Previous page Next page

JPEG Tone Curves / dynamic range

Our Dynamic Range measurement system involves shooting a calibrated Stouffer Step Wedge (13 stops total range) which is backlit using a daylight balanced lamp (98 CRI). A single shot of this produces a gray scale wedge from the camera's clipped white point down to black (example below). Each step of the scale is equivalent to 1/3 EV (a third of a stop), we select one step as 'middle gray' (defined as 50% luminance) and measure outwards to define the dynamic range. Hence there are 'two sides' to our results, the amount of shadow range (below middle gray) and the amount of highlight range (above middle gray).

To most people highlight range is the first thing they think about when talking about dynamic range, that is the amount of highlight detail above middle gray the camera can capture before it clips to white. Shadow range is more complicated; in our test the line on the graph stops as soon as the luminance value drops below our defined 'black point' (about 2% luminance) or the signal-to-noise ratio drops below a predefined value (where shadow detail would be swamped by noise), whichever comes first.

Note: this page features our new interactive dynamic range comparison widget. The wedges below the graph are created by our measurement system from the values read from the step wedge, the red lines indicate approximate shadow and highlight range (the dotted line indicating middle gray).

Cameras Compared

The D5200 produces a tone curve that is all-but identical similar to what we've seen on previous low-end Nikon models, and falls neatly between the curves of Canon's Rebel T4i, which clips highlights somewhat more suddenly, and the Sony A57, which has a slightly gentler 'roll off'. At standard settings the D5200 gives a total JPEG dynamic range of approximately 9 EV, about 3.5EV of which is in highlights.

Picture Controls

All of the D5200's different Picture Control settings offer the same highlight range of approximately 3.5 EV but vary in contrast. The Neutral setting applies the least contrasty tone curve while the vivid and landscape settings produce a 'punchier' tonality.

ADL modes

Active D-Lighting is Nikon's method for capturing more information in the brightest parts of the scene and conveying a wider range of tones in the final image. When the system is activated the camera uses a darker exposure to capture more highlight tones, then analyses the scene and selectively brightens parts of the image to give a well exposed image without losing local contrast.

The D5200 offers four discrete settings for Active D-Lighting (ADL) in addition to an 'Auto' option. Comparing the effects of ADL at its extremes - Off and Extra High - you can see that in our studio test scene the highlights are extended by as much as 1 EV, albeit with a pretty abrupt transition between clipped whites and highlight detail.

Previous page Next page

Comments

Total comments: 9
sophi loren
By sophi loren (4 months ago)

I was confused in between nikon D5200 and Nikon D3200 and at last I go with Nikon D5200 for its ultimate power and obviously the ability of great videoing. DPreview really helps me a lot in this case. Recently I read a review aabout Nikon D5200 best buy and the writer really explain lots of intersting facts about D5200 ad alos offer a great price deal there. I think that will help you guys.

Review Link:

http://www.squidoo.com/nikon-d5200-best-buy-a-personal-review

Enjoy with your Nikon and I really proud for my D5200
Thanks

Comment edited 22 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
sophi loren
By sophi loren (4 months ago)

I hope you will get help from that review :)

Comment edited 36 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
draleks
By draleks (4 months ago)

I don't get it, what is the actual dynamic range of this camera? Without the ADL it seems to be a pretty mediocre 10EV, with ADL extra high it's 13 EV. Is ADL actually extending the dynamic range of the captured information, or is it just some "clever" post-processing?

1 upvote
Swinterschorr
By Swinterschorr (2 months ago)

I have the same question!

0 upvotes
OceanFroggie
By OceanFroggie (5 months ago)

Was torn between the extra physical controls of the D7100 and the tilting screen of the D5200 along with its lighter more ergonomic feel in hand. Image quality between the two seems similar. I opted for the D5200 and so far happy I went for it rather than the slighlty larger D7100. Thought I'd spend the cost difference in better lens quality. The D7100 screw drive would have focused by old film Nikkor lenses, but I thought it better to move to newer DX lenses with the amazing VR which didn't exist when I used film.

Only grip is I would prefer a second dial, but the tilt screen was worth the compromise. I don't bother using the ridiculously high 24mp image size, instead opting for 'medium' which is about 16mp which is more than enough. A very happy camper so far. After defecting from Nikon film SLRs to Fuji compact bridges a decade ago, now very pleased with the compact feel of the D5200 and the images it produces with ergonomic ease.

0 upvotes
DidYouConsider
By DidYouConsider (5 months ago)

I am trying to decide between the Nikon D5200 and the Canon T5i (700D).
I am *totally* confused by the JPG/Noise/ISO data on this page.

DPReview gives higher ratings to the Nikon, both for image quality and for noise. But, when I see the data above, I see the exact opposite. I must be mis-reading the data. I am only interested in the JPEG data. I don't like to use RAW - just takes up way too much space on my harddisk....

From what I see above, the Canon image seems much crisper - much much less noise. Can someone explain why DPReview gives the nod to the Nikon??

When I downloaded the sample image for both cameras, I also think the Canon seems so much crisper and sharper. Why would someone think the Nikon picture is better? They must be seeing something I am missing.

Any insight would be appreciated....

0 upvotes
Duncan Dimanche
By Duncan Dimanche (5 months ago)

big cloister of dead pixels visible in that last visible video sample…. in the center…argh

0 upvotes
PeterDost
By PeterDost (7 months ago)

"particularly if you're prepared to move beyond either of the kit lenses to higher quality optics"

Which lens would provide better image quality providing a similar range like the 18-105?

Recommendations are welcome.

0 upvotes
AdamLeszko
By AdamLeszko (6 months ago)

considering that You have plenty of pixels to crop from 24M, and pretty average performance of mentioned lenses on long end, I would rather use tamron's or sigma's 17-50s with 2.8 light. Both in proce range of about $300-$400. They will actually allow You to take benefit of such big number of pixels.

cheers

0 upvotes
Total comments: 9