PHOTOOG Photography writings by Olivier Giroux

20Sep/082

That's it for '08 acquisitions

I don't know myself very well apparently. There I was in the middle of the night last night, wide awake, consumed by doubts vis-à-vis my Canon plan. Samples are up in various places now, and I can't say they are unanimous in goodness. I kept going back to the D700 in thought.

It threw a wrench in a plan that I needed to be smooth as a baby's butt. At this point I doubted my wife was going to entertain much more languishing indecision on my part.

To push aside any confusion: the ISO-100 shots from 5D Mk-II previews are gorgeous. Here's one from DpReview for instance...


Er, wow.
Go here to view it large.

I extracted very small portions of this image, each 0.1% of the original, and found tiny pictures hiding everywhere. Detail is frankly amazing, you can see creases in people's clothes when they're standing on the ship! Clearly from ISO 100 to 400, the 5D Mk-II is a force to reckon with - something to delight landscape, architecture and macro shooters.

Then there are the high ISO shots, where things are less good. Forum dwellers swoon over them, but honestly they're suffering from mass blindness (love is blind as they say). Every high ISO sample one I'd seen was soft, with mashed-up pixels left behind by extreme noise reduction. When the sharpness was acceptable (or a 12MP downsample was, to be really fair), I perceived the dynamic range was constrained and colors were uninspiring. What's a people-shooter to do with these results?

The 5D Mk-II thus seems to redirect the 5D "brand" from the low-light wonder to the small-pixel wonder. This brings two interesting challenges. The first one is that if you don't shoot often at ISO 400 or less, then you get nothing from all these added pixels you paid for (both paid in $ and paid in noise/DR/color). The second one is that there are very few lenses out there that will give you this many clear samples, and focusing them correctly is going to be a challenge for humans and machines both.

Which brings us back to the D700... a known quantity for quality and a reasonable balance of abilities and difficulties...

It brought *me* back to the D700 anyway. At this point I offered my wife some closure on this whole adventure, and made an executive decision. I believed the D700 is the smart choice for me, and I committed to it.

This transaction wrapped up the gear acquisitions for 2008, leaving neither unused earmarks nor leftover brownie points. Yep. My Christmas present is probably going to be living room blinds. ;^)


My kit at close of season '08. Sold the rest.


All I was looking for really: an ordinary ISO 1000 shot for a D700.

I'm looking forward to spend the time to master this camera as, I believe, I had finally mastered the D80. So what's next? Well 2009 is a whole 'nother year as they say, and still I've got more german goods on my mind. ;^)

Oh, and this won't stop me one bit from blogging-up the remaining '08 news with my own perspective...


Comments (2) Trackbacks (0)
  1. I for one am relieved to hear you are staying with Nikon. With all the of the 5D Mark II hype and then you thinking about not buying the D700 I was wondering if the grass really was greener on the other side.

    Interesting though that you sold all the rest of your kit. Did you sell more then the D80 and it’s kit lens? Did you sell the FE2? I’d have kept at least something as a backup body…

  2. The grass is pretty green on the other side, for sure. It's green here too. Marketeers & fanboys want to make it sound like there's a huge difference, but in 2008 the difference is faint for most purposes.

    Even the difference between the D80 and D700 isn't as staggering as one might think. It's just most D80 users don't come close to max-ing out that camera. There's a solid 2 stops of difference, beyond that I'm not so sure.

    So I sold the D80, the kit lens, the ultra-wide for DX, and my previous macro lens. Also sold a bunch of accessories. I'm thinking about selling the 70-200 VR, haven't decided.

    The FE-2 was a friend's loan unfortunately.

    I still have an F80, which works fine with all modern Nikkors (incl. VR) but not the Zeisses. Since I'm standardizing on Zeiss slowly, it's not much of a backup. :^/


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