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Nikon D700 Review

Before I get into any actual testing, let me share a few things. First, all pixels are not created equal. But then, you probably already knew that. But perhaps you didn't know how much they differed. Here is a comparison I got from Imaging-Resources.  I have been following Dave's site for many years (see my Photo Links) and appreciate the tons of work he has put into it. Here is an example of how two excellent 12 megapixel DSLR cameras can differ. One is the Sony A700 and the other is the Nikon D700. Both are 12 megapixel DSLR cameras. However, the Nikon costs 4 times as much! How come? Well, for one thing, the D700 is a full frame DSLR while the A700 uses the smaller APS size sensor. So what you say? Well, take a careful look at the sample comparison from Dave's site. The Sony A700 is exposed at ISO 100 while the D700 is exposed at 3200! That 5 full stops. Notice, also, that even at ISO 3200 the Nikon resolves better than the Sony at ISO 100. It also has better density range. Hmmmm. Maybe you DO get what you pay for. Click on the thumbnails below to get a larger image.




Diffraction Limiting Tests using the Nikon f2.8 24-70mm

Let me first explain the test setup. The D700 was mounted on a very sturdy tripod, mirror lock-up, and 10 second timer used for the shutter release. The chart used was a 2' x 3' (roughly) ISO 12233 (2X). Lighting was full sun. The samples you see here have been severely cropped to show 100% when clicked on to fully enlarge. The reason I did this test was to find out how much detail I was losing by stopping down to f16 and sometimes f22. The center focus point is the circle inside the square. (See the original size below. It covers a MUCH larger area) By shooting from this distance it is very easy to see where the nyquist* frequency is compromised by diffraction limiting and artifacts. Chromatic aberration was optimized in Adobe Camera Raw 4.6. What is really interesting to see is how moiré artifacts starts to be as much of a problem as diffraction.  My conclusion is that f11 seems to be the last stop where maximum sharpness is achieved. However, please note that f16 is very useable and even f22 if it is needed. 

For an even better understanding of what is happening, click on each image to enlarge it. Then "right click" (PC) and "save as". In an editing program of your choice view at 200%. What is interesting is that at 100% the difference is hard to see. This means that for a 12" x 18" print (or smaller) you simply would be hard pressed to see a difference between f8 and f22.

A second question I have is how will a sensor that has the AA filter removed perform (as some photographers have done)? My GUESS is that moiré might well be a bigger problem than we see here - and in fact then be the limiting factor?

If you are shooting landscapes moiré will probably be less of a problem. In this case you might want to disregard the obvious moiré patterns and concentrate on the resolution lines. Keep in mind, though, that these artifacts are still there - and could show up when least expected.


*Nyquist frequency is defined as the highest spatial frequency where the CCD can still faithfully record image detail. Beyond the Nyquist frequency, aliasing occurs. Here is a full size JPG (level 10) of the f8 shot. Be careful, it's pretty big.

Phase II of this project will be to convert these raw files using a variety of converters. I am most interested in how the various converters handle the detail and moiré,