Nikon D800 Review
JPEG Tone Curves / dynamic range
Our 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 camera's clipped white point down to black (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' (defined as 50% luminance) 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 above middle gray the camera can capture before it clips to white. Shadow range is more complicated; in our test the line on the graph stops 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.
Note: this page features our new interactive dynamic range comparison widget. The wedges below the graph are created by our measurement system from the values read from the step wedge, the red lines indicate approximate shadow and highlight range (the dotted line indicating middle gray).
At its default Active D-Lighting setting of 'ADL Off', the D800 exhibits a tone curve that is virtually identical to that of its big brother, the Nikon D4. Both cameras offer more subdued highlights than the 'punchier' rendering of the Canon 5D Mark III. The relatively gentle transition from highlight detail to clipped whites makes for a smooth transition of tones while still maintaining a generally pleasing image contrast (see our real world ADL samples).
The D800 offers six different 'Picture Controls', which are essentially color response presets applied to in-camera JPEGs. While none of these vary global image brightness, they do provide options for slightly adjusting the highlight and/or shadow range of the processed image. See the Features page of this review for a demonstration of these presets on a real-world image.
The default mode is 'Standard', which yields an impressive four stops of dynamic range from middle gray to clipped white. The 'Vivid' and 'Landscape' options boost image contrast by reducing dynamic range, having a more pronounced effect on heavy shadows, which are set closer to maximum black. 'Portrait' mode, on the other hand, protects shadows by maintaining detail at the darker end of the camera's dynamic range, sacrificing perhaps 1/3 stop of highlight range in the process.
The D800 offers five discrete settings for Active D-Lighting (ADL) in addition to an 'Auto' option. Nikon's ADL modes seek to retain highlight and shadow detail in high contrast scenes by combining under-exposure (via a shutter speed adjustment) with manipulation of the image's tone curve. The real-world effects of these options can be found on the Features page of our review.
Comparing the effects of ADL at its extremes - Off and Extra High - you can see that in our studio test scene the highlights are extended by as much as 1 stop EV, albeit with a very abrupt transition between clipped whites and highlight detail. Overall scene brightness is reduced by perhaps 1/3 stop EV in 'Normal', 'High' and 'Extra High' ADL modes in order to expand the highlight range.
In the graph above, we compare the D800's base ISO of 100 with its Lo 1 setting of ISO 50 (equivalent). This lower sensitivity setting is essentially ISO 100 with 1 EV additional exposure and a tone curve adjustment to arrive at a final exposure with the correct brightness. The penalty, as you can see above, is a significant decrease in available highlight range. Given this difference, we would advise shooting at or above ISO 100 to maintain maximum dynamic range, using ND filters instead for situations that require a longer exposure.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Specifications
- 3 D800E
- 4 Body & Design
- 5 Body Elements
- 6 Viewfinder
- 7 Operation & Controls
- 8 Displays
- 9 Live View
- 10 Menus: Playback & Shooting
- 11 Menus: Custom Settings
- 12 Menus: Setup, Retouch & 'My'
- 13 Handling
- 14 Performance (Speed)
- 15 Performance (Autofocus)
- 16 Features
- 17 ADL & HDR modes
- 18 Noise & Noise Reduction
- 19 Dynamic Range
- 20 Resolution (D800)
- 21 Resolution (D800E)
- 22 Raw Resolution (D800 v D800E)
- 23 Raw Mode
- 24 High ISO noise comparisons
- 25 Image Quality Tests
- 26 Image Quality Tests
- 27 Image Quality Tests (D800 v D800E)
- 28 Image Quality Tests (D800 v D800E)
- 29 Image Quality Tests (D800 v D800E)
- 30 Movie Mode
- 31 Image Q. Compared (JPEG)
- 32 Image Q. Compared (Hi ISO)
- 33 Image Q. Compared (RAW)
- 34 Conclusion
- 35 Samples Galleries
Jun 3, 2015
Apr 25, 2015
Jun 8, 2015
Jun 5, 2015
|Nectar Dancing by Lensmate|
from A Big Year - birds
|Foggy morning by LassiM|
|Sad clown by PEB|
|Mtl Gen X 2015 DP by MarioSS|
from - Gen X - (In Full Colours+ Border)
Photographer Alessandro Barteletti shares the story behind his National Geographic Italia cover, shot with a 10-year-old DSLR and an iPhone flashlight.
Fashion catalog photographers in China have some next-level models to work with. In this video, you see one model hitting 30 poses in 15 seconds as the photographer snaps away.
Photographer Paul Adshead breaks down 11 photography-related smartphone apps he couldn't live without—from a pocket light meter to a lighting diagram app.
Fast-growing Chinese flash brand Godox is teasing a brand new flash trigger... for smartphones. The Godox A1 is a 'phone flash system' that can act as both flash and 2.4GHz trigger.
On July 12, Canon opened its newest Technology and Support Center, designed to serve the motion picture industry, in Burbank, CA. DPReview got a sneak peak and takes you behind the scenes.
The Sigma 14mm F1.8 Art is truly one-of-a-kind. It offers the fastest aperture of any lens that shares its focal length, produces beautiful sunstars and is incredibly sharp to boot. If you're in the market for a fast ultrawide prime, this looks to be the one to get.
In this article, expert macro photographer Thomas Shahan shares advice for successful closeup photography of bugs, insects and small animals.
DJI's new firmware makes it difficult to fly in restricted airspace, even when you have proper clearance. Is DJI placing themselves between professionals and the FAA?
Go behind the scenes with National Geographic photographer Renan Ozturk and see what it takes to capture a dangerous, harrowing, stunning Nat Geo photo essay.
Erez Marom tells the story behind this ominous photo of the sand 'reaching up' towards the mountains at Skagsanden beach in Norway. He calls this photo 'Torment.'
DPReview staffer Carey Rose has taken the Panasonic Leica DG 15mm F1.7 along for everything from a city-side boat ride to a bachelor party across the mountains. Find out how the little Leica fared.
Canon just unveiled the largest 12-ink printer on the market. The new imagePROGRAF PRO-6000 printer can make prints from 17 all the way up to 60 inches wide.
"Standing in one of the holiest places on earth, I felt uneasy," writes Wired's Jason Parham. "Most of my fellow visitors, I realized with a brief bloom of nausea, were taking selfies."
Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk has been receiving great reviews, but it's a challenge to see it in its full glory. This handy infographic reveals the aspect ratio chaos that is wrought as the industry retreats from film.
Anti-bullying organization Ditch the Label's Annual Bullying Survey 2017 reveals yet again that Instagram, more so than any other social network, has a the worst effect on youth mental health.
It's been a crazy day for innovative patent news. Apparently Sony is thinking of developing a medium format curved sensor camera.
An update to the Silkypix Raw converter fixes some bugs and adds support for several popular new cameras.
This crazy custom-built underwater camera shoots 8x10 large format film. It's supposedly "the first successful underwater 8x10 ever made," and it can be yours for $5,800... plus shipping.
Blackmagic just reveled a new accessory for their Cintel Film Scanner. The Cintel Audio and KeyKode Reader can capture KeyKode data and high-quality audio from film in real-time as it is being scanned.
A new Nikon patent shows a lens designed for a curved full-frame sensor. Could this be the high-end Nikon mirrorless camera people are hoping for?
The ability to shoot images at 1,000 fps first appeared in a Sony smartphone sensor. Now the Japanese manufacturer is using the same feature for industrial applications.
Astronomy expert and photographer Dr. Tyler Nordgren thinks you should "see your first eclipse, photograph your second." But if you do plan on taking photos this August, here are a few tips from someone who's been there.
How confident are you that you can spot a manipulated photo? A recent study at the University of Warwick shows that many people are pretty bad at it.
If you purchased a Leica TL2, do NOT attach Leica's Visoflex electronic viewfinder. Leica is working on a fix, but for now, it's possible the viewfinder will break your camera.
Google just released Motion Stills for Android. Unlike the iOS version, the Android app uses a redesigned video processing pipeline that processes each frame of a video as it is being recorded, creating instant results.
A huge copyright lawsuit between photography firm VHT and Zillow Group is heating up again, as both sides appeal a court ruling that granted VHT $4 million in damages.
European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet spent 6 months on board the International Space Station where he worked with Google capturing spheric panorama images that are now available in Street View.
It's official. PDN has confirmed with parent company Aurelius that 94-year-old lighting company Bowens is indeed going out of business.
The newly launched firmware version 1.06 fixes AF-issues that can occur with some lenses that are not officially compatible with the MC-11 converter.
Voyager is a waterproof smart light stick you can control entirely from your phone. The light has already blown past its $300K funding goal on Indiegogo.