There have been a couple new cameras in the news lately. For Canon shooters, the new 5DS and 5DS R models deliver 50-megapixel (8688 x 5792 pixel) full-frame (36x24mm) images. I know many Canon shooters who have been waiting for something to get them over the 20 megapixel barrier, and these two cameras should do the trick. Canon is doing something similar to what Nikon did with the D800/e variants. The “R” model uses a software cancellation trick to eliminate the effect of the optical low-pass (anti-aliasing) filter. Both models are expected to be shipping by June 2015.
My take:I know many Canon shooters who have switched to the Sony system not necessarily because they wanted a mirrorless camera, but because they wanted to use their L-glass on a 36MP camera. With the aggressive price points of the 5DS (under $4k), the competition just got going again between Nikon and Canon. I’m very interested in seeing how well Canon has done increasing the dynamic range of their sensors, which has been fairly stagnant for the last few years.
Nikon also announced a new D810 variant for astrophotography, the D810A. This camera has the same sensor as the normal D810 (36MP), but offers a different kind of filter over the sensor; one with an Infrared cut filter. The idea here is to allow for better astrophotographic captures of nebulae, as the filter lets these unique wavelengths of light (H-alpha reds) through (see image samples from Nikon). The D810A also offers more flexibility in manual exposure for capturing long exposures (you can set times up to 15 minutes).
My take:This camera is a specialty item, designed for amateur and professional astronomers. The new camera offers great features for astronomy, but it isn’t at all suited for general-purpose work. I think it’s great that Nikon has the resources to release a camera such as this, because it means that they are doing well enough elsewhere to warrant the production of a specialty camera. But man, I still hope to see a 20+MP camera capable of 8fps for my birding work!
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom relies on the Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) rendering engine to convert camera RAW images. The default color and contrast settings are something called “Adobe Standard” which look different than what you might see on your camera LCD when reviewing your images. However, Adobe offers alternate Camera Profiles which emulate the as-shot settings from many Nikon and Canon DSLRs. You’ll find these settings in the Camera Calibration panel in Lightroom and ACR.
In this example, I have placed an image of a Colorchecker card on the screen so you can see how the colors and contrast change between camera profiles. For this image, I get options based on the Nikon D800 that I used to capture the RAW file. Note that you can only make profile changes to RAW files. If you see “Embedded” under the profile option, it’s because you’re looking at a TIFF or JPEG image in Lightroom. Choose from any of the profile presets in the drop-down menu to change the baseline color and tone curve of your image, and you can fine-tune it with the sliders if you wish.
If you have a ColorChecker card, you can use the ColorChecker software from X-rite to create a custom profile for your camera. Each custom profile is specific to the camera you use to create the image. You can further tweak those profiles using Adobe’s DNG Profile Editor software (free download from www.adobe.com).
Once you have a profile that you like, you might wish to change your defaults to always use that profile going forward. If you do change your default settings, note that ANYTHING you modified in the Develop section gets applied, so keep your adjustments minimal (Calibration, sharpening, lens corrections) so that you don’t over-process your images. Defaults are only applied automatically when you import new images into Lightroom. Existing images will not be changed; you’ll have to adjust them manually or use the “Reset Settings” option in Lightroom to do so.
The D7000, to me, has always been a “close but not quite” camera. By all accounts, its sensor is really good. However, the smaller form factor and diminished performance (AF, frame rate, bracketing limitations) dissuaded me from getting one as a D300s replacement. The biggest surprise to me when I read Nikon’s announcement was the subheadline:
It’s an argument we hear all the time: the camera doesn’t matter nearly as much as the vision and talent of the person operating it. And yet, we still hear that nagging voice in the back of our head… “if I only had a better camera/lens/accessory.” Indeed, I’ve worked my way up from my old Nikon EL2, to my first AF camera (Nikon N70), to an F5, and then to all flavors of digital cameras. Along the way, of course, I was taking more and more photos and growing into my gear. To make things even more complicated, the camera manufacturers release new models all the time, begging us to upgrade to the latest and greatest features. So whether you’re just getting into photography or considering an upgrade, I want to take a quick look at the discriminating factors with today’s digital cameras. Continue reading Why your camera doesn’t matter, and why it does→
The Nikon D800 has a 36x24mm (FX format) sensor with 36-megapixel resolution. How do you get the best quality from this amazing sensor? By using good technique and properly sharpening your images, of course. If you shoot JPEG with the D800/e, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you want to make large prints (or crop). In my initial testing, I’m seeing that the sharpening halos produced by the in-camera sharpening algorithms (Nikon Picture Controls) are a little too large to bring out the finest details. So, how should you attack your D800 images? I’ve taken a look at sharpening routines in three different programs: ACR 7.1/ Lightroom 4, Capture NX2, and Aperture. When you sharpen properly, you’ll be amazed at what pops out of the RAW files from the D800!
Before you begin, do keep in mind that no amount of sharpening is going to produce great results unless you’ve got a properly focused image and a well-supported camera. If you had camera shake or subject motion from a slow shutter speed, there isn’t much you can do.