Higher DR on MFDB is a myth that serves well to MDFB sellers. DR depends on the overall quality of the sensor, not only on its size. Do some DR comparisions in DxO Mark and you will see the Nikon D3X's DR is higher than that found on any MDFB (Phase One, Hasselblad or Leaf).
Of course resolution, sharpness, being able to use great lenses,... is another story. But regarding DR, just look at the sensor your camera has.
That's simply not true. You're judging based on dX0s numbers. I've judged it (as well as many many people on this forum) in the real world.
This can be settled in just a few minutes when you shoot both formats. Underexpose or overexpose both systems by 3 stops and then push/pull the image back into place. This test is dead-easy to run and judge, but obviously anyone shooting an expensive system should be expected to expose properly, so alternatively, use each camera for a scene with extraordinary range of lighting and then try to pull in both highlights and shadows.
The difference is obvious and undeniable. We're happy (for free) to open our gear closet for your own hands on testing in Atlanta or Miami, a discounted rental anywhere in the US, or in person at the upcoming Oregon GetDPI.com workshop
(at which they'll be at least one of just about every high-end dSLR as well as Phase and Leaf digital backs).
You are 100% right that much more than just pure sensor size determines the DR (though it is a major component). However, at every step in the image chain a high-end back like a P65+ puts more emphasis on quality and less on speed or price than does a D3X.
To answer your question: is the difference of DR on MFDB vs 35mm dSLR dicernible in print?
- IF your scene contains a lot of DR and
- IF your goal is to show detail deep into the shadows and highlights*
- THEN yes; absolutely it will
*many many fantastic landscapes have been created with large areas of pure white and detail-less black; this is a style choice. If your style is to model after these high-contrast landscapes with small DR than you don't need the DR of a DB (though you'd still benefit from the better lenses, more flexible usage, body-based tilt/shift, tonal smoothness, and resolution).
Head of Technical Services, Capture Integration
Phase One, Leaf, Canon, Apple, Profoto, Eizo & More
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