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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?
Our new 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 cameras) black to clipped white (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' 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 the camera can capture before it clips to white. Shadow range is more complicated, in our test we stop measuring values below middle gray 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.
From ISO 100 to 400 the D200 returns a very respectable 8.2 EV (pretty much the same as other digital SLR's in JPEG mode). At ISO 1600 and 3200 however it suffers in our test due to high levels of noise which significantly cut the signal-to-noise ratio, at ISO 3200 (HI) we call the shadow range as just -3.0 EV (from middle gray), two stops less than at ISO 100.
|Sensitivity||Shadow range||Highlight range||Usable range|
|ISO 100||-5.0 EV||3.2 EV||8.2 EV|
|ISO 200||-5.0 EV||3.2 EV||8.2 EV|
|ISO 400||-4.9 EV||3.2 EV||8.1 EV|
|ISO 800||-4.0 EV||3.2 EV||7.2 EV|
|ISO 1600||-3.7 EV||3.2 EV||6.9 EV|
|ISO 3200 (HI)||-3.0 EV||3.2 EV||6.2 EV|
Obviously an ISO 1600 image would contain areas of shadow with a level below our 'shadow range' point however it would difficult to make out any detail because of noise, this can be seen more clearly in the 100% wedge crops below. Step 29 represents -3.7 EV on our graph above, each step represents +/- 0.3 EV. As you can see on the ISO 1600 crop it's difficult to make out the difference between the steps below step 29, the amount of noise now overtakes any useful 'signal'. (Note that the crops below have had their brightness boosted to make it easier to see the patches, for unmodified crops click on these links: ISO 100 crop, ISO 1600 crop).
|ISO 100 (image brightness boosted)|
|ISO 1600 (image brightness boosted)|
At lower sensitivities the D200 delivers almost exactly the same dynamic range as the Canon EOS 5D and just less than the EOS 20D. The main difference is the shape of the tone curve which just like the D2X is virtually straightfrom middle gray up to white (clipped). The biggest difference is that the D200 demonstrates half a stop more dynamic range above middle gray compared to the D2X.
|Camera (ISO 100)||
|Nikon D200||-5.0 EV||3.2 EV||8.2 EV|
|Canon EOS 5D||-4.7 EV||3.5 EV||8.2 EV|
|Nikon D2X||-5.5 EV||2.7 EV||8.2 EV|
|Canon EOS 20D||-5.1 EV||3.4 EV||8.4 EV|
The wedges below are created by our measurement system from the values read from the step wedge, the red lines indicate approximate shadow and highlight range to the nearest third of a stop (the exact range is calculated to sub-stop fractions and using calibration data).
Next we will test the additional headroom available in RAW files. Experience has told us that there is typically around 1 EV (one stop) of extra information available at the highlight end in RAW files and that a negative digital exposure compensation when converting such files can recover detail lost to over-exposure. As with previous reviews we settled on Adobe Camera RAW for conversion to retrieve the maximum dynamic range from our test shots.
As you can see from the graph and wedges below Adobe Camera RAW in default mode actually returns a little less dynamic range because of its contrasty tone curve, this turns dark shadows to black much earlier than the camera would. The best we could achieve (with some pretty extreme ACR settings) was just over 11 stops total dynamic range, and more importantly about a stop more highlight range (although with no guarantee of color accuracy).
One thing to bear in mind is that although ACR was able to retrieve the 'luminance' (brightness) of wedge steps which were previously clipped there's no guarantee of color accuracy as individual channels may clip before others. (Note that the wedge below labeled as 'ISO 100' is of course a JPEG straight from the camera).
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.
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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.
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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.