I'm not a big fan of this test. Since each camera might handle differently, I'd want to identical framing and optimal exposure for some bright element of each, then we'd look at the shadows. My question is not how each looks at the same exposure, but which scenes can/can't be captured with reasonable use of each. If one handles highlights better, why is it wrong to increase exposure to make use of that? Setting equal exposure doesn't seem like a valid test to me.
You don't think how they look at the same exposure is a valid test? Wow.
What exactly would you do to avoid read noise in the lower 36% of the image exactly? How would you expose to not have that problem?
Expose to the right, with less dynamic range to start with? Why should you even have to?
Perhaps we have different definitions or understandings of ETTR. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ETTR
My understanding is that ETTR is the ideal exposure, which maximizes gathered information and DR of the desirable parts of the scene.
After 2 years with a Mk1, 3 years with a Mk2, and a month with a Mk3, over two years with a D800, and a month with a D810, I know there is no exposure that the Nikon won't outshine the Mk2/3 etc on.
Perhaps there are other photographers of equal or greater skill who have different experiences. The way to remove the personal experience variable from the equation is to do objective tests.
Canon's do not handle highlights better.
I've heard it both ways. Testing will answer the question.
My first cut at a test would be something like this:
- Construct a test environment. It helps if there's a single brightest element.
- Determine which scene element is the brightest that must remain unclipped.
- Use LiveView to adjust the histogram to ETTR that element. Possibly use a dodging tool to verify that you have the correct element ETTR.
- Starting at that exposure, take a series of maybe 10 shots, increasing exposure by 1/3 or 1/2 stop each time. (Note: this is because many on-camera histograms are derived from the JPEG-rendered image rather than the RAW data.)
- In post-processing, choose the frame with maximum exposure that represents the scene without clipping the important bright element, and work with that one to best render shadow detail. That's your test frame.
Then repeat the process for the other camera and compare your best images.