Up until now I have been shooting a lot of high quality interactive 360˚ Panoramas for various industries such as the aviation, automotive and interior architecture. These panoramas are designed to run either online via a browser or mobile on a tablet device. Although the resolution of the final image is high, I wanted to take it a step further into ultra-high resolution panorama images that can be used for large scale printing.

Below is a test I made using some new hardware that can create ridiculously high resolution images, efficiently and accurately.

If you or your company needs either  interactive 360˚ Panoramas or ultra high resolution images for printing. Feel free to get in touch.

 
Here is a view of Antwerp, reduced to 900px to fit on the page layout. The original file is ‘just’ 65000px wide. With a different hardware setup this pixel-count could be a lot bigger.
The arrow points to an area detailed in the last image of this series.

 

 

This is a crop of 25% of the full sized panorama.

 

This is a 1:1 crop of the Antwerp panorama showing the MAS museum in the far distance. Bearing in mind this was shot with some haze in the air, shot on a good day the detail levels would be even higher. Shot with a different hardware setup, we’d even see details inside that building.

 

  • supermasj - Impressive is the right word, Rob

I’ve been testing the new Nikon D5200 for an upcoming article in Shoot. It’ll be published shortly but I just wanted to post a very short time-lapse that I made with the D5200 and it’s built in interval timer. The interval timer is a function that is included in a lot of cameras now, but how many people actually use it?

The images in the sequence were shot in JPG and the only processing was to crop them and compile them into the video. No further post production or manipulation. I’m quite impressed with the dynamic range of the basic JPG output.

  • paul bates - Interesting, I have a D5200 and it produces awful interval work, every image has different exposures, despite setting everything to manual, maybe I have a bad camera, your shots here look perfect!

    Paul

  • Rob Mitchell - that’s odd. Unless there was some dramatic lighting changes during the shots it should all remain the same. You had everything manual, Auto ISO was off and Auto WB too?

 

As a small interlude from my photography gear posts I thought I might add a quick post about something completely different.

For a while now I’ve been looking for a simple audio solution for in the kitchen. We had a cranky old portable radio/CD player in there that needed a thump every now and then to work.
In my office listen to music either through iTunes Match or TuneIn app on the iPad. All piped though an AV receiver and monitor speakers on my desk.
The living room is catered for with a nice AV setup and AppleTV for connectivity to various devices which left the kitchen/2nd sitting room with nothing.

My brief was simple. A small speaker system that could sit unobtrusively in the kitchen and play from any AirPlay device.

After some searching I found that JBL had a new product called the SoundFly. A small speaker system that filled my brief, and then some. I’d assumed that I would at least need a transformer or battery powered setup but the SoundFly went one better. It plugs directly into and 110/220vAC wall outlet. No wires, no cables. Perfect. Available in AirPlay or Bluetooth connectivity, just about any portable device can play though the SoundFly. The SoundFly ‘only’ offers 2 x 10w but to my untrained audio ear the sound quality is fabulous and more than enough power to drown out the noise of an active kitchen.
JBL also have a handy free App, JBL OnBeat. It isn’t an essential but it offers a simple interface to iTunes Match or other music stored on your device.

Winning points as far as I’m concerned.

  • No cables at all.
  • € 100,00 cheaper than a similar Sonos setup
  • JBL Pedigree

A short video test to compare the audio out of the iPad Mini and the JBL SoundFly Air.
Recorded with a Nikon D800 and hotshoe mounted Rode Video mic linked direct to the camera.

  • Wolf - If you want something that doesn’t invade your precious wall sockets a Big Jambox is the way to go. It’s relatively pricy though.

  • MC Horner - I think I saw Ferris Bueller run through your kitchen during this test. Sounds great but it’s using one plug and blocking the other. I’ll have to stick with the iPod and earbuds.

  • Rob Mitchell - :) It fits in the bottom one too, Just put it in the top one for the clip.

  • Staf Devriese - Hey Rob,

    We have practically the same situation in our house/kitchen, so thanks for this information. Gonna take a look at this :-)

Up until yesterday there have been 2 things I hadn’t done in a long time.

1. Relax.
2. Go back to my roots.

Two Things that were remedied  yesterday with a brief trip to London, combined with a few hours of just walking around town and making photos for nobody else but me.

I met up with a couple of colleague photographers, Matt and Pete to do nothing more than relax, catch up with life and make photos of the London streets. All 3 of us had our Fujifilm cameras with us. I had my X-Pro1, Pete his X-Pro1 plus X-E1 and Matt his X100.

If you haven’t yet tried shooting with one of the ‘X’ series from Fujifilm and are looking for a camera that is different, lighter, less imposing but not as petite as a Micro 4/3 camera, give the one of the X’s a go. The image quality is stunning and being slightly bigger than M4/3 cameras, they feel better in the hand. Handling is an acquired taste and can be frustrating when you’re handling a DSLR day-in and day-out, but most people who have used an ‘X’ have enjoyed it. Shooting with a Fujifilm system camera is a breath of fresh air. Simple.

Enough wordage, a few images from my X-Pro1 follow.

  • Tyrone Shoelace - I’m guessing the tea DID NOT have any ice cubes in it whatsoever.

  • tch - Absolutely stunning pictures!

  • Andre - Really nice and crisp images! I’m sure you had fun ;-)

 

When choosing a camera we’re usually confronted with a few choices, Brand and model usually are the main 2. Nikon have added another sub-choice. The D800 or D800E. A few manufacturers have offered sub-choices before, offering a very specific version of a model for a very specific task, the Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro UVIR for example. A version of the S3 Pro camera from 2006 specifically designed to make photos in the Ultraviolet and Infrared light spectrums.

Nikon’s decision to make 2 variations of the D800 isn’t quite as dramatic but nevertheless it has caused many to think more than twice before committing to buy.

On paper the standard and E version differ in one small but significant factor. Simply put, Nikon haven’t fitted an anti-alias filter into the D800E that deliberately softens the image that the sensor sees. Sensors with anti-alias filters have become the norm in DSLRs and we don’t usually even think about them. You could ask why there is a filter there in the first place, especially when we crave the sharpest images possible. The answer is simple. The filter is a compromise between image sharpness and the risk of the pure unfiltered sensor creating artefacts, or ‘Moiré’ in the final image.

Armed with a D800 and D800E with identical settings and lenses, I set out on my own personal quest to see if I could justify to myself the +/-400 Euro difference between the Nikon D800 and D800E.

I’ve been using the D800 for wide variety of projects and never noticed any Moiré in the images and to be honest, never really thought that the images were not as sharp as they could be. On the other hand, I have never looked for Moiré or assumed the images were not sharp.

For this testing I had to deal with my pixel-peeping phobia and really look for the Moiré phenomenon and to see if there was a noticeable difference in sharpness between the 2 cameras.

 

Test 1

For my first outing I went to the city to do some cityscapes, random locations and views to try and trigger any differences that the cameras would reveal. Regularly patterned brickwork or roof tiles are a good way to try catching any issues.
Both cameras were mounted next to each other, settings the same, same lens, same focal point and both cameras triggered at the same time. Comparing the images on the LCDs, there was nothing in it. Impossible to see any difference.
Only under intense scrutiny in Lightroom, with the D800 and D800E files side by side did I detect some Moiré pattern in the D800E files. Some very distant details of roof tiles were showing the typical coloured patterns, but that was all. The D800 files were clean. The same was true for just about all the shot. At 100% zoom the D800E files sometimes had some Moiré creeping in. Only at 200% plus was it really getting obvious.
Then I stumbled upon one shot that happened to have 2 people in the centre of the frame. One was wearing a striped shirt. At 100% the D800E image showed some serious blocking and confusion at the details on the shirt. I put the D800 file next to the D800E file and it to my surprise, it too was seriously affected. I had to double-check to make sure I hadn‘t selected another  D800E file but no, it was the D800, very aggressive and disturbing artefacts.

Test 2

For the 2nd test I enlisted the help of Stijn to pose for a few shots in just about the most challenging patterned clothes we could imagine. Immediately Stijn and his Moiré magnet trousers were sending the D800E crazy. The distinct patterns in the fabric even caused a moiré effect to be seen in the LCD. Every shot of Stijn provoked artifacts in both cameras. The only time he didn’t was when he was in the distance; obviously far away that even the D800’s couldn’t resolve the detail of his trouser pattern.Back on the PC, both cameras were suffering from the discolouration and artefacts. At 1:1 zoom the D800E was noticeably worse. At 200 or 300% both had it bad but the ‘E‘ had me really worried. Worried how I would deal with this in a real life shoot.

Correction.

Luckily, Lightroom and Nikon’s own CaptureNX2 come with a Moiré filter that can be locally applied and both tools work a wonder on the affected areas. Mostly.. In the case of the cityscape image with the striped shirt, the actual pixel pattern was disrupted so much that some additional post processing would be needed if the D800E photo was to be used a full resolution on a large print. Having 36mp files is a blessing and a burden, the detail shows up any flaws very quickly. If the image was to be output at about 5000pix wide, a lot of that moiré pattern and problem vanishes. However, we have a 36mp camera for a reason. To use it when we need it.

Sharpness.

This was the reason Nikon left the anti-Alias filter out of the D800E. To squeeze the maximum sharpness out the sensor. Honestly, in the real world I found it very hard to see any difference at all. I’m sure on chart tests there is a difference. There must be. Mustn’t there? However you really have to see the images side by side to actually believe the D800 is any less sharp than the D800E. There are a couple of times I have spotted a difference, usually on distant text in images or a hard defined edge of a building. For most work though, it’s nice to know it’s there but it’s not going to be noticed if it’s not.
The deep pixel level difference can be seen during processing though. Zoom into levels of 300% and more and the D800E’s pixels are very defined and hard compared to the softer more fluent D800 pixels.

White Balance.

I’ve also noticed a consistent difference in white balance between the 2 cameras. Despite the settings being identical in Lightroom ,the D800E images look slightly warmer in tones. Probably another effect caused by the lack of anti-alias filter. No big deal but could be important when processing D800 and D800E images together.

What to choose?

This is a question I’m bombarded with and I have battled with the same question.

It has been made clear to me that both cameras are susceptible to Moiré, probably due to the sheer level of detail they record. All but the most aggressive Moiré can be worked out of the image very quickly using any one of many of the processing applications available to us.

I can see 2 buying groups here. The photographer who is very detail minded would quickly opt for the D800E. Serious moiré creeping in might be a shame, but not a disaster.

Then you have the photographer who needs to be sure their shots are good and the processing workflow is efficient.  If they’re heavily shooting Macro or fashion, they might opt for the safe low risk D800. Saying that, I know people who haven’t taken the safe route and not had problems with the D800E.

Nikon have given us a choice and warned us in no uncertain terms about the pros and cons of going with the D800E.

I have no hard answer to anyone wondering which to buy. Are you going to miss anything by buying a D800? Not really.

Are you going to gain anything by buying a D800E? Slightly.

Is the risk worth it? Only you can know based on the type of work you do.

 

Personally, I like to live on the edge. I took the D800E.

(I will ask Stijn to wear different trousers next time though…)

 

Below some screenshots of my test shoot. Under the screenshots a link to download a .ZIP of the full resolution .JPGs talked about in this article.

At 2:1 zoom Colouration in the roof tiles and bricks is quite prominent in the D800E (left) image and very slight in the D800.

The D800E (right) does definitely have sharper images. The difference is minimal but can clearly be seen in fine details such as this architectural comparison.

This is scary example of how bad things can get. The detail might be minute in the overall image but if this was being used a full resolution, both the D800E (left) and D800 (Right) images would need some extra processing.

Stijn’s trousers really did test the cameras as I wanted. Strong repeating patterns cause both cameras to suffer quite heavily from Moire.

Luckily all but the more aggressive Moire pattern can be quickly removed with moire fix tools found in most RAW processing software.

This shows that Moire isn’t always a huge issue. The same trousers shot at a different angle and although both cameras are displaying Moire, it is a lot less.

Whichever camera we choose, we are spoiled for detail and sharpness levels.

 

 

Link to to the high-res images used in this test. (2x zip files ±75mb each)


This article was originally published in Shoot magazine, edition 21. The Belgian photography magazine.
Thank you to Erik for allowing me to reproduce the document in for the blog.
Thanks also to Stijn for giving me a hand with the testing. 

For more regular updates on what I’m up to in my job, please feel free to join my page on Facebook.

 

  • Hal - Good comments! When I originally put my name on the waiting list I opted for the D800E because I decided that if I was going to spend that much on a camera I should get the “top of thelinBuprofessional photographer. After reading a number of revews like yours I moved over to the D8t and saved a few hundred dollars while getting what I really needed. I decided that buying the D800E was like paying extra to have the factory air conditioning removed from your new Mercedes because professional race car drivers do that even though I only intended to drive on the street. Not smart.!

  • The king is dead, long live the king? – The D800E meets the D810 » Rob Mitchell – My photography blog - […] The D800 and D800E were launched back in the begin of 2012, I was lucky enough to go with Nikon Europe to New York to have a first glimpse and test of the D800 and followed up the trip with  a magazine article about the differences between the D800 and D800E […]