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So I'm reviving this thread because I decided to do an experiment. I've rented a D3S for an occasion next month and that should allow me to get a feel for what good high ISO can do for me. Of course not being a regular Nikon user I thought I could ask some Nikon shooters what good set points I could use for available-light shooting in an indoor low-light environment. So what AF mode (spot, etc.) is best with this camera in that environment. I'm shooting a gathering of people that will include some moving targets. I'll be using a stabilized zoom lens with a maximum aperture of 2.8. All advice is welcome.
I like this thread because it took an interesting derivation about some essential "things" of photography, in some ways. Guy screamed the first ^^
I started my own business in January and actually build it slowly. I know some pros who gave me some great advices, like... renting what we need in the high end level. Like... MFDB ... I will never buy one, I do not like it, its to big, slow, expensive... as I will never buy a Nikon D800.
I own a brand new D700 bought last year, some very nice lenses, a Nikon F65 who do the job very well to (lol), a DP3 Merrill (who is a pro tool in my world), a good screen a good computer, good Epson Pro Printers ... This is more than one can want in some areas. Then some ppl lend me sometime a Leica S2, D800 and some other things, I'm happy.
Then come someone who offer me a wast amount of cash, to spend it in gear only (so sad, but I will not complain). So I did a "heart list" who will land on my table in some weeks.
Over the D800, I will take a D600 as a companion of my D700, because I think, from my experience of photography, that it is a great tool at the end. I do not care about the toughness and AF, I care about the sensor output with my lenses and the D600 is class leading actually, isn't he ? At a sensor level ? So, why the hell I will buy a 36 MP camera ? For what ? to buy the lastes Zeiss lenses ? of AFS-G lenses ?? C'mon !! If I need rez, I go rez, not pussy rez.
So what do I ordered too ?? Now way I will ask someone to pay me an MFDB system. If my clients want something out of it, I rent it. I took what seems logic in my mind (and I'm 34 years old, I do have I hope a lot of road to do ^^):
A brand new Mamyia 7ii with the 80 and the 150, a vast repro bench, light tables and load of films to fill out the fridge, negatives and reversibles, a good expo/flashmeter and here we go baby.
Some asked me via mail my new scanning method of 6x7 films... some might now guess is I will do a review about it. I will scan by stitching with the DP3merrill on a repro bench. My guesstimate is it will go FAR beyond what can do a V750 and very close what can do a drum scan (and might surpass it in some ways). Marrying foveon and film should be spectacular but I might be wrong. Since I have the gear, why not trying it ??
So, D4... D800, ISO, Mpx ... why asking ?? They are not the same tool and both very expensive. One cost a lot but have very good and flexible files, the other cost a lot too and need class leading optics to come close to a simple DP3 Merrill... + the investment in storage ... well, you get it.
The D3s, if very unused, is a very very good choice even today, of course !
So I used the rented D3S last week with a Tamron 24-70 F2.8 with VC. My guesstimate is that the D3S has about a 2 to 2-1/2 stop advantage over my Sony A-850. But what turned out to be almost as important is the Auto ISO settings that the D3S has that my Sony doesn't. In aperture mode, the camera will use a maximum exposure duration (e.g. 1/200 sec) after which it will bump up the ISO to a maximum (e.g. 6400) and after that is reached will then use longer exposure times as a strategy for shooting in low light. This was a fantastic option for me. I feel that this optimized the shots I got in an environment where lighting varied a lot and motion blur was a big factor. Do all the high end Nikons (D800, D4, D600) have this option?
Yes, they all have auto ISO. The auto exposure is good enough IMO to make auto ISO very useful, especially combined with a little ADL to protect the highlights. I use it whenever the D800E is off the tripod. You'll want to enable the ADL with auto ISO because dynamic range (and hence exposure headroom) drops with an increase in ISO and the exposure system appears to "expose to the center". ADL makes it operate more ETTR.
The A850 is a fine camera, too - I still have mine. With a type M screen it's a nice companion for my somewhat random, adapted lens collection. (Which frankly doesn't see much use, but none of it is valuable enough to bother selling.)
Thanks for the Nikon info. It's good to get help with a new system from someone familiar with it. As for the A850, I agree with you. It is a fine camera for everything but high ISO use. I love using it for everything in good light. I do wish it had live view though. That would improve usability for macro and landscape uses.
Auto ISO is a killer feature. When I got my d800, I didn't care about low light performance or automatic anything. But it lulled me into a project that required working quickly in low light. Auto iso made a technically complex situation almost effortless. I had control over the aperture for DOF, and the shutter speed for stopping motion, and let the camera worry about exposure.