D800 High ISO vs D4, D3S

Joined
Jan 8, 2012
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217
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UK - Northwest
Hi guys. Was speaking to a friend of mine the other day who has a D4, and he was commenting that the high ISO performance was at least 1½ stops better than my D800. I checked the DXO scores, and according to them, there's pretty much nothing to choose between the D800, D4 and D3s on ISO levels (according to the scores), although I assume these are all at normalised resolutions (8mp or 10mp ?).

Having never had the money to own (or even handle) a D4 or D3S, I was wondering how true this was. Obviously I know there's much more to the D4 than ISO (frame rate, build quality, battery life, responsiveness etc), but purely taking high ISO into account, if an image was shot at say ISO 12,800 on all 3 cameras, then all images reduced to the standard 12mp of the D3s, which image would look cleaner.

Just to be clear, this isn't meant to start a war, and no, I'm not looking to buy a D4 (I wish), I was just interested in his comments vs those of DXO Mark ?
 
Joined
Jan 17, 2009
Messages
658
Location
Cape Coral, Florida, USA
I have a D800 and D4. I like both, but the D4 is better at high ISO. I'd say they are the same up to about 3200, the D4 starts pulling ahead as you pass 6400 and is much better above, by almost a stop.

The D800 images at 6400 and above start to get noise but also loose a lot of dynamic range and start to get that muddy look, and as you take out the noise they look more plastic than the D4's.

yes, I know all the discussion about "downsize to same size and D800 is the same" but from a practical, shoot-both-same-scenes aspect, it's not. I do shoot both, I cull and select images without even noticing which is which. I went to find examples > 6400 for both and found I didn't have one keeper in the last 1.5 years with the D800 (I had several with the D4).

Here's an example at 1:1 at 6400 with both. Left is the D4, right is the D800. Yes, there's noise in both, and you might even claim there's more noise on the left, but the detail is holding up with more available dynamic range, the right is starting to loose the DR depth that makes it pop. It only gets worse as you go up. Is the D800 usable above 6400? Sure. But if it's that dark I grab the D4 every time.

PS. Both of these were done with Lightroom at Noise Reduction 30.


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Joined
Feb 22, 2013
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10
Location
Louisiana
Thanks for posting the pics. Just ordered D800. I shoot 90% sports and about 80% of those are in ISO 3200 range. I couldn't afford D4, D600 didn't seem to have as good AF, and Randy had me considering D7100. It's good to see the high ISO comparison on people at a distance.

I use 70-200mm f2.8, so FX will benefit for indoor sports. I worry that D7100 may would be better for field sports until I can get a 300mm next year (considering new Sigma 120-300 f2.8).

DKmoon on zenfolio
 
Joined
Nov 14, 2005
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1,960
Location
Winter Haven, florida
I would agree with Ferguson. I have to routinely shoot night sports at iso 6400-12800. Our football stadiums are caves. I "forgot" to charge the d4 battery one night, and the d800 was my backup. It was not pretty. I had no keepers over 3200. Shutter response was slow. I would not consider the d800 a strong night sports camera. IMHO a used d3 would cost less- I sold mine for 2K- and was much stronger at night.
Now give me light, or a tripod. Let me shoot below iso 800 and the d800 is the best camera I have ever held. My poor d4 sits in the bag during the day, but at night the d4 is the body I grab.
Gary
 
Joined
Nov 21, 2011
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Brooklyn NYC USA

20130210-2013.02.10 michelle 003 by longzoom, on Flickr
20130210-2013.02.10 michelle 003-2 by longzoom, on Flickr. With all due respect, Gary, but it is D800/ 28-300 combo at ISO 1600. Crop is keeping everything - tonality, great DR, rich color, absence of grain. It is at 300mm wide open, what isn't the best for that combo, on D3 it looks better wide open, but D800 needs to be close to f8.0 to be perfect - its sensor likes as much resolution as possible! The image could be sharpened easy, but in this case I don't thing so.
 
Joined
Nov 14, 2005
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Location
Winter Haven, florida
With all due respect said:
I would agree that at iso 1600 the images are terrific, as I said I had keepers up to 3200. Iso 1600 images are terrific. Iso 800 and below they are even better, and at these levels the d800 is my favorite camera ever! Over 3200, which is where I sometimes shoot I much prefer the d4 or d3.
Gary
 
Joined
Nov 10, 2008
Messages
3,961
Location
Chicago
D800 is a studio camera made for absolute best quality.

D4 is a sports camera, photojournalism camera made with high build quality, tough construction, and best high iso performance.

I am saying use the camera for designed for the work you intend it for . No one camera does everything well.
 
Joined
Nov 21, 2011
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Brooklyn NYC USA
You see , gentlemen, - it is my opinion only - there can't be so strong segregation of the tasks for every camera body you named them. The border line in this case is very fragile and thin, I believe. THX!
 
Joined
Nov 10, 2008
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Well yes landscapes too. That is why I got mine.

Any type of slowish complentative work where You try to make every image count.
 
Joined
Mar 15, 2009
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7,500
Location
Los Angeles, CA
Now that I have both bodies and had the chance to shoot with them, I think I'm qualified to chime in now :wink:
My D800 is pretty good even at ISO 6400, so I thought that the D4 may be similar, or it will have just a little improvement. Well, that wasn't the case at all. The D800's DR starts to fall apart after 1600, and by 6400, the DR is so narrow that a little adjustment clips the highlights easily. 12800 on the D4 is very clean, I'd say roughly equivalent to D800's ISO 4000. The biggest difference is DR at 3200 and above - the D4 images hold tight details even at 102K ISO.

Now I'm beginning to understand why the D4 costs so much. There are numerous nice little subtleties that makes it a pleasure to use vs. the D800. For one, the viewfinder blackout on the D4 is WAY shorter, you almost never see any blackout, unlike on the D800. The focus points light up in a way that you won't lose them, and you can even adjust the brightness of the points. I'm very impressed with the D4 and I think it's a keeper for sure.
 
Joined
Mar 15, 2009
Messages
7,500
Location
Los Angeles, CA
Thanks for posting the pics. Just ordered D800. I shoot 90% sports and about 80% of those are in ISO 3200 range. I couldn't afford D4, D600 didn't seem to have as good AF, and Randy had me considering D7100. It's good to see the high ISO comparison on people at a distance.
Just an observation.. having also owned the D600, I think in terms of high ISO, its files are closer to the D4 than the D800 is. I don't have the D600 anymore to do side by side comparisons, but I know that its high ISO capability is fantastic. It can also shoot faster than the D800 (fps), although its AF system is inferior compared to the D800's.
 
Joined
Oct 25, 2007
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3,769
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Potomac Falls, VA
i haven't shot a D3S or D4 - my experience has been D80 ---D300 ---D700 --->D800. Given what you can do now with shadows in LR on D800 files or cropping gives this camera an advantage imho over D700/D3 sensor. This was grab off my deck 300 f/4 + 1.4 TC auto ISO 1/1000 or 1/1250

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Joined
Nov 21, 2011
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Brooklyn NYC USA

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Joined
Feb 28, 2009
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New Zealand
Now I'm beginning to understand why the D4 costs so much. There are numerous nice little subtleties that makes it a pleasure to use vs. the D800. For one, the viewfinder blackout on the D4 is WAY shorter, you almost never see any blackout, unlike on the D800.
Joseph, what do you mean by 'blackout'? Just curious. Thanks.
 

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