D800E vs. 5D3: Diminishing Returns or Reversal of Returns?

Started Jul 19, 2013 | Discussions thread
TOF guy
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Re: D800E vs. 5D3: Diminishing Returns or Reversal of Returns?
In reply to Rick Knepper, Jul 20, 2013

Rick wrote:

You have failed to elaborate upon your assertion as requested.

It is just so obvious that the greenery is brighter in the D800e image. It is also obvious that the rendering puts the greens in a area where perception of different level of luminance will be harder to discern. One just has to open the eyes and look at the images to see it. But , wait, this has already been explained. You just decided to ignore it.

Are you suggesting that the sensors themselves have a curve of their own?

I'm very certain that the sensors have different spectral curves, different relative sensitivities between the different channels (there is even some indications that the 2 green channels in the D800 have different sensitivities), that the RAW software applies its own curves and they are differences between the rendered results. However it is true that the software tries to ultimately render the images to a common standard. There are differences that cannot be overcome though.

Or, you could post your own side by side comp showing what you think the images should look like with completely neutral conversions. The RAWs are readily available. Please see the OP.

Okay I've looked at the RAW images. Thank you for making them available. Here is what I've done keeping things simple.

The images appear to have different black / white points (there are other differences).  A very minor correction removes a lot of flatness in the D800 image in the matter of seconds. Open the image in your favorite editor. Open the level editor. There will be a straight line going from the lower left corner to the upper right corner. There should also be markers at each end of this line Move slightly the marker in the bottom left corner horizontally to the right (it must stay level vertically with the original position i.e. indicates an output level of 1 or 0 depending on the editor). Watch for the dark green to match with the 5d3.

It does not have to be accurate. You'll quickly see that you can make the foliage in the D800 look as 3D in the D800 image as it is in the 5d3 in a matter of seconds.  There are other differences as well. The greens in the D800 images are, well, green. Not so for the 5d3 image which has a very brownish tint to them. That can be changed too Although the D800 greens may be truer to reality.

I've looked through thousands of images from the 5D2 and the D3x long before obtaining the 5D3 and D800E. The base contrast differences are strikingly similar.

Yes because the D800 has wider DR. There is detail to preserve in shadows. So the black point is lower to preserve the dark details. Also it helps hiding potential source of noise in the 5d3 image :-). There is also preservation of highlights.

But there is a price to pay for DR, which is that the image will look flatter. That's because a steeper curve level increases contrast and contrast has an impact on our perception of details. By moving the black point you are eliminating details in the deep shadows (and there only) but you're increasing the perception of contrast. It's a win situation if the details in the deep shadow contribute little to the image.

It's all as I've explained in the first place regarding brightness of the greens.

In fact, "washed out" was an insult thrown out by a Canonnite when describing the look of a Nikon image when I posted a DR comparison of the 5D2 and D3x on the Canon forum sometime back. This is what completely neutralized Canon and Nikon files look like side by side.

The lesson learned to all from this thread - and the only one- is that DR has its price in contrast. And one may have to post-process the images for this reason. Simple level operations can go a long way.

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Thierry - posted as regular forum member

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