If you’re interested in a continuation of Juha’s and my explorations into high-ISO quality and processing of images made with the LX5, Juha has made another post with an image that is an excellent candidate for noise reduction. Colorful, artificial surfaces without texture, straight lines with hard contrasts. I have chimed in and demonstrated one more time the quality of Topaz DeNoise. This time it stuck, because Juha has bought it and now uses it in Apple Aperture.
What else has happened? Of course Nikon has revealed their EVIL strategy, the so-called CX format, two cameras with a 2.7 crop factor, right in the middle between Micro Four Thirds and quality compacts like the LX5, one camera with a high-resolution electronic viewfinder, one without. It’s called the Nikon 1 system.
Due to the relatively small sensor and the high price there was a lot of ridicule around on the net today, but if you just look at the features and the image quality, there is a lot to like. First of all, these cameras seem to be blindingly fast. Not only can you shoot at 10 fps, you can also shoot short “video” bursts, and then choose the best image of it. It’s not just 1080p video, no, it’s a burst with the whole image resolution of the 10.1 megapixel sensor. You may call this an amateur feature, but believe me, in unpredictable action scenarios it is a heaven-sent.
There is also a new hybrid-use sensor, doubling as AF phase-detect sensor. Cool, and the camera even automatically switches to contrast AF when that gives better results. Thus there is obviously a lot of horse power in its “Expeed III” processor, and we will certainly see more of that in the upcoming DSLRs.
As I said, high-ISO image quality is pretty good, I’d say it is certainly better than that of the D200, and what I can see in the official samples and in those from imaging-resource.com, it can’t be much worse than that of the D300. ISO 800 is beautiful, ISO 1600 seems to be usable, and even ISO 3200 seems to be acceptable for web presentation. Not bad for such a small sensor.
There’s always a “but”, huh? Well, in this case at least for me there are some good reasons why I completely disregard these camera.
- No square aspect ratio. Really, that is a killer for me. They could easily have done it in software. No problem, but they didn’t. Too bad, I love composing with the square and I will never again buy a camera with electronic viewfinder that doesn’t do squares. Sorry Nikon, everybody else has it, this is inexcusable.
- No sensor stabilization. There is simply no reason for that, especially with an EVIL camera, and of course the available lenses are either long, stabilized and slow, or short and non-stabilized. Basically that’s Olympus vs Panasonic (Micro Four Thirds) over again. In a way I can understand and excuse it, because Nikon has always stabilized lenses, that’s where their know-how is. If I remember correctly, this makes Olympus the only EVIL brand with stabilized sensors. Almost, that is, because the new Sony Alpha cameras with the semi-transparent mirror are EVIL as well. But then, from their size and feature set they certainly play in the DSLR league.
- No tilt/swivel LCD. Nikon seems to see this as an expensive consumer feature. The only current DSLR that has it is the consumer top-model, the D5100. I doubt that the D400 will get it. On the other hand, Canon and Sony seem to have realized how useful this feature can be.
Did I ever tell you that I contemplate selling my Nikon D300 and its lenses, and buying a Sony A77? Well, it doesn’t shoot squares either, but it has sensor stabilization and the sensor is, well, sweet 🙂
Well, let’s see what the D400 will be, and then, if I’m honest to myself, I don’t really need a new camera at all 😀
The Song of the Day is “Don’t Kick it Around” by Anita O’Day. It’s on CD 4 of the collection “Young Anita”. Hear it on YouTube.