Technology and photography

Just a few short years ago, high ISO color photography was virtually non existent. Anything above ISO 400 would mean shooting with B&W film. Some specialist ISO 800 films existed (such as Fujicolor Superia X-TRA 800), but the image quality was.. well, not good enough. The first digital cameras did not improve on this. Not only would you get a smaller image with less detail than with film, but digital noise would overcome your image, sometimes even at low ISOs, and the mantra was ‘always shoot at ISO 100’.

The game has now changed, though. As you may know.

Canon 40D with 50mm 1.4 at 1/500s f/2.5 ISO 1600

I am first and foremost a performance documentarist photographer, and today I shoot what was impossible to capture just a few years ago. Indeed, half of my work is done at ISO 1600 and above, and this is now possible to do, retaining high image fidelity and relatively low noise. Each time I buy a new DSLR body (which is not often – as I said I’m a documentarist photographer!), the evolutionary changes are very visible to me in terms of image noise and image quality, shooting the same demanding low-light work.

Now Nikon has released their new flagship low-light beast, the Nikon D3s, and I’m salivating. Lately Nikon has taken the téte for low noise at high ISO, and the Nikon D3s delivers everything you’d need in that department in a pro body, albeit at only 12MP full frame to keep the pixels large.

Robert Galbraith has done a review of this camera already in november, as he has ties with Nikon. Check out his review, with image samples comparing the D3s to Nikons former low-light king, the already very impressive Nikon D3. Keep in mind that this is a pre-release date camera, so final image quality is likely even better. He also takes a look at Nikons new AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II lens. Also note that the downloadable files are in AdobeRGB color space, and should be viewed in a color managed environment, such as Photoshop (you won’t see accurate colors in your browser, unless it is color managed, which is unlikely).

You can also compare the Nikon D3s to other cameras at DCResources’ Comparometer.

And here at Prophotohome comparing the D3s to Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 7D and Nikon D300.

I swear, ISO 3200 on this camera looks like ISO 100 of yesteryear. Just jawdropping high ISO performance.

I can’t wait to see some more images from this camera, performance, concerts, sports and astro… Oh, and video too!

On top of the hasty pace of hardware technology, software keeps improving as well, making revisits of old photos worthwhile. More on this soon.