>1. Haven't seen enough DX cropped images to base any knowledge >on. As they are about 16mp then will they beat my D7000 in >IQ?
I think it is safe to assume it will beat the D7000, in terms of noise, simply because of the year or so that transpired in between the D7000's development and now. According to Bill Claff's tests it should have about a half stop advantage and I think DXO says the same although I haven't found their "DX test results".
>2. ISO noise: Will the smaller sensor area utilised in DX mode >produce less noise than the D7000 at the same ISO values?
Same as above, unless you mean something else in #1 regarding "IQ" ?
>3. I have seen many landscape/portrait images in FX, as yet >nothing I've seen says "wow" to me and for all I >know they could be taken with a D700. I suppose they can be >printed to great sizes, but as I only print to 20x16 inches >max the D700 will do that comfortably. How many people do you >know who regularly print images larger than that?
According to both Bill Claff's tests, and DXO's tests, the D800 has at least one stop more dynamic range than the D4 at its lowest ISO settings. We've seen reports here, such as from Rick Walker (whose opinion I very much respect) that D800 images are especially easy to "push and pull" highlights and shadow detail to recover usable dynamic range.
From that I think it is fair to assume that there is potentially important value in more pixels aside from sheer resolution.
>Now, I'd like to see more images(and I've seen one or two at >ISO800 which look very good), but how much were they cropped. >I'm not a big cropper, but would like to see some at ISO >800-1600 cropped 50-60%.
I think it is safe to assume that, in general, any given high end DX camera is going to have the same image quality as any given FX camera shot in DX crop mode. And that is a critical part of my own thinking and the following "argument".
>Finally, I like to keep my preferred genres seperate, FX for >landscape DX for wildlife and extra reach. I do very little >portrait or wedding work now and what I do can be achieved >satisfactorily to my satisfaction with the D700.
OK, you would like to keep your genre's separate but that does not mean that Nikon should make "redundant" cameras if in fact there is no technical reason to do so. And I freely admit that I too have (had) an innate "bias" toward DX for some uses but the more I think about it the more I realize it is quickly making less and less sense in terms of where the technology is going.
Consider this very real analogy...
Suppose this is back in the film days, before digital. If you were a wildlife photographer you shot on 35mm "full frame" film and you cropped out what you didn't need. That's just the way it was always done and, at that point in time, it would always be done . No one worried about wasted acetate film emulsion.
Then Nikon comes out with the Pronea camera and the APS-C film format, but using the same F mount, the same lenses, and with plans to build the IX line of what would have been essentially "DX lenses".
The Pronea had one and only one reason to exist: it was a little cheaper so it gave a slight edge in the absolute bottom end of the entry level market. Because it used the same film stock, with the same grain, it had the same problems DX has in terms of image quality compared to full 35mm format.
If you were a Pronea shooter and you were complaining about the noise or resolution of that format, someone would gently tap you on the shoulder and suggest you get a "normal" 35mm DLSR .
Now, let's suppose Nikon decided to come out with a high end APS-C body, with all the features of the F100 but it shot APS-C film.
Would you (as a wildlife photographer) buy that camera? Or anyone else? Would it make sense?
I don't think so, but I am very open to debate on that issue . Am I missing anything here?
When the D300 was developed,the only comparable FX option, in terms of sensor density important to wildlife photographers, was the $8K+ D3x. So there was tremendous economical motivation to build the D300, in the context of market needs.
Even today, the only difference between the D800 and the D400 would be maybe $1000, give or take. And I think it is safe to assume that the disparity in cost between DX and equivalent sensor density FX will only continue to diminish.
My point being that those of us that prefer a "genre" of Pro Body DX have no technical basis for doing so, even over the very intermediate term (3-4 years). It is only because we became accustomed to, and comfortable with DX. But we did that for reasons that are no longer valid, or will not be valid within even one further full generation of cameras.
I am arguing that if you would not have spent $2000 for a "Pro Body Pronea" you would not, or should not, be willing to pay that for Pro body DX, as long as the comparable FX camera does the same thing in DX mode and costs "about" the same. The D800 is close, in my book, but no cigar, simply because of the frame rate. In your book, I don't see any "legitimate" downside at all to the D800 except for the monetum of "old shoes syndrome". And believe me, I like old shoes too and never throw mine out until they fall apart (seriously).
There is only ONE argument I can think of to perpetuate the Pro DX line that neither you or I have mentioned here. That is the issue of the viewfinder view.
If I, as a wildlife photographer, shoot 99% of my wildlife on DX because I can't possibly overfill that frame then I am "stuck" with a smaller effective viewfinder for all that work (the DX cropped area of the full FX viewfinder). But that was the way it was in the film days and I don't think wildlife photographers were beating down Nikon's doors with demands for an APS-C film camera just to solve that "problem".
I think there is still a strong need for a lower density D700 type FX camera. I too shoot a D300 and D700. I use my D300 for wildlife, and my D700 for everything else because other than wildlife there is simply never a need to shoot DX and FX has no detrimental features.
For one thing, I very badly want to be able to shoot FX at 8 fps and I don't want to do that with 36 mpx files even if Nikon could deal with the frame rate (which they likely can't for some fair amount of time in the future).
I'm just arguing here that the high end body world is headed into two FX cameras, one a "studio" camera like the D800, but with the DX frame rate many of us want, and a lower density FX camera suitable for things like sports at 8fps or better.
Here is my final argument on behalf of the wildlife contingency. Below is a full un-cropped D300 image I shot yesterday. Amazingly enough, it is possible, when lightning strikes, to actually over-fill a DX frame. That was shot at 850mm (500/4+TC17). As it was I was inconvenienced by first having to drop back to a TC14 and then removing that TC as the bird wandered even closer at times.
I would have seriously liked to have had an "FX/DX Crop" function programmed into my D300 function button so that I could have instantly "zoomed out" to void cutting off his nose .
Just to say I would not pay equal money just to have my old shoes genre, resulting in the inability to do what I naturally should have been able to do... shoot a full FX frame with my very expensive FX wildlife lens when I am occasionally struck by lightning in a good way .