Return Ticket to Pixel City

 Want to buy a cheap Nikon D3? Until September 10th 2008 you can get it here:

The Good Old Times

Until April 2008 I used to use an analogue Nikon F100 and the legendary Fuji Chrome Velvia 50 (the original one, not the successor). The results have been satisfying, at least from the technical point of view. Technical mistakes and mishaps should not be considered here.

Even good things don’t last forever and the day came, as I struggled to cross the rails. The tripod got stuck in a rail and the camera with the long lens mounted touched the ballast. The thread of the tripod socket was ripped out from the camera. The F100 continued to work well, but without a tripod thread it was not suitable for my purposes. My hands are definitely shakier than my Manfrotto tripod. With 50 ASA you need it quite often, especially under difficult light conditions. So I went to the Nikon service. After a week they told me the repair will cost more than 200 Euros. This estimate costs 29 Euros ... Investing more than 200 Euros in a camera which made several hundred thousand exposures, which have been used in the desert and under artic conditions, in heavy rain as well as in dusty steelworks seemed to be not wise. For the next tour I borrowed a Nikon F100 from a friend.

On this tour someone with a new Nikon D300 participated. I wanted to make THE test: we mounted the camera on a tripod and took a picture under absolutely identical conditions. I used the Pvovia 100F because it was a rainy day. At home I scanned the slide film at highest resolution. Then the big moment: Ohhh, digital was not able to match the size of the scanned slide, but the detail structure, the information in shadows and sharpness was by far better than in the slide.

Nikon F100, Fuji Provia 100F, to get a similar size like the D300-Maximum this is a bit downsized
Nikon D300, Active D-Lighting normal, 100 ASA, maximum resolution (100%), detail

My conclusion: it’s time to check the market for digital stuff. Numerous offers everywhere. I browsed through many test reports. Very soon it was clear that a half frame sensor wouldn’t fit my requirements. The 35 mm film is already worse then medium format film, so an even smaller format with a 35 mm lens as a standard lens would not be appropriate. Only a full frame sensor could make it. In the section of full frames Nikon had just one offer: the new D3. The comments about this camera were exciting. You could have the impression that Nikon just discovered America! “Dump your D2x now!“ recommended one of the reviewers. And really the test results, published on the internet, have been by far better with a D3 compared to a D2x. But wasn’t the D2x the top model of Nikon just a few months ago? Wasn’t it Nikon themselves who advertised this camera as they would just have discovered America just a short time ago. And now only a brick of electronic scrap? Extrapolating the development, the D3 is the electronic scrap of tomorrow! As soon as Nikon will launch the D4 you can purchase a D3 on ebay for less than half their original value. Incidentally, the very next day after I purchased the D3 a friend send me an email and asked whether I have already heard about the new full frame camera Nikon will release soon. It didn’t start well ...

More and more people told my about their unbelievable performance and of the huge number of new opportunities that came with their new digital cameras. All this built a psychological pressure to try the new technique, at least. While changing films I was threatened with comments like: “Hey, hold on, may I see this again? Ahhh, yes, I can remember. When I was a small boy my grandfather showed this strange behaviour in a museum of antique techniques of his grandfather’s generation!”

After some nights of restless sleep considering the big decision and carefully counting the dimes in my account; after consultations of friends with digital equipment and after exhausting internet research I made a decision: using the weak US-Dollar I called a shop in the U.S. and bought all the digital stuff. Including taxes and customs fees I could save about 1,000 Euros buying it in the U.S. The camera was sent to a friend in the U.S., he brought it to Beijing where I picked it up a few days later. I took it in my hands and it almost felt down: such a heavy tool! Even with many more buttons then all my previous cameras, the handling was easy. I made the first shots and – nothing happened! There was no excitement at all, the brick just took pictures. This was a bit strange because all the other cameras I used before made a deep impression on me using them for the first time. Whenever I upgraded my camera, from Practica MTL3 to Practica BX20, then Nikon F301 – 801 – 90 – 100, always it was an exciting new experience like driving a brand new car. New opportunities, more precise and quicker than the previous equipment. This time I felt nothing except it was double the weight of my F100. The pictures with the D3 have been just as good as the photographer behind the camera. But it was tempting to shoot a lot more than before, to switch off the brain and the eye and just shoot around. Later delete or not delete. The results aren’t any better. Either you can see a picture, or you can’t, the rest is profession, the same as craftsmen do in any field. It doesn’t matter which camera you’re using. Of course, the D3 offers much, much greater opportunities under dim light conditions. On the motorway during the night I could shoot out of the driving bus preferably with 12.000 or 24.000 ASA, no problem. The quality of the pictures is still amazingly good. But what shall I do with these pics – they are on my hard drive disk but will probably never be watched again. I don’t need them – just as I don’t need a car that can change the colour while driving.

Nikon F100, Fuji Velvia 50, 100% from scanner Nikon Coolscan 5000
Nikon D3, Active D-Lighting on normal, 100 ASA, maximum resolution (100%), detail

At the end of the first digital tour I needed to admit that I didn’t take a single shot that I really wanted to take, that the good old F100 wouldn’t have been able to capture. Muuuuch money for no real effect was my personal summary. But it got worse, much worse. It is difficult to find a starting point. It’s just frustrating.


Chapter A: Dust

Let’s start with dust. On every cigarette box you’ll find a good visible warning like “Smoking kills“. A real eye catcher. Not so with digital cameras. It should be done the same way: “Attention: only for indoor use in dust-free studios, super-clean rooms of microchip factories or under vacuum conditions”. Not so with Nikon. At page 395 out of 444 (yes, if you want to take full advantage of all the opportunities your camera offers, you need something like a study course) they mention for the first time that dust on the low pass filter maybe visible in the picture. Nikon recommends that the low pass filter (this is a filter in front of the sensor) should be cleaned by trained Nikon service staff only. Good idea. Given you’re taking shots in the steelworks of Baotou and making a real mistake – changing the lens. How can you? Never change the lens outside of dust free studios …  But you couldn’t resist and changed the lens. With a kind of certainty some of the particles in the air found their way into the camera and stuck to the low pass filter. If you would follow the recommendation you should take the first plane or overnight train to the next Nikon service centre, let’s say Shanghai (I hope there is one, Vietnam for instance has none in Hanoi). If that day isn’t at a weekend you’ll hand over your camera to the Nikon service staff and hope they can do the work immediately. Just in case everything fits together and you got your flight or train tickets you need, you just lost a complete day – always after you changed a lens under such circumstances. If you let them clean your low pass filter in Berlin you’ll pay almost 35 Euros, in case you want them to clean around the mirror as well it’s about 48 Euros. Changing lens for 48 Euros, please. Plus flight ticket, plus your time …

Of course, I exaggerate a bit. In addition, of course Nikon also states (on page 396) that you could remove dust with a blower. Nikon even says that there might be dust which could find it’s way to the low pass filter while changing lenses (p. 397). Under really bad circumstances the dust could even stick to the low pass filter, they say. But this must be really bad luck if this would be a problem. But, you always can bring your camera to the Nikon service or use the software Capture NX (you can purchase them for a “little” extra money) and the dust will be “removed” from the image by software. On page 397 the problem dust is over. For the manufacturer only …

Nikon D3, Active D-Lighting on normal, Nikon 2,8/80-200, 1/500 s, apperture 10, -0,7 EV

No so in real use. After the problem became obvious after the third day I used the new camera, it became really unbearable after ten days. I needed to do something about it. I asked the experienced digital photographers. I searched in the internet. Shock! The dust problem was discussed extensively in English as well as in German news groups and on various other platforms. Obviously a whole industry was already flourishing around the dust problem. Several threads on the internet have been ruled by dust questions and how to remove it. It’s good to know that I was not alone. It’s bad to know that this was such a huge issue. For a batch of bundled banknotes I purchased a product that needed massive maintenance and was not designed for outdoor activities “railway style”.

I came across of much advise. Examples:

  1. Never change a lens! (“I bought the 18 – 200 mm, with this lens you can do just everything, no need to change a lens any more“ – don’t talk about the difference in quality between the 2,8/80 – 200 full frame here and the 18-200 DX lens on the other hand ...).
  2. Always switch off the camera when changing a lens
  3. Hold the camera down when changing a lens
  4. Put the camera in a big plastic bag and change the lens inside the bag

There are many situations where a fraction of a second makes the difference between getting a great shot or missing it. So you can imagine how helpful these tips are. It’s a matter of fact that changing a lens must be quick, with no restrictions and no fears of spoiling all future pictures. Everything else would be a step back.

Many tips and tricks for cleaning the sensor can be found on the internet. As mentioned before, the industry discovered a new niche for a well-priced product. They realised quickly that millions of not sophisticated products have been sold to users who would need desperately their help. The helping tools start with an easy blower and go up to a small vacuum cleaner, operated with a pressurised air can. Everyone recommended a different system.

I tried the swabs of the company “Visible Dust“. They offer a set of twelve little plastic sticks, wrapped with a small cloth and a liquid which needs to be dropped on the cloth to make it wet. Cots: Just 60 Euros. Lens changing for 5 Euros, please (I exaggerate a tiny little bit, bear with me …).

From now on I shortened my – not really long nights – with sometimes hopeless, sometimes successful cleaning trials with these cleaning pads. But this couldn’t be the final solution. I needed a blower. I borrowed one from another photographer, used it and had instantly almost four times more pieces of dust on the low pass filter! Two Visible Dust cleaning pads rescued the low pass filter afterwards.

Back home I read the long threads in the internet again. After no final decision could be made from reading all the recommendations I send an email to Nikon. They responded quickly. First of all they told me that dust could be a general problem for digital photographers, and the D3 is no exception. Al least they admit it! Followed by numerous helpful tricks and tips, and the way the Nikon service staff is doing this. Conclusion: you need sufficient time, a clean, at best, a dust-free environment, patience and you need to be careful. All not that easy after a 16 hours day on a average dusty tour. It’s not tempting to shorten the night. But what shall you do if you want to be “up-to-date” with your equipment?

It was also said that these dust spots are not that important because with the wider apertures you’re normally using, you don’t see them in the picture. Well, I can see them very clearly with an aperture of 6.3 – they are not as dark and sharp as compared with an aperture of f22. They are grey and larger – thanks …

Others stated on film you also have dust and especially scratches on your negatives or slides. Yes, that’ true – but not on 20 rolls of films consecutively. Sometimes one shot, sometimes during a dust storm in the desert two rolls of film may be spoiled. But in digital it’s EVERY picture. From the first to the last, in Zimbabwe more than 1,000 (only the Nikon service was able to remove the two very sticky bits after the tour finished). Every picture you want to look at after the tour needs to be processed. This requires time, if you want to do it properly much time.

Together with a dedicated D2x user we tried to clean the Sensor (ok, ok, only the low pass filter). After 30 minutes we gave up. The dust spots haven’t been removable, even with the wet cleaning pads.

Another friend recommended a digital expert. Two hours 50 Euros. Ok, I tried. He carried a huge, bulky stereo microscope along. We had a look at the sensor and found mountains of dust. This dust wasn’t removable, neither with pressurised air nor with wet cloths. The expert said I’ll probably not be happy with digital equipment. Maybe the particles on my low pass filter have been pressed in it by the several wet cleaning trials already, so the filter cold be damaged. Filter and sensor are mounted in clean rooms and can only be replaced as one unit. Cost: 1,000 Pounds!

No other chance than to go to the Nikon service. They have been able to clean the sensor properly. It was only real sticky dust. Where did it come from?

The dust problem couldn’t be solved so far (and may never). If I would have known this before, I probably would have saved several thousand Pounds and avoided my digital experience. Under the conditions in which I’m using the camera, at least the loudest alarm bells should have been ringing!


Chapter B “Lost highlights”

Yes, you should learn a few new terms for using this equipment properly. The so- called lost highlights are parts in the picture where you have no pixel information at all – blank white parts. Digital is using this preferably for clouds of steam and reflections (reflections are often a problem with film, too). The D3 is often not able to cover the same dynamic range as film, and you need to decide whether you don’t like to loose shadows or highlights. Of course, there are ideas about how to avoid this digital deficit.

Version 1) If you have lots of time when taking the photograph (which doesn’t apply for the type of pictures I’m doing). In addition, after you purchased the camera you still need to have sufficient money in your account. Then you could buy graduation filters. A good quality set will cost you 400 to 500 Pounds! Before you take a shot you need to adjust the (correct) filter in front of the lens that way, that bright parts of the picture are darkened by 1, 2 or 3 steps while the other parts of the picture are exposed through the transparent part of the filter. Of course, the filter will not fit mountains etc. in your shot, but in flat areas it works quite well. You can even produce a dramatic sky when there is only an uninspiring flat sky. But the filter system is useless if you have a reflection in the middle of the shot.

Version 2) If you have time after you took the actual photograph which doesn’t apply for me either. You need to underexpose the picture by 0.7 to 1.5 stops and brighten the underexposed parts at the computer afterwards. This has an influence on the contrast of the highlighted parts, also the colour density may be influenced (a bit flat if you exaggerate). You can do it up to a certain point, then the picture comes out unnatural.

At least you need a lot of time if you want to do it properly (you need time anyhow to produce good digital images).

Version 3 is only working with non-moving objects – another time, it doesn’t apply to the pictures I’m taking. You’re taking several shots of the same object with different exposure times. Later you process these shots by laying them over each other and taking the brighter exposures for the shadow parts and the darker exposures for the bright parts of the picture. You can do this at the computer although the D3 allows you to do it in the camera. The result a gigantic dynamic range in your picture. Problems are: my objects are moving and I haven’t the time to create pictures like this properly.

Nikon D3, 200 ASA, minus 0,3 EV, Active D-Lighting on normal

Nikon D3, 200 ASA, minus 0,3 EV, Active D-Lighting on normal - have a look at the sky - there is nothing you could rescue.

The discovery that the basic dynamic range of digital is lower than with film was disappointing. Many people state you can always make something out of an under or overexposed picture, but I stick to my opinion the best shot is the properly exposed one.

I found that a digital image is just a raw diamond, and with much time and patience you can make a good picture out of it. If you shoot on film you need to think about the result before you release the shutter, with a digital you need to invest time after you made the shot. Of course, you can manipulate a film as well – after you have scanned it. But this also requires time – and usually it’s not even necessary.

The white balance is another tool, which could easily fill another chapter. The white balance is highly appreciated by some of the photographers I met. For me it’s something that needs to be worried about – instead of the focussing on the picture I need to check how the white balance is set. Nikon recommends the auto setting. But doing this, you’re not getting consistent results, the colours may change within second, even if the available light is totally unchanged. If there are cloudy and sunny parts I would need either to accept what the automatic setting is doing or I need to change the white balance manually. I have just no time to be concerned with this tool, if a train is approaching and the sun comes out I just can’t change the settings! Shall I focus on the picture or on all those magic buttons at the camera?

If I complain about this tool which I never needed with film, the same people who found the white balance such a wonderful tool tell me that there is no need to care about it, because you can adjust all settings at the computer after you have taken the shot. So what, after I scanned a slide I can just do the same. But it’s very rarely required, in 99% its just correct. Yellow light from light bulbs is yellow, sunsets are orange, the blue hour is blue. No need to care any extra button. If there was Neon light around I used to use a film that can stand it: Agfa.


Chapter C Seamless Colour Graduation

This was a serious disappointment to find out about, that the D3 can’t handle the finest differences between similar colours. The Fuji Velvia was able to make it very smooth, absolutely seamless. With digital you have steps in the graduation. A D300 is even worse – and don’t even think about older models. Of course, in most of the pictures you’re taking you’ll not have problems with this, but in some you will have. When you process the picture it gets even worse. No one could give me any idea how to smooth this out or even eliminate it. The only help I know is using a film.

This is a 100% detail. For several thousand Pounds you expect more quality.

Please do not misunderstand me, with usual light conditions you’ll not have a problem. For the family album digital is great. But why should you need to spend so much money for not really satisfying results under all circumstances?

Maybe, my camera has a technical problem, which other cameras don’t have. Ask the Nikon service. For 29 Euro they’ll tell you (plus a drop off and pick up trip to visit them).

I admit that this problem is tolerable in most cases. Usually it’s not obvious. Some may ask me: what the hell does the guy expect from an ordinary camera? Making house high enlargements? They’re right – and they’re not. I just expect that such an expensive electronic block can at least match a film, which was developed more than a decade before. Not only in several aspects, but in all aspects.

By the way, while crawling through the internet I found manuals “how to get a Velvia touch in your digital images”. This is not done by just turning the saturation button of Photoshop a bit up. It should look natural. Why the people make such efforts. Hey, just go to your preferred photo dealer and say “20 Velvias, please”. This is much quicker than spending hour by hour afterwards at the computer and trying to imitate the brute brilliance of a Velvia slide. But it’s a matter of fact that scanning a slide can be done quicker than processing digital RAW files until you’ll get a satisfying result. Digital eats up all your time, if you have high requirements on a good shot.


Chapter D Digital is Cheaper than Film

I haven’t been mistaken on this point despite, people often saying to me digital is cheaper than using film. After I studied the prices for digital full frame equipment I knew that this could be hardly the case. The same thing, if you want to create a good picture with a digital camera, it’s not cheap at all.

It’s not the price of the camera that makes me believe in this these conclusions. Thinking beyond: I own three Nikon flashlights, one SB 24 and two SB 25s. Those items were not cheap when I bought them. To be honest, I found them overpriced. Ok, over the years they paid off, they are really good and strong. In addition they can do everything you need and probably don’t need. Mainly I need their brute light performance. Unsuspecting as I was – and not willing to book a study program before I used the camera – I put an SB25 on my D3. Soon I realised that the only working position was manual! Back to the roots of photography! How was it, distance, aperture …? Oh forgot this, you can just take a shot and then see the result on the monitor. You tell the photographed person “please look the same way as you looked 20 seconds before …”

Why the hell did Nikon need to change the system for the camera-flash functions? The new “digital” flashes don’t emit more light. Of course, you can put the reflector in a position that you can handle super wide angle lenses now because the half and three-quarter frame sensors require super wide angle lenses for normal wide angle pictures. But I can’t see any reason why you needed to make the traditional flash units useless when using a digital camera. I’m sure, Nikon will have a bundle of “good” reasons why this was necessary, but in my opinion it’s only another way to extract more money from the photographer. For me it would mean I needed to spend a sum with almost four digits (in Pound Sterling) to get on the same level I had with analogue technique, just to buy the flash units!

Another expensive tool are the needed graduation filters to avoid lost highlights. Calculate with 400 Ponds for this, and buy a cleaning system too.

That’s not all you should consider before going digital. My 1.2 Terabyte hard drive disks are filling with an alarming rate. After a tour I delete the pictures I don’t like to keep. But it’s really hard to decide on a screen which picture is the best exposed one. If you want to make it right you should calibrate your monitor. Sure, there are cheap solutions, but in making it properly calibrated, you easily can spend several hundred Pounds. If you invest this money make sure, your monitor is worth the effort. It’s not wise to buy the cheapest on offer from the supermarket. It’s another expense which needs to be added when going digital.

Making decisions about pictures to be deleted requires stable conditions not only on your monitor, but the ambient light should be consistent as well. It makes quite a difference watching pictures on a screen during daylight or with electric light. A good old light box for a few Pounds and a magnifying glass which did it for years will not make it any more.

Back to the hard drive disk. It’s not sufficient to have only one external hard drive disk. You should have two, best from two different manufacturers. Two free USB-ports will be taken … Hard drive disks with good capacity are available for just under 100 Pounds, so this is not a biggie. But you should think about your computer. For the giant amounts of data, you should have a really powerful machine. My computer handled 50 MB files easily, working with graphic design and photo processing software was never a problem. But now I try to use Nikon software. Nikon View NX came free with the camera, but the more sophisticated software is Capture NX. Another three digit investment! If I would stick to digital I would need to replace my computer, no doubt. Here we are at another three-digit investment, say 400 to 600 Pounds. My current computer needs about an hour to convert NEF files (Nikon calls RAW Nikon Electronic Format = NEF) in tiff or jpg files. Most older programs can’t handle NEF, that’s why you need to buy the latest Photoshop version. Adobe and cheap? No, another investment has to be made. While transferring files into another format the computer is so busy that other applications are very slow. I can’t work with that. I’d definitely need to buy a new high-end computer if I’d like to go on. Or suddenly I would have to find a lot more time in each day. Time … When deleting pictures you need to check them at least once. Because you can’t put them on the light box you need to go from one to the next, and back, and forward, if you want to find out which is the best of a series. In Capture NX a full resolution picture needs quite a time to appear. When you choose a crop of 100% you see only a fraction of the picture on the screen. Moving the sector you want to see takes time, much more than in the good old Photoshop.

8 minutes for converting just two pictures into tiff files!

Restdauer 138 Minuten = remaining time 138 minutes. .. Transferring files from a mobile hard drive disc to the computer's HDD.

More than an hour for a backup from an internal HDD to an external HDD. You need an USB 8.5 connection! (just wait a few years, then it will be launched.)

Digital photography requires new lenses. It makes no sense to spend so much on the camera and try to save money with the lenses. I purchased the new 2,8/24-70 together with the camera. Including transport and taxes I paid about 1,200 Pounds for it.

Do you want to show your best pictures to others, with a slide show. Buy a pc-projector! Digital projectors with a reasonable quality are quite expensive! The high end choice is limited and the quality of the pictures can only match slide projectors at the high end. I would calculate with a four digit investment!

All the costs for the hardware and the software will come back to you after a certain time. Those things need to be replaced after a couple of years because the development goes on so quickly. It’s just not true that you’ll not have returning costs after going digital.

Of course, you can convert your best pictures into slides (back to the future). But you need to calculate that process at from 50 Pence to 2,50 Pounds per slide for this service. If you compare this with the costs of a good slide film …

I’ve talked long enough about the additional costs of digital photography and not even mentioned the shock resistant mobile hard drive disk you need to save your shots while on tour. But one of the main points why I think digital is not only equal to film in costs but in fact more expensive, is that your camera is loosing value dramatically. Finally, after a new model has been launched, there will appear comments on the internet like “Dump your D2x now”, mentioned above. With the current problems of digital photography there will be a very good reason to buy the next model, for sure. You probably didn’t take the cheapest film when spending money for an expensive journey. Why should you be satisfied with results that could have been much better when using a better camera? A Nikon FM2 has always been a FM2, a good, solid camera, which not only allows you to take superb photographs but also can be used to hammer nails in a wall. Resistant to dust storms, deep temperatures, independent from electricity. After years of use you still get a good price for it. But why sell this golden oldie, there is no need to do it. Not so your digital. After the successor appeared at the market, your old model will loose quite much value!

Of course you can still take good pictures with your old digital camera, but you’ll never get rid of the problems of your camera. Why you should you be satisfied with something which is not the state of the art any more. The new model will for sure solve some of the problems of your old model. I guess many of the camera manufacturers only survive because of digital cameras need to be purchased new every three or four years. Until digital cameras are sophisticated, you probably need to follow the track of the industry. Canon, Nikon, Sigma and so on, they will do everything to convince you that the camera you purchased two years ago was the greatest model ever at that time, but now their new model is the thing you desperately have been waiting for.

Conclusion: Forgot that you’ll save any money with your digital camera. If your demands are high and you want excellent quality it’s very likely that you’ll spend much more money than before. Even after 10,000 exposures this will not counter my thesis.


Chapter E Less Stuff in Your Photo Bag

I’ve heard this several times: once you get digital, you won’t have to carry so many films along. In addition you don’t need to care about the X-ray machines at airports any more. By the way, I never lost any films by X-ray damage and I have been travelling a lot. However, the notion of a lighter photo bag needs to be revised, just have a look in a digital photo bag:

  1. An electronic brick called D3
  2. A boxy double recharger with cable
  3. An USB cable
  4. A card reader
  5. A cleaning set “Visible Dust”
  6. An audio cable
  7. A 444 pages strong manual
  8. A mobile hard drive disc for saving images
  9. An additional universal socket adapter
  10. 4 Compact Flash ® Cards

If you take the camera out (an F5 wasn’t much smaller or lighter) the whole bunch is about the same as carrying 30 to 40 rolls of film. This was my usual package for a tour.


Chapter F Despite All This: Why Go Digital

Digital has some big advantages, which will hopefully make their way to me as well. Once I made the first picture I’d call a very good one, and which couldn’t have been possible with film, I’ll let you know. But for the moment I can’t recommend digital at all. If you’re satisfied with your traditional camera, you should stick to it, at least for a while. I made the mistake and bought a D3, you should not necessarily follow.

The magazine and internet discussions are full of excited statements about digital. In my opinion, half of these statements are made by someone having a background that is related to:

A) Someone who spent too much money he’ll probably not be happy to admit that it was the wrong decision.

B) Someone who purchased a digital camera years ago and got a new one recently and he’s so happy with the new one that he/she is really impressed with the new camera. After years of insufficient equipment, the new tool can finally solve some of the problems, so they are excited about it.

Someone who spent too much money he’ll probably not be happy to admit that it was the wrong decision. Have a look at these shots - there is nothing to be called seemless. If your monitor doesn't show what I mean have a look at the 66% brighter image.

Nikon D300 original brightness, 100% resolution , detail of the full frame
Nikon D300 brighter by 66 %

Compared to this the Nikon D3 is really good, but not perfect at all (100% resolution, detail of the full frame):

Here at 66,7%:

You can see it on good monitors ... There is no visable difference between the 70 MB tiff file and those jpeg's above

Finally there are people around for whom the digital technique is a blessing. People who are working for the press and want to see immediately results and can send them electronically to the publishing house. In addition, press photographers usually work for the moment, not for eternity. Printed once and forgotten forever is his faith for more than 90 % of press photographs. For those people dust on the sensor, for instance, is just not that important, lost highlights are bearable as well. The pictures need to be in the tomorrow’s press release, that’s all.

However, the future will be very likely digital. Digital will be improved rapidly while on the film sector there is almost nothing to be expected. Fuji tried to improve the Velvia, but failed twice, with the Velvia 100F and Velvia 100.

The digital cameras are ok for photography already. My mental problem is that I expected to get more value for money, that the camera could meet my demands and match film in any respect. My expectations haven’t been met, that’s it. For my purposes it’s too early to change to digital.


Chapter G Other Disappointments, and My Next Camera

Just recently I made some sunset shots with the D3 in Indonesia: Digital came out dull and with flat colours. The – in reality – dark orange – ball of the sun is shown in the digital image either as a lost highlight (exposed properly) or as a faded light yellow ball (underexposed). There’s no chance to match film at all with a D3!

This used to be a sunset with dark orange colours, at least in the nature:

Sad, sad, another time you need time to adjust the picture ...

Another one: Night shots. 30 seconds exposure time. As the shutter closes, the loco just starts to blows sparks in the dark sky. Just open the shutter again to capture all the sparks – hey, you’re on digital. Forget it. You need to wait another 30 seconds before you can release the shutter again! Good bye sparks, you just missed the shot because your camera was saving the last one. This just took as long as the exposure time had been before.

Hand-hold photography in the night – no problem. But do you see the stripes starting from the light spots? Useless pictures!

Did your vendor tell you before you changed to digital? Think twice!

My next camera is a recently purchased Nikon F100. For the value of six cleanings of the sensor of my D3 I bought a superb camera. In addition I could gather piles of the original Velvia 50ies. The time of flat digital results will be over soon. The tour to Indonesia is the last digital tour for me – because there I took all the photographs I wanted already.

At the moment (until 10/9/2008) you can find it on Ebay:


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