bad internet conn. Here is hopefully the second.
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Thanks for all the responses!
So it seems that I'd be wasting my money buying the 70-300 non-L...
I do really want the 70-300L, but the only thing holding me back is the lens diameter. As I said, I do aviation photography and I need something that can fit through the fence.
I just went and took some photos last week with my 70-200, but they needed some intense post-processing to remove the fence links. Here's an example heavily manipulated to emphasize the problem I have with the wide L lenses:
I know the 70-300 L's diameter isn't as wide as the 70-200, but just how wide is it? Is it so wide that I'll still have these fence problems?
You may find this experiment interesting:
D800 vs Medium Format with Roth and Ramberg
A new one from last weekend. This one has 18+ stops of DR.
End of the Road by @!ex, on Flickr
What you can do in software doesn't matter. Dynamic range benefits what you do in-camera. It doesn't matter if you can use clever software algorithms to massage the 13.2 stops of DR in an original image to fabricate artificial data to extract 14.0, 14.4, or 16 stops of "digital DR" (which is not the same thing as hardware sensor DR). I'll try to demonstrate again, maybe someone will get it this time.
"I am composing a landscape scene on-scene, in-camera. I meter the brightest and darkest parts of my scene, and its 14.4 stops exactly! HA! I GOT 'DIS! I compose my scene with the D800's live view, and fiddle with my exposure trying to get the histogram to fit entirely between the extreme left edge and the extreme right edge. Yet, for the life of me, I CAN'T. Either my histogram rides up the right edge a bit (the highlights), or it rides up the left edge a bit (the shadows). This is really annoying. DXO said this stupid camera could capture 14.4 stops of DR!! Why can't I capture this entire scene in a single shot?!?!?!!!1!!11 I didn't bring any ND filters because this is the uberawesomedonkeyshitcameraoftheyearpureawesomeness!!!!!"
The twit trying to capture a landscape with 14.4 stops of DR in a single shot CAN NOT because the sensor is only capable of 13.2 stops of DR! The twit of a landscape photographer is trying to capture 1.2 stops (2.4x as much light) in a single shot and his camera simply isn't capable of doing so. He could take two shots, offset +/- 2 EV and combine them in post with HDR, but there is no other way his camera is going to capture 14.4 stops of DR.
THAT ^^^^^ UP THERE ^^^^^ IS MY POINT about the D800. It is not a 14.4 stop camera. It is a 13.2 stop camera. You can move levels around in post to your hearts content, dither and expand the LEVELS YOU HAVE. But if you don't capture certain shadow or highlight detail TO START WITH....you CAN'T CREATE IT LATER. All your doing is averaging and dithering the 13.2 stops you actually captured to SIMULATE more DR. Ironically, that doesn't really do anyone any good, since computer screens are, at most, capable of about 10 stops of DR (assuming you have a super-awesome 10-bit RGB LED display), and usually only capable of about 8 stops of DR (if you have a nice high end 8-bit display), and for those of you unlucky enough to have an average $100 LCD screen, your probably stuck with only 6 stops of DR. Print is even more limited. An average fine art or canvas print might have 5 or 6 stops. A print on a high dMax gloss paper might have as much as 7 stops of DR.
There is little benefit to "digital DR" that is higher than the sensor's native DR. Your not gaining any information you didn't start out with, your simply redistributing the information you have in a different way by, say, downscaling with a clever algorithm to maximize shadow DR. But if you didn't record shadow detail higher than pure black to start with, no amount of software wizardry will make that black detail anything other than black. And even if you do redistribute detail within the shadows, midtones, or highlights...if your image has 14 stops of DR you can't actually SEE IT. Not on a screen. Not in print. You have to compress it, merge those many stops into fewer stops, and thus LOSE detail, to view it on a computer screen or in print.
You're very welcome. It's very nice when people acknowledge one's contribution; sometimes it does take a while to craft a real and thoughtful answer to a sincere question.
By the way, I love "Enter!" on your website. I've shot things that are similar (not on my website), but your's is better still. I'm not sure that if I did "enter," that I'd be headed for Elysian Fields, Hades or just a nice swim. Could be any, or even all.
@jondave, you make an interesting case on how the agency/adagency world actually works, but the reasoning that you recognize is partly to other attributes than IQ and the need for higher resolution, and,- or, IQ.
I think you may have mistakenly attributed elements of my post to @jondave instead of me, "dafrank." As for your point about agency behavior being rooted in the reality of medium format digital's image quality advantage, here I have to conclude, from many years experience, that that is only very very slightly true and has much more to do with unexamined prejudices plus both the already explained ease of selection and attraction to the idea of expensive tools for expensive jobs.
I am speaking as a photographer who has owned and used medium format backs and all the related gear for many years, and, one who, before digital capture matured, often shot with 8x10 and predominantly shot 4x5 and large medium format - all to be scanned on my own drum scanners. I do know from direct experience that medium format digital yields better images than the equivalent shot on 35mm sized sensors, just like images from medium format film are technically better than those from 35mm film - and for much the same reasons. However, what I also know is that the uses to which these images are most often put are so much less demanding of the images "technical" quality than one might assume, that the superiority of medium format digital, as it is, is very unlikely to evidence any visible improvement in the agency's final product. When one sits slack-jawed at a 30 inch monitor, or in front of a gorgeous 40" x 60" inkjet print, staring at the output from an 80 MB PhaseOne back, it is indeed, a great thing to behold. But the cold fact of the matter is that in the latest fashion or car advertising campaign, the effect of all those extra beautiful pixels will be somewhere between extraordinarily hard and impossible to actually see with the human eye. Commercial print reproduction and web display practicalities are such that the advantages of the medium format IQ, as compared to the best of current 35-sized DSLR technology is just not likely to show up - period. That is what I meant in my previous post when I said that the real question is just how much the medium format advantage is really worth, and I figure, I think persuasively so, that the advantage to a working photographer - with the exception of "fine art" types who print very very big - lies much more in enhancing photographer's personal image rather than the quality of the images he or she may produce with their cameras.
In the end, the sheer talent, discipline, hard work and quality of the imagination of the photographer counts for exponentially more than the differences in image quality from one format to another that we've been discussing here.
And, by the way, the allusion I made previously to how the bigger files from medium format backs are best for even billboards is itself not entirely true. The crux of file suitability in that case goes to how far away the viewer will be to the billboard itslef when it is its installed position. It is true that a current high-end 35mm DSLR file that is well interpolated by a very good printer driver can easily suffice to make a great billboard if the subject and viewing distance is taken into consideration. Only if a billboard might be viewed at unusually close distance would the larger medium format file start to look significantly better.