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Author Topic: An Embarrassment of Riches  (Read 12647 times)

MatthewCromer

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Re: An Embarrassment of Riches
« Reply #40 on: May 02, 2012, 11:42:29 PM »

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

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

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

David,

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

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

In my experience, contrast detect AF is way too slow for moving subjects using dSLR lenses.  But perhaps the E-5 does it and pulls it off?
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MatthewCromer

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Re: An Embarrassment of Riches
« Reply #41 on: May 03, 2012, 12:09:22 AM »

because of it's fabulous usability as a photographic tool. . .

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

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

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

Why are some of the best and most talented photographers out there writing articles like this one talking about how to work around glaring, obvious deficiencies in the abilities of their gear to deliver the goods?  It was obvious ten years ago what dSLRs needed to become.  Why have Canon and Nikon utterly failed to deliver that?  Why are their cameras only useable for action or social photography "stuck to your head" unless you are shooting video, in which case they are alternately completely useless through the viewfinder (and lack functional autofocus, period)?!
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Colorado David

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Re: An Embarrassment of Riches
« Reply #42 on: May 03, 2012, 10:12:27 AM »

I've got a couple of analogies that I think are instructive.  Aviation is a mature technology just as digital photography is a mature technology.  When Beechcraft built the Starship, Cessna Chairman, Russ Meyer said that aviation is evolutionary not revolutionary.  He was correct.  You will never find a Beech Starship now.  Many of the advancements you mention were developed during the film era for Nikon and Canon, and they were great advancements, but they were evolutionary.  After a certain point in the development of a technology, advancement comes at a slower pace and every increment is hard-earned.  That doesn't mean there isn't value in the advances or that it would be better to hold them in reserve until a larger advancement could be debuted.  As far as the manufacture of components goes, Cessna Citations are among the most advanced of light jets and they have an enviable safety record, and yet they don't build the engines.  Pratt and Whitney builds most of the engines.  I think that point is irrelevant.  I don't care that Nikon doesn't manufacture the sensors or displays.  I would rather they source the best they can or develop strategic partnerships and work at their highest value developments.  We live in an age of undeniable technological mastery.  As photographers we have tremendous tools that would be unimaginable just a few years ago and yet we can complain over the lack of even greater advancement.  My grandfather was a British Army officer and served at a time when cannon were hauled around behind horses, yet he lived to see manned space flight.

BJL

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As far as the manufacture of components goes, Cessna Citations are among the most advanced of light jets and they have an enviable safety record, and yet they don't build the engines.  Pratt and Whitney builds most of the engines.  I think that point is irrelevant.  I don't care that Nikon doesn't manufacture the sensors or displays.  I would rather they source the best they can or develop strategic partnerships and work at their highest value developments.
I completely agree: there is a silly dogma [pandemic in internet forums] that it is _always_ better to do everything in-house, whereas the reality is far different. Pardon the overworked territory, but Apple's amazing resurgence and growth to its current success was driven in part by a move away from an excess of in-house proprietary components and manufacturing to a policy of more outsourcing and sharing of state-of-the-art components (like Intel processors) where appropriate. With a suitable dose of in-house secret sauce too, of course; going to the other extreme of commoditizing the product as a whole is also risky.

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

In recent years, sensor teams like Sony-Nikon-Pentax, and even Panasonic-Olympus, seem to have made better progress than the DIYers at Canon, Samsung, and Fujifilm.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2012, 01:58:47 PM by BJL »
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Isaac

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Re: An Embarrassment of Riches
« Reply #44 on: May 03, 2012, 12:33:25 PM »

Why did we have more innovation from Canon and Nikon in the film SLR era than the digital SLR era?
Perhaps the low hanging fruit has been taken.
Perhaps continuity is also important to their customers.
Perhaps those corporations are content to reap the profit from previous innovation until their market share is threatened.
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Rob C

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Re: An Embarrassment of Riches
« Reply #45 on: May 03, 2012, 01:25:57 PM »

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rob C

Colorado David

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Re: An Embarrassment of Riches
« Reply #46 on: May 03, 2012, 01:32:37 PM »

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


I'm confused by your post.  I don't know who you're referring to, but Russ Meyer was the Chairman of Cessna during a period of great innovation.

JohnBrew

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Re: An Embarrassment of Riches
« Reply #47 on: May 03, 2012, 03:02:12 PM »

Rob, different Russ Meyer! Rob is refering to the porno king who had an obsession with large, make that huge, mammary glands.

Mark D Segal

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Re: An Embarrassment of Riches
« Reply #48 on: May 03, 2012, 04:01:13 PM »

Size
"Game Changer"
Image Quality

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

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

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

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

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

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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Alan Goldhammer

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Re: An Embarrassment of Riches
« Reply #49 on: May 03, 2012, 04:22:44 PM »

And one final note: the value of used gear begins to fall exponentially soon after you leave the shop with it. It's just a brutal fact of life these days. So whatever I buy from now on (a) I really "need", and (b) I intend to keep using for a long time.
For those of us considering an upgrade, we realize that our existing body is worth a lot less right now than two months ago.  In my case if I do make the plunge the D300 goes into a blind drawing between my two daughters to see who gets it (maybe I don't want to present at this event???).  What I'm interested in is the performance of my legacy nikkor lenses from the old time film days (they seem to be quite good on my D300 despite not autofocusing or aperture adjusting, though the latter is less important since I usually keep that fixed).
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Mark D Segal

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Re: An Embarrassment of Riches
« Reply #50 on: May 03, 2012, 04:29:09 PM »

Good question about the lenses Alan - the issue is of course that they are not "optimized" for digital, and the resolution of that sensor is so fine it could make a difference to ultimately achievable image quality; so the real question is whether what you will get using those lenses meets your expectations and from there, whether investing in a D800 is worthwhile paired with those lenses. I don't know the answer, but I suggest there is a real question here.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml

John Camp

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Re: An Embarrassment of Riches
« Reply #51 on: May 03, 2012, 05:40:37 PM »

Regarding print size and comparison to paintings, it is worth noting that the great Dutch master Vermeer painted on small canvases as opposed to really big.  I have an Ansel Adams Yosemite special edition print (Merced River in Autumn) that is 8x10 and it's magnificent. 

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

There are all kinds of reasons to make photos (and paintings) different sizes, both large and small. But not many people really had the option to print large, until recently, and for a whole lot of mechanical reasons, rather than artistic preferences...which was my point.
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BJL

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Re: An Embarrassment of Riches
« Reply #52 on: May 03, 2012, 06:07:56 PM »

But not many people really had the option to print large, until recently ... which was my point.
True; only dogmatists would deny that there is a place, and a time, and a season for very large photographic prints. But my point in response was that, conversely, most painters did not have "the option to paint small", given the relatively pathetic resolution limits of paint brushes. So their size choices were subject to some constraints that do not apply to photographs. Most paintings have to be viewed from a yard or more away if you wish to see the image rather than the blobs and streaks of paint (an oily version of pixelation?)

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


To put it another way: one thing that painters don't have to worry about is being diffraction limited!
« Last Edit: May 03, 2012, 06:11:21 PM by BJL »
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dreed

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Re: An Embarrassment of Riches
« Reply #53 on: May 03, 2012, 06:15:04 PM »

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

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

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

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Re: An Embarrassment of Riches
« Reply #54 on: May 03, 2012, 06:26:49 PM »

MatthewCromer. Um… exactly what was this great era of innovation from CaNik during the film slr era?

Well, I don't know about great but...

Canon debuted the pellicle in the EOS RT (first autofocus camera to have this feature.)
Canon debuted eye-tracking focus in the EOS 5 (feature not found in any other brand?)

... there may be others...
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BJL

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Re: An Embarrassment of Riches
« Reply #55 on: May 03, 2012, 06:39:29 PM »

Rob C.,
It seems that your point is that advances in automation (focus, exposure level setting, film advance) and operating speed are irrelevant to you, and then, yes, maybe not a lot has changed except the replacement of chemical emulsions by electronic sensors.

But if all such technological innovations of the last fourty years or so are irrelevant to you, I think it just means that you and the 21st century do not have much to say to each other. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
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Dave Millier

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Re: An Embarrassment of Riches
« Reply #56 on: May 03, 2012, 07:38:03 PM »

I really feel you can't make such blanket statements about other people. I still have my Kodak 14n but will get rid of it soon. I've already disposed of my 5D. My Pentax K5 offers all the quality I need in a very compact package. My G3 I'm testing appears to do the job to in an even smaller package. Why would I want to waste £2500 on the behemoth of the D800 when I can spend £300 on the G3 and get all the quality I need for an A3 print that will fit in a coat pocket.




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

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

- N.
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Mark D Segal

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Re: An Embarrassment of Riches
« Reply #57 on: May 03, 2012, 07:47:12 PM »

I really feel you can't make such blanket statements about other people. I still have my Kodak 14n but will get rid of it soon. I've already disposed of my 5D. My Pentax K5 offers all the quality I need in a very compact package. My G3 I'm testing appears to do the job to in an even smaller package. Why would I want to waste £2500 on the behemoth of the D800 when I can spend £300 on the G3 and get all the quality I need for an A3 print that will fit in a coat pocket.

I don't think Nick was making blanket statements about other people - he was projecting where the market may be going based on prices relative to technical specs. I projected in my post that the D800 will make inroads on MF because it now becomes possible to do a great deal of what ~40MP MF does for 5K instead of 30K. Nick is projecting it will make inroads on the higher-end crop DSLRs. It's a very interesting line of argument and makes sense - at least to me. If there is a small difference of price for a very large difference in technical specs, it's entirely reasonable to expect many people to "buy-up", just as it's reasonable vis a vis MF to expect them to "buy down". This camera just happens to have (I'm sure not by accident) a very strategic price point for what it offers.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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BJL

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Could the size sequence be 8x10, 4x5, MF, 35mm, 4/3”, 2/3” ...
« Reply #58 on: May 03, 2012, 08:16:03 PM »

I've already disposed of my 5D. My Pentax K5 offers all the quality I need in a very compact package. My G3 I'm testing appears to do the job to in an even smaller package.
For the sake of argument, I can conceive of one way that advances at a given format size like the D800 could hurt a smaller format like APS-C, in defiance of the persistent trend towards smaller formats "getting the job done", and that is that an even smaller format encroaches from the other side, and we move back to the traditional scheme where the sequence of formats went mainly by a doubling of linear dimensions: using the short edge (also film roll width), 24mm, 42.5mm=1 3/4", 100mm=4”, 8". That could leave a format like the 13mm on the short edge of 4/3 format as a natural next size down from 35mm format and strand APS-C.

I do not see this happening with DSLR's, where both "incumbency" and lens sharability with 35mm format favor APS-C formats, but maybe with mirrorless systems, where there is far less priority on backward compatability with "big old 20th century style SLR lenses".  Especially if Canon follows Olympus, Panasonic, Nikon, and one half of Pentax in going smaller than APS-C for a mirrorless system.

By the way, my subject line throws in the high end compact format 2/3" because that happens to continue my size halving sequence. As a hostoric quirk, that was the format of the first Olympus DSLR, the fixed lens E-10.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2012, 09:08:02 PM by BJL »
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Alan Goldhammer

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Re: An Embarrassment of Riches
« Reply #59 on: May 03, 2012, 08:24:37 PM »

Good question about the lenses Alan - the issue is of course that they are not "optimized" for digital, and the resolution of that sensor is so fine it could make a difference to ultimately achievable image quality; so the real question is whether what you will get using those lenses meets your expectations and from there, whether investing in a D800 is worthwhile paired with those lenses. I don't know the answer, but I suggest there is a real question here.
I've not done any kind of chart testing, only taken pictures and they seem to perform quite well with a digital back.  The 105mm, f2.5 was one of the best 'film' lens that Nikon made.  I guess I should download some test charts and see how it stacks up.
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