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Moving from prosumer to digital SLR


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#1 Andi Voeltz

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Posted 05 July 2003 - 05:21 AM

Hello Guys,

we now have our 10D for a few weeks, and I must say that I am very pleased with it. We
used to have a Nikon Coolpix 990 so far and can now compare the two interface concepts
a little bit. Of course a consumer digicam cannot really be compared to a DSLR, but I'd like
to share some thoughts with you on this.

When moving to digital SLR, I was more strongly considering the RAW concept of various
manufacturers like Nikon, Fuji, Kodak and Canon. This became increasingly important to me, since you will generally produce higher filesizes and will need more time for post-processing then with JPEGs out of the camera. So I was looking for a symbiosis of producing small file sizes and high post-processing flexibility.

For UW-Photos, RAW becomes quite essential since it can rescue a lot of your images
suffering from underexposure or doing some fine-tuning on the white balance after the
dive.

From my research on the net and chat with people I quickly found that Canon seemed to have the longest experience, when dealing with RAW-modes. The other brands hat to get there somehow... However I also heard that the original software from most manufacturers is awful sloooooow… This also included Canon, but Canon cameras have a lot of third party software vendors to cope with this performance problem.

The task was to find a tool which is both fast and good with results. Of course you can use
Photoshop, as it will give you the best results and possibilities. But it will also consume lots
of your time, while editing the photos. The search for a mass-development tool, quickly lead
me to BreezeBrowser and Capture One LE. But if you really want to make use of these tools,
you have to check if your Camera is supported. And here we are again: Both focus on Canon
cameras, meaning that many nice features will only be available with these cameras. After
testing both my decision fell on Capture One LE, since it is awesome fast, even on my 800MHz
Celeron machine with 768MB RAM and you are able to do better and quicker mass conversions
with any other tool that I have tested.

I might start a brand war here, but for me this issue was that important that it had a higher
priority for my buying decision than the support of TTL with our substrobes, which would
have been available with the Fuji S2 pro.

However I have to admit that Canon currently is simply not as wide as Nikon or Fuji with their new
12-24mm. Although I have not been on a dive with our 10D yet, so we'll have to figure out how it will behave underwater. But I am sure it will deliver convincing results. I will report
back on these Issues in September 2001, since we are going to test both cameras

- the Nikon D100 with the new 12-24mm WA-Zoom
- and the 10D with a SIGMA 15-30mm WA-Zoom

…in the Red Sea for a true comparison! I also would like to mention that we are still
looking for two people to join us on the boat. So if you are interested PM or EMail me.

Best Regards, Andi
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#2 craig

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Posted 05 July 2003 - 06:43 AM

I don't agree with your premise that Canon's are the best choice for shooting RAW, but even if that's so the Nikon D100 is supported in your ultimate software of choice, CaptureOne LE.

I haven't convinced myself that CaptureOne is actually superior to ACR either. While it may be, any noise issues I've found have been caused by agressive contrast settings in ACR. In comparing two RAW converters you must be careful to produce closely matching conversions and that can be challenging. So far I haven't conclusively demonstrated a noise advantage for CaptureOne. ACR is much easier to use IMO and is directly integrated into Photoshop. CaptureOne has a better RAW image browser and slightly more powerful color correction. For those who have purchased neither, look at both. Switching from one to the other is probably not worth another $100.

BreezeBrowser displays Nikon RAW images but does not convert them as far a I know. I use BreezeBrowser to do my initial culling plus I like its histogram display.

There is definitely an active Canon community on the internet that I keep up with even though I don't own Canon. It's a valuable resource to all dSLR shooters and if it encourages you toward Canon that's great. Canon certainly has compelling gear. Underwater, though, the primary consideration needs to be the housing since that's what you ultimately use. We are fortunate that the housing manufacturers are offering choices for the big three (and soon the 1Ds as well).

I'm anxious to see Eric's Seacam/1Ds rig. He'll have to get his DS125's gold plated, though.
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#3 james

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Posted 05 July 2003 - 03:40 PM

The Sigma 15-30 doesn't focus close and it does not accept diopters. So you'll need one helluva big dome port to get it working.

Good luck and I look forward to seeing the results.

Cheers
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#4 wetpixel

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Posted 05 July 2003 - 08:21 PM

I'm anxious to see Eric's Seacam/1Ds rig.  He'll have to get his DS125's gold plated, though.

Hey! Don't start any rumors. :D

I'll have to see what I end up doing with this 1Ds. My problem is that I like to have spares when I travel because I don't want my trip to end if I am careless with an o-ring once. But a "spare" 1Ds is not something I can do. So I'll stick with the D60 for now. I still love the rig, and I can carry an extra camera body with me without breaking the bank. :)
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#5 Andi Voeltz

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Posted 06 July 2003 - 03:36 AM

The Sigma 15-30 doesn't focus close and it does not accept diopters.  So you'll need one helluva big dome port to get it working.

Hi James,

I just looked up some specs in the WA-Zoom-Class:

Canon EF 16-35 mm 1/2.8 L USM = 28 cm diopter seems to be possible
SIGMA EX 3,5-4,5/15-30mm DG DF IF = 30 cm no diopters
SIGMA EX 17-35/2,8-4,0 HSM = 50 cm no diopters
Nikon AF-S DX 12-24mm/4G IF-ED = 30 cm diopter seems to be possible

Of course all cannot compete with the
SIGMA EX 14/2,8 which has just 18 cm

I'd like to know from Eric, if he uses a
diopter for his Canon WA Zoom.

And please James, as you already seem to
know so much about diopters, can you please
explain, why a huge domeport will compensate
a diopter? I did not quite get that part :D
Is it mandatory to us a diopter with lenses that
focus at 30cm?

I am happy about any recommendation or
advice before we are going to jump :)

Cheers, Andi
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#6 scorpio_fish

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Posted 06 July 2003 - 05:14 AM

When moving to digital SLR, I was more strongly considering the RAW concept of various
manufacturers like Nikon, Fuji, Kodak and Canon. This became increasingly important to me, since you will generally produce higher filesizes and will need more time for post-processing then with JPEGs out of the camera. So I was looking for a symbiosis of producing small file sizes and high post-processing flexibility.



The JPEG shot incorporates all of your image parameters, including white balance, saturation, sharpness and contrast. Trying to change these via post processing when you don't like the results often takes much longer than adjusting a RAW editor. One can batch process RAW images and get amazingly quick processing times. With Adobe Camera Raw I am processing my images much faster than before.


For UW-Photos, RAW becomes quite essential since it can rescue a lot of your images
suffering from underexposure or doing some fine-tuning on the white balance after the
dive



The same as on land. Taking about 1 minute on each RAW image can result in many improvements. Even minute ajustments to white balance and exposure (e.g. 1/3 stop) is a tremendous advantage.


From my research on the net and chat with people I quickly found that Canon seemed to have the longest experience, when dealing with RAW-modes.


Not completely true. The first camera with RAW format was Kodak in 1995, a Nikon based model. Canon's Powershot 600, anounced in May 1996, used a RAW format, but the files were saved as TIFF files. No RAW manipulation software was required. The Canon based Kodak DSC520 (Canon D2000) was anounced in Februay, 1998. There were two Canon/Kodak joint venture cameras with RAW format. They used a simple twain driver called Aquire. I'm not sure who actually developed the software. The Nikon D1 was announced in June 1999, which included Nikon Capture software v1.13. The Canon D30 was anounced May 2000. All that was supplied was a twain driver which allowed opening the files from inside software like Photoshop. No exposure changes were allowed.

The D1X and D1H were anounced in January 2001 and included Nikon Capture 2 software, which allowed white balance and exposure adjustment and batch processing. At the same time Canon anounced its Powershot Pro90IS with RAW capability, but again only included a twain driver for image retrieval.

September 2001, Canon anounces its D1 to combat the Nikon D's. It included a twain driver for image capture that allowed various WB, EV and tone curve adjustments.

I would argue that the creation of RAW file manipulation programs by third party suppliers was due, not to Canon's long experience with RAW formats, but the lack of quality RAW editing software. Heck, if you were creating a RAW file editor, wouldn't you target the weakest guy out there where the demand would be the greatest? Nikon Capture 3.5 is still out there and I know a well known pro who prefers it to ACR or Capture One. I prefer ACR because I found Nikon Capture to be a pain in the ass to use. But I find all software a pain in the ass to use.

Other than BreezeBrowser, is there any other 3rd party software applicable only to Canon? My conclusion is that choosing a DSLR based on available RAW editing software will lead you to no particular choice between Canon and Nikon. It may lead you away from Fuji (ACR support, no C1 support), Sigma, or Kodak.
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#7 Andi Voeltz

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Posted 06 July 2003 - 05:54 AM

Hi Skorpio,

first of all let me state that I am truly amazed by your "RAW digital history" story, which you just posted here. You really gathered a lot of amazing details. However I'd like to add, that
my statement was a personal impression strongly biased on the word "experience".

I would argue that the creation of RAW file manipulation programs by third party suppliers was due, not to Canon's long experience with RAW formats, but the lack of quality RAW editing software. 


I still think Canons experience in RAW, is not neglected by your facts. They were in the mix from the beginning and cooperated with Kodak, true. But I think their main advantage to others was that they gathered a lot of customer experience, when they decided to
integrate the RAW technique into consumer digicams like the Powershot Gx series. Other
manufacturers I know, did not have so many RAW cameras in the field. Due to the fact that
this feature was reserved for a certain price segment for a long period.

Heck, if you were creating a RAW file editor, wouldn't you target the weakest guy out there where the demand would be the greatest? 


From the product management point of view, I can clearly state "no". But if you consider general welfare by helping the guys first, who have the strongest problem I can understand your point of view. The problem is that it stays a complementary product! Meaning your market is just as big as the number of owners of a certain camera(brand). Canon managed to create a critical mass by offering their RAW feature to consumer digicams, which are sold in greater units. So as a third party software manufacturer you are tempted to jump on this brand as you see more potential clients then with other brands.

So today, I clearly see Canon with a temporary competitive advantage. But as we all know.. Everything is into flow... :D Let's see what the future brings.
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#8 craig

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Posted 06 July 2003 - 06:58 AM

I don't see Canon as having a "temporary advantage" or being in any way superior in their RAW capability to their competition. I agree with scorpio's assessment that RAW issues, if anything, may drive you toward Canon or Nikon and away from the others.

There are distinct Canon and Nikon camps that are maintained either by brand loyalty, equipment investment, or for whatever reason. In the Canon camp there was substantial dissatisfaction with the performance of the Canon RAW converters, so some of the 3rd party RAW converters grew out of that and resulted in good 3rd party Canon RAW support. Some of those products have extended their support to other camera brands. It is curious, therefore, that anyone would think this is a testament to Canon's superior RAW capability when in fact it's the opposite.

In any event, a good plan for performing RAW conversions is all you need and it shouldn't be the overriding consideration. The 10D can be fully justified on its own outstanding performance although I don't understand the rush to buy it for underwater use before housings have been made available for it.
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#9 Andi Voeltz

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Posted 06 July 2003 - 07:20 AM

It is curious, therefore, that anyone would think this is a testament to Canon's superior RAW capability when in fact it's the opposite.

Hey Craig, don't get me wrong :D !

It's a testament of the fact that Canon threw humongous numbers of RAW capabable cameras on the market. It's not about capabilities. It's just that with Canon you had several RAW software too choose from compared to other DSLRs. But I think this will change soon, as this paradigma already starts to crack by the introduction of Adobe's RAW plugin, as you stated.

May I ask which camera you're shooting? I'd like to know the average filesize of RAW images on several cams for a comparision... I'd like to start with my expereince. Maybe some other wetpixel participants like to fill up the rest... (please always state the highest non-interpolated resolution):

Canon 1Ds =
Canon 10D = 8MB
Canon D60 =
Canon D30 =

Fuji S2 Pro =

Nikon D100 =

Best regards,... Andi
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#10 craig

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Posted 06 July 2003 - 08:07 AM

It's already changed. I've always had sufficient choices for RAW conversion with my D100. The S2 guys have less choice but I think they're OK, too. My Oly 5050 is supported by ACR. Prior to ACR I used Bibble. The only choice I don't have is BreezeBrowser and even that does previews for me.

As for Canon creating a market by introducing large numbers of RAW-capable cameras, again I'm not so sure. I'd like to know the dSLR units shipped of the Canons compared to other manufacturers. The 3rd party conversion market grew out of the serious photography community due to the need for better Canon RAW tools (though I'm sure Nikon owners wanted better RAW tools, too). These 3rd party tools would not have been developed solely for P&S cameras so we're really just talking about the D30/D60 vs. the D1?/D100 and others. Tools like Bibble came into existence because their authors owned these cameras and wanted better tools. Canon owners had a compelling need so we saw more tools come from them.

This could all come down to a discussion of whether the D30 created the dSLR market or the D1 did, but the fact is that the market is large enough that neither Canon nor Nikon drive it. Prior to the D1 it was primarily Kodak that drove the market and RAW was already established at that time. It took Nikon, then Canon, to make the technology affordable for all of us. At this point there's a viable market for 3rd party tools and the quality of support for a camera is determined by its popularity and the cooperation of the manufacturer. Fuji apparently needs to improve on that.

My D100 produces 10MB RAW files and the Oly 5050 produces 7MB RAW files.
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#11 wetpixel

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Posted 06 July 2003 - 09:18 AM

I'd like to know from Eric, if he uses a
diopter for his Canon WA Zoom.

I use a +4 diopter with my 16-35 zoom, and can focus pretty much to the dome. I haven't done the math yet, however, so I'm not sure if it's too strong for my needs. Perhaps a +2 would be sufficient...?

It's great, though, because zoomed in, I can almost shoot macro. :D
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#12 wetpixel

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Posted 06 July 2003 - 09:21 AM

This could all come down to a discussion of whether the D30 created the dSLR market or the D1 did, but the fact is that the market is large enough that neither Canon nor Nikon drive it.  Prior to the D1 it was primarily Kodak that drove the market and RAW was already established at that time.  It took Nikon, then Canon, to make the technology affordable for all of us. At this point there's a viable market for 3rd party tools and the quality of support for a camera is determined by its popularity and the cooperation of the manufacturer.  Fuji apparently needs to improve on that.

A Canon rep told me that their people think that the D60 created the market, but because they couldn't keep up with demand, the D100 took the market. I don't think the D30 nor the D1 really created the market -- they weren't out in sufficient quantity, and it was only early adopters at that point that were buying at that point, right?

In terms of consumer popularity, if you go to Dpreview right now and check out the ongoing poll (which asks what users WOULD buy, if they had money), you can see some interesting results. As of now:

"This poll has had 4830 total votes, it ends 7/10.

Canon EOS-10D
2605 (53 %)

Nikon D100
914 (18 %)

Olympus E-1
463 (9 %)

Fujifilm S2 Pro
449 (9 %)

Pentax *ist D
217 (4 %)

Sigma SD9
182 (3 %)"
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#13 Craig Ruaux

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Posted 06 July 2003 - 10:26 AM

And please James, as you already seem to
know so much about diopters, can you please
explain, why a huge domeport will compensate
a diopter? I did not quite get that part  :D
Is it mandatory to us a diopter with lenses that
focus at 30cm?

Not James, but as nobody has answered this question, I will take a stab.

When using a dome port, the lens has to focus on a virtual image created by the port, rather than focusing through the port to the subject. The virtual image is approximately 2x the diameter of the dome port in front of the port, so if you are using a 6inch/15cm dome port, the lens is actually focusing on an image 12 inches/30 centimetres in front of the port.

So, at first guess, you would think that the Sigma zoom that can focus to 30cm would be just fine in a dome port.

The problem is, that 30cm represents a lens (the dome port) focused on infinity. Most of the time you are shooting subjects closer than infinity, and the lens system as a whole needs to be able to focus closer. As you focus closer, the lens behind the dome needs to be able to focus closer than twice the diameter of the dome. So you can use a diopter to allow closer focusing, or use a larger diameter dome to move the focal point of the dome further from the lens.

An 8inch/20 cm dome port would allow you to focus on some subjects with the Sigma zoom, but you would still be limited with close focusing. As the dome diameter gets larger, you have less need of diopters as the focal length of the dome gets bigger, and thus the point at which a virtual image is forming gets further away. The problem is, as you make the dome ports bigger and bigger they become ungainly, postively bouyant, and more difficult to handle underwater.
Why would I take a perfectly good camera underwater??
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#14 craig

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Posted 06 July 2003 - 10:31 AM

The S2 just didn't get any respect. It was beaten by a camera that doesn't even exist! What are the actual sales rates of these cameras? That's more telling of what people actually will buy.

The D1 was hailed as the first "affordable" dSLR. Prior to that they were strictly specialty pro cameras. The D30 was really the first that was affordable, though many may consider the 10D unaffordable even today. By the time the D60 and D100 were introduced, I'd argue that demand already existed. People knew they were coming and were lining up to buy them, so is "the market" defined by volumn sales or by demand?

I don't think the D60 drove Nikon to do the D100 but rather the D30 did. It established Canon at that price point and forced Nikon to catch up.

The D1 was 1/3 the price of the competition when it was introduced. The D30 was 1/3 the price of the D1. Each was very significant in the development of the market. People speak of "crossing the chasm" from early adopters to volume sales. The D1 didn't do that since it was really a pro camera. The D60 didn't either since it was greeted with strong sales out of the gate. It was the D30 that did it.
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#15 Andi Voeltz

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Posted 06 July 2003 - 11:41 AM

I'd like to know from Eric, if he uses a
diopter for his Canon WA Zoom.

I use a +4 diopter with my 16-35 zoom, and can focus pretty much to the dome. I haven't done the math yet, however, so I'm not sure if it's too strong for my needs. Perhaps a +2 would be sufficient...?

Hi Eric,

thanxx for sharing these informations. I have read a thumbrule on diopters in this thread posted by davephdv, but was unable to find a precise method, for "computing" the right diopter for uw-use with a dome port. Concerning my strobes I could easily compute the minimum distance for backscatter-avoiding shots. I'd like to have a similar understanding of the diopter issue, too.

Can anyone update me?
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#16 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 06 July 2003 - 11:29 PM

This is a quality hardcore, fact-filled thread. Good skills, Wetpixellers!

My understanding on dioptre calc's is below. Hope it helps Andi.

The dioptre strength required by a dome depends primarily on the internal diameter of the sphere prescribed by the dome (noting that the dome may not be a complete hemisphere). Dioptre strength is calc'd as 1000 divided by twice the internal spherical diameter, in mm.

e.g. a dome with a diam of 200mm (8 inches) needs a +2.5 dioptre, which should ideally be placed at the centre of the sphere (100mm from the dome).

I'm no dome expert - this is just my understanding of the optics.

Alex

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