Oh dear....5D3 vs D800

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by bobatkins, Apr 19, 2012.

  1. Well, DxOMark has spoken.
    The Nikon D800 scores a 95 overall with a 14.4 EV dynamic range at ISO 100
    The Canon 5D MkIII scores and 81 overall with an 11.7 EV dynamic range at ISO 100
    The 5D MkIII shows a very slight noise advantage (less than a stop) when the images are viewed at 100% on a monitor screen.
    The 5D mkIII has a slight tonal range advantage, offset by the slight color sensitivity advantage of the D800
    The D800 obviously has higher resolution.
    The 5D MkIII is the clear winner at ISO 51200 and 10400 since the D800 is limited to ISO 25600, though at 25600 the noise is verysimilar to that of the 5D MkIII, so it makes you wonder why they didn't just go to 104,000 like Canon did.
    Speaking as a Canon shooter, quite honestly it does look like the D800 is the better camera (at least on paper as far as performance specs go). I haven't seen comparison tests of AF performance yet, or anything definitive on video results.
    Let the wailing and gnashing of teeth by Canon shooters begin...
     
  2. Oh, the humanity...
     
  3. The overwhelming majority of Canon and Nikon shooters will be unaffected. My T1i and 20D still work the same as yesterday.
     
  4. Read 'em and weep
    http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Cameras/Compare-Camera-Sensors/Compare-cameras-side-by-side/(appareil1)/795%7C0/(brand)/Canon/(appareil2)/792%7C0/(brand2)/Nikon/(appareil3)/767%7C0/(brand3)/Nikon
     
  5. My T1i and 20D still work the same as yesterday.​
    So does my 1978 Chevy Chevette, my 8-track tape player and my Betamax video recorder.

    I'm unaffected too because I don't need and can't afford a 5d MkIII or a D800 and I certainly couldn't afford to add Nikon gear to my Canon gear.
     
  6. For all I know these numbers may mean something, but I've never been able to figure out anything at that site.
    From their Overall Score explanation,
    The Sensor Overall Score is an average of the Portrait Score based on Color Depth, the Landscape Score based on Dynamic Range and the Sports Score based on Low-Light ISO.​
    How do you calculate the average of 24 bits, 11.7 Evs, and 2293 ISO?
    Note I'm just commenting on how bewildering it all is. I actually do not care how they arrive at their numbers. At all.
     
  7. "Feeling good about your equipment is the most important aspect of photography"
    H. Cartier Bresson (NOT)
     
  8. If you shoot Raw, the difference in DR is real. Just experiment with different sliders for highlight and shadows and you will see the difference. The reason you have to use the sliders is because the DR of all output mediums (LCD, Paper, probably even CRT) is much less than that of Camera.
    The extra pixels definitely bring out additional details, and with skilled shooting and processing even the scaled down image can display more clarity. The real kicker here will be D800E with merciless pixel level clarity showing all the gory details.
    If you don't shoot Raw, 5D Mark III will provide a superior JPEG by a mile.
    For mere mortals like me, I will take 5D classic any time.
     
  9. Overall scores for anything are bewildering. It's an attempt to consolidate too many different factors. It's like rating a car as a 73/100 based on top speed, luggage capacity, number of cupholders and mpg.
    However the DxOMark individual scores and their plots of things like SNR, Dynamic range etc. are quite meaningful (assuming they are correct). They do describe their testing methods which seem to be pretty valid.
    The factor that's boosting the overall score of the d800 appears to be the unusually high dynamic range at low ISO settings. I'll admit I'm not 100% sure how they are computing that since the difference between the 5d3 and D800 SNRs at low ISO settings are small and DR is often an indirect measure of shadow noise.
     
  10. I guess I'm getting hung up on the word "average", which has a precise meaning in math and statistics. You can't "average" 24 bits, 11.7 Evs, and ISO 2293, any more than you can average 24 meters, 11.7 seconds, and 2293 grams.
    It wouldn't bother me if they said "Overall Score is an artificial heuristic metric based on the bit depth, Ev range, and ISO".
     
  11. As a Canon still shooter I do wonder whether Canon focused its attention on professional video and left the amateur still shooters in the cold as far as full frame is concerned. The Nikon D800 does look better on paper and is cheaper to boot. New Canon lenses for full frame are astronomically expensive... $850 for Canon 28 f/2.8, compared to $700 for the just announced Nikon 28 f/1.8 (although without IS). The new 24-70 jumped from being the least expensive such lens (compared to Nikon and Sony/Zeiss) to being the most expensive. I get a distinct feeling that Canon aims the latest full frame products at professionals for whom the extra few hundred or thousand dollars on gear is small change compared to other expenses and/or income.
     
  12. zml

    zml

    I don't know whether there indeed are over 3 stops difference in dynamic range/tonal capacity between these camers in real life but if there indeed are, that would indicate a quantum leap in the sensor technology. 3 stops is nothing to snicker at.

    > HCB or not
    However, HCB always used the best of the best of the best equipment, so he did care. Otherwise he'd use Kodak Pathé Browné :)
     
  13. The DR range is odd. It only appears at low ISO settings. However at both low and high ISO settings the SNR of the 5D3 and D800 are similar. That would suggest shadow noise should be similar, which would normally make DR similar.
    If it was some odd effect of pixel count or size that comes out of their algorithm, then it should apply at all ISO settings.
    It looks like you may be able to dig more highlight detail out of RAW D800 files than RAW 5D3 files, but only at low ISO settings.
    DxOMark don't seem to explain exactly where the extra DR at low ISO is coming from, so I guess we'll have to wait for more explicit and transparent tests to figure that one out.
     
  14. zml

    zml

    Nikon seems to be doing a lot of in-camera processing on their RAW files (akin to post-processing highlight and shadow recovery) which may account for some increase in DR/tonal capacity but might make the files less responsive in post processing to shadow/highlight recovery and other tortures. I know from my own experience that at ISO 200 ir so, I can use much more drastic post processing techniques on files from Canon 1Ds3 than on files from Nikon D3s or Canon 5D2. Nikon D3s files, although marginally "better" than the output from 1Ds3, tend to fall apart in terms of artifacts sooner than the files from my benchmark camera 1Ds Mk. III. I don't have any experience with D800 in this respect but something tells me that it still might be true, barring a true technological miracle in sensor tech.
     
  15. DxoMark say:
    Certain manufacturers embed a small part of the processing directly in the sensor, which means that some degree of processing occurs before the RAW image is sent to the RAW converter. In this case, measurements for these "pre-cooked" RAW images can be biased by this processing.
    To avoid any potential impact on our measurements, DxOMark always tests all cameras to detect any pre-processing of RAW images. A processed or pre-cooked RAW image has different characteristics from a genuinely unprocessed image. To some extent, these characteristics enable us to walk back the processing and reconstruct the original image to perform unbiased measurements, and we always inform the user about models with embedded pre-processing.​
    I don't know if Nikon do much in-camera processing of image data before the RAW file is written, but I didn't see any mention of it in the DxOMark report.
     
  16. Why does anyone even go to their web site? DxOMark that is. I have never read anything good about what they do! But, they are there. A lot like a pimple on a gnats butt! Poor Gnat! Seriously, is there any reason to visit their web site? I did it once...by mistake! And I am with many I have 2 canon's and am not about to think about Nikon. I am photography poor as it is!
     
  17. Because they are are only website that makes (or at least claims to make) actual scientifically based tests on camera sensors. They don't carry camera advertising so one might assume that they are unbiased. They certainly have no reason to falsify results and they (DxO) are a compnay with enough resources and business reasons to do accurate and unbiased testing. DxO - http://www.dxo.com/us/corporate/home - is a company based on scientific methodology for optical testing. Not some guy like me shooting test targets in his basement!
    If you don't want to know anything about camera sensors (and many people don't), then there would be no reason to visit them, just as if you have no interest in cars there's no point reading test reports in Road & Track.
     
  18. Regarding the claimed 14.4 EV dynamic range of the D800 - since the raw files are at best 14 bit "deep", to achieve 14.4 stops the highlights must undergo some kind of compression. This probably disconnects SNR from dynamic range, so SNR ratio could be similar to the 5D Mark 3 yet the DR could be different.
     
  19. Bob and others:
    I'm watching and waiting, but hardly gnashing my teeth. I've said it before and I'll probably say it many more times in the future: Nikon is doing a really fine job right now and producing some excellent gear at excellent price points. If I were a Nikon shooter doing the sort of work I do, I would almost certainly have ordered a D800 by now. Canon photographers who care about such things, have gotten used to being able to argue strongly that their brand was better overall - but that is much less of a sure bet now. There are clearly two very strong competitors in Canon and Nikon, and that is good for photographers and good for photography.
    Am I worried? No. Am I considering a brand switch? You must be kidding! :)
    But a bit of perspective is important. Yes, the new camera from Nikon measures better than the new camera from Canon in several ways. But keep a few things in mind:
    • Better measurements - unless it is ones goal to own things that measure better - is important only to the extent that it makes for better photographs. The 5D2 and the 5D3 and other Canon cameras produce excellent photographic image quality. For a few people doing certain kinds of photography in certain ways and producing certain types of output, there will be some situations in which the improvements from the D800 might be visible, but they would generally be in the category of "even better than the excellent quality we already have" rather than "finally, a camera that works!"
    • In many industries, the "lead" will often seesaw back and forth between two or more competitors. Company A produces some really cool new widget with a special feature and is momentarily "ahead" of Company B. Company B already has something equivalent under development that will be released soon and/or has some other super duper widget that has its own form of specialness. A few months later, Company B makes its product announcement and suddenly the tables are turned. But... a little later Company A (or C or D) responds and the landscape changes again. (And the teeth gnashing begins...) Over time, users of products from any of these companies will have excellent and competent equipment regardless of short term comparisons.
    Once we start down the road of "spec fever" things become very strange. Incremental differences are inflated into "good and bad," and end up always being associated with the selection of "winners" and "losers," "best" and "worse," and the rest - not based on what one can do with the gear, but based purely on the specifications. (My car can go 165.7 mph and yours can only go 165.3. I win! :)
    As a San Francisco Giants fan I have a wonderful case in point. Matt Cain is one of the outstanding pitchers on the team. I don't track statistics, but someone on the radio this morning was lamenting that Cain's stats don't look all that great. For example, his win/loss record might not strike people as all that stupendous in some ways. The stats tell us that yesterday, for example, he did not get a win. But he pitched nine innings of no-hit baseball before the game went into extra innings and he was finally taken out for a reliever. In the 11th inning, some crazy shenanigans occurred and the Giants got a run and another Giants pitcher got the win. So the stats tell us that Cain is a decent but unremarkable pitcher - but what he actually does tells us a very different story.
    Statistics and specifications are interesting and can be loads of fun to argue about. But relationship between them and these things called photographs is very, very tenuous.
    Besides, does anyone really doubt that Canon will come out with a high MP full frame camera? ;-)
    Dan
     
  20. These guys give a nod to D800 RAW IQ and but say 5D3 AF is a bit better. Oddly, 5D3 JPEG output gets the nob over the D800.
    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/videos/d800_vs_5dmkiii_video_1.shtml
     
  21. But he pitched nine innings of no-hit baseball before the game went into extra innings and he was finally taken out for a reliever​


    Nope! He gave up "two whole hits" in the nine innings he pitched. Cain is worth every $$ as you already know. He gave up zero runs, not zero hits. Cliff Lee pitched ten shutout innings over the Giants. Both are stupendously GREAT pitchers.


    The 5D3 and D800 are *stupendous* cameras.
     
  22. Let the wailing and gnashing of teeth by Canon shooters begin...​
    What? A Nikon camera performs better than a Canon Camera? Oh my. Now I'm sure the world will come to an end at the end of 2012. Canon will simply not be able to stand the shame.
    How did I do?
    Happy shooting,
    Yakim.
     
  23. Nope! He gave up "two whole hits" in the nine innings he pitched. Cain is worth every $$ as you already know. He gave up zero runs, not zero hits. Cliff Lee pitched ten shutout innings over the Giants. Both are stupendously GREAT pitchers.
    Ken is obviously even a bigger Giants fan than we are at my house! You got me Ken - it was "no runs" but not no hits! He's still one heck of a pitcher.
    Sounds like we agree about baseball and about cameras in this case... :)
    Dan
     
  24. ...and now they have the D3200! Come on Canon let's get off those laurels!
     
  25. Regarding the claimed 14.4 EV dynamic range of the D800 - since the raw files are at best 14 bit "deep", to achieve 14.4 stops the highlights must undergo some kind of compression.

    No. The DXOmark "print" data (from which all their scores and rankings are calculated) are calculated from images that have been resampled to 8MP to facilitate the comparison between different sensors. At the pixel level, the D800 DR at ISO 100 is 13.23EV so this explains the apparent discrepancy you're seeing.


    This probably disconnects SNR from dynamic range, so SNR ratio could be similar to the 5D Mark 3 yet the DR could be different.

    The DXOMark SNR figure is evaluated for a 18% gray target. SNR depends on how many photons you record; it is different for each luminosity value. Dynamic range is how many stops below saturation does the SNR gets reduced to 1. Thus it is a measure of how dark the extremely dark areas of the image are while still containing (some) information. Now, why do they show different behaviour for the two cameras? SNR for a medium gray target is mostly determined on how efficiently the sensor collects and detects photons (quantum efficiency or QE). Dynamic range is dependent on QE, but it also depends on the ability of the electronics to read small signals. This latter thing is what the D800 excels in, while also having a very good QE.
    In practice obviously, both cameras are just fine for making images. I wouldn't get too hung up on the quality of an individual camera's sensor. There are different lens lineups for Nikon and Canon and other areas of advantages and disadvantages. Look at the whole, instead of just one component. I'm sure that Canon will catch up soon enough (before Nikon has some lightweight long glass with high quality, or a 17mm PC-E). What's nice is that sensors are fast approaching theoretical ideal sensors so we can all put these things to rest. Or we could just decide to do that and get on with our photography.
     
  26. Look for a 40+mp Canon full-frame camera within a year. Imagine, that is, a full-frame sensor with the pixel density of the 7D (or the T2i for that matter)--in the same way that the D800 has about the same pixel density of the D000.
    In addition, look for the price of the 5D III to fall over the next year, in the same way that the prices of the 5D and the 5D II fell.
    Canon will certainly not be standing still, and I cannot believe that it is not already working on other new cameras.
    I have to say, though, that I am very impressed by the sample photos from the D800. More than bragging rights are at stake. At some point, market shares are going to reflect current developments, and so Canon had better have something else coming pretty soon.
    --Lannie
     
  27. Look for a 40+mp Canon full-frame camera within a year. Imagine, that is, a full-frame sensor with the pixel density of the 7D (or the T2i for that matter)--in the same way that the D800 has about the same pixel density of the D000.​
    Sorry. I meant to say the D7000.
    --Lannie
     
  28. It is my personal opinion that Canon has been sleeping on their profits all too long and not paying attention to their competitors.. They were far ahead not too long ago, but now.. I just hope that they won't be like the next blackberry smartphone :) like some one said on FM forum. If I were to start now, I would definitely go the Nikon way.
     
  29. funny, seeing results from 5d mark III at high ISO, I'd go for that camera - not canon - way, alas, the cost is unattainable for a mortal like me. The thing is, I don't think nikon or canon really care about us, our decisions, or whether we shift brand, the bottom line for every sane company is profit, I'll just watch when the titans clash, cheap debris will be abundant, I'll take those.
     
  30. The other shoe to drop is that in terms of RAW images at the ISOs most photographers use (100 to 1600), there is no difference between the 5D2 and 5D3. Above that (especially 6400 and beyond), the 5D3 is slightly better...
    So Canon is charging a whopping $500 more (list price) for improved AF and some modest tweaks here and there to upgrade to the 5D3.
    Corporate Greed.
     
  31. Because they are are only website that makes (or at least claims to make) actual scientifically based tests on camera sensors.​

    Bob Atkins, C'mon now. I've read some of your articles and I liked them. Don't ruin my memories. We all know people can haul out fancy looking equipment with very technical sounding names and use the results to back up whatever point of view they have. I'm not saying that is what is going on here but just because someone throws out some exact sounding numbers with some jargon doesn't mean they've gotten real meaningful objective data.

    Let the wailing and gnashing of teeth by Canon shooters begin...​
    I tell people to buy systems not bodies... especially in the digital age. Nikon and Canon are running into a ceiling. I'm glad Canon has decided to chill on the megapixel thing and has made some rather nice advancements in the video arena. Don't encourage Nikon. The megapixel wars have been one of the most detrimental things in the photography industry. The megapixel wars have rendered the majority of P&S unusable. I would much rather have a low noise 8 megapixel P&S than a 14 megapixel noise box. I know the D800 does a decent job in the noise department but really what is up with the megapixel thing?!
    Both are fine cameras. Anyone selling their gear to switch to Nikon or Canon based no this is an idiot. The next iteration will be completely different. What are you going to do? Switch again?
     
  32. Well, I may be in the minority, but I'd likely pay more attention to Bob's basement experiments than some kind of number based on weighting of various measurements which may or may not be really relevant to me.
    Sure, the D800 has demonstrably wider dynamic range.
    But, more relevant to me is the frame rate of the 5d3, coupled with definitively superior AF, and let's mention the fact that for those of us with something less than 12TB RAID0 arrays and desirous of smaller file sizes, to do this on the D800 (please forgive me if I'm mistaken about this) requires a CROP mode in-cam! To me, that, and the vastly superior highISO performance of the mk3, translates into a more desirable camera.
    As to the price difference between the two, even if I sold my Canon lenses at top value, I'd still be $1,500 in the hole to obtain Nikkor glass that isn't necessarily superior.
    Finally, here is a completely non-scientific review of the D800 which seems to focus more on function than theory (pun stinks, my bad)...
    http://photofocus.com/2012/04/16/nikon-d800-mini-mini-review/
    rt
     
  33. Oh dear, I wonder How I have managed with slide film all those years...
     
  34. re "vastly superior highISO performance of the mk3" I was referring to jpgs....
     
  35. definitively superior AF
    How do you come to such a conclusion? Have you compared the 5D Mk III with the D800 in person? How did you do the comparison, in which lighting conditions, which lenses etc.?
    something less than 12TB RAID0 arrays and desirous of smaller file sizes, to do this on the D800 (please forgive me if I'm mistaken about this) requires a CROP mode in-cam!
    Nikon offers compressed NEF formats which reduce the file size but not resolution or visually perceptible tonality.
    the vastly superior highISO performance of the mk3
    DXO shows basically that there is no such advantage; the Mk III has ever so slightly better DR at the highest ISO settings but SNR for mid gray is the same, tonal range is the same, and the D800 has better color sensitivity at high ISO (in fact throughout the ISO range). On top of it is the higher resolution. I would phrase it like this: at high ISO the 5D Mk III has no great disadvantage compared to the D800.
     
  36. I can believe DxOMark's comparison of low light performance: they back up what everyone says, that newer camera bodies can take buttery smooth pictures at ISO sensitivities where older ones give speckledy output. But dynamic range? According to DxOMark the 5D3 has 11.7 Evs of dynamic range - only a tiny bit more than the 1Ds launched more than a decade ago, which has 11 Evs. Has there really been so little improvement?
    I take the result to mean that if photographing a scene with a wide range of brightness, such as a landscape at dusk with the setting sun in the picture, you are just as likely to get blown highlights and/or lack of contrast in the shadows with the 5D3 as with the older camera. I find that hard to believe. Either things really haven't improved much in this area - or DxOMark's testing is not realistic - or most likely of the three, I've misunderstood what the measurement means.
     
  37. This debate was certainly inevitable. Canon and Nikon knew it. I think they both addressed the needs of their respective users and critics. The debate is more about to what extent they addressed those needs.
    Hats off to Nikon for addressing users' needs in a different way. But this photographer will not be switching systems on that account.
    I own a 5D2 and love it . It is a superb tool. My photographic technique has become more refined and more what I aim for that it would have with any other camera, methinks. However, the few downsides I found have been addressed in the 5D3 to a sufficient extent that I will be ordering one. I'll likely wait for the teething problems to be worked through, but I will definitely get one. Or two ;-)
     
  38. So Canon is charging a whopping $500 more (list price) for improved AF and some modest tweaks here and there to upgrade to the 5D3.
    Corporate Greed.​
    I bet that's what the Canon focus groups said they wanted. Nikon focus groups went on about more MP in an affordable DSLR. I think that is the simple explanation for the differences between the two rather than a Canon conspiracy out to cheat the world. What people asked for is essentially what they got. The pricing of both cameras is very high. The incredible thing is that so many of us fools are paying these prices for a camera.
     
  39. Why do people even bother with the DxO rating? With a 14bit A/D converter, the maximum possible dynamic range is 14 EV. Anything higher is a mathematical impossibility, so god knows where they get these numbers.
     
  40. "Nikon offers compressed NEF formats which reduce the file size but not resolution or visually perceptible tonality."

    The 14-bit compressed NEF weighs in at 45+mb/file (vs 75mb uncomp.) ... Basically 50% larger than a 5d/3 uncompressed CR2. Even stepping down to 12-bit compression the Nikon files a ginormous. Granted, it is simple math based on (what I assume is) fixed resolution. The M and S-raw (10mb) are convenient compromises the 5dIII provides.

    the vastly superior highISO performance of the mk3
    "DXO shows basically that there is no such advantage; the Mk III has ever so slightly better DR at the highest ISO settings but SNR for mid gray is the same, tonal range is the same, and the D800 has better color sensitivity at high ISO (in fact throughout the ISO range). On top of it is the higher resolution. I would phrase it like this: at high ISO the 5D Mk III has no great disadvantage compared to the D800."

    Perhaps you didn't see my addendum stating "in JPG". I can cite a number of reviews supporting my point, but I confess my terminology was unnecessarily broad and incendiary, given the history of these debates.
    Here is just one (http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Canon_EOS_5D_Mark_III/Canon_5D3_vs_Nikon_D800_noise.shtml):
    "At 1600 ISO, the noise has become more obvious on the D800 and for the first time in this sequence I'd say the Mark III has begun to take a lead - albeit extremely small at this point - in resolution. The Canon crop is also considerably cleaner.
    At 3200 ISO, noise textures start to become obvious on the Mark III, but remain much lower than those on the D800. Edges on the Canon are also much better defined than the Nikon at this point.
    At 6400 ISO the gap widens as the D800 becomes very noisy viewed at 1:1, with edges becoming quite poorly defined. The Mark III certainly isn't noise-free at this point, but remains much cleaner and better-defined.
    The story continues at 12800 and 25600 ISO, the maximum for the D800. I'd say at these higher sensitivities the Mark III enjoys around a two stop advantage over the D800 when both are shooting at their maximum resolutions and viewed at 1:1. Certainly the 12800 sample of the Mark III is quite usable at smaller sizes, whereas the D800 is looking pretty ropey at this point."​
     
  41. The 14EV DR limit on a 14-bit system only applies if everything is totally linear. Sensors are analog devices, which are pretty linear, but it would certainly be possible to make the output non linear via analog circuitry before the 14-bit digitization step, or possibly even by sensor design. For example you could code a sensor with both color filters and ND filters, the ND filtered pixels being capable of recording higher light levels than the one which were just color codes via a conventional Bayer matrix. You could then decode intensity in a similar way to how you decode color. Fuji have shown sensors with different pixel sizes which can increase DR. So there are lots of ways in which you could record more than a 14 stop dyanamic range and put that data in a 14-bit number. Just not from a single pixel with a digitized linear output.
     
  42. DxO claims that the D700 has a better sensor than the 5D Mark II. Admittedly, the 5D2 has a bit of a shadow noise
    issue, but it's manageable. When I look at my photos from both cameras - I have used both extensively - the Canon
    photos seem far more appealing and satisfying to my eyes. Eventually, I sold the D700 because it sat around collecting dust for two
    years.

    I'm sure that Dx0 is staffed by capable and knowledgeable people, but their standards are not my standards, and their
    numbering system is meaningless as a predictor of a camera's usefulness to me.

    Now I'm using my ultra-capable new 5D Mark III - sometimes up to ISO 12,800 - and loving it. In the future I hope to add
    a D800E to my bag for its unique high-resolution capabilities. No gnashing here - just lots of happily clicking shutters. :)
     
  43. >> "Look for a 40+mp Canon full-frame camera within a year." <<

    I don't need to look for anything - except good light and interesting subjects.

    Future technological advances will impact all aspects of our lives, but I'm not going to sit on the couch waiting for the day
    when a robot can fold my socks and broil a perfect filet mignon for my dinner.

    Life happens today, not in the future. The cameras that we have today are amazingly capable. Their only weakness is
    that they depend on humans to carry them around and activate them, humans who sometimes would rather long for what
    they don't have than employ and enjoy what's in their hands.
     
  44. I'm sure both cameras are good enough to get the job done. For me, the 5D Mk III is especially interesting due to the new auto focus system. If I could afford it, I think I'd pick this one up. This really is the camera that I wanted. The D800 is not terribly appealing to me. I'd rather have a D700. I don't need the megapixels.
    The great thing is: Canon cannot undo what it has done. All further versions of the 5D should have a great auto focus system.
     
  45. "Life happens today, not in the future. The cameras that we have today are amazingly capable. Their only weakness is that they depend on humans to carry them around and activate them, humans who sometimes would rather long for what they don't have than employ and enjoy what's in their hands."
    Well said! :)
     
  46. So why does the Canon camera cost more ?
     
  47. So why does the Canon camera cost more ?
     
  48. "So why does the Canon camera cost more ?" So that they can sell mk ii at the same price. But I completely agree with you. The new camera should not cost more, esp. that leap is not justified.
     
  49. It probably costs more because it has been several years since the previous version at this point in the line-up was released, and it isn't uncommon for the new thing to cost more. Plus it added additional features that the previous camera did not have and improved others. Companies like Canon also make pricing decisions based on how things fit into their overall line-up, and I'll guess that the pricing recognized, and hoped to capitalize on, the move away from the 1Ds series bodies to the 5D series bodies by photographers who felt they were getting more value for their money.
    So, looked at within the context of the Canon line-up itself, the pricing of the 5D3 - even though we always want things to be less expensive for our own reasons - makes sense.
    What Canon may not have understood during the time leading up to the 5D3 introduction, the lead up time during which the marketing and pricing decisions were made, was that Nikon was going to introduce a camera appealing to more or less the same sort of photographer, and provide it at a lower price and with features that suggest that it may well me "better" than the 5D3 in some ways. (As I've written more than once, Nikon photographers can be very pleased with what "their brand" is doing right now. If I shot Nikon I'd be all over the D800, but as a Canon shooter I don't make major decisions quite that quickly, especially when the current Canon gear I use produces truly wonderful image quality.)
    So, where does this leave us? First, I suspect that Canon (and Nikon, too) understands that, for all the talk of switching brands, only a very, very small percentage of photographers do this in the short term. So, in the short term, one of the major downsides for Canon when the two cameras are compared is the perception (which is important) that Nikon has "caught and passed" them in some ways. (Reality isn't important here. Perception is.) A second short-term issue is that at least some folks who might have jumped for a new 5D3 are now a bit more likely to take a go-slow approach. (I'm one of these people - I think the 5D3 is a fine camera, but not enough different from my 5D2 in the context of what I do to make the expense worthwhile right now.)
    In the longer term - and brand switchers really need to think a bit more long term - I'm confident that Canon knows what it is doing and has a road map that will work (and be tweaked) in effective ways. It would be naive to think that Canon is going to give up the still photography market in place of video (as some suggest) or that 22MP is really going to be the end point in their development of high MP sensors (it cannot be). I happen to think that Canon is in the process of reshuffling a good portion of their line-up and that once this plays out - over a year or two? - we'll all be singing a very different tune.
    I also think that there is a very good chance that the price point of the 5D3 will have to soften sooner rather than later.
    Dan
     
  50. The new camera costs more because: They think people will pay that price!
    At the moment. . they are right! People are buying the camera like hot cakes. I also think that the current strength of the Nikon offering will force a bit of a rethink on Canon's part -> and that will result in BETTER cameras for us down the road. I half suspect the top notch AF system in the 5DIII was a late addition based upon leaked information of the Nikon offering. Can you IMAGINE what whould have happened if the 5DIII was released with the same AF system as the 5DII? Even the 7D AF system would not have been up to snuff.
    I find myself at a bit of a cross roads with my Canon system; not because of the FF camera pricing, but because of the accessory pricing. The Canon lenses are simply moving out of my price range. $2K for a 24-70/2.8? Yikers! The new 600EX-RT flash (or whatever the model number is) is what. . .$600? For a single flash unit? Look. . .I make a good living. . .I can afford toys. . . .but this market has simply left me in the dust.
     
  51. Life happens today, not in the future. The cameras that we have today are amazingly capable. Their only weakness is that they depend on humans to carry them around and activate them, humans who sometimes would rather long for what they don't have than employ and enjoy what's in their hands.​
    Hummmm........ Could the same rational be employed to other aspects in life as well? I mean, should I stop dreaming about younger women and be satisfied with the one I live with for the past 21 years? Nahhhh....... It can't be right.
    :)
    Happy shooting,
    Yakim.
     
  52. I'd have to agree that the leap in pricing is quite unjustified. £2999 for the MK iii in the UK is far too much.
    The same goes for Canon's new (and upcoming) lenses (24-70 & 200-400) which are extraordinarily expensive.
     
  53. "So does my 1978 Chevy Chevette, my 8-track tape player and my Betamax video recorder."
    I can't find anyone to repair the 8 track player in my 74 Saab Sonnet.
    On the other hand, for ultimate image quality the D800 is a better deal.
    I still like 8x10 contact prints from the 50's vintage Deardorffs I use - tho the glass is much newer.
    And I still sell prints taken with a Canon G3 from time to time.
     
  54. Paulie Smith wrote something about:
    "... ultimate image quality..."
    "Utimate" image quality? Really?
    Dan
     
  55. I truly don't get the abundance of conspiracy theory about the pricing of this camera.
    For US customers, the 5dMarkII retailed at $3,000 in November 2008. Since that time, purely as a function of currency fluctuation, the US dollar has lost 22% of it's value against the Yen (99.00 11/2008; 81.14 3/31/12). $3,000 at MarkII introduction now costs $3,660 at MarkIII introduction. And this is for a camera that is arguably more competitive with its contemporaries than the MkII was at introduction.
    Corporate greed? Sure it exists, but it doesn't have anything to do with the price in terms of reality. Consider how quickly major retailers immediately sold out their initial allocations of thousands of MkIIIs, which reportedly were shipped in large quantities.
    Real reasons may lie in US monetary policy, Quantitative Easement, or increase in debt, and are beyond the scope of this forum. ;-)
     
  56. The cameras that we have today are amazingly capable. Their only weakness is that they depend on humans to carry them around and activate them, humans who sometimes would rather long for what they don't have than employ and enjoy what's in their hands.​
    Meanwhile, Dan, you have the 5D II, the 5D III, and the D800 on order:
    http://www.photo.net/canon-eos-digital-camera-forum/00aCnS
    From that eminence you tell the rest of us to be content with what we have.
    Let them eat cake, eh, Dan?
    --Lannie
     
  57. If you convert dollars to Japanese yen, the new camera doesn't cost more. It costs LESS than its predecessor.
    Also, the 5DIII is manufactured in Japan. The D800 is manufactured in Thailand where labor costs are lower.
    Lannie, well, I sold my car last year, so I had a few extra bucks. How much did you pay for your car? Probably more than I've ever paid for a camera. ;-)
    Yakim, no no! Please keep dreaming about younger women.
     
  58. The DR range is odd. It only appears at low ISO settings. However at both low and high ISO settings the SNR of the 5D3 and D800 are similar. That would suggest shadow noise should be similar, which would normally make DR similar.
    ...
    DxOMark don't seem to explain exactly where the extra DR at low ISO is coming from, so I guess we'll have to wait for more explicit and transparent tests to figure that one out.​
    I think Ilkka already explained this pretty well, but to recap: it'd seem that Canon's read noise due to 'dirty' electronics is what leads to the low DR. If DR is determined by the # of stops between the signal where SNR=1 & the saturation signal, then lower read noise will automatically increase DR... by a significant amount as well.
    Actually, here's a great example of a controlled test by Fred Miranda that shows just how clean D800 shadows are vs. 5DIII (Canon users: seriously brace yourself):
    http://www.fredmiranda.com/5DIII-D800/index_controlled-tests.html
    As to your 2nd point: I fully agree. It irks me that the full testing protocols are often not enumerated on DXO's site... I feel they offer equations here & there to give you the feeling that everything's valid, but their methodology should be shared so it can be peer reviewed like any other scientific paper. I'm confused as to what they're actually doing when calculating DR. Are they doing something similar to a step wedge test? If, for example, they're just evaluating max/min signals in white(blown-out)/black(clipped) RAW files, those numbers would be fallible to non-linear signal processing or sensor response.
    That being said, their intent appears to be noble & there appears to be internal consistency between cameras (one thing people need to remember when calling foul at DR results showing the D800 better than MF sensors is that, no matter how much highlight headroom you have in MF sensors, if the read noise is poor, that will dramatically decrease DR). But I'd still like to see their full methodology, & I still have trouble accepting that the 'normalized' DR goes up from 13.2EV to 14.4EV just from normalization. If it approached 14EV (14-bit ADC), that'd be easier to swallow. But even if read noise = 1ADU after 'downsizing', you'd max out at 14EV... can you drop below 1ADU read noise? And if you did, the signal at which SNR would then also be <1 ADU... which is not possible in a digital file. So that leaves me confused.
    I find the Stouffer transmission wedge test to be pretty valid for comparing cameras. You're feeding each camera the same input, then looking at where you've clipped highlights vs. where SNR =1 in the shadows. I've carried out a Stouffer transmission wedge test on the 5DIII, & will compare it to my friend's D7000 later tonight (and D800 when he gets it). Though Fred Miranda's tests in the link above seem pretty conclusive, I do want to control for differences in highlight headroom between the cameras, as that would affect the DR result.
    Cheers,
    Rishi
     
  59. Lannie, well, I sold my car last year, so I had a few extra bucks. How much did you pay for your car? Probably more than I've ever paid for a camera. ;-)​
    I'm glad you have your priorities in order, Dan. My newest car is a 1995 Honda Civic, but, hey, that's how I manage to buy cameras!
    You knew that I was kidding, of course. As if I were the one making do with one camera and two lenses. . . .
    --Lannie
     
  60. Landrum wrote:
    From that eminence you tell the rest of us to be content with what we have.
    Let them eat cake, eh, Dan?
    Classic case of changing the subject, combined with ad hominem, which are often the strategies of a person who might feel more comfortable dissing the messenger than discussing the message. Rather than impugning the person's character, can we stick to the issue? Please?
    I like Dan's concise and clear statement of the issue, namely the risk and distraction that can come with obsessing over small specification differences, exaggerated to the point that they take on importance far beyond any real effect that they will have on photographs, coupled with perhaps some personal anger and frustration over gear and the companies that make it - when the equipment is already far and away competent enough to allow one to make astonishingly great photography in both aesthetic and technical terms.
    It would be interesting to see your response to the point he was actually making.
    Take care,
    (Another) Dan
     
  61. Robert Turner wrote:
    "I truly don't get the abundance of conspiracy theory about the pricing of this camera."
    Robert, you obviously haven't spent enough time in photography gear discussion forums yet! ;-)
    Dan
     
  62. Robert, you obviously haven't spent enough time in photography gear discussion forums yet! ;-)
    Point well made, Dan...
    I was under the impression Nikon/Canon threads were always reasonable and devoid of hyperbole. ;-)
    On another note, I have a question about the Fred Miranda tests referenced before (to you, Dan, or anyone else who may want to chime in).
    Fred says " It's unfair to downsize the D800 36MP file to 22MP in order to compare the advantage of higher resolution. Doing so, would throw away detail from the higher resolution file. Instead, I interpolated the 22MP file to 36MP. I believe this is a fair comparison because both files will be printed at the same paper size. "
    Fine, but isn't it equally unfair to interpolate the 5d/III image? Isn't he essentially asking software to "create" missing data?
    Granted, the color noise likely has nothing to do with interpolation, but I would think if he makes a decision in his tests so as not to be unfair to Nikon, he should more fully defend modifying the Canon's image in order to have the same sized "100%" image crops.
    But, as usual, I could be missing something basic and essential...
    rt​
     
  63. >>> "Feeling good about your equipment is the most important aspect of photography"
    I just came back from a 1,300 mile desert road trip in Nevada and California. This camera served me well for the trip. I should check and see what DxOMark has to say about it, so I'll know where it slots in with other cameras, and how I should really feel about it.
     
  64. Brad appropriately joked:
    "I just came back from a 1,300 mile desert road trip in Nevada and California. This camera served me well for the trip. I should check and see what DxOMark has to say about it, so I'll know where it slots in with other cameras, and how I should really feel about it."
    +1
    I did a 2000+ mile trip a few weeks ago, entirely for photographic purposes. I can report that I did not think once about how my camera stacks up against other cameras. I did think a lot about the potential for bringing back interesting and hopefully compelling photographs.
    Do enough photography and gear is just gear. It is not an object of lust or a way of measuring personal worth. :)
    Dan
     
  65. First, to clear the air, Lannie and I were both just having some fun with each other.
    Regarding pixels versus pricing, I'm sure that we'd all love to have more pixels at lower prices. However, the world has gone through some tough challenges, and businesses have to do what it takes to survive in this climate. We've just lost Kodak. Let's please not lose Canon and Nikon to bad business decisions.
    Regarding the excellent points made by Brad and (the other) Dan, paralysis by analysis seems to be all the rage on photo forums these days. It's a real shame, because some brilliant technology has just come to market (5D3, D800, NEX-7). You'd think that people would be having so much fun making photos that they wouldn't have time to bicker about the other brand's specs.
    If you're out there working hard to make the best pictures you can, you won't have time to obsess over pixel density, anti-aliasing filters, or the chromatic aberration bogie man.
    Case in point: Luminous Landscape is featuring photos taken by an astronaut who piloted one of the last shuttle missions. It's some of the most spectacular photography that I've ever seen. What camera did he use? A Nikon D3S.
    A typical reaction from a pixel and bargain obsessed gear head might go something like this: Hey, wait a minute! That can't be right. The D3S has only 12 MP. That's not enough for serious photography! NASA needs to purchase some D800's and fly that mission over again! Even worse, the D3S costs over $5000US. What a ripoff for only 12 MP!
    Finally, with regard to the Fred Miranda 'controlled' test, IMO it's not acceptable to draw conclusions when comparing out of focus regions of photographs. Yet, so many Internet-published 'camera tests' do just that.
     
  66. Do enough photography and gear is just gear. It is not an object of lust or a way of measuring personal worth. :)
    While I can fully agree with the second sentence I can not agree with the first. When I shoot I need the gear to be an extension of my eye and hand. For this reason I give the ergonomics of the camera at least as much importance as its IQ. A camera with great IQ but which is not comfortable to shoot with or if it lacks features I consider essential is of little use for me and I would rather spend my money on a different camera with a bit less IQ but which is more user friendly and have the other things I need.
    Case in point #1: About 2 years ago I owned the Sony A33. It had several features that I liked (e.g. revolving screen, AS, compactness and AF in video) but I couldn't make it work seamlessly for me. I thus sold it after a few months of use.
    Case in point #2: I avoided the 5D and 5D2 and went with the 40D and 7D respectively. After playing a bit with the 5D3 though I came to a conclusion that it is a completely different beast (I think it's the mythical 3D we've been waiting for) and apart from the name has very little with its predecessors. Thus, I can certainly see myself owning one some day.
    Happy shooting,
    Yakim.
     
  67. So Canon is charging a whopping $500 more (list price) for improved AF and some modest tweaks here and there to upgrade to the 5D3.​
    The differnce in price is significantly more here in SE Asia where the price of a 5D3 is $3500+ and the old 5D2 is $1900 . I have just purchased a 5D2 as opposed to a D700 after trying a 5D2 out for a day The 5D2 is a much better camera with video too. (the D800 is $3700 here at present and out of my price range).
    Another point which bugged me about Nikon video is the awfull sound quality even with an external mic apparent;y the D800 and D4 has the same sound setup as D300s. A 5d2 has much better sound which can be controlled manually. It may not be so important to some here but HDVideo is an important consideration to me.
    Reading this forum, anyone would think that a 5D2 is outdated and obsolete. When I asked pros who use them and after my own testing; the 5D2 is an excellent camera and a relatively cheap entry to FF Digital. Especially for those like me who have to upgrade to FF lenses. Do I really need 36mp? If I can produce decent 90cm wide prints from a 6MP Fuji S2 Pro then I'll have no problems witf a 5D2.
     
  68. Yakim wrote:
    "While I can fully agree with the second sentence I can not agree with the first. When I shoot I need the gear to be an extension of my eye and hand. "

    I have to accept your first sentence, and I fully agree with the second. :)
    It gets at a different issue than the one being looked at here, but it is a very important point. (That "other issue" is the one about the small technical issues and their relative importance and, even more, the tendency of some to obsess about trivial differences and about the fetishisms that develop around gear.)
    When I shoot, my ideal would be that the gear essentially becomes invisible. In other words, because I have done so much shooting with it and dealt with photographic issues frequently enough, the technical parts of the thought process will become so second nature that I don't struggle with them. In addition, the operation of my gear - how to set up the camera, which lenses might be right, an so forth - are familiar enough to me that they don't take mental energy or focus away from the more important aspects of making photographs.
    This actually does loop back to Gear Upgrade Syndrome - the compulsion to feel obligated to upgrade or panic when any new "better" thing is announced. To my way of thinking, the intuitive skills to operate a camera are critical to making most good photography. By using a fine camera (and associated gear) for a number of years - let's take my 5D2 that I've used for over three years - I am able to function effectively and intuitively while shooting. If another camera comes along, especially if it is from a different manufacturer, it isn't enough for it to be a little bit better in a few ways. For me to consider "upgrading," it must provide truly compelling advantages that would convince me to relearn all of that important operational stuff. Every so often that happens, but not with every new bit of gear.
    I think we're roughly on the same page on this one, Yakim.
    Take care,
    Dan
    (Note: I rely on good gear that I use, appropriate to the types of photography I am doing, but I honestly don't think about the gear in terms other than what it does for my photography.)
     
  69. I still have trouble accepting that the 'normalized' DR goes up from 13.2EV to 14.4EV just from normalization. If it approached 14EV (14-bit ADC), that'd be easier to swallow. But even if read noise = 1ADU after 'downsizing', you'd max out at 14EV... can you drop below 1ADU read noise? And if you did, the signal at which SNR would then also be
    The raw file contains the pixels with 13.2 EV dynamic range (at manufacturer's ISO 100). The file is first transferred from camera to PC and converted into a 16-bit TIFF and then is downsized to 8MP 16-bit TIFF. The camera hardware cannot produce these downsized images with enhanced DR (although recent Nikons do have 16-bit processing pathways the only reduced size image options are 8-bit per color). Here DX assume that the user shoots RAW and then processes the images on a computer using image formats that allow the high dynamic range sought.
    As per whether even the average can go below 1 ADU, yes it can? The 4.5 pixels that are averaged to go from 36 to 8MP have 14*4.5 bits = 63 bits, plenty of room for improved DR.
     
  70. I think we're roughly on the same page on this one, Yakim.​
    Yep. great minds think alike. :)
    So Canon is charging a whopping $500 more (list price) for improved AF and some modest tweaks here and there to upgrade to the 5D3.​
    Yesterday I had a chance to play with the 5D3 and this short experience was enough to convince me that the changes are far from being modest. Yes, the improved AF system is the most noticeable change as the 5D2's AF system was very primitive (derived from the 20D) but the improved VF, better fps, better high ISO, added buttons, enhanced customability etc. all add up to a completely different beast. This is not a 5D3. This is the mythical 3D we've all been waiting for. As such it is well worth the added cost IMHO.
    Happy shooting,
    Yakim.
     
  71. First, to clear the air, Lannie and I were both just having some fun with each other.​
    Thank you, Dan. My original point (Apr 19, 2012; 08:00 p.m.) was simply that Canon is not and will not be standing still--not typically the kind of claim that generates a lot of controversy. I find it inconceivable that Canon will not try to match Nikon in the megapixel race, at least until such time that there is no profit in that. Nikon's latest crop sensor camera with about 25 megapixels indicates that Nikon still thinks that more megapixels sell--which is not to say that having more megapixels has very much to do with quality.
    In the case of the D800 (not the crop sensor camera with 25 megapixels), I think that having more megapixels actually is about better quality--for a certain type of photography, at least. I am a bit more skeptical about packing 25 mp on a crop sensor, but we shall see. . . .
    As for what DxOMark has to say, I can't say that I have ever been able to come to any firm conclusion based on its analyses. Some things can be meaningfully quantified, and some cannot. I recoil when someone tries to give a grade to something like top-of-the line cameras. I find Luminous Landscape and Dpreview.com more useful in general, and even with the latter I am not sure how useful its number ratings are. I did like its old method that was used to show side-by-side comparisons better than the present system, but it is all worth looking at, in my opinion--yes, it is pixel-peeping, and I confess to doing my fair share of that.
    We do a fair amount of product comparisons on these threads, and I see no alternative. Most of us get pretty enthusiastic when we see a bigger leap forward than what we were expecting--especially when it occurs at a reasonable price. I remember how excited I was when Canon initially announced the 5D at about $3500. That sounds expensive in retrospect but it was a major breakthrough then. It was not so long before the price sank to $2500 or so, and perhaps the same thing can happen with the 5D III. Either way, I am sure that I would be delighted to have the 5D III, but the D800 or something like it has more appeal to me right now. Maybe if I used it, I would not be so enamored.
    Then again, I am still playing around with an old Kodak DCS Pro SLR/n with about 13.5 megapixels--and the real reason is pixel-for-pixel sharpness:
    http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=1028279
    That kind of sharpness is what can happen when one leaves off an anti-aliasing filter. The Nikon D800 E is interesting for much the same reason. Why my obsession with resolution? It goes back to my adolescent love of good refactor telescopes. I am still in awe of high resolution Does high resolution have practical applications? You better believe it.
    --Lannie
     
  72. I find myself at a bit of a cross roads with my Canon system; not because of the FF camera pricing, but because of the accessory pricing. The Canon lenses are simply moving out of my price range. $2K for a 24-70/2.8? Yikers! The new 600EX-RT flash (or whatever the model number is) is what. . .$600? For a single flash unit? Look. . .I make a good living. . .I can afford toys. . . .but this market has simply left me in the dust.​
    +1
    I make plenty of money and love photography but Canon's pricing of late is taking all the joy out of it for me. All I wanted was USM in their cheap legacy primes such as the 35 f2, and 24 f2.8 and given they were able to put aring USM in the $200 28-105 f3.5-4.5 I had high hopes. So what did Canon deliver? $800 primes. All I wanted was ring USM in the 70-300 IS, and Canon gave us a $1500 L version that weighs more than a housebrick.
    I'm too stuck in the Canon system to change but over the last three our four years Canon has introduced very little of interest to me - the pricing is part of the problem - while Nikon has. And if I were starting today, I'd probably choose Nikon.
     
  73. For all the speculation about Canon's marketing strategy, I think that the 5DIII will appeal to those who, like me, held off after the the 5DII came out, because they would have preferred improved AF as opposed to higher pixel count.
    Regarding the DR difference between the 5DIII and D800, I'm quite ready to accept that Nikon has a serious lead, but I'm still wondering how this translates in practical terms. The best hands-on approach to this I have seen so far is shadow recovery examples such as :
    http://www.fredmiranda.com/5DIII-D800/index_controlled-tests.html
    as this translates numbers into real photographic meaning. However, I have an issue with this and other similar examples. One of my most common PP correction in LR3 is to push shadow recovery (fill-in) quite a bit on high contrast images. I do push the cursor halfway through the slider on occasions, sometimes even more, and never have had results remotely as bad as Fred Miranda's example, and this is with files shot with the lowly 5D classic.
    Given that my camera has significantly lower DR than the 5DIII, I have to wonder if don't have to push correction beyond realistic use to reveal that kind of a difference between the 5DIII and the D800.
    The other thing I am wondering is how the DR difference translates in terms of hilights, something I have not seen so far, and which might be more important than shadows. I remember playing with a D700 several years ago and comparing identical shots with my 5D classic. I loved the AF of the D700 but found some blooming artifacts in the blown out hilights which were more troublesome than those produced by the 5Dc.
    Shouldn't we concentrate more on how sensors behave in the hilights, since no matter how much DR we have, there will always be situations where we face blown out hilights, such as night photography, for instance ?
     
  74. After reading the Fred Miranda report I'm thinking about canceling my D800 order. Live View and high quality TS lenses
    are very important to me. I think I'll be sticking with the 5D3 for the foreseeable future.
     
  75. I do push the cursor halfway through the slider on occasions, sometimes even more, and never have had results remotely as bad as Fred Miranda's example, and this is with files shot with the lowly 5D classic.
    Given that my camera has significantly lower DR than the 5DIII​
    Not sure where you're getting your data from but if you look at DXO, the 5DIII actually has worse low ISO dynamic range than the 5D at the pixel level.
    Just the other day I tried to do a +2 stop exposure on an accidentally underexposed (heavily backlit, before I dialed in EC) shot from my 5DIII and already saw banding.
    I actually had similar experience with my 5D Classic, but my 5DII seemed to behave slightly better. I think that might be explained by inter-unit variability. All in all, the entire line of 5D sensors (maybe all Canon, I don't know, I'm only speaking for what I own, which is the entire 5D family) is unacceptably prone to banding & low ISO shadow noise when compared to (recent) competition (the D7000 & D800, for example).
    -Rishi
     
  76. I think I'll be sticking with the 5D3 for the foreseeable future.​
    Dan, I am glad to see that I am not the only one going back and forth on these matters. I would like to give the D800 a sustained try (the kind that is only possible with a purchase and long-term usage), but I am reluctant to knock off a convenience store at this point to satisfy my personal curiosity. Maybe in the future. . . .
    [How my camera addiction led to a life of crime, forthcoming]
    --Lannie
     
  77. Just the other day I tried to do a +2 stop exposure on an accidentally underexposed (heavily backlit, before I dialed in EC) shot from my 5DIII and already saw banding.​
    Rishi, that is sobering news. I move exposure compensation all over the place in routine shooting. I wonder if there is a firmware fix for the banding problem. I keep hearing about banding but have not witnessed it in my own Canon shots.
    http://www.digitalcamerainfo.com/content/Canon-Acknowledges-Canon-EOS-5D-Mark-II-Banding-Issue-19629.htm
    --Lannie
     
  78. Rishi,
    Maybe I'm missing something, but if I look at this :
    http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Cameras/Compare-Camera-Sensors/Compare-cameras-side-by-side/(appareil1)/795|0/(brand)/Canon/(appareil2)/176|0/(brand2)/Canon
    then go to the measurement tab and check SNR 18% and Dynamic Range, the curves show a distinct advantage to the 5DIII.
    As I said, I have never experienced serious banding / noise problems when lifting shadows to my liking with my 5D. Hearing that in your experience the 5DIII is more vulnerable to that issue is very troublesome. The improved AF and high iso of the 5DIII are compelling reasons for me to upgrade from the 5Dc, but given that a significant amount of what I shoot is in uncontrolled lighting environment (street / documentary), I absolutely need to be able to recover shadows in post. I'm not talking of silly extrem +4ev shadow push, but enough shadow recovery to meet the challenge of average backlit scenes or dark skins shot against a bright light colored background.
    Would you care to share some examples ?
    Thanks in advance
     
  79. Note: I rely on good gear that I use, appropriate to the types of photography I am doing, but I honestly don't think about the gear in terms other than what it does for my photography.​
    I sleep with my gear, G. Dan. I know it's sick, but I just can't help myself. I know that some women tend to complain, but let's face it: women are expendable. Glass is forever. Women tend to leave. I have never had a lens or a camera walk away and leave me forlorn.
    Let's keep our priorities in order here.
    --Lannie
     
  80. Here's an example of the type of shot where I would have to do a significant amount of shadow recovery. Incidentally, this was shot with film, with significant overexposure and underdevelopment to contain contrast. Still, after a conservative scan, I had to tame the hilights and lift shadows quite a bit in PS.
    In the wet darkroom, I had to give the upper right corner 6x the exposure of the faces to get a hilight details in the print.
    This is the type of shooting situation I would like to be able to face with my digital system.
    00aJWZ-460771584.jpg
     
  81. Pierre, both the original capture and the post processing are superb.
    --Lannie
     
  82. [How my camera addiction led to a life of crime, forthcoming]​
    I seriously doubt it. Try audio equipment.
    :)
    let's face it: women are expendable. Glass is forever. Women tend to leave. I have never had a lens or a camera walk away and leave me forlorn.​
    Guys, stop it. You are killing me.
    :)
    Happy shooting,
    Yakim.
     
  83. Lannie,
    Thanks for the compliment, it is very much appreciated.
    This picture was taken in a remote Vezo village of the southwestern coast of Madagascar. The Vezo, one of the 18 ethnic groups of the island, are essentially semi nomadic fishermen. The southwest of is the only desert region of Madagascar, which is otherwise mostly tropical. The sand there is about as white as snow. In the middle of the day, the temperature shoots well above 40°C. People built canopies out of leaves and gather under them during the hottest hours. Hence the photographic challenge of shooting dark skins in the shade against the background of white sand blindingly lit by the unforgiving sun.
    This was not just a photographic challenge. I was fortunate enough to spend two weeks in this village. It was a unique experience.
     
  84. I haven't seen any banding in the 5D3's output (in several hundred exposures so far). The DR and shadow noise seem
    fine so far. Images are sharp, color fidelity is good. It works great with the 580ex. AF is fast and accurate. And now we
    learn from Canon that the infamous glowing LCD problem has absolutely no impact on exposure or image quality.

    It's a great camera, folks. If you liked the 5D2 you'll like this one even more.

    Lannie, good call on lenses versus women. Glad you have your priorities straight. :)
     
  85. First off: I need to stop and compliment Landrum Kelly as his posts literally have me cracking up to no end here :) Also, Landrum, that link you provided was for a different problem (with sRAW). We're talking about banding in RAW in general, which I doubt Canon has officially acknowledged. But most of us who own Canon bodies implicitly acknowledge its existence. Funny, my Nikon friends don't even know what the term 'FPN (fixed pattern noise)' is... :)
    Second: Pierre, I don't think you'll have any trouble getting more DR than film with Canon or Nikon... the SNR of negative film is so low on the low end that it eats up overexposure & almost requires it to get good shadow detail. Digital SLRs just require a different philosophy where you expose more for the highlights than for the shadows. You then recover shadow detail. With Canon, you'll just have to compromise more, maybe blow more highlights than you would with Nikon to preserve shadow detail. Or use noise removal software... someone on dpreview successfully removed a lot of the 5D3 banding... and even though you may cringe at the possibility of removing detail by using noise removal, your SNR in the shadows will start off so much higher than it would be with negative film that it will really be moot. For more on this, read Roger Clark's treatment of it here.
    As for the 5D vs 5D3: I'm sorry, I was comparing the 5D Mark II to the 5D Mark III; my bad. The 5D Mark III has slightly lower DR than the 5D Mark II, but both the Mark II & Mark III appear to have slightly higher DR than the 5D classic. At the pixel level, the 5D III only has 0.2EV more DR than the 5D classic, so I don't know if that translates to any real world advantage. But you do have more pixels with the 5DII & 5DIII so there is likely some DR advantage (indicated by DXO's normalized 'print' scores).
    Either way, though, I wouldn't call your 5D classic 'lowly' at all compared to the Mark II & Mark III. Now, the entire 5D line compared to the D800? Maybe :)
    Also, I do believe there's some degree of inter-unit variability. So that's why some may see more banding than others.
    Here's an example of where I did a +2 stop exposure & +100 Blacks in LR 4:
    [​IMG]
    Link to full-size image
    View full image at 100%. Original exposure on left, adjusted on right. You can see a thumbnail of the full original shot at the upper left. After a few shots I dialed in EC b/c I didn't care too much about the sky & wanted a more blown-out overexposed look to the shot. Of course, to do this properly, I should've brought my off-camera flash & umbrella, but this was supposed to be a landscape shoot & what happened was the sunrise was pathetic b/c of too many clouds at the tulip fields so I just ended up taking some shots of my friend in the fields. Given how many clouds there were in the sky, this scene doesn't have an unreasonable amount of DR (and the skies were still blown & unrecoverable in my underexposure). But try to lift those shadows, & it gets pretty noisy, as you can see.
    I'm not saying the 5D Mark III is too noisy to work with, I'm just saying that if this were the D800 or D7000, this much shadow lifting would not be a problem. In general, this isn't a big problem for me when it comes to people shots, where I generally don't care about a ton of DR... & when I do, I use off-camera flash to get this sort of look:
    [​IMG]
    Where I do care, however, is when it comes to landscapes. Take the following photo, e.g.:
    [​IMG]
    That's already 3 exposures merged by hand using layers in PS, & I used a Daryl Benson 3-stop Reverse Graduated ND filter. The most overexposed file was used for the patch of trees at the lower right & still, if I brighten them any more than what you see here, I see vertical banding in a large print. Granted, this was shot with my 5D classic, but a little more DR would really have been welcome. Yes, you might say that I should've taken another +1 or +2 shot in the field... but to that I say: hindsight is 20/20 :) Though I must say, the 5D certainly made this scene easier to work with than good ol' Velvia 50... here's the same scene a couple years ago shot on my EOS-3:
    [​IMG]
    Back then I had no choice but to wait till 45 minutes after sunset to even attempt this shot, even though I was also using the Daryl Benson 3-stop Reverse GND back then (else the band of sky above the mountains would be blown-- actually, in the original slide you can already see it getting close to blown or losing color... some highlight recovery on the scan was used to get color back in the sky above the mountains).
    Just to state my position: I'm torn, because so far I love the 5D III AF, & the 600EX-RT flashes... the system 'just works' now, my major gripes with the 5D Mark II/580EX II being solved (poor AF, flashes frying & poor reliability when used w/ Pocket Wizard). But the sensor on the D800 is a game changer, as is the 14-24 f/2.8 lens (I still can't find a copy of the 16-35 or 17-40 Canon wide zooms that doesn't require me to go to f/16 to get edge-to-edge sharpness... e.g. that Rizal Bridge shot shows softness on the left side compared to the right when printed at 20x30 even though it was shot at f/18). And b/c I love 18-point sunstars & circular OOF highlights down to f/2.8 on primes, I'm tempted to invest in Nikon for their consistent use of 9-blade apertures in their prime/pro lenses.
    So it's not *just* disappointment in the 5D3 sensor that has be on the cusp of switching. It's just the last straw... though a rather heavy one, I think.
    -Rishi
     
  86. Maybe the banding is caused by the merge process?
     
  87. Maybe the banding is caused by the merge process?​
    No, it's in the original +2 exposure, & I used luminosity masks for the merge, & made sure the area with the trees got 100% of its pixels from the highest exposure file (so I did some hand painting of the mask). So I can't fathom any mechanism that would make the banding result from the merging process.
    Actually, now that I go back & look at the image, it's the general noise in the shadows that bothers me even more than the slight bit of vertical banding. But the original point remains: this type of shot would benefit from a significantly cleaner sensor.
    Some people won't care. Some people don't even care in the 24x36 print of that shot. The point is: I care.
    Just haven't decided yet if I care enough to switch. I'm going to have to go on a number of fast-paced people/event shoots with my friend's D800 + fast primes to see if it can keep up with the 5D Mark III AF, which has been pretty awesome so far (using the side cross-type points; i.e., not having to focus & recompose).
    -Rishi
     
  88. Why was +2 selected if that exposure was noise prone? Perhaps you could have overexposed the shadows at +4 or so and then
    adjusted exposure before combining files.
     
  89. I meant +2 from the previous exposure, which was already +X from what the meter thought. Obviously I was shooting in Manual mode. Here is the unprocessed overexposure:
    [​IMG]
    I didn't take an even higher exposure because I wanted to use this overexposure for everything other than the mountains & the sky (i.e. the buildings, highway, trees, etc.). If portions (e.g. the border of the buildings against the water & sky) become significantly overexposed & bleed into other areas, merging with finesse becomes very difficult (& I dislike all automated HDR software... their output is usually too 'baked' IMHO).
    You could argue, though, that I should have taken an even higher exposure just for the trees. To which I say:
    1. If you saw that overexposure I posted above on the back of your LCD, with no indication that blacks are clipped in the histogram, wouldn't you have thought you'd be OK?
    2. You are correct :) But hindsight is 20/20
    Like I said, in retrospect, it probably would've been a good idea to take yet another +1 or +2 exposure, then dial in -1 or -2 & then merge it... that way at least the shadows in those trees would've been clean.
    But the point I was trying to make is that with the >2 stops better DR of the D800, it would've been clean to begin with.
    Just like the noise in the hair/neck area of my friend in that +2 shot at the tulip fields also would've been clean.
    Yes, I'm cherry-picking bad examples, which account for a very small percentage of my photography. That's why I said this DR thing is more of a 'last straw'. But I don't think anyone wouldn't appreciate even those few % of photos being recoverable, because sometimes there's a gem in that few %.
    -Rishi
     
  90. Here's another example from my shoot the other day with the 5D Mark III:
    [​IMG]
    Link to full-size image
    Please view it at 100% by following the link.
    I did a partial vignetting correction (this was shot w/ the 35/1.4L at f/1.4, ISO 100), and a modest shadow lift, then some contrast adjustments to get the image on the left. Original on right. I don't think that's an unreasonable shadow lift. Yet it's already noisy, with pattern noise evident.
    Yes, you'll probably only see it on a large print or at higher magnifications on screen. But you won't see it at all on a D800. With Canon, you pretty much have to accept that your files will often be riddled with this. Especially given Canon primes' propensity to vignette when wide open (the 24/1.4 vignettes more than 3 stops!)...
    Whether or not you care is the crux of the matter. I personally feel that Canon should've done better.
    -Rishi
     
  91. Rishi,
    Thanks for you long and informative answer. In the examples you posted, the first one, the portrait is really where I see something problematic taking place. Noise in the tulips is probably noticeable only on very large prints. I generally print no larger than 30x40cm, to match the maximum I can deal with in my wet lab.
    I browsed through the link you posted and will have to read it over more thoroughly as it deals with technical concepts I'm unfamiliar with (transfer function, among others). The contention that digital cameras have much better DR than film is something I've first read not long ago and which surprised me, as I was under the opposite impression. But some reasons why I may "feel" that film has better DR are : 1. in much of my shooting, highlights contain more crucial information than shadows; 2. out of many years of experience I have become more skilled at getting the most out of film, hence compensating for the limitations of the medium; 3. the blooming that happens in digital overblown highlights is something I particularly dislike, as opposed to how film reacts to drastic overexposure.
    On the other hand, the concept that digital cameras have better DR, based on better SNR makes sense when you consider that digital cameras fare so, so much better in low light situations than film.
    The bottom line is that I probably need to improve my skills in digital photography. I'm still doing much of my shooting with film, so that my experience with the digital format very much lags behind.
     
  92. But some reasons why I may "feel" that film has better DR are : 1. in much of my shooting, highlights contain more crucial information than shadows;​
    You raise a good point: that in digital, the 'rolloff' into highlights is poor when compared to film. Blowing out the sun looks so much better on even my Velvia shots... I believe this has to do with a number things that goes on in film -- with negative film, for example, the more a portion of film is exposed, the less likely future photon encounters will be productive (due to negative charge build-up at 'sensitivity specks' & other factors). Furthermore, there is potential for diffusion of photons within the emulsion-- the absolute amount of which increases with increased exposure. This essentially 'blurs' harsh highlights.
    I also don't like the harsh transition to highlights in digital; neither do cinematographers in Hollywood (in the Zacuto 'Great Camera Shootout', filmmakers pay special attention to digital cameras that have a smoother rolloff in the highlights). However, I have found that certain RAW converters have evolved to handle these highlights better... I bet with some more intelligent software processing, it could be made even better (think: function that introduces some blur as a function of pixel intensity above some critical threshold).
    Anyway, yes, different philosophies of shooting are required. It's nice to hear that people are still shooting film though... every now & then I feel the urge to break out a roll of 120 Velvia just for the gorgeous look of those colors on a lightbox!
    -Rishi
     
  93. Rishi,
    What you say about film behavior in the hilights is consistent with the curve of film which show a smooth "shoulder" when you reach higher illumination values. There is also a subjective aspect: as light diffuses within the emulsion in the adjacent area of the burned out spot, it reveals the grain structure of the film, hence adding "matter" to a part of the picture that has little tonal attractivness. That makes burned hilights on film even more acceptable than in digital images, which is why I find it much more difficult to do night photography with a digital camera. The burned out spots left by electrical lighting are much less attractive than with film.
    As for my using film: part of it has to do with many years of experience. My eye is simply better educated in this medium. Often I find it harder to anticipate the final print result when in the shooting stage with digital. Also, even though I have seen very beautiful digital prints, especially with cotton-like papers, I still think there is something very special about carefully crafted BW fiber base traditional prints. Finally, about ten years ago, I built my dream lab at home and I enjoy tremendously working in it !
     
  94. Rishi, have you added any noise reduction. I typically add a bit to 5D2 files when shadow detail is important. LR4 lets you
    do this locally.

    I noticed that the D700 had less shadow noise than the 5D2, but also less detail. This is a guess, but that leads me to
    believe that Nikon opted to add default NR to their processing algorithm, whereas Canon provides a true raw file with less
    processing. Maybe the same is true with the next generation as well.
     
  95. D700 image softness is due to the sensor optics, not "noise reduction" applied to the data. But because of the low noise the images sharpen ok. Noise reduction activates only above ISO 1600 if you've turned it on and doesn't affect raw data apart from tags. In any case it's pretty difficult to apply any sensible NR to bayer sensor raw data since it would first have to be converted to RGB then noise reduction applied, then back to the original raw format - doesn't make much sense to do that.
     
  96. Illka,

    I would think that 5d2 has more detail, simple because of higher resolution. Can you explain what "sensor optics" is ?
    Thanks in advance.
     
  97. My NR-in-RAW theory is just a theory, but I think it's quite reasonable.
    I don't buy the argument that raw files are completely unprocessed. Those EXPEED, BIONZ, and DIGIC chips are doing SOMETHING to the images, even raw files. For instance, I've read that the D800E applies some moiré reduction in firmware.
    Another example. The Nikon D3X was based on the same sensor as the Sony A90 (I think that was the model). The Sony had a reputation for noisy output; the D3X did not. How can that be? It's the same sensor, right? Yes, but not the same in-camera processing and firmware.
    Canon's strategy seems to be to let the noise pass through and let the photographer clean it up in post production. Canon's JPEG images are far, far cleaner when NR is applied, cleaner even than what I can accomplish in LR3 or LR4. And they remain quite detailed, not blurred.
    Just a theory. I accept the fact that I may be completely off base with this, but it still seems feasible.
     
  98. If someone do need to print A1 or A0 sizes then the D800 is a must-have. For speedy FPS and if one is not in need of A1 size - Mark 3 is a perfect camera. I have shot JPEGs in Canon, Nikon and Olympus and after Olympus skin tones and JPEG quality I prefer Canon.
    D800 is a strong Nikon's desire to find its niche in Med. Format group of potential users.
     
  99. "If someone do need to print A1 or A0 sizes then the D800 is a must-have."​
    Uh, no it isn't.
    Dan
     
  100. Uh, no it isn't.
    Dan​
    Dan,
    Technical control of your customer might not accept your 22 Mp shot printed on A1 or A0 because of poor details and you won't be paid. Period. Take 270-300 dpi and re-calculate them to the lenght of A1 print - go maths.
    With Nikon you get 50% more resolution across the frame and about 20% more linear resolution. There is a makret and tasks for digital Med. Format, still.
    But I like Canon better for my use.
     
  101. In any case it's pretty difficult to apply any sensible NR to bayer sensor raw data since it would first have to be converted to RGB then noise reduction applied, then back to the original raw format - doesn't make much sense to do that.​
    That's a very interesting point, Ilkka.
    Dan, no, I find noise reduction pretty useless when it comes to printing. I tried it, & it just blurred detail (especially in shadows, where I was concerned about noise) too much... make it soft/muddy. Even in my film scans, while noise reduction makes the image look great on screen, it rarely matters for print. If anything, the grain ends up making prints look sharper. Therefore, I tend to not indulge in NR much.
    I recently did a bunch of Stouffer Transmission Wedge tests to estimate DR based on max signal vs. the patch on the wedge where SNR drops to 1. I get 11.3EV for the 5D Mark III & >13EV for the Nikon D7000.
    But this test is a little hard for me to interpret since the mean of the read noise on the D7000 images is ~0.43 ADU... so even for the darkest patch on my wedge (which has 13.2EV DR), when the brightest patch still hasn't blown out the sensor, the SNR for the darkest patch is well above 1 for the D7000 (signal = 3.11ADU). But what I'm curious about is: is the Nikon image still maintaining the relation between dark patches? I believe I need to fit the signal of the patches to a logarithmic curve & then assess the deviation... then do the same for the Canon... to see if the cameras are *accurately* representing the densities of the patches.
    Anyone have experience with this? Maybe I should just purchase Imatest & run it through there rather than do all these quantitations manually? Still, I feel more comfortable when I know exactly the math behind everything... :)
    Thanks,
    Rishi
     
  102. If someone do need to print A1 or A0 sizes then the D800 is a must-have.​
    Of course. Everyone who wanted to print at these sizes prior to the emergence of this greatest thing since sliced bread had to go MF.
    Happy shooting,
    Yakim.
     
  103. If you do noise reduction for large prints, here are some thoughts about how to approach it:
    • Be selective about where you apply it. Using masked layers or other techniques, keep it away from areas of great detail (where the noise won't be noticed as much anyway) and apply it sparingly to areas of less detail that are of uniform luminosity - the "loss of detail" there won't matter.
    • Don't even think about trying to "eliminate" noise. It isn't possible and most printers will agree that it isn't even desirable. If you can produce a completely noise free image you are also likely to produce a plastic-looking image. Some small amount of noise (of appropriate quality) tends to produce a more appealing result than one with "no noise."
    • Surprisingly, one way to deal with certain types and levels of noise is to... add more noise! By adding a neutral gray "overlay" layer and applying a very small amount of noise you can create a bit of a (he shudders as he types it!) "film like" look that is quite appealing and which will mask some other sorts of noise.
    • Don't worry about noise that you can find if you go looking for it at 100% or larger magnification. Make a print or a portion of a print at your target size and look at it to see if the noise issue is really important or not. It probably won't be.
    I'll tell a story on myself in this regard. I shoot with a 5D2. As some know, there is a story about this camera producing "noise banding" in shadow areas, especially if you radically fill or otherwise lift very dark tones in areas of uniform luminosity or gradual gradients. Let me tell you that you can very rarely find some small degree of "banding" in the noise in these areas if you go looking for it at 100% under the right conditions. (I can locate it - if I look for it - it far less than 1% of my photographs - but it is emphatically not a problem in actual photographs that I print.)
    A couple years ago I made a photograph along the coast north of San Francisco that included a deeply shadowed foreground cliff face and, beyond that, the sunlight reflected directly off the surface of the ocean. This is just about the worst case scenario in terms of dynamic range - exposing for the shadowed cliff face would badly blow out the reflections, and exposing to control the reflections would result in a very underexposed cliff face. Making this more complex, the way that the moving water was included in the composition made exposure blending (which I use a lot) just about impossible.
    I had one frame that I liked a lot. The highlights were controllable with a bit of "recovery" in Photoshop, but the cliff face was so dark that in the large print I was creating I was in danger of ending up with a very large area of blocked shadows - not a good thing! I needed to lift the darkest tones on that cliff face enough to restore the sense of some detail there. So I went to work with black point, fill, and curves to get things where I wanted in the cliff shadow - and when I had the right tones, I could see some degree of banding in the shadow noise, along with a bit of "regular" banding from lifting the very dark tones.
    No problem. I duplicated the image layer, created a group of layers, added an overlay, and added a small amount of noise to that overlay. Then I set the mask for this group to be "hide all" and then "painted in" bit of the noise in the deep shadow areas. The banding (both types) was muted by this additional bit of noise. I made a print and it looked just fine.
    But the story isn't over. For fun, I went back and cancelled this "noise layer" that I had used successfully to mute the noise that I was worried about and then made another print without all of this compensation - just to see what the difference would be. While I could, indeed, now "see" the noise problem more clearly at 100% on the screen... it was completely invisible in the actual print! Needless to say, after all that work dealing with a "noise problem" that turned out to be essentially theoretical, I ended up using the version in which I turned off the layer than was intended to mask the noise.
    Dan
     
  104. Rishi,

    I am trying to understand your post which is quite technical and challenging given my port knowledge in these matters.
    Would you be able to explain what "SNR drops to one" means ? Also what does ADU stand for ?

    Should I understand that what you are trying to understand is not just at which point noise covers useful signal, but also
    how a sensor differentiates between different shades of shadow above the "noise level" ?

    If you can direct me to easily understandable reading (for the uninitiated) on these issues, I would be very thankful.
     
  105. Paulie Smith wrote something about:
    "... ultimate image quality..."
    "Utimate" image quality? Really?
    Dan
    -------------------
    Dan, shoot a dozen or so images with each camera side by side in the same conditions with similar ISO and whatnot. Then make 16x20 or so prints of each. Set them up side by side and let any number of people view them to compare and see if either body consistently gets picked out as 'finest quality'. That is what I mean by "ultinate image quality' - the best you can get from each. Not a mythical standard but the finest print where you can see, not imagine, the difference.
    My standard is 8x10 contact prints and I am admittedly a stick in the mud in many ways. If I can't see the result in the final image I don't change things. That difference does include how one makes the image - if the equipment itself makes it more likely to get the result compared to another body. We know both Canon and Nikon make some very good gear. Nikon metering and Nikon strobe control beats canon like a red headed stepchild. The only real question for me these days is whether the images the body can produce are images I can live with. Given the choice I would pick the body that gave me higher quality - however you define it - and images where I can actually see that higher quality.
    I understand well that 'ultimate image quality' is at times not needed nor is it wanted. You shoot and print what is wanted, not a technical chart of comparison lines. You choose lenses and settings specifically for the 'feel' rather than ultimate sharpness or whatever. That is interpretation and artistic license. But failing to use the best gear, technique or materials you can and trying to excuse it for 'art' is stupid. Most of our cameras and lenses are capable of a lot better work than we often produce. I would choose the body that gave me the best chance of creating my vision any day - within the limits of bank account and real world usability.
    The sensor in one body is superior while the Af and frame rate in the other is superior. Horses for courses and we are lucky to have a choice -and Sony and others pushing more and better development every day.
     
  106. Paulie:
    I print in-house to 24" wide on an Epson 7900. Shooting a 22MP 5D2 and then making large prints, there are several things I know about how this all plays out.
    • There is no "ultimate" anything in photography, especially in the technical realm. There are various specification levels that may make one current camera better or worse than some other current camera for your particular purpose, but none of them approach whatever "ultimate" quality might be. Camera technology already has (arguable) about 140 years of continuous improvement, and this will continue.
    • When used by with care and skill by competent photographers, current full frame DSLRs can easily produce stunning prints at 18" x 24" size and very, very good ones at 24" x 36". If one does not regularly print this large, among the factors that might make a camera more or less right for you, photo site density is way down the list if it is on it at all.
    • Once we push full frame DSLR photograph to these sizes and beyond, there are a range of factors that begin to have critical effects on the quality of the print. While photo site density can be among them, it is often not the limiting factor. At least as often the limit may be things like absolute critical focus, camera stability, DOF issues, and so forth.
    • Even when all of those things are well-handled, the actual difference in image size at which the same ppi resolution can be maintained is not as much larger with 36MP compared to 22MP as many might assume. It is a matter of inches - and nothing at all like, say, doubling print size.
    • That said, if I were not committed to another brand right now and I were getting my first FF body and I was a very skillful and careful shooter and I was going to regularly print high quality images at 24" x 36" and beyond, I would certainly consider the excellent Nikon D800.
    • On the other hand, I cannot see the real world value of a brand switch to get this larger number of photo sites for few months before Canon comes out with something that will compete with it, as Canon surely will (have to) do.
    And, as you mention at the end of your note, all of these cameras are very, very fine photograph making machines.
    Your comment that "falling to use the best gear, technique or materials you can and trying to excuse it for 'art' is stupid" perplexes me. By "you" I hope you are not referring to me, although you did address your comment to me. Higher quality is defined in a number of ways. To my way of thinking, a marginal or invisible "difference" in one of several measurable technical qualities is most certainly not compelling as a reason to move from one brand to another. Keep in mind, as well, that lenses have something to do with "quality," as does the photographer's learned skills with the particular gear when it comes time to making the shot.
    Better is better if it makes my work better. Better is merely interesting if it has no significant positive effect on my photography.
    Dan
     

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