How little camera sensors have changed in 5 years

Started Sep 28, 2012 | Discussions
J Mankila
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The practical differences...
In reply to Tommot1965, Sep 29, 2012

Tommot1965 wrote:

Robin Casady wrote:

Too technical for you? Need to have it explained?

yes..and yes please...but without condescension

It's showing the photographically usable dynamic range at various ISOs. In practical terms, it shows you how much you can dig up the shadows until they become too noisy to be considered useful.

For the differences to really show, you're expected to do some tone mapping with your images (not talking about special software, but rather tweaking of the tone curve in the raw converter). Especially in B&W photography it's extremely useful, as the colours don't get washed away (although masters will create impressive, realistic HDR images in colour, too). The D700 isn't very good at that, whereas the D800 is one of the best. No, not really - it is the best, medium format digital backs included (to my limited knowledge).

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Alejandro Daz del Ro Fery
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Re: How little camera sensors have changed in 5 years
In reply to Tommot1965, Sep 29, 2012

Maybe the same bodies ... but sensors? They've changed the same than from D200 to D700.
Overall DxOMark sensor scores ... D800/E (95/96), D700 (80), D200 (64).

Tommot1965 wrote:

stany buyle wrote:

Tommot1965
How little camera sensors have changed in 5 years.

Several people try to convince themselves that their old gear is as good as the latest, but unfortunately it's not.

Bingo.

Trying to make a point with a comparison of some downsampled pics of bottles, cards and coins in perfect studio light with a 5 year old 12mp camera against a 24 or 36 Mp cam doesn't prove anything. Even my 10 or 12 year D1H will keep up quite well in such a comparison and that kind of light...

If you compared the potential of each of your mentioned cameras about resolution, detail, DR and noise(noise in real lowlight) your conclusion and results would be very different.
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Stany Buyle
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I like better one good picture in a day than 10 bad ones in a second..

Stany

I agree with you mate..but im sure many upgraders try and convince themselves that the new camera they have just done $3000 on will make their images so much better than before..something Im sure is not the case

also as good as your D1H may have been..I doubt very much it could have held its ground in the comparisons I've made...in fact a D300s thats much better than a D1H is terrible at 6400ISO..so im pretty sure the D1h would have been worse

Im not trying to say that the current sensors aren't better..its just that over a D700/D3/D3s theres not been much improvement in 5 years ..and people seem to think that 5 years is a huge amount of time in the Digital world ..something im not seeing too much off when comparing a D600/800 to the aforementioned

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Un saludo.

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stany buyle
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Re: How little camera sensors have changed in 5 years
In reply to Tommot1965, Sep 29, 2012

Tommot1965

also as good as your D1H may have been..I doubt very much it could have held its ground in the comparisons I've made...in fact a D300s thats much better than a D1H is terrible at 6400ISO..so im pretty sure the D1h would have been worse

I thought it was clear that mentioning my collectable D1H in such a comparison was meant ironic...

I use D800E, and the difference in potential compared to my D700 is simply enormous, just because of the sensor.

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Stany Buyle
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Robin Casady
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Re: The practical differences...
In reply to J Mankila, Sep 29, 2012

J Mankila wrote:

Tommot1965 wrote:

Robin Casady wrote:

Too technical for you? Need to have it explained?

yes..and yes please...but without condescension

It's showing the photographically usable dynamic range at various ISOs. In practical terms, it shows you how much you can dig up the shadows until they become too noisy to be considered useful.

For the differences to really show, you're expected to do some tone mapping with your images (not talking about special software, but rather tweaking of the tone curve in the raw converter). Especially in B&W photography it's extremely useful, as the colours don't get washed away (although masters will create impressive, realistic HDR images in colour, too). The D700 isn't very good at that, whereas the D800 is one of the best. No, not really - it is the best, medium format digital backs included (to my limited knowledge).

To add to this description, the chart is interactive. You can select or deselect cameras on the right. Then compare their dynamic range. Roll over one of the dots on the chart line and you will see the ISO & PDR numbers.

Everything is relative, but I would give the D700 more credit. I would say it is good, the D2x is poor, and the D800 is rather amazing for such a high res sensor. The D2x produces great color in controlled lighting, but dealing with bright scenes and dark shadows is challenging.

Another thing that is useful about the chart is that you can see how much dynamic range you lose as you increase ISO. At 100 ISO the D800 has over 11 stops of useful dynamic range. At 800 ISO it drops to 8.6 stops, and a 3200 ISO, it is down to 6.8 stops.

At base ISO (200) the D700 only has 9 stops. However, the difference between the D800 and D700 narrows to about half a stop at 800 ISO.

The best the D2x can do is 7.8 stops; dropping down to just under 5 stops at 800 ISO and less than 3 stops at 3200 ISO.

Noise is not the only consequence of using high ISO. Loss of dynamic range is also significant.

http://home.comcast.net/~NikonD70/Charts/PDR.htm#D2X,D700,D800

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lancespring
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I'm amazed that no one corrected your math error
In reply to Tommot1965, Sep 29, 2012

The D700 was released back in the Fall of 2008.

Dude, that is 4 years ago, not 5.

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JohnMcL7
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D3 was launched in 2007 with the same sensor
In reply to lancespring, Sep 29, 2012

lancespring wrote:

The D700 was released back in the Fall of 2008.

Dude, that is 4 years ago, not 5.

I assumed it was referring to the D3 which uses the same sensor as it was launched in 2007 rather than 2008.

John

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Alejandro Daz del Ro Fery
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Re: D3 was launched in 2007 with the same sensor
In reply to JohnMcL7, Sep 29, 2012

As DxOMark, the D3 and D700 have different low light ISO and overall scores.
Anyway, 5 or 4 years in HW or SW development are notorious.

JohnMcL7 wrote:

... D3 which uses the same sensor as it was launched in 2007 rather than 2008.
John

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Un saludo.

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Clark Hampton
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I can still get to the store in a Model T Ford.....but
In reply to Tommot1965, Sep 29, 2012

incremental improvements to the internal combustion engine makes newer much better.

But I agree with you that 5 years ago, sensors produced stunning results. Howevre, they were not as good at dynamic range, speed, noise, etc.

I tend to use a digital camera for about 5 years before upgrading. It is right around that point where I am so glad I did.

I plan to use my D800 for a long time. Many pros used their D1 and D1x for a very long time.

But no one is being brain washed. The newer cameras are better.

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Tommot1965
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Re: How little camera sensors have changed in 5 years
In reply to Tommot1965, Sep 29, 2012

J Mankila and Robin...thank you for your explanation and guidance when talking about the dynamic range chart vs the relative ISO...and Robin I know the thread title reads " How little camera sensors have changed in 5 years" and that throws all sorts of comparisons on the table...but to be honest ,in my mind only thinking of the High ISO type shots...and as you say that at 800 ISO there’s only around Half a stop between a D800 and a D700...not much really…so apologies for not making that clear with a perhaps misleading thread title

also when I’ve seen many posters here at DPR explaining the importance of the high ISO as a reason to upgrade or not , I find it quite a compelling argument that the capabilities from the current sensor to one that’s 5 years old haven’t changed much in that time

Don’t get me wrong D800 owners..I’m not knocking your new camera…just pointing out that in a lot of shots taken at the higher ISO you will see little difference between today’s sensors and the one in either the D700 or D3…and perhaps a tad behind the D3s ?...hence “How little camera sensors have changed in 5 years"

However the shot that mako 2011 posted of the mountain bike forks does show a difference to me between a D700 and a D800….so more comparison shots would be good to get a handle on that

But looking at a D700 versus a D300s..the difference is night and day at 6400ISO…Im not seeing that huge leap from a D700 to a D800 though..Again talking higher ISO shots here.

But to brutally blunt….I’ve yet to see many D800 if any images that couldn’t have been captured equally as well on a D3/D700…unless your cropping huge that is..then 36 MP shine through..so more latitude in that area in PP is a welcome addition I guess…but that does come in a trade off as well, between huge file sizes and lower framed rate…but I digress as my original comparison was about the higher ISo shots these cameras produce

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Tommot1965
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Re: D3 was launched in 2007 with the same sensor
In reply to JohnMcL7, Sep 29, 2012

JohnMcL7 wrote:

lancespring wrote:

The D700 was released back in the Fall of 2008.

Dude, that is 4 years ago, not 5.

I assumed it was referring to the D3 which uses the same sensor as it was launched in 2007 rather than 2008.

John

thanks for pointing that out John..and yes your correct ....

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Tommot1965
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Re: How little camera sensors have changed in 5 years
In reply to stany buyle, Sep 29, 2012

stany buyle wrote:

Tommot1965

also as good as your D1H may have been..I doubt very much it could have held its ground in the comparisons I've made...in fact a D300s thats much better than a D1H is terrible at 6400ISO..so im pretty sure the D1h would have been worse

I thought it was clear that mentioning my collectable D1H in such a comparison was meant ironic...

I use D800E, and the difference in potential compared to my D700 is simply enormous, just because of the sensor.

Kindest regards.
Stany Buyle
http://www.nikonuser.info/fotoforum

sorry Stany..I missed that from your origanl post ...but thanks for pointing it out, as I did have a WTF moment when you added the D1h to the table

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freddyNZ
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Re: How little camera sensors have changed in 5 years
In reply to gl2k, Sep 29, 2012

gl2k wrote:

Totally agree.

The biggest jump in IQ is from an old DX (eg D300) to a new FX system at high ISO and DR.

Wow, the D300 is hardly "old" DX.
In some ways the OP's heading is correct.

D2x -> D300 you gained about 1.6 EV

D300 -> D7000 - you gained about 0.7 EV, but a nice little boost at base ISO 100.

http://home.comcast.net/~nikond70/Charts/PDR.htm#D2X,D300,D7000

All other things being equal, FX will always have an advantage of more than 1 EV over Dx.

Of course if you believed every claim made in these forums about every new camera since the D1, we'd all be shooting at ISO 1,000,000.

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moving_comfort
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Couple problems with your comparison
In reply to Tommot1965, Sep 30, 2012

.

Your example images are taken in good light and are not really large enough to show much of a difference.

Take a more light-challenged shot, then downsample the D800 to 12MP, take an equal-area crop of both the downsampled D800 and native-size D700 shots, and compare those crops. You should see more detail and finer noise-grain in the D800 shot.

This translates directly to a more 'real', pleasing print at the same sizes.

The D800's finer noise tends to clean up better without destroyng detail when you apply NR as well. (The bike fork crops in this thread are pretty good examples, and show what I see when shooting my D700 & D800 side-by-side.)

That said, the D700 didn't all of a sudden become a crappy camera because the D600/800 appeared It's still a fantastic low-light performer with magical AF and sweet pro features and build. And it's a lot easier on the workflow and storage.

.

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VadimOm
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Re: How little camera sensors have changed in 5 years
In reply to Tommot1965, Sep 30, 2012

I did the same thing, except, I pixelpeeped at 100% and put them side by side:

D800, D4, D600 and D700. Each one was opened (RAW) in Capture NX2 and slight sharpening (not USM, the in-camera sharpening) was added to each file to make details show up as best as possible without destructing any deatail. I figured it would be fair comparison if I adjusted all of them to look their best because each camera has different strength AA filter, so you have to account for that. Anyways, I don't recall exact values, but I think I went from +3 to +5 sharpening on D800, about the same on D4, +7 or +8 on D600 and D700 would only go to +4 before sharpening started doing more damage than good. Here you go, look at the dime, compare level of details.

D800, D4, D600, D700 at ISO 12800:

With D700 being what, 3 years old? The difference is quite noticeable.

But what if you're not into high ISO shooting? Let's compare D800 to D3s, which was until recently the king of everything in Nikon's camp:

D3s, ISO 100:

D800, ISO 100 (same lens, same S and A settings):

The difference in DR and level of details is stunning.

So, I'd say, the progress is quite noticeable

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antoineb
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you downsample before comparing?
In reply to Tommot1965, Sep 30, 2012

Uh, I don't get it: you take a higher-res image, then take away the higher-res, then claim that there was no progress.

You could also take a current processing chip, take away its extra million cycles, and conclude that processing chips haven't progressed.

And so on.

I don't see the point of testing newer products by taking away what they have added, before concluding that there was no progress.

But perhaps it's just me?

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Oly Canikon
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Re: you downsample before comparing?
In reply to antoineb, Sep 30, 2012

antoineb wrote:

Uh, I don't get it: you take a higher-res image, then take away the higher-res, then claim that there was no progress.

You could also take a current processing chip, take away its extra million cycles, and conclude that processing chips haven't progressed.

And so on.

I don't see the point of testing newer products by taking away what they have added, before concluding that there was no progress.

But perhaps it's just me?

He said later that was exploring the claim that "even downsampled images look better". However the conclusion that there has been "little change in 5 years" comes out of left field.

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primeshooter
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Re: Couple problems with your comparison
In reply to moving_comfort, Sep 30, 2012

moving_comfort wrote:

.

Your example images are taken in good light and are not really large enough to show much of a difference.

Take a more light-challenged shot, then downsample the D800 to 12MP, take an equal-area crop of both the downsampled D800 and native-size D700 shots, and compare those crops. You should see more detail and finer noise-grain in the D800 shot.

This translates directly to a more 'real', pleasing print at the same sizes.

The D800's finer noise tends to clean up better without destroyng detail when you apply NR as well. (The bike fork crops in this thread are pretty good examples, and show what I see when shooting my D700 & D800 side-by-side.)

That said, the D700 didn't all of a sudden become a crappy camera because the D600/800 appeared It's still a fantastic low-light performer with magical AF and sweet pro features and build. And it's a lot easier on the workflow and storage.

.

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---> http://www.flickr.com/photos/95095968@N00/sets/72157626171532197/

Well said. I loath these dumb comparison shots at web resolution shot in good light to test High ISO. Guess what if I shoot at ISO 6400 in broad daylight noise is non-existant more or less!

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Riker D
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Re: you downsample before comparing?
In reply to antoineb, Oct 1, 2012

You should get it. If you take all the above shots and do some normal processing that you would be doing anyway it looks to me that the D600 is holding its own quite well. What the above poster is showing is that the D600 looks to be an improvement and it is!
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