luck... unless you know the behaviour of this "aid", and how to work with it; and if so, it could only help to "increase" the percentage.
    I also had both D3 and D300 for a time, and previously the D200, now a D700, but to be sincere I never compared this feature between them, only individually. I then cannot say if one works better than the other, only that all the cameras show the same issue. It`s true that the D700 have directional arrows, while the D300 only the dot. It doesn`t matter.
    Out of curiosity, I have just tested the "aid" again on my D700, using a 50/1.4AiS and a 45/2.8P. What I said above; better to close the diaphragm a few stops to help with a larger DoF, or to use LiveView if a critical focus situation.

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