A test of (DX) cameras and lenses that address the upgrade dilemma

Started Jan 28, 2012 | Discussions thread
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A test of (DX) cameras and lenses that address the upgrade dilemma
Jan 28, 2012

Two of the question we see repeated asked often on this and other forums take the form of: do I really need to upgrade my camera? Or should I upgrad my lenses first? I though a little but pretty carefull controlled test might help throw some light on the subject. The camera choces represent two generations of improvement, and the lenses when bought used about a doubling in price as you move up the line. I choose them because they are representative choices, but also because I had them on hand.

The test reveals the effects of two waves of upgrade on DX camera high-iso performance. It is a test as well of what upgrading from a walkaround all-purpose lens like the Quantaray (Sigma) 18-200mm brings as you move up the ladder to the best amateur gear and solid pro gear. In this case the choices were two affordable but excellent lenses, the 70-300 VR and 80-200mm two-ring.

This page feature photos reduced to normal web size (900 x

Test conditions were deliberately set to represent difficult shooting conditions, where most of the improvement over the last six years (two generations) has taken place. The shots were taken at dusk on a grey, cloudy day; the aperture used was f/6.3, again for the D50/Sigma lens wide-open; shutter speed was set at 1000, and iso at iso1600. Again the latter represented the limits of the D50.

The result of these choices was a deliberate underposure of 1EV, and the use of auto-contrast and D-Lighting in PP to compensate but in the process of doing so aggravating the conditions for good high iso performance. A touch of 10-5-0 edge definition was added in NX2 before saving the NEFs as TIFFs. It was from these TIFFs that the two sizes of JPEGs were derived by Photo Mechanic using auto-sharpening in the conversion.

Page 1 - Substantial Web-Sized 900 x 600 pixel.

Page 2 - Large Photos at 3008 x 2000 pixels (8 x 12 print size)

Draw your own conclusions, I've certainly drawn mine. But one thing I will point out...the use of the cheap Sigma lens with the D50 actually blurs the noise, in effect a built in bit of noise reduction.

I look forward to your comments, critique, and discussion.
70 years and (still) lovin it!

A pair of Nikon bodies | All the glass I need | Manfrotto pods and clamp system| Enough software to still be only half-way up the learning curve

 hflavo's gear list:hflavo's gear list
Nikon D7100
Nikon D50
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