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Better than sliced bread, the Nikon D700, Sensor DB Update.

When the Nikon D700 was introduced nearly 9 years ago it was the best thing since sliced bread. It was the camera to have for low light. It’s colour and tone output was nothing short of outstanding. In many respects it made it’s brother, the D3 look a bit underwhelming in regards to noise, and it wasn’t until the release of the D3s where we saw the big brother take back the trophy.

Morning Light (Nikon D700)

At the time it’s main competition was the Canon 5D mark 1, and yes it was a great camera in it’s day, but there was a lot of people jumping ship when they saw what the D700 could do. The features of the D700 9 years ago were well ahead of its time, and the rivals. Even the 5D mark 2 with it’s 21MP was not enough to put it in it’s place when it was announced later the same year.

Looking back now and viewing the sensor data I have built up over time it’s clear that the D700 was the winner when compared to any of it’s rivals at the time. But it’s also important not to get too nostalgic if your considering this camera for low light work today, especially long exposure. Sure it will work and give you pretty good results, but there are much better options.

The D700 by todays standards performs about the same as a Canon 6D at 30 seconds which is no slouch, but it is 20MP. At 300 seconds it falls somewhere around the D800 or 5Ds, 36MP and 50MP respectively.

If you would like to get nostalgic, or just to know how your D700 compares to some of the new models, it has been added to the Sensor Database.

Fuji X-T2 Added to Sensor Database.

I’ve had a few requests now to have the X-T2 added to the Sensor Database. Well without further adieu here it is. It’s worth noting that I still personally believe Fuji are heavily processing noise in camera, and again we see the noise mean reduce as the exposure time goes up (eh). Considering the X-T2 is using a crop 24MP sensor the results are pretty good, but again there is some processing going on.

 

The Flagship, Canon 1DX Mark II, No. 50!

The Canon 1DX Mark II results are now in the Sensor DB, and it’s our 50th camera to be added. WOW 50. It’s taken a few years, but the list is now becoming quite substantial, giving the community some good insight into the level and treatment of noise.

The results are good and there is a significant improvement at 5 mins compared with the 1Dx, which, I think is reflective of the new ISO range, allowing up to 409600 ISO. There has obviously been a sensor change from 17.9MP in the old model compared to 20.2MP in the new model, with the original 1DX slightly better with noise at 1 and 30 seconds. However the 1DXm2 gives very respectable results, and the difference could easily be attributed to the additional megapixels.

Of course the 1D series of cameras is not intended for astrophotography, and it would be hardly the camera to recommend for that task. But it’s nice to see it’s a solid performer none the less.

Again, a big thank you to Walch Optics for providing access to many of the models we test.

More Models Tested: Canon 1300D, 760D & 80D. + Olympus PEN-F

We have added 4 more models to the Sensor DB today. Including the Canon 80D and Olympus PEN-F.

Some interesting results, and worth a look if you are considering one of these models for long exposure low light work.

The move…. to Nikon….

D750
D750, ‘Stacks of DR’

A few years ago when I had a Canon 5D mark II, Nikon’s current go to model was the D800; it was the bees knees and I considered making the move. After some testing and comparisons I determined that the D800 still did not have enough to lure me away from Canon, and consequently I purchased a 6D. Primarily because it out performed the 5D mark III in low light, which I still consider to be significantly over priced for what you are getting.

 

Fast forward Dec 2014. I’ve been sensor testing for quite a while now, watching all the new models arrive, the new Sony A7, the A7R, the Nikon Df, the D4, and most recently the D750. The D750, touted to be successor to the D700 had a lot to live up to, and since I had used a D700 on a number of occasions in the past and being suitably impressed I was keen to see how it performed.

 

The D750 blew every other model out of the water for long exposures I had tested. From ISO 3200 the detail that could be pulled from out of the shadows was nothing short of outstanding.

 

“Could I have finally found a replacement for my 6D?”

 

I’d been patiently waiting for any sign from Canon that a new affordable model was in the works. All the banter at the usual suspects indicated that a new model would likely be a high mega pixel body, and any replacement for the 6D or 5D was a long way off, and most likely expensive for the latter.

 

D750, 'Shadow Pool'
D750, ‘Shadow Pull’

So after some extensive research, I jumped, and this time I can safely say all of my previous concerns have been addressed. Using the D750 so far does feel like a true D700 upgrade, Combined with a good prime (20mm f1.8) it takes truly outstanding shots. (Maybe I’m getting better to).

 

So far I have only ‘tested’ it for night work, as I’m still waiting on the right conditions for an Aurora (Australis), but based on the samples I have produced so far I have a strong feeling some fantastic shots will come out the other end of my normal workflow. I’m a firm believer in ‘Garbage in, Garbage out’ (GIGO), and although the 6D was not garbage, the D750 will have less issues to deal with going into my workflow, allowing me to push images harder to recover more detail without having to deal with a lot of noise.

And of course… the more to the dark sid…err Nikon was not too bad because ‘they have got cookies’ 🙂

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