Thursday, March 11, 2010

Nikon & Cinema Display Questions, & A Few Product Recommendations

I get many questions emailed to me and try to answer a few on this blog - here are 2 recent ones with my responses:

Question:  In your opinion, has there been any significant improvement in the D3X vs the D3?  I realize the D3X has 24 mp while the D3 has 12.1, but both have full frame sensors.  It is my understanding that image quality improves with more mp, but is also very much dependent on sensor size.  My question to you is whether the D3X is worth the additional investment over the D3.   I saw you mentioned something about Genuine Fractals on your website, and do you think the D3X combined with Genuine Fractals will produce a decent 20 x 30 print?  I am a semi-retired architectural photographer who has shot film throughout my career, so I am not as well versed in digital as my younger counterparts.  I have enjoyed viewing your website and have bookmarked it in my favorites.  Again, thank you so much for your time.  

My Response: I think the D3X files can be enlarged slightly more than the D3 files, but not as much as you would expect given the resolution difference.  I have used both cameras and ended up preferring the D3 (same sensor as D700) because it gives much better high iso performance than the D3x. For my needs it is more important to have the high iso than the higher resolution since I shoot primarily with the Hasselblad H3D 39 and needed the D3 (actually I now use the D700) for high iso work. Below is an image I took of Michelangelo's poignant La Pietà  in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican with the D700 -  I was not using flash and had to really crank the iso up to 1250 (image was retouched using Mystical Tint Tone & Color, a great program for adding extra mood to a shot). There is also a shot below of poppies on a very windy day taken with the D700 that would have been impossible to get with the H3D39 at iso 50. I have sold numerous prints of this one, American River Canyon in Spring,  at the 20x30 size, so the D700 paid for itself with sales from this shot alone, making it a worthwhile investment that has earned it's keep.  I have taken a number of images with both the D3x and D3/D700 and find that they can be enlarged nicely to make 20x30 prints, but will start to fall apart under close inspection if you go much higher. I use Genuine Fractals for all my enlarging, it works wonderfully. The reality is that they look nowhere near as good as 20x30 prints made with the H3D39, but they are usable and better than nothing in situations where it would be impossible to get a clear shot with the H3D 39 (such as windy wildflower landscapes and interior shots). All this being said, the new H4D 40 takes really great shots at iso 800 so I think that gap is narrowing and medium format is becoming more usable at higher isos.



Question #2: I saw your info page on Apples website. They say that you use the 24 inch Apple Cinema display. I figured if it's good enough for a pro of your caliber (Gee thanks...) than it must be a pretty good display?? So I guess my question is, do you actually use this display for photo editing? Love your work!!

My Response: I use the Apple 30" Cinema Display for all my color critical developing and print proofing. I have had this for a few years now and it works wonderfully. I use an xrite color munki to calibrate it with. I actually hook it up to my macbook pro 17" with 8 gb of ram. I don't use a desktop computer system anymore since I would rather invest the $ in a high end laptop that I can use anywhere. I have the new 24" LED cinema display I use at the gallery for more utilitarian purposes, but it is so brilliant and bright that I have a hard time getting it to match the output of my Epson 11880 printer so I do prefer the 30" cinema display with the Matte screen that I use in my studio where I do my printing. One item that I recently got that I really love is the 8 terrabyte OWC Raid - I have everything I have ever shot on this thing (of course other drives duplicate all the content as a backup and are store offsite) and so far it has worked perfectly and is very fast. For the price it can't be beat. 

Next week I will post on some new things I will be trying out for traveling with my camera gear on upcoming trips to the Caribbean and Europe .


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