One "last" shot:http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7155/6482628305_3127405636_o.jpg
That is a screen grab of me looking at a photo I _just_ imported into LR3. I haven't made a single adjustment. This one happened to be taken at ISO 200... but the ISO 160 shot looks nearly identical. More specs: Evaluative Metering, Av Mode, Auto Lighting Optimizer off, Full RAW, default LR3 sharpening (25), default LR3 color noise reduction (25). No exposure modifications at all.
This is _not_ a zoom. This is just looking at the full photo on my 27" iMac. This is exactly how I see it (and how others will if I show them this photo on either this screen or my 30" screens at work). If you are viewing this image make sure to view it at "Actual Size" so that you can see what I'm seeing.
Unacceptable. The noise in the sky is insane for ISO 200. The noise in the shadow areas is awful.
Is it a "good looking photo" sure. But my XSi could produce that same good looking photo without the noise in the sky at ISO 200.
I've decided to not even take this camera with me this weekend. I don't want to accidentally damage it and not be able to return it. It's going in the box now... and I'll re-evaluate what I'm doing going forward.
A few things:
To the guy talking about the diffraction limit. It is true that you won't be able to get the thing you have focused on to be more sharp once you go beyond the diffraction limit... however, in order to obtain better overall front-to-back sharpness in landscape photography you often have to go beyond the diffraction limit (so that things in front of and behind your focal plane are "sharper" in the final image). Yes, you can go too far and actually cause your photo to look worse by going beyond the diffraction limit, but sometimes that has it's place too (ie when you need a REALLY slow shutter speed and you head for f/18 or smaller)
Thanks for the advice x-vision. I'm going to ship this one back... and I think I'm just going to hang out and see what Canon comes up with over the next couple of months.
If I'm going to go FF it would mean buying a new workhorse lens (in same range as my 17-55) and a new telephoto (I have a crappy 55-250 that I don't mind moving away from... I was already planning on buying an L upgrade for that soon). I was trying to avoid laying down that cash... but I may have no choice. IF I am going that route I may re-evaluate my choice to go with Canon. As long as I'm buying new lenses they may as well be Nikkors... I'll put everything on the table and make the best choice. But to do that I'm going to have to save up some cash.
I do already have other lenses that will work on FF bodies though (nifty 50 and a Lensbaby). Other things I have would move to Nikon just as easily (Lee filters and filter holders, etc.). I'll just have to see how it works out.
Thanks again to everyone for your comments. It's a tough decision for me to send this back, but ultimately I feel as if I would be disappointed every time I loaded shots up straight from the camera.... and that just isn't acceptable for $1500.