Like Mike Johnston writing in The On-Line Photographer, I’m aware that any attempt to line up one or more cameras and show comparison images or make judgements is on to a loser from the start. And any webmaster who puts an external link in the first half dozen words of a new post is losing the plot too! But here, for what it’s worth, is the first line-up of results processed using the same software from A900 and D3X uncompressed raw files converted without sharpening or noise reduction.
After just a short while working with full frame, high resolution DSLRs the need for tilt lenses has really come home to me. Most lenses deliver their best results at fairly wide apertures like f8, it’s easy for detail to begin to look soft and lacking impact if you are forced to stop down to f22 to get everything sharp. Tilt adaptors and tilt lenses solve the problem.
This set of full size shots was taken with the still life left set up, because the Nikon and Canon cameras were not here at the same time. It compares the A900, 5DMkII and D3X using the converters supplied by the makers – Image Data Converter SR2, Digital Photo Professional, and Capture NX2. Each small image in the article can be clicked to open a Level 10 quality full size JPEG – beware, the largest is over 13MB of data.
Using a light level typical for tungsten light shots at 1600 (1/60th at f8 = 1/500th at f2.8 for action, 1/250th at f4 for concerts etc) I have made a quick first day – D3X arrived this afternoon – comparison which, in the process, also evaluates two lenses (24-120mm VR Nikkor and 28-105mm RS Minolta) and two anti-shake systems. Sadly, my 5DMkII test kit went back on the same City Link van which brought the Nikon kit. Look out for my Nikon review/s in the British Journal of Photography soon.
There are caption notes to each image. The point of targeted focus was the end of the fingerboard with the spattered rosin on it. Feel free to download and print. The red rosin cloth is interesting, so is the sharpness of the point of focus. Clicking on the small images here will open a full size 24 megapixel file in each case!
Ref the exposure difference: these were locked down manual exposures. The Sony does not appear to achieve a true ISO 1600. However, when shooting the same subject using auto exposure, the Sony image is perfectly exposed and the Nikon consistently overexposes. Here, I have set the exposure to the correct density for the Nikon.
Following the review on dPreview – more than anywhere else – Sony’s extremely poor JPEG engine with its associated wide radius chroma blur and strong luminance smoothing noise reduction has proved to be a dog well capable of biting its master. Definitely a dog, anyway. But this performance is not what the camera can really achieve. In fact it’s perfectly capable of delivering good high ISO shots in typical situations.
If you are on the verge of making a decision, I’m here to help your think clearly – even if it means breaking some cherished behaviour patterns. I am going to help you think of the Alpha 900 not as a logical progression from the 700, but as a different camera system entirely.