« on: February 29, 2012, 02:49:15 PM »
It's too bad the swamping of the servers sort of dried up this thread, although maybe the subject has now been covered in reasonable depth. I've been looking back over the posts, and I have to say this is one of the most informative and civilized Internet discussions I've ever encountered.
We all know about the excesses and personality aberrations that online forums seem to encourage, but this forum in general and this thread in particular strike me as an example of the positive possibilities of the Internet. I posted several questions myself over the course of the thread and within 24 hours had incisive answers from knowledgeable respondents. You can't get that off Wikipedia unless you already know a lot about the subject you're querying. Have there been disagreements between posters? Of course. Knowledgeable people frequently disagree on specific points. But for the most part the discussion has been carried out without giving or taking the kind of personal offense that has led me to shy away from participating in these discussions.
As a film era fogey trying to expand my grasp of what has become an ever more technical medium, this is exactly what I hoped to get when I registered for this forum. Not only have I increased my understanding of the subject in an academic sense, but I've acquired some practical, useful knowedge about what I can reasonably expect from the 5D3. When (if) it arrives I'll have a better idea of whether it's time for a new body or in the short term my precious photographic dollars would be better spent on, say, a full lash-up of Lee GNDs. (I've noticed that a lot of people get a little sheepish about the geekiness of participating in these discussions, and I know, I know, it's the photographer not the equipment, but, ... it seems to me that the medium has indeed become so technical--and expensive--that making informed purchases plays at least a modest part in improving the quality of one's photographic output.)
In any event, I'd like to offer a little word of appreciation to jrista, dtaylor, LetTheRightLensIn, Mt Spokane, mkln, Kernuak, Tijn, Flake, Flake, torger, Marsu42 and all the others who made this a stimulating and useful discussion. And Hello to Aglet, another noobie who got sucked off the forum sidelines and into the fray by the issue of dynamic range in Canon equipment.
And while I'm at it, amen to jrista's previous post:
"You need every scrap of DR you can get your hands on. Far more often than not, you have to compromise on image quality by using graduated neutral density filters, which almost always create some kind of undesirable outcome to one degree or another (i.e. black mountain peaks, visible separation between sky and land where land or trees protrude through the flat horizon, etc.) When its obviously possible to NOT lose some two stops of DR to read noise because its been done by the competition, its entirely valid to ask for the same improvement and expect something be done by Canon to provide the same benefit to its customers...especially for the prices they seem to be asking for new gear (which is greater than inflation would indicate, if $3500 for a 5D III body is actually true.)"
There are three significant problems with NDs.
1) As jrista points out, it's hard not to leave obvious traces of them in the photograph--especially if, like me, mountain scenery is a favorite subject.
2) A good set is considerable added weight, especially if you're an aging backpacker who's already made the concession to artistic integrity of schlepping a full frame DSLR and several lens.
3) Shooting landscapes is not like covering the sidelines of the NBA or NFL, but it's amazing how often the best shots involve serendipity and "shooting from the hip." One day 40 years ago I waited until the rain stopped to take out the trash--and walked into what remains the most spectacular sunset I've ever seen. Cloud textures in infinite variety and god rays up the ying yang. I dropped the can, ran inside and grabbed my tripod and old Mamiya SLR and fired off the half roll of film in the camera. I'd never heard of a neutral density filter, but I got the shot. The scene was gone in two minutes. If I'd been fumbling around mounting, testing and aligning NDs on my 5D2 I'd have gotten a well-exposed shot of the afterglow.