Landscape Photography Gear ?

DouxBokehDouxBokeh Posts: 7Member
edited January 2013 in General Discussions
I have been a happy owner of a D90 (with a few lenses) for three years and I’m thinking of upgrading my equipment for landscape photography in the next 3 to 4 months… Two paths are possible in my range of revenu :

In DX format : buying a D7000 body and its 16 Mp sensor (now available new for $ 750) and the DX AF-S DX NIKKOR 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED (for $ 830). Total cost of $ 1580. (or the future D7100, adding $ 400 or 500 more)

In FX format : buying a D600 body and its 24 Mp sensor (which should sell for about $ 1700 in a few months) and the AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR (for $ 1140). Total cost of $ 2840.

Technically speaking (sensor and optic), and for lanscape photography, which is the best option, taking also in consideration the difference in price ?
Let there be light !
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Comments

  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    Buy lenses, wait a few months for the body. We do not know what is happening and some surprises may be coming out in 2013. I love my 16-35mm f/4 on both the D90 and D4.
    Msmoto, mod
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 3,968Member
    Best is a matter of opinion in this case. The D600 will have slightly cleaner files, but for landscape work I don't see much difference between DX and FX. The 16-35mm F4 is optically superior to the 10-24, in some respects, but in real world terms the difference is limited.
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    Strange. I thought, if one knows how large the maximum prints have to be, it's quite easy to decide in which sensor format you like to take your photographs. I'm still happy with the 10-24, although I use the 14-24 more since I have a D800. But of course, if it comes to filters, like polarizers or gradient grey, the 16-35 may be the better choice. I don't know, but I feel, I would opt for D600. I think, the more details a picture has, the more interesting it is to look at.
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 3,968Member
    edited January 2013
    Detail comes down to pixel density. The D7000 has the same pixel density as the D800, but absolute resolution also has to be considered as well. Unless you are making billboard sized prints I doubt you'll ever notice the difference between the D7000 and D600 in terms of resolution.
    Post edited by PB_PM on
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    yeah, but pixel density or not - the D600 will show more details in the same frame, just because it can use 50% more pixels for it. Also, by using the crop factor of 1.5 you can play more with depth of field on FX than on DX - question is, how to use that for landscapes? To me was always a difference between landscape shots with 135 film or 120 roll or 4×5" filed camera. Printed on the same size of paper, everybody could tell the difference.
  • friedmudfriedmud Posts: 14Member
    I just upgraded from a crop sensor (Canon 7D) to a D600 specifically to get cleaner files (the noise at low ISO on the 7D was driving me crazy).

    The D600 creates beautiful images. I've been mainly shooting at ISO 50 and using multiple exposure a lot to get the cleanest images possible... I am just blown away by the IQ of this camera!

    As for lenses, I actually don't shoot very wide. On crop I shot 17-55 and on my D600 I use a 24-70 f/2.8G. This has more to do with personal style than anything else though. I guess that I'm trying to say that ultra-wide isn't the only way to do landscape photography :-)

    For some sample landscape images of what can be done with a D600 (or crop sensor) with lenses in this range, see my photos here:

    http://500px.com/friedmud


  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,144Member
    If you are going to view the photos on a monitor or HDTV with only displays about 2 megapixels or if you are only going to print at 8x10 or if you are only going to show your work on the web the difference between DX and FX won't matter. However, if you are going to ever print 20x30 or 24x36 the FX advantage will be a real advantage. I would go with the FX D600 over any of the current DX bodies.
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 3,968Member
    @JJ_OS The D600 does not have double (50%) the pixels of the D7000. The D600 only has 1.5x the number of pixels (8 million more).

    Considering that 90% of hobby photographers today never print a single image, the difference is meaningless.
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • DavidDavid Posts: 18Member
    hmm. 50% more of something does not mean double.
    Just saying.

    But - either way I think you will be OK on either choice. It does matter where the end product will end up being displayed.
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    edited January 2013
    Regardless of how your results are displayed , The D600 results will be far superior to the D7000

    Don't worry about resolution, and mega what nots. Landscapes photography is about dynamic range, and the best dynamic range comes from FX . The best camera for landscapes would be a D800, but by all accounts the D600 comes a very close second

    The 16 -35 is a fine lens; any distortion and vignetting can easily be corrected in post

    IHMO The D600 was the "upgrade " for the D7000

    (I use a D800 and the 16 -35 for landscapes, I have only read about the D600)


    With landscapes, you sometimes have to wait months, even years for the right light and weather; when the condition are eventually right, you want the best results you can get and that means FX ( I am going to assume, you like me, cannot afford a Hasselblad)

    Post edited by sevencrossing on
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    No question, larger is better with landscapes. Lenses...I use the 16-35mm f/4 VR, the 20mm f/2.8, 24mm f/1.4, and the 24mm f/3.5 PC Nikkor. With the PC one can avoid the distortions typically encountered when viewing at an up or down angel. All of these are on FX. I also use a modified 10.5mm f/2.8 Nikkor on FX which is a spectacular view.......
    Msmoto, mod
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    edited January 2013
    @JJ_OS The D600 does not have double (50%) the pixels of the D7000. The D600 only has 1.5x the number of pixels (8 million more).

    Considering that 90% of hobby photographers today never print a single image, the difference is meaningless.
    Math problems? Half the MP (=50%) has the D600 more. Double the MP would mean 200% ;) Nobody said, the D600 would have double MP (=32MP) of the D7000.
    If the difference would be meaningless, then why was the D800 not available for so long time? Buying a camera with meaningless differences is only expensive.

    Edit.: just checked, the D600 would be double the price of the D7000 (here in Switzerland). Now we can recalculate: 100% more Money for only 50% more resolution, but as well, like sevencrossing mentioned, better dynamics of the sensor? That relation will be changed by the successor of D7000, just few people know when it becomes released.

    Well. there are gradient filters, if the sky's too bright, there's also HDR (which makes a tripod a very good thing to have with you)
    Post edited by JJ_SO on
  • PapermanPaperman Posts: 468Member
    edited January 2013
    @friedmud
    "The D600 creates beautiful images. I've been mainly shooting at ISO 50 and using multiple exposure a lot to get the cleanest images possible.."

    Just to let you know you are not gaining anything by going ISO 50. Base ISO of D600 is 100 and ISO 100 will give you best results. You may end up losing contrast/dynamic range etc. by choosing ISO 50 at which the camera underexposes by 1 stop and then corrects it by software.
    Post edited by Paperman on
  • friedmudfriedmud Posts: 14Member
    edited January 2013
    @friedmud
    "The D600 creates beautiful images. I've been mainly shooting at ISO 50 and using multiple exposure a lot to get the cleanest images possible.."

    Just to let you know you are not gaining anything by going ISO 50. Base ISO of D600 is 100 and ISO 100 will give you best results. You may end up losing contrast/dynamic range etc. by choosing ISO 50 at which the camera underexposes by 1 stop and then corrects it by software.
    Firstly, it's not "underexposing then correcting in software"... that's more of what happens with things like "Active-DLighting" and "Highlight Tone Priority" (on the Canon side) or using very high ISO. If anything, ISO less than 100 _overexposes_ and then pulls back in software. If you fix aperture and you expose at ISO 100 and get 1 second exposure... Then you drop ISO to 50 and take the same shot the shutter time will be 2 seconds. If the sensor can't be "less sensitive" than ISO 100 then you are overcooking the sensor (ie, overexposing). The camera can then correct in software to give you the correct looking exposure (possibly at the expense of highlights that might have been blown out and can't be recovered). Because of this there can be a small drop in dynamic range (you might have lost some highlights).

    A few thing about this:

    1. Physics means that an ISO 50 shot will definitely include the effects of more photons striking the sensor. That will reduce "random shot noise" which can give you a visible reduction in noise. I have done tests with my D600 and there is less noise at ISO 50,

    2. At the worst case of a sensor that really can't go below ISO 100 at all, this process is equivalent to overexposing by one stop and pulling back your RAW file in post. Essentially it is equivalent to Exposing To The Right (ETTR http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exposing_to_the_right)... Which, in scenes of lower dynamic range can give you a tangible benefit of having less noise in the shadow areas. So once again we might be shaving off noise.

    3. How much highlight you lose is very sensor dependent. The D600 has a lot of headroom in this area and if you look at DXOMark ( http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Cameras/Camera-Sensor-Database/Nikon/D600 ) it doesn't show a loss in Dynamic Range when going to ISO 50.... just that it doesn't gain much either.


    In summary: be careful about spreading dogma like this. Every sensor / camera is different. In particular, I have done my own testing on the D600 and have found the tradeoff for lower noise to dynamic range to be more than acceptable. In extreme dynamic range scenes I may choose 100 to just be safe... but in all of my shooting with the D600 so far ISO 50 has produced better (less noise with the same / similar dynamic range) photos.

    Everyone: don't just take my word for it (or anyone else on the internet) there is no reason not to do these types of tests with your own gear. One of the first things I do when I receive any new piece of gear is test it's limits. Not to be dissappointed but to know where they are so I can make correct decisions about tradeoffs in the field...
    Post edited by friedmud on
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,027Moderator
    Back on topic:

    I agree with not using ultra-wides for landscape but just a wide. I would say you need a lens on DX that will cover the 18-55 range as a minimum, and on FX 24-70. The mp of whatever format you use will depend on the size you print. If it is for screen only, 16mp is more than enough by a long way.

    Good tripod is very necessary too.
    Always learning.
  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    edited January 2013
    Ok let's state the obvious - If you are shooting "controlled" landscape (on tripod, native ISO to 400) DX or FX really doesn't matter. Both formats perform so close you can't tell any difference on prints less than 17" on the long side, and really can't on a webpage. FX sensors do seem to grab just a bit more detail but not much more that anything but pixel peeping will show it.

    Personally, I tend to believe holistically about purchases - if you buy DX with a ultra/wide (btw I would go Tokina and not nikon, performs better and is cheaper), you can buy better polarizer, vari ND filter, and a few ND split grads that will help your photos 10x more than choosing either format. Good 77mm polarizer's - $160, Vari ND filter - $250, high grade ND filters $150 each. That $550 will add more to your photos than a sensor and will never go "out of date."
    Post edited by TaoTeJared on
    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    @DouxBokeh Well from the sounds of it, you have done your work in knowing which gear combination to go with. Given that I have taken landscape photo's on my D7000 & D4 I can tell you that it will all come down to the lens you go with. On the D7000 I use the 24-70 2.8 as my go to lens. ND, CPL, and a tripod are a must to get the sharpest image you can. Here is an example of a shot taken with these items in mind.

    ARN_1191
    D7000 24-70 2.8 6 ISO 100 @ f/5.0 6 sec. exposure /w ND filter

    With respect to D4, my go to lenses is the 14-24 2.8 followed by the 24 1.4G.

    ARN_5867.jpg

    D4 24 1.4G 1/250 ISO 100 @ f/8.0 using CPL

    oc5

    D4 14-24 2.8 1/20 SO ISO 100 @ f/4.0 10 Shot HDR on a tripod using Promote Control System
    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • PapermanPaperman Posts: 468Member
    @friedmud
    "be careful about spreading dogma like this"

    This is not something new - it has been discussed for years ( in this forum as well ) since Nikon introduced Low/Expanded ISO. The common agreement is that L ISOS serve no more than an ND filter and there is nothing to be gained. I don't think you will find a single article supporting the noise benefits you claim.

    As you said, once highlights are gone, they are gone. However, you do not lose SOME dynamic range when the camera overexposes and passes blowing range, you lose the WHOLE photograph ; blown highlights = blown photo. ( I say Rule#1 in getting correct exposure is Do Not Blow Highlights ! ) . So knowing what is at stake and still going ISO50 in expectation of marginal noise benefit ( let's say there is a benefit ) seems an unnecessary & risky practice.

    Don't want to go off topic so I'll stop here ...
  • tc88tc88 Posts: 309Member
    edited January 2013
    I want to add to the comment regarding ISO. Every sensor only has one base ISO. Remember D90 has a base ISO of 200. All other ISOs are mimicked by amplifying/condensing the base ISO signals. That's just like what you do in LR/PS by changing the exposures. Except when done in computer, your input data has already been discretized and lost some slight information while the amplification/condensation done in camera is before the final discretization. It's just like digital zoom compared to optical zoom.

    Anyway the dynamic range and signal noise ratio is always optimal at the base ISO since any amplifying/condensing is not going to add information to it. So if you don't have a need for lower ISO (to smooth the water for example) or higher ISO (to freeze the action or reduce vibration), there is no point to shoot other than the base ISO.
    Post edited by tc88 on
  • DouxBokehDouxBokeh Posts: 7Member
    Thank you all for your expert advice.

    First, I will follow Msmoto advice and wait a few months for what is coming on the sensor front in DX format (D7100 and/or D400) and see if Nikon finally gets out a “clean” D600 (because its frustrating when a sensor gets such excellent DXO ratings but puts out an unfortunate filthy image…).

    I was somewhat surprised to learn (PB_PM and his remarks about pixel density) that, for landscape photography, there is not such a big difference between DX and FX formats, on screen (of course) and printed output smaller than 17”, as TaoTeJared puts it. But JJ_SO’s opinion (about to total number of pixels) on the same subject is not to be ignored, as donaldejose’s advice for larger prints… On the other hand, sevencrossing and Msmoto are truly convinced that FX is the way to go for landscape, regardless of how the results are displayed…

    I wonder, are there any comparative (serious) tests, as starting from what format the human eye can truly see the difference between a printed output coming from 24 Mp and one out of a 16 Mp : is it true it’s impossible to see the difference on a 12 x 18 copy ?

    I’ll take friedmud’s advice (and spraynpray’s) on ultra-wide shots into consideration (his images are beautiful)…

    My choice of lenses was not so bad, but I’ll never have the range of lenses Msmoto has in his bag (!), and I’ll keep in mind that the 16-35mm F4 FX is optically superior to the 10-24mm DX (PB_PM).
    Let there be light !
  • GhostRider117GhostRider117 Posts: 29Member
    edited January 2013
    Ok let's state the obvious - If you are shooting "controlled" landscape (on tripod, native ISO to 400) DX or FX really doesn't matter. Both formats perform so close you can't tell any difference on prints less than 17" on the long side, and really can't on a webpage. FX sensors do seem to grab just a bit more detail but not much more that anything but pixel peeping will show it.

    Personally, I tend to believe holistically about purchases - if you buy DX with a ultra/wide (btw I would go Tokina and not nikon, performs better and is cheaper), you can buy better polarizer, vari ND filter, and a few ND split grads that will help your photos 10x more than choosing either format. Good 77mm polarizer's - $160, Vari ND filter - $250, high grade ND filters $150 each. That $550 will add more to your photos than a sensor and will never go "out of date."
    I tend to agree, though in my opinion, the drawback of DX is that it'll be more difficult to find a good wide lens. Well, I need to ammend that sentence: a wide lense as good as what you can find on FX, assuming equivalent FOV.

    And if you want tilt/shift, you'll be stuck with a 35mm equivalent at best (and assuming Nikon makes a 17mm tilt/shift in the future, you'll then in all likelihood need to forget about filters).

    But FX will likely be more expensive, by far.

    So, compromises. D90 with 10-24mm might be sufficient for you. I personnaly am OK with my 17-55mm f/2.8G, it's wide enough for my use, at least for now, so you might be ok with a 16-xx to 18-xx lens, especially considering you'll likely be shooting stopped down to f/8 or something (where the gap between these and pro lenses tends to be less important).

    As far as the body is concerned, I own a D7000, I like it, but I used the D90 and I don't really see why you would want to upgrade to the D7000, it is, imho, not enough of an upgrade to be worth it in your case. As for the future replacement of the D7000... well it might be worth it, but let's wait and see. Do you really need 16+ Mpix? Honnestly, I think that for most uses 12Mpix is enough. More is more comfortable, but not a necessity. Yes, you can crop, but I'd rather use my feet and the correct lens to get proper framing and perspective. Plus, high pixel density and cropping means you need better technique.

    The first investment I would make, assuming you have a decent lens already: a solid tripod and a remote.

    Edit: if you ever want to include architecture... go FX (lenses)... no contest here.
    Btw, sure, D800E and new fast primes, or 28mm PC / 24mm PC-E is awesome, but that's not the same price range, and by far...
    Post edited by GhostRider117 on
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    edited January 2013
    Thank you all for your expert advice......
    .....I wonder, are there any comparative (serious) tests, as starting from what format the human eye can truly see the difference between a printed output coming from 24 Mp and one out of a 16 Mp : is it true it’s impossible to see the difference on a 12 x 18 copy ?

    If you are just looking at resolution, I suspect there may not be a great difference
    but this assumes your framing is perfect and you have not cropped

    If you look at Dynamic rage ( the details and color fidelity in the highlights and shadows, of a sunset or sunrise there will be a very big difference

    the D7000 will be better than the D90
    The D700 better than the D7000
    and D800 far better than the D700
    as far as i can make out the D600 is far better than the D7000 and just below the D800

    If you do not shoot sunset or sunrises and never shoot into the light, and alway get your framing spot on
    the D7000 may be the camera for you

    If are happy to wait till the autumn for your new camera, then it might be worth praying for a D7200 with 24 mp similar to the D5200




    Post edited by sevencrossing on
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    Clever you. Saying only "autumn", not naming the year, that's smart. <:-P
  • GhostRider117GhostRider117 Posts: 29Member
    @JJ_OS The D600 does not have double (50%) the pixels of the D7000. The D600 only has 1.5x the number of pixels (8 million more).

    Considering that 90% of hobby photographers today never print a single image, the difference is meaningless.
    Plus you know... you'd need to consider printer quality in the equation then...

    And yes, 50%, not double... and if you really want to be correct, you could also note that resolution is measured linearly, so that's actually an increase of 22% in resolution for a 50% increase in pixel count.
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 3,968Member
    Never claimed to be a math expert, so I stand corrected. :) Not sure why I was thinking double, it doesn't make sense at all.
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
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