D7100: Unfiltered is Best.

Started Feb 21, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Reilly Diefenbach
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D7100: Unfiltered is Best.
Feb 21, 2013

My thoughts on the D7100 are of course tentative, but very positive so far.  I'm trying to keep my enthusiasm at a low simmer, but it's a bit difficult after a look at the Nikon sample jpgs:

http://chsvimg.nikon.com/lineup/dslr/d7100/img/sample/img_01_l.jpg

You can see the separate height of the stencil painting on the wing numbers, for pity's sake.

At first sight, I thought "I know this look," it's the D800e all over again.  Nothing subtle about it. The minute detail, color intensity, vanishingly low noise and microcontrast set it apart.  This is a far, far better camera than the D5200 or the NEX7.  We'll have to have many more samples and some raws to chew on before the final gavel comes down, I'll certainly stipulate that, your honors.  The deep shadow performance of the Toshiba sensor has rightly been called into question, so we'll have to wait on that. It's not exactly the same D5200 sensor, we know that much, but little else.  It would be a big disappointment to have early onset banding in such an otherwise superb camera.

Like ants at a picnic, there will always be one or two people going on about "false" detail and color on any thread having to do with any camera without a conventional blur filter.  And that's what the AA filter is, a device to blur the picture so that color moire never becomes a problem.  Except that it still does, and you've thrown out the baby with the bathwater:

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/studio-compare#baseDir=%2Freviews_data&cameraDataSubdir=boxshot&indexFileName=boxshotindex.xml&presetsFileName=boxshotpresets.xml&showDescriptions=false&headerTitle=Studio%20scene&headerSubTitle=Standard%20studio%20scene%20comparison&masterCamera=nikon_d7000&masterSample=dsc1_1875.acr&slotsCount=4&slot0Camera=nikon_d7000&slot0Sample=dsc1_1875.acr&slot0DisableCameraSelection=true&slot0DisableSampleSelection=true&slot0LinkWithMaster=true&slot1Camera=nikon_d800e&slot1Sample=dsc_0087.acr&x=-0.14491017964071856&y=0.5121557576533879

CNX2 and LR4 have moire removal capability included, and in the case of LR4, it works selectively using the brush and works well. I've never had to use it in 8,000 shots on the D800e, but it is there if needed.  I don't shoot weddings or distant vertical venetian blinds, so I'm pretty safe from the horror of color moire.

On the subject of diagonal stairsteps, that will happen at 400%, because you're viewing the actual pixels which comprise the photograph without "benefit" of blurring.  It simply isn't a factor below any mag less than 400%.  Have a download of this sample Nikon jpg and get a good close peep at the cables running diagonally through the frame:

Nikon sample jpg

http://chsvimg.nikon.com/lineup/dslr/d7100/img/sample/img_04_l.jpg

Sharpening has always been a witches brew of settings necessary to bring back the appearance of detail and low level contrast lost to the blur filter or low pixel count.  But crank up the sharpening, and along with it comes radiation and crunchy, digital-looking artifacts.  If the D7100 follows in the footsteps of the "e," as I think it will, little or no output sharpening or USM should be necessary except of course a mild setting on an input preset or in-camera setting.  Your post processing time will be cut dramatically by not having to agonize over strength, radius, detail and opacity.  The detail will be all there in the file, and all you'll have to do is not screw it up by oversharpening.  I predict that the three jpg shooters left in the world are going to love this camera, because most of the quality is in there from the getgo.

If you shoot lots of finely woven fabric for a living, another camera might serve you better, but for the rest of the DX fans, it's going to be a revelation to see scenics, architecture, birds and portraits with hitherto unseen acuity from an APSC sensor.  This is the first DX camera I've seen with which I would shoot critical landscape work, provided the banding issue has been brought under reasonable control. Canon shooters have been dealing with banding for many years, and still are with the 5DIII, but I digress.  This is one very good reason we shoot Nikon, after all.

And yes, good lenses will certainly be required to get the absolute edge to edge best out of it.  Fortunately, there is a lot of good glass available inexpensively these days.  The 24-85VR would be a good one for a start at about $350 on Ebay/Craigslist.  Good times to be a Nikon shooter!

Canon EOS 5D Mark III Nikon D5200 Nikon D7100 Nikon D800E Sony Alpha NEX-7
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