How important is Dynamic Range to you?


LBL2009

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Jul 9, 2009
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#1
I am using Nikon entry level D40 for nearly 10 months. It is a good camera, for the performance and money I paid, there is no reason to be unhappy although I always feel that it would be good if the dynamic range is higher or the camera has bracketing feature to allow me to produce HDR photo.

I always wonder whether my D40 is inferior in sensor dynamic range so I went to DXOmark.com to check the parameters.

This is what I found

D40 11 EV or 11 f-stop at ISO 200

I was surprised many more expensive cameras' dynamic range is only slightly better (example 11.5) and some even show lower DR. For example Pentax K7, a camera I admire has a DR of 10.6 EV.

Pentax K7 is ranked higher in DXOMark sensor scale but the dynamic range is lower. So this leads me to the conclusion, dyanmic range is not that important.

I shoot landscape and when I have to blow out the highlight for the shallow or underexpose to keep the highlight, I told myself maybe I should go for an upgrade but data shows that unless I spend much money, I will not get one with higher dynamic range.

Am I too hung up with dynamic range?
 

Last edited:

chalib

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Oct 4, 2007
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#3
At the moment, you won't get all excellent parameters in one bucket. Each manufacturer has their own excellent points

Choose what you need
 

Fotophilic

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Jun 18, 2006
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#5
if u need even higher DR, prob its gonna be the Fuji sensors. But to be frank, most of time we won't need that kind of DR.
 

Oct 4, 2008
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#6
For landscape photo, use GND filter, or take raw :)
 

Dan

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Jan 8, 2004
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#7
one simple way...shot in the morning or evening. No cost involve, yet can get better picture.
You cant control the environment to suit you, control you to suit the environment.
 

Blur Shadow

Senior Member
Sep 17, 2005
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#8
Use a Fuji S5Pro first, then a Nikon D70 later. Then you'll know what DR is about.

But personally, a narrow DR can be quite irritating for many instances...
Events (Clipping a white shirt, while retaining no details in the black suit)
Landscapes (Blown out clouds)
Portraits (Must be really careful with lighting, else you can easily blow out the model)

The list goes on...

There are some solutions (use grad ND etc), but in general, I think most have us appreciate greater DR.
 

giantcanopy

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Feb 11, 2007
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#9
Pentax K7 is ranked higher in DXOMark sensor scale but the dynamic range is lower. So this leads me to the conclusion, dyanmic range is not that important.
I dun think u will see a significant problem for the K7. Wide dynamic range is a bonus, but not on my criteria for purchasing a new system.

ryan
 

Aug 8, 2008
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#10
Coming from an ex-user of 35mm film, I'd think DR is important in DSLR, but it's something that couldn't be helped...generally, more money will buy you higher DR. But I can live without high DR by doing PP and HDR if required...not really a big deal. Improving techniques is more important to me, so that's why I decided not to get too caught up in upgrading my camera despite myriad releases of new models these days.
 

LBL2009

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Jul 9, 2009
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#11
Events (Clipping a white shirt, while retaining no details in the black suit)
Landscapes (Blown out clouds)
Portraits (Must be really careful with lighting, else you can easily blow out the model)

The list goes on....
Yes, this is frustrating when we have opportunity for a good shot.
 

Dream Merchant

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Jan 11, 2007
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#13
Most people probably don't even know how to optimize the 10-point-something or whatever dynamic range they have in their systems. :bsmilie: I'm one of them ... :embrass:
 

Kit

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#14
I shoot landscape and when I have to blow out the highlight for the shallow or underexpose to keep the highlight,
In all honesty, if you find yourself doing that on a regular basis, you need to train yourself to recognise better quality lighting for landscapes.
 

Diavonex

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Sep 23, 2008
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#15
In all honesty, if you find yourself doing that on a regular basis, you need to train yourself to recognise better quality lighting for landscapes.
I agree with you whole heartedly; you can never get good dynamic range if the lighting is bad.
 

Jed

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Jan 19, 2002
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#16
Pentax K7 is ranked higher in DXOMark sensor scale but the dynamic range is lower. So this leads me to the conclusion, dyanmic range is not that important.
Really? Or is it just to do with the fact that the difference between a "poor" camera at circa 10.6 stops, and a good camera, at 11.5 stops, is just not great enough to be worrying majorly about?

A quick analogy which might be flawed:

A camera with 11.5mp compared to a camera with 10.6mp. The 10.6mp is a 1D body and the 11.5mp camera is in a 350D body. The 10.6mp camera is considered by many to be a better camera and ranked higher. Would that lead you to the conclusion that mp is not that important?

(Let's leave aside the debate for now that it isn't actually that important ;p)
 

LBL2009

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#17
Really? Or is it just to do with the fact that the difference between a "poor" camera at circa 10.6 stops, and a good camera, at 11.5 stops, is just not great enough to be worrying majorly about?

A quick analogy which might be flawed:

A camera with 11.5mp compared to a camera with 10.6mp. The 10.6mp is a 1D body and the 11.5mp camera is in a 350D body. The 10.6mp camera is considered by many to be a better camera and ranked higher. Would that lead you to the conclusion that mp is not that important?

(Let's leave aside the debate for now that it isn't actually that important ;p)
Frankly, I have no answer. :embrass:
 

LBL2009

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#18
In all honesty, if you find yourself doing that on a regular basis, you need to train yourself to recognise better quality lighting for landscapes.
If contrast is small, there is no problem with DR. I can get good pictures. However, in the morning and evening when sunlight come at low angle and with great contrast, the scene is most beautiful and wider DR would be a great help.

Maybe I always shoot in big contrast setting. :bsmilie:
 

Kit

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#19
If contrast is small, there is no problem with DR. I can get good pictures. However, in the morning and evening when sunlight come at low angle and with great contrast, the scene is most beautiful and wider DR would be a great help.

Maybe I always shoot in big contrast setting. :bsmilie:
Were you facing the sun or is it shinning from behind you? If its the latter, I don't see any problem.
 

LBL2009

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#20
Most people probably don't even know how to optimize the 10-point-something or whatever dynamic range they have in their systems. :bsmilie: I'm one of them ... :embrass:
I would love to learn this too. :embrass: I understand photoshop can help but I want to do the best with my camera if there is a way. Any tips?

This is all I know - spot metering at important highlight and shadow for optimal settings and expose to the right of the histogram but not to blow out the highlight. Maybe the camera can allow me to over or under expose slightly and recover the details at pp, but I have not tried to push it.
 

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