Dynamic Range: D5100/D7000

Started May 21, 2011 | Discussions
drwho9437
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Dynamic Range: D5100/D7000
May 21, 2011

DxO results and some DPReview remarks suggest higher dynamic range for the sensor in the K5/D5100/D7000 + Some Sonys.

To exploit DR I typically shoot RAW and expose for just clipping a tiny tiny bit of the picture which I can pull back (different camera to camera). Essentially as bright as possible without saturation.

For those of you who use similar techniques I am curious how much of an improvment you feel you get with a D5100 or D7000 compared with your old DSLR.

(Just a side note: If you look at the DxO results it looks like the Sony sensor in these cameras simply back extends the 'linear' fall off region for DR that is true at high ISO. Presumably this is a region limited by the noise floor of the readout. So perhaps the photosites have lower readout noise and a larger storage capacitance.)

PS: I would love to have a landscape RAW file for either with a bright Sky and some very dark under trees or canyon or something.
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eNo
eNo
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Recent findings
In reply to drwho9437, May 21, 2011

No improvement in the highlights when compared to its predecessor sensor (D300):
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1034&message=38467788

Significant improvement in the shadows at base ISO:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1034&message=38473674

that quickly vanishes when ISO goes higher:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1034&message=38481272

Bottom line: expose correctly and don't expect magical sensor miracles.
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Zane Paxton
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Re: Recent findings
In reply to eNo, May 21, 2011

eNo wrote:

No improvement in the highlights when compared to its predecessor sensor (D300):
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1034&message=38467788

Significant improvement in the shadows at base ISO:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1034&message=38473674

that quickly vanishes when ISO goes higher:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1034&message=38481272

Bottom line: expose correctly and don't expect magical sensor miracles.

DR is the primary reason I bought the D7000 to replace my aging D2x. I'd guess that the D7000 has about a 2-1/2 stop advantage over the D2x; it's quite dramatic! Much of that ammazing DR gets compromized as you increase the ISO; I notice that the DR is substantially diminished by ISO 400 and the shadow noise is definitielly there. In high contrast/high range situation, one should have the discipline to shoot at ISI 100 to get the optimal results.

At ISO 100, I can easily darken the highlights by 1-1/2 stops (if it was exposed carefully and correctly) and then pull up the shadows by as much as 3-1/2 to even 4 stops. That allows as much as 5 to 5-1/2 stops of tonal compression. I've shot with the D3x and it is in that league. Mind you the D3x has more and higher quality detail in the deep shadows that can allow about 6 stops of tonal compression.

D7000 high DR shots:

Note the detail in the background in the bright windows on the left:

The tonal range for the shadows in the shops to the bright sun on the building was probably about 13 stops:

Here's two from the D3x as a comparision; I darkened the highlights probably 1-1/2 stops and pulled up the shadows as much as 5 stops:

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drwho9437
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Re: Recent findings
In reply to eNo, May 22, 2011

If there are any improvements you can exploit them as per the section notes in DPreview.
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drwho9437
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Re: Recent findings
In reply to Zane Paxton, May 22, 2011

Would you mind giving me the RAW file for the last one in that set, to play with?

I promise not to use it for anything but just conversion tests...

my name for this forum at yahoo works for an email address.
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eNo
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Re: Recent findings
In reply to Zane Paxton, May 22, 2011

What technique and tool do you use to push the shadows by 3 stops?
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Zane Paxton
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D7000 Tonal Compression PP Methodology
In reply to eNo, May 22, 2011

eNo wrote:

What technique and tool do you use to push the shadows by 3 stops?

1. Shoot RAW format (I never shoot JPG's).

2. The next step is to expose correctly. To do that one needs to use the camera's histogram to eliminate the hard-right edge spikes. If the highlights are not captured optimally, then the shot has failed. Typically I found that by shooting -0.3 EV in matrix mode does the trick. In some cases it will be more, but 85% of the time that seems to work. Keep in mind that the 'Highlight blinkies' on the camera's LCD are a JPG version of the RAW file and don't have the same wide DR as the RAW files (which there is no way to view in-camera, the JPG is a substitution, thus the need to learn to use the Histogram).

3. In ACR, I usually reduce the exposure around 0.8 or more depending on the shot. (-.3 EV + -0.8 in ACR = 1.1 stops)

4. I'm finding that a combo of "Fill Light" and "Brightness" works best to pull up the shadows even more.

5. That much tonal compression looks flat and muddy, so I will usually add more contrast to make it look right. Then some added vibrancy (never more than +30) to increase the color punch that starts to match my "mind's eye" idealized version of what I want to express.

6. For the really dark areas where you want more detail, I will use CS5's tools in ACR to paint-in more brightness and contrast. I've added as much as 1.5 to 2 stops with this tool.

7. Finally in CS5, I will further tweak the tonal values even more in Lab Color mode where the Luminance values are independent of color (unlike RGB mode which does change the colors). That allows even further spot tweaks and by steepening or flattening the tonal curve you can add or reduce contrast within certain sub-zones of the overall tonal range. This is where the fine-tuning occurs.

So that is the post-processing methodology that I've developed so far for the D7000. In many cases I'm finding that I won't necessarily compress as far as one can, but rather to make it look the way I want it to. For instance, to have a sense of "Bright" there needs to be a corresponding area of "Dark", otherwise it just doesn't look right.

Hope that helps!

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Zane Paxton
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Re: Recent findings
In reply to drwho9437, May 22, 2011

drwho9437 wrote:

Would you mind giving me the RAW file for the last one in that set, to play with?

That's a D3X file not a D7000 file.

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Zane
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Tom Zimmer
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Re: D7000 Tonal Compression PP Methodology
In reply to Zane Paxton, May 23, 2011

Considering the dynamic range you are getting out of your D3x and D7000, I wonder if you have ever considered using any of the HDR programs, in single raw mode, to do some of the processing. I know most of them (I use Dynamic Photo Pro, and Photomatix Pro) will work with a single raw file, or perhaps better if you convert your image to a 16bit tif first.

Just wondering, as it would be nice to be able t take HDR photos (as you obviously are) from a single shot instead of three.
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drwho9437
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Re: Recent findings
In reply to Zane Paxton, May 23, 2011

Sorry I missed the sentence in between the images, if you have any good examples of the D7000 that are landscapey that would be most helpful. Shots with a bright sky and deep shadow.
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eNo
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Re: D7000 Tonal Compression PP Methodology
In reply to Zane Paxton, May 23, 2011

That's very helpful. Thanks. I'll bookmark your response and put it to use when I get my LR3/CS5 workflow in place, sometime next week.
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Fred Mueller
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re LR3/CS5
In reply to eNo, May 23, 2011

eNo,

I was so surprised to find out that you had not had much exposure (pun) to Adobe Camera Raw. I think you are really going to appreciate the utility of the "Fill" slider, which you will happily find in "Develop" mode in LR, but I think, since you will also have ACR as part of the CS5 package, learn to use it right there in Camera Raw first. You can invoke ACR by double clicking on any shot or group of shots in Adobe Bridge.....I am going to bet that you will find Bridge/ACR/CS5 a more direct and robust combo than LR/CS5/LR

Zane's method above is my S.O.P. and just makes the whole process of figureing exposure quite direct, particlualrly when the dynamic range of a shot gets "wide" - and should be especially valid for the D7000 at low iso where you just have a lot to work with in a file that is exposed to preserve the highlights and where you will be pulling the shadows up quite a bit. The whole logic of shooting like this is EXACTLY what ADL is - only on steroids. When Nikon finally started putting that routine into Expeed, my reaction was - "Duh!" and also "its not stong enough".

Perhaps you will forgive me my flip "mountain out of a mole hill" response after you have used the fill slider for awhile

best

Fred

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_sem_
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Re: D7000 Tonal Compression PP Methodology
In reply to Zane Paxton, May 24, 2011

Zane Paxton wrote:

1. Shoot RAW format (I never shoot JPG's).

2. The next step is to expose correctly. To do that one needs to use the camera's histogram to eliminate the hard-right edge spikes. If the highlights are not captured optimally, then the shot has failed. Typically I found that by shooting -0.3 EV in matrix mode does the trick. In some cases it will be more, but 85% of the time that seems to work. Keep in mind that the 'Highlight blinkies' on the camera's LCD are a JPG version of the RAW file and don't have the same wide DR as the RAW files (which there is no way to view in-camera, the JPG is a substitution, thus the need to learn to use the Histogram).

3. In ACR, I usually reduce the exposure around 0.8 or more depending on the shot. (-.3 EV + -0.8 in ACR = 1.1 stops)

4. I'm finding that a combo of "Fill Light" and "Brightness" works best to pull up the shadows even more.

5. That much tonal compression looks flat and muddy, so I will usually add more contrast to make it look right. Then some added vibrancy (never more than +30) to increase the color punch that starts to match my "mind's eye" idealized version of what I want to express.

6. For the really dark areas where you want more detail, I will use CS5's tools in ACR to paint-in more brightness and contrast. I've added as much as 1.5 to 2 stops with this tool.

7. Finally in CS5, I will further tweak the tonal values even more in Lab Color mode where the Luminance values are independent of color (unlike RGB mode which does change the colors). That allows even further spot tweaks and by steepening or flattening the tonal curve you can add or reduce contrast within certain sub-zones of the overall tonal range. This is where the fine-tuning occurs.

So that is the post-processing methodology that I've developed so far for the D7000. In many cases I'm finding that I won't necessarily compress as far as one can, but rather to make it look the way I want it to. For instance, to have a sense of "Bright" there needs to be a corresponding area of "Dark", otherwise it just doesn't look right.

Do you use the Recovery slider to compress the highlights? Have you noticed blue skies turning grey when using it? Which profiles do you use (Adobe standard, camera standard, "invariate", custom made with profile editor, ColorChecker... ?)

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Zane Paxton
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Re: D7000 Tonal Compression PP Methodology
In reply to _sem_, May 24, 2011

sem wrote:

Zane Paxton wrote:

1. Shoot RAW format (I never shoot JPG's).

2. The next step is to expose correctly. To do that one needs to use the camera's histogram to eliminate the hard-right edge spikes. If the highlights are not captured optimally, then the shot has failed. Typically I found that by shooting -0.3 EV in matrix mode does the trick. In some cases it will be more, but 85% of the time that seems to work. Keep in mind that the 'Highlight blinkies' on the camera's LCD are a JPG version of the RAW file and don't have the same wide DR as the RAW files (which there is no way to view in-camera, the JPG is a substitution, thus the need to learn to use the Histogram).

3. In ACR, I usually reduce the exposure around 0.8 or more depending on the shot. (-.3 EV + -0.8 in ACR = 1.1 stops)

4. I'm finding that a combo of "Fill Light" and "Brightness" works best to pull up the shadows even more.

5. That much tonal compression looks flat and muddy, so I will usually add more contrast to make it look right. Then some added vibrancy (never more than +30) to increase the color punch that starts to match my "mind's eye" idealized version of what I want to express.

6. For the really dark areas where you want more detail, I will use CS5's tools in ACR to paint-in more brightness and contrast. I've added as much as 1.5 to 2 stops with this tool.

7. Finally in CS5, I will further tweak the tonal values even more in Lab Color mode where the Luminance values are independent of color (unlike RGB mode which does change the colors). That allows even further spot tweaks and by steepening or flattening the tonal curve you can add or reduce contrast within certain sub-zones of the overall tonal range. This is where the fine-tuning occurs.

So that is the post-processing methodology that I've developed so far for the D7000. In many cases I'm finding that I won't necessarily compress as far as one can, but rather to make it look the way I want it to. For instance, to have a sense of "Bright" there needs to be a corresponding area of "Dark", otherwise it just doesn't look right.

Do you use the Recovery slider to compress the highlights? Have you noticed blue skies turning grey when using it?

Yikes! I forgot to mention the "Recovery" slider. I use that a lot, sometimes pushed to 100% (Turn on the highlight indicator in ACR, slide the Recovery to the right to eliminate the blown highlights which show up in Red). Also some reduction in Exposure might help control the highlights. There is a fair amount of fiddling around and experimenting to find out what works best. I've processed several hundred images from my recent vacation and I think I'm getting a good feel for it now.

I haven't seen the sky turning grayer per se.... That probably indicates dropping the luminance/recovery too far... That in effect might be clipping the brightest parts too much. As a general rule, keep the curves smooth rather than abrupt.

Which profiles do you use (Adobe standard, camera standard, "invariate", custom made with profile editor, ColorChecker... ?)

I recently bought the X-Rite Colorchecker Passport and think it is just great. The Nikon colors are very good, but they are just better with the Colorchecker Passport. I've noticed that the D7000's colors are not as neutral as the classic D2x's colors. the D7000 seems to benefit more form the color balancing with the Clorchecker Passport than my D2x does. The Colorchecker Passport is about $100, but worth it. I plan on using it pretty regularly now after seeing the improvement it provides. I can see that the list in ACR could get kinda long after a while!

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/651253-REG/X_Rite_MSCCPP_ColorChecker_Passport.html

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Zane
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'Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments it takes our breath away.” ~ Anonymous

 Zane Paxton's gear list:Zane Paxton's gear list
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Zane Paxton
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Re: Recent findings
In reply to drwho9437, May 24, 2011

drwho9437 wrote:

Sorry I missed the sentence in between the images, if you have any good examples of the D7000 that are landscapey that would be most helpful. Shots with a bright sky and deep shadow.

Sorry, I haven't done that many landscapes yet... just used it extensively on my recent Vacation to Budapest and Venice which are more urban/architectural shots.
http://www.pbase.com/devonshire/european_vacation_2011

My discipline around bright skies in landscapes is still to use the ND grads where possible. Getting the exposure right in the first place is always better than trying to compensate in PP.

This is about as extreme as it gets; bright sun on white marble and the deep shadows in the arcade---that is probably 13-15/stops!

Here's one straight into the setting sun:

I was pleased how well it handled mid-day shots, although the clouds helped allot as did the polarizer.

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Zane
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 Zane Paxton's gear list:Zane Paxton's gear list
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2005magnum
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Zane-question
In reply to Zane Paxton, May 24, 2011

Hi Zane

I truly enjoyed the images you posted in this thread.

I was interested in the lenses you used to capture these images?

thanks
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_sem_
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Re: D7000 Tonal Compression PP Methodology
In reply to Zane Paxton, May 24, 2011

Zane Paxton wrote:

Yikes! I forgot to mention the "Recovery" slider. I use that a lot, sometimes pushed to 100% (Turn on the highlight indicator in ACR, slide the Recovery to the right to eliminate the blown highlights which show up in Red). Also some reduction in Exposure might help control the highlights. There is a fair amount of fiddling around and experimenting to find out what works best. I've processed several hundred images from my recent vacation and I think I'm getting a good feel for it now.

I haven't seen the sky turning grayer per se.... That probably indicates dropping the luminance/recovery too far... That in effect might be clipping the brightest parts too much. As a general rule, keep the curves smooth rather than abrupt.

Which profiles do you use (Adobe standard, camera standard, "invariate", custom made with profile editor, ColorChecker... ?)

I recently bought the X-Rite Colorchecker Passport and think it is just great. The Nikon colors are very good, but they are just better with the Colorchecker Passport. I've noticed that the D7000's colors are not as neutral as the classic D2x's colors. the D7000 seems to benefit more form the color balancing with the Clorchecker Passport than my D2x does. The Colorchecker Passport is about $100, but worth it. I plan on using it pretty regularly now after seeing the improvement it provides. I can see that the list in ACR could get kinda long after a while!

Thanks! But which profile were you mostly using & does "Recovery" experience change with the profile? I mean, the "invariate" profiles were made with the intention of removing the twists, and the CC profiles are supposedly not "twisted" either. I did notice this quite obviously when testdriving LR3b, but I wasn't aware of the profiles at the time. It is visible in my comparison, though this is not max Recovery (to keep the sky bluer and also to retain some contrast in the clouds).

Regarding the colours, DxO OP allows one to try different profiles - a neutral one (close to CC in neutral light I guess), their "standard", one that attempts to match the default camera profile, and a bunch of profiles emulating other cameras. My impression is that the choice highly depends on the image - some scenes work best with "calibrationist" natural colours, while others with tweaked factory colours. And one may tweak colours further to taste, the preset profiles are just a convenient starting point. I took the liberty to pick the Canon tonemapping now and then Of course, some CNX users would always claim no DxO colours were any good.

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Reilly Diefenbach
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Re: D7000 Tonal Compression PP Methodology
In reply to Zane Paxton, May 24, 2011

So that is the post-processing methodology that I've developed so far for the D7000. In many cases I'm finding that I won't necessarily compress as far as one can, but rather to make it look the way I want it to. For instance, to have a sense of "Bright" there needs to be a corresponding area of "Dark", otherwise it just doesn't look right.

Hope that helps!

Any D7000 newbies here should print this out and use it. Lightroom does the same adjustments. A most excellent post, Zane.

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Zane Paxton
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Re: Zane-question
In reply to 2005magnum, May 24, 2011

2005magnum wrote:

Hi Zane

I truly enjoyed the images you posted in this thread.

I was interested in the lenses you used to capture these images?

thanks

I have a bunch of Nikkors that I used with my D2x, but for the vacation I chose the 16-85mm VR. It has a great range so was the only lens I took on my trip to travel light and I didn't feel the need for anything else. With the VR and good technique, I was able to reliably shoot down to about 1/13th handheld (WooHoo!).

It's a very good lens. The VR is very useful if you don't want to drag a tripod around while traveling. It's sharp but can have some soft corners if not stopped down. The 24-70mm f/2.8 is sharper, but costs almost 3x as much for the diminishing returns and doesn't have VR. The 16-85mm is not a bright f/2.8 but compensates with the VR. The 16-85mm VR's CA is much better than my older 17-35mm AFS by a long shot, probably due to the newer high-tech glass. The overall image quality (IQ) of my D7000 + 16-85mm VR is definitely better than my D2x with the 17-35mm AFS. The 16-85mm VR is not a lens to use if you want great Bokeh, at f/3.5-f/5.6 it just doesn't get wide enough.

For my landscape work, I use a tripod about 99% of the time.

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Zane Paxton
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Re: Zane-question
In reply to Zane Paxton, May 24, 2011

Zane Paxton wrote:

2005magnum wrote:

Hi Zane

I truly enjoyed the images you posted in this thread.

I was interested in the lenses you used to capture these images?

thanks

I have a bunch of Nikkors that I used with my D2x, but for the vacation I chose the 16-85mm VR. It has a great range so was the only lens I took on my trip to travel light and I didn't feel the need for anything else. With the VR and good technique, I was able to reliably shoot down to about 1/13th handheld (WooHoo!).

It's a very good lens. The VR is very useful if you don't want to drag a tripod around while traveling. It's sharp but can have some soft corners if not stopped down. The 24-70mm f/2.8 is sharper, but costs almost 3x as much for the diminishing returns and doesn't have VR. The 16-85mm is not a bright f/2.8 but compensates with the VR. The 16-85mm VR's CA is much better than my older 17-35mm AFS by a long shot, probably due to the newer high-tech glass. The overall image quality (IQ) of my D7000 + 16-85mm VR is definitely better than my D2x with the 17-35mm AFS. The 16-85mm VR is not a lens to use if you want great Bokeh, at f/3.5-f/5.6 it just doesn't get wide enough.

For my landscape work, I use a tripod about 99% of the time.

BTW, I essentially traded in a once used 12-24mm DX and the kit lens to get the 16-85mm VR. The 16-85mm VR puts the 12-24mm DX to shame. The 12-24mm DX that I had was very soft overall, it was a major disappointment for the price.

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 Zane Paxton's gear list:Zane Paxton's gear list
Nikon D7000 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8D ED-IF Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/4G ED VR +2 more
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