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Author Topic: 5D3 Dynamic Range  (Read 19111 times)

jaayres20

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5D3 Dynamic Range
« on: May 04, 2012, 04:53:01 PM »
I have a quick question about the dynamic range of the 5D3 which from what I have been reading is behind the D800.  I have never owned a nikon and currently own two 5D3s.  I understand what dynamic range is and how it is important for retaining details in the highlights and shadows of an image.  I guess I would like to know from one who has seen the differences in the two cameras is what am I missing out on?  How does a really high DR (better than the 5D3) help unless I am mostly shooting in high contrast lighting situations or am trying to push or pull and image by more than a couple of stops.  I have always been really happy with the DR of my 5D2 and now my 5D3 and being a wedding photographer I shoot in about every lighting condition possible.  I always shoot JPEG with highlight tone priority enabled and do my best to get the exposure and WB spot on.  I also shoot in Faithful picture mode with the contrast turned down one notch.  I end up with pretty flat images out of the camera with plenty of details in the highlights and shadows.  Unless I really mis the exposure I have never been unhappy with the DR.  I almost always end up adding contrast to the picture because there is too much DR and the image looks too flat.  I probably won't own a Nikon so I am just curious from those who have seen the difference hands on how big of a difference is it and in what situations will it really be beneficial.  It seems like low ISO high DR performance has become more important than high ISO low noise performance.  I am not trying to start another debate over the two cameras I just want to know how much better it is and how much of a difference it would really make.   

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5D3 Dynamic Range
« on: May 04, 2012, 04:53:01 PM »

RichATL

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Re: 5D3 Dynamic Range
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2012, 05:14:59 PM »
It doesn't...
Pixel peepers and gearheads are so brainwashed by all the blog posts and workshops they attend that they forget the simple truth that getting the exposure right is what matters.

The most influential exposure system ever devised was based upon only 10stops of dynamic range.
The Zone System

btw... JPEG shooters need not even enter this argument...If you decide to let some computer programmer in Japan dictate how your image looks out of camera... you give up your right to complain about dynamic range
(that is not directed at you OP)


cpsico

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Re: 5D3 Dynamic Range
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2012, 05:34:07 PM »
Shooting JPEG you will never see a difference

helpful

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Re: 5D3 Dynamic Range
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2012, 05:39:39 PM »
A really high DR better than the 5D3 doesn't really help. As I have explained in previous posts, a lower DR actually stores more data and detail from a scene than a camera with high DR. Ideally the dynamic range would match the scene's DR. Canon's DR probably fits more scenes better than Nikon's. If the dynamic range is higher than the dynamic range intrinsic to the scene, then it actually makes the picture worse (less fine variations in detail of recorded luminosity).

The only part of the 14-bit RAW or 8-bit JPEG data that is really worthwhile is the part where the histogram shows data has been recorded. In a low dynamic range image (like a frame filled with nothing but green grass), the histogram of a high DR camera like both the 5D3 and the D800 show nothing but a thin peak of data that was recorded. This means lots of detail is being lost because not all 14-bits are being used.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that there is "empty" data in most of the picture. There is a color and brightness value at every pixel. But the variations in brightness that could be recorded if all 14-bits were adjusted to a 2-stop DR are simply lost, because the camera is always trying to record a 9 stop or 10 stop DR, for example. The variations in brightness can be recorded much finer, just like with slide film, with a good sensor that has LESS dynamic range.

High or low dynamic range can't be held against a camera, any more than someone can say negative film is "better" than slide film, or vice versa.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2012, 05:41:42 PM by helpful »
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helpful

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Re: 5D3 Dynamic Range
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2012, 05:40:21 PM »
Shooting JPEG you will never see a difference

False.
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briansquibb

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Re: 5D3 Dynamic Range
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2012, 05:46:27 PM »
There comes a point where extra DR does not show on a print, it only helps with getting detail in shadows (that probably the eye cant see anyway)

Redreflex

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Re: 5D3 Dynamic Range
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2012, 05:54:57 PM »
I think we are still far off from the point where the camera sees detail in the shadow that the eye can't.

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Re: 5D3 Dynamic Range
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2012, 05:54:57 PM »

justsomedude

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Re: 5D3 Dynamic Range
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2012, 05:56:23 PM »
I think there's a lot of misinformation being posted in here. 

First, check this video by Mark Wallace and Adorama TV.  It gives a good primer to Dynamic Range:  Digital Photography 1 on 1: Episode 41: Dynamic Range: Adorama Photography TV

Also, for those saying DR doesn't mean much, or doesn't matter in print - you are very wrong.  Photographers have been pushing the limits of film data for decades.  Where do you think the "burn" and "dodge" brushes in Photoshop came from?  They were real techniques used in the darkroom to pull out shadows and darken highlights. 

This translates directly to DR performance in dSLRs.  Either the information is there - or it is not.  A sensor with a higher dynamic range will give the photographer more latitude with processing/editing options in post.  And that translates directly to prints.

Smaller DR- less info, and the physical editing limit is hit sooner.  Higher DR- more info, more options for editing and exposing usable data in post.

UPDATE:  I should point out - if you haven't been over-tweaking your files as part of your normal post-processing technique, than DR won't matter much to you.  However, for landscape shooters, and photographers who are used to heavily tweaking their highlights/shadows in post (to maximize the range in their prints), DR is the holy grail of post-processing and digital sensor tech.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2012, 06:01:57 PM by justsomedude »

justsomedude

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Re: 5D3 Dynamic Range
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2012, 05:58:28 PM »
I think we are still far off from the point where the camera sees detail in the shadow that the eye can't.

Most likely, but the d800 still amazes...

http://www.fredmiranda.com/5DIII-D800/index_controlled-tests.html

(In full disclosure, I am a Canon shooter and own a 5D3.  But, I must admit the d800 is pretty fascinating with respect to its DR)

Michael7

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Re: 5D3 Dynamic Range
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2012, 06:04:25 PM »
The D800 is simply on another level when it comes to low ISO dynamic range. This may or may not be "crucial" to you, but if you shoot nature images such as landscape and wildlife, it is the kind of thing that might make you switch camera manufacturers.

Being able to bring up such amazing shadow detail is priceless, and IMHO one of the most important aspects of nature photography.

The 5D III sensor is about 4-5 years behind the D800. I own all Canon gear, but am an inch from purchasing the D800E when it comes out.

The better the dynamic range, the less of a need for things like GND filters, HDR, and so forth. It really is important for situations where you have absolutely no control of the light such as nature landscape and wildlife.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2012, 06:06:27 PM by Michael7 »

justsomedude

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Re: 5D3 Dynamic Range
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2012, 06:14:51 PM »
Being able to bring up such amazing shadow detail is priceless, and IMHO one of the most important aspects of nature photography.

The better the dynamic range, the less of a need for things like GND filters, HDR, and so forth. It really is important for situations where you have absolutely no control of the light such as nature landscape and wildlife.

What he just said.

briansquibb

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Re: 5D3 Dynamic Range
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2012, 06:19:59 PM »
Quite simply the vast majority of shooters are very content with a max DR of 12, yet the tiny minority who use DR to get some detail out of shadows are making a disproportionate amount of noise about how vital a DR of 14 is.

There are techniques to avoid shadows in many cases - leaving very few exceptions - yet from the baying of the few anyone would think the 5DIII had a crippled DR system and totally unable to produce a good images.


Drizzt321

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Re: 5D3 Dynamic Range
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2012, 06:20:36 PM »
Being able to bring up such amazing shadow detail is priceless, and IMHO one of the most important aspects of nature photography.

The better the dynamic range, the less of a need for things like GND filters, HDR, and so forth. It really is important for situations where you have absolutely no control of the light such as nature landscape and wildlife.

What he just said.

But the big win is at low ISO. If you're shooting at higher ISOs (I think it's ~800 or 1600) then the DR is approximately the same between the 5d3 and D800. So as a few others have said, if you're shooting lower ISO like for nature photography most of the time, or in a studio with plenty of light, it could matter. If you end up using high ISO most of the time, it won't make much of a difference, and in fact I've seen a lot of people saying at high ISO the 5d3 tends to do better.
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Re: 5D3 Dynamic Range
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2012, 06:20:36 PM »

molnarcs

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Re: 5D3 Dynamic Range
« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2012, 06:21:50 PM »
Can't comment on the Mark III, only used the Mark II. Also, disclaimer: I'm shooting Nikon now.

I see the argument that dynamic range doesn't matter, or only matters in edge cases quite often. Well, I guess there is some truth in it. It depends on your work/interests, lots of conditions. DR may or may not be important to you. Instead of going back-and-forth with academic debates, I'll show how it helps in various situations I shoot in - with examples.

I shot the International Pillow Fight Day event here in Saigon. Fun work, for free of course (non-profit, fun-loving people organized it, couldn't resist). The event took place at 3pm, very hard light, in park where the trees didn't offer enough coverage. Yeah, high contrast situation, hard like, dark shadoes, bright patches of sunlight. Now not all photos are like that, but there are quite a few where I pulled at least 1 stop from the shadows without loss of detail, without smudging the colours, and without any visible noise even at 100%. That's what dynamic range is in practice. It may or may not matter to you, it matters to me and probably the people I did it for too. I wouldn't be able to do it without the DR of the d7000. Here: Pillow Fight Day Saigon 2012

Now I don't do many events, I'm an interiour photographer, doing lots of landscapes as a passion (and these year, more and more people, fashion, portraits). In interiour photography, good DR is gold. Ironically, some of the most expensive properties I shot had the worst lighting. Huge rooms, big windows, shooting scheduled for 3pm (and no, I couldn't change it). Hard light coming through windows, rooms too big while lighting not enough to overpower the natural light. This is situation where it's impossible to get a perfect exposure, and HDR is out of question with apartments (too long to explain why). Examples starting here, and the next few pictures: http://molnarcs.500px.com/apartments_villas/photo/16

Landscapes. I don't think I have to explain this one, because its kinda obvious. That said, 90% of my recent landscapes are less than 10 EV, lots of good shots that require minimal post-processing - and in many of them you wouldn't see a difference even if your camera were limited to 8 EV. But that 10% - I'm glad that I had some EV leeway there!

Remember, good DR doesn't mean pulling 6 EVs from shadows. It means pulling 1 EV cleanly - or even half EV. The more DR your camera has the better in the situations above.

Lastly, in commercial photography, there is a good reason top PROs use Hasselblad and medium format cameras. They have phenomenal EV at base ISO, and they are using every single bit of it. Walk through any upscale shopping centre, and you'll see tons of large backlit prints - and it's not just resolution and megapixels. Here's a video comparing the d800 with a Hasselblad. The new "king" of DR in 35mm format can't stand a chance (and why DR does matter in commercial photography).
D800 vs Medium Format with Roth and Ramberg

RichATL, you're wrong on so many levels that I lost count. DR does matter in quite a lot of situations. Now you may or may not shoot in those situations, but saying that only brainwashed "pixel peepers and gearheads" care is a bit over the top. And as to your jpeg argument... ever heard of picture controls? Seeing your "computer programmer in Japan" line I guess not.

Ultimately, everybody has to decide for himself. If you rarely find yourself in a situation where you'd love to brighten the shadows up just a bit more, but you're losing details... I guess it doesn't matter. Sports, indoor events come to mind with constant, even light. Lots of examples where DR doesn't matter that much. That said, it would still be prudent to make your voice heard to Canon instead of going full denial RichATL. Higher DR has tangible, very practical benefits in many situations. Is the gap Canon and Nikon/Sony sensors huge? I honestly don't know. It's there, and its not good in my opinion.

cpsico

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Re: 5D3 Dynamic Range
« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2012, 06:26:47 PM »
Shooting JPEG you will never see a difference

False.
How many stops of dynamic range do you get in jpeg that is different from antone else? Jpeg is 8 bit no matter how many stops you get in raw

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Re: 5D3 Dynamic Range
« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2012, 06:26:47 PM »