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D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples

nrothschild

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nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Thu 01-Apr-10 11:48 AM | edited Thu 01-Apr-10 02:35 PM by nrothschild

We've just gone through Yet Another Reach Thread and, as usual, we've all thrown in our 2 cents or pence. I have never seen any serious attempt to illustrate the reach issue with real world images. I see precious few comparisons of any kind of DX vs FX images in reasonably controlled conditions.

As I may have mentioned in that thread, I actually had the motive and opportunity to try to do that recently, mainly because after putting 35K images on my D300 and 16K images on my D700 I'm still in the undecided camp (there are not many in my camp, just pick a tent).

The 4 images below were selected from a series of about 170 images as I shot like crazy and swapped bodies back and forth a couple of times. I had the unusual situation of finding myself in very nice late day light with suitable subjects but I've shot those subjects many times before so I "wasted" some nice light doing this experiment. The set contains a number of nice aperture bracket runs.

I selected these images after a quick review because I thought they best represented what the cameras and I could do on that particular day.

The images below are straight out of the camera, 100% crops of the original out of camera images EXCEPT that I reduced the sharpening on one set so they both used stock Nikon STANDARD picture control settings (sharpening = 3).

The Heron represents what I consider one extreme, which is where the subject fills the frame on a DX sensor and comfortably fills the frame on FX such that I could shoot with either without much issue.

The duck represents the other extreme where heroic cropping measures are required and realistically the subject is too tiny to render a truly outstanding image. It was fortuitous and very convenient that these two birds, representing those two extremes, were just sitting there in front of me.

I also make available to whoever is interested the 4 NEF files here for your pixel peeping pleasure . I encourage you to download these images and play with them, doing whatever you would do if you had shot these images, and particularly whatever you would do to salvage those duck images. I did not want to interject my own PP bias; that is for you to do and then assess the results.

As always your comments and assessments will be appreciated!

Edit: Please feel free to process and print these images in order to help evaluate them since that is arguably the best approach

D300 500/4 AFS TC14E-II
ISO 320 F/6.3 1/400s

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D700 500/4 AFS TC14E-II
ISO 500 F/8 1/400s
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D300 500/4 AFS TC14E-II
ISO 320 F/6.3 1/400s
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D700 500/4 AFS TC14E-II
ISO 500 F/8 1/400s
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Donald Kahn

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#1. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 0

Donald Kahn Registered since 16th May 2009
Thu 01-Apr-10 10:47 AM

Great idea! This thread should get very interesting.

philipl

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#2. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 0

philipl Gold Member Nikonian since 31st May 2007
Thu 01-Apr-10 01:35 PM | edited Thu 01-Apr-10 01:37 PM by philipl

Cropped, brightened a bit, increased saturation and sharpened. I use picture Window Pro.

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Edit: Looking at it after posting you did a better job by far.
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Floridian

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#3. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 0

Floridian Silver Member Nikonian since 11th Feb 2007
Fri 02-Apr-10 12:05 AM

Thanks for going to the effort of posting these, Neil. Very interesting! To my eye the D300 shots show more detail, though I realize we're not looking at exactly the same subject in each case. At least, they don't look any worse. Am I biased in my judgment? I do own a D300 but not a D700, and at any rate I'm not looking at these and thinking this shows why I need a D700.

I wonder if others draw the same conclusion.

Randy

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#4. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 0

robsb Platinum Member Fellow Ribbon awarded for his expertise in CNX2 and his always amicable and continuous efforts to help members Laureate Ribbon awarded for winning in the Best of Nikonians 2013 images Photo Contest Donor Ribbon awarded for his enthusiastic and repeated support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Nikonian since 23rd Aug 2006
Fri 02-Apr-10 06:40 AM

Neil:

I know this is not a rigid test,as you are doing real world use. but i think it would be better if the images at least held one variable constant that might be a factor in image quality.. I would suggest that should be ISO. I know you have to stop down the lens on the D700 more to maintain equal DOF. In these images only shutter speed was constant and I think the real reach issue is how good does the image look blown up to 100%. You are also using higher ISO's for the D700 which impacts noise and dynamic range. Images I have seen in Thom Hogen's book show the D300 image to be inferior to the D700 using a 24-70 lens and standing at one end of a basketball court and shooting the basket on the other end, because of noise and smearing.

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agitater

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#5. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 0

agitater Gold Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 18th Jan 2007
Fri 02-Apr-10 10:28 AM | edited Fri 02-Apr-10 10:36 AM by agitater

I can get a decent, heavily cropped, printable shot out of your heron NEF. Sharpness and resolution are two entirely different technical issues which end up being related because they're both subject to individual perception because of the ways in which different eyes react to the brightness, contrast, color and captured resolution of a scene.

For example, your heron shot had a badly slanted horizon, a lot of chroma noise in the out-of-focus background water and sky, levels way out of range and lighting imbalances which dumped all of the details in the darker areas of the bird's plumage. Your focus point also seemed to be the bird's body and a very fine focus measurement showed the eye to be slightly softer than the rest of the shot. I chose to leave the noise alone, letting it stand as a background to a well-lit bird. Do too much work on the noise and you'll end up leaving the bird wanting for more refinement than the captured resolution allows at this crop level. The idea here is that in any discussion of subject resolution, you also have to deal with a viewer's perception of the subject.

Compare the level of detail in your posted shot with my adjusted, 50% crop, and you'll find the increased perception of detail seems to indicate higher resolution. That's not the case though because resolution is fixed - every lens has an upper resolution limit, and ever sensor has an upper resolution limit. But if color and available details are rendered accurately within the context of a fully usable exposure, and if the subject is edited in a way that renders it brighter and more detailed than the background, and if the captured exposure falls within the sensor's delta, then balancing and judicious sharpening can render the subject sufficiently to draw the eye away from examinations of small areas of the photo, and into an appreciation of the subject matter as a whole. Yet another reason why examining photos at 100% or greater magnification is a mug's game. As well, if a photo is made in a way which requires a 100% crop in order to get the best composition or subject, well, the original shot was blown. Because contrast is crucial to the perception of both sharpness and resolution of fine detail, spreading (e.g.) half the captured pixels across an area the size of the original does not provide enough information to sharply render edges and fine detail.

The technical differences in resolution surely exist and are fully measurable. But we've reached the point at which it almost makes no difference which sensor format, lens or body you're using because there's so much captured detail in your test shots that a decent photo can still be extracted and printed.

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BTW, this is an 800x600 JPG compressed at 70% to make the 150KB size limit. The uncompressed edit is better still and will print quite well. I like your heron.

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nrothschild

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#6. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 4

nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Fri 02-Apr-10 10:38 AM

Hi Bob,

I could have shot a number of different combinations of exposure, or I could have shot the exact same exposure. I could justify a reason for any of those. The exposures I chose were based on what I thought were good real world trade-offs, knowing what I know about the optics and the sensors in use.

We all know the D700 can shoot a stop or more higher ISO than the D300 with the same noise levels. We also know that all TC's perform a little better when stopped down, although as I illustrated and discussed in my "Spring Time" Wildlife thread yesterday, that 500/4 does an excellent job wide open.

We also know (or most think) that in lab conditions the D300 should out-resolve the D700, given equal subject distance and equal focal length with the same optics because of the denser sensor. I picked that scene and subject matter because I was basically constrained in both ways although in principle I could have used a TC17 or TC20, those being my only option to increase focal length. I picked that light because that is the light that keepers are shot. I could have shot this at high noon but I don't think that would have been a useful test. That would be a "lab test" without regard for the typical exposures issues faced when shooting wildlife in proper light.

Now, I'm sitting there with my longest lens, a distant subject, and two camera bodies. Which body should I use to get the best image possible? My job is to consider the strengths and weaknesses of my available bodies. If I shot with identical exposures I would have made bad decisions, IMO, because, as you can see, I was blessed with good light but my shutter speeds were approaching the danger zone when shooting any bird at that focal length.

I increased the ISO by only 2/3 stop, from 320 to 500, and I stopped down 2/3 stop, to maintain a shutter speed of about 1/400s, which is about the slowest I want to be shooting unless I have even more serious exposure constraints. The D300 images were shot stopped down only 1/3 stop, which is less than ideal. The D700 images were shot down 1 stop, which I think, in general, is ideal with that lens and most other good lenses I shoot with the TC14.

I was shooting exactly 25 minutes before sundown at 6:01pm that day, in the light that the real keepers are shot. At 700mm I almost always have shutter speed constraints in that light.

Considering the above, I think you can argue the merits of the precise exposures I selected, but by my way of thinking any knowledgeable long lens shooter, with my gear, would have done something along the same lines. He might have shot the D300 wide open or pushed the ISO even higher if he were concerned with his long lens technique or if there were more wind or if the birds were more active, but a knowledgeable shooter would not shoot both cameras at the same ISO in order to get the best image possible. He would have pushed the the D700 ISO to take advantage of the strengths of that sensor.

>> You are also using higher ISO's for the D700 which impacts noise and dynamic range.

If you really think I handicapped the D700 with a 2/3 stop boost in ISO then everything we have been told about the benefits of that sensor is BS, isn't it ?

Neither camera was shot at it's base ISO and I don't believe that lighting would have allowed me to do that without getting into very dangerous shutter speeds of around 1/200s. At least I would not shoot that scene in that light at the base ISO. Others might.

The above is just to say I put some thought into that shot although all that thought was spur of the moment; I did not think the variables through ahead of time as maybe I should have. I'll also mention that I did shoot other exposures, with the D300 wide open, and the D700 at ISO's up to 1600 but I selected these 4 images because they coincided with some of the better compositions of the birds (I had trouble getting a good shot of the eye, which is a critical element and all birders know is not always easy) and I thought the exposure trade-offs were at least reasonable even if I did not fully take advantage of the D700's cleaner high ISO performance. Nor did I have too. But I would never shoot that scene at the same ISO for this comparison. I'm not saying your idea has no validity, it was just wrong in the context I'm trying to explain here


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nrothschild

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#7. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 5

nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Fri 02-Apr-10 11:59 AM

Hi Howard,

Thanks for the detailed critque. I want to address them in the context of the discussion that I am trying to solicit here...

>> For example, your heron shot had a badly slanted horizon,

That is not a horizon, there is no true horizon (sky meets land) in that image. The "horizon" is a very irregular line of vegetation that extended further from land to the right, which exacerbates any tilt I may have had in my true horizon. However, in the context which I present these images, if that bothers you then straighten them in order to get the composition you feel is best. I often straighten those irregular "false horizons" myself.

>> a lot of chroma noise in the out-of-focus background water and sky, levels way out of range and lighting imbalances which dumped all of the details in the darker areas of the bird's plumage.

I think you are suggesting I'm a little over-exposed? If you are, then you are pointing out two contradictory and mutually exclusive exposure issues. If my "sky" is noisy, then getting the levels better in balance out of camera would have made them noisier, in particular with the D300 shots. I find that the D300 tends to produce very noisy OOF backgrounds and (true) sky when shot at or near ISO 400 and beyond. For those that are bothered by that, it should be a reason to consider the D700's presumably better handling of noise.

Using Capture NX2's highlight double threshold display, which I assume to be as close as possible to the "blinking highlights display" I use in the cameras, I see some (red channel only) over exposure in the beak, the upper legs, the white patch on his rump, and a small handful of feathers. My experience with GBH's in that light is that if I try to eliminate all the blinkies the overall balance of the exposure will be too dark. I'll usually end up pushing the exposure in post, and that dramatically increases the noise in the OOF areas. I don't know how other birders deal with this- it is really a problem of serious lack of dynamic range between the mid-point and the highlights in all our cameras. You can see from the EXIF that I shot those images with Matrix metering down 2/3 stop. In retrospect I think I shot it 1/3 stop too rich but it would not have solved the problem, and you can get a feel for that by reducing the exposure in a raw converter until the highlights stop blinking. Not quite the same as in camera but NX is consistent with what I see in the field when trying to get rid of those blinkies .

Also in my defense, I had rapidly changing light as the sun settled down into filtered clouds, the birds were moving around and I'm trying to get comparable images as I shoot a bunch of different exposures while madly swapping my bodies back and forth 2 or 3 times . And thinking madly about what I discussed with Rob about the correct exposure balances I should be shooting to best take advantage of the technical strengths and weaknesses of each body, which I did not think about previously . If all I wanted was a picture of the bird I would have just bracketed the exposure, and in retrospect I should have done that and will do that if I ever try to do this again, although I will have to otherwise severely reduce the other variables since I had to shoot 170 images as it was.

>> Your focus point also seemed to be the bird's body... the eye to be slightly softer than the rest of the shot

Yes, that was by intent. My choice was to get an eye in focus at the expense of all that feather detail, or to concentrate on the latter. I chose the feather detail because this discussion and those images are about resolution, not how to shoot that bird. It's easy to sharpen up a slightly OOF eye (maybe with selective USM masks) because for the most part it's a simple light/dark single boundary.

This discussion in this thread is all about resolution and choices of bodies so I think it is best to adjust the NEF's as you see fit, ignore anything that might have overexposed, and concentrate on the feather detail that is in focus.

>> The technical differences in resolution surely exist and are fully measurable. But we've reached the point at which it almost makes no difference which sensor format, lens or body you're using because there's so much captured detail in your test shots that a decent photo can still be extracted and printed.

I think the discussion of resolution and DX/FX in the context of these two 12mpx sensors needs to concentrate on a couple of major questions:

1. I am a birder, If I have a D300, will I "loose noticeable resolution" by switching to a D700 (or D3) in order to gain better high ISO performance or some other attribute of FX? Or will I need to buy a bigger, much more expensive lens? Will I have to add a TC and if I do, what will that cost me in terms of optical quality?

2. I am a birder. If I have a D700, will I gain noticeable resolution by acquiring a D300, and what will that cost me, and is it a good trade-off, in terms of high ISO performance and other possible FX attributes?

And now the more complex question, which I personally face:

3. I am a birder. I have a D300 and a D700. Which body should I use, and when? Or should I sell one body .

So... I think the discussion should not be about drilling into the image to try to "prove" a resolution advantage in the higher density sensor. I think the question is: "Did the D300 deliver enough additional resolution to make that a worthwhile trade-off, verses the D700?".

Anyone that shoots wildlife and has experience with both bodies knows that if there is no resolution difference, the D700 is the superior overall choice. I don't think that is at issue. Birders are too shutter speed challenged to ignore the extra stop or two that the D700 provides. Most of us, though, are afraid to give up that "extra resolution". Are our fears justified?

Conversely, there is the question regarding the relative merits of those two stops, should one have a D300. Unfortunately, that would need many more comparative images in different light to even start to address since this light was not terribly challenging. The illustrated images do address the relative benefits in what I call "very good to excellent light, but not overly challenging"

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nrothschild

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#8. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 3

nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Fri 02-Apr-10 12:07 PM

Hi Randy,

Thanks for the comments. As I discussed briefly in Harold's reply, I don't think this particular set of images fully represents the benefits you might get in certain situations because the ISO's are not extreme. However, I do agree with you that there is no apparent fundamental benefit to the D700, at least in these images. I gained a lot of respect for my D300, which I already thought very highly of, after doing this test. I have and continue to favor my D300 for my long lens work whenever the light allows, as it did here. I'm not convinced there is a huge resolution advantage, in practical terms, with the final output, but it sure can't hurt

If my shutter speed had been more like 1/100s to 1/160s, with the same ISO and aperture, that's when I start thinking about swapping bodies .
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agitater

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#9. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 7

agitater Gold Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 18th Jan 2007
Fri 02-Apr-10 02:05 PM

Neil:

Compare my edit of your D300 heron (above) with my edit of your D700 heron shot (below). There is nothing over- or under-exposed about either shot - at least nothing that couldn't be very easily tweaked. Any blinking highlights seen on your LCD obviously did not translate into a histogram that reached beyond the dynamic range of the cameras used to make the heron shots.

That's part of my point too — turn off highlight blinking - it's functionally meaningless in terms of guidance for exposure adjustment. Use the RGB histogram instead.

I recommend the use of neutral density filters to tame natural highlights on high contrast days. Grad filters are also extremely useful for taming overly bright skies/horizons. The point here is to make more use of accessories which help you get the shot right in-camera, and thereby spend less time in post processing. Capturing the best possible contrast in the original shot, will in turn help provide the best perception of detailed resolution.

My suggestion here is that both the D300 and D700 offer sufficient dynamic range, contrast and sensor resolution to work well for your birding. Lens quality, filter choices (polarizer, ND, grad) and the steadiness of your shooting 'platform' are likely the only other quality factors to be concerned about. That said, at f/6.3 (the aperture at which the D700 heron was shot) it's hard to find a lens from any major maker that isn't sharp.

Again, the D700 heron is a 50% crop. Like the D300 heron, there seems to be plenty of sharply resolved pixels to make clean prints and very good displays.

>1. I am a birder, If I have a D300, will I "loose
>noticeable resolution" by switching to a D700 (or D3) in
>order to gain better high ISO performance or some other
>attribute of FX? Or will I need to buy a bigger, much more
>expensive lens? Will I have to add a TC and if I do, what
>will that cost me in terms of optical quality?

As I hope my edits demonstrate, you've got plenty of resolution. What may be of greater importance is more patient shooting, a steadier shooting 'platform' and somewhat better exposure decisions. As you stated clearly though, these shots were made very quickly while swapping bodies and lenses - hardly a recipe for helping the cameras and lenses show their best qualities.

>2. I am a birder. If I have a D700, will I gain noticeable
>resolution by acquiring a D300, and what will that cost me,
>and is it a good trade-off, in terms of high ISO
>performance and other possible FX attributes?

IMO, no, $2400, and maybe. As you can see in both the D300 and D700 heron shots, choosing one shot over the other solely on the basis of capture resolution, contrast and perceivable detail is extremely difficult, if not completely impossible. Purchasing a D700 will cost nothing in features or functionality, but will cost plenty in terms of dollars spent for no sane reason on a new body. If you plan on shooting after sunset, the D700 has its merits when coupled with large aperture lenses shot from a solid platform. On the other hand, because a thing can be done (e.g., shooting in near total darkness) doesn't mean it should be done.

>And now the more complex question, which I personally face:
>
>3. I am a birder. I have a D300 and a D700. Which body
>should I use, and when? Or should I sell one body .

The reasons to use a D300 instead of a D700, or vice versa, depending on shooting conditions, can easily become a highly technical discussion, the results of which hardly provide any actual visible evidence when comparing side-by-side, well-exposed, sharply focused shots of the same subject made with each camera. The problem with highly technical discussions is that it's often best if all parties are thoroughly conversant with both the technical definitions and the relative merits and impact of each technical point. That doesn't eschew such discussions, but limits many of us to responding based on perception. My point is that we should always be placing much more emphasis on perceived quality that measureable technical specification superiority.

I also think there are circumstances in which the greater number of line-pairs-per-mm of resolution provided by the D700 outdoes the D300 in direct comparison of idential test shots, but whether any difference visible to the human eye is perceptibly better is a matter, again, for discussion. If you've got a D300 and a D700, pick the D300 for birding because of its narrower field of view with a given lens which results in a perceptibly longer reach, get as close to your subjects as possible, don't buy any more lenses, and keep the D700 as a backup. If you like the greater weight, slightly expanded feature set, and better low light capabilities of the D700, use it, buy better glass and a TC17eII, and use the D300 as a backup. Those are the reasons to choose one body over the other. Resolution has nothing to do with it IMO.

>So... I think the discussion should not be about drilling into
>the image to try to "prove" a resolution advantage
>in the higher density sensor. I think the question is:
>"Did the D300 deliver enough additional resolution to
>make that a worthwhile trade-off, verses the D700?".

Of course. And, pray tell, how can one determine whether or not the D300 delivers enough resolution vs. the D700 unless you drill into the image.

>Anyone that shoots wildlife and has experience with both
>bodies knows that if there is no resolution
>difference, the D700 is the superior overall choice. I don't
>think that is at issue. Birders are too shutter speed
>challenged to ignore the extra stop or two that the D700
>provides. Most of us, though, are afraid to give up that
>"extra resolution". Are our fears justified?

I disagree and my edits of your heron photos prove my point I hope. I don't know what you're looking at when you look at both heron shots, but it doesn't appear as though you're looking at the most useful part of the data. It's the photographer (you), not the equipment, who made both shots. Forget about the equipment - it's all good for your purposes. If I was not in a position to afford new glass and I wanted the longest possible reach for birding, I'd stick with the D300 on the best tripod and head I could get my hands on.

>Conversely, there is the question regarding the relative
>merits of those two stops, should one have a D300.
>Unfortunately, that would need many more comparative images in
>different light to even start to address since this light was
>not terribly challenging. The illustrated images do address
>the relative benefits in what I call "very good to
>excellent light, but not overly challenging"

Without suggesting that you (or any other photographer) compromise the potential for obtaining really good exposures, good lighting is what we all strive for. I personally don't bother shooting in bad light under difficult conditions because I'm not interested in engaging in frustrating activities. Some days, the light is not right and no amount of money spent on expensive gear will make it right. Some days, it's best to read a book because the light and the subject matter just isn't right. Challenging light, as you put it, sometimes can't be overcome by camera technology, lens technology or the best filters available. The patience we all learn as photographers is epitomized by the need to acknowledge that we can sometimes wait for hours (and days) for the right light in which to capture a wading bird. Almost without exception, getting a great shot in difficult light has more to do with our white balance, filter and exposure choices than it does with sensor or lens resolutions or the camera we happen to be using.

Here's your buddy again, this time shot with your D700. I left his duck pal in the background because it felt like a more pleasant composition that way. Once again, a 50% crop takes a bit of a toll, but not so much as to prevent making a good print. Look at the detail in the (formerly) almost black areas of feather in the head and in the rib area ahead of the wing. Tons of feather detail there. I'm still not crazy about your focus point choice, but that's admittedly a matter of taste (and I still like your heron!).

Click on image to view larger version


Frankly, I can't tell the D300 and D700 shots apart. Unsolicited advice (it's what I tell my research associates so often that they get steaming mad at me): For testing or for serious photography, shoot tighter! If you haven't got the reach, get closer. The less air, humidity, dust, heat shimmer and other junk between you and your subject, the sharper the shot, the truer the colors and the greater the detail.

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#10. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 9

agitater Gold Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 18th Jan 2007
Fri 02-Apr-10 02:16 PM | edited Fri 02-Apr-10 02:44 PM by agitater

It's quite obvious that, from the same shooting position, swapping a 500mm lens between a D300 and a D700, that the D300 is going to capture a tighter shot of the same subject.

In my edit of Neil's D700 shot, cropping as tightly as I cropped his D300 would have left me with too few pixels to render edges and contrast cleanly which in turn would have resulted in a very soft image.

So if the concern in this thread is more about the point at which image detail breaks down when doing 50% crops, the answer is quite clear.

The unanswered question seems to be whether or not a TC17 teleconverter will reduce image quality relative to the comparative crop. The answer, just as clearly I think, is no — all other things being equal. You lose a stop of light, but in both of Neil's heron shots my edits show that there's plenty of light for even a two stop reduction. The fact is also that both of Neil's heron shots were made with a eV of -0.67 (CORRECTION: D700 0.0eV at f/8, D300 -0.67eV at f/6.3), which also proves that there's more than enough light to make great exposures, much tighter, with the use of a teleconverter in Neil's test shot circumstances.

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#11. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 10

briantilley Gold Member Deep knowledge of bodies and lens; high level photography skills Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 26th Jan 2003
Fri 02-Apr-10 02:33 PM

Good discussion, guys

>The unanswered question seems to be whether or not a TC17
>teleconverter will reduce image quality relative to the
>comparative crop. The answer, just as clearly I think, is no —
>all other things being equal. You lose a stop of light, but in
>both of Neil's heron shots my edits show that there's plenty
>of light for even a two stop reduction.

On a pedantic point of detail, you lose 1.5 stops with a TC-17.

Brian
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agitater

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#12. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 11

agitater Gold Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 18th Jan 2007
Fri 02-Apr-10 02:43 PM


>On a pedantic point of detail, you lose 1.5 stops with a
>TC-17.

Not pedantic at all Brian. It's best to be exact when we're talking about light loss. Neil's exposure with the D700 (0.0eV at f/8) and D300 (-0.67eV at f/6.3) leave plenty of headroom I think.

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Jim Mohundro

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#13. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples--and Landscapes" | In response to Reply # 0

Jim Mohundro Silver Member Nikonian since 23rd Jul 2008
Fri 02-Apr-10 03:38 PM

The respected moderator may move my question(s) to another forum, or re-title my remarks more appropriately; however, as one leaning toward the D700 (I use a D200 now) for available light image-making, and, secondarily, for landscapes, I'm perhaps a bit more concerned than I ought to be about what appears to be the demonstrated improved effective "sharpness" or resolution in the completed image.

I do not expect to often, if at all, focus, so to speak, on birds in flight or even birds at rest. I will, presumably most often at near base ISO, do a fair amount of landscape shooting. I'm thinking that the same sharpness/resolution issues, except for shutter speed (the landscapes will usually hold still for my tripod) should be in play for BIF or other wildlife at distance landscapes.

So I'm still torn between, for available light non-landscape shooting, the less expensive D300s (plus a good noise reduction program in PP) and the D700.

My portfolio of images are probably equally divided between the two subjects.

I have just one DX lens, the 16-85; the remainder are the 35 f/2, the 60 macro, the AIS 105 and 135, and the 180 AF 2.8. I don't intend any time soon to buy any of the "big three" "Pro" FX lenses. I wonder if my existing FX lenses will be adequate for the D700, should that be my ultimate choice.

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#14. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 9

nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Fri 02-Apr-10 03:52 PM | edited Fri 02-Apr-10 04:09 PM by nrothschild

Howard, I hate to get into this level of a critique of your reply, but I disagree with almost everything you said, so here goes

>Compare my edit of your D300 heron (above) with my edit of
>your D700 heron shot (below). There is nothing over- or
>under-exposed about either shot - at least nothing that
>couldn't be very easily tweaked. Any blinking highlights seen
>on your LCD obviously did not translate into a histogram that
>reached beyond the dynamic range of the cameras used to make
>the heron shots.
>
>That's part of my point too — turn off highlight blinking -
>it's functionally meaningless in terms of guidance for
>exposure adjustment. Use the RGB histogram instead.

Capture NX 2 clearly shows a blown red channel as I indicated. The "blinkies" screen on my camera that I refer to is the screen with a large image, where you can select the R, G or B channels to blink. Not the consolidated RGB blinkies screen. I use that screen most of the time because I know the Red channel always blows first, or 95% of the time. The few exceptions would be a very blue subject, where the blue channel might blow. I just don't understand your statement, nor do I want to devolve this thread into general exposure technique.

I say this in the context that *I* do not find the blown reds objectionable and they seem to correct well enough. Others may disagree if they are picky and have more highly developed color perception.

>I recommend the use of neutral density filters to tame natural
>highlights on high contrast days. Grad filters are also
>extremely useful for taming overly bright skies/horizons. The
>point here is to make more use of accessories which help you
>get the shot right in-camera, and thereby spend less time in
>post processing. Capturing the best possible contrast in the
>original shot, will in turn help provide the best perception
>of detailed resolution.

I don't know anyone that uses grad filters to shoot wildlife with long lenses (do you have a 10" tall grad filter?). Further, the blown areas are very selective, not a blown sky or upper area of the frame.

>My suggestion here is that both the D300 and D700 offer
>sufficient dynamic range, contrast and sensor resolution to
>work well for your birding. Lens quality, filter choices
>(polarizer, ND, grad) and the steadiness of your shooting
>'platform' are likely the only other quality factors to be
>concerned about. That said, at f/6.3 (the aperture at which
>the D700 heron was shot) it's hard to find a lens from any
>major maker that isn't sharp.

As I previously stated, that lens was shot only 1/3 stop down from wide open. Short focal length fast lenses with much wider full open apertures (F/2.8 or faster to F/4.8 or so) are generally well controlled by F/6.3. But, put a TC20E-II on my lens or just about any other lens and now you have a wide open aperture of F/8 and most shooters will stop that TC down at least a full stop. Your suggestion that F/.63 is "good enough" is not always true in the context of the range of lenses and TC's we all employ.

The same is true of the TC17.

>Again, the D700 heron is a 50% crop. Like the D300 heron,
>there seems to be plenty of sharply resolved pixels to make
>clean prints and very good displays.

Agreed, that was part of the point of the thread.

>>1. I am a birder, If I have a D300, will I "loose
>>noticeable resolution" by switching to a D700 (or D3)
>in
>>order to gain better high ISO performance or some other
>>attribute of FX? Or will I need to buy a bigger, much
>more
>>expensive lens? Will I have to add a TC and if I do,
>what
>>will that cost me in terms of optical quality?
>
>As I hope my edits demonstrate, you've got plenty of
>resolution. What may be of greater importance is more patient
>shooting, a steadier shooting 'platform' and somewhat better
>exposure decisions. As you stated clearly though, these shots
>were made very quickly while swapping bodies and lenses -
>hardly a recipe for helping the cameras and lenses show their
>best qualities.

I'm confused . In you first post, you alluded to a poor exposure. Just above I quote you saying there is nothing overexposed (I disagree somewhat as I state above) and there is certainly nothing underexposed, and now you are back again suggesting my image could use "somewhat better exposure".

I don't want to argue the merits of the exposure. It was not the point of the thread. Let's stay on track and talk about resolution and D700's verses D300's

>>2. I am a birder. If I have a D700, will I gain
>noticeable resolution by acquiring a D300, and what will that
>> cost me, and is it a good trade-off, in terms of high ISO
>>performance and other possible FX attributes?

>IMO, no, $2400, and maybe.

>As you can see in both the D300 and
>D700 heron shots, choosing one shot over the other solely on
>the basis of capture resolution, contrast and perceivable
>detail is extremely difficult, if not completely impossible.

If true, your last sentence is a very profound statement that should highly interest everyone that participates in these DX/FX reach threads.


>Purchasing a D700 will cost nothing in features or
>functionality, but will cost plenty in terms of
>dollars spent for no sane reason on a new body. If you plan on
>shooting after sunset, the D700 has its merits when coupled
>with large aperture lenses shot from a solid platform. On the
>other hand, because a thing can be done (e.g.,
>shooting in near total darkness) doesn't mean it
>should be done.

Howard, you do not have any images in your Nikonians gallery, no link to a personal gallery, and I see nothing at a quick glance of your web site to get an idea of how much wildlife you actually shoot. However, I can say with absolute certainty that wildlife shooters are shutter speed challenged with a D700 D300 long before sunset, for many different reasons, in good light.

Some has to do with maybe not having $12K to pop for a lens.

Some reasons have to do with subject motion, the Heron being one of the easiest birds to shoot. The duck was much more difficult because their heads rarely stay still except when plunged underwater to grab vegetation, which is not one of the better compositions we strive for .

Some has to do with the more powerful TC's and their effect on wide open performance. I note that you do not list any TC's in your gear profile, nor any lenses typically used for extreme focal length shooting in combination with TC's (I doubt your Tammie 500/6.3 zoom would be a good candidate for that).

>>And now the more complex question, which I personally
>face:
>>
>>3. I am a birder. I have a D300 and a D700. Which body
>>should I use, and when? Or should I sell one body .
>
>The reasons to use a D300 instead of a D700, or vice versa,
>depending on shooting conditions, can easily become a highly
>technical discussion, the results of which hardly provide any
>actual visible evidence when comparing side-by-side,
>well-exposed, sharply focused shots of the same subject made
>with each camera. The problem with highly technical
>discussions is that it's often best if all parties are
>thoroughly conversant with both the technical definitions and
>the relative merits and impact of each technical point. That
>doesn't eschew such discussions, but limits many of us to
>responding based on perception. My point is that we should
>always be placing much more emphasis on perceived quality that
>measureable technical specification superiority.

The entire thrust of my thread was to bypass technical debates, which are endless here, and discuss a few comparative images, which are very difficult to come by in these discussions.


>I also think there are circumstances in which the greater
>number of line-pairs-per-mm of resolution provided by the D700
>outdoes the D300 in direct comparison of idential test shots,
>but whether any difference visible to the human eye is
>perceptibly better is a matter, again, for discussion.

Did you mean what you said there, that the D700 out-resolves the D300 in terms of line pairs per mm of sensor???? That's news to me . Please link to a reference.


>IF you've got a D300 and a D700, pick the D300 for birding
>because of its narrower field of view with a given lens which
>results in a perceptibly longer reach, (...)

That appears to contradict the above, where you saw little or no differences in my test images.


> (...) get as close to your subjects as possible,

I believe that I would be arrested, or at the very least thrown out of that refuge if I waded into that managed wildlife pond. I have never seen it done, not in 6 years and at least 60 trips there. "Getting closer" is great advice... if you are shooting on your own property or have permission to enter "refuge-like" private property I guess, or otherwise found good public lands that are not managed with no rules or restrictions. If you find that shooting spot in the Delmarva area, please let me know


> don't buy any more lenses, and keep the
>D700 as a backup. If you like the greater weight, slightly
>expanded feature set, and better low light capabilities of the
>D700, use it, buy better glass and a TC17eII, and use the D300
>as a backup. Those are the reasons to choose one body over the
>other. Resolution has nothing to do with it IMO.

Why the TC17? Do you think I chose the wrong TC for that?

>>So... I think the discussion should not be about drilling
>into
>>the image to try to "prove" a resolution
>advantage
>>in the higher density sensor. I think the question is:
>>"Did the D300 deliver enough additional resolution
>to
>>make that a worthwhile trade-off, verses the D700?".
>
>
>Of course. And, pray tell, how can one determine whether or
>not the D300 delivers enough resolution vs. the D700 unless
>you drill into the image.

You asked, and here again you took my statement totally out of context. When I said "drilling into the image to try to "prove" a resolution advantage" I meant it in the context of zooming in just for the sake of proving a technical point. I think that is different than assessing the actual usability of an image for web or print reproduction purposes. I hope that most members understood my context and that there is at least some agreement with it.


>>Anyone that shoots wildlife and has experience with both
>>bodies knows that if there is no resolution
>>difference, the D700 is the superior overall choice. I
>don't
>>think that is at issue. Birders are too shutter speed
>>challenged to ignore the extra stop or two that the D700
>>provides. Most of us, though, are afraid to give up that
>>"extra resolution". Are our fears justified?
>
>I disagree and my edits of your heron photos prove my point I
>hope. I don't know what you're looking at when you look at
>both heron shots, but it doesn't appear as though you're
>looking at the most useful part of the data.

I have previously pointed out that these particular images were not intended to specifically demonstrate any advantage of the D700's high ISO capability. My intent was to illustrate any fundamental resolution advantages... period. And I said previously, I strenuously disagree with your assertion, in principle, that ISO 400 or so (whatever you find to be the max ISO appropriate for birding) is "good enough" in all situations, with the gear we typically shoot, in the most favorable light.


> It's the photographer (you), not the equipment, who made both shots.
>Forget about the equipment - it's all good for your purposes.

I do not want to get into "gear doesn't matter anymore" debates. It is not true and any advanced wildlife shooter knows that.

>If I was not in a position to afford new glass and I wanted
>the longest possible reach for birding, I'd stick with the
>D300 on the best tripod and head I could get my hands on.

>>Conversely, there is the question regarding the relative
>>merits of those two stops, should one have a D300.
>>Unfortunately, that would need many more comparative
>images in
>>different light to even start to address since this light
>was
>>not terribly challenging. The illustrated images do
>address
>>the relative benefits in what I call "very good to
>>excellent light, but not overly challenging"
>
>Without suggesting that you (or any other photographer)
>compromise the potential for obtaining really good exposures,
>good lighting is what we all strive for. I personally don't
>bother shooting in bad light under difficult conditions
>because I'm not interested in engaging in frustrating
>activities. Some days, the light is not right and no amount of
>money spent on expensive gear will make it right. Some days,
>it's best to read a book because the light and the subject
>matter just isn't right. Challenging light, as you put it,
>sometimes can't be overcome by camera technology, lens
>technology or the best filters available. The patience we all
>learn as photographers is epitomized by the need to
>acknowledge that we can sometimes wait for hours (and days)
>for the right light in which to capture a wading bird. Almost
>without exception, getting a great shot in difficult light has
>more to do with our white balance, filter and exposure choices
>than it does with sensor or lens resolutions or the camera we
>happen to be using.
>
>Here's your buddy again, this time shot with your D700. I left
>his duck pal in the background because it felt like a more
>pleasant composition that way. Once again, a 50% crop takes a
>bit of a toll, but not so much as to prevent making a good
>print. Look at the detail in the (formerly) almost black areas
>of feather in the head and in the rib area ahead of the wing.
>Tons of feather detail there. I'm still not crazy about your
>focus point choice, but that's admittedly a matter of taste
>(and I still like your heron!).

I really don't want to get into shooting issues, as I've said previously. But I can't help it here . I see a fundamental problem with a full body Heron image where the eye is in perfect focus out of camera, but the balance of the bird, including all the feather detail, is not . And admittedly this is a very personal bias, not some general recommendation. There are just to many slightly OOF feathers for my taste.

I started my wildlife adventure always focusing on the eye (conventional wisdom), but often don't like the results. I would not have even shot the D700 Heron image if I weren't after this test because I don't like the angle. The head is facing the wrong way, with a bad angle on the eye and it introduces these DOF issues. it is arguably the worst of all worlds. I would have liked him to at least turn and face me somewhat but he refused to do that at the appointed time. But the point was to shoot feather detail for the point of this discussion, not get published with the image

Once again, this is not a composition class. This is about feather detail

>
>Frankly, I can't tell the D300 and D700 shots apart.

Once again, for everyone's benefit, this is what needs to be discussed, not my exposure or focus point, and is the point of my thread!

>Unsolicited advice (it's what I tell my research associates so
>often that they get steaming mad at me): For testing or for
>serious photography, shoot tighter! If you haven't got the
>reach, get closer. The less air, humidity, dust, heat shimmer
>and other junk between you and your subject, the sharper the
>shot, the truer the colors and the greater the detail.
>

All great advice but totally out of context of this thread. This is not and will not become a wildlife photo technique thread. Nor a "how do I sneak into the Federal Refuge managed pond" thread. Nor the "I'll wait until next year's bird migration to get that perfect shot" thread. This is about the best tool to do the best you can under what is rarely ideal conditions.

And finally, there has been no discussion of the duck image. In a recent reach/FX Vs DX thread I made a general statement that in my personal experience I found that when the subject fully fits a DX frame, it fairly comfortably fits an FX frame, as well as wildlife shots tend to go. In that case I see little advantage to the D300's "extra reach". However, at the other extreme, where "heroic crops" are required in either case, in principle the D300 should add a lot of value, but my experience is that it does not. It was really the later case, represented by the duck images, that I think are at the crux of this resolution issue.


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agitater

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#15. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 14

agitater Gold Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 18th Jan 2007
Fri 02-Apr-10 06:00 PM


>I'm confused . In you first post, you alluded to a poor
>exposure. Just above I quote you saying there is nothing
>overexposed (I disagree somewhat as I state above) and there
>is certainly nothing underexposed, and now you are back again
>suggesting my image could use "somewhat better
>exposure".
>
>I don't want to argue the merits of the exposure. It was not
>the point of the thread. Let's stay on track and talk about
>resolution and D700's verses D300's

This is most definitely on track I think. Poor exposure does not consist solely of blown highlights. Poor exposure includes low contrast in many situations, along with inaccurate white balance, noise and other factors which affect the eye's perception of captured resolution and detail. Right on point I'd say. I found nothing overexposed in either shot, but that doesn't mean the exposure overall wasn't poor.

>Did you mean what you said there, that the D700 out-resolves
>the D300 in terms of line pairs per mm of sensor???? That's
>news to me . Please link to a reference.

Try Camera Labs here for the D300 (2300 lpph) and here for the D700 (higher at 2400 lpph). There are other sources online if you want comparatives. The D700 link includes a comparison with the D300 which is right up your alley I think.

>>IF you've got a D300 and a D700, pick the D300 for
>birding
>>because of its narrower field of view with a given lens
>which
>>results in a perceptibly longer reach, (...)
>
>That appears to contradict the above, where you saw little or
>no differences in my test images.

No contradiction at all. I was addressing the typical birder's need for more reach. If we can't spend more hard-earned dough on lenses, the D300 with its APS-C sensor provides a narrower angle of view and a perceptibly longer reach therefore.

>I believe that I would be arrested, or at the very least
>thrown out of that refuge if I waded into that managed
>wildlife pond. I have never seen it done, not in 6 years and
>at least 60 trips there. "Getting closer" is great
>advice... if you are shooting on your own property or have
>permission to enter "refuge-like" private property I
>guess, or otherwise found good public lands that are not
>managed with no rules or restrictions. If you find that
>shooting spot in the Delmarva area, please let me know

Of course you're right. My comment was a general one. If you're as close as you can get, well, that's it then.

>Why the TC17? Do you think I chose the wrong TC for that?

I don't think there's a right or wrong TC to choose. It depends on your compositional preferences. I like tighter compositions, so if you were using the TC20 and were also as close to the subjects as possible, that's the right TC IMO.

>You asked, and here again you took my statement totally out of
>context. When I said "drilling into the image to try to
>"prove" a resolution advantage" I meant it in
>the context of zooming in just for the sake of proving a
>technical point. I think that is different than assessing the
>actual usability of an image for web or print reproduction
>purposes. I hope that most members understood my context and
>that there is at least some agreement with it.

But for print, you want as much resolution as possible in order to print at the largest sizes you regularly prefer. Simply zooming into an unedited photo that is less than optimally exposed tells us very little aside from the obvious fact that the exposure is less than optimal. As well, I think, comparative images which are different from each other in so many respects are not really effective when making qualitative judgements about the different cameras used to make the images. While test bench or lab or studio comparisons made under controlled conditions don't tell the whole story either, at least the variables of exposure are eliminated in order to get at the crux of a particular technical element.

>I have previously pointed out that these particular images
>were not intended to specifically demonstrate any advantage of
>the D700's high ISO capability. My intent was to illustrate
>any fundamental resolution advantages... period. And I said
>previously, I strenuously disagree with your assertion, in
>principle, that ISO 400 or so (whatever you find to be the max
>ISO appropriate for birding) is "good enough" in all
>situations, with the gear we typically shoot, in the most
>favorable light.

I don't think I made or implied any such assertion. For the sake of clarity though, my definition of "good enough" means printable, salable, publishable and professionally displayable. Wildlife betrays shutter speed choices, no doubt, as you so accurately pointed out. Still, patience when birding is its own reward. After all, how did film photographers shooting Velvia 50 and slower make so many thousands of great bird shots with manual focus glass or glass which autofocused significantly slower than the speedy stuff we've been using for many years? I think the answer is that we just can't get the shots when we want them — we can only get sharp shots of a still wildlife subject when the subject deigns to provide the pose. I'm also saying that even given the current highly advanced state of high resolution digital SLR sensors, shooting wildlife at 1/750s, f/6.3, ISO800 guarantees no greater percentage of keepers than in days gone by.

>I do not want to get into "gear doesn't matter
>anymore" debates. It is not true and any advanced
>wildlife shooter knows that.

I disagree. Your heron shots might have been discarded by some photographers. A very small number of quick edits helps perfectly decent photos emerge though. I'm also directly addressing the fact that once one is in possession of either a D300 or a D700, it's hard (if not impossible) to find anything better in APS-C or full-frame format. The it's-the-photographer-not-the-gear saw is very imortant here, becuase the gear is of such high quality in the first place that poor shots made with either camera are almost always the fault of the photographer.

>Once again, this is not a composition class. This is about
>feather detail

If it's about feather detail really, then provide for yourself a pair of identical shots taken at a taxidermist's workshop. Better yet, set up an artificial bird purchased from a toy store and make comparison shots under controlled conditions at home. Your supplied shots are not appropriate for feather detail comparisons between the two cameras because there are simply too many variables - different angles of view, different compositions, slightly different lighting, different exposure and compensation values. All my heron editing did was to draw out the detail preserved by the capture after having done approximately equal percentages of cropping in order to provide a subject detail sufficiently visible for discussion purposes.

>And finally, there has been no discussion of the duck image.
>In a recent reach/FX Vs DX thread I made a general statement
>that in my personal experience I found that when the subject
>fully fits a DX frame, it fairly comfortably fits an FX frame,
>as well as wildlife shots tend to go. In that case I see
>little advantage to the D300's "extra reach".
>However, at the other extreme, where "heroic crops"
>are required in either case, in principle the D300 should add
>a lot of value, but my experience is that it does not. It was
>really the later case, represented by the duck images, that I
>think are at the crux of this resolution issue.

The duck images have not been discussed or commented because they're not useful. Contrast is too low to compare resolution by eye or by technical measurement. The images are poorly focused. The exposures are poor in general. The ducks occupy too little of the frame to crop closely in order to view feather details. In other words, neither the D300 or D700 capture images with enough megapixels to provide usable detail in a typical subject crop this heavy. That said too, the D300 and D700 are not at fault (nor am I suggesting that's what you mean). The compositions and exposures are insufficient for any sort of comparision.

I can't comment on your assessment of subjects which "fully fit a DX frame (still) comfortably fitting an FX frame as well as wildlife shots tend to go." I disagree completely. Either you're shooting for composition and subject clarity or you're not, and I do acknowledge and agree that such choices (and all the variations in between) belong to the photographer. I'll restate something I mentioned in a previous post though — if a shot is so loose that the remaining pixels (after a heavy crop) are too few to adequately resolve the subject in an appropriately sharp, contrasty, color accurate manner, then the shot has been blown. It's not a criticism - just a fact of photographic life. What's needed for heavy cropping is more megapixels and a bit more resolution as well. Either that or longer glass for a location which prevents you from getting as close as needed with existing glass.

With your existing gear, if you can't get close enough to your subjects in your wildlife refuge to avoid having to heavily crop your shots, then the location might be defined as a better sightseeing spot than a photography spot. Or you could blow the bank account on a D3x - more pixels and more resolution too. On the other hand, perhaps additional patience might be rewarded by subjects eventually positioning themselves closer to your shooting position? Sometimes, admittedly, there aren't enough hours in the day for that much patience.

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agitater

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#16. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 15

agitater Gold Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 18th Jan 2007
Fri 02-Apr-10 06:12 PM

Neil . . . you asked about a link to my photo site. There is little or no wildlife up there right now. When I return from Botswana in October, there will be plenty however. Anyway, you asked for a link to my photo site so here it is.

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nrothschild

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#17. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 15

nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Fri 02-Apr-10 06:13 PM

Howard, I'm going to end this exchange with you before I say something I regret. It is obvious to me that you just don't get what I was trying to do here.

Hopefully some wildlife photographers will continue on with the discussion.
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briantilley

Paignton, UK
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#18. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 15

briantilley Gold Member Deep knowledge of bodies and lens; high level photography skills Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 26th Jan 2003
Fri 02-Apr-10 07:23 PM | edited Fri 02-Apr-10 07:26 PM by briantilley

>>Did you mean what you said there, that the D700 out-resolves
>>the D300 in terms of line pairs per mm of sensor????
>
>Try Camera Labs for the D300 (2300 lpph) and for the D700
>(higher at 2400 lpph).

Those figures are in lpph - line pairs per picture height. One would expect the D700 sensor, being 23.9mm tall compared with 15.8mm for the D300, to resolve more line pairs over the full height of the sensor.

Your original post (reply #9) claimed that the D700 has greater resolution than the D300 in lppm - line pairs per millimetre - which is certainly not the case.

Overall, I think you are somewhat missing the point of what Neil was trying to achieve by posting his images, and I would like us to get back on track, please.

Thanks!

Brian
Welsh Nikonian

agitater

Toronto, CA
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#19. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 17

agitater Gold Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 18th Jan 2007
Fri 02-Apr-10 07:25 PM | edited Fri 02-Apr-10 07:27 PM by agitater

>Howard, I'm going to end this exchange with you before I say
>something I regret. It is obvious to me that you just don't
>get what I was trying to do here.

Not trying to frustrate or argue and I am definitely sorry if I've missed your point. It wouldn't be the first time I was dense enough to miss something important.

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#20. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 18

agitater Gold Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 18th Jan 2007
Fri 02-Apr-10 07:32 PM


>Overall, I think you are somewhat missing the point of what
>Neil was trying to achieve by posting his images, and I would
>like us to get back on track, please.

I think I'm definitely missing something important and I'd appreciate a push in the right direction. I thought the subject line said it all (although we did range farther afield), but I kept coming back to the differences in resolved detail between the two reach examples (which I think is negligible).

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#21. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 18

nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Fri 02-Apr-10 07:42 PM

I think LPPH is a valid comparison because it measures the line pairs across the same number of pixels. More or less the same pixel count - there is a tiny (~1%) variance in pixel count. Indicating comparable performance for equal FOV or subject coverage across the sensors (requiring higher FL or closer shooting distance for the FX, just to avoid confusion of terminology). Not my context in terms of wildlife, of course, but valid where reach is not the primary constraint.

However, the D700 review clearly states that the D300 test was done with a 17-55 and the D700 test with a 50/1.8. They clearly state that the resolution, measured in LPPH for both cameras measured the same with the same 50/1.8 lens, thus suggesting that for equal FOV the cameras are essentially identical in terms of resolution.

I reluctantly add the above because I agree that I would like to get this back on track.
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#22. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 18

agitater Gold Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 18th Jan 2007
Fri 02-Apr-10 07:53 PM


>Your original post (reply #9) claimed that the D700 has
>greater resolution than the D300 in lppm - line pairs per
>millimetre - which is certainly not the case.

My mistake - I meant the exact opposite. The D300, according to DIWA Labs resolves at 35.37 lp/mm at f/8; the D700 34.55 lp/mm at f/8. Different lenses were used during the tests (a 24-70 for the D300; 24-120VR for the D700), but both lenses outresolve the sensor so the lens difference is probably not important.

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#23. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples--and Landscapes" | In response to Reply # 13

Donald Kahn Registered since 16th May 2009
Fri 02-Apr-10 08:37 PM

Jim

The "respected moderator" must have thought that your post was appropriate, because he or she "snatched it from the line of fire" and placed it down here so that it wouldn't get lost. I think that Neil may have answered your question in the last paragraph of reply 14.

"And finally, there has been no discussion of the duck image. In a recent reach/FX Vs DX thread I made a general statement that in my personal experience I found that when the subject fully fits a DX frame, it fairly comfortably fits an FX frame, as well as wildlife shots tend to go. In that case I see little advantage to the D300's "extra reach". However, at the other extreme, where "heroic crops" are required in either case, in principle the D300 should add a lot of value, but my experience is that it does not. It was really the later case, represented by the duck images, that I think are at the crux of this resolution issue."

Don

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#24. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples--and Landscapes" | In response to Reply # 13

nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Fri 02-Apr-10 10:22 PM

Nothing was snatched from the line of fire; I think you just had the good sense to reply to the initial post, placing it down here yourself

Some of the issues that I face with very long lenses might put the quotation from Don out of context. Long lenses suffer from things like atmospheric distortion (the mirage effect), which I believe affected the duck images, for example. This is less of a problem at shorter focal lengths. Haze is another and very different matter.

Long lenses are typically used with TC's because you never get enough reach shooting birds. I think your issues are very different.

For landscape work, in principle the D700 has a practical advantage because it requires slightly less sharp lenses, is slightly less sensitive to vibrations, etc. It is also less sensitive to diffraction effects, performing better with severely stopped down lenses. I see some anecdotal evidence of this shooting my D700, which I find to be a bit more forgiving but that is not scientific at all. For landscape work that in itself may not be worth the price of admission.

Aside from that, and whatever credible resolution analysis you can find on the net or elsewhere, as a landscaper you have the advantage of being able to always frame your subject the way you want, without heroic measures using TC's and unwieldy long lenses. I'll leave it at that because I have not seriously tried to test my two bodies with landscape subjects. Nor do I know your lenses, unless your 105 Ai-S is the portrait lens, not the micro. I have the portrait lens but never use it for landscapes because it is not optimized for infinity or distant views.

For available light it's a no brainer. The D700 rules. That's the main reason I got mine. Your biggest problem will be the cost of lenses for the ultra-wide end, but you can keep your D200 for at least the landscape work at wide angles with your 16-85 until you get a good 24mm at least. The big money is in the wider angle lenses, though, depending on how you replace the 16-85.

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#25. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 6

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Fri 02-Apr-10 11:03 PM

Neil I accept your rationale.

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#26. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples--and Landscapes" | In response to Reply # 24

Jim Mohundro Silver Member Nikonian since 23rd Jul 2008
Fri 02-Apr-10 11:51 PM

Neil,

Thanks for catching the import of my question. If I was shooting BIF or generally using a long lens, with or with a TC, Don's comments would be right on the money, and I should have been a bit more explicit to narrow my remarks to landscapes.

It looks like the D700 would fulfill both my principal intended uses. I expect the sell the 16-85 (it's a real gem of a DX lens), along with the D200, to help finance the D700, but will wait financially awhile to leap for the pro wide angles. I hope that, in the interim, the 35, appropriately stopped down, will be a reasonably effective, if not wide, landscape-capable lens in the interim.

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#27. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples--and Landscapes" | In response to Reply # 26

nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Sat 03-Apr-10 12:10 AM

You might consider a 24/2.8 Ai or Ai-S to tide you over. You should be able to pick up a decent copy for under $200 and it will maintain the same FOV as your 16. You should be able to turn it over for little or no loss if you don't like it or don't want to keep it after you finish off the wide end. You will like focusing your MF lenses on the D700 . It will be a revelation. Plus you'll have LiveView for total control over landscape focusing.
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#28. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 2

nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Sat 03-Apr-10 12:12 AM | edited Sat 03-Apr-10 12:13 AM by nrothschild

Hi Philip,

Thanks for the input! I didn't do a better job than you on the PP; I just displayed the out of camera images . I guess you should give Nikon credit for it
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#29. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 0

Donald Kahn Registered since 16th May 2009
Sun 04-Apr-10 12:57 PM

Hi Neil

I know that this thread “died” after the lengthy exchanges between you and Howard, but I don’t want you to think that it wasn’t very informative. I’m sure that you wanted it to be more Socratic, but those lengthy, technical posts would have been a hard act for some of us to follow, and almost everything that could be said was, in fact, said.

I don’t have a D300 or any other DX camera at this time, but having read countless posts concerning the “reach” issue, I had always thought that it would be interesting to see a side by side comparison. Your photographs and “lectures” were very enlightening.

So, once again, thanks for taking the time to prepare this post.

Don

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#30. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 29

nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Sun 04-Apr-10 01:18 PM

Hi Don,

I'm glad someone got something out of this thread
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#31. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 30

Donald Kahn Registered since 16th May 2009
Sun 04-Apr-10 01:44 PM | edited Sun 04-Apr-10 01:45 PM by Donald Kahn

Neil

This thread has had over 400 views. Considering the intensity of the topic, I'm sure that I'm not the only one, but as I said, your exchanges were so detailed and often technical, that there wasn't a lot more that many of us could add. I even learned some new words.

Don

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#32. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 30

Floridian Silver Member Nikonian since 11th Feb 2007
Sun 04-Apr-10 04:57 PM

I'll second Don's comment, Neil. I enjoyed the thread and the exchanges, and your explanations about what you did and why. It was nice just to see the comparison photos that many of us couldn't have taken because we don't have the gear.

I don't think you needed to defend what you did; you just said here's what I did, and here's why, and then let readers judge the relevance of the comparison. But your explanations of why you did that comparison were also very helpful.

Mostly I'd like to say "thanks" for posting your photos and starting the thread to begin with. Your exchange with Howard was an added benefit.

Randy

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#33. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 32

nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Sun 04-Apr-10 09:45 PM

Glad you got something out of it, Randy
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#34. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 33

KIMNMARC Registered since 10th Jan 2009
Mon 05-Apr-10 11:35 AM

WOW! I can only offer up my VERY limited experience on this matter. BUT, I will gladly accept all recommendations.

I traded in my Canon 5D MK II (a decision I definitely regret right now). I purchased a Nikon D300s and a D700. My intent was, based on salesman and forums to shoot the 70-200 F/2.8 on the D300 for sports and nature, while leaving the 17-35 f/2.8 on the D700 for landscapes and group shots. I also have the 50mm f/1.4G.

After shooting some rather unsatisfactory shots with the D300s, I swapped the lens over to my D700. The shots were much better. I then decided to conduct a test by going into my yard and shooting trees and whatnot with the D300s using "P" mode and the same exact images on the D700 using "P" mode.

I then shot manual using the same values, on both cameras. (If I remember correctly, I used the same Aperture and ISO, but the D700 wanted a faster shutter (based on the little exposure meter in the camera). Anyway, I found that though the DX sensor filled the frame better, when I zoomed the FX sensor in to get a similar view, it was consistently a cleaner image. I then zoomed both, and the DX image could not hold together like the FX sensor did.

Long story short, the sales clerk explained that the FX sensor will always enlarge better because it is providing larger pixels, and less noise. The DX sensor has 12mp as does the FX. The FX pixels will be larger and contain more information.

I sold the D300s and and right now debating between either a D3s to go with the D700, an additional D700, or just dumping all the Nikon gear in favor of the Canon 5D MK II again with the same lenses I currently shoot. Canon seems to be more responsive to photographers needs with their lens selection, and Nikon's newer lenses seem to be poorly constructed - the new 16-35 compared to the 17-35.

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#35. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 34

nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Mon 05-Apr-10 02:35 PM

When I added a 10mpx D200 to get some "reach" I thought I might be missing from my 4mpx D2H I had some similar observations. Although I had a lot more pixels, I did not generally get images I would post to the web at 100%. Even among images I thought were technically well shot, I thought they had a jaggy or nervous look, not as smooth as the D2H images at 100%. That was when I started questioning the "reach" issue and the value of the extra pixels. To a great extent I see the same thing with many D300 images. Most of those images were wildlife images where I can't get closer and was forced into the deep crops to try to salvage an image. They are also images where less than perfect technique creates problems.

It would be interesting to see a comparative pair among the samples that lead to your decision to sell the D300 to see if you had the same issues I saw. I have trouble articulating exactly what I said above

The samples are important because a lot can go wrong with images when you are looking at deep crops, and most of those things are not the fault of the camera or the technology. I often say that FX seems to be more "forgiving", simply because the image does not have to be perfect to take advantage of all the pixels.

It would also be important to know what aperture you shot. On 12mpx DX, you are, theoretically, shooting at the limits of the physics of light at about F/8.7. That is an extremely demanding situation that many people do not appreciate. It's very demanding on the lenses, which I suspect are not truly diffraction limited (that is an expensive bar to reach even in simple prime lenses). If you open up you bring in issues of extremely shallow DOF and also some lenses are not their sharpest at or near wide open so it is sort of a no-win situation if you are looking too deeply


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#36. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 35

KIMNMARC Registered since 10th Jan 2009
Tue 06-Apr-10 06:38 AM

I will look for the images. I do know that some were shot using "P" mode, but because the two cameras reacted completely different, I ended up going manual. I have f/2.8; f/4; f/5.6; f/8; and f/11. I am not sure I shot more than that. If I did, I did not document in my log book. I will check my backup storage after work.

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#37. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 0

Donald Kahn Registered since 16th May 2009
Sat 10-Apr-10 08:55 PM | edited Sat 10-Apr-10 09:54 PM by Donald Kahn

Neil

I have read some of your replies to the various posts, including the "Do you miss the D300" and I am a bit confused. Your reply number 14 to this post seems to indicate that you think that the "reach" concept is invalid. This is what you said.

"And finally, there has been no discussion of the duck image. In a recent reach/FX Vs DX thread I made a general statement that in my personal experience I found that when the subject fully fits a DX frame, it fairly comfortably fits an FX frame, as well as wildlife shots tend to go. In that case I see little advantage to the D300's "extra reach". However, at the other extreme, where "heroic crops" are required in either case, in principle the D300 should add a lot of value, but my experience is that it does not. It was really the later case, represented by the duck images, that I think are at the crux of this resolution issue."

So, what do you think?

Don


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#38. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 37

nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Sat 10-Apr-10 11:14 PM

Hi Don,

Your confusion is due to the fact that as I tried to explain, I'm still on the fence and have an open mind. I did not get much wildlife time on the D700 this past season though, so it's a work in process for me. I was hoping to draw out some representative samples from others here, illustrating one way or the other what they thought
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#39. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 30

Jim Mohundro Silver Member Nikonian since 23rd Jul 2008
Sun 11-Apr-10 01:22 AM

Neil,

As the poster at #13 and #26, I can confirm that my D700 actually arrived yesterday and I now have a bit of real skin in the game. I look forward to shopping around for a good manual Nikkor prime WA to pick up where my 35AFD fears to tread.

This has been an extremely well-expressed and thoughtful thread and, as I wade through the factory manual and will shortly receive my Thom Hogan extraordinairily comprehensive D700 guide, I look forward to expanding, so to speak, my landscape image endeavors. In the meantime, I'm a bit relieved that it appears that the D700 is complex but more like the D200 than it is different, and I'm having some fun experimenting with the camera before I get wound up in trying to set up A, B, C and D channels.

Thanks to you all for your insightful comments.

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#40. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 0

James23p Moderator Awarded for his wide variety of skills, a true generalist both in film and digital photography Nikonian since 25th Apr 2004
Mon 12-Apr-10 02:08 AM

Wow there is so much info here I read it twice to try and digest it. For me this is kinda of mute though I had a D200 and at 10mp I find the increase in IQ and 12mp of the D700 allow me to crop just as tight as I could with my D200 essentially yielding me the same view.

But I did enjoy the thread excellent points and info.

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#41. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 40

Donald Kahn Registered since 16th May 2009
Mon 12-Apr-10 12:57 PM

Jim

I don't want to put words in Neil's mouth, but I think that was what he had in mind. I believe that he wanted others to post comparative examples demonstrating that either there was a "reach" advantage to using a D300, as opposed to a D700, or that there was not.

It was a great idea, but it got somewhat sidetracked.

Don

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#42. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 41

Dark Messiah Silver Member Nikonian since 27th Feb 2009
Mon 12-Apr-10 04:41 PM

I would like to humbly add another "thank you" for the comparison pictures and discussion thread.

Its the first time that I have seen a D300 vs D700 reach/acuity thread using example photos.

Having traded (mostly) DX sensors for FX sensors, I now find myself wanting in the lens "reach" department, and I am now in a 200-400mm vs 500mm quandary.

I have to say that I absolutely love the D700 viewfinder though.

Kind regards

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#43. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 42

nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Mon 12-Apr-10 04:50 PM

Regardless of the merits you'll feel better with the 500, especially working 700mm, which it does quite nicely- at least my older AFS I model does. For birding, where it is rare to have too much reach. For mammals the 200-400 may make more sense, and interestingly the gentleman that sold me my 500 "traded" it for a 200-400 because he was mainly interested in mammals in the Colorado Rockies.

Glad you enjoyed the discussion!
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#44. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 43

Dark Messiah Silver Member Nikonian since 27th Feb 2009
Mon 12-Apr-10 05:22 PM

Hi Neil,

Thanks for the heads up regarding these two lenses too.

Kind regards

G

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#45. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 44

slothead Gold Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 11th Aug 2009
Mon 12-Apr-10 06:57 PM

I'm going to have to print this entire discussion and study it for a week!

Neil, did you join the CMPG at the Cheery Blossoms? I obviously didn't make it, and I hear the crowds were absolutely horrendous! And what did you think of the folks you met there (if you got there)?

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#46. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 45

nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Mon 12-Apr-10 08:49 PM | edited Mon 12-Apr-10 08:49 PM by nrothschild

Hi Tom,

I was tight for time and there were so many photographers there I didn't want to spend time going to the Memorial and not knowing who I was looking for . There were that many people. Had a grat time though, and stayed all day and shot the evening fireworks. Best fireworks shots I've ever gotten.
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#47. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 0

Donald Kahn Registered since 16th May 2009
Mon 12-Apr-10 10:35 PM | edited Mon 12-Apr-10 10:43 PM by Donald Kahn

Well Neil,

I guess that you have probably noticed that I have refused to let your thread die. I have never believed in the "reach" myth, and I can't believe that there has not been one post in this thread that would support the "reach" position.

Don

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#48. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 47

nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Mon 12-Apr-10 11:43 PM

It may not be a myth. My samples may not be the right ones. For example, the duck image surely suffers from some air turbulence. The Heron was shot in the same light but the feathers are larger and easier to resolve. The duck's feathers are oh so tiny at that distance. Songbirds may be a better subject because being much smaller they have less air in between, even when just specks on the full frame. Shooting comparative images would be problematic, though, except for birds clinging to a feeder.

Here is some interesting math for those so inclined...

For the lens that shot those images, a 500/4 working 700mm f/6.3, the theoretical limits of resolution are between 1.04 Arc Seconds (") and 1.24", the Dawes and Rayleigh limits respectively.

The pixel pitch of the D300 sensor, working that lens, is comparable to a spacing of 1.62". Not much room for error there.

How does that relate to real world objects?

The binary star pair Gamma Virginis is currently well placed for viewing in the Northern Hemisphere in the late evening and will be so for another month or so. I believe that pair is now about 1.5" apart. If you have a friend with a very good telescope ask him to show you that pair. Just resolving it in a very high powered telescope is a challenge. I've done it a few times, fully separating the stars with a lens of 7" diameter (1" larger than a 600/4), and I can see a "peanut" (pinched pair) in a 3.5" or 89mm scope, compared to 111mm of clear aperture of a 700/6.3 lens. In my Nikon lens the two stars would be touching or slightly peanut-ed.

That's visual. I can't imagine trying to image that in one frame. It has been done, but by stacking hundreds or thousands of frames, something totally out of scope with what we try to do out on the refuge.

A more terrestrial example... the centers of 2 US quarters viewed at about 2 miles (10,625') are separated by 1.62" in the same 700mm lens. That's really tiny . A true diffraction limited lens of the same aperture, with a good and strong eyepiece attached, in perfect seeing (not on this Earth) would resolve a tiny amount of space between the quarters. A sensor would not; at best it would image as two bright pixels.

A more wildlife oriented example... two hairs 0.2mm apart at a distance of 80' are spaced equal to adjacent pixels. At 0.3mm separation, you could, in theory, put a pixel in between.

Just putting a little perspective on the difficulty of the challenge of truly resolving to the limits of the DX sensor



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#49. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 15

Len Shepherd Gold Member Nikonian since 09th Mar 2003
Tue 13-Apr-10 06:44 AM

>But for print, you want as much resolution as possible in order to print at the largest sizes you regularly prefer.
Some yes - some no.
If you are going to view a print (10x8 or bigger) from a comfortable viewing position so you do not need to swivel your eyes to see the frame corners you view it at a distance proportional to size (equal to the diagonal) - and you do not need any extra pixels for larger print sizes.
Many prepare larger files using interpolation software - the benefit of which is to "guess" missing detail. With all but the finest detail subjects modern interpolation software works so well that it is very difficult to differentiate the level of detail between a 10x8 inch print and a 20x16 inch print, both viewed at 15 inches.
>I think the answer is that we just can't get the shots when we want them — we can only get
>sharp shots of a still wildlife subject when the subject deigns to provide the pose.
I would add in "perfect light" - but yes the "better" the subject and lighting from a photographic perspective the better the result should be.

Photography is a bit like archery. A technically better camera, lens or arrow may not hit the target as often as it could if the photographer or archer does not practice enough.

Len Shepherd

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#50. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 18

Len Shepherd Gold Member Nikonian since 09th Mar 2003
Tue 13-Apr-10 07:01 AM

>Those figures are in lpph - line pairs per picture height. One would expect the D700 sensor, being 23.9mm
>tall compared with 15.8mm for the D300, to resolve more line pairs over the full height of the sensor.
Why?
It is not the physical height that determines resolution when the pixels are equal.
Being pedantic Nikon quote 2832 pixel height (jpeg fine) for the D700 and 2848 for the D300/s - about 0.05% difference.
The difference in camera labs resolution (using different lenses so not like for like) is about 4% - just about enough to allow for an increase in horizontal width of a print (viewed at 15 inches) from 20 inches wide to 21 inches wide.

Photography is a bit like archery. A technically better camera, lens or arrow may not hit the target as often as it could if the photographer or archer does not practice enough.

Len Shepherd

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#51. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 22

Len Shepherd Gold Member Nikonian since 09th Mar 2003
Tue 13-Apr-10 07:19 AM

>Different lenses were used during the tests (a 24-70 for the D300; 24-120VR for the D700), but both lenses
>out resolve the sensor so the lens difference is probably not important.
There are 4 common photographic myths repeated time after time to the extent they become established "fact" - even though they are not
One is 18% is a mid grey (usually wrong), another is depth of field is split 33% in front of the point of focus and 66% behind (usually wrong) and a third is sensor resolution somehow limits lens resolution (always wrong).
My advice is any site repeating one of these fundamental errors should be treated as suspect
The formula for file resolution (a test using a lens) is Resolution/100 equals (sensor Resolution/100) plus (lens Resolution/100)
If sensor and lens each separately have the same resolution then file resolution is half the sensor or film resolution. Changing sensor or lens does affect file resolution.
If with the same lens one lens has 40% of the sensor resolution and another has 60% resolution the difference is 10% in file resolution.
Turning to sensors the D200 (which has been mentioned) has 2592 vertical pixels and the D300 has 10% more at 2848. If the lens used to compare the 2 sensors is the same and the software operates with equal efficiency the output resolution goes up by around 5%.

Photography is a bit like archery. A technically better camera, lens or arrow may not hit the target as often as it could if the photographer or archer does not practice enough.

Len Shepherd

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#52. "RE: D700 Vs D300 My experience" | In response to Reply # 48

Len Shepherd Gold Member Nikonian since 09th Mar 2003
Tue 13-Apr-10 07:42 AM

I have been shooting 12 MP D300/s and D3/s alongside each other for 2.5 years - to get "the best of both formats".
My experience is at lower ISO's there is no sharpness or resolution difference between the 2 formats.
DX gives me more wildlife or landscape reach (some of my landscape work is very long distance) and FX gives me better very low light performance and wide angle convenience.
When a longer lens is needed but you do not have it and a tight crop is "right" DX gives you 50% more pixels and more information for big prints.
Sorry - I cannot detect any meaningful difference between the 2 formats up to about 800 ISO.
Early on about 2 years ago Bjorn and Thom concluded DX slightly better resolves some subjects and FX slightly better resolves other subjects but differences were considered unimportant.
As I mentioned earlier 5% extra resolution with one format or the other translates into not quite enough extra resolution to print at 21 inches wide compared to 20 inches wide, both viewed at 15 inches.
The greater the noise the lower the resolution. FX handles noise better at high ISO's.
At 6400 ISO the D3/s out resolve the D300, though neither format at 6400 resolves the detail of a D300 at 400
Applying hard noise reduction to a D300 file at 6400 gets rid of the noise - at the expense of further reducing resolution - but even so 12 MP DX sometimes looks better than 8 MP FX to get the same crop.

Photography is a bit like archery. A technically better camera, lens or arrow may not hit the target as often as it could if the photographer or archer does not practice enough.

Len Shepherd

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#53. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 51

sidewinder Silver Member Nikonian since 05th Jan 2010
Tue 13-Apr-10 07:45 AM

>The formula for file resolution (a test using a lens) is
>Resolution/100 equals (sensor Resolution/100) plus (lens
>Resolution/100)
>If sensor and lens each separately have the same resolution
>then file resolution is half the sensor or film resolution.

Len,

This is a myth as well.

Look here:

http://photo.net/canon-eos-digital-camera-forum/00K33d

Look at Bob Atkins' first post in the comments section.

Bob Atkins is generally known to be knowledgeable and technically sound. He worked for about 25 years as a chemist/physicist at Yale University. He was big into fiber optics.

Anyway, in his post he disputes the applicability of that formula for digital sensors. He says that the formula was for use with film and was not based on any scientific analysis. It appears to be empirically derived. In other words, it's a rule of thumb that seemed to work with film, not a scientific fact.

Scott

P.S. 13% grey is a better approximation for middle grey.....

The important thing is never to stop questioning. -Albert Einstein

It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry. -Thomas Paine

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#54. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 48

KIMNMARC Registered since 10th Jan 2009
Tue 13-Apr-10 08:08 AM

My wife has my old D700. Based on current lens availability, I think Full Frame is the way to go. She only uses 2 lenses, 24-70 and 70-200. She has a 50mm but never uses it.

For arguments sake: Compare the price and field of view on Nikon's 24-70 on a D700 to the price and field of view of a 17-55 on a D300s.

If Nikon were to build the D300s as a 6 mp camera (same pixel density as the D700) how much would the cost of the camera go down? How much would the quality of photographs go up?

Using the 24-70 vs 15-55 as a comparison, lets compare the cost of building the 200-400 lens against a 135-270? A 600 vs a 400?

I would think that Nikon could put more glass on the street, if they made more "Professional" glass in the DX world. Even if only a 400 DX.

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#55. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 51

nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Tue 13-Apr-10 09:54 AM

Len,

Just for accuracy and in case anyone tried to put this in a spreadsheet, I think you mis-stated your formula. The formula you quoted would result in double the resolution of two equal components.

I think you meant (and have generally quoted in the past):

1/System Resolution = (1/sensor Resolution) + (1/Lens Resolution)

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#56. "RE: D700 Vs D300 My experience" | In response to Reply # 52

nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Tue 13-Apr-10 10:19 AM

Len, you seem to be contradicting yourself, or maybe you are misinterpreting my use of "resolution"....

>> My experience is at lower ISO's there is no sharpness or resolution difference between the 2 formats.

I would agree, if the comparison is equal FOV on both sensors (adjusting focal length and/or subject distance accordingly). But that is not the context of this thread. The context of this thread is differences in resolution with same lens and focal length, same subject distance, but different sensors (FX vs DX). That is the classic wildlife "reach" situation.

You made a statement above that interpolation software works so well that it is difficult to tell the difference between images taken at different sensor resolutions. But here you are suggesting you do use DX for "reach". You citre a "5% extra resolution benefit" but it is unclear to me what you are comparing.

And I want to remind everyone that the intent of this thread was not to rehash the theoretical arguments; there have been enough of those threads. The intent of this thread is to review and discuss examples of real world images that clearly indicate your point of view, either way.

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#57. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 55

sidewinder Silver Member Nikonian since 05th Jan 2010
Tue 13-Apr-10 02:52 PM

>I think you meant (and have generally quoted in the past):
>
>1/System Resolution = (1/sensor Resolution) + (1/Lens
>Resolution)

Here is a more simplified version of the formula you guys like to use:

System Resolution = 1/(1/Lens Resolution + 1/Sensor Resolution)

Scott

The important thing is never to stop questioning. -Albert Einstein

It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry. -Thomas Paine

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#58. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 54

briantilley Gold Member Deep knowledge of bodies and lens; high level photography skills Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 26th Jan 2003
Tue 13-Apr-10 03:56 PM

>If Nikon were to build the D300s as a 6 mp camera (same pixel
>density as the D700) how much would the cost of the camera go
>down?

A DX camera with the same pixel density as a D700 would have a 5.1MP sensor, not 6MP.

Brian
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#59. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 0

KnightPhoto Gold Member Nikonian since 18th Dec 2006
Wed 14-Apr-10 05:11 AM

Somewhat of a side issue, but the topic of what they did in the film days came up - I know of a local highly respected nature/bird photographer, now very elderly, and here is what he did in the film days:

1. Capture the bird
2. Place it in a pre-prepared terrarium with strong lid and sundry natural grass, twigs, etc as appropriate.
3. Photograph it (probably still with a poor keeper rate ) Most often he had to use flash.
4. Band it, take scientific measurements, etc.
5. Release the bird!

If you look carefully, you can pick out these 'aquarium photos' as they have a little bit of a fake look to them as compared to what we can do today!

Best regards, SteveK

'A camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.' -- Dorothea Lange
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#60. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 51

sidewinder Silver Member Nikonian since 05th Jan 2010
Wed 14-Apr-10 06:27 AM

>The formula for file resolution (a test using a lens) is Resolution/100 equals (sensor Resolution/100) plus (lens Resolution/100)

Len,

Finally!! I found some good solid and technically sound information on this subject.

The formula you usually quote is as follows:

1/System Resolution = 1/Lens Resolution + 1/Sensor Resolution

Please take a look at this article:

http://www.bobatkins.com/photography/technical/rrs.html

This article, "Part II" specifically, refutes the concept of that formula with a lot of good technical information.

Any comments?

Regards,

Scott

The important thing is never to stop questioning. -Albert Einstein

It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry. -Thomas Paine

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#61. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 60

nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Wed 14-Apr-10 10:24 AM

There is nothing wrong with empirically derived formulas or rules of thumb if those concepts have been tested by many different knowledgeable sources with consistent results. After all, if those people know as much or more than you or me, we can expect similar results. Theoretical mathematical equations have little to do with our images.

I also think the context of the article is not consistent with the typical context we use here. This brief snippet tells it all:

As I showed above, lens resolution has zero value in predicting the shape of the MTF curve. Now if you take a set of lenses which have low aberration values (say less then 0.25 wavelengths of wavefront error), then you can make an approximate predication of the shape of the MTF curve from the limit of lens resolution. Under those circumstances you can use the empirical relationship to approximate system resolution.

What he is saying is that one foundation of the empirical formula doesn't work with low quality consumer lenses. He acknowledges that it does work for very high quality lenses. The thrust of all our reach discussions here has been in the context of how best to shoot a 500/4 or 600/4, not a $100 75-300 AF-D ED lens. Just from that one snippet I think his discussion is way out of context with what we discuss here, and really out of context of many of these arguments.

I also think he may have been generally too hard on RRS because in fact he agrees in principle with many of the observations he quotes from RRS's white paper, such as shooting F/5-6 - F/8 whenever possible. He's really arguing about decimal places and not being very clear about his own reasoning unless he has stated that reasoning somewhere else on his site.

I get the impression RRS was trying to simplify some very complex concepts. It is a shame that the article is so old (circa 1996) and likely not available now. That makes the entire page difficult to evaluate. It was also likely written by the former owner and founder of RRS, well prior to Joe Johnson acquiring the firm.

I think it would be a mistake to make an FX or DX decision (for "reach") because of theoretical arguments. I think it would be smarter to choose a format based on actual personal experience of credible (documented with examples) reports of others and our own careful observations. And once again, that is why I tried, obviously unsuccessfully, to start a different reach thread, based on real world comparative images (not test charts shot indoors) and not theory or what we read on the net or what we "think" without having actually attempted our own meager empirical comparisons.

I personally only got one thing out of this thread. Most photographers just want to talk about issues like this and throw numbers around. I think that is unfortunate because no one will ever make a good decision based on complex and little understood mathematical theories. Especially in regard to digital sensors, which, as has been pointed out, is a "new frontier" with much less empirical testing than film, which has the benefit of over 100 years of experience and testing.


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#62. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 61

sidewinder Silver Member Nikonian since 05th Jan 2010
Wed 14-Apr-10 01:21 PM

Neil,

The empirical formula he comments on in this specific example is:

1/System Resolution^2 = 1/Lens Resolution^2 + 1/Sensor Resolution^2

That yields significantly different results than the formula Len likes to put forth often:

1/System Resolution = 1/Lens Resolution + 1/Sensor Resolution

Scott

The important thing is never to stop questioning. -Albert Einstein

It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry. -Thomas Paine

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#63. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 59

Floridian Silver Member Nikonian since 11th Feb 2007
Wed 14-Apr-10 01:39 PM

>1. Capture the bird...

Finally someone has suggested a reasonable solution to the "reach" problem!

Randy

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#64. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 61

Donald Kahn Registered since 16th May 2009
Wed 14-Apr-10 01:45 PM

>"I personally only got one thing out of this thread. Most photographers just want to talk about issues like this and throw numbers around. I think that is unfortunate because no one will ever make a good decision based on complex and little understood mathematical theories."

Neil

Unfortunately, I have to agree. Thanks for trying.

Don

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#65. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 61

sidewinder Silver Member Nikonian since 05th Jan 2010
Wed 14-Apr-10 02:46 PM

>I personally only got one thing out of this thread. Most photographers just want to talk about issues like this and throw
>numbers around. I think that is unfortunate because no one will ever make a good decision based on complex and little understood
>mathematical theories. Especially in regard to digital sensors, which, as has been pointed out, is a "new frontier" with much less
>empirical testing than film, which has the benefit of over 100 years of experience and testing.

Neil,

I am still trying to grasp what you really wanted out of this thread. You want to use "real world" examples which, by definition, require subjective evaluation to make an objective statement. Is that practical? All you end up is a bunch of opinions that may or may not be accurate or factual.

As far as I am concerned, it is best to remove as much opinion and experience as possible, both of which can be wrong, from the evaluation process.

If we are going to discuss the reach advantage of DX over FX, that it was we need to evaluate. Your "real world" examples introduce way too many variables. Different ISO settings, different aperture settings, different subjects, and possible focus error.

So, take a D700 and a D300s and a 300mm F/2.8 lens, set the cameras at their base ISO (ISO 200), set and shoot the same subject with both cameras from the same spot. Use a tripod. Use the same shutter speed and aperture setting. Make sure the focus is perfect for both and the center of the subject is in the center of the frame. What should the subject be? Something that can be evaluated objectively.

Now take the D700 image and crop it so it the same as the D300s image. Now evaluate which image is better.

Now, that will get you a technical evaluation of the reach advantage.

Scott

The important thing is never to stop questioning. -Albert Einstein

It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry. -Thomas Paine

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#66. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 62

nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Wed 14-Apr-10 08:14 PM

Yes, there are many flavors of that formula, as Atkins mentions. I don't think he was intending to mention the only "viable" alternatives since he doesn't even subscribe to the idea They all do the same general thing, to some extent, but with increasingly optimistic outcomes with increasing exponential powers assigned.
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#67. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 65

nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Wed 14-Apr-10 08:25 PM

Scott, I think you are having trouble grasping my intent.

Let me phrase it as a simple hypothetical...

Let's say that with equal exposures the D300 outperforms the D700, but with thoughtful use of the extra stop or two the D700 beats the D300.

Which camera do you want to use? The camera that shoots best in a lab test or the camera that delivers the better real world images when shot the way it was intended?

Another hypothetical...

Let's say the D300 beats the D700 in lab conditions. Let's say that you spend a year shooting 50,000 wildlife images, shooting every weekend in all sorts of conditions. Let's say the D700 always delivers the best images, based on your subjective judgment or whatever you want to base it on. Which camera will you shoot the following year?

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#68. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 67

sidewinder Silver Member Nikonian since 05th Jan 2010
Wed 14-Apr-10 11:02 PM | edited Wed 14-Apr-10 11:11 PM by sidewinder

Neil,

Okay, why did you pose this question if you already have your answer? You don't seem interested in a discussion. You seem interested in promoting your answer. Why else mention the 50,000 images in a year? You shoot more than anyone else's here so your opinion has to be the correct.

If you didn't want to discuss reach, why did you even mention it in the first post? You evaluations don't seem to consider reach at all. Do you really think that a D700 image, cropped to be 50% larger, looks better than an uncropped D300s image? To what print size? 8x10?

If you want to talk low light situations, we all know the D700 is better than the D300s there by at least a stop.

I don't have an answer but at least I was willing to follow the path to find the right one, even if it doesn't match up with what I guessed would be true.

Assuming proper focus, ISO 200, same shutter speed, and distance from subject, a D700 image, cropped to be 50% larger, probably does not look better than the D300s image. Factor in variables like low light and not needing to crop and the ballgame changes. I'd liked to see the images to test this....but I guess that isn't going to happen because you have made up your mind.

Scott

The important thing is never to stop questioning. -Albert Einstein

It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry. -Thomas Paine

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#69. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 68

briantilley Gold Member Deep knowledge of bodies and lens; high level photography skills Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 26th Jan 2003
Thu 15-Apr-10 06:41 AM | edited Thu 15-Apr-10 09:15 AM by briantilley

Scott,

This thread had the potential to be even more interesting and useful than it has been so far. Can we all try not to get drawn into personal disagreements, please?

Thanks!

Brian
Welsh Nikonian

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#70. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 68

nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Thu 15-Apr-10 09:30 AM

Scott,

You are truly amazing. I have repeated over and over here that I have a totally open mind as to the reach issue and have come to no conclusion (rare in this debate). I posed a couple of hypothetical situations- hypothetical means just that. My 50,000 images was a hypothetical, not a statement of fact.

Just for the record I do not believe my focus was off, except possibly one of the duck images but I shot that duck a number of times with the same result. The duck and heron were shot at about a 150' distance (per the hidden focus distance in the EXIF) and I believe there were air turbulence issues- in particular the duck image has that "look". That is one of the critical real world issues that need to be considered because it limits the resolution you can get unless you only shoot the first 30 minutes after sunrise. You need to try shooting at 700-1000mm or more, as I have, to fully appreciate this problem. Or do some wildlife observing with a high powered spotting scope.

Let's not debate this any further- you don't get my point and I don't know how to explain it any better, except to add this:

If you reduce everything to a controlled test in good light the D700 has to lose when comparing equal focal length and equal shooting position/subject distance. A landscape shot at wide to moderate focal lengths would be a good example where the D700 has to lose because it is technically an easy shot. Wildlife introduces a number of difficult variables.

You list "Landscape" as your primary subject interest. Your gear is more directed at that pursuit and your gallery images are all landscapes. You may not have experienced the issues I've discussed and you may not be able to truly appreciate these issues. I have, though, shot well over 50K wildlife images and I think I have a fair handle on the problem. I've also done a bit of astronomical imaging, over a 20 year period, at focal lengths up to 5000mm. That has given me some additional insights into the end game of a pursuit for reach.

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#71. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 63

fdmhiggins Registered since 13th Aug 2008
Thu 15-Apr-10 10:38 AM

I'm not sure this is going to go over very well, but what does " Reach " mean.

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#72. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 71

nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Thu 15-Apr-10 10:55 AM

Reach, in a very general way, simply means attempting to magnify, as much as possible, a small subject (relative to the distances involved), with as much detail as possible, and maybe with the objective of printing or displaying it as large as possible.

At least that's the best one sentence description I can come up with at the moment

I think it is best used in the context that you can't just step closer to the subject or mount a longer lens, a common problem with wildlife and sometimes sports.
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#73. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 70

sidewinder Silver Member Nikonian since 05th Jan 2010
Thu 15-Apr-10 03:02 PM

Neil,

I don't think you get my point. I assume the D700 would lose the image quality battle when comparing equal focal length and equal shooting position/subject distance images.

Assuming reach is important, and you can't get close enough with the lenses you have, there is no way around the disadvantage the D700 has compared to the D300s. A shy woodpecker that you can frame just right with a D300s will require a 50% crop with the D700. I can't see the D700 winning that image quality comparison.

In lower light levels, having to use a higher ISO to get the shot means introducing noise. At what ISO does the noise difference overshadow the crop difference in relation to image quality? That is a good question. That could be evaluated in a controlled test too.

The D700 has other advantages. It seems to focus more quickly and accurately than the D300s. This difference, in certain situations, could mean the difference between nailing the shot and having a throw the image away.

In landscape photography, reach is not usually an issue. Width is. There is where I would think the D700 has a significant advantage. Optically, the D700 has better lenses to choose from in the field of view range most landscape photogs like to use. The larger and less dense sensor performs better here.

So, I understand that you can't just compare the crop factor when reach is important. I also understand that it is not a simple answer.

Scott

The important thing is never to stop questioning. -Albert Einstein

It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry. -Thomas Paine

fgrths2

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#74. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 39

fgrths2 Platinum Member Nikonian since 30th May 2007
Fri 16-Apr-10 01:10 AM

Some feedback regarding the D700 guide I purchased, which is it was essentially a review of the glossary of Nikon's guide. It didn't offer any pearls of wisdom or shortcuts. On the other hand the Nikon School's DVD "A Hands-on Guide to Creative Lighting" was very informative and worth every cent, as is the creative lighting system itself. Once you get used to setting up the parameters in the camera's menu it works like a dream and opens an entire new world of creativity. Have fun and don't let all the options and flexibility intimidate you.
Bill or WJF

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#75. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 74

briantilley Gold Member Deep knowledge of bodies and lens; high level photography skills Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 26th Jan 2003
Fri 16-Apr-10 06:20 AM

Let's try to keep the discussion on-topic, please, everyone.

Many thanks

Brian
Welsh Nikonian

fdmhiggins

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#76. "RE: D700 Vs D300 Reach Examples" | In response to Reply # 72

fdmhiggins Registered since 13th Aug 2008
Fri 16-Apr-10 09:49 AM

Thank you for the explanation Neil

Paul

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G