R.I.P. D70

My beloved D70 died the other day with about 48,000 shutter actuations under its belt. Being used for almost 11 years, that’s around some 4,400 images a year. Maybe not that much, but I originate from the film days when that was in excess of 120 rolls a year.

According to this site, 48,000 was rather close to the life expectancy of a D70. For an original $999 investment, that was good value for money. For some reason, the D70s — that should be the same camera except for a slightly larger 2.0 inch screen — has a significantly longer life expectancy. Maybe the shutter got reworked in between the D70 and D70s releases after all?

Anyway, end of D70 story for me. I have to contemplate what to do next. Still in love with CCD rendering. Most differences in color, white balance, tonality, etc between cameras are easily adjusted in post processing, but not the difference between CMOS and CCD. This is also why I sold my Canon Powershot S100 (CMOS) and acquired an S95 (CCD) instead. It was a no-brainer for me since the S95 lens is sharper and I don’t need the improved video of the S100.

R.I.P. D70

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D70_Chrome tone curve lost by cloud operator

One of the most popular entries on this blog has been one of the few D70 tone curves still maintained. It gives excellent well-balanced results on the D70. Now, it turns out that the cloud operator that hosted the curve has lost it along with all backups. So much for trusting your data being safe in the cloud. I guess you should back up all cloud data on local hard drives, but that sort of invalidates the core idea of a cloud solution.

Thus, the curve is lost, at least for the moment. I will contact some friends and see if they have a copy.

Below is the message from the cloud operator. Needless to say, I don’t appreciate their “token of appreciation” but would rather have my data and images back. It wasn’t just the tone curve… And the part in the message below that “CX.com has never lost a file” is simply not true – they were the owners of FileDen when my and others files were lost.

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Dear Valued FileDen Customer,

You may be aware of CX.com’s purchase of FileDen a little over 2 years ago. The initial intent after our purchase was to immediately migrate the FileDen system into the CX.com system to maximize your personal cloud experience. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen restrictions CX.com was bound to wait 24 months before making substantial changes. Although there were restrictions for this time period, the goal has always been to continue to migrate systems after the restrictive obligation was met. We have been anxious to give FileDen users the highest quality cloud service possible.

Before CX.com could make the change, the FIleDen third party hosting provider failed in their responsibility to maintain and backup servers over the last several months causing several outages and hard drive failures. The most recent hard drive failure was unrecoverable and resulted in file loss for some users. Further, customer service regarding FileDen user’s questions and concerns has been very poor. This level of service is completely unacceptable to CX.com and goes against our company’s mission of offering a customer focused, quality cloud product.

Due to recent events with FileDen, we are cutting all ties with the third party provider and asking FileDen users to move to CX.com immediately. Please log in to your FileDen account to get further instructions.

In addition to an increased 10GB of free storage, I am confident you will see a difference in quality, response time and improved customer service with your new CX.com account. CX.com is proud to have a zero percent file loss rate in over four years. We value you as a customer and look forward to continue to improve your cloud experience in the future.

Please don’t hesitate to contact the CX.com support department with further questions at support@cx.com.
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IMPORTANT NOTICE:

Due to a critical failure with our third party hosting provider, we regret to inform you that your files are no longer accessible. All exhaustive attempts to recover your files have been unsuccessful. We realize how important your files are to you and sincerely apologize for this major disruption.

As you may have seen on the Facebook post on June 25th, CX.com is scheduled to replace the outdated and overworked FileDen system to a new CX.com system at the end of August. The CX.com system will provide an improved environment for you with increased free storage to 10GB, 100 percent reliability for your files (CX.com has never lost a file), blazing speeds and more features such as streaming music and videos, one click social sharing, private sharing and private groups.

As a token of our appreciation for your patience, all paid users will receive a full refund for the month of July and all future charges from FileDen will cease.

More on usable dynamic range

After my previous post, I got a couple of questions on usable (or useful) dynamic range. To start with, the DxOlabs‘ version of dynamic range, the total range, is utterly useless. It measures the range up to where the signal/noise ratio is 1, i.e. the noise is as strong as the signal or image. That’s NOT a pretty image, it’s horrible. You’ve lost it long before that. That’s why I find the imaging-resource.com testing much more interesting. They test the dynamic range with different signal/noise ratios, i.e. how much less must the noise be than the signal/image for you to have an acceptable image. It seems that around 5-6 times stronger image signal than noise yields a nice image. Lower than that, you would not like to go.

In the imaging-resource.com tests (up until lately), they provide measurements for four signal/noise ratios: 1, 2, 4, and 10. Since we would rather have the dynamic range evaluated at about a rate of 5-6, I use the average of the measurements for the ratios 4 and 10. Since ((1/4 + 1/10) / 2) is around 1/5.7, that will give us the most reasonable figure on usable dynamic range. I have compiled that figure from many of the tests on imaging-resource.com and rounded the results to the nearest 0.2 f-stops (reasonable measurement error margin), so the table is courtesy of them. The measurements are all at native (base) ISO, which ranges from 80 to 200 on the cameras tested. The table shows the figures from RAW image files converted using Adobe Camera Raw (the version available at the test of each camera).

Nikon D5200 11.4
Nikon Coolpix A 11.4
Nikon D600 11.2
Ricoh GR 11.0
Nikon D4 10.8
Nikon D7100 10.8
Nikon D7000 10.8
Nikon D5100 10.8
Pentax K-5 10.8
Nikon D800 10.6
Sony A99 10.4
Nikon D3X 10.4
Nikon D5000 10.2
Nikon D3S 10.2
Nikon D700 10.0
Sony A33 10.0
Sony A900 10.0
Pentax K-x 10.0
Nikon D90 10.0
Fujifilm S3 Pro 9.8
Sony A55 9.8
Sony NEX-5 9.6
Nikon D300S 9.6
Nikon D40x 9.6
Sony A230 9.6
Canon 1D Mark IV 9.6
Sony NEX-3 9.4
Sony A330 9.4
Canon 5D Mark II 9.4
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 9,4
Nikon D3 9.4
Canon EOS-1D Mark III 9,4
Sony A380 9.4
Nikon D3000 9.4
Pentax K20D 9.2
Nikon D300 9.2
Sony A200 9.2
Nikon D40 9.0
Nikon D60 9.0
Sony A100 9.0
Pentax K100D 8.8
Pentax K200D 8.8
Canon 7D 8.8
Canon EOS 50D 8.8
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II 8.8
Nikon D3100 8.8
Sony A350 8.8
Pentax K10D 8.8
Olympus E-P2 8.6
Olympus E-P1 8.6
Canon T2i 8.6
Canon Rebel XS 8.6
Canon EOS 5D Mk III 8.6
Samsung NX10 8.6
Panasonic DMC-GH1 8.6
Canon EOS 5D 8.6
Canon Digital Rebel XTi 8.6
Canon EOS 40D 8.4
Olympus E-3 8.4
Nikon D80 8.4
Canon Rebel T1i 8.4
Pentax K-7 8.4
Canon Rebel XSi 8.4
Nikon D200 8.2
Canon 1D Mark IV 8.2
Olympus E-500 8.2
Nikon D2Xs 8.2
Olympus E-PL1 8.0
Panasonic DMC-G2 8.0
Olympus E-510 8.0
Olympus E-420 8.0
Panasonic DMC-G1 8.0
Olympus E-520 8.0
Panasonic DMC-GF1 7.8
Panasonic DMC-L10 7.6
Olympus E-410 7.6

The Nikon D70, the subject of this blog, is not in the table. The closest we come is the D40 which uses the same sensor (the D40, D50 and D70/D70s share the same ICX453 sensor while the older D100 has the ICX413 sensor, both from Sony). At 9.0 f-stops, the usable dynamic range of the D40/D50/D70 is ok but not very good. To gain some considerable range, one need to look at full stop gains. At around 10 f-stops, we find the previous generation of Nikon full-frames as well as the D90/D5000/D300s using the Sony IMX038 sensor (the D300 uses the older IMX021 sensor and is rather close to the D70). To gain one more stop, up to around 11, you need to consider the latest sensors such as D7000/D5100 (Sony IMX071 sensor), D4, or D7100/D5200 (Toshiba 5051 sensor). The D5300 is unfortunately not tested in this way (but has the same Toshiba 5051 sensor as D7100/D5200) and the D800 is lagging behind (that design had other priorities).

Note that the measurements in the table are real-life figures. That includes not only the sensor but read-out electronics and in-camera image processing. Yes, that’s right – processing. There is a lot of in-camera processing even for “raw” data, also at base ISO. Even more at higher ISO, otherwise your images, especially CMOS, would look horrible. Further, the figures are after conversion in Adobe Camera Raw since you as the end-user must make a raw conversion in order to access the images.

As I wrote in a previous post, the most notable fact is that full-frame cameras are not ahead of half-frame (DX or APS-C) ones from the same era. Full-frame has a lot of advantages, such as high-ISO noise being lower, but dynamic range at base ISO is not one of them.

These are RAW file data, figures from JPEG image files show much less dynamic range. Typically around 1.2-1.5 stops difference, which is one good reason why you should shoot in RAW, at least in scenes with a high natural contrast. The absolutely best of the latest DSLRs have the same usable dynamic range in JPEG (around 9 f-stops) as the D70 has in RAW. Another way of saying this is that if you are a D70 JPEG shooter, you would gain the same in real-life dynamic range from either upgrading to one of the latest-and-greatest Nikon DSLRs or simply switching to using RAW on your D70.