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Topaz Labs' flagship app uses AI algorithms to make some complex image corrections really, really easy. But is there enough here to justify its rather steep price?
One of the D810's most significant features was its ability to shoot at ISO 64. There are two main factors that influence the Raw (saturation-based) ISO rating: efficiency and full-well capacity. Higher efficiency (a higher proportion of photons being registered) would push base ISO upwards, while an increased full-well capacity (capacity for electronic charge) pushes it down.
The D810 offered a lower ISO by increasing its full well capacity (or, at least, finding a way to squeeze a bit more out of it). This meant it was able to capture just as much of the light it was exposed to as the D800 but could tolerate more light before it started to clip. This meant it could be given greater exposure, which improves the signal-to-noise ratio and gives cleaner tones across the image: an improvement often interpreted as improved tonality.
This ability to tolerate an extra 2/3EV exposure is why we say that the D810 is able to compete with the latest batch of medium format cameras, whose 44 x 33mm sensors would capture 2/3EV more light at the same F-number and shutter speed.
So does the D850 manage to repeat this trick? Yes, it certainly looks like it.
Similar noise performance in the deep shadows suggests the same dynamic range, so long as it isn't clipping the highlights earlier. Bill Claff's data suggests it doesn't, and that the overall base ISO DR is just as good.
We further confirmed that dynamic range results remain identical in continuous drive modes, unlike many Sony ILCs that drop to 12-bit.
We were always told that BSI sensors wouldn't offer much of an efficiency improvement in large sensors, since the pixel circuitry that might otherwise get in the way only makes up a small proportion of the light-sensitive area in large pixels. Instead, Nikon says the main benefit in the D850 was that it allowed them to include the additional circuitry needed to offer higher readout speeds without having to worry about it impinging on the light collecting part of the pixel.
Theoretically we might also see some benefit in performances in the corners with wide-angle lenses, but that doesn't come into play with the 85mm lens we use for these tests.
However, while we wouldn't expect the move to BSI to give a significant improvement in high ISO noise as a result of increased efficiency, we would expect to see some come from the D850's sensor's 'dual gain' design. This uses a different, higher gain read-out circuit for higher ISOs that slightly decreases the read-out noise but lowers the amount of the full well capacity you can use. Because, at high ISOs, even tiny amounts of read noise are multiplied many, many times, any reduction is valuable. At these settings, much of the sensor's capture is amplified to clipping, so a reduction in full well capacity is a trade-off worth making. As such, we see the camera's base ISO performance unaffected, but from ISO 400 upwards, we should see an improvement in noise performance.
This approach means the D850 is not ISO Invariant, but not in a bad way: it's not because the low ISO modes are adding a lot of read noise, but because the higher ISO modes are able to add even less.
Sure enough, just like the D810, if you brighten the D850's ISO 64 shots, they exhibit more noise than if you shoot at the same exposure using a higher ISO. Add a little more amplification at the bottom end,and the results are very similar to those you get by natively shooting at ISO 6400 (which are noisier than the ISO 64-4000 series of shots, since the latter were given more exposure).
Once you get above ISO 400, where the sensor switches to a higher pixel-level gain, there's essentially no difference between shooting at, vs shooting at ISO 4000.
That makes it rather unfortunate that Nikon - like most stills camera manufacturers - choose to brighten higher ISO shots with in-camera amplification as opposed to in the Raw converter. The latter method would offer multiple stops of potential highlight information the D850 - and most cameras - simply throw away. Many video cameras operate this way to afford you the maximum dynamic range and post-processing latitude at any ISO: it's generally called 'EI' mode.
By, you can start to see the D850's higher gain mode showing a slight noise improvement over the D810: a difference we'd expect to see as the ISO settings rise further. What's inexcusable at this point though is the additional amplification above ISO 500 that throws away many stops of highlights for no benefit whatsoever. Stills manufacturers need to learn a thing or two from their video counterparts.
One factor not highlighted in these tests is a series of abnormally bright pixels in the deepest shadows of the file. All across the image are pixels that have recorded values 5-20x brighter than those around them. Invisible if left near black, these brighter pixels end up being pushed to clipping if you pull the shadows too far. They're masked in these tests by our use of Adobe Camera Raw's default chroma noise reduction, appearing as desaturated salt-speckled noise rather than bright red, green or blue individual pixels.
These sporadic bright pixels are not too visually damaging may slightly reduce the degree you wish to manipulate the files.
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We've taken a look back at our year of Instagram posts to the @DPReview account and compiled the 10 most popular cameras of 2020, based on most 'likes' to a single post.
Yep, we're doing it.
We were in Japan earlier this month for the annual CP+ show in Yokohama, where we sat down with senior executives from several camera and lens manufacturers, among them Nikon.
Nikon has announced more details of firmware in development for the Z6 and Z7. As previously reported, firmware is being planned that will add Eye-detection AF, CFexpress support and Raw video over HDMI.
Ambitious goals, new challenges and looking ahead to 100 years of the Z mount – we spoke with senior executives and engineers at Nikon about what lies ahead.
Above $2500 cameras tend to become increasingly specialized, making it difficult to select a 'best' option. We case our eye over the options costing more than $2500 but less than $4000, to find the best all-rounder.
There are a lot of photo/video cameras that have found a role as B-cameras on professional film productions or even A-cameras for amateur and independent productions. We've combed through the options and selected our two favorite cameras in this class.
What’s the best camera for around $2000? These capable cameras should be solid and well-built, have both the speed and focus to capture fast action and offer professional-level image quality. In this buying guide we’ve rounded up all the current interchangeable lens cameras costing around $2000 and recommended the best.
Family moments are precious and sometimes you want to capture that time spent with loved ones or friends in better quality than your phone can manage. We've selected a group of cameras that are easy to keep with you, and that can adapt to take photos wherever and whenever something memorable happens.
What's the best camera for shooting sports and action? Fast continuous shooting, reliable autofocus and great battery life are just three of the most important factors. In this buying guide we've rounded-up several great cameras for shooting sports and action, and recommended the best.
|About to leave for Mexico City by Sv1|
from Civil Airliner Parked at an Airport, Surrounded by Baggage Trolleys and Other Equipment
|w756 by River Photography|
|Wild American Flamingos by Fotorequest|
from Flamingos Unlimited
|No Space Race Here by Nilesh Trivedi|
from Empty spaces in the city
While peak Milky Way season is on hiatus, there are other night sky wonders to focus on. We look at the Orion constellation and Northern Lights, which are prevalent during the winter months.
We've gone hands-on with Nikon's new 17-28mm F2.8 lens for its line of Z-mount cameras. Check out the sample gallery to see what kind of image quality it has to offer on a Nikon Z7 II.
The winning and finalist images from the annual Travel Photographer of the Year awards have been announced, showcasing incredible scenes from around the world. Check out the gallery to see which photographs took the top spots.
The rumor mill suggests the announcement will be a 50mm F1.4 DG DN lens for full-frame mirrorless camera systems.
The a7R V is the fifth iteration of Sony's high-end, high-res full-frame mirrorless camera. The new 60MP Mark IV, gains advanced AF, focus stacking and a new rear screen arrangement. We think it excels at stills.
Using affordable Sony NP-F batteries and the Power Junkie V2 accessory, you can conveniently power your camera and accessories, whether they're made by Sony or not.
According to Japanese financial publication Nikkei, Sony has moved nearly all of its camera production out of China and into Thailand, citing geopolitical tensions and supply chain diversification.
Got a new camera? Get started with your Canon EOS R7 by changing these critical settings.
A pro chimes in with his long-term impressions of DJI's Mavic 3. While there were ups and downs, filmmaker José Fransisco Salgado found that in his use of the drone, firmware updates have made it better with every passing month.
Landscape photography has a very different set of requirements from other types of photography. We pick the best options at three different price ranges.
AI is here to stay, so we must prepare ourselves for its many consequences. We can use AI to make our lives easier, but it's also possible to use AI technology for more nefarious purposes, such as making stealing photos a simple one-click endeavor.
This DIY project uses an Adafruit board and $40 worth of other components to create a light meter and metadata capture device for any film photography camera.
Scientists at the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia have used a transmitter with 'less power than a microwave' to produce the highest resolution images of the moon ever captured from Earth.
The tiny cameras, which weigh just 1.4g, fit inside the padding of a driver's helmet, offering viewers at home an eye-level perspective as F1 cars race through the corners of the world's most exciting race tracks. In 2023, all drivers will be required to wear the cameras.
The announcement is believed to be the M.Zuiko Digital ED 90mm F3.5 Macro IS Pro lens, which was confirmed on the OM System roadmap last year.
The new ultrafast prime for Nikon Z-mount cameras is a re-worked version of Cosina's existing Voigtländer 50mm F1 Aspherical lens for Leica M-mount cameras.
There are plenty of hybrid cameras on the market, but often a user needs to choose between photo- or video-centric models in terms of features. Jason Hendardy explains why he would want to see shutter angle and 32-bit float audio as added features in cameras that highlight both photo and video functionalities.
SkyFi's new Earth Observation service is now fully operational, allowing users to order custom high-resolution satellite imagery of any location on Earth using a network of more than 80 satellites.
The firmware update adds eye-detection AF to video capture and improves autofocus performance in other modes.
In some parts of the world, winter brings picturesque icy and snowy scenes. However, your drone's performance will be compromised in cold weather. Here are some tips for performing safe flights during the chilliest time of the year.
The winners of the Ocean Art Photo Competition 2022 have been announced, showcasing incredible sea-neries (see what we did there?) from around the globe.
Venus Optics has announced a quartet of new anamorphic cine lenses for Super35 cameras, the Proteus 2x series. The 2x anamorphic lenses promise ease of use, accessibility and high-end performance for enthusiast and professional video applications.
We've shot the new Fujinon XF 56mm F1.2R WR lens against the original 56mm F1.2R, to check whether we should switch the lens we use for our studio test scene or maintain consistency.
Nature photographer Erez Marom continues his series about landscape composition by discussing the multifaceted role played by the sky in a landscape image.
Check out some of our full resolution Canon EOS R6 Mark II photos, captured over the holidays and in the mountains.
After weeks with a production Canon EOS R6 Mark II, Chris and Jordan get into more detail than they could in their initial review.
The NONS SL660 is an Instax Square instant camera with an interchangeable lens design. It's made of CNC-milled aluminum alloy, has an SLR-style viewfinder, and retails for a $600. We've gone hands-on to see what it's like to shoot with.
Recently, DJI made Waypoints available for their Mavic 3 series of drones, bringing a formerly high-end feature to the masses. We'll look at what this flight mode is and why you should use it.
Astrophotographer Bray Falls was asked to help verify the discovery of the Andromeda Oxygen arc. He describes his process for verification, the equipment he used and where astronomers should point their telescopes next.
OM Digital Solutions has released firmware updates for the following cameras to add compatibility support for its new M.Zuiko Digital ED 90mm F3.5 Macro IS PRO lens: OM-D E-M1 Mark II, E-M1 Mark III, E-M5 Mark III, E-M1X, and OM-5.