D3 dynamic range?

Started Nov 10, 2007 | Discussions thread
ejmartin Veteran Member • Posts: 6,274
Re: Bill Janes or EJMartin

Steve Bingham wrote:

Although I have read this entire thread, and learned much, a lot of
this theory information is really hard to digest. I certainly
appreciate the education, but the initial question still seems to go
unanswered by either of you. Would either of you care to try to
answer the question, or at least answer the question in terms where
the average photographer can understand? Your knowledge appears to be
immense, so a real answer would be appreciated (I am sure by many).

The OP asked what is the dynamic range of the D3. The raw files I have analyzed gave the following results for the engineering definition of dynamic range:

ISO 200: 11.7 stops
ISO 1600: 10.2 stops
ISO 3200: 9.5 stops

To place these results in context, within experimental uncertainty they are identical to those of the Canon 1D mark 3, which has the best dynamic range of current Canon offerings. The D3 is better than current Nikons at ISO 200; easily more than a stop better at high ISO. The OP also asked how the D3 compares to the Fuji S5. I haven't seen DR measurements of this camera employing this definition of DR, though they might be around somewhere since I haven't looked hard.

Beware that other criterion for evaluating dynamic range are used by some. For instance, dpreview and imaging-resource photograph step charts and analyze the result after running the image through raw conversion. While perhaps more applicable to the end user's aims, this approach convolves the properties of the camera with those of the raw conversion software, and so you have to ask how much of the result is attributable to the camera and how much to the raw conversion software being used. To my mind, direct measurement of the raw data without raw conversion (which is what I did) gives an unambiguous measure of the camera's capabilities.

I should also add the caveat that as stated in my subject lines, my measurements are crude -- they are taken from raw files shot at a camera demo, of the scene in the display area. A proper test would use black frames or OOF colorchecker/step charts as the target.

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