D700 compared to Fuji S5 & some thoughts about "skintones"

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D700 compared to Fuji S5 & some thoughts about "skintones"

Postby Leen Koper » Thu 15 Oct 2009 22:58

:!: This article is a copy of an article written by Leen in another section of this forum.


I recently bought a Nikon D700 after many years of shooting with Fuji.
My first impressions after two weeks of using the new camera:

Pro:
-much better focussing; better than my Fuji S5's and more reliable
-much faster, although it isn't important to me.
-A lot more images; in RAW the Fuji could master 78 images on a 2GB card; the Nikon at least about 130, although both use 12 mpx.
-not important to me, but better built quality.
-extremely good low in light, even at ISO 3200 I get usable images.
-it is sharper than the Fuji, due to a less agressive filter. Really 12 mpx, compared to the about 8,5 mpx in reality of Fuji.

Con:
-the colour is really bad, at least compared to my Fuji. It needs a lot of tweaking in Lightroom. Even my D90 is slightly better. Especialy the skin tones leave a lot to be desired, both in the studio as outside.
-less latitude; a brides dress will burn out where the Fuji still does the job.

My conclusion: in the studio I 'll use the Fuji and for portraits outdoors of single or two persons . When the group gets larger I will prefer the D700. At weddings the Fuji for the formal shots and for indoors or low light shooting the D700.

I've got only one problem: I've got too many cameras right now and it is hard to decide which one will have to go: one of my two Fuji cameras or the D90. ;-)

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Re: D700 compared to Fuji S5

Postby Stany Buyle » Sat 17 Oct 2009 16:22

Dear Leen,

Thanks for your initial impressions about D700 vs S5pro. I am so enthusiast about your initiative to review the image rendering as well as the handling of those two great -but totally different cameras- that I decided to make a new section on our forum called "Lens and Camera reviews by our members..." and I hope it will be a success and some more members will put some reviews/findings and /or comparisons in that section....

About your impressions itself:
Pro:
-much better focussing; better than my Fuji S5's and more reliable
-much faster, although it isn't important to me.
-A lot more images; in RAW the Fuji could master 78 images on a 2GB card; the Nikon at least about 130, although both use 12 mpx.
-not important to me, but better built quality.
-extremely good low in light, even at ISO 3200 I get usable images.
-it is sharper than the Fuji, due to a less agressive filter. Really 12 mpx, compared to the about 8,5 mpx in reality of Fuji.

Agree about all points with exception of the AA filter of the D700. D700 has a quite strong AA filter as well.
Con:
-the colour is really bad, at least compared to my Fuji. It needs a lot of tweaking in Lightroom. Even my D90 is slightly better. Especialy the skin tones leave a lot to be desired, both in the studio as outside.

Here I disagree, TMHO skintone is very subjective. Mr. David Miller, another portraiture and wedding expert which I often read on Dpreview and posting under the name "mmmmmmm" had to admit that "samstern" succeeded to get great skintones out of a D200, while he did not... TMHO skintones is a question of PP and/or tweaking the camera presets.
I agree that the Fuji S5pro has a very attractive factory JPEG presets for colours and tones.
About these presets I wonder if you downloaded the latest portraiture presets for D700... To my taste it's very good, rendering very realistic skintones.
-less latitude; a brides dress will burn out where the Fuji still does the job.

Here I agree and disagree: About highlights and rendering the different tones in white colour S5pro is clearly better than D700, but... about getting back shadow details D700 blows the S5pro away... The latitude and any other aspect of the D700 can only be used in its full potentential while shooting RAW.
D700 is a camera for RAW shooters while S5pro is the king of JPEG shooters. Even though, when you want the best out of the S5pro, also there, RAF is the way to go...

Just my thoughts...
kindest regards,

Stany
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And one more thing in realtion to D700...

Postby Stany Buyle » Sat 17 Oct 2009 16:33

...for D700 RAW files and any Nikon NEFs, Capture NX2 is the way to go for convertion, not ACR.
Steve Bingham, another of my favourites on Dpreview wrote an interesting observation in a specific thread about Capture handling red colour MUCH better than ACR.
He doesn't like (like nobody) the relative slowness of Capture though...
And, to my personal findings: next to better colour rendition, convertion with NX also renders more detail and less noise.
kindest regards,

Stany
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Re: D700 compared to Fuji S5

Postby Leen Koper » Sat 17 Oct 2009 22:52

I agree, skin tones are a personal thing.
I agree one can in RAW fine tune the colour to ones personal taste
I agree, as far as I've seen, NX is the best nikon RAW converter.
I agree on the Nikon D700 preserves the shadows in a slightly better way than the Fuji does.

BUT:
I happen to prefer the Fuji skin colours much more. It isnot at all about the right skin colours, it is about what I and my clients prefer.That what counts for me! And, compare the lush greens; the Fuji beats everything in a way I do prefer.
One can fine tune the colours, ok with me, but when I see the differences when I open my RAW file, I am satisfied by the Fuji and the D700 lets me down. I don't like to fiddle with colours; it mostly ends up with hitting the restore button and starting all over again. ;-)
You mentioned the disadvantages of NX, so I don't have to dwell on this subject.
Shadows are not my main problem. As I prefer to shoot low key for most of the time, my images are often rather dark but with some highlights and I don't like those to be clipped as they always draw the attention to them.

But as I said: horses for courses!
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Another thought about your S5pro vs D700 vision...

Postby Stany Buyle » Sun 18 Oct 2009 09:38

How would it be possible to love the output of a camera that you own for approx 2 weeks compared to a camera that you are using for approx 5 years(S3pro was the same sensor) in a difficult subject like skintones...? How would it be possible having tweaked the presets of a camera that you own for 2 weeks as good than a camera that you use for breath and butter during several years...?

I used to own the S5pro since the day it came out(after two years S2pro), and I had to struggle trough the camera presets as well to get what I wanted. I was trying the 400% DR setting and I found the images to be incredible flat and totally unattractive. Dirk Vermeirre who used to own a S5pro too, (and sold it because he didn't like it), teached me that while decreasing the contrast in other cameras you get a similar high DR effect.

The above reflections do not fade away that the S5pro is extremey good @ keeping highlight clipping lower than other cameras do as well as the easy rendering of more white tones than other cameras do... The double photosites technology is for sure something that would be interesting to see in a faster, higher Mp camera...

Just my thoughts...
kindest regards,

Stany
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Re: D700 compared to Fuji S5

Postby DirkVermeirre » Sun 18 Oct 2009 12:35

Hello Leen and Stany,

It was a pleasure to read both visions on the S5 and D700. I used the D700 a few times during a half day and love it. But I'm lucky that for the biggest part I'm a black and white photographer because just like Leen I absolutely preferred the Fuji colors and the outcome of them in the jpg's. I became a 5D shooter a few years ago and still love the results from that camera but absolutely don't like the colors. And just like Leen I don't like to fiddle with colors, nothing can be better then having the right ones or almost right ones when you open your file (jpg or raw or nef). I always try to get the image that I want as close as possible in the camera so that I don't have to lose time later to adjust a lot of things. Making images is where I want to put time in and for the rest as less time possible behind the Mac to correct them. I still have the Fuji S2 and use it sometimes (in color!) and when I see those images I'm always stunned about their color and beauty. And yes I didn't like the S5 (the only Fuji that I didn't like that much and I sold it quite soon after I bought it). I send it back to Fuji but they said that everything was normal while I found that there was a lot of strange things in the higher Iso images, some kind of smearing that I didn't had with their previous models. On the other hand I absolutely loved the tonality and quality at 100 and 200 ISO but for an available light shooter like me I often need high Iso's.

Greetings,
Dirk

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Re: D700 compared to Fuji S5

Postby NunoBenavente » Sun 18 Oct 2009 13:35

Hello all,

This is a very interesting thread; thank you for this pertinent discussion.
I do not own either of those two great cameras but I do own a D200 and I was curious about the possible slight increase of DR when fiddling with the preset settings of the camera (i.e. contrast settings), which Stany mentioned. I guess It's a logic thing but for some silly reason it never occured to me and I will definitely do some quick tests.

All the best,
Nuno B.

(YAY, this is my 1st post! =)
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Re: D700 compared to Fuji S5

Postby Leen Koper » Mon 19 Oct 2009 09:36

"How would it be possible to love the output of a camera that you own for approx 2 weeks compared to a camera that you are using for approx 5 years"

Well, that is rather simple. I shoot only RAW. There is no fiddling with colour, contrast settings or anything else, just RAW.
When opening my files in Lightroom I just notice there is a big difference between my Fuji colours and the ones made by my D700. Although I don't dislike the colours of my D700, as a mainly portrait and wedding shooter, I prefer the Fuji colours by large. This is not scientificaly based, just by observing what I like -and probably my customers will like. A sensor that is about 5 years old performs in that field a lot better than anything else on the market.
As I said, I don't like postprocessing the colour in Lightroom or any other software, as it usually leads to doing it all over again, I prefer the subtility in the tones Fuji produces.

It is -nowadays- just like Dirk said, the higher iSO values were exceptionaly good when the S3 was released. But in the meantime so many things have happened in the field of low light shooting and Fuji has not changed, I fully understand why he switched to another make for these purposes.
I just keep wondering why he went to the dark side.... ;-)

However, unlike Dirk, I like postprocessing very much, although not when it comes to tweaking colours. The cameras I use have to be spot on, especially when it comes to skin tones, the rest I 'll do myself. That is why, just like I said, horses for courses. I will use my cameras for different purposes and don't want to limit myself to just one kind of camera.
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D700 settings for skin tones...

Postby Samjstern » Mon 19 Oct 2009 09:53

I feel if one learns how to use the picture controls in the neutral preset the D700 skin tones can be better in JPEG -out of camera files as well as RAW files.
Some D700 Neutral Settings (Good skin tones) (revised August 2008)

1. Set your LCD brightness to -2 ,( find it in Setup Menu. )
0 is too bright and not close to what we actually see.

2. Set your white balance to A. (automatic) . OR
With the SB-800 using white balance of "flash" is very DEAD ON.

3. In Shooting Menu go to set picture control and make these
settings: Go to NEUTRAL
*******************Sharpening to 5
*******************Contrast to +1
*******************Brightness to 0
*******************Saturation to 0
*******************Hue to -1 ( 1 click to the left of 0)

****Don't forget to click OK after you make the adjustments and before you exit the menu.

4. Page 294 in manual. Set b6 , matrix metering to – 1/6 . This has really helped A LOT with not blowing whites and with almost perfect JPEGs. Fine tuning the optimal exposure has helped incredibly to get great flash shots.
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Re: D700 compared to Fuji S5

Postby pam.meier » Mon 19 Oct 2009 17:38

I´d like to underline what Sam said. I get great results with the neutral settings profile in Lightroom and my D3.
Still the greatest and most versatile camera I have, a joy to use.

Here is a sample of my nephew in mixed light. 3 secs of finetuning skin tone per image get this.
And - yes - skintones are a matter of taste ;)

Image
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Re: D700 compared to Fuji S5

Postby Samjstern » Mon 19 Oct 2009 22:29

The skin tones look spot on to me.
I can see every freckle. LOL
Perfect white balance over on my monitor!!
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Differences between viewing in Adobe or NX...

Postby Stany Buyle » Tue 20 Oct 2009 08:37

Stany wrote:
"How would it be possible to love the output of a camera that you own for approx 2 weeks compared to a camera that you are using for approx 5 years"

Leen Koper wrote:
"Well, that is rather simple. I shoot only RAW. There is no fiddling with colour, contrast settings or anything else, just RAW.
When opening my files in Lightroom I just notice there is a big difference between my Fuji colours and the ones made by my D700. .


Goodmorning Leen,
This is the main reason why our opinions differ. While working and converting with Nikon ViewNX or Capture NX2 you see the NEF files with the in-camera settings or curves applied which is very different with Adobe where you see the real raw neutral file.
One more reason why I don't like Adobe for RAW convertion...

Underneath a screenshot of the same file viewed in Adobe PS3 and in Nikon ViewNX(same view in CaptureNX)... It's clear that you "see" the NEF file totally different in NX than in Adobe. In NX you open and see the NEF file with your preferences, curves and in-camera-settings applied, but while it's still NEF, you can still change everything... In this case you see in the NX window the file with "vivid" setting and sharpening +4 while in the Adobe RAW window you see the bare NEF file.

Image
Image
kindest regards,

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Nikon's ADL vs Fuji's S and R pixel/photosite

Postby Stany Buyle » Wed 21 Oct 2009 11:21

I believe there is a very overseen impact of ADL feature on noise and DR by D700/d3/d300/etc. -users. ADL makes from any camera a noise machine in certain circumstances but it is handsome, -if properly exposed and used-, for JPEG stooters.
To get an idea about ADL, take some pictures with a D700, open them in CaptureNX2 and compare the difference between a shot with ADL on and one with ADL off. The difference is significant.

After my own experience, the destructive impact of ADL is even (much)worse on DX sensor cameras like D300 than on FX cameras like D3/D700...
I would be very interested to read/get explained by an expert if ADL feature set to "on" while shooting RAW and switch to off in PP gives the same result as shooting the RAW file with ADL switched to "off" in-camera. Understanding the basic principle how ADL works, I fear(but don't know for sure) that the ADL feature has a permanent destructive impact even on the RAW file.
TMHO, the Nikon's ADL, although being an alternative for Fuji's 2 photodiodes per photosite (one S and one R), is no real subsitute, but taking into account shooting RAW, the native DR of the D3/D700 sensor is very good. I learned through Chasseur d'Images that already from 200iso upwards, DR decreases significant while going to higher isos.
A double photosite 12+12Mp Fuji sensor in a D700 would be something interesting to try out and compare...
kindest regards,

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Re: Nikon's ADL vs Fuji's S and R pixel/photosite

Postby Stany Buyle » Wed 21 Oct 2009 15:05

Got a very interesting answer from Iliah Borg in a Dpreview thread about this matter:
Iliah Borg wrote:ADL affects raw data because it affects exposure. Exposure effects can't be fully un-done in raw processing.


It confirms my thoughts and what I feared about ADL. I'll let ADL off like I've been doing before while shooting RAW... ADL is a nice feature for JPEG shooters who don't really care about detail...
kindest regards,

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Re: D700 compared to Fuji S5

Postby pam.meier » Wed 21 Oct 2009 20:56

Well, ADL slightly underexposes to preserve highlights and applies a curve to lift shadows and three-quarter tones.
No magic there. If you expose to the right and apply a curve in pp, you do the same, just manually. The D3/D700 are the only cameras around that are so noise-free that one can try using ADL (and see if it works).
But, of course, it would be much better to use a graduated filter, for example, to avoid blown out highlights in the sky - or good old HDR.
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Re: D700 compared to Fuji S5

Postby Geoff_Roughton » Sat 24 Oct 2009 19:19

I'd agree with Leen the colours from the Nikon D700 aren't as nice as the colour I've got use to from our S5's and our Kodak 14n.....however I've just tried Sam's settings and shot a few OOC jpegs and I'm really pleased with them. I've got a location shoot tomorrow and I'll use those settings to see what we get.....mind I'll shoot Raw as well:-)
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Re: D700 compared to Fuji S5

Postby Geoff_Roughton » Sun 25 Oct 2009 14:45

Well we did our shoot this morning and I used Sam's settings for a starting point....I actually ended up using the jpeg to use as a starting point for a raw converted in Acr.....one of the snaps below colour might be off a bit as its been PP'd on an uncalibrated screen at home. D700 70-300mm VR. Let me know what you think.

Image
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Re: D700 compared to Fuji S5

Postby Leen Koper » Sun 25 Oct 2009 16:57

I work -for the internet- on an uncalibrated monitor, so I cannot really judge the colours. Bit to me, without having seen the actual couple, the skintones look a little bright en I miss just a little suntan. But that is on my monitor. A Fuji would have done a tad better.
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Re: D700 compared to Fuji S5

Postby Samjstern » Sun 25 Oct 2009 18:36

Hey , Geoff

Outside with all that green vegitation and you used auto white balance, it looks darn good.
I am glad you tried my settings.

Actually the pic looks great. All that green reflection sometimes throughs off the skin tones and they can look a bit green/yellow.

If you had done a PRE white balance it would have dead on.

I knew that Leen would end his post by saying the Fuji would have done better. He cracks me up.
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Re: D700 compared to Fuji S5

Postby Geoff_Roughton » Mon 26 Oct 2009 07:20

Leen the couples skintones are pretty pale....we dont get a lot of sun shine up here:-) Sam I've been using a PRE WB using an expodisc but I've not always had consistent results.....what are you using?
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Re: D700 compared to Fuji S5

Postby Leen Koper » Mon 26 Oct 2009 07:42

I don't believe you. When I was in Liverpool -pretty close to where you live- the sun was shining all day long....;-)
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Geoff, I use an Ezybalance

Postby Samjstern » Mon 26 Oct 2009 08:39

http://www.lastolite.com/ezybalance.php

The Ezybalance is held by the subject.
You fill the frame and take a PRE with it.
It works with or without a flash.

Watch the videos on the site. Use the grey side with the target. Focus on the target, take and PRE and you are done.
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Re: D700 compared to Fuji S5

Postby Geoff_Roughton » Mon 26 Oct 2009 20:36

Leen I remember that day too:-) Sam thanks I've ordered one it should be with me tomorrow....I'm really happy with the Nikon now but I always rated the 14n...nice colour great DR and sharpness if you could live with all its other failings. We still own and use one in fair weather or where we can control the light....snap from 14n of son Tom doing the dishes tonight....he's a good lad:-)
Image
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Re: D700 compared to Fuji S5

Postby Samjstern » Mon 26 Oct 2009 21:06

Can I get your son to teach my wife how to do dishes.
It seems like it is something she never learned. LOL!!!!
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Re: D700 compared to Fuji S5

Postby Geoff_Roughton » Thu 29 Oct 2009 07:32

Sam my Ezybalance arrived yesterday and its pretty neat....good WB and exposure control. We are shooting on location Friday, Saturday and Sunday so it will get a good workout on those shoots. Btw I believe Tom charges $50-00 for household chore training lessons:-)
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Geoff
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Re: D700 compared to Fuji S5

Postby Samjstern » Fri 30 Oct 2009 00:07

1. Open the Ezybalance.
2. Have your subject hold the grey side with the target facing you.
3. Put your camera in PRE white balance.
4. Press until blinking .
5. Take a shot, try to fill the viewfinder close to all the way or about 85% with the grey panel.
If you see GD, you are set.


Let me know how it works for you.
I have the 20 inch
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Re: D700 compared to Fuji S5

Postby Geoff_Roughton » Sat 31 Oct 2009 07:22

Sam thanks....it has worked very well for us and of course its also useful for setting a manual exposure at the same time. I'll get some samples up in due course....it will be in the bag always:-)
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Geoff
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Re: D700 compared to Fuji S5

Postby Samjstern » Sat 31 Oct 2009 17:26

Great, Good to hear that others like it as much as I.

take care,

sam
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Re: D700 compared to Fuji S5

Postby pam.meier » Sun 1 Nov 2009 14:55

I have to admit I bought one and use it for white balance and manual exposure setting with my studio lights.
I found that to be much better than my handheld light meter which gets fooled with backlit white backdrops.

But I sometimes wonder if I need to dial in - let´s say - -0,3 EV to hit exposure. Somehow I feel I overexpose slightly.
What do you think?
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Re: D700 compared to Fuji S5

Postby Samjstern » Sun 1 Nov 2009 18:36

same here.
I can always get a MORE accurate exposure by doing a - 1/3 to - 1/2 stops.

It is not you over exposing it is the D700.
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Re: D700 compared to Fuji S5

Postby Geoff_Roughton » Sun 1 Nov 2009 19:34

Well thats 3 of us then:-) The D700 does set a quite bright exposure for a mid grey....I'm pretty wary on really bright days and tend to dial in a touch of exposure comp rather than blowing the dress....but as Leen knows, we dont get many of them up here, bright days that is....:-)
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Re: D700 compared to Fuji S5

Postby Leen Koper » Sun 1 Nov 2009 19:53

Make it four and a half. Both my D90 and my D700 tend to overexpose by half a stop. Two Nikon cameras, but the D80 I had before as a spare camera showed the same exposure 'problem'.
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Re: D700 compared to Fuji S5

Postby Samjstern » Sun 1 Nov 2009 21:27

Especially with wedding work and the whites and the blacks, an overexposure can give too contrastly an image.

I use a neutral picture control with contrast at 0. I try to error on the side of under exposure rather than over.

The SB-800 tends to be hot when in close, say closer that 10 feet.
So I have to back down the exposure.
I use a demb flip-it and alsways bounce , never direct flash.
If you bounce enought you can a nice soft umbrella look.
Image
I am sure you experienced people use some kind of a light modifier but check out the flip-it when you get a chance.
Joe is a wedding photog and designed this about 3 years ago. I have been using it since.

http://www.dembflashproducts.com
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Re: D700 compared to Fuji S5

Postby Geoff_Roughton » Sun 1 Nov 2009 22:18

Hi Sam....yep the flipit is a great product...I've also "known" Joe a longtime, if you check out the flipit home page you'll find one of my shots Joe uses for his advertising:-) We still use camera strobes a lot but since using D700's we've returned to using available light with diffusers/reflectors a lot more..the high iso performance allows you to handhold in light levels I used to always use flash in.
Best
Geoff
"always look on the bright side of life...."
www.gandsphotography.co.uk
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Re: D700 compared to Fuji S5

Postby pam.meier » Mon 2 Nov 2009 09:10

Samjstern wrote:If you bounce enought you can a nice soft umbrella look.


That really looks like it was done with soft boxes!
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Re: D700 compared to Fuji S5

Postby BogdanSandulescu » Tue 27 Apr 2010 14:39

Does anyone from here tested this D2X custom picture style from Nikon? I just instaled in my D700 and look very good for skin-tone, especially the 1 mode. (http://www.nikonimglib.com/opc/d2x/index.html.en)
Samjstern: Thx for sharing your custom settings, looks very interesting.
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Re: D700 compared to Fuji S5

Postby pam.meier » Tue 27 Apr 2010 19:14

I don´t like the D2X modes - I seem to be the only one, though, they´re very popular. But I only use Camera neutral. Couldn´t be happier.
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For Bogdan Sandulescu /// Re: D700 compared to Fuji S5

Postby Stany Buyle » Wed 28 Apr 2010 07:31

BogdanSandulescu wrote:Does anyone from here tested this D2X custom picture style from Nikon? I just instaled in my D700 and look very good for skin-tone, especially the 1 mode. (http://www.nikonimglib.com/opc/d2x/index.html.en)
Samjstern: Thx for sharing your custom settings, looks very interesting.

Goodmorning Bogdan,
There is a related topic on this forum with more findings on D700 white balance and skin tones here. (available light and white balance). Hope this helps.
kindest regards,

Stany
I like better one good shot in a day than 10 bad ones in a second...
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Re: Another thought about your S5pro vs D700 vision...

Postby DirkVermeirre » Sat 1 Jan 2011 14:25

StanyB wrote:How would it be possible to love the output of a camera that you own for approx 2 weeks compared to a camera that you are using for approx 5 years(S3pro was the same sensor) in a difficult subject like skintones...? How would it be possible having tweaked the presets of a camera that you own for 2 weeks as good than a camera that you use for breath and butter during several years...?

I used to own the S5pro since the day it came out(after two years S2pro), and I had to struggle trough the camera presets as well to get what I wanted. I was trying the 400% DR setting and I found the images to be incredible flat and totally unattractive. Dirk Vermeirre who used to own a S5pro too, (and sold it because he didn't like it), teached me that while decreasing the contrast in other cameras you get a similar high DR effect.

The above reflections do not fade away that the S5pro is extremey good @ keeping highlight clipping lower than other cameras do as well as the easy rendering of more white tones than other cameras do... The double photosites technology is for sure something that would be interesting to see in a faster, higher Mp camera...

Just my thoughts...



Hello Stany and Leen,

Oh, oh, yes I sold my S5 pro but for other reasons. I wasn't satisfied with the higher Iso, I saw some smearing in the lighter areas that I didn't liked. My S3 was much better then my S5 and that looked not normal to me. So I send it back to Fuji and they returned it to me saying that there was nothing wrong. Very strange, I still was convinced that there was something wrong. A pity because I absolutely adored the results from the S5 until 200 ISO. Even with raw and tweaking a lot I can't get that quality out of Nikon or Canon camera's. Not only the colors, the dynamic range but especially also the tonality in the image. That was fantastic. When I go through my images from the past the Fuji's are regularly jumping out. When I open one I'm always amazed by what I see. They were much better then the other sensors in the way how an image have to look. And that's not a surprise, apart from Kodak, they were the only ones who were making films, they know exactly how an image has to look. A real pity that they aren't in the race anymore. I would absolutely adore a Fuji with a real 12 MP sensor in a Nikon D700 housing. I stopped jumping between brands and since years, after a life full of Nikons, I stayed with the 5D's from Canon.

And... wish a happy new year to all of you.

Dirk
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