The family went on a bit of a boat ride up and down the Potomac (just around DC) this weekend. We hadn't talked too much about the plans, so my dad didn't bring his camera. So he borrowed my D90, and I was shooting on my D4. And it was interesting to me how the pictures compared.
Since we were shooting with a lot of light, I didn't really expect the images to come out all that different. A bit more dynamic range for the D4, obviously, but I otherwise expected them to be pretty similar. But they really weren't. Here's two images that seem pretty typical of the differences (and are about as close as I can get to the same shot; we weren't coordinating at all on what we were shooting).
First, from the D4 (and these are unretouched, other than converting RAW to JPEG and downsampling to fit within 640x640):
I left the EXIF data in these, but for simplicity, this is ISO 100, f/8, 1/320, 116mm
Next, from the D90:
And this is ISO 200, f/8, 1/1000, 105mm
What strikes me are the differences in sky color, and the amount of detail in the monument itself. The exposures were almost identical. If I'm doing the math right, the D4 has 1/3 stop less total exposure, so they should be much closer than this. The monument is almost blown out on the D90's shot. That takes more than 1/3 stop difference, so something is going on.
All of this is a rather long-winded way of seeing that it keeps surprising me how much better the pictures coming out of the D4 really are. I thought I was significantly overpaying for how much difference I was going to get, and while I probably did overpay (I'm not a pro, after all), it wasn't by nearly as much as I thought likely. I think, with some effort, I could get these to look very similar to each other, but I'm amazed at how different they are straight out of the camera.
(Incidentally, one thing I learned from the boat tour is that the stairs, here, are called the Watergate Steps. I had no idea they even had a name.)