More Thoughts on the Nikon D5
Okay, so the Nikon D5 has started to slowly trickle into the hands of people now (though sadly not those belonging to yours truly) and yesterday I was sent a link to some downloadable D5 RAW files.
If you have received this post via email PLEASE view it on the blog itself.
Also, as a matter of interest, Nikon have made the D5 User Manual available HERE.
As I’ve said in earlier posts, I’m quite excited at the thought of the new AF system giving the Nikon shooter access to more Canon-esque controls, but image quality in terms of sensor output and the recorded .NEF are always paramount in my mind.
So I jumped all over the above-linked RAW files, but I have to say that looking at them in Lightroom (neutralised of course as per my previous post HERE) I’m not as overly enamoured as I thought I was going to be.
I’ve seen this camera called ‘The New Lord of Darkness’ with much play being made of its high ISO capability, so let’s have a look at that shall we. ISO range is 100 to 102,000 expandable to 50 and 3,276,800 – ISO stupid and then some!
Before we go any further, I suspect that the downloadable files are Lossless Compressed!
Want to see what 3,276,800ISO looks like?
All shots are by a user named Andy (not me) posted on NikonGear.net – thanks go to him for sharing.
This image is, honestly, unusable SO WHY charge you the buyer for the ability to produce it??
Let’s have a look at the high native ISO 102,400:
Okay, so in certain circumstances this image would be useful for press reproduction, and I can see the appeal for photojournalists – this level of performance will earn them money, and lots of it.
But I suspect that 75%+ of all global D5 purchasers in its first 12 months will NOT benefit from this performance because they are not in that market place. If you produce weddings shots that look like this then you’re going to get sued up the Ying Yang for sure.
What is interesting is a link on Nikon Rumours which was kindly sent to me yesterday by Paul Atkins:
This is a comparison of PDR, not EDR, and you will not find the D5 listed at DXO Mark at this moment in time. If you want to get your head around the difference between PDR and EDR then click HERE or HERE. But be warned, MATHS ALERT!
Below 1600 ISO the D5 has a significantly lower PDR than the D4, putting it very much in line with the Canon 1DX at <1600ISO – see HERE.
To my mind the D5 is an all-action camera with good low light capabilities; as is/was the D3 in its time, D4 and D4s and Canons 1DX.
As such, lower ISO performance is not really important – it’s a question of ‘horses for courses’ and the right tool for the job. But the fact that the PDR is lower came as a surprise.
Time was, not so long ago, that I was ‘capped’ at sub 800 ISO for wildlife/action photography – the D3 put paid to that and 1200 to 1600 ISO became my working values when needed.
The D4 and Canon 1DX shifted the goal posts again – 3200 ISO became a standard AND both cameras had AutoISO that worked perfectly.
Nobody with a working brain chooses to work at high ISOs unless they are driven to do so by a need for high shutter speeds in low light – no matter how well a camera sensor functions, image quality will always increase with decreasing ISO.
So examination of the above PDR curves clearly indicate that the true advantage of the D5 over the D4 is on average around 1.3 stops above 1600 ISO – which is a good thing, but it’s not exactly what I’d call revolutionary. We experience pretty much the same increase with every Nikon D FX release.
If PDR increases then the Signal to Noise ratio – S/N – pretty much appears to increase by the same value, so a visual comparison of D4 and D5 images shot at higher than 1600 ISO will show around 1.3Ev to 1.5Ev of reduced ISO noise.
What I do like is the IQ improvements at 8000 ISO and above. 8000 ISO on a D4 is bad, and its top native 12800 ISO is awful. Based on the downloaded raw files, anyone could process a D5 12800 ISO image at full resolution to pass QC at ANY stock agency – just go and download those RAWS on the link at the top of the post and see for yourself.
25,600 ISO – well I might be tempted to down-res those by perhaps 1000 to 1500 pixels on the long edge to help with noise reduction a bit, and chucked onto A3 or A3+ print you would never really notice the noise.
Do I like what I see – yes I do!
Is the D5 the new ‘Lord of Darkness’ – no it bloomin’ well isn’t! Lord of Low Light – quite possibly. The ISO H1 to H5 images go from questionable to crap in my opinion.
Like the Canon 1DX, I’m not impressed at lower ISO values than 1600 – I can get the same or better performance with a D4 or 4S – admittedly though with a lower pixel count.
So overall Andy, does the D5 impress? Well, still being in a hands-off situation I’m not going to commit to a full answer there. When all is said and done, the AF performance will be the key issue for me – a high DR/low noise image of an out of focus subject in no use to me – or anyone else for that matter!
The Way I See Things As They Stand At This Very Moment.
The KING of low ISO with high resolution DSLRs is the Nikon D800E – but it’s not without its limitations. And before you start screaming 5DS at me – it’s a nail, go away..
The best all-round VFM DSLR is the Nikon D810 – a proper jack of all trades who’s only weakness is the occasionally questionable Nikon AF.
The best DSLR autofocus for action is without doubt the Canon 1DX – fabulous AF, crap ergonomics, crap sensor.
The best DSLR sensor for action is the Nikon D4 or 4S – great ergonomics, great sensor, sometimes dubious AF.
But, going on the raw files I’ve downloaded, I strongly suspect that the D5 is going to have the best action sensor title stitched up and dethrone the D4/4S.
Will it dethrone the Canon 1DX in the action AF department – no idea is my truthful answer. I suppose anything is possible, but if it did, would the soon-to-be-released 1DXMk2 take the throne back – quite possibly.
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