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Dynamic Range

Dynamic range simply defines the range of light the camera is able to capture before it either loses detail in darkness (shadows for example) or blows out a highlight (edges of chromed metals are good examples of this). Most consumer digital cameras only have a 8-bit analog to digital converters, plus their CCD's are not built to have a particularly large dynamic range. The D1x's sensor has a 12-bit analog to digital converter.

Metering, as we'd expect was excellent, Nikon's much lauded Matrix metering system working extremely well, if you're uncomfortable with that or have other requirements you also have center-weighted average and spot metering (which can also be customized). I've read some comments from people who claim the D1x is underexposing, my experience is that (at exposure compensation 0.0 EV) it deliberately ensures that as little of the image as possible is clipped (over exposed). You can always brighten a dark image, you can't restore over exposed detail.

Using our new dynamic range measurement method we measured the D1x's dynamic range as:

(Higher numbers are better except for noise)

Camera ISO Noise Range Bits Density dB

Nikon D1x

Native JPEG

125* 0.04 444:1 8.9 2.7D 53
125 0.05 420:1 8.7 2.6D 52
200 0.04 411:1 8.7 2.6D 52
400 0.05 290:1 8.2 2.5D 49
800 0.07 186:1 7.5 2.3D 45
1600 0.13 99:1 6.6 2.0D 40
3200 0.18 85:1 6.4 1.9D 39

Nikon D1

Native JPEG

200* 0.09 470:1 8.9 2.7D 53
200 0.11 380:1 8.6 2.6D 52
400 0.18 269:1 8.1 2.4D 49
800 0.40 152:1 7.2 2.2D 44
1600 0.82 97:1 6.6 2.0D 40
3200 1.04 92:1 6.5 2.0D 39
6400 2.55 59:1 5.9 1.8D 35

* In-camera sharpening disabled

The interesting thing about these results is (a) noise is considerably lower than the D1 at the same sensitivity and (b) slightly better dynamic range at higher sensitivities (ISO 400 and 800 more notably). Dynamic range was pretty much in line with what I'd expected and what I'd seen in our samples.


White balance

The D1x offers a large range of pre-programmed white balance options as well as fine tuning and three manual presets. The samples below are designed to provide an example of how well the Auto white balance, pre-programmed and manual preset white balances work under different types of lighting.

Settings: ISO 200 / Sharp.: Normal / Tone: Auto / Colorspace: sRGB / Size: Medium.

Daylight: Auto Daylight: Cloudy Daylight: Manual
Incandescent: Auto Incandescent: Incandescent Incandescent: Manual
Fluorescent: Auto Fluorescent: Fluorescent Fluorescent: Manual

White balance fine tuning

Just like the D1 (and a couple of Nikon's Coolpix digital cameras) the D1x allows each pre-programmed white balance to be adjusted slightly (or 'fine tuned') by up to three levels positive (cooler - towards blue) or negative (warmer - towards red).

Settings: ISO 200 / Sharp.: Normal / Tone: Auto / Colorspace: sRGB / Size: Medium.

 
Incandescent -3 (3250 K) Incandescent -2 (3150 K)  
Incandescent -1 (3100 K) Incandescent +/-0 (3000 K) Incandescent +1 (2900 K)
 
  Incandescent +2 (2800 K) Incandescent +3 (2700 K)

Clearly in this instance the lights used were closer to 2700 K (Incandescent +3), however it's still not quite there, manual preset white balance would be more appropriate for this scene.

White balance fine tune approximate color temperatures

For references purposes we have reproduced the approximate color temperature table for each fine tuned white balance from the D1x manual.

Adjustment Incandescent Fluorescent *1 Sunlight *2 Flash Cloudy *2 Shade *2
+3 2700 K 2700 K 4800 K 4800 K 5400 K 6700 K
+2 2800 K 3000 K 4900 K 5000 K 5600 K 7100 K
+1 2900 K 3700 K 5000 K 5200 K 5800 K 7500 K
+/-0 3000 K 4200 K 5200 K 5400 K 6000 K 8000 K
-1 3100 K 5000 K 5300 K 5600 K 6200 K 8400 K
-2 3150 K 6500 K 5400 K 5800 K 6400 K 8800 K
-3 3250 K 7200 K 5600 K 6000 K 6600 K 9200 K

*1 Users of the D1 should note that the color temperatures that result when fluorescent white balance is fine tuned differ widely from the values used in the D1x.
*2 Daylight.


Moiré

Although very few and far between we did observe some moiré effects in some images where there were large patches of high frequency detail. This only occurred in camera native JPEG images. This is backed up by what we have seen on our resolution test chart. I'll repeat, it was pretty seldom and not as strong or harsh as we've seen from other high resolution digital SLR's (and only seems to occur in camera native JPEG's).

ISO 125, 1/250s, F7.6 (28-105mm F3.5-F4.5)
2,475 KB
ISO 140, 1/125s, F5.0 (17-35mm F2.8)
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