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Old Mar 21, 2011, 1:56 PM   #1
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The latest (April 2011) issue of Popular Photography posted an astounding image by their Assistant Web Editor Dan Bracaglia. It's not posted on PopPhoto's magazine web site but I tracked it down elsewhere. Bracaglia used a Nikon D3S (all of my pro tog friends use Nikon not Canon) with the 85mm f/1.4 lens. On the PopPhoto page they state that it was f/1.4, 1/4000, at 10,000 ISO. (I'm not making this up - he confirms this in the article below.)

Here is a link to that photo - it's part of the way down the page:

http://www.popsci.com/gadgets/articl...low-light-king

I'm not making any point here other than to note that our 4/3 system's high-ISO really isn't in the same league as the top-of-the-line Nikon system, which of course costs way, way more. But I just thought y'all might want some perspective on this.

Ted

PS: And yes, I know that I'd have to buy into that system to do that kind of low-light no-flash photography. And no, I'm not going there...

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Old Mar 21, 2011, 2:07 PM   #2
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Not a big deal (ISO 10,000) using a D3 or D3s. I had the chance to use a D3 for a while, and found that even ISO 25,600 images were usable for smaller viewing or print sizes. See one ISO 25,600 image in this article I wrote about the [now replaced/updated) D3:

http://www.steves-digicams.com/knowl...-nikon-d3.html

The D3s is *much* better than the [older model] D3 that I was using (significant improvements were made for higher ISO speed use).
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Old Mar 21, 2011, 2:24 PM   #3
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Basically, with a D3 or D3s, you've got significantly larger photosites for each pixel, as compared to the photosites used in the same resolution sensors you'd have with cameras using APS-C or smaller sensors. The larger size for each photosite helps to reduce noise levels.

So, there's no big surprise that the D3 and D700 (which uses the same sensor as the D3) perform much better at higher ISO speeds compared to competing cameras.

The D3s is improved even more (there's really "no contest" compared to any other camera with a 35mm film size or smaller sensor -- the D3s is going to perform a *lot* better).
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Old Mar 21, 2011, 3:19 PM   #4
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Those shots were very interesting. 25,000 ISO and I can't get my 510 to do well at 800. I'm no techie, other than sensor size why such a gap in camera ISO abilities.
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Old Mar 21, 2011, 3:36 PM   #5
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I like the first comment at the bottom of the article about how that outfit better do "a lot" of things well in the dark at that price!

I'm afraid I could make it no further up the Nikon food chain than a D300 series camera, considering what I'd also no doubt have to spend on a comperable set of lenses to what I already have.
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Old Mar 21, 2011, 3:45 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eharrim View Post
Those shots were very interesting. 25,000 ISO and I can't get my 510 to do well at 800. I'm no techie, other than sensor size why such a gap in camera ISO abilities.
"...other sensor size..."

Why the other part? :-)

It's sensor size (combined with very good image processing algorithms), or more specifically photosite size for each pixel.

The photosites for each pixel are dramatically larger compared to the photosites used with the much smaller sensors used in models like the E-510.

It's Physics (you have a larger surface area for each pixel in models like the D3 or D3s, which allows them to gather more light, requiring less amplification for the same sensitivity for a given ISO speed setting). Amplification increases noise levels (like turning up the volume on a weak radio station, where you'd have more "hum, hiss and static", only with cameras, you get more image related noise instead.

You can't go by photosite size alone, as there is much more to making a decent sensor and moving the data from it to produce a good image. But, larger sensors like the ones used in the Nikon D3/D700/D3s models would be very hard to beat if you really need superior higher ISO speed performance (especially since Nikon is no "slouch" at processing the data from their sensors to produce good images).

Even APS-C size sensors (smaller than used in models like the D3 or D3s, but larger than sensors used in the E-510) can't compare for the same resolution. The smaller sensors used in Olympus models don't have a chance at coming anywhere near what's possible compared to the 35mm film size sensors used in newer "full frame" Nikon models.

Of course, the "full frame" Nikon models are not cheap. ;-)
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Old Mar 21, 2011, 4:55 PM   #7
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For example, look at the DxOmark sensor comparisons using RAW files from the Olympus E-5, Sony A580 and Nikon D3s.

http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Camera-Sensor/Compare/Compare-sensors/%28appareil1%29/682|0/%28appareil2%29/685|0/%28appareil3%29/628|0/%28onglet%29/0/%28brand%29/Olympus/%28brand2%29/Sony/%28brand3%29/Nikon

Even though the latest Sony 16MP APS-C size sensor (used in models like the Sony A580, Nikon D7000 and Pentax K-5) is very good at higher ISO speeds, noise levels are really not comparable to what you'd get from the much larger sensor used in the Nikon D3s. The larger sensor in the full frame Nikon D3s is going to be better.

Or course, take these types of measurements with a "grain of salt", as they don't take a lot of things into consideration (NR at the RAW level, actual retained detail, etc.). But, the difference between the smaller sensors and larger sensors is very significant at the RAW level.

You can't expect a smaller 4/3 system sensor to compete with a much larger sensor (and much larger photosites for each pixel) as you'd find in models like the Nikon D3s for noise levels at higher ISO speeds.
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Old Mar 21, 2011, 6:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimC View Post
You can't expect a smaller 4/3 system sensor to compete with a much larger sensor (and much larger photosites for each pixel) as you'd find in models like the Nikon D3s for noise levels at higher ISO speeds.
Yes. Jim, I appreciate your explanations. And my purpose in posting this, which you expanded upon extremely well, was simply to let folks know what we have assumed by buying into the 4/3 system. Personally I don't regret doing so, but I am, and want others to be, conscious about what we do have and what we have traded away.

Ted
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Old Mar 21, 2011, 7:31 PM   #9
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Thanks for the explanation. When looking at charts which show sensor sizes I don't see that big a difference in size visually as say comparing a four thirds vs a bridge size camera sensor, but obviously it must make a big difference. That's why I asked, thanks.
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Old Mar 21, 2011, 9:11 PM   #10
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Hi Ted

A really nice post mate. Looking at the IQ of the FF beasties like the D3/ D3S esp at high ISO you get to realise how much FF sensors have progressed over all of the crop sized sensor and will continue to do so. The gap between the latest FT and the ASP-C size sensors prior to the advent of the new Sony sensor found in the Pentax K5 had been closed by a fair bit, esp with the advent of Pana's GH1 sensor. Jim, that was a really fine field review of the D3 - I had a wee play with the D700 a while ago and it was an impressive bit of kit, its size surprised me as I'd been expecting something a wee bit bigger than what it was. However, it wasn;t a camera for me but do I appreciate you linking that in this thread.

I wonder if the original E-system engineers that picked the 4/3 sensor now look back and think may be a slightly larger sensor 1.5x might have been better in the long run.

Considering the choices that we all have to make, I'm pretty happy having stepped into FT and especially due to the glass which is possibly the best out their (does Oly know it though ???). Sometime ago I do remember reading that the HG/SHG lenses were all designed to cover an image circle just a wee bit larger than the standard FT sensor and if that is the case I wonder if its possible to use a sensor slightly bigger than the GH1's ? With Oly's current direction, I doubt we'd ever get to see such a cam but it'd be cool to have that clairfied once and for all.

Cheers

Harj

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