Nikon jpgs - Workflow - "Death of the DSLR"

Nikon D5100 16-85mm lens
Nikon D5100 16-85mm

Having been editing the images from my Devon trip over the past few days, I've been noticing just how good the out of camera jpgs. are from both the D5100 and D7000.  In terms of sharpness I can still get a better result from a raw file conversion, but the Nikon jpgs. are completely free of any Chomatic Abberation and fringing, indicating that this is being removed in camera.

Nikon D5100 16-85mm lens
Nikon D5100 16-85mm

Panasonic, for example, have always been criticised for making in-camera "corrections" to their lenses, but as I've written time and time again, they are not the only camera manufacturer to do this.

I've never thought that there's anything wrong with this, the end result being the most important thing.

Nikon D7000 55-300mm lens

In terms of saving me time, and making my workflow go quicker, this is very useful. As I said the jpgs. aren't quite as sharp as the raw conversions I can get with ACR, but this can be dealt with in Photoshop. 

One thing I've been noticing lately is the very high acceptance rate I've been getting, from the picture libraries that I submit to, with both the D5100 and D7000 files. Its very much the case that CA and fringing are the main reasons for picture library rejection of images. Being able to submit files without either of those is obviously an advantage to me. While I prefer to work with raw files, I am prepared to take advantage of this time saving.

In terms of sharpness, picture library assessors aren't looking for biting sharpness, in fact Getty Images ask for files that are unsharpened and in the past have recommended that images when viewed at 100% should be "slightly soft". This is to allow sharpening to be added for reproduction. As I've indicated before I do sharpen all the images I send out, but the point is that libraries and stock agencies are more concerned with other things than the sharpness of a file.

Nikon D5100 16-85mm lens
Nikon D5100 16-85mm

All of this is making me warm towards the Nikons even more. While I love looking at the images I create with the Leica M9, they are harder to get "right" for the libraries I submit to. I've written a lot about the need to remove the dust spots (again the Nikon images are refreshingly free of this) and in addition to this each file has to be checked for moire, CA and fringing. There is a myth that M-mount lenses and Leica lenses in particular don't exhibit CA and fringing. Well, its just that, a myth!

So both these Nikon cameras are not only fast in operation, but are proving to produce files that are very easy and quick to process. Add in the results I got with my D7000 > Leica M9 test the other day - /soundimageplus/2011/07/just-how-good-is-nikon-d7000-image.html - and they are proving to be a good investment.

Nikon D7000 10-24mm lens
Nikon D7000 10-22mm lens

All of this is making the predictions of the death of the DSLR somewhat premature. I've always thought that the idea they would "disappear" has no real basis in fact or reality. As long as they deliver the goods, people will buy them. Manufacturers now seem to have got the message that the smaller and lighter they are the more many of us will like them, so many of the criticisms I have had about big chunky DSLR's are being adressed. 

The D5100 is very small and light and I can see this trend continuing. 

Lenses are trickier. In order to cover an APS-C sensor, the size advantages of m4/3 are more difficult to achieve, though in terms of primes its perfectly possible to make very small lenses such as the Pentax limited series. Zooms are more difficult. Indeed some m4/3 examples aren't exactly small.

You only have to look at the Sony NEX system with its large lenses on small bodies, to see that there are some problems to be solved yet. Modern construction methods will give us lighter lenses but the small superzoom is probably still some way off. 

Wile mirrorless and compact system cameras have their advantages, they are not as yet the complete answer. Also as far as I'm concerned, the quest for ever more miniturisation is pushing me away from them rather than drawing me in more. There is a limit to how small a camera can be made to make it useable, and as far as I'm concerned that limit has been reached already with cameras such as the GF3. 

To be honest I can see people still predicting the "Death of the DSLR" in 20 years time. True it probably won't look the same as it does now but things move much slower than is often predicted. There continues to be a very strong market for DSLR's and the major players in that market, Nikon and Canon, aren't going to sit on their hands. They will be looking at the success of the CSC's and incorporating those ideas into their future cameras, of that I have no doubt.

Finally two anecdotes. They prove nothing but I thought I'd include them anyway.

I was buying a laptop from the Apple Store and having told the assistant I was a photographer, then got into a discussion about photography and cameras. He told me that he and many of his colleagues in the store, average age about 21-22 I would guess, were keen photographers. He said they all used DSLR's, mostly Canons. "What about the iPhone? Do you use that? I asked" "No, we're serious about photography" he replied.

On my last visit to Jessops, the largest photographic retail group in the UK,  I was served by an even younger assistant, around 17 or 18 I guess. Jessops sometimes employ people whose photographic knowledge is a little basic, to say the least, but not so in this case. I was looking at a Panasonic G3 at the time, and while chatting away the assistant told me that he was a keen photographer, but again used a DSLR as he thought the CSC's were too small and he had trouble using them. He also liked his DSLR's (a Sony) speed and overall performance. He also admitted that he liked using a DSLR because he thought it looked much more like a "proper" camera.

As I said, this proves nothing, but it goes along with the fact that in all the time I've been photographing in recent years, often in holiday and tourist spots, I have only ever seen one other person using a m4/3 camera. Compacts and camera phones by the thousands and lots and lots of DSLR's. The last photo show I went to was virtually 100% DSLR users with just me carrying a GF1. The Nikon stand was 5 deep, and virtually no-one was on the Panasonic stand. The latest model in the Canon 550D / 600D series usually outsells the entire CSC range, just by itself, so the DSLR probably has some mileage left in it yet. If they keep on making them as well as the D7000 and D5100 then I'm certainly not going to complain.