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Old 23 Feb 2002
Jerome's Avatar
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Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: London
Posts: 181
Keep F5 or get a D1X?

> Hi,
> You helped me with Nikon advice on AFS lenses on the HUBB a few weeks
> ago.
> I was wondering if I could ask you another question.
> I'm motorcycling up from Cape Town in a few months and already have an
> F5, 28-70, 80-200, 17-35 and 300 lenses which are all 2.8's..(I may
> leave the 300 and 2x at home) I'm tempted by the D1X because of
> the storage advantages / deleting shots
> i dont want and not having to worry about film spoiling.
> The choices are digital wallet or a small laptop with built in cd rw.
> Having made the change what would you advise?

First off: Could I have some of your gear? please?

Seriously now, I'm constantly amazed at the quality and amount of gear
people end up gathering. Wow. I think you'd be right leaving some stuff
behind: 300 and 2x, although I'd also leave the 28-70 and -maybe- substitute
for a fast fixed 50 (I know, people loath 50's because they're hard, but
once you learn...). The trick is being a minimalist, most of my personal
travel photography is done with a 24-120 and a 14mm (keep in mind the 1.5x
factor with the D1X), an SB-28DX, and very little else, spare battery,
polarizer, cable for off-shoe flash, and _sometimes_ a tripod.

Regarding "the jump": I'd say you have to do your own homework, and ask as
many people as possible. I'm going to be sincere with you: don't. I
positively love the D1x, in fact, my F3's and F4's see very little use now,
even the 6x7. But I wouldn't take it motorbiking long distance just yet.
Here's why:

-You need to recharge batteries every night. Three minimum. The charger is
bulky as hell, by the way.

-You also need at least a couple gigabytes memory, even with the digital
wallet. That wallet scares the shit out of me, by the way. weeks of
unrepeatable pics in a hard drive in the top case of my bike while across
Africa, risking failure, theft, vibration, impact, and heat? without backup?

-Travelling with a laptop is definitely not for me. Palm-type machine for
email, games, music and books, yes, laptop, no thanks.

-After it all, you need a finely tuned monitor, a cool printer, and _hours_
of time to go through all your pics delicately tweaking each one of them
into perfection. Call me anal, but I can't just let them be. They have to be

-Digicams are the pits for long exposure night shots (a pet peeve of mine,
since I do a lot of that).

-D1x, with accesories, is more than twice as expensive as F5 - and you
already have one of those, don't you?

I would go film for that. The fact that other technologies are here doesn't
mean the old ones are useless. I got married last year: did I take one of my
digitals with me on our trip? nah - F4 and a small metal compact.

Long trips away from base are tough with digital. For everything else, I'm
all D1x!

Hope this helps, but your mileage may vary!



PS: If you don't mind, could you please post these messages on the HUBB
photo forum? I believe many people would benefit from reading it.

[This message has been edited by Jerome (edited 23 February 2002).]

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Old 24 Feb 2002
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Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: san francisco
Posts: 155
I'm having almost the same dilemna right now. I usually travel with two F100s, one with 20-35, the other with 80-200, both f2.8, and for my next trip I'll add a 50mm or 60mm macro (I'll go RTW for 2 and 1/2 years starting with Africa).

I was tempted to take the step and buy a D1X. The main advantages for me were:
- I wouldn't have any problem with stacking up film and mailing it back to my base camp.
- I could send CDs of digital images to a friend who would keep a web site up-to-date with pictures and trip reports.

Reliability is what made me hesitate and finally opt to keep my current gear. The only way to not lose all your digital pictures is to burn then on CDs but that requires a notebook computer (BTW, the 12-inch Apple iBook seems to be the best deal around). But then there is the risk of damaging your computer, meaning that you are stuck for the rest of the trip with the remaining free space on the flash card.

I might be a bit paranoid but I don't want to go on the trip of my life with only one camera, be it a F5 or even a F3. A failure of the camera would really be a major bummer. At least, in case of breakdown of a film camera, you can hope to buy a stolen Nikon at the nearest souk and continue to shoot your Velvia. If the D1 breaks down, you will also end up at the souk but shooting some 5-year old print film. A solution would be to not go with one D1 but, for almost the same price and the same weight, two of the recently announced D100 ( http://www.dpreview.com/articles/nikond100/ ). Still, you will carry only one notebook...

Quality was also a concern. According to Photo.net, the image quality from digital cameras is still far from being on par with good slide scans. The folks at Photo.net are slightly prejudiced but their opinion still matters. If I understood correctly, the 3000x2000 resolution (= 2000 dpi) from the D1 is not equivalent to the same resolution from a slide scanner. The dynamic range isn't the same as film too (sure, Velvia is tricky but would you give up the results?). On a D1, the pixels are divided between R, G and B sensors across the matrix while on a scanner, each pixel has the three RGB sensors. Medium-range 3000 dpi slide scanners generate 4500x3000 images. High-end scanners and drum scanners have much higher resolutions. If you have pro gear and hope one day to publish your pics, it would be a bit sad to be stuck for life with 3000x2000.

Another way they presented it on Photo.net was: why carry around 10 pounds of expensive f2.8 pro lenses in order to feed light to a lousy 3000x2000 CCD? People don't carry medium-format lenses to shoot 35mm film. In your case, you might as well just take a cheap 28-200 and set the D1 to 200 ASA... Well, I told you these folks are prejudiced. Unfortunately I haven't yet been able to do a simple test: walk around town with a F100 and a D1 and, using the same lens, take identical pictures on both cameras. Then scan the slides and compare with the pictures from the D1. (Roberto: did you have the opportunity to do that test?)

If you still go with a digital camera:
- Batteries should not be too much of a problem. There are solutions, I believe, to recharge them on the accessory plug of the motorcycle.
- I wouldn't take a microdrive. They are slower, they use twice as much batteries and they represent an additional risk of failure because of heat and vibrations.

As for me, the current plan is the following (subject to change before the departure next January)... I will have my usual film cameras and my girlfriend will take the iBook and a small Nikon Coolpix 5000 to keep the friends and families up-to-date on the trip progress. I even expect her sometimes to have photo opportunities with the Coolpix that I won't have with the F100s, as it is much smaller and much more inconspicuous to take a picture just looking at the flip-up LCD.

Pierre Saslawsky
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Old 24 Feb 2002
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Location: Vigo, Spain
Posts: 69
<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" size="2">Another way they presented it on Photo.net was: why carry around 10 pounds of expensive f2.8 pro lenses in order to feed light to a lousy 3000x2000 CCD? People don't carry medium-format lenses to shoot 35mm film. In your case, you might as well just take a cheap 28-200 and set the D1 to 200 ASA... Well, I told you these folks are prejudiced. Unfortunately I haven't yet been able to do a simple test: walk around town with a F100 and a D1 and, using the same lens, take identical pictures on both cameras. Then scan the slides and compare with the pictures from the D1. (Roberto: did you have the opportunity to do that test?)^</font>

The guys at photo.net are a bit more than biased. While it is true that pixel count on a D1x is roughly 3000x2000 only, they fail to acknowledge the quality of those 3000x2000. The trick is they don't have grain. None whatsoever. So your chances of success interpolating up in a reasonable percentage are way better than doing the same from a 3000x2000 slide scan, even a fine-grained one. If you were to obsess over pixel count you'd also dump all your 35mm gear and buy a field camera taking up 8x10 film. I'll pass, thank you very much.

Regarding quality, that's an old, tired discussion, that was definitely won by digital a long time ago: today the ultimate image quality is achieved by a high-bit depth, high file size scan back, no buts, no ifs. But that's another story... what will really matter to you is this:most weekly and monthly newsmagazines are now shooting digital, or a mix of digital and film. Many of those gorgeous double spreads you can see in Sports Illustrated are taken with the D1x, many features in Time magazine are fully digital. Are you able to tell the difference? thought so. Believe me, if it's good enough for a double spread in SI, it should be good enough for most non-pro travellers!

I have moved maybe 85% of my business to digital without one complaint from customers (most never noticed). Such is the quality from the D1x, and I would have never risked my customer base if I were not sure. I make pro-quality 40x60 enlargements from my D1x on a routine basis, although you do need some solid training to obtain such quality. Today, if the D1x won't cut it, I'm bound to grab my 6x7, completely bypassing 35mm anyway. Exceptions? As I said, night photography and those places where I'd rather not go with a full bag of digital gear, be it the wild, or dubious neighborhoods by the docks here where I live.

Regarding high-aperture lenses being "too good for a 3000x2000 CCD", no offense, but that's the biggest load of shit I've heard in a while. Jesus, why can't people just choose what suits them and let others be?

High aperture, as I'm sure you know, has nothing to do with high resolution, which would be the case if they indeed were "too good for the CCD". Actually, long-exposure photography being the weak spot of the D1x, I can readily see the advantage of a lens that'll allow you to shoot fast for longer as the light dwindles. But what about selective focus, or the brighter viewfinder image you'd get with fast glass? are you going to get that just by dialing the cameras ISO to 200 as they say? sheeessssh!!

The case for fast glass is exactly the same with digital as is with film. Why don't they exchange their Velvia for some 200 ISO film? exactly the same thing happens with digital: grain is nonexistant at lower ISO, but higher ones certainly develop some noise, so you're better off staying low.

By the way, it is a good thing people don't use medium-format glass for 35 mm: medium-format lenses are actually LESS sharp than equivalent quality 35mm ones, if you count their line-pair resolutions. It is the surface of the big film that more than makes up for this, the same way a bigger, simpler engine can produce as much power as a smaller very advanced one.

I believe your approach (film SLR and small digicam) is very sensible if you're set on more than one camera. Enjoy your trip, and let the old farts preach in the desert while the pros laugh their way to the bank with their hard-earned money shooting digital.

Roberto (off the soapbox now...)

[This message has been edited by Photog Rob (edited 24 February 2002).]
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Old 25 Feb 2002
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Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: san francisco
Posts: 155
Thanks for your report on the D1X directly from the field. I didn't know glossy magazines were using it already.

About carrying two cameras (one with a wide-angle, the other with a telephoto), the reasons that initially compelled me to go with that were:
- Avoid any chance of dropping something or damaging the camera when switching lenses, especially in dusty or wet environments.
- Faster reaction time for some photo opportunities.

On a related matter, I mentioned Velvia several times but for a trans-Africa trip, it might be a good idea to use a slightly less contrasty film. The light is really harsh under the tropics. During a trip last year, many of the pictures I took during the day came out with insufficient shadow details. I may go with Provia 100F this time. Some people also use Velvia at 40 ASA but I haven't tried it yet. See http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/ubb...ML/000027.html for more info.

I'm not entirely set against using digital for the trip that I'm planning. I may even change my mind during the trip. I really wish someone releases some kind of digital wallet that burns the images on CD instead of storing them on disk.
Pierre Saslawsky
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