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Thread: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

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    D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    For anyone who has worked with these two cameras, how would you rate the D800 with respect to the D3S? I've read and seen evaluations that give the edge to the D3S with respect to low light noise but for anyone who has used both for available light photography can you give me your thoughts on how they compare?

    Thanks,
    John

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    I can't speak to the D3s, (which I believe is still Nikon's best high iso camera including the D4). I was able to shoot a D4 for a few days. I was mainly interested in seeing how much better the high iso response was, compared to the D800.

    Net, what I found was D4 and D800 are very close up to iso 3200, after you start to see a gradual improvement with the D4 up to 6400 and after that the D4 I found was good up to iso 12K.

    I felt to compare files you either down res the D800 to 16mp or upres the D4 to 36mp. To me there really is no other way to do a side by side comparison.

    The D800 high iso file down res'd to the 16mp is very very good, the D4 file upres'd to 36mp, not so good. I was surprised by this not really having shot the D800 past iso 400. The D800 was good enough up to 3200 that I sent the D4 back since I didn't need the faster frame rate and rarely use any iso higher than 3200 for landscape/wildlife work. I also still prefer the DX mode on the D800 for birds and most wildlife as you still have 15mp of image to work with where as with a D4 you are down to around 7mp in DX mode. With most of my wildlife work with a full frame sensor I find myself cropping into the file as I don't have a super telephoto.

    With the D3s you have an even great gap in size of file, 12mp vs 36mp. The D3s is an amazing high iso camera and from what I have read is still the champ as far as Nikon bodies go, so on first pass at 12mp more than likely the D3s will still be a better file. (I am now on the hunt for a used D3s).

    What I would love to see is a firmware update to the D800 that gives a medium raw file like Canon has. Many times when I am shooting with higher iso's I know in advance I will not need anywhere near 36mp.

    I will say in advance, sorry no pictures as some on this site seem to feel that is a requirement. Just takes a bit too long to get all the crops and side by sides. I noticed on Lloyd Chambers site, he pretty much has come to the same conclusion on the D4.

    Paul

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Paul Wrote>>>"Net, what I found was D4 and D800 are very close up to iso 3200"<<<

    Hi Paul,

    In the (your) statement I quoted above, were you referring to the D800 at it's native resolution of 36MP or its file downsized to 16MP, when compared to the D4. Thanks!

    Dave (D&A)

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Dave,

    Sorry for the confusion. I found the down res'd D800 file very close to the standard 16mp file from the D4. I tried several different tools for this but ended up just using CS5.

    When I tried to take a 16mp file from the D4 up to 36mp, then I started to see the standard noise artifacts that seem to get worse when up-resing a high iso file. I used LR 4 for the raw conversions. I used LR4 for the upres, along with on-one's perfect resize, and CS5.

    I was surprised at how close the two files were.

    Paul

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul2660 View Post
    Dave,

    Sorry for the confusion. I found the down res'd D800 file very close to the standard 16mp file from the D4. I tried several different tools for this but ended up just using CS5.

    When I tried to take a 16mp file from the D4 up to 36mp, then I started to see the standard noise artifacts that seem to get worse when up-resing a high iso file. I used LR 4 for the raw conversions. I used LR4 for the upres, along with on-one's perfect resize, and CS5.

    I was surprised at how close the two files were.

    Paul
    I realize uprezing the D4 files to D800 file size equivelent wasn't going to be all that good. It's the comparision of the higher ISO D800 native sized 36MP files compared to the native 16MP higher ISO D4 files that I'm trying to get a handle on. In this particular case say files at ISO 3200, I feel the D4 probably has at least a stop to 1.5 stop advantage over the D800. IS that essentually what you observed? Thanks!

    Dave (D&A)

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Dave, let me go back and check. I still have the files and will look later today.

    Paul

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Folks:

    I really appreciate the information being provided. I think I will make it easier on the repliers if I give a little background on my question. I currently have a camera that provides very competent daylight photos. The only kind of photography that I need to assist is low light indoor non-flash work. Noise free ISO 6400 would be the ideal case. I was debating whether to get a used D3S or a new D800 or D600. Any other suggestions are also welcome.

    Thanks,
    John

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    I currently have a D3s and the D800 and up to iso 1600 there is almost no difference, and as Paul said only a little at 3200, but above that, you can clearly see where the D3s shines, in both noise, color retention and clarity.

    If you dont need to go above 1600, then a D800 is clearly an excellent option, and it costs a lot less, leaving some money for the high quality glass you need to optimize all of those megapixels.

    Now in your situation where you are looking to shoot ISO 6400 indoors, a D3s would most likely be a better choice. An excellent condition D3s would should cost you about $600 to $900 more than a new D800, judging from what I have seen them going for.
    Bryan

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Let's not forget the D3s is 12MP. If you take a D800 ISO 12,000 36MP frame and downsample it to 12MP, you might be surprised at just how good IT is at extremely high ISO
    Jack
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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    To Jack's point, exactly. The issue with the D800 is you have so much more information to work with and for sure when you downsample the high iso files from the D800 are Very Impressive. I had totally overlooked this at first based on what I had read and didn't test the D800 at high iso until I had the D4.

    My main reason for not purchasing the D4 besides cost was the fact that I don't need 10 or 11 fps and the D800 files are actually very clean up to a certain point in native resolution and when you down sample them, you can get up to 6400 iso files that are still very useable, never tried 12K. In fact I didn't realize it went that high.

    When the D800 first came out, everyone stated it was "great" noise wise at base iso, but was not that good performer in the higher iso range. I would disagree with that. For sure the D800 is better than anything my 5D MKII could do up to 6400 and 1ds MKIII either.

    I was pleasantly surprised with the high iso of the D800. Since I sold my original D800 for an E, my results are not quite as good and I don't understand that. I have worn out testing the 800 and 800E files side by side. My E shows a bit more noise than my 800 did at higher isos and I have to assume that is due to the lack of the AA filter?

    Paul

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    My down sampled D800 files from the last show i did at ISO 1600 where extremely good. I have no issues with the D800 and high ISO work since most times you really dont need a full 36mpx image anyway and even not down sampled 1600 looks really good.

    What REALLY bothers me lately is these camera's are bought, reviewed , hammered on and beat up by its high ISO alone. Its actually pretty moronic to hear this. Not on this forum I should add but i cant even read those threads anymore. For 36 years I NEVER ever needed anything over 1600 but on a couple occasions 3200. Im baffled by this need for ISO 64000000000000000000
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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul2660 View Post
    I was pleasantly surprised with the high iso of the D800. Since I sold my original D800 for an E, my results are not quite as good and I don't understand that. I have worn out testing the 800 and 800E files side by side. My E shows a bit more noise than my 800 did at higher isos and I have to assume that is due to the lack of the AA filter?
    Paul,

    Yes, while the sensor is behind the OLPF and theoretically noise is a function of sensor only, the OLPF in the D800 seems to attenuate noise to a certain degree over the D800E. In fact, that very fact coupled with two others: the the fact the D800's OLPF is so nearly perfect in it's design -- meaning very light and near Nyquist such that its negative effects can effectively be processed out -- and then add the fact that the D800 and D800E both require significantly different processing protocols, are the reasons why I decided to go with a pair of D800's and sold Guy my E.
    Jack
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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    I just like the letter E. LOL

    Its against the ownership rules to have the same exact model. ROTFLMAO
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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Guy, unfortunately I should have listened to Jack on this one. I usually do and have yet to make a bad call on his advice. I just got caught up in the whole E vs no E thing. The noise issue was a unpleasant surprise

    I had hoped that I could make it up with a D600 but Nikon cut too much out of it more me. Bracketing (3) only and no cabled remote especially.

    I very well may go the other way again.

    Paul

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    All this is very nice.

    Try to shoot in low light while attaining focus and keeping focus without illumination on a relatively non stable subject or while you are moving yourself and the D800/E is good for the laundry while the D3s is ironed, starched and ready to wear.

    Shoot a static subject with a strong contrast light and the D800/E is your Uncle. GO above 1600ISO and the D3s is your Auntie - nephew and all the family!

    So it all very nice to say that downsampling D800/E gets you close to the D3s but you have to achieve focus and get the £$!?&% shot in the first place and that's why the D3s reigns supreme.

    So when we compare, let's compare in real life situations and not while pampering the shot.

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul2660 View Post
    Guy, unfortunately I should have listened to Jack on this one. I usually do and have yet to make a bad call on his advice. I just got caught up in the whole E vs no E thing. The noise issue was a unpleasant surprise

    I had hoped that I could make it up with a D600 but Nikon cut too much out of it more me. Bracketing (3) only and no cabled remote especially.

    I very well may go the other way again.

    Paul
    The E takes less sharpening which helps to reduce noise. Also we are working with a D800 profile in C1 not a E . Regardless this all goes away in 7. Just dont tell anyone that. LOL
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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    My down sampled D800 files from the last show i did at ISO 1600 where extremely good. I have no issues with the D800 and high ISO work since most times you really dont need a full 36mpx image anyway and even not down sampled 1600 looks really good.

    What REALLY bothers me lately is these camera's are bought, reviewed , hammered on and beat up by its high ISO alone. Its actually pretty moronic to hear this. Not on this forum I should add but i cant even read those threads anymore. For 36 years I NEVER ever needed anything over 1600 but on a couple occasions 3200. Im baffled by this need for ISO 64000000000000000000
    Guy, I agree with what you expressed for the most part, but there are certain specific situations, where ISO 3200 and often higher is almost mandatory for the kind of quality shots a client demands (especially when used for very sizable large format prints). These situations comprise of extremely low light stage lighting combined with many fast moving stage performers. Due to a variety of reasons, capture for many of those shots require use of the camera "hand held" or occasionally with a monopod. The net requirement is relatively clean images where upon enlargement, shows minimal amount of noise. I wish all it took was ISO 1600, but in many of these situations, that's a far cry from reality.

    I also agree with some other posters, that setting up stagnant low light test shots to test out a cameras high ISO performance vs. another, is really not "real world", regardless of how well controlled things are. Often times mixed lighting, very uneven exposure across an entire frame and a host of other related factors, often paints a very different picture, noise and image quality wise, especially at higher ISO settings. That's been my long time experience with digital capture.

    Dave (D&A)

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    I know but its becoming outside the real need, its very irritating to read anymore.
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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    My down sampled D800 files from the last show i did at ISO 1600 where extremely good. I have no issues with the D800 and high ISO work since most times you really dont need a full 36mpx image anyway and even not down sampled 1600 looks really good.

    What REALLY bothers me lately is these camera's are bought, reviewed , hammered on and beat up by its high ISO alone. Its actually pretty moronic to hear this. Not on this forum I should add but i cant even read those threads anymore. For 36 years I NEVER ever needed anything over 1600 but on a couple occasions 3200. Im baffled by this need for ISO 64000000000000000000
    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    I know but its becoming outside the real need, its very irritating to read anymore.
    Again Guy, I'm in almost total agreement with you and often view these ridiculously high ISO"s almost absurd for most shooting circumstances. In many situations, individuals want to simply avoid a tripod, whereby tripod use and setting the camera for reasonably ISO settings and proper exposure times is the way to go.

    The situation I described above simply requires fast shutter speeds and use of fast telephoto lenses. The objective is to keep those shutter speeds high enough in an acceptable range to prevent un-usable blurs, while still achieving relatively clean images for the output I described. Unfortunately with the ridiculously low lighting conditions that often prevail, along with subjects constantly moving, there is no other alternative for manditory hand held or monopod shots, other than using extremely high ISO settings. Not an ideal way to go, but leaves one with few alternatives.

    Dave (D&A)

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    I agree on needs above 6400 iso.

    My needs for high iso are really wildlife only. When landscape shooting I will have a tripod, and the only time I can remember using higher iso settings is when I am working on a windy day and I need to stop motion of trees.

    Wildlife, (Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas) my main areas, tend to be early morning, or late afternoon shots. Never (should never say never) bright day shots. Here I am working in a blind or field and action has can be quite fast. Moving large animals in low light can be tough but also very rewarding. My solution has been to use a cheaper lens, example Canon 100-400 which won't give me the best 400mm=F6.3 so I am forced into the iso 1200, 1600, 2000 range very fast. The point I was trying to make, in the past with Canon and the 5d MKII getting something worth printing at iso 2000 @ F6.3 could be hard. With the D800 at 1600 to 2000 I am finding I tend to get very good results. Much cleaner files and the DX mode comes in very handy.

    My other frequent addiction is to work birds, small and medium and again either in a tree or blind. In a tree working fast and not wanting to carry the larger glass. In a blind, the larger glass is usually fine. However it's very rare to have "great" light as if you do, the birds are not coming in. Mixed light tends to be the case. Here again I am quickly using iso 800 to 2000 to both get the shot and have a fast enough shutter speed to stop the motion.
    The D800's iso range works great in this style of shooting. A real plus is that you are still at around 15mp in DX mode so you have a lot of resolution to work with.

    The point I was trying to make is that you will be surprised by just how good the D800 in the mid to high iso range can be. It's actually pretty amazing considering it's a 36mp sensor.

    Paul

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Paul,

    I believe it's been fairly well demonstrated that the reduction of high ISO noise in D800 files when they are downsized (ie: in photoshop) to approx 12-16MP, does not occur when you simply set the D800 to shoot in DX mode. In camera downsizing of files does not significantly (or possibly not at all) reduce noise levels as seen in high ISO images.

    Dave (D&A)

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Dave


    Once again, I wasn't clear. All I was referring to was the value of the DX mode on the D800. Most of the wildlife shots I have taken over years require a crop usually as much as 50%. All taken with full frame cameras. I realize that the DX mode has no effect on the noise.

    When you shoot a full frame on a medium to small bird odds are you will have to crop (unless you have a top dollar lens or are right there) neither apply to me. So when you crop the D800, via DX, you still have a ton of material left, almost as much as the Full frame from the D4. The D4 when cropped to DX is giving around 7mp, just not enough to really pull out the details in small feathers IMO.

    I just mean that the DX mode is a great addition for wildlife shooter since many will be cropping anyway. That combined with a very good low noise performance in the iso range of 800 to 2000 gives the photographer a great asset.

    Paul

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    The DX comes in handy when your stuck in a spot and can't get closer and you have to shoot a lot of images. Cuts the cropping down in post. For me it helps with runway stuff sometimes. My comment over 3200 was sort of a side bar so ignore me . I know it certainly has valid reasons when shooting. I'm just a little sick of hearing it as a excuse to beat up a cam because maybe its lack of it. Just buy one that does. Lol

    It's just that we hear this in every model that comes on the market endlessly .
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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    usually don't have to crop wildlife/sports images shot on full frame camera as I try to fill up the viewfinder by using a lens that has a matching FOV. Having said that I noticed recently that using the dx function on the 800E allowed a high number of fps-almost continuous shooting given the buffer capacity with lower megapixel images.
    Recently photographed surfers in Newport RI and was able to document their efforts for almost 20 continuous seconds; must admit though my D3 is superior in maintaing focus of moving objects.
    Stanley

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul2660 View Post
    Dave


    Once again, I wasn't clear. All I was referring to was the value of the DX mode on the D800. Most of the wildlife shots I have taken over years require a crop usually as much as 50%. All taken with full frame cameras. I realize that the DX mode has no effect on the noise.

    When you shoot a full frame on a medium to small bird odds are you will have to crop (unless you have a top dollar lens or are right there) neither apply to me. So when you crop the D800, via DX, you still have a ton of material left, almost as much as the Full frame from the D4. The D4 when cropped to DX is giving around 7mp, just not enough to really pull out the details in small feathers IMO.

    I just mean that the DX mode is a great addition for wildlife shooter since many will be cropping anyway. That combined with a very good low noise performance in the iso range of 800 to 2000 gives the photographer a great asset.

    Paul
    No problem Paul. Just confirming we're all on the same page when discussing noise level of images from these various cameras in conjunction with the particular mode they are set in (full frame, DX, etc.

    Dave (D&A)

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    The DX comes in handy when your stuck in a spot and can't get closer and you have to shoot a lot of images. Cuts the cropping down in post. For me it helps with runway stuff sometimes. My comment over 3200 was sort of a side bar so ignore me . I know it certainly has valid reasons when shooting. I'm just a little sick of hearing it as a excuse to beat up a cam because maybe its lack of it. Just buy one that does. Lol

    It's just that we hear this in every model that comes on the market endlessly .
    Guy, as we all know, there are some fantasic digital cameras, past and present (with various sized sensors) that have exceptional quality files at base and lower ISO levels but have relatively medicore to poor performance at higher ISO. Simply put, some of those cameras actually produce files of such high quality at lower ISO's, that they can often be superior to cameras that have unbelivable high ISO/low noise performance.

    There are a lot of criteria for judging a digital cameras output.

    Dave (D&A)

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    For 36 years I NEVER ever needed anything over 1600 but on a couple occasions 3200. Im baffled by this need for ISO 64000000000000000000
    I never did either, but after I got the d800 I found myself doing a project on the subways in NYC. I've gone from doing everything at ISO 100 in my regular work to spending most of the day at iso 2000 to 6400.

    I think the talk of downsampling / upsampling is just a pixel-peeping approximation of how a photograph actually gets used. You're always aiming for a particular print size or web image size. Any time you print two files of disparate resolutions at the same size, you are normalizing them. This is effectively the same as upsampling one or downsampling the other. I don't think there's much to be learned from comparing a 12mp file to a 36mp file at 100%. Who cares? We care how they compare in actual use, which is always a normalized comparison.

    The d800 files at 6400 are very noisy. But it doesn't take much to eliminate any hint of chroma noise, and what remains looks a lot like film grain. It's not ugly. I'm planning to print these at 20x30 … I'd be curious to see how d4 files treated similarly would compare.

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Paul, I couldn't agree with you more! The upshot of the quality of any file, is ultimately examining it in the form of it's final output, whether it be web, print use, or some other form of presentation. I often have to print files at 24x36 and larger and so how a camera performs image quality wise under certain conditions that allows me to get close to what I consider ideal for my stAted output, is often how I judge a camera performance for that given use. If it's usd for a different requirement or form of output, thn a camera that's subpar for the first senario, may be superb for another.

    As for use of the D800 at high ISO in the NYC subway system...that's the least of your worries while brandishing a D800 on certain platforms (in certain locations)...LOL! Hey I should know, both originally growing up in NYC and the myriad of dangerous places I didn't have the good sense to avoid doing street photography alone (at all hrs of the night), where I'd have my Spotmatic F by my side at all times. Guess you could say it was my weapon of choice . All done in hoping for a positive critique from my photographic mentor. As for the ISO film I used, generally 100 and later on possibly 400. The term ISO 6400 was like speaking a foreign language to me.

    Dave (D&A)

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    BTW this morning in C1 I processed a D800E at 150 percent 24x32 300 dpi output and holy cow it looked to have no degradation at all. It handled it very well. Only file I have been able to do that in the past was my Phase files with quality. Just have not tried it on these files yet. I was like right on brother. Nice sidebar

    Makes me want to go much further. Lol
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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Quote Originally Posted by D&A View Post
    As for use of the D800 at high ISO in the NYC subway system...that's the least of your worries while brandishing a D800 on certain platforms (in certain locations)...LOL!
    Well, the way I'm working people seem to regard me as one of the street lunatics, so no one bugs me. Also it's my habit to cover all the camera logos with black tape and use a cheap generic camera strap. So whether I look like a tourist or a nut, I look like a cheap one!

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Quote Originally Posted by paulraphael View Post
    Well, the way I'm working people seem to regard me as one of the street lunatics, so no one bugs me. Also it's my habit to cover all the camera logos with black tape and use a cheap generic camera strap. So whether I look like a tourist or a nut, I look like a cheap one!
    LOL! No doubt times have changed. Back when I was street shooting there on almost a daily basis, photographers were few and between on on the streets (relatively speaking of course), and so the large SLR around the neck and people notiicing someone taking images of people, elicited quite a different reaction that if done today. More photographers now but also many more people suspecious what one is taking pictures of. Bottom line, both pluses and minuses if one compares the changes....except for lunatics one runs into LOL. some things on the streets never change!

    Dave (D&A)

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    When were you there? I was just looking at Bruce Davidson's subway project from the early 80s. It was a different world. He said he trained for six weeks before taking his cameras underground, just so he'd have a better chance when running for his life. He got mugged so many times that the police took him up on his offer to travel with undercover escorts, and use his camer as bait. In the famous picture with the gun at the passenger's head, that's actually a cop arresting a would-be camera thief. And looking like he's enjoying it just a little too much.


    Last edited by paulraphael; 5th October 2012 at 13:47.

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    I just posted my project here. At web size there isn't much to tell about the low light performance, other than it's cool that such a project is even possible. I'll report back when I start working on prints. There will be a hunt for funding before that happens, but I'll be delighted if the iso 6400 images work acceptably at 20x30.

    According to DXO, the biggest advantage of the D3S is dynamic range, where it overtakes the d800 around iso 1600. Lucky for me this project made no demands on DR ... but a lot of demands on signal-to-noise. By that metric the d800, d3S, and d4 measure about the same.

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Paul,

    I was there (shooting) throughout the 70's and parts of the 80's. Of course after that, I'd take fairly frequent trips to NYC. Its not surprising how much has changed, not only the landscape and culturally but just the overall experience of street shooting and the public reaction to it.

    Dave (D&A)

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    Senior Member Jason Muelver's Avatar
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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Quote Originally Posted by paulraphael View Post
    I just posted my project here. At web size there isn't much to tell about the low light performance, other than it's cool that such a project is even possible. I'll report back when I start working on prints. There will be a hunt for funding before that happens, but I'll be delighted if the iso 6400 images work acceptably at 20x30.

    According to DXO, the biggest advantage of the D3S is dynamic range, where it overtakes the d800 around iso 1600. Lucky for me this project made no demands on DR ... but a lot of demands on signal-to-noise. By that metric the d800, d3S, and d4 measure about the same.
    Now this is where it's at. Dynamic range.

    I shoot with a D700/D3 combo. Been thinking of adding an M9/D800 or selling my D700 for a D3S. This may have made my decision easier.

    When I'm shooting a reception with strobes, I tend to float from iso 800-1600. These days dark ceremonies are very popular, so I max out at 5000. Mouse shmoize. That can be wiped out. DR can't be added.
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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    I think comparing noise between a 12MP and 37MP sensor is a little pointless. Even if the noise is identical or even a little worse in the 37MP sensor at 100%, it will be be better in the 37MP at a standard viewing distance because the relative size of the pixels are smaller. The limits of your vision will act as noise reduction--no need to downsample.

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Although we may be talking about a different catagory of camera, it would be interesting to throw the D600 into the mix with regards to this comparison. From some past brief comparisons I made of the D600 vs. D800 and D3s under low light, high ISO conditions, I found the D600 (as others have found) even more advantagous than the D800 and held it's own quite well when compared to the D3s beyond the D800's 3200 ISO.

    The 24MP file size is a good compromise between the often too small 12MP and 36 MP file size, when one is not exclusively shooting landscapes for considerably large prints. I believe there is a market for a Nikon 24MP DSLR with the image qualities of the D600 but maybe more of the body capability (AF aquisition, tracking frame rate and build) of a D700/D800 type body.

    Dave (D&A)

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    I have very little experience shooting at a high ISO so I nothing to compare this camera with but I'm impressed on how well it worked in this situation.
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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Photographic Dynamic Range versus ISO

    The above site is for comparing DR and SNR on different bodies..

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Quote Originally Posted by D&A View Post
    Although we may be talking about a different catagory of camera, it would be interesting to throw the D600 into the mix with regards to this comparison. From some past brief comparisons I made of the D600 vs. D800 and D3s under low light, high ISO conditions, I found the D600 (as others have found) even more advantagous than the D800 and held it's own quite well when compared to the D3s beyond the D800's 3200 ISO.

    The 24MP file size is a good compromise between the often too small 12MP and 36 MP file size, when one is not exclusively shooting landscapes for considerably large prints. I believe there is a market for a Nikon 24MP DSLR with the image qualities of the D600 but maybe more of the body capability (AF aquisition, tracking frame rate and build) of a D700/D800 type body.

    Dave (D&A)
    And this is where I'm torn. My D3 and D700 are showing age. So which do I add? D3S, D800, D600? A D4 is straight out. I know I shoot a lot at ISO5000 and above in some of these churches during the processional, so that's why I'm leaning D3S. A D900 (D4 guts, D800 body) would be perfect and I'd buy 2 in a heart beat. But that's not an option.

    Ugh.
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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    BTW this morning in C1 I processed a D800E at 150 percent 24x32 300 dpi output and holy cow it looked to have no degradation at all. It handled it very well. Only file I have been able to do that in the past was my Phase files with quality. Just have not tried it on these files yet. I was like right on brother. Nice sidebar

    Makes me want to go much further. Lol
    Having extensive experience with all Nikon FX bodies (current or past), I believe that the choice is more on the functioning and how the body suits the owner than the IQ differences between them... all current FX bodies are capable of providing usable results up to 12800 ISO which is considerably better than the previous generation but the D3S... D4 & D3S will have the edge above that value.
    OTOH Guy, I process for best print quality and thus I never upsample or downsample an image... My conclusion is that sampling can never benefit a print... no matter what PPI the print comes out (as long as there are more than 72ppi available to be printed) and I do print in my studio 7.8m2 per day (year average) on my Epson 9900. It's best to choose the nearest printing size to the required one, so that printing DPI divide accurately with output PPI. The reason for the above is that sampling doesn't add printing density on the printing area, but does induce artifacts, while the printing density remains constant. By having the DPI of the printer to divide accurately with the output PPI of a given picture we avoid both sampling artifacts and printing artifacts too.

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Quote Originally Posted by Theodoros Fotometria View Post
    Having extensive experience with all Nikon FX bodies (current or past), I believe that the choice is more on the functioning and how the body suits the owner than the IQ differences between them... all current FX bodies are capable of providing usable results up to 12800 ISO which is considerably better than the previous generation but the D3S... D4 & D3S will have the edge above that value.
    OTOH Guy, I process for best print quality and thus I never upsample or downsample an image... My conclusion is that sampling can never benefit a print... no matter what PPI the print comes out (as long as there are more than 72ppi available to be printed) and I do print in my studio 7.8m2 per day (year average) on my Epson 9900. It's best to choose the nearest printing size to the required one, so that printing DPI divide accurately with output PPI. The reason for the above is that sampling doesn't add printing density on the printing area, but does induce artifacts, while the printing density remains constant. By having the DPI of the printer to divide accurately with the output PPI of a given picture we avoid both sampling artifacts and printing artifacts too.
    +1 to most of what you expressed....with regards to all the nikon Fx bodies, which I and many others here have shot extensively...adn also to large format printing considerations and philosophy.

    With reagdrs to higher ISO performance, it all depends what the intended output is, the subject matteer and what the individual's threashold is for noise with a give particular image.

    Dave (D&A)

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Muelver View Post
    And this is where I'm torn. My D3 and D700 are showing age. So which do I add? D3S, D800, D600? A D4 is straight out. I know I shoot a lot at ISO5000 and above in some of these churches during the processional, so that's why I'm leaning D3S. A D900 (D4 guts, D800 body) would be perfect and I'd buy 2 in a heart beat. But that's not an option.

    Ugh.
    Jason, after keeping a D600 in box for a few months brand new (especially and primarily purchased for a family members use)... I finially cracked it open (the box, not the camera...LOL), over the weekend for a shoot. Very low ever changing light, fast moving action, color temp of lighting constantly changing and other quite demanding shooting conditons...where previously such shoots were reserved for a D3/D3s pro type body.

    These conditions are a far cry from the more typical uses of the D600, such as for outdoor static landscapes, travel photography, weddings etc. The big surprise was the low ISO performance....excellent in all respects and more than sufficient and not all that far off (to an extent) from the D3/D4 domain. Af lock-on in low light definitely as sure footed as the Pro bodies and there was a distinct difference, but did a adaquate job in this regard.

    Clusters of Af sensors in the viewfinder for this type of shoot are too centralized and not sufficently spread out across the frame. Frame rate was adaquate. Camera was sort of responsive enough but just barely for this the kinds of demands this shoot requires. AF tracking was decent too but not on par with the Pro bodies. Handling (size, ergonomics, button placement and responsiveness to button/review etc commands), was just OK and being used to the larger pro bodies, I thought the D800 in this regard was better thought out. I think they had D7000 users steping up to a D600 in mind when they designed it. The Pro bodies are simply instantanious (almost) in whatever function one requires and one has to expect a sort of compromise when using bodies such as the D600.

    File quality exceptiionally good and except for having 24MP compared to the D800 36MP...it's almost neck and neck. The D800 in a similar shoot didn't fair as well as the D600...for a variety of obvious reasons. It's a somewhat more specialized camera than the D600. In landscape work, that's probably a different story and the D800 will reign supreme. Some wedding photographers I know who want that bigger file size, and tried both the D800 and D600...overall preferred the D600 for that sort of application. Each excelss in somewhat different areas than 12MP DSLR.

    24MP is a sweet spot when needing larger than 12MP files.

    I've been posting for ages (OK, the last 6-9 months), the need for a Pro level Nikon 24MP body...maybe similar to a D700 size and build quality body....with a frame rate of at least 7FPS, the AF and responsiveness and abilities of a D700/D3/D3s etc., as well as many of it's other shooting and handling characteristics. I think there is a sizeable market ripe for this type of offering. For me, and these shoots, that would certainly be idea. Not as a replacement for a 16MP D4 camera thats more applicable to PJ...but a somewhat higher resolution camera (and possibly based more on a D700 bodies as opposed to a D3/D4 one)...that has a more manageable file size (24MP) as compared to the D800, but has handing and many of the specs resembling those of say the D3s etc.

    Dave (D&A)
    Last edited by D&A; 13th February 2013 at 07:03.

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    ISO performance aside there is quite a difference between a Pro body and the D800/E in size (without the grip) . One of my last shoots with high ISO was Christmas in NYC . On the street with 2 bodies and a 28/50 R lenses...the form or size was fine ...never had any issues photographing anyone on the street (this was not the case with my D3 a few years back ).

    The ISO performance at 800-3200 was just excellent and the balance between DR,color,noise and the ability to render fine detail was the best I ve used . Hard to shoot Christmas without leveraging street exhibits,window light ,tree lights etc and black shadows come with the territory . (Try Ice Skating for a test of DR).

    With that said if I was doing commercial work ..the better DR of the D4 at higher ISO s would probably move me in that direction .

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Dave.. So the wedding people you know moved from a D3S to D600?
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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Muelver View Post
    Dave.. So the wedding people you know moved from a D3S to D600?
    Many did Jason... I am not a "wedding photographer" (although I do a lot of weddings annually), but I can tell you that "wedding photographers" don't care much about body quality... or ultra super-dupper speed... or battery survival... ("visible" - as in "depth of scene visibility") DOF and DR is their main concern, as well as "sensible" (800-6400 Iso) low-light performance.... Personally, I am shooting D800 & D800E (although I would slightly prefer D600 for low light), but this is due to "body personal like preference". My "ultimate" (and perhaps other "wedding photographers" too), would have been a D800 body with D4 sensor and processing electronics in it...
    Last edited by Theodoros Fotometria; 13th February 2013 at 13:31.

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Quote Originally Posted by Theodoros Fotometria View Post
    Many did Jason... I am not a "wedding photographer" (although I do a lot of weddings annually), but I can tell you that "wedding photographers" don't care much about body quality... or ultra super-dupper speed... or battery survival... ("visible" - as in "depth of scene visibility") DOF and DR is their main concern, as well as "sensible" (800-6400 Iso) low-light performance.... Personally, I am shooting D800 & D800E (although I would slightly prefer D600 for low light), but this is due to "body personal like preference". My "ultimate" (and perhaps other "wedding photographers" too), would have been a D800 body with D4 sensor and processing electronics in it...
    Jason, I agree with much of what Theodoros wrote! Wedding photographer I know who deired a bigger file than the typical D3s 12MP camera have optied for the D600, not D800. reason being is the D800 file size is overkill for their uses and slows the entire workflow own. 24MP is really a sweet spot for those that desire cropable files and a greater abundence of pixels as compared to 12MP.

    In terms of ergonics feel and overall responsiveness, they often prefer the D800...as it can at times feel like a D700 or a mini D3..the D600 doesn't and feel and handles more like an amateur body like the D7000...but except for this, is preferable to the D800 for wedding use.

    You will get arguments both ways.

    I really need at least the 24MP for my type of performing arts shoots but the responsiveness of the D3s/D4....so I am in no-wheres land and not sure if I wil or won't keep using the D600 for this use (only used my brand new body/grip one time. for the uses I outlined and for it's image quality, even at ISo 2000 and higer...it was remarkable...maybe surpassing the D800 too!

    Dave (D&A0

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    Senior Member Jason Muelver's Avatar
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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Thanks, Dave.

    To be honest, I think I need a double barreled approach. I just can't do a D4. Doesn't make business sense, but it's the almost perfect camera. Frame rate is waaaay overkill.

    Thinking D3S/D800 or D600 will be my combo. Seen some good alternative workflows for the D800 files by turning to DNG's and maxing files size to 15-20MB with no ill effects, but can still grab the big files from my archives if needed for full page spreads, etc. Might try that route for a couple of weddings, and if it's too cumbersome, ditch the D800 and go D600.

    I know my April wedding I'll need both ISO5000 minimum AND a lot of MP's cause I have to stay in the back of a dark cathedral. We'll see!!!
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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Muelver View Post
    Thanks, Dave.

    To be honest, I think I need a double barreled approach. I just can't do a D4. Doesn't make business sense, but it's the almost perfect camera. Frame rate is waaaay overkill.

    Thinking D3S/D800 or D600 will be my combo. Seen some good alternative workflows for the D800 files by turning to DNG's and maxing files size to 15-20MB with no ill effects, but can still grab the big files from my archives if needed for full page spreads, etc. Might try that route for a couple of weddings, and if it's too cumbersome, ditch the D800 and go D600.

    I know my April wedding I'll need both ISO5000 minimum AND a lot of MP's cause I have to stay in the back of a dark cathedral. We'll see!!!
    Obviously Jason we are all in much agreement here... Let me tell you though, why I sold my D3S and the danger you may have to face by keeping it.... You see, if you keep it, we photographers tend to use the most "macho" (responsive?, feeling friendly?) body we can if we have it along... sometimes, we say "what the hay" I can do it with smaller files too... "I'll take better pictures if I can feel better with the camera"... and then you may end up using this as your prime body leaving the rest as back up! If I was ever to use the camera professionally at 12800 Iso and above, I would have kept it, although all other aspects of it, are way overkill for the use... It's exactly the reason why I didn't invest on a D4 either... all modern FX bodies are capable of providing good up to 6400 ISO raws and that's the maximum I'll ever (rarely too) go! The D600 would have been ideal if it had wider AF area and CF card slot, otoh the D800 is almost perfect but the file size which is only time consuming in the sense that you have to wait for the conversion, or for "DG photo art" to open the files for the book, but undoubtedly the camera is both the right size, feels solid and trustful and is an ergonomically "pro" camera. I now use my old D700 as back up to the two D800s that are my prime bodies... I've thought of replacing it with a D600 but ended up thinking that it's only back up and D700 is already a trustful back up (as macho as the D800 too), if the rumored D4 sensor in D800 body though will come true, I'll replace both the D800 and D700 with two of those and only keep the D800E for the MFDB quality it offers me for the few (wedding) shots that I used to use my Contax 645 and MFDB a couple of years ago, or whenever there is a studio session with the couple... If I may add, I do slightly prefer (after having tried the D4 and D600 extensively - the importers have lend me one of both for more than a week) the D4 sensor than the D600 one, but again, I use D800 although I prefer (again slightly) the D600 sensor from the one that it has... this of course excludes the "E", ...oh yes, it excludes the "E"!!!

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    Re: D3S vs D800 on low light High ISO noise

    Theodporos...once again I can completely agree and identify with everything you expressed...virtually word for word! I personally need at least 24MP in a body as responsive as a D700/D3s preferably in a D800 sized body..with superb high ISO performance, Af sensor spread across most of the frame, 7FPS and more. The D600 comes slightly closer to my requirements than a D800, but neither is ideal for my needs. The D4 would be perfect if it had at least 24MP. 36MP is fine and preferable for landscape use but unless there is a very specific need, 24MP is close to ideal for wedding work, in my opinion.

    Nikon has a gap in DSLR's bodies in a number of key areas and hoefully they'll address them by the end of 2013.

    The D800/e should have had at least an option to shoot 24MP, Combined with a processor that responded more quickly with read/write times with this smaller (downsized) file size and also boosted the FPS in this lower 24MP resolution mode. The optional grip could have been partly involved with these requirments if it was necessary.

    Guess some of it will come in due time.

    Dave (D&A)

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