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Dynamic Range

Our new 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 cameras) black to clipped white (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' 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 the camera can capture before it clips to white. Shadow range is more complicated, in our test we stop measuring values below middle gray 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.

Active D-Lighting feature

D-Lighting is a shadow & highlight enhancement feature first seen on Nikon's Coolpix range of compact cameras and later on the D200. When it was first introduced it was an after-the-fact filter which you could apply to images in playback mode. On the latest Nikons 'Active' D-Lighting is a menu setting which is applied to all images (working on the raw data) if enabled. There are four levels (and an auto mode) available; Off, Low, Normal and High. Rather than only adjusting the shape of the tone curve (as most similar systems do) setting higher levels appears to apply a third of a stop negative exposure compensation (typically slightly higher shutter speed).

Below you can see a graphical representation of the curve produced by each setting. Highlight range is being extended by approximately half a stop in the 'High' setting. The shadow range remains largely unaffected. The effect is subtle to say the least, but might come in handy in some situations.

Below you can see how the numerical results that you can see plotted in the graph translate into real life. We exposed both shots to get some detail on the brickwork of the dark tunnel. Naturally this results in an overexposure of the buildings you can see outside. As you can see in the crops Active D-Lighting managed to recover a small amount of highlight detail on the brickwork.

Active D-Lighting Off, 1/8 sec Active D-Lighting High, 1/15 sec
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Total comments: 7
By driftnomore (8 months ago)

@ zakk9:

what is it with telephoto long lenses,btw.


i guess that would be a good buy,with only under 1700 shutter count,lens and the battery grip. had it been here in my place,i'm gonna get it.

By driftnomore (8 months ago)

does anyone here know the shutter actuation of the d700? i'm considering buying a used one with 39,000 shutter count for 900 it a good buy for a 39k count?

1 upvote
By MusaOmar (7 months ago)

I think they are rated for 150,000.. So 39k is not that bad. Just bought one with 38K for $1300

1 upvote
By Jamesbond6668 (9 months ago)

I've used this camera for many photo shoots for over 2 years and still have it as my backup camera. (My main one is the D4). If you don't care about video, this is the camera for you! Much better than the D600 and probably very similar to the D800 (though the D800 has way too large image files for most shooters.). The images from the D700 with the right Nikkor lenses will keep you very happy for many years! (I only switched to the D4 for it's low light ability and faster shooting speed.)

1 upvote
By Chrysippus (8 months ago)

I have been looking for a replacement camera for my D40 and in my research discovered the D700. I can now get a used one in perfect condition with less than 1700 shots taken plus grip and lens (waiting to hear which lens) for 890 Euros. Would you say this is a better option than a Fuji X-E1 or Olympus OM-D E-M5 in terms of usability and image quality? I am looking for a camera to take stock photos with.

By zakk9 (8 months ago)

The D700 is an excellent camera if you don't need video or long telephoto lenses. It's particularly ideal if you want to use wide aperture primes and play with shallow depth of field. When it comes to image quality, it's a 5 year old camera, and many of the smaller sensors approach the once unique qualities of the D700 (I use a Panasonic GH3 in addition to the D700 myself). There are no obvious choices, and it mostly boils down to the user experience. Do you prefer an OVF or an EVF? Are you ok with a camera that is twice as heavy? The rational choices nowadays are probably a mirrorless camera, but the D700 is a classic. They are all good :)

1 upvote
Son Of Waldo
By Son Of Waldo (10 months ago)

Excellent review!

Total comments: 7