September 02, 2014, 06:46:16 AM

Author Topic: Dynamic Range, Grad ND Filters and Canon vs. Nikon  (Read 2372 times)

Orangutan

  • 5D Mark III
  • ******
  • Posts: 666
    • View Profile
Dynamic Range, Grad ND Filters and Canon vs. Nikon
« on: December 05, 2011, 09:24:34 PM »
While reading-up a bit on graduated ND filters I encountered a comment somewhere that two stops of graduation are usually the right amount to keep the sky from clipping.  This got me thinking, so I looked at DxOMark to compare the 60D (which I use) against the Nikon D7000.  The D7000 is rated at 2 stops more DR.  Putting these two propositions together, that would mean that a D7000 should be able to capture a full, natural, bright-sky scene without the benefit of a GND filter.  More generally, this should hold for any camera with a 2-stop higher DR.

Question: for those of you who have used cameras with DxO-rated DR that is at least 2-stops higher, is this true?  Can you really capture a landscape and sky, preserve important detail in the darker areas, and not blow-out the sky?

This is not an attempt to stir the cauldron of anti-DxO commenters; rather, I'm trying to look ahead a bit.  There's been a lot of debate regarding prospective new Canon gear, and the relative benefits of MP, DR and high-ISO.  For those of you serious landscape photographers, what is your "gold standard" for DR?  What scene do you need to capture, without a GND filter, to declare that your camera has "enough" DR?  (and if you tell me you want to point directly at the sun and still see detail in a gopher hole I won't take you seriously. :P )



canon rumors FORUM

Dynamic Range, Grad ND Filters and Canon vs. Nikon
« on: December 05, 2011, 09:24:34 PM »

jrista

  • Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II
  • *******
  • Posts: 4132
  • POTATO
    • View Profile
    • Nature Photography
Re: Dynamic Range, Grad ND Filters and Canon vs. Nikon
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2011, 10:00:06 PM »
While the extra two stops of DR can probably help, I wouldn't say that its solely enough to capture the full dynamic range of a sunset. It would really depend on exactly when you took the shot...however when the sun is still above the horizon, even if its partially obscured by clouds, the dynamic range of the scene could be as much as 18 stops, probably much more with a naked sun. With the sun below the horizon, things are a little more manageable. I've found myself having to use three stops of hard graduated ND filtration on my old Canon 450D (10.3 stops of DR) to properly balance out a scene, and even that was pushing it, keeping shadows a bit too dark.

I would figure an average sunset is probably 14-18 stops of dynamic range, depending on the exact scene. A Nikon with 13.7 stops of DR might be able to handle it in RAW, but you would have to perfectly tune exposure and use up every last ounce of capability the sensor had at the best ISO setting possible for maximizing DR. Realistically, its very difficult to actually utilize ALL of the DR available in a DSLR. Assuming no tone curve is applied to the image (or in other words a linear tone curve), you might be able to make better use of the DR that is available, however the final results wouldn't look all that great. The scene would lack contrast and appear rather dull. Factoring in about a stop of DR on either end of the tone curve to add some necessary contrast, and the 14 stops of the Nikon drops to around 12 stops, and the 11-12 stops of a Canon drops to around 9-10.

Realistically, your probably going to need some GND filtration on either camera to really capture a full sunset from dark shadows to bright sunlit clouds in a single shot. A very bright sunset sky with a naked sun is going to be difficult regardless of the circumstances, and GND filtration or HDR is going to be a necessity (unless you opt for silhouetted foreground.)
« Last Edit: December 05, 2011, 10:01:42 PM by jrista »
My Photography
Current Gear: Canon 5D III | Canon 7D | Canon EF 600mm f/4 L IS II | EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS | EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L | EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro | 50mm f/1.4
New Gear List: SBIG STT-8300M | Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 L II

dtaylor

  • 6D
  • *****
  • Posts: 601
    • View Profile
Re: Dynamic Range, Grad ND Filters and Canon vs. Nikon
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2011, 11:31:16 PM »
This got me thinking, so I looked at DxOMark to compare the 60D (which I use) against the Nikon D7000.  The D7000 is rated at 2 stops more DR.

DxOMark is horribly off in every DR test I've ever taken the time to double check.

Quote
This is not an attempt to stir the cauldron of anti-DxO commenters;

Do you want accurate information, or fantasy?

The 60D offers about 10 stops when processed for maximum DR in RAW. The D7000 offers about 11.

Note that DR measurements vary based on what you consider to be an acceptable noise floor. If you are willing to accept more noise, you can recover more shadow detail. This is part of the reason why double processing a RAW file and blending them yields greater DR then a single pass at the file. But the difference between the two bodies is still going to be small for the same technique (JPEG; RAW; RAW x2 pass).

Quote
For those of you serious landscape photographers, what is your "gold standard" for DR?  What scene do you need to capture, without a GND filter, to declare that your camera has "enough" DR?  (and if you tell me you want to point directly at the sun and still see detail in a gopher hole I won't take you seriously. :P )

An 18 stop sensor would eliminate most of the exposure blending I currently do when shooting sunset landscapes. I don't think the D7000 wouldn't eliminate any.

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Dynamic Range, Grad ND Filters and Canon vs. Nikon
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2011, 11:31:16 PM »