Monday, August 2, 2010

D700 vs F80EXR – Gatineau River Mouth at the Ottawa River

Yesterday, I blogged the river and ornamental gardens as shot by the F80EXR, a nice little compact camera from Fujifilm. Today, I finished processing the images I shot with the D700. I had far more of those to choose from but I culled them pretty aggressively. This article focuses only on the rivers.

So, the mouth of the Gatineau River as it enters the Ottawa River. Remember that I shot that from across the Ottawa River, way up on a lookout near the entrance to the Governor General’s residence on Sussex Drive. In fact, just to make this a bit more clear, let me show you on Google maps.

map_outlook[1]Remember to click on the images to see the 800px versions. On this map, it is clear that I am about 1km from the bridge and about 1/2km from the piers closest to the bridge. This comes up in a moment …

But first, a digression. I met an interesting gentleman who got into the topic of fishing in the Ottawa River, which he says is very good … I mentioned that I was from Manitoba and that I had done a lot of fishing with my dad all over the province. We went back and forth on this until he mentioned some clips on YouTube that are must see clips, like the following clip of two men catching enormous catfish by causing the fish to swallow their arms. Not kidding … watch …

Ok, enough digression now .. but that was something pretty special I think. Who’d a thunk you could feed 10 families at a barbecue in 10 minutes with no bait …

Back to the lookout … here is an image shot at 85mm, which is about 50% magnified from a normal field of view. You can see some really small guys about 1/2km away on the boat nearest the bridge, although I think you’ll need to click on it to get the 800px version to see anyone. Also note the church steeple on the right for later on.

DSC_4366_gatineau_river[1]You already saw the F80EXR image in the previous post, so here are two images shot and cropped from the 85mm (the image above) and the Nikon 70-300VR at 300mm. Remember that the D700 is full frame, which means that 300mm means 300mm … crop factor is 1.

For giggles, I cropped all three at 100% and then enlarged the F80 and the 85mm images to match the people’s size on the 300mm image. This is mildly interesting in that it demonstrates a couple of points about reach and sensors. First, the 300mm lens is razor sharp at f/11 despite its reputation for being soft at 300mm. Yes, the 300mm f/4 AFS is a better lens, but this one is better than some people thing way out at 300. Second, 85mm is way to short to see anything … despite the lens being stunningly sharp, enlarging the image as much as I had to made everything extremely coarse. And finally, the F80’s detail is excellent for 6mp.

I had to enlarge the F80 to get to 12mp, and then again to get to 300mm effective, and yet the image is still better than the 85mm. But … the water is flattened out almost completely. This is because 12mp is too much for a 1/2” sensor. This effect can actually be seen on all EXR sensors in HR mode, but it is shown here at M size because this water is very distant, putting the waves into the category of low contrast fine grained details. Note also that the 85mm, despite having even smaller details on the water, has no trouble showing far more detail on the water itself because there is no NT effect in play.


Anyway, it was obvious before you saw this … but let’s hammer the point home. There really is no substitute for optical reach. But there is also no substitute for a large sensor. Which is why professionals carry lenses that cost 10 grand and way 8 pounds …

With more sensible crops, the 85mm actually keeps up with the 300 at web sizes. It’s stunning clarity and sharpness (it’s a prime, remember) makes up for the lower reach when the output is reasonably sized.




I used some extra sharpening on the 300mm shot … that’s an error, but this is not a formal test so no foul. The thing to note is that both of these shots look fine. The 85mm actually pleases me more as the tones are less aggressive …

So remember that small church on the right side of the panorama? I’ve isolated on it here at 180mm, which is inside the really sharp range of this lens. This 70-300VR is carried by a lot of professional Nikon shooters in lieu of the 70-200VRII because the consumer lens is equally sharp in the common range and has the extra reach if needed (and you can see that it is decently sharp stopped down.) The only thing you give up (and it is admittedly important) is speed. The consumer glass is slow … around f/5.3 at 200mm versus f/2.8 … for indoor sports that would be a critical difference, but for a lot of shooting scenarios, that’s not a problem.

I would probably be inclined to carry the 180 2.8 with the 70-300VR as a decent alternative that is way cheaper. The 180 is one of the sharpest and most contrasty lenses Nikon makes. But it’s a bit old with slow AF. So only useful for portraits etc.

Oops … I digress again. The church and shore … followed by a crop of the church at 100%. That one is sharp, sharp, sharp …

DSC_4370_gatineau[1] What a magnificent shoreline. Those houses must cost a fortune! And I want one :-)


So … detailed enough for you from 1/2km?

The river here is pretty nice and rather busy with boaters. I would love to live along the river and see it every day. I can easily see why people do that if they have the bucks for the location.

The D700 continues to be my favorite cam by some distance. The D300 would have given me 50% more reach here, but I don’t care :-) 

And how about that 70-300VR … that’s some kind of sharp consumer glass ….


hanakiri said...

i could have sworn i clicked f70exr vs f80exr. im confused, is d700 same as f70exr?

anyway, im planning to buy the f70exr so im checking out everything about this cam and its image results.

i choose f70exr because im a beginner and i think it is overly ambitious of me to go for S90s and LXs. i already knew that i sucked at using film cameras back then, thank God for digicams and their LCDs. so the missing optical viewfinder is not yet an issue for me.

is there a book about how i can take advantage of f70exr (aside from the manual, of course)?

Kim Letkeman said...

hanakiri: The link executes a search that is not perfect, so it picks up the odd article that is not just about f70 versus f80. The F70 is a nice cam for anyone ... for beginners, I recommend starting with the settings in my "how to shoot" article and perhaps reading a few of the books I mention in the books linked article in the recommended articles area. As for books specifically on the F70, not that I know of. This blog has the most information available on EXR cameras, although it is not organized like a book. But the books I list in my article on my favorites will all apply to the F70 once you develop some understanding of photography fundamentals. Good luck.