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Old Dec 31, 2009, 2:30 PM   #1
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Default Camera Progress and Lens Aperture

I was debating whether to post this under the Pentax lens forum or here. But it seems this subject could spread in a number of directions, so I put it here. For those who frequent the Pentax Forums Web site, I also posted it there under "Everything Else."

I just finished reading an article about shooting at high ISOs in this month's Digital Photo magazine (with a big Pentax K-7 ad on the back cover!). In fact, it's now available online:

http://www.dpmag.com/how-to/shooting...advantage.html

Many of the shots were taken at apertures of f/4 and smaller - some at f/11. ISOs were all in the 1600-3200 range on a Nikon D3. And it occured to me.... will the new high-ISO capabilities offered by DSLRs mean lenses with fast apertures will be less important going forward?

Now, of course, there will be cases in which one will use aperture to control depth of field. But many of us, with some thinking, can still get a reasonably narrow DOF with apertures of f/2.8 and slower. It seems to me that the era of requiring really fast lenses in order to get acceptable images in low light may be coming to a close.

Pentax's own line of Limited lenses may be a case in point. Currently I am trying to decide if I want to begin collecting the DA or FA Limiteds. The DA's are less money but their smaller apertures (in relative terms to the FA Limiteds) have always put me off. Granted, it's difficult to have large apertures with lenses so small. But one has to wonder if Pentax knew we wouldn't need apertures in the sub- f/2.0 range for much longer.

Now, it is true that the images in this article were taken with a Nikon D3 - a full frame camera. But look at the progress Pentax's K-x has made in the area of high-ISO image quality. I'm sure, with improvements in both sensor and software technology, that it won't stop there.

On one hand, I think really fast prime lenses will continue to exist for specialty work. But on the other hand, I have to wonder if they will be relegated to a very high-priced niche for professionals only. If one looks at Pentax's line of lenses alone, one can't be faulted for thinking this might be the case.

So... it's the old question: Will technology trump skill and craftsmanship once again?
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Old Dec 31, 2009, 2:49 PM   #2
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Quote:
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Many of the shots were taken at apertures of f/4 and smaller - some at f/11. ISOs were all in the 1600-3200 range on a Nikon D3. And it occured to me.... will the new high-ISO capabilities offered by DSLRs mean lenses with fast apertures will be less important going forward?
To some extent, I think that's probably true. For example, instead of needing to use a prime to get shutter speeds up to around 1/400 second shooting at f/2 at ISO 1600 in a typical gym for indoor sports, you may be able to use an f/2.8 zoom for more framing flexibility and get a reasonably high percentage of keepers at ISO 3200 instead (although you'd still have a bit of motion blur at those shutter speeds for faster hand/foot/ball movement).

But, in very low light, even *much* higher ISO speeds may not really "cut it" if you can't use a flash and you're shooting non-stationary subjects.

I had the opportunity to use a D3 a while back, and even shooting at ISO 25,600 with an f/2.8 zoom, I still had a lot of photos with motion blur trying to shoot in very dimly lit bars without a flash, since my shutter speeds were only around 1/10 second at f/2.8 and ISO 25,600 in some cases, requiring careful timing (waiting for the least amount of subject movement) to get any usable photos without too much blur (even keeping viewing sizes relatively small). So, I'd like to to have a couple of more digits if possible (i.e., ISO 2,560,000). ;-)

I think users will always want better capabilities. Just because technology has improved dramatically compared to a few years back, doesn't mean that you can shoot anything you want to with acceptable results in all conditions.

Take computers for example... nobody will ever need more than 640KB of RAM, right? ;-)
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Old Dec 31, 2009, 3:34 PM   #3
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But, until technology advances further, a model like the Acme 3000 with ISO speeds up to ISO 300,000 may be a good bet for the short term. You can see some of it's features in this post from BillDrew:

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/wh...tml#post236527
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Old Dec 31, 2009, 3:39 PM   #4
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... with ISO speeds up to ISO 300,000 ...
That would be either 204,800 or 409,600.
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Old Dec 31, 2009, 4:00 PM   #5
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It's got ISO speeds available in 1/100 stop increments. ;-)

I joke about these kinds of things.

But, it's pretty amazing that models like the new D3s have boost settings with up to ISO 102,400 available. Sure, you may need to keep print or viewing sizes relatively small with those settings for anything remotely usable. But, that still allows you to capture images that you may not have been able to capture otherwise.
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Old Dec 31, 2009, 7:03 PM   #6
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"...with the Uri Geller faith based rangefinder..."

Now that's a camera!"
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Old Dec 31, 2009, 8:08 PM   #7
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"...with the Uri Geller faith based rangefinder..."

Now that's a camera!"
From what I can tell from BillDrew's posts about it, the Acme 3000 is really great for low light shooting. In addition to the features discussed in the previous post I linked to, you can see some more discussion about it in this post:

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/ge...tml#post465903
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Old Dec 31, 2009, 11:13 PM   #8
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Hi Biro,

With the improved low light focusing capability of the K-7, I've been playing quite a bit with the DA 50-200 f4-5.6 as an indoor candids lens. I've been shooting my cats around the house, and they are not pleased. . ., but I'm getting some really good very slow shutter handholding practice. . .

Pentax has shown the tendency to not prioritize ultimate speed in their DA series lenses, but I think that this might be a matter of compromising speed for size, weight and a lower price, and they've adopted quite a few non traditional crop equivalent FLs in the process.

Personally, I've come to the conclusion that for me, at least, fast glass still has its place -- if nothing else, for AF performance (this is important to me because I have to rely on it -- my vision varies considerably during the course of a normal day, and I can't count on being able to MF accurately, especially in low light).

. . . and you've already mentioned DOF considerations. . .

The fast lenses have always been showcases of the lensmakers' art, and usually carry the highest optical designs, construction, and the most exotic glass, so I hope that they continue to make them. . . and continue to make significant progress in high ISO IQ so we end up with the best of both worlds.
This is a very good time to be into photography, IMO.

Scott
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Old Jan 1, 2010, 2:30 AM   #9
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I'm surprised that no one posted the Acme 3000 recall notice here. When you press the shutter button halfway down, it would bend all the spoons within the angle of view and the depth of field.
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Old Jan 1, 2010, 2:33 AM   #10
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Do not try to bend the spoon — that's impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth: there is no spoon
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