Friday, July 27, 2012

Nikon D800e Landscape Photography Reviews | Dynamic Range Tests

I have been playing around with some informal field tests of the Nikon D800e's much-vaunted dynamic range - I have been so surprised by it's performance that I found myself writing an article on my website that included the strapline Are ND Filters Dead?  - something I never figured that I would be writing at this point in time.

In that article I surprised myself as to how well I could brighten the shadows in an underexposed foreground from a Nikon D800e file.  I went to sleep that night quite pleased at myself for the scientific rigour that I had engendered upon that test (sad, I know) until I was wrenched from my near slumber by a thought: What about the 'over-exposed' images? Can they be brought into line with a bit of Lightroom magic?

 The answer is of course yes - look at this finished image: 

A Nikon D800e Landscape Photo | Edited image after Lightroom exposure and highlight recovery. The histogram shows a perfectly contained tonal range (see below).

Histogram and adjustments to the image -  a Lightroom grad adjustment was applied to the sky - exposure adjustment - I'm just to lazy to do a screenshot of it :-)

And here is the original image: This was shot at the camera's suggested exposure - turns out the D800's exposure knows it's limits.....

 Nikon D800e Landscape Dynamic Range Field Test | The original un-edited image - on any other camera I would have figured this image was toast - especially near the horizon

So, yet more compelling evidence that the world of landscape photography has taken yet another really big leap forward.  I can't remember witnessing such a quantum leap forward in meaningful and useable  image quality between camera bodies.  

As you can see in my previous post, the Dynamic Range capabilities of the Nikon D800/e are in a totally different league to my previous camera body, the ground breaking Canon 5d mkii. 

So are Graduated Neutral Density filters still needed? That depends, if you are shooting any other DSLR I think the answer is yes (unless you are into HDR or serious exposure blending).  If you are toting a D800/e the answer is no - not really.  That makes me a little sad, as I genuinely like my Grad filters and Singh Ray are a great company - but like my postcards, which are being purchased less and less, times change and products become obsolete as technology marches on..... 

My advice - if you want to be making the best landscape images possible for an 'affordable' price - buy the Nikon D800 (Amazon) 

 Cheers - Todd

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