Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Camera Labs Posts 60D/D7000 comparison.

Camera Labs has posted a rather definitive post about the EOS 60D and the Nikon D7000. The Nikon beat out the Canon by 14 points in DxOMark sensor ratings, and the Pentax K-5 hammered it be 16 points. The studio scene at DPReview hinted that the Nikon and Pentax were better, but Camera Labs really drives home how extensively the Nikon beats the Canon. Differences below ISO 3200 are small but visible, but above that, the Nikon is over a stop better. It's very impressive. This, combined with Nikon developing lenses much faster than Canon, makes me feel that if you haven't bought into a system yet, go for Nikon.

Nikon D7000 High ISO JPEG Noise preview

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Luminous Landscape Get's Me Feeling All Self-Righteous

Luminous Landscape, one of the web's premier sources of camera geekery, has posted an "open letter" to camera manufacturers about lenses and sensor designs. I'm pissed and this helps to explain a few issues that I've had with cameras in low-light situations that I've simply explained as sensor noise.

Basically, large aperture lenses are great because they let in more light, but also let in more light from oblique angles. The light coming at the sensor from these more extreme angles is one of the reasons that large apertures gives you that shallow depth of field for buttery portraits.

This worked perfectly for film since the light-sensing aspect of film were tiny crystals in a substrate on the surface of the film, thus they were sensitive to light coming in from many angles. Digital cameras, on the other hand, are a sensor which points straight ahead. If the light is not coming from directly above, the sensor doesn't seem the image. This is the reason why the 4/3's format from Olympus and Co. was called the first fully digital camera system, because it took into account all of the unique aspects of digital photography.

All of the camera companies are trying to come up with ways to make their sensors better, including greater sensitivity, small lenses above each sensor site, etc. If this article from LL is to be believed, it's not enough and the camera companies have switched to cheating us.

Luminous Landscape, in association with DxOMark, have found that light loss at high apertures can get downright extreme. And to combat this, when using paired lenses, the camera will boost ISO WITHOUT YOU KNOWING. WTF?!

This is unacceptable. I buy pro-level tools to have manual control, not to give it up without my knowledge. The end results are all good, certainly, but I buy expensive stuff to get good photos in extreme light and movement conditions; the very places where these issues actually matter.

An Open Letter To The Major Camera Manufacturers

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Nikon D7000 Review

Photography Blog has posted a review of the Nikon D7000 and the ISO performance is fantastic. It has a multi-stop advantage over the Canon EOS 60D and appears to outperform the 7D by a full stop as well. Incredible performance.

That being said, it still doesn't reach quite as high as some full-frame cameras. In their sample images folder, they have an excellent test of dynamic range, resolution, and ISO in the form of a mall with a large skylight covering the walkway. There is a large difference between the D7000 and the D3x or Leica M9. Yes, there is a huge price difference between those cameras, but I mention it only to remind everyone that all of the technical wizardry in the world hasn't made up for the physical reality of a smaller sensor.

I'm only somewhat invested in the Canon universe and Nikon's stellar work in the past two years has made me consider selling my Canon gear in favor of Nikon. My only reason for not making any moves is that, I think, either company could, at any point, surprise the world by releasing a whole bevy of updated lenses. As it stands, both Nikon and Canon have been rather lax in releasing new lens designs, and after seeing the shockingly good results that can be had with completely new lenses like Olympus' digital Zuiko, better lenses, especially prime, is way more important than updated bodies.

This is especially so, today. The Nikon D7000 provides pro-level results, but only with good lenses. Without great lenses, the difference between this camera and older cameras will be nearly non-existent, if not entirely so. This means that, as bodies get better and cheaper, it will be ever-more required of users to invest in lenses to see benefits, which locks them ever-tighter to a particular system.

This is why all of my money is going into Micro 4/3's. It's a system being built from the ground up that costs so little that if I decide to abandon it, after selling the equipment, I'm out a comparatively small amount. The Zuiko lenses are stellar, stellar, and the Panasonic GH2 matches most of the APS-C cameras on the market. Panasonic and Olympus have shown an absolute dedication to bringing new lenses, bodies, and accessories to market.

I'm playing the waiting game. I'm curious to see who pushes first. I'm pretty confident that it won't be Canon or Nikon. I think that it will likely be Pentax or Sony. They're the underdogs who have a lot to gain. Pentax has already blown the medium format world wide open with their $10,000 645D, so why not do something wild in the 35mm market? Sony has Zeiss lenses and a lot of technical know-how, if only they could bring that together.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Olympus E-5 Information

I did it with the Pentax 645D, so I figured I'd do it with another camera that greatly interests me, the Olympus E-5. I'm hoping that the E-5 is good, even though I have my doubts that it will be worth its startlingly high price tag.

DPReview Posts studio images: Link

DPReview has posted studio images of the Olympus E-5 which can be compared to other cameras. It does a very good job at extracting detail, but the noise level at all ISO levels, and especially the revealing RAW comparison, have the E-5's sensor being completely whomped by the competition. By ISO 3200, there is no comparison. I have reached my conclusion. The Olympus E-5 is not worth the price that they are asking. Not by a long shot.

DxOMark Rating: Link
DxOMark has finally rated the E-5, and it performed more poorly than I expected, garnering a piddly 56, but it also illustrates the limitations of Dx0Mark's review process. The E-5 actually performs slightly worse than the old E-3, but all image tests show the E-5 out-performing the old boy by a significant margin. Same goes for the Panasonic GH1/GH2 comparison. Regardless of anything, it's by far the most expensive 4/3's camera on the market and doesn't perform any better. It's Hundreds more than the Nikon D7000, Canon EOS 60D, or Pentax K5 and is soundly thrashed by all of them. And finally, the new price of the Sony Alpha A850 puts a 24Mp full-format camera only $100 above the Oly. I think that we can start coming to the conclusion that only a fool would buy this camera.

ePhotozine Review: Link
ePhotozine liked the E-5 a great deal, but only made fleeting mention of the camera's high price. They liked everything about the design of the camera and perhaps this is what made them sort of gloss over noise and image issues. Considering that the cost is body only, the E-5 doesn't make much of a case for itself against cheaper Olympus cameras and the Panasonic GH1/GH2 cameras which offer superior image quality.

Olympus Product Page: Link
Olympus doesn't provide any full-resolution images. Very disappointing.

FotoMagazin Review: Link (Via Google Translate)
I find this review preposterous. Third best camera ever? Really? You don't have to go far to see the difference between the E-5 and one of the more expensive cameras that it supposedly beat. Like here...

DPReview Forum Member's Comparison of the E-5, E-620, and Canon EOS 5D MkII:

This really drives home that the EOS 5D is in a different league to the E-5. I'd be very interested in seeing direct comparisons between the E-5 and the Eos 7D and Nikon D7000. Still, though, Olympus was stupid to not undercut its rivals.

Pixiq Preview: Link
Not much good to say about the camera, here. Basically, he thinks that the small sensor is a real impediment to image quality at this price point.

FotoDigital Review: Link
Also not too hopeful. He likes the camera and what it offers, but it's too heavy, to pricey, and feels that it's obviously the end of a product cycle/era. There will be no more 4/3's cameras after this, only Micro 4/3's, and that unless you're already invested, it's pointless to buy in, now.

FotoHits test data: Link
Some test data that succeeds in being comprehensive yet totally useless. No wonder no one reads photography magazines anymore.

Olympus E-5 Nabs Stellar Review

FotoMagazin, a German website, linked with Google Translate, has just awarded the Olympus E-5 an utterly stellar review. Like, so stellar I'm skeptical. Especially considering that their review completely flies in the face of reviews from DxOMark and DPReview.

In the totality of their reviews, the E-5 lands in third place. Third?! Even stranger is the standing of other cameras. The Canon EOS 1D (Mark IV AND III) has a greater image quality rating than the juggernaut-like Nikon D3x. All of which, including the APS-C EOS 7D, are above the EOS 1Ds Mark III. I like Olympus, and 4/3's, and I certainly hope that E-5 is good, but I'm eating a bowl-full of salt with these results. It is simply impossible that a sensor that is 1/4 the size of a full-frame camera will match it for image quality. The resolution just isn't there.

FotoMagazin Leaderboard

Fire Hydrant Wallpaper

4:3 ratio
From fō-tō-gră-fē Wallpapers

16:10 ratio
From fō-tō-gră-fē Wallpapers

Trees And Water Wallpaper

4:3 ratio
From fō-tō-gră-fē Wallpapers

16:10 ratio
From fō-tō-gră-fē Wallpapers

Thursday, November 11, 2010

DP Review Posts Images of Nikon 7000 and Pentax K-5

Sample images of the Nikon D7000 and Pentax K-5 have been posted over at DP Review. I've spent the past ten minutes or so at various ISO levels trying to analyze sharpness levels and color to explain the HUGE difference on DxO Mark (14 points for the Nikon, 16 for the Pentax) with the Canon's score of 66. I can't notice a significant difference at any ISO. If pressed, I'd say that the Nikon appears to be outperforming the Canon at lower ISO, but the Canon appears to win at ISO 12,800.

UPDATE: I was just looking over the images and have found a few places where both the Nikon and the Pentax handily beat the Canon at high-ISO. Still, there are a few other places where the Canon, especially the old 7D, seem to win. I'd call it a complete toss-up.

Canon EOS 60D Studio scene comparison (DPReview)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Nikon D7000 Dukes It Out With Pentax K-5

Holy crap! The Nikon D7000 has been ranked near the tippy-top of APS-C sized SLR cameras! With an overall score of 80, that puts it with or above all of Sony and Canon's full frame cameras. Excellent work, Nikon!

The D7000 is fighting with Pentax's K-5, which even more shockingly mustered an 82, which matches the Nikon D3s. If these numbers are to be believed, sensor development in the APS-C arena has kicked into turbo. I'll wait for further information, but this is making me reconsider my previous ideas about Micro Four-Thirds.

I still say that m4/3's is the best system to buy into for someone wanting a family shooter. It's compact, fantastic lenses cost very little and weigh even less, and Panasonic has proven a complete dedication to the format. You can buy a m4/3's camera and lens for less than $800, buy two more lenses for $500 to $1000 a piece, and you'll have a complete kit that fits into a small camera bag and will do for any situation an average person could imagine. Perfect.

But I used to also argue for the four-thirds format over APS-C because the increased sensor size didn't seem to net much benefit. Going up to full-frame resulted in a significant difference, but notsomuch APS-C. The smaller sensor's 2X crop factor meant that zoom lenses positively sung, with greater length and deeper depth of field. Colors were somewhat better on the larger sensor, as was dynamic range, but I felt that if that was a serious concern, you should save up for a full-frame camera. APS-C just didn't provide enough of a quality boost to warrant the increased size and cost.

These results change that perspective. The best 4/3's sensor on the market is the Panasonic GH1/2, which has a best score of 64 on DxO Mark. That plopped it smack in the middle of most modern APS-C cameras, truly, trailing the EOS 7D supercamera by only two points. But trailing the leading APS-C camera by 18 points cannot be ignored.

As I said, I'll wait to pass judgment, but if these early results hold up, anyone with enthusiast or semi-pro aspirations cannot consider the 4/3's format any more. APS-C has just walked away.

Tests and reviews for the camera Nikon D7000 (DxO Mark)