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Author Topic: Low Canon DxO dynamic range versus Sony/Nikon  (Read 16115 times)

akh

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Low Canon DxO dynamic range versus Sony/Nikon
« on: February 04, 2012, 10:31:37 pm »

I am ready to upgrade my canon 5D body which I have used for 6 years.  I have watched with interest Nikon's upcoming D800 and reading about the Canon 5D Mark iii/X speculative specs.  My question is this;  Canon seems to have lagged behind the Nikon/Sony sensors in dynamic range.  I was hopeful that the latest Canon sensors would be an improvement in this regard.  But looking at the Sony Nex-7 vs. Canon G1X the canon scores much poorer and that worries me regarding Canon's upcoming pro SLRs.  Is Canon not able to improve DR or does their design philosophy downplay it's importance in some manner that I am unaware of?
A following question is in regards to the new Nikon D800.  The D800 will have 36 MP vs. likely 5D iii/X of 22 MP.  Now I have read the arguments about pixel size, photon capture ect. but reading through the posts the bottom line is more MPs even if smaller wells out resolves less MP with deeper wells, but for DR deeper wells is supposed to be better.  I haven't seen that panning out with Canon's cameras.  Again am I missing something?  Further Nikon offers now a D800 without AA filter.  This seems to me like a higher resolution/dynamic range camera than the Canon 5D mark ii.  I am wondering if Canon in trying to hybrid their 5D for photo/video is at the cost of still image quality.  ( I understand an AA filter is very important for film but for stills moire can be removed easily in PS.)
The reason I am asking all this is I am now considering switching over to Nikon. 
Thanks in advance for helpful input.
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Kyle

Guillermo Luijk

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Re: Low Canon DxO dynamic range versus Sony/Nikon
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2012, 11:45:04 pm »

Yes, it seems Canon have prioritized pixel count and video over read noise (i.e. dynamic range) on their sensors.

This is a plot of the evolution of the highest DR APS-C camera on Canon and Nikon. Canon clearly stayed behind Nikon with time (the last Nikon camera is the D7000 with the Exmor Sony sensor), and gap increases:

« Last Edit: February 05, 2012, 05:49:06 pm by Guillermo Luijk »
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bclaff

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Re: Low Canon DxO dynamic range versus Sony/Nikon
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2012, 11:50:06 pm »

Kyle,

I'm not much into speculating on unannounced cameras. (At least not without access to raw files!)

I think I can help you clear up one thing.
Full Well Capacity (FWC) per photosite is not so important as FWC per unit area.
So try to think of it as how many electrons (initially photons) can be captured per unit area.

Regards,
Bill
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akh

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Re: Low Canon DxO dynamic range versus Sony/Nikon
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2012, 12:45:59 am »

Thanks Bill,

I think I get it.  For what ever reason Canon has not prioritized dynamic range.  So I need to decide for myself if I stay with Canon or move over to Nikon.

Thanks again,

Kyle
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Kyle

bclaff

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Re: Low Canon DxO dynamic range versus Sony/Nikon
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2012, 01:07:09 am »

Kyle,

Usable (or photographic) dynamic range is more sensitive to read noise than full well capacity.
Like Guillermo I've looked at DxoMark data (for what it's worth).
It appears that Canon has a slight edge in FWC but Nikon the edge in read noise (normalized for equal areas).
This translates to an overall "win" for Nikon in dynamic range.

I'm curious to know what photography you do where such a difference would cause you to switch brands.

Regards,
Bill
 
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akh

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Re: Low Canon DxO dynamic range versus Sony/Nikon
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2012, 01:26:26 am »

Bill,

My photography is landscape, flowers and portraits.  I find i have a difficult time getting much detail in shadows if I expose neutral.  I can underexpose 1/3 stop but the photo stinks and I have found slightly overexposing 1/3rd stop gives me more to work with in lightroom but I then really struggle with the shadows.  But maybe it's my technique.  But I was hoping more DR would help.

Kyle
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Kyle

ErikKaffehr

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Re: Low Canon DxO dynamic range versus Sony/Nikon
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2012, 01:32:05 am »

Hi,

It's not about prioritizing. Nikon uses sensors from Sony and those sensors have on chip ADCs (Analog Digital Converters). Canon does not have that technology.

The Nikon cameras having Nikons own sensors behave similarly to Canon.

Best regards
Ertik


Thanks Bill,

I think I get it.  For what ever reason Canon has not prioritized dynamic range.  So I need to decide for myself if I stay with Canon or move over to Nikon.

Thanks again,

Kyle
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bclaff

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Re: Low Canon DxO dynamic range versus Sony/Nikon
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2012, 01:33:08 am »

Kyle,

I assume you're shooting at the ISO that gives you maximum DR (with those subjects it should be no problem).
Except for portraits, have you considered trying any HDR techniques?
For flowers and portraits you may be able to reduce the DR requirements by reflectors and other "subtle" lighting changes.

In any case, good luck in achieving your goals!

Regards,
Bill
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akh

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Re: Low Canon DxO dynamic range versus Sony/Nikon
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2012, 01:49:02 am »

Hi,

It's not about prioritizing. Nikon uses sensors from Sony and those sensors have on chip ADCs (Analog Digital Converters). Canon does not have that technology.

The Nikon cameras having Nikons own sensors behave similarly to Canon.

Best regards
Ertik



Erik,

Thank you for the explanation.  Maybe I should be considering Sony cameras too.

Kyle
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Kyle

akh

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Re: Low Canon DxO dynamic range versus Sony/Nikon
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2012, 01:57:19 am »

Kyle,

I assume you're shooting at the ISO that gives you maximum DR (with those subjects it should be no problem).
Except for portraits, have you considered trying any HDR techniques?
For flowers and portraits you may be able to reduce the DR requirements by reflectors and other "subtle" lighting changes.

In any case, good luck in achieving your goals!

Regards,
Bill


I try to always shoot at the lowest ISO 100 which typically isn't difficult for landscapes or flowers.  You are right however I haven't invested in reflectors or fill lighting and given the small investment compared to a new body I should try that first.

I am sure part of my interest is for a new toy.

Many Thanks,
Kyle
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Kyle

BernardLanguillier

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Re: Low Canon DxO dynamic range versus Sony/Nikon
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2012, 02:36:27 am »

I try to always shoot at the lowest ISO 100 which typically isn't difficult for landscapes or flowers.  You are right however I haven't invested in reflectors or fill lighting and given the small investment compared to a new body I should try that first.

Those were fun to use sometimes but I don't remember feeling the need to use them since I started using a D3 5 years ago. The D3x further improved on that.

Cheers,
Bernard

ErikKaffehr

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Re: Low Canon DxO dynamic range versus Sony/Nikon
« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2012, 03:03:23 am »

Hi,

I'm mostly shooting landscape. Would need a gigantic fill light.

A digital image contains an incredible lot of detail:



Same image, processed:




See also: http://echophoto.dnsalias.net/ekr/index.php/photoarticles/63-lot-of-info-in-a-digital-image

Best regards
Erik

I try to always shoot at the lowest ISO 100 which typically isn't difficult for landscapes or flowers.  You are right however I haven't invested in reflectors or fill lighting and given the small investment compared to a new body I should try that first.

I am sure part of my interest is for a new toy.

Many Thanks,
Kyle
« Last Edit: February 05, 2012, 03:06:02 am by ErikKaffehr »
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Bart_van_der_Wolf

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Re: Low Canon DxO dynamic range versus Sony/Nikon
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2012, 03:41:52 pm »

Usable (or photographic) dynamic range is more sensitive to read noise than full well capacity.
Like Guillermo I've looked at DxoMark data (for what it's worth).
It appears that Canon has a slight edge in FWC but Nikon the edge in read noise (normalized for equal areas).

Hi Bill,

I'm just wondering, how much of Nikon's read noise benefit in the DxO data can be contributed to the zero bias offset (clipping the lower half of the readnoise) of the Nikon Raws?

Cheers,
Bart
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bclaff

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Re: Low Canon DxO dynamic range versus Sony/Nikon
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2012, 04:01:18 pm »

Bart,

Quote
how much of Nikon's read noise benefit in the DxO data can be contributed to the zero bias offset (clipping the lower half of the readnoise) of the Nikon Raws?

None.

Regards,
Bill
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Bart_van_der_Wolf

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Re: Low Canon DxO dynamic range versus Sony/Nikon
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2012, 07:38:08 pm »

None.

Hi Bill,

Are you sure?



It seems to improve dynamic range (engineering definition) by about 1 stop, since the standard deviation is roughly halved.
I don't know if/how DxO accounts for that.

Cheers,
Bart
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bclaff

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Re: Low Canon DxO dynamic range versus Sony/Nikon
« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2012, 08:09:57 pm »

Quote from: BartvanderWolf
Quote from: bclaff
Quote from: BartvanderWolf
how much of Nikon's read noise benefit in the DxO data can be contributed to the zero bias offset (clipping the lower half of the readnoise) of the Nikon Raws?
None
Are you sure?

Yes, absolutely; but I can see that more explanation is required.

First, I cannot speak to DxOMark's numbers; but in the case of their Landscape DR it lines up pretty well with my Photographic Dynamic Range (PDR).
I haven't examined their Engineering DR numbers that closely; Engineering DR has almost zero appeal to me.

The fact that Nikon zeroes their ADU (DN) data makes it harder to determine read noise by the usual methods.
I don't know what method DxOMark uses, but no sensible researcher uses the zero truncated result as the read noise.
So Nikon read noise numbers, and by extension Engineering DR, are not biased (pun intended) by the zero offset.
Furthermore, and wandering close to off topic; Nikon read noise for most models is easier to determine than Canon or most other cameras (!)
That's because for most models Nikon stores unzeroed information in the raw data outside of the effective area (the "optical black" area)

Even if Nikon read noise were made to appear too low by careless measurement; this would have no effect on DxOMark Landscape DR or my PDR.
Those are measured far enough away from zero that the zero truncation has no effect.
PDR is measured using a "wedge" to examine the low end of the Photon Transfer Curve (PTC).
Even excellent cameras such as the Nikon D3S are being examined in the area of 30 to 60 ADU (DN); far far away from 0.

Regards,
Bill
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marcmccalmont

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Re: Low Canon DxO dynamic range versus Sony/Nikon
« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2012, 08:16:58 pm »

Hi,

It's not about prioritizing. Nikon uses sensors from Sony and those sensors have on chip ADCs (Analog Digital Converters). Canon does not have that technology.

The Nikon cameras having Nikons own sensors behave similarly to Canon.

Best regards
Ertik



Erik
That explains the low read noise, onboard ADC's thanks, I'm hopeful that the 5DIII will have 14 stops of DR like my K5 but if the onboard ADC is patented I won't hold my breath. Too many Canon lenses to change now.
Marc
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bjanes

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Re: Low Canon DxO dynamic range versus Sony/Nikon
« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2012, 08:17:05 pm »

...Nikon read noise for most models is easier to determine than Canon or most other cameras (!)
That's because for most models Nikon stores unzeroed information in the raw data outside of the effective area (the "optical black" area)

Bill,

How does one gain access to those raw data outside of a specialized program and what purpose does it serve other than to enable determination of read noise?

Thanks,

Bill Janes
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bclaff

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Re: Low Canon DxO dynamic range versus Sony/Nikon
« Reply #18 on: February 05, 2012, 08:28:28 pm »

Quote from: bjanes
How does one gain access to those raw data outside of a specialized program?

Only some specialized programs expose the optical black data.

Quote from: bjanes
What purpose does it serve other than to enable determination of read noise?

I'm not an electrical engineer, but I suspect the level (average) is more important than the noise (standard deviation).
I think the circuitry would use that to set a zero bias.

Regards,
Bill
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akh

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Re: Low Canon DxO dynamic range versus Sony/Nikon
« Reply #19 on: February 05, 2012, 10:47:27 pm »

Erik
That explains the low read noise, onboard ADC's thanks, I'm hopeful that the 5DIII will have 14 stops of DR like my K5 but if the onboard ADC is patented I won't hold my breath. Too many Canon lenses to change now.
Marc

Marc
you mention canon lenses and the pentax K5.  Do you use the K5 for landscape work and a canon body for other work?  Just curious as I weigh my options.

Thanks,
Kyle
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Kyle
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