Results -- Testing the Test Targets

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Michael Benveniste
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Results -- Testing the Test Targets
3 months ago

See this thread for methodology. To use a Chris Berman cliché, "that's why they play the game."
http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/54030999

I followed through with my proposed test and ran the numbers. ImageJ kept running out of memory which added to the time needed to perform the analysis.  To address Marianne's concerns, I also ran a series at a different fine tune setting. I found that for both targets, contrast decreased at an fine-tune setting of +5 by approximately 3.3% over the results at zero. Variance for each target remained the same to a 90%+ confidence level. Therefore, a lack of directional data did not mask differences in variance.

The "good target" posed some challenges. Not only was the image not cleanly reproduced in the JPG I received, but the aspect ratio made it impossible to print at the demanded 5x7" size. So I printed both images at a 7" width, centered them on an 11x8.5" piece of paper and let the chips fall where they may. The "good" target also lacked an obvious aiming point. So I did a search and focused on the "right bar chart," but I have to wonder if the proponent of this chart has actually tried to follow his own instructions.

The "bad target" didn't have an obvious aiming point either, so I chose the "cheek" of the lion.

I measured EV across the target area with a Minolta V light meter. It was slightly uneven, ranging from 8.1 to 8.6, but I don't think that would have mattered for this test. The AF detection range of the D800 is rated to work at an EV -2.  Outside of the area of the page it dropped off considerably.

To the results then. For the "good" target, on average RMS contrast was 97.90% of that available in the Live View reference shot. For the "bad" target it was 97.92%. However, the standard deviation of the "good" target was 0.85%, and that of the "bad" target was 0.58%.

An F-test indicated that the difference in variance was only 20.5% likely due to chance. This is insufficient to show that the "bad" target has less variance than the "good target," but it is sufficient to reject the opposite hypothesis.

A T-test indicated that there was a 95.6% chance that the choice of these test targets made no difference at all in AF performance under the test conditions. This met the stated benchmark.  A difference of 0.02% over 12 samples per set is statistically meaningless.

Conclusion: While in real life, an animal behind bars may well be a poor AF test target, the same can't be said for a 2-dimensional drawing of that scenario. Although the "bad" target may be fractionally better than the good one, either one could be used for AF fine tuning to almost 4 deltas of confidence. The target itself is nowhere near as important as controlling the other test conditions.

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