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Rhys
07-16-2004, 01:01 PM
I've just been going over Jeff's SLR reviews. I'm primarily interested in image quality rather than anything else.

The Pentax *ist has soft images
The Canon D10 has soft images
The Canon D300 has soft images
The Sigma SD10 has sharp but muddy images and lousy uprated images
The Olympus E-1 has crisp images
The Nikon D70 has slightly soft images and a little moire
The Nikon D100 has slightly soft images
The Fuji S2 Pro and S3 pro are so much like the Nikon D1 that it wasn't worth looking. I suspect they are rebadged and fiddled with D1s.

So, looking at it, the Sigma and Olympus both seem to take the best 100 ASA pictures. The Sigma takes the best of the pair. At higher speeds, the Sigma rapidly becomes the worst of the bunch.

I'm not yet convinced that the dSLRs are yet so much better than the all-in-ones to merit the extra expense. For me, that would entail buying a whole new range of lenses. Perhaps, one day, when the D1 or D2 start going for less then I might be tempted.

jamison55
07-16-2004, 02:19 PM
Whoa, we better stop all the pros before their really important pictures suffer, and put Sony 828's and Olympus 8080's in their hands! Oh yeah those won't work either. They suffer from shutter lag, no DOF control, lousy low light capabilities, dreadful EVF's, and non-interchangable lenses. What's a pro to do when he/she can't find a perfect camera...aaarrrggghhh.

You don't want to upgrade, good for you, but his is a pointless post since real world examples from any of the DSLR's you mentioned will blow away any prosumer digicam on the market. Reviewers get paid to nitpick, and it seems that you believe all of the nitpicking!

Case in point, all of the reviewers knocked the Oly5050 for noise. That kept it off of my list for a long time. Then I purchased one and realized that at 5Mp's noise is not a practical issue simply because 1) any print up to an 8x10 will not display the noise 2) any onscreen display would be no larger than 1024x768, which won't display the noise either, and 3) take a look at how noisy an ISO 100 35mm scan is before any correction when scanned at 5Mp.

I now know to take every reviewer's opinion with a grain of salt. Most cameras by reputable manufacturers are amazing machines, capable of taking pictures that are superior to the various 35mm cameras that I have owned over the years. When I started my portrait business I was using my A80 side-by-side with my Pentax SLR. I quickly found that I was getting better results with the digicam, than with the professional grade Fuji Nps 160 I was using! The first thing I did upon the purchase of the DReb was sell to trade in the old Pentax for a new DReb lens.

Rhys
07-16-2004, 03:34 PM
I didn't just take Jeff's word. I looked at the photos. To me, the Sigma photos looked excellent on a pixelular level. That was let down badly by the Sigma lenses supplied with it.

I'm solely interested in what the CCD can produce. I am in fact thinking about a dSLR.

From the photos I've seen, the E-1 looked the sharpest.

As far as shutter lag goes, as I'm definitely not a people/sport photographer, it's not very important.

leewitt
07-17-2004, 03:21 AM
Looking at a few pictures is not a good measure either. Generally, DSLR cameras are designed such that some processing is done. In looking at shots, you don't know what processing and with what skill any processing is applied. If the images are not processed, you still don't know what can be done with them by a skilled person. You can get some idea of the various cameras from strictly a technical viewpoint by looking at Phil Askey's reviews over at dpreview. I would not come to this site to learn about DSLRs. I have used at least half a dozen consumer and prosumer camera including the Oly E10 and E20 before going on to the Canon 10D. While I have many great shots from my various prosumer and less cameras, the Canon, using raw after processing, provides significantly better images. Of course, there is a significantly higher cost particularly for lenses. You get what you pay for.
Leon
http://pws.prserv.net/lees_pics/landscapes.htm

John_Reed
07-17-2004, 07:27 AM
While I have many great shots from my various prosumer and less cameras, the Canon, using raw after processing, provides significantly better images. Of course, there is a significantly higher cost particularly for lenses. You get what you pay for.
Leon

So Leon, are you saying that, right out of the camera, the D10's images are superior, or is it the transformation through Photoshop that elevates them to that status? And how much time, on the average, do you spend with each image to finish it up?

Rhys
07-17-2004, 09:33 AM
So Leon, are you saying that, right out of the camera, the D10's images are superior, or is it the transformation through Photoshop that elevates them to that status? And how much time, on the average, do you spend with each image to finish it up?

Post-processing from RAW seems to be common with dSLRs. Personally, not being able to save images in jpeg is what puts me right off the Sigma SD10.

Having said that, if post-processing is needed with all dSLRs and RAW is needed with all then that puts another face on the matter and the Sigma looks a lot better. It's just such a shame that the Sigma's sensor goes to pieces above 100ASA although I do admire the crispness of its images.

leewitt
07-17-2004, 03:52 PM
The Canon 10D, Nikon D70, and other DSLRs will take good shots with JPG images without a lot of processing (except maybe for some sharpening for larger prints) if the exposure is close, the brightness range is not too large and you want to emphasize the midtones. This pretty much defines JPG images from any camera.

Raw processing, even for those without a lot of experience, provides some advantages. In particular, raw lets you miss the exposure by about a stop or so either way without loosing anything serious. In addition to covering for normal exposure misjudgments, this is enough to cover most small bright spots in a scene or take care of blown color channels when the luminance histogram shows ok exposure.

I do a lot of landscapes (see http://pws.prserv.net/lees_pics/landscapes.htm) and the brightness range is sometimes larger than can be accomodated in JPG images. Raw provides two or more stops of extra brightness range over JPG (JPG actually truncates the sensor brightness range by 2-3 stops) assuming you put the histogram as far to the right as possible without blowing out any color channels. The processing is done in 16 bits (actually usually 12 bits of data per color) and the idea is to manipulate the tone curves (and other stuff) to get what you want within 256 tonal levels for display and printing. For reasons I won't go into here, the eye/brain does not see more than aobut 200 brightness levels so 256 tonal levels is enough. This can be very difficult but is generally doable if you are willing to work at it.

In addition, I may want to get good detail in the shadows and/or highlights in an image. JPG compresses these regions and goes to 8 bits. This makes work in the shadows quite difficult if not impossible. Raw solves this problem by letting me decide what curves to apply where in an image. The extra tonal levels also assist by providing much finer tonal gradations for processing.

I realize that this is a lot to absorb but over time and with practice, raw can provide much more flexibility and control over a final image.

I don't want to overdo all this. JPG will provide an acceptable image for almost all of the "typical" shots that people do. It is just that there are circumstances (often found in my natural light landscape shots) where I need the extra capability. Hope this helps.

PS. You can do some clever things with JPG under some conditions. For example, you can use exposure bracket and combine images to help with brightness range limitations and this also helps in the shadows to some extent. Of course, these techniques also take practice and time.

Rhys
07-17-2004, 04:35 PM
That's quite interesting. It seems that RAW offers more opportunities than JPEG and for a smaller file size than TIFF would allow.

Colour being why we go in for photograhy, how would you rate the Sigma SD10? I'm not that keen on proprietry file systems or proprietry batteries.

Everything said so far seems to indicate that the Sigma might be good if one were to stick to RAW files. My only gripe is that I'd have to hand process each image in turn and would need two files. One of the RAW image and one of the retouched image. That means that if the program for reading and retouching is lost for whatever reason, so are the originals.

It seems to me to get ever more complex when we talk of the benefits and advantages without actually trying the cameras physically.

leewitt
07-18-2004, 03:35 AM
I would not rate the SD10 too highly for what I do. It has a smaller "sweet spot" than other cameras. By sweet spot, I am referring to the range of conditions where I can get a good image. Most serious, the SD10 is not too good at the higher ISO values. This also implies a more limited dynamic range at lower ISO values. The limitation to raw is a significant limitation in the current market place. The SD10 with its sensor may not ever become more than a "cult" camera.

I also would not advocate sticking strictly to raw. JPG still provides good images under the conditions stated above and does degrade somewhat gracefully. As an example, JPG works pretty well for studio work where you control the lighting and other conditions. It does so without a significant processing load (although somewhat more than a point and shoot). Raw works for folks who take the time to learn how to do it, are willing to take the time for the processing and take pictures under somewhat challenging conditions.

Regarding keeping images, I keep as "negatives" the raw processed images with little processing in 16 bit Photoshop .psd format. In the raw processing, I just set the correct white and black point, maybe a bit of noise filtering, very light sharpening, etc. I do not do any processing that can not be reworked. I now have my "negatives" in a format that should last for a while and I have not lost any information from the original raw file. I may also store masks and other manipulation items with the "negatives" to avoid work if I revisit the image in the future.

John_Reed
07-18-2004, 07:37 AM
I do a lot of landscapes (see http://pws.prserv.net/lees_pics/landscapes.htm) and the brightness range is sometimes larger than can be accomodated in JPG images. Raw provides two or more stops of extra brightness range over JPG (JPG actually truncates the sensor brightness range by 2-3 stops) assuming you put the histogram as far to the right as possible without blowing out any color channels. The processing is done in 16 bits (actually usually 12 bits of data per color) and the idea is to manipulate the tone curves (and other stuff) to get what you want within 256 tonal levels for display and printing. For reasons I won't go into here, the eye/brain does not see more than aobut 200 brightness levels so 256 tonal levels is enough. This can be very difficult but is generally doable if you are willing to work at it.

In addition, I may want to get good detail in the shadows and/or highlights in an image. JPG compresses these regions and goes to 8 bits. This makes work in the shadows quite difficult if not impossible. Raw solves this problem by letting me decide what curves to apply where in an image. The extra tonal levels also assist by providing much finer tonal gradations for processing.

I don't want to overdo all this. JPG will provide an acceptable image for almost all of the "typical" shots that people do. It is just that there are circumstances (often found in my natural light landscape shots) where I need the extra capability. Hope this helps.

Thanks for your thoughtful reply, Leon. As you are traipsing around with your camera(s) taking photos then, do you mix JPEGs and RAW photos, depending upon your intent with the scene? I routinely shoot 100 or more photos when I go out with my FZ10 (my now-deceased FZ1 had ~18000 exposures in a little over a year's usage); I imagine if I knew that, shooting RAW, each image I took was going to require post-processing time, I'd probably be taking far fewer exposures, recognizing the time limitations.

Rhys
07-18-2004, 08:04 AM
Thanks for your thoughtful reply, Leon. As you are traipsing around with your camera(s) taking photos then, do you mix JPEGs and RAW photos, depending upon your intent with the scene? I routinely shoot 100 or more photos when I go out with my FZ10 (my now-deceased FZ1 had ~18000 exposures in a little over a year's usage); I imagine if I knew that, shooting RAW, each image I took was going to require post-processing time, I'd probably be taking far fewer exposures, recognizing the time limitations.

Your FZ1 died? What happened? How's your other FZ1 going?

Jake Conner
07-18-2004, 10:08 AM
Hear ye! I speak for the John, for the John is offline!

He tried to do surgery on it and failed. He doesn't have another FZ1, he's got an FZ10 now.

Jake

Rhys
07-18-2004, 10:26 AM
Hear ye! I speak for the John, for the John is offline!

He tried to do surgery on it and failed. He doesn't have another FZ1, he's got an FZ10 now.

Jake

Well, 18,000 pictures is a lot more than I take each year. I estimate between 2 and 3 thousand.

I'm surprised the camera failed so soon though. That's almost a warranty repair or at the very least a complaint to Panasonic.

I'm still trying to weave my way through the maze of AF, MF and dAF SLRs. For the moment though I'm looking fondly at a Canon S1. I hope it lasts longer than a year though.

12 months and 2,500 photos later, my Nikon 3100 works well
30 months and 2,700 photos later, my Nikon 995 works well.

D70FAN
07-18-2004, 02:38 PM
As a note: One of the nice little things available on my D70 (and the dREB) is taking both RAW and medium compression JPEG simultaneously. Yes the file is 5.8MB (average) but it gives you instant thumbnails for pre-edit functions like labeling.

I have just started using RAW+JPG and it seems to work very well. The JPEG image is not exactly dirt and can still be used for printing those 4x6's and even proof quality 8x10's, as well as posting.

leewitt
07-18-2004, 03:39 PM
I retired last September so time is not as important as it once was. As a result, I pretty much do all raw. I tend to take "snapshots" when I travel to record what I saw. Even though they are in raw, I can process them quite quickly. I have had quite a bit of practice.

For bragging rights, I like to do panoramas of scenic things. This is where I do a lot of post processing. In March, I shot about 1750 shots in and around Moab, Utah and Canyon de Chelly, Arizona. I shot about 30 panoramas with an average of 10-12 shots per panorama. I usually shoot each sequence twice. Sometimes I do a third if I'm experimenting. I want the max dynamic range for these sequences as there can be a considerable range of brightness across a large pan. I expose to get the brightest shot with the highest exposure possible without blowing out any color channels. This provides the most information and least noise particularly in the darkest shots in the sequence. I "lightly" raw process all the images in a sequence to 16 bit psd files and do any lens corrections. I then stitch the shots in 16 bits, remove any perspective distortion and then this is what I save as my "negative." Final processing can be a lot of work. Sometimes I have to rebalance the exposure across the pan. Sometimes, I mask out different regions in the image for different local contrast enhancement, noise reduction, sharpening and (rarely) color adjustment. I've spent tens of hours on a difficult panorama. All this work really benefits from getting the most brightness range possible and working in 16 bits. Raw makes all this doable if not tedious. I did pans with jpg shooting and they came out well. When you look at them, though, they have less definition and detail in the shadow areas and other quality issues as compared to where I used raw.

D70FAN
07-18-2004, 06:17 PM
Y'know... This is the dSLR chat. The FZ1 and FZ10 sorta should be on the Panasonic , or general chat.

Ryhs, How about trying to stay with one thread for a while?

Thanks.

Rhys
07-19-2004, 11:02 AM
Y'know... This is the dSLR chat. The FZ1 and FZ10 sorta should be on the Panasonic , or general chat.

Ryhs, How about trying to stay with one thread for a while?

Thanks.

Oddly enough... I was in town today and noticed that the Pentax *ist is selling for 297. I looked at that and wondered if this is a sign of things to come - a digital SLR going for 35mm SLR prices.

My best guess is that now dSLR prices will tumble. I imagine that in 2 years, all dSLRs will be of comparable price to 35mm SLRs.

For the moment I'll probably stick with an S1 - until I see a 35mm dSLR that I really like.

Jake Conner
07-19-2004, 11:18 AM
I'm guessing that that was the *ist, a film camera, rather than the *ist D.

Jake

Rhys
07-19-2004, 11:51 AM
I'm guessing that that was the *ist, a film camera, rather than the *ist D.

Jake

I didn't know Pentax made a *ist 35mm camera.

Could well have been since it was nearer the film slrs.

D70FAN
07-19-2004, 03:50 PM
I didn't know Pentax made a *ist 35mm camera.

Could well have been since it was nearer the film slrs.

FYI.

http://www.pentaxusa.com/products/cameras/camera_overview.cfm?productID=1465

You may be right. If High end 3.2MP cameras can go from $1000 to $500 in 4 years then I guess it's possible. But I don't think that dSLR's will drop quite that fast, for many reasons including the cost of Silicon for the APS sized sensor, and a smaller demand for dSLR's vs. all-in-ones. Especially small pocket sized cameras.

If the camera you found is an *istD for 297 Pounds, then you might want to jump on that deal, and let us know where it is as well.

Rhys
07-19-2004, 04:57 PM
FYI.

http://www.pentaxusa.com/products/cameras/camera_overview.cfm?productID=1465

You may be right. If High end 3.2MP cameras can go from $1000 to $500 in 4 years then I guess it's possible. But I don't think that dSLR's will drop quite that fast, for many reasons including the cost of Silicon for the APS sized sensor, and a smaller demand for dSLR's vs. all-in-ones. Especially small pocket sized cameras.

If the camera you found is an *istD for 297 Pounds, then you might want to jump on that deal, and let us know where it is as well.

Well, it did look a bit like that. It could well have been a film camera. The 297 price is what intreagued me. I was in a hurry alas so I could not inspect thoroughly.

I don't see the cost of silicon as very important - not when there're so many beaches and deserts around the world.

David Elson
07-20-2004, 04:52 AM
Hi John.

In reply to your question how many of your pictures are keepers. I ask this because before taking up digital I used 120 film. With 120 you tend to be less snap happy than the 35mm school. I still seem to take less pictures than many of my friends who seem to shoot any thing that moves and most things that dont.
"It does not cost any thing" they say, true but very few are keepers. Like the salmon laying millions of eggs hoping some will survive.
What I am trying to say John , is how many pictures do you think you would loose if more of your time was spent on the computer.
I know you are a good photographer and I like your work so I am not suggesting you are one of the salmon :) . But the time spent working a raw image is not too long and for me is part and parcel of the fun of photography.
Being able to squeeze that bit extra in quality out of a image does gives you an added satisfaction to your hobby.