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Old May 12, 2006, 1:21 PM   #31
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Hi RJ,

I shoot with a VR (well, OS - Sigma 80-400mm OS) lens too, and WCube's image isn't showing what I recognise as softness due to camera shake. It's detail loss caused by a combination of excessive noise and the depressingly unsubtle in-camera NR.

It might also be slightly out of focus - see my comments above about the D200 AF.

No amount of PP will put back what's missing here, and as I suggest up the page the only real gauge of noise performance is viewing the image at 100% - though even at 50% it looks more like a painting than a photograph.

It was due to the tests I read on the Internet that I was suckered into buying my D200.

It just goes to show that tests prove very little about how a camera will work in Real World conditions like the ones bird photographers will find themselves in - low light woodland, for example.

I have to reiterate my own experience that regardless of how impressive D200 test shots of brightly-lit Californian whitewashed churches and red brick walls look:
  • the camera simply does not capture real detail except in pretty much perfect light because of noise and in-camera NR (completely wasting the resolution "advantage" it has); [/*]
  • even then it doesn't provide consistent IQ because it is impossibly sensitive to exposure. Under expose by 1/3 EV and all you've got to show for it is noise - but over expose, and you blow highlights. The happy medium is extraordinarily hard to find, even when the camera's in-viewfinder exposure meter says you're bang on; [/*]
  • even with great light and nailed exposure there's no guarantee that the Auto Focus will get it anywhere near right; [/*]
  • and then of course you need to hope that any over-exposed areas of the image won't exhibit banding (both of my D200 bodies have had banding).[/*]
As an aside, I'm not the only person who has noticed that the D200 meters inconsistently. In controlled tests (yeah, after what I've just said about tests! ) I get significantly lower/better Auto ISO values from my D70 than my D200, using the same lens, aperture, shutter speed and - as near as I can get them - identical metering settings. Another D200 owner I know has noticed that in identical shooting situations with similarly-spec'd lenses, his 20D-shooting friend gets faster shutter speeds at a given ISO, a fact which he ascribes to the D200 metering wrongly and "seeing" less available light.
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Old May 12, 2006, 2:58 PM   #32
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[size=I am including the full picture the crop was taken from so people can make their own judgment. The camera was set to spot metering and the center focus ring. The bird was over 40' away and I can promise that the AF was not on the bird. ][/size]I think that the focus area is so large at that distance and there are so many objects the camera had to focus on, I'm not surprised that the shot is soft. I was only looking at the background and with that high of ISO I would expect to see much more grain there.
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Old May 12, 2006, 3:14 PM   #33
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I'm glad you posted that CUBE! I think it helps dispell the notion that yout picture was filled with noise and that it wouldn't focus correctly on the tiny object (hummingbird) I am a bit curious as to all of Keiths statements as I haven't heard really anybody make these types of claims. :? I don't neccessarily doubt his opinion, I just need some visual proof... maybe you got one of those UK specials on yours??? :|
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Old May 13, 2006, 7:03 AM   #34
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Hi Buzz,

if you're not seeing other people saying what I'm saying, you're not looking very hard...

Cube's view of why his hummer is soft is all well and good, but that 100% crop is all you need to know - there's simply no detail whatsoever, and it is purely and simply down to the noise and the in-camera NR killing it.

It's so grotty that it's not even possible to say with any certainty whether it's in focus or not.

People tend to rationalise their purchases (especially expensive purchases like a D200) and become less objective as a result, rather than face the fact that there's a problem. But anyone with eyes can see that the picture is simply a series of fuzzy smudges, and Cube's comments haven't explained anything away.

Take a good look at the edges of the leaves, and the branch they're on: they look like they're covered in felt! There's simply not a sharp edge anywhere in the picture, and in fact some of the leaves which are edge-on are so badly affected by the noise that you can hardly see where the background stops and the leaf begins.

I hate to be hard-nosed about this - as I say elsewhere, being happy about the D200 is a subjective, personal decision - but I'm being objective about Cube's picture and about the pictures I've taken that looked like this, and I'll say again that this complete lack of anything remotely resembling detail is utterly unacceptable for ISO 800.

Here are couple of shots from Canons - the first at ISO 800, the second at ISO 1600:

http://www.pbase.com/liquidstone/image/59967410
http://www.birdforum.net/pp_gallery/...cat/all/page/1

Please be completely honest - isn't the difference in detail, sharpness and IQ compared with the hummer (or pretty much any other picture in this thread) absolutely staggering?

Now try and PP the hummer shot to get it to something - anything - like the IQ of either of these two. NR, resizing, levels... anything you like.

Can't be done.

Why? Because the D200 hasn't captured the detail in the first place.

I really can't demonstrate this any more clearly. If people are still going to say that shots like the hummer are good, low noise shots, that's their choice: but with all due respect to those folks, I think that's simply either denial, or very low expectations.

Here's a (near enough) 100% crop from a D70:
http://www.birdforum.net/pp_gallery/...hp/photo/92473

I don't know what ISO, but as you can see, big crops don't simply "explain away" a lack of detail.
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Old May 13, 2006, 8:31 AM   #35
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Keith, your Canon "CLOSE UP" comparison is apples and oranges, I can take a close up in good light like the picture you chose to compare it to very favorably, and your comparison happens to be from a Canon... hmmm, I thought you were a Nikon user, but now your comparing to Canon??? I think I see the motive here.
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Please be completely honest - isn't the difference in detail, sharpness and IQ compared with the hummer (or pretty much any other picture in this thread) absolutely staggering?

Go to alot of the pictures that are posted in other threads and you'll find good pictures. I would actually like to see some of your pictures posted with the exif information as well, it seems as though you may have the time.
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Old May 13, 2006, 1:09 PM   #36
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One thing I have to add regarding the "humming bird shot" and the " Spotted Wood-kingfisher" from PBase is that the humming bird was taken with 80 to 400mm VR ($1400) lens @ f/9 handheld, while the SWK is taken with a "500 f4 L IS ($5,500!), on tripod" @ f4. Also the hummingbird hovering, while the SWK is clearly not. So it's kinda apples and oranges.

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Old May 13, 2006, 1:36 PM   #37
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Thanks rey, I think you see my point as well. :-)
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Old May 13, 2006, 8:42 PM   #38
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keithreeder wrote:
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Take a good look at the edges of the leaves, and the branch they're on: they look like they're covered in felt! There's simply not a sharp edge anywhere in the picture, and in fact some of the leaves which are edge-on are so badly affected by the noise that you can hardly see where the background stops and the leaf begins.

Sorry to keep raining on your parade, but as you can see in the crop taken with my D70, there is felt on the leaves, can we now say that the D200 is capible of capturing this type of detail from 40' away? I hope you like your canon, because I like my Nikons. Lets agree to disagree.




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Old May 17, 2006, 9:06 AM   #39
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W Cube,

Try turning off the sharpening in the Camera and use ctr wt. metering Aperture prefered so you can set a fast shutter speed. You will then see A diffrence. Also if in hi speed cont. mode you need to turn off the "VR". "VR" works well in single frame mode only.

Read Your Manual and instruction shhet that came with the lens.

Ronnie:|
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Old May 17, 2006, 9:59 AM   #40
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Ronnie,

I have the D200 and use the 80-400mm AF VR solely when in the field and had never heard that you should put it on Single shot while in VR to obtain the best results. Why is this? Thanks in advance.

Mike
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