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Thread: Question: D800 files vs MFDB files

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    Question: D800 files vs MFDB files

    I currently shoot a P40+, and and a D3x. I am considering replacing the D3x with D800 or 800E for longer lens work. Most of my work is landscape and nature... prints sold through gallery. My question is how much processing is required to deliver a D800 image with the look of (or approaching the look of) MFD. I know this depends on the specific image, lighting, etc; but I am asking in a general sense. I am not trying to generate a discussion of 35mm DSLR vs MFDB; they both have their place in my work flow. Also, any comments of D800 (or 800E) files vs D3x?

    Thanks.

    John

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Question: D800 files vs MFDB files

    This is a tough question because everybody's level of acceptance on the scale for "as good as MF" is different.

    My own personal opinion -- and it's an opinion, not fact -- is this: The D800 and D800E have essentially the same level of detail as a P45+, P40+ and IQ140. The MF backs have better color and a bit smoother tonality (probably due to better overall color). I also personally find the D800 a bit smoother rendering on color than the D800E, but I digress. And I'll go on record saying I can see these differences in the native files when viewing them on the big monitor. However, once the files are processed for print and actually printed to whatever respective sizes on your preferred substrate, those differences all but disappear for all practical purposes. IOW, I am saying there isn't a very significant difference in the look of the final prints between any of the 5 cameras mentioned above.

    My final howeverbutt is the 60 and 80 MP backs do deliver "more" usable image data which does translate into better (smoother and more detailed) looking prints when printed larger than the 36-40MP cameras native print sizes.
    Jack
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    Re: Question: D800 files vs MFDB files

    Jack,

    Thanks. This is the kind of input I was hoping for... results when ink hits the paper vs screen @ 100+ percent.

    John

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    Senior Member Joe Colson's Avatar
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    Re: Question: D800 files vs MFDB files

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack View Post
    This is a tough question because everybody's level of acceptance on the scale for "as good as MF" is different.

    My own personal opinion -- and it's an opinion, not fact -- is this: The D800 and D800E have essentially the same level of detail as a P45+, P40+ and IQ140. The MF backs have better color and a bit smoother tonality (probably due to better overall color). I also personally find the D800 a bit smoother rendering on color than the D800E, but I digress. And I'll go on record saying I can see these differences in the native files when viewing them on the big monitor. However, once the files are processed for print and actually printed to whatever respective sizes on your preferred substrate, those differences all but disappear for all practical purposes. IOW, I am saying there isn't a very significant difference in the look of the final prints between any of the 5 cameras mentioned above.

    My final howeverbutt is the 60 and 80 MP backs do deliver "more" usable image data which does translate into better (smoother and more detailed) looking prints when printed larger than the 36-40MP cameras native print sizes.
    +1

    Jack hit the nail on the head. I have both the D800E and a MFD kit and fully support Jack's conclusion (and his "howeverbut").

    Regarding processing required to achieve the desired result, as you know, Nikon's color rendition is different (not better or worse) than that of Phase One. My processing time with either is more often spent on getting the color "right", than on resolution, micro-contrast, dynamic range or other variables.

    I've not owned a D3x, so I can't comment on that part of your question.

    Joe
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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Question: D800 files vs MFDB files

    The one thing to add here is this 2 things . Nikon files will take a little more work than MF files which has always been the case. Part of that is in phase and Hassy there software packages really are fine tuned to there backs as they should be. Outside of NX2 which I think is a poor excuse for software but anyway Nikon is not the primary cam made for these software packages like C1 and LR so in effect you have to work a little harder at getting your files correct and that takes a little more work. Not a big deal but it's there. Now no question the IQ 140 and related sensors it is a smoother tonal range and a neutral file out of the gate. Now in terms of resolution I also agree with Jack since I have done these exact comparisons as well. Where there will be a detail difference is in the tech cam lenses which are simply the best on the planet, no Nikon lens or anything else can touch them when it comes down to detail and resolving power. Let's remember also these are very expensive lenses that are of better design also. You will see the difference on screen but like Jack has said in print maybe not so much. Really the bottom line having owned just about everything talked about here including the D800 and also the E version not to mention IQ 160 and 140 is this the Nikon will take a little extra effort in processing and MF will still have that smoother tonal range going but the Nikon is just damn close to it and only a pretty decerning eye can pick up the differences , a client may never notice it or care for that matter. MF is better all around with IQ but it is also very expensive and not as versatile
    But if your really good at raw processing than the Nikon will sing too.
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    Workshop Member ptomsu's Avatar
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    Re: Question: D800 files vs MFDB files

    The D800E files are really stunning. Love them and love the compact form factor of D800 compared to any MFD solution.

    Having said that I must admit that I recently worked on some of my MFD files - from P40+ and P65+ as well as H3D39. Although these are not the latest backs and the lenses used especially on the Phase backs were not the top ones (no Schneider), I must admit that the details from MFD, especially in dark areas are just stunning. I mean really stunning!

    But my conclusion still is that if you use the D800E with great glass - either Nikon or Zeiss or even some Sigma lenses - then the differences as Guy and others stated are only really visible on screen. Every print will just not be able to reproduce these details. That means end of day you can survive pretty good with D800/D800E.

    Which I will do in future more and more

    PS: also making wise use of lens profiles (e.g. in LR) will further significantly improve non MFD equipment!

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    Re: Question: D800 files vs MFDB files

    One thing you will appreciate with the D800/800e is not having to clean the sensor near as much as the D3X.

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    Re: Question: D800 files vs MFDB files

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Colson View Post
    +1

    Jack hit the nail on the head. I have both the D800E and a MFD kit and fully support Jack's conclusion (and his "howeverbut").

    Regarding processing required to achieve the desired result, as you know, Nikon's color rendition is different (not better or worse) than that of Phase One. My processing time with either is more often spent on getting the color "right", than on resolution, micro-contrast, dynamic range or other variables.

    I've not owned a D3x, so I can't comment on that part of your question.

    Joe
    In virtually all areas Jack discussed, I would also agree with his assesments as well as those of Joe and Guy based on my experiece of working with D800/e files, 645D (40mp) files and a large array of test shots with the Leica S2 when I had access to using one for the better part of a few days on two occasions.

    There were differences in tonality and color, especially with the two CD based sensors and the level of detail often was as much due to the lens being used as anything else. I would have liked to equalize things a bit and had a plan to test some of the better Pentax 645 lens glass on the D800/e, but that had to wait, save for a few tests shots I did comparing the two with a single MF lens. Interestinly, the D800/e did superbly with it!

    When it came down to large prints after optimal post process adjustment of files from each camera, differences were far less noticable than with sceeen viewing of the same files. Sometimes I would notice things that were slightly biased towards the MFD, but again, differences might have simply been due to optical performance of lenses being used as much as anything else.

    The one area which did make a significant differences in working with each system was the need for careful selection of good glass and the additional demands the D800/e made on this glass, even more so than the 645D and S2 (although it's hard to make a statement regarding the S2 and its lenses, since they at present, the S2 lenses clearly are some of the best, performance wise). Anything less than optimal optics and the D800e easily and clearly showed weaknesses especially on sides and corners and sometimes in overall resolution. The larger photosites/sensor used with the 645D and S2 seemed to give it some latitude whereby on the 645D, even older reasonably and bargin priced legacy lenses that were considered good but not outstanding performaing optics (in general), did quite well on the 645D across the frame. I feel some of the presently available optics now used with the D800/e may be more of a limiting factor than anything else and once newly designed higher performing lenses are available for the Nikon system, we'll see more of the true potential of the D800/e and possibly differences between the 40mp MFD cameras and the D800/e.

    Dave (D&A)

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    Re: Question: D800 files vs MFDB files

    Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences and thoughts. You have all been very helpful. I guess the next step is deciding D800 vs D800E.

    John
    Last edited by sc_john; 5th September 2012 at 12:12.

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