In a new addition to our future reviews we have now established a method for testing the dynamic range of a digital camera. DPReview in conjunction with Digital Domain Inc. (QImage Pro etc.) have developed a testing method and software application to analyse the results of test shots to establish the dynamic range of the sensor system of a digital camera. We will be updating some of our existing reviews with these test results.
Dynamic range has been something we've always talked about in our reviews but previously have not been able to quantify. Thanks to a collaboration between DPReview and Digital Domain Inc. (QImage Pro - Michael Chaney) we now have a test procedure for measuring dynamic range.
- Put simply we have to establish two images, one which represents the
lowest level of light at which the sensor system* can stil distinguish
detail and one which represents the highest level of light the sensor
system can capture before over exposing.
- This is carried out by shooting a test target with the camera in manual
exposure mode and progressively increasing (or decreasing) the exposure
- The resultant images are then analysed and run through a program which analyses the two images that represent minimum and maximum exposures, measuring both noise and recorded brightness levels on the target and performing a series of calculations to establish the dynamic range between the two extremes.
The result of this are five figures:
- Noise - a calculated figure which represents the average noise level
in the image (using standard deviation from averages)
- Range - - the dynamic range (based on signal versus noise levels)
of the sensor system represented as a magnitude ratio
- Bits - the number of digital bits required to store the resultant
dynamic range (thus a result of 7.8 bits would require 8 bits to store
- Density - a figure more commonly used in film and film scanners, for
reference (log10 - a density of 2 is 10^2 or 100:1)
- dB - the dynamic range in decibels; a measure often used in describing signal to noise ratio in capture devices.
Note: Range, bits, density and dB are simply different ways of characterizing the same dynamic range using different units. Although all four represent the same dynamic range, we provide them as a frame of reference since you may find reference to any of these in other sources.
We repeat the above test for all the ISO sensitivities available on the camera (as dynamic range changes depending on the sensitivity level) and the resultant figures can be used to compare the dynamic range of one sensor system (camera) against another.
We also repeat the test for a "best case scenario"; at the lowest sensitivity with in-camera sharpening disabled. In-camera sharpening defintely has a detrimental effect on dynamic range (as it tends to amplify noise).
Interestingly, because we can also measure noise this gives us a secondary result, that is the relative noise level at certain ISO sensitivities for different cameras.
* "sensor system" description includes the CCD, amplifiers and DSP's and firmware within the camera.
Shot using the above method, output was JPEG (capturing as RAW introduces too many variables). Higher is better for all numbers except noise where lower numbers indicate less noise.
|Nikon Coolpix 990||100*||0.13||446:1||8.8||2.6D||53|
|Fuji S1 Pro||320*||0.10||663:1||9.4||2.8D||56|
* Sharpening Off
(ISO Sensitivity scale on above graph is logarithmic)
DISCLAIMER: ACCURACY AND APPLICABILITY OF THE DATA
Note that although every attempt was made to minimize errors in measurements, there are some variables such as JPEG compression and quantization differences like gamma and contrast curves that can affect measurements. We feel that the results are a fairly accurate indication of the dynamic range of the cameras when used with the most common settings for the particular camera. Although comparability from one camera to the next will be affected somewhat by settings such as sharpening, curves, etc. we feel that the comparison is valid under most "normal" shooting conditions.
Also note again that we are measuring the capability of the camera sensor system and NOT the capability of a given camera to CAPTURE that dynamic range. Although a given camera may return a dynamic range that is higher than another model, it's firmware may not choose to CAPTURE the maximum range since doing so may compromise contrast and overall "pop" in the final images. For this reason, the results on this page are more representative of hardware capability than image capture capability, i.e., just because a camera has the *capability* doesn't mean that this will pass through to final images.
|Christine by JP Zanotti|
from Car wreck
|Fangorn Forest by cand1d|
|Yosemite Falls with Moonbow by Jonathan Shapiro|
from Best Landscape of the Week 4
Think Tank Photo has updated two of its popular bag lines with improvements to functionality. Read more
We’ve all seen Bob Jackson’s Pulitzer Prize winning photo, but there's another.
The sample footage looks good.
It will automatically pick the best camera settings depending on shooting conditions. It even promises enhanced functionality for your camera, like exposure and focus stacking. It already supports many cameras from Canon, Fuji, Nikon and Sony. Read more
As if $13,950 wasn’t enough to pay for a special edition lens, the Leica Store in San Francisco is offering a prototype of said lens for $24,995. Read more
Make those old photos disappear without deleting them forever.
Firmware updates enable 10 fps shooting with adapted A-mount lenses, and faster startup times and better compatibility for 20 fps shooting when using native lenses on the a9.
Fujifilm has released firmware updates for its camera models X-T2, X-Pro2, GFX 50s, X-T20, X100F and X-T1 and updates to three of its software products.
A 22 year-old Romanian photographer uses his DJI Phantom 4 drone to capture unique perspectives of the city where he now lives.
What's it like to ride the waves with champion surfer Kelly Slater? This VR video from Teton Gravity Research gives you a taste.
When Nikon released the full-frame D3 in 2007, it changed the professional photography industry. In this week's Throwback Thursday, Barney remembers a legend. Read more
The new stuff should have better red hues, improved sensitivity and finer grain - but don't worry - will still shift blues to green, greens to purple and yellows to pink.
Ricoh has introduced a new rugged compact camera with a 16MP CMOS sensor, 28-140mm lens, 2.7" LCD and built-in LED macro lights. Read more
This compact drone can shoot HD video using a 2-axis stabilized 12MP camera. Read more
The new Prynt Pocket can print a photo directly from their iPhone simply by inserting the phone into the printer, then snapping a photo. Each print will cost about 50 cents. Read more
Updates for Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom CC bring support for the Sony A9 and Panasonic ZS70/TZ90, along with bug fixes.
The Triggertrap remote camera control system is no longer sold due to the company folding, but now users will be able to build their own. Read more
The Magic Format Converter comes with internal optics that expand the image circle of full-frame DSLR lenses for use on the Fuji medium format camera. Read more
The usually Apple-exclusive MacPhun software developer has announced that it will introduce PC versions of two of its most popular applications. Both Aurora HDR and Luminar should be available for the Windows operating system by the autumn of this year. Read more
Sony's newest G Master telephoto zoom, announced alongside the a9, is the first of the company's FE lenses to reach 400mm natively. We had one in California and photographed horses, portraits, and landscapes - check out how it did. Read more
Garmin has entered the 360-camera market with the VIRB, which captures 5.7K video at 30p as well as 15MP stills. Read more
German media reports that the founders of the company behind the Panono 360-degree ball camera have filed for bankruptcy at a court in Berlin. Read more
With a claimed 800 new custom parts, Microsoft's updated Surface Pro comes with the latest Kaby Lake processors, better battery life, a new hinge, plus the Surface Pen is updated as well. Read more
DW Photo is attempting to resurrect the Hy6 medium format camera, though the legal tangles of its development may stop it being branded Rolleiflex.
The Kodak EKTRA, the company's 'camera first' smartphone, is now available to purchase in the United States. Read more
Apple and Nokia have settled their years-old patent dispute. Apple will make an undisclosed payment to Nokia and sign a licensing agreement related to digital health products with the Finnish company.
David Gibson, one of Britain's best known street shooters, shares all.
Photographers from the SKYGLOW project travelled 150k miles and took 3 million photos in increasingly rare locations: those without light pollution.
The world's fastest 200mm was produced for 16 years. In that time, only 8000 were made.
Photokina, the biennial photo industry trade show in Cologne, Germany, has announced that it will become an annual event beginning in 2018, and expand its focus to additional areas of imaging technology. Read more