Thread: D7100
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Old 02-21-2014, 02:01 PM   #15
KevinM
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Massachusetts
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Hi Oskar,

On a nice, sunny day, you can achieve excellent results with a good point & shoot camera and you certainly don't need a D4 or a 1DX. Pixel-peepers could probably find the difference in the raw images, but at the resolution we post to RP, you'd be hard-pressed to tell them apart. I recall being amazed a couple of years back, when I found that one RP photographer whose images I really enjoyed, was shooting everything with simple P&S.

When it comes to pre-sunrise, post-sunset, or rainy day conditions, that's when the FF DSLRs start to separate themselves from the consumer stuff. As the ISOs climb, noise increases and image quality slowly goes to hell. Sure, there's noise-reduction software, but the piper must be paid. As you screen out the noise, you screen out the detail as well. With my D40X, the decision to go from ISO 200 to 400 was a big step. The images at 400 were noticeably grainy. 800 was a wing and a prayer with that camera. With the D90, ISO 800 wasn't so scary, but 1600 was. On the D7000, 400 was fine, 800 was a bit grainy and anything above that was a crap-shoot. Sometimes, the images were fine. Sometimes, there was no detail at all. I could not trust it.

The defining moments came on one of Pete Lerro's charters almost exactly a year ago. My D7000 had problems focusing in the bad light. I ended up with a lot of blurry pictures. During a night shoot, which involved actors, I could not get my shutter speed up enough to freeze the actors (who were trying to hold still anyway) and still get a decent quality image. With a steam engine, you need a high shutter speed at night, or the steam plume ends up looking like a big fuzzy blob. People used to look at long-exposure images and say "wow, a night shot!" Now such images are completely and totally passe. Post one on RP and watch it die a miserable death. People want to see a nice, crispy steam plume that looks REAL. To do that, you need to be able to reliably shoot ISO 2500 or higher. My D7000 could not do that.

With the D4, I have found that I can easily shoot my nephew's drum corps meets under ball-field lights at 3200 with no need for noise reduction. Even at 6400, I only have to kiss it a little with NR in post. I have a friend who shoots sports professionally with a D3S, and he tells me he is at over 10,000 ISO all the time. I believe I do have an image on RP at ISO 8000. Any flaws in that image were likely poor processing on my part. The camera did fine.

As I noted previously, it would be one thing to come home from a 50-mile car trip with bad pictures, but when you've spent over a thousand dollars on travel and killed off a week of valuable vacation time, it starts to get under your skin when the camera ain't up to the task. It also doesn't help when you look around at the other folks on the trip, and you see lots of D3s, D4s, D700s, 5DMk3s, and 1DXs. You suddenly realize that you're facing major league pitching with a little league bat.
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Link to my Flickr Albums. Lots of Steam Railroad stuff there from all over the US.
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