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.

Nikon D400 rumor

So, even though this is unofficial in my part of the world, a Russian magazine had an article on an upcoming Nikon D400, a successor to the popular and coveted Nikon D300.

I’ve read a Danish translation of the article that listed these specs:

14.3MP CMOS
ISO 100-6400
Up to 7 frames pr second (probably in crop mode?).
And video in 1080p, 24FPS.

The video part is interesting, because not only is it 1080p, like in the Canon 5D II, but Nikon also seems to have listened to the critics of the Canon 5D IIs 30FPS video, and implemented the more ‘movie like’ 24FPS video mode.

The camera will take UDMA CF cards, and has an LCD with 922.000 pixels, which automatically dims and brightens depending on ambient light.

Price is anyones guess, but in Russia, it will list for around US$2000 (supposedly, cameras are more expensive in Russia compared to the US).

Nikon D3X announced

As you may know by now, Nikon announced its new flagship camera, the Nikon D3X, on December 1.

As soon as the news broke, official Nikon sites across the world were bogged down and became unavaliable. However today this situation has been resolved.

Nikon D3X

Here’s the salivation inducing data:

  • Nikon FX-format CMOS image sensor with 24.5 effective megapixels
  • Exceptional noise control from ISO 100 to ISO 1600
  • Fast 14-bit A/D conversion incorporated onto the image sensor for high signal-to-noise ratio and low power consumption
  • Nikon’s EXPEED image-processing system, utilizing a supremely powerful CPU with 16-bit image processing
  • Near-instantaneous shutter release time lag of approx. 0.04 second
  • 5-frames-per-second continuous shooting in FX format and 7 fps in DX crop mode
  • 51-point Multi-CAM3500FX autofocus system
  • Scene Recognition System for more accurate AF, AE, and AWB results
  • Active D-Lighting for complete control over highlight and shadow detail
  • Picture Control: Standard, Vivid, Neutral and Monochrome (Landscape, Portrait and D2x Modes I, II and III are available free via download)
  • Live View mode for shooting handheld and with a tripod
  • High-resolution (approx. 920k dots), 3-inch VGA-size LCD monitor with tempered glass
  • Durable, lightweight magnesium-alloy construction and comprehensive weather sealing against dust and moisture
  • Intelligent power management that lets you shoot up to approx. 4,400 frames on a single battery charge
  • (From Nikons website)

    I must say that the sample images I’ve seen so far (shot in controlled environments by highly skilled photographers) rank amongst the best image quality currently available in a DSLR – the files frankly looks like medium format digital, with very crisp detail, great colors and exceptional tonal range. When that’s all said, Nikon has priced its new flagship at $8000. Thats eight thousand dollars. The Sony A900, based on a very similar chip, is priced below $3000 and so is the Canon 5D Mark II.

    Read all about the Nikon D3X, view sample images at Nikons site