How little camera sensors have changed in 5 years

Started Sep 28, 2012 | Discussions thread
Robin Casady Forum Pro • Posts: 12,898
Re: The practical differences...

J Mankila wrote:

Tommot1965 wrote:

Robin Casady wrote:

Too technical for you? Need to have it explained?

yes..and yes please...but without condescension

It's showing the photographically usable dynamic range at various ISOs. In practical terms, it shows you how much you can dig up the shadows until they become too noisy to be considered useful.

For the differences to really show, you're expected to do some tone mapping with your images (not talking about special software, but rather tweaking of the tone curve in the raw converter). Especially in B&W photography it's extremely useful, as the colours don't get washed away (although masters will create impressive, realistic HDR images in colour, too). The D700 isn't very good at that, whereas the D800 is one of the best. No, not really - it is the best, medium format digital backs included (to my limited knowledge).

To add to this description, the chart is interactive. You can select or deselect cameras on the right. Then compare their dynamic range. Roll over one of the dots on the chart line and you will see the ISO & PDR numbers.

Everything is relative, but I would give the D700 more credit. I would say it is good, the D2x is poor, and the D800 is rather amazing for such a high res sensor. The D2x produces great color in controlled lighting, but dealing with bright scenes and dark shadows is challenging.

Another thing that is useful about the chart is that you can see how much dynamic range you lose as you increase ISO. At 100 ISO the D800 has over 11 stops of useful dynamic range. At 800 ISO it drops to 8.6 stops, and a 3200 ISO, it is down to 6.8 stops.

At base ISO (200) the D700 only has 9 stops. However, the difference between the D800 and D700 narrows to about half a stop at 800 ISO.

The best the D2x can do is 7.8 stops; dropping down to just under 5 stops at 800 ISO and less than 3 stops at 3200 ISO.

Noise is not the only consequence of using high ISO. Loss of dynamic range is also significant.,D700,D800

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