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Thread: Lunchtime with the A900 and Zeiss 135

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    Re: Lunchtime with the A900 and Zeiss 135

    The science part of photography is a given ... the price of entry. You have to grasp the principles at play to be able to even make art ... or at least artistically control the making of a photograph.

    I think what may be the point of dispute here is one of perspective and degree.

    I for one am not even slightly interested in the science of photography for its own sake ... especially the science of digital photography. Not that it isn't interesting and valuable for making art, it's just that for me it is not necessary to know how "the sausage is made".

    I tend to evaluate based on use and experience ... therefore gravitate to listening to the opinions of others who's work I admire or respect that have actually used the gear being evaluated to do their work... especially if the work is similar to what I do.

    So, I do not place anecdotal experience at the bottom of the heap of information sources, I place it at the top.

    Different strokes for different folks.

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    Re: Lunchtime with the A900 and Zeiss 135

    I believe that both Marc and Doc make very valid points.

    If I read it correctly (and this in itself is subjective LOL!) Doc is postulating that to determine the best, in absolute terms, requires science (e.g. measurements, standards, references, etc)

    Marc, If I read him correctly, is saying that in a real world we are dealing not with absolutes but with relatives. (i.e. 35mm vs MFDB, Sony vs. Nikon or Canon etc) In this relative world advice or shared experiences from others who have a wealth of experiences can be very valuable. The danger in my opinion would be to put such credence to these experiences that you draw a conclusion about absolutes.

    We go on workshops, or apprentice to acknowledged masters etc in order to learn from these folks and translate their experiences and advice into worth for ourselves. So why are their experiences about gear not equally valid?

    Not to take it too far, just my humble thoughts on the matter

    Woody

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    Re: Lunchtime with the A900 and Zeiss 135

    Quote Originally Posted by woodyspedden View Post
    I believe that both Marc and Doc make very valid points.

    If I read it correctly (and this in itself is subjective LOL!) Doc is postulating that to determine the best, in absolute terms, requires science (e.g. measurements, standards, references, etc)

    Marc, If I read him correctly, is saying that in a real world we are dealing not with absolutes but with relatives. (i.e. 35mm vs MFDB, Sony vs. Nikon or Canon etc) In this relative world advice or shared experiences from others who have a wealth of experiences can be very valuable. The danger in my opinion would be to put such credence to these experiences that you draw a conclusion about absolutes.

    We go on workshops, or apprentice to acknowledged masters etc in order to learn from these folks and translate their experiences and advice into worth for ourselves. So why are their experiences about gear not equally valid?

    Not to take it too far, just my humble thoughts on the matter

    Woody
    Well said Woody

    It's a matter of balance.

    The subjective part is what makes absolutes so difficult to apply. The question is, what are the standards of measurement? Who determines those? Under what conditions? There are so many variables that it is mind boggling to think about.

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    Re: Lunchtime with the A900 and Zeiss 135

    Quote Originally Posted by douglasf13 View Post
    D3 is not a Sony sensor. It is believed to be made by Renesas. D3x sensor is made by Sony. The D3 sensor, like Canon sensors, is optimized for low read noise at ISO 1600+. This comes at a cost to low ISO, although most reviews fail to show the low ISO differences, and choose to focus on high ISO. Sony's "EXMOR" sensor design, with it's numerous, column ADCs provides very low read noise at low ISO, but does not perform as well when gained up. It's two different sensor design philosophies, and Nikon was wise to incorporate both into two cameras with different focuses (no pun intended. )

    Until Sony makes a non "EXMOR" CMOS sensor that uses more traditional, off-chip ADCs, or drastically improves the quality of the very numerous ADCs on the EXMOR chip (or brings some new tech,) then a 14MP "A800" wouldn't have better noise characteristics than the A900 sized to match the A800 file. The other issue is color filtration, since Sony is using a more "MFDB-like" CFA when compared to Nikon and Canon's current cameras. While advantageous at low ISO, this requires more amplification for higher ISO, and that's why Sony's cameras across the whole line tend to be a touch noisier than the competition. Trade offs.

    All of this being said, I'm hoping that I'm wrong, and Sony makes a high ISO oriented camera with great AF, so great shooters like Marc have more options. I just haven't seen any evidence that it is happening soon. We'll see.
    Doug, does this mean that the D3X sensor is actually the very same Sony "Exmor" CMOS sensor as the one used in A900 ?
    They just seem to behave so differently. Is it all due to the different processors ?

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    Re: Lunchtime with the A900 and Zeiss 135

    well, while the sensor is basically the same, the CFA a internal processing are different. Nikon seems to apply a lot of NR at the raw level.
    M262 ZM 25/2.8 35/1.4 50/2 85/2

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    Re: Lunchtime with the A900 and Zeiss 135

    Quote Originally Posted by edwardkaraa View Post
    well, while the sensor is basically the same, the CFA a internal processing are different. Nikon seems to apply a lot of NR at the raw level.
    That hasn't been my experience. But I rarely shoot the D3X over ISO 800 or 1000 ... using the D3 for shots above 1000.

    IMO, the lack of to much NR on the D3X is most apparent when converting to B&W ... which it is very good at. Very crisp B&W ...nice tonal spread with crisp whites still holding detail and deep blacks with just enough shadow detail, and no smearing ... this is when when using the newer zoom lenses like the 14-24 and 24-70 ... which is what I tend to use now, leaving the 85 and 135 portrait work to the A900.
    Last edited by fotografz; 18th July 2009 at 06:37.

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    Re: Lunchtime with the A900 and Zeiss 135

    Bondo, there are two different theories about the D3x sensor. One is that the D3x sensor is the same as the A900, but it has 14 bit, rather than 12bit, on-chip ADCs. The other theory is that the sensors are identical, but Nikon uses some kind of oversampling method or multiple sensor reads to achieve 14bits. Either way, the D3x does have lower read noise and more DR than the A900, even at low ISO, and it has better shadow detail.

    Edward is right about the sensor "toppings," like the AA/CFA, and camera circuitry being different, and that plays a large role. On all of their cameras, Sony uses a narrow band color filter array, and that requires more amplification at high ISO, resulting in more noise. However, this pays off in the color department. I may be wrong, but I believe the A900 has a weaker AA filter as well. Different philosophies.
    Last edited by douglasf13; 18th July 2009 at 06:54.

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    Re: Lunchtime with the A900 and Zeiss 135

    p.s. DSLRs are so good now that it really is like choosing the film you prefer. Shooters like Marc, who have the means to have multiple camera bodies, are in a great position to use the right "film" for the scene.

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    Re: Lunchtime with the A900 and Zeiss 135

    Quote Originally Posted by douglasf13 View Post
    p.s. DSLRs are so good now that it really is like choosing the film you prefer. Shooters like Marc, who have the means to have multiple camera bodies, are in a great position to use the right "film" for the scene.
    This has become my working philosophy in a nut shell.

    All the bickering and posturing about this camera being better than that camera is due to all of them being quite good and none of them being perfect nor all things to all people.

    Unfortunately, the cost factor isn't like using different films that cost $5 to $10. It involves an investment that most folks aren't willing to make. So we try to squeeze more out of our choice .... which often leads to pushing a piece of gear well beyond it's abilities and "competitively" showing seemingly good examples of that on the internet. Yet in real life, under less than ideal conditions, this inflated promise of performance is often not realized.

    Being in the business of making photographs for a living somewhat mitigates all that. If you shoot in varying conditions of which you have little to no choice about, then it becomes clear that one camera cannot do it all. The more refined and demanding your client's standards are for the end product you are selling, the more this becomes apparent.

    In all of my different experiences shooting for money, I've found weddings to be the supreme torture test of both the gear's functionality and it's true abilities. You must shoot portraiture, architecture, landscape and journalism type images at a ferocious rate of capture. At one wedding you can be forced to shoot at dead noon in the open sun ... or with the sun behind the subject ... then move to a windowless cave of a church with mixed lighting ... then to a reception with moving subjects lit by a DJs disco ball.

    My "dream team" wedding kit is now a A900, Nikon D3X and Leica M8 with very select lenses that match the type of image capture each camera is best at.

    Nothing I've used to date matches the A900 for portraits and groups in decent light ... which is the type of shot where you may have much more control as to where and when. The color and dimensional rendering is simply phenomenal. The 85 and 135 are in the bag ... with a back-up 24-70. The Sony 58 flash is an incredibly well designed idea for on-camera journalism type images or fill flash. All on-camera flashes should be designed like this IMHO. But the A900 hunts in low light with the lenses I use. It only shoots to one card at a time. It's higher ISO performance (in less than ideal lighting) is not competitive with the Nikon. Plus, as easy as the color images are to process, I've found that converting to B&W is more time consuming than with other choices. I'm still working on an action or pre-set for that so it may be a non-issue in future.

    The Nikon D3X is the go to camera when I must get the shot. I do every "must have, can't repeat it, gotta get it the first time, no second chances" shot with this camera. It shoots to 2 cards. The AF doesn't hardly ever hunt even with the 200/2. It also shoots higher ISOs with less noise. And while getting excellent color/depth is more work than with the A900, B&W conversions from this camera are a no-brainer. Maybe the best B&W DSLR I've ever used for my specific way of rendering B&W. The 14-24 and 24-70 are the primary lenses in the bag ... with an occasional use of the 200/2 VR. The Nikon off-camera flash system using the SB900s is extraordinarily simple and quick to use ... no menu to navigate ... simple analog setting, then shoot.

    The M8s are a different way of shooting ... and a welcome relief from lugging a DSLR around for up to 10 hours almost non-stop.

    Just my experiences, nothing more or less. Sorry for not having MIT perform a "fact check" with a 2 year long comprehensive quantitative study ... by then I'd be out of business

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    Re: Lunchtime with the A900 and Zeiss 135

    Marc, since you're using C1 for the A900, you may be interested in these b&w profiles. I think they're pretty good, and they're cheap.

    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/fo...om/t13706.html

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    Re: Lunchtime with the A900 and Zeiss 135

    Quote Originally Posted by douglasf13 View Post
    Marc, since you're using C1 for the A900, you may be interested in these b&w profiles. I think they're pretty good, and they're cheap.

    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/fo...om/t13706.html
    Thank you very much Douglas!

    I will look into them.

    Unfortunately, my current wedding workflow is all Adobe Lightroom. CI is just to slow and lacks the tools in LR to get through all the images I have to process. I have over 3000 shots I'm currently processing just for the weddings done over the last two weekends. The one from yesterday has over 1000 alone and the client wants 90% of them as B&Ws. Some can be batched, but not many due to the broad range of conditions we shot in, shooting at a startling rate of capture even for a wedding. The D3X files are almost perfect by just using desaturate in LR ... which surprised me when I first discovered it was that easy even for shots in crappy light. They rival the M8 B&Ws which is hard to do IMO. And, things that tend to get blown out with other DSLRs (like backlit wedding veils) aren't with the D3X.

    Not so for the A900 files which are flat even using different LR profiles, or the "more contrast" selector ... that great mid-tonal range (or something) for A900 color bites me when I convert them to B&W. Which is why I hope to find or make a user preset to put into LR so I can one click an A900 image, tweak and move on.

    Nothing's perfect.

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