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Thread: D3 vs D300 Dynamic Range

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    D3 vs D300 Dynamic Range

    Hi Folks,

    As a spin off of the D3 vs D300 thread I decided to do some dynamic range comparisons between the two. My approach to testing the dynamic range was to expose a bracketed set of shots on both cameras and then test the ability to push and pull them in Adobe Camera Raw. This gives me a real world idea of how much flexibility and range both cameras have at the extremes which translates to real world shots where I need to pull up the shadows and pull back the highlights.

    The test setup was shot on a tripod using the Nikon 70-200 VR for both cameras. I equalized the field of view by using a zoom of 70mm for the D300 and 105mm for the D3 (actually the lens reported 110mm to get the framing as close as possible - probably in reality somewhere between 105 and 110). Both sets of shots were focused using live view. Once focused, I bracketed 9 shots from -4EV to +4EV using mirror lockup with a remote release for each shot. To minimize the depth of field differences I shot the D300 at f/7.1 and the D3 at f/10 (1 stop difference) and adjusted the shutter speed accordingly.

    To test the ability to push up the shadows, I pushed the -4EV shots to 0EV by adding +4 in ACR to match the +0 shot.

    To test the ability to bring back the highlights I pulled the +2EV shot back to 0EV by setting -2 in ACR to match the +0 shot.

    The default settings were used in ACR with the exception of the black level at 0 and I used the following for camera calibration:

    D300 calibration:

    Shadows: 0

    Red Hue: 0
    Red Saturation: +8

    Green Hue: +11
    Green Saturation: +4

    Blue Hue: 0
    Blue Saturation: -22

    D3 calibration:

    Shadows: 0

    Red Hue: -2
    Red Saturation: +13

    Green Hue: +18
    Green Saturation: +9

    Blue Hue: -1
    Blue Saturation: -18


    I'm also showing the +0EV shot as a reference.

    Below I'll post the shots by camera and exposure so you can compare them. For those that want to dig into the raw files I'm enclosing a zip to a subset of each with -4EV,-2EV,-1EV, 0EV, +1EV, +2EV. I've also got a set of shots on the D3 at f/7.1 for reference.

    Here is the raw file set for the D300 at f/7.1:

    http://www.mediafire.com/?wbcyhqwdtdc

    Now the D3 at f/10:

    http://www.mediafire.com/?jtwzznvl0tt

    and finally for reference but not shown here the D3 at f/7.1:

    http://www.mediafire.com/?jtwzznvl0tt

    Enjoy!

    Greg

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    D300 & D3 as shot

    In all of the following the order will be D300, D3, D300 crop, D3 crop:

    This is the +0EV exposure:

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    D300 & D3 -4EV as shot

    This one is the -4EV as shot, again D300, D3, D300 crop, D3 crop:

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    D300 & D3 +2EV as shot

    This one is the +2EV as shot, again D300, D3, D300 crop, D3 crop:

    Had to edit this one, had the wrong D300 as shot. It's now the last one since I couldn't figure out how to place the edited one first. Sorry for any confusion...
    Last edited by Greg Seitz; 15th May 2008 at 17:45. Reason: Posted correct shot

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    D300 & D3 -4EV corrected with +4

    This one is the -4EV corrected to 0EV with a +4EV push in ACR, again D300, D3, D300 crop, D3 crop:

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    D300 & D3 +2EV corrected with -2

    This one is the +2EV corrected to 0EV with a -2EV push in ACR, again D300, D3, D300 crop, D3 crop:

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    Re: D3 vs D300 Dynamic Range

    Ok, that should do it. Let me know what you think...

    Greg

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    asabet
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    Re: D3 vs D300 Dynamic Range

    Excellent test Greg! This is how I like to examine DR also. Gives a practical sense of what the RAW shooter has to work with. To me, it seems that some of the recoverable shadow detail in the pushed underexposed D3 shot is lost amongst the shadow noise in the D300 shot. The differences on the highlight end are more subtle, but I'd again give the edge to the D3. Regards, Amin
    Last edited by asabet; 15th May 2008 at 17:37.

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    Re: D3 vs D300 Dynamic Range

    Quote Originally Posted by asabet View Post
    Excellent test Greg! This is how I like to examine DR also. Gives a practical sense of what the RAW shooter has to work with. Your test demonstrates very clearly how much more the D3 offers in the shadows. Shadow detail which is usable in the pushed underexposed D3 shot is lost amongst the shadow noise in the D300 shot. The differences on the highlight end are more subtle, but I'd give the edge to the D3. Regards, Amin
    Amin,

    Not sure I'm seeing what you are regarding the shadows. I see maybe a small advantage on the shadow side but not much. What surprised the heck out of me is that I'd say the D300 pulled up the shadows very well and I'd dare say may have outdone the D3 there since the D3 is showing a hint of banding and the D300 shows none.

    Greg

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    Re: D3 vs D300 Dynamic Range

    I went back and edited my comment after looking at it for a while longer (and before I saw your response, or I wouldn't have edited it ). I still think the D3 recovers more shadow detail in the bottom left corner of the crop, but it's not as clear a difference as I initially though.

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    Re: D3 vs D300 Dynamic Range

    HI Greg
    Interesting stuff - I think the link for the f7.1 on the D3 is the same as that for the f10.

    I do understand why you used f10 . . . . but I'm not sure that you were right - you've equated the dof, but I can't get my head around whether you were right to reduce the aperture or not . . . so it'd be nice to see the 7.1 if you have the link.

    I thought I'd have a look at them in Aperture, Incidentally - why did you only overexpose by +2 and not +4 (it always seems to me where there is a lot of headroom in the D3 files.)

    Incidentally, I think you're VERY brave to publish this on dpreview . . . or VERY foolish . The toys are flying out of the prams as we speak!
    Last edited by jonoslack; 16th May 2008 at 01:46.

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    Re: D3 vs D300 Dynamic Range

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Seitz View Post
    ....and finally for reference but not shown here the D3 at f/7.1: http://www.mediafire.com/?jtwzznvl0tt...
    Thank you Greg but the files you're quoting above are f/10's. Did you keep the f/7.1's by chance?

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    Re: D300 & D3 -4EV corrected with +4

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Seitz View Post
    This one is the -4EV corrected to 0EV with a +4EV push in ACR, again D300, D3, D300 crop, D3 crop:
    Hi Greg
    I've also done this one in Aperture - principle is the same - however, what I have noticed is that on the D300 shot there is a splash of sunlight in front of the chart - on the D3 this is further away, and would certainly have reflected less light on to the chart.

    What do you reckon?

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    Re: D3 vs D300 Dynamic Range

    This is what I got with default settings (+4 and 0 black point)
    aperture left ACR right
    D300 top
    D3 bottom




    Then with -2 on the overexposed (still would have liked to have seen +4)



    For what it's worth!

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    Re: D3 vs D300 Dynamic Range

    Greg, excellent. Thank you. I see what you mean re: vertical banding on the pushed D3 shot, the D300 has more chroma noise when pushed, but at least it's irregular.

    Jono - Aperture does a sweet job against ACR - especially in the pushed shots. Have been considering it as DAM since 2.0 came out and price dropped. Would be curious how the push/pull would compare against NX.

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    Re: D3 vs D300 Dynamic Range

    Hi.

    I've used both Aperture and Lightroom, and they are different enough, and these test results are similar enough, that I wouldn't base my decision on which software to use based on the DR handling question. Maybe my eyes aren't that good, but the test shots look extremely similar to me.

    Steven

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    Re: D300 & D3 -4EV corrected with +4

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    Hi Greg
    I've also done this one in Aperture - principle is the same - however, what I have noticed is that on the D300 shot there is a splash of sunlight in front of the chart - on the D3 this is further away, and would certainly have reflected less light on to the chart.

    What do you reckon?
    Hi Jono,

    Regarding lighting, the shots were taken roughly mid day 4 minutes apart. What you're seeing in terms of the lighting change are shadows from some 100+ ft tall Douglas Firs off to the left of the scene. So obviously areas where the shadows changed would show differently between the two. In the crop I provided, the chart remained in shadow on both, but examining other areas of the originals reveals the same amount of shadow recovery. Even in the same crop, take a look at the branch detail at the base of the bush to the left of the chart. Same for the highlight detail. Were you able to spot any major differences in other areas that remained in deep shadow?

    Thanks,

    Greg

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    Re: D3 vs D300 Dynamic Range

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    This is what I got with default settings (+4 and 0 black point)
    aperture left ACR right
    D300 top
    D3 bottom

    For what it's worth!
    Thanks for posting these. I've noticed myself that Aperture seems to pull a bit more detail out of higher ISO shots as well as when pulling the shadows up. But everytime I find and example where Aperture does better I seem to find another where ACR does a bit better. Generally they are pretty close most of the time.

    By the way, I do have the +3 and +4 shots, I didn't include them due to the 100MB limit of mediafire. I can package them up separately and upload them. I'll post a link when they are up. I did find however that +2 was about the limit for true highlight recovery on both.


    Greg

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    Re: D300 & D3 -4EV corrected with +4

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Seitz View Post
    Hi Jono,

    Regarding lighting, the shots were taken roughly mid day 4 minutes apart. What you're seeing in terms of the lighting change are shadows from some 100+ ft tall Douglas Firs off to the left of the scene. So obviously areas where the shadows changed would show differently between the two. In the crop I provided, the chart remained in shadow on both, but examining other areas of the originals reveals the same amount of shadow recovery. Even in the same crop, take a look at the branch detail at the base of the bush to the left of the chart. Same for the highlight detail. Were you able to spot any major differences in other areas that remained in deep shadow?

    Thanks,

    Greg
    HI Greg
    Maybe you're right - I would have been interested in seeing the +4 shots, and also the f7.1 D3 shots (have you got them?), as it's highlight recovery which has really impressed me with the D3.

    Otherwise - I certainly 'like' the d3 files better, but it's certainly pretty close

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    Re: D3 vs D300 Dynamic Range

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    HI Greg
    Interesting stuff - I think the link for the f7.1 on the D3 is the same as that for the f10.

    I do understand why you used f10 . . . . but I'm not sure that you were right - you've equated the dof, but I can't get my head around whether you were right to reduce the aperture or not . . . so it'd be nice to see the 7.1 if you have the link.

    I thought I'd have a look at them in Aperture, Incidentally - why did you only overexpose by +2 and not +4 (it always seems to me where there is a lot of headroom in the D3 files.)

    Incidentally, I think you're VERY brave to publish this on dpreview . . . or VERY foolish . The toys are flying out of the prams as we speak!
    Whoops, here's the correct link to the f7.1 shots on the D3 - no wonder no one downloaded them.

    http://www.mediafire.com/?l1gdt0j1ylz

    Regarding 10 vs 7.1 I didn't want people to focus on the depth of field differences and cry foul. Being wise to the ways of these tests I took the easy way out and provided both (well at least I thought I did!).


    Greg

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    Re: D3 vs D300 Dynamic Range

    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    Greg, excellent. Thank you. I see what you mean re: vertical banding on the pushed D3 shot, the D300 has more chroma noise when pushed, but at least it's irregular.

    Jono - Aperture does a sweet job against ACR - especially in the pushed shots. Have been considering it as DAM since 2.0 came out and price dropped. Would be curious how the push/pull would compare against NX.
    Aperture is very nice. Both ACR and Aperture can manipulate +4 to -4 (actually Aperture can be set to go beyond if needed). NX I believe limits you to +2, -2 on the exposure slider so you can't easily pull out the detail like this.

    Greg

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    Re: D3 vs D300 Dynamic Range

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Seitz View Post
    Whoops, here's the correct link to the f7.1 shots on the D3 - no wonder no one downloaded them.

    http://www.mediafire.com/?l1gdt0j1ylz

    Regarding 10 vs 7.1 I didn't want people to focus on the depth of field differences and cry foul. Being wise to the ways of these tests I took the easy way out and provided both (well at least I thought I did!).


    Greg
    I think you're really brave to have posted these - very difficult to avoid getting attacked from all corners (at least, it is if you post them in dpreview too!).

    I should say here - I'm not attacking from any corner - I'm surprised at how well the D300 does . . . . but I still don't think it's as good, but it's more to do with how the files look than the dynamic range . . . . I still reckon you've plummed the depths of underexposure, without quite radiating to the height of overexposure!

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    Re: D3 vs D300 Dynamic Range

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    I think you're really brave to have posted these - very difficult to avoid getting attacked from all corners (at least, it is if you post them in dpreview too!).

    I should say here - I'm not attacking from any corner - I'm surprised at how well the D300 does . . . . but I still don't think it's as good, but it's more to do with how the files look than the dynamic range . . . . I still reckon you've plummed the depths of underexposure, without quite radiating to the height of overexposure!
    Ok Jono,

    Radiate the heights! Here are the +3 and +4 shots for the D3 and D300:

    http://www.mediafire.com/?cimsuvugnlo

    Thanks,

    Greg

  24. #24
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    Re: D3 vs D300 Dynamic Range

    A different approach

    I took advantage of Greg's work; the shots he made are excellent to this purpose. However, I have a different approach of comparing the dynamic ranges.

    1. I am comparing the unadultered raw data directly (no demosaicing, no nothing). The question is, what the camera delivers, not how good the raw processor is.

    2. I am using only two images from the serie, which are directly comparable.

    3. The highlights play no role in this question, for

    a. the raw data is linear,

    b. what is clipped is not within the dynamic range, therefor "recovery" is nonsensical in this context,

    b. what is captured is naturally within the dynamic range limited only by noise.

    4. I am comparing in the darkest shadows the standard deviation of pixel values on some smooth, uniform areas and the appearance of fine details.

    I selected the f/10, 1/250s shot form the D3 and the f/7.1, 1/500s shot from the D300, because

    a. their exposure is virtually identical,

    b. both have really dark areas containing smooth, uniform spots as well as fine details.

    Here are the raw histograms, first the D300, then the D3; they show, that the difference between their effective exposure is less than 1/6 EV:




    I located two spots, which appear uniform in color and smooth (from this distance). I made a selection in those areas and compared the pixel values as well as the standard deviations (which is the indicator of noise). This is easy, because the numerical pixel value range is the same in both cameras, namely 0 to roughly 16300.

    The captures are greenish, because there are two green pixels for one red and one blue. Again, this is not demosaiced.

    A small orange recangle shows the selection. The average pixel values within that selection are marked with a yellow disk, the standard deviations with a magenta disk. The two other numbers in the groups preceding the average are the minimum and maximum pixel value in the selection. There are separate values for red, green and blue (the two green channels are lumped together).

    The first selection, D300 followed by D3. These captures show, that the standard deviation is much lower with the D3; it is obvious from the capture, that the spot is much smoother (well, this has to be so with the lower standard deviation). The values show, that this spot is in the ninth stop downwards, i.e. the D3 has a quite clean 9 stop, while the D300 is too noisy there (the ninth stop is from 64 downwards).





    Now, let's goo deeper. The next selection is under the previous one, on the even darker area, which is at the end of the night and the beginning of the tenth stop. The D3 is much cleaner than the D300:





    Finally, a more subjective but not less important aspect: the reproduction of fine details. Keep in eyes, that this area requires +4 EV in ACR (with black = 0) to be this bright. This is 4.5 EV (I am not sure if it is known here, that ACR applies +0.5 EV autpmatically to these images, without indicating it).

    Again, the D300 followed by the D3:





    Anyway, I think it is indisputable, that the D3 is much better.

    (I do not own a D3, nor a D300.)

    Greg, thanks for the shots.

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    Re: D3 vs D300 Dynamic Range

    Hi Panopeeper,

    Very interesting and detailed analysis. What do you make of the slight patterned chroma banding noise being in the D3 -4 shot vs the D300? Obviously at these extremes it's not unexpected but I was curious more in the lack of it coming from the D300 than it's presence in the D3 since the D300 is the only camera I can think of that seems to be free of this artifact that I've seen when pushed this far.

    Thanks,

    Greg

  26. #26
    Panopeeper
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    Re: D3 vs D300 Dynamic Range

    Greg,

    do you mind pointing out, in which image (aperture, shutter) and where exactly you see this effect?

    When you are referring to the shot with -4 EV, is that the 1/2000sec with f/10?

    I count the exposure from the very right edge; the 1/500sec is 2.8 EV lower, the 1/2000sec is about 4.6 EV lower. I would have expected a 1/1000sec in the serie, but there is none (and, accordingly, there is none with 1/2000sec in the D300 serie of f/7.1).

    Another issue: I saw on another threads, that you were doubting the true ISO capabilities of the Sinar back. I have shown that you were right re the eM22 (or is that 45? Brumbear's and eXposure display different model names). I have not seen any other files from the 75, only that one supposed to be ISO 800, but that indicates, that there too the ISO 800 is eye wash, it is simply underexposing and correcting it in raw processing.

    Gabor

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    Re: D3 vs D300 Dynamic Range

    Quote Originally Posted by Panopeeper View Post
    Greg,

    do you mind pointing out, in which image (aperture, shutter) and where exactly you see this effect?

    When you are referring to the shot with -4 EV, is that the 1/2000sec with f/10?

    I count the exposure from the very right edge; the 1/500sec is 2.8 EV lower, the 1/2000sec is about 4.6 EV lower. I would have expected a 1/1000sec in the serie, but there is none (and, accordingly, there is none with 1/2000sec in the D300 serie of f/7.1).

    Another issue: I saw on another threads, that you were doubting the true ISO capabilities of the Sinar back. I have shown that you were right re the eM22 (or is that 45? Brumbear's and eXposure display different model names). I have not seen any other files from the 75, only that one supposed to be ISO 800, but that indicates, that there too the ISO 800 is eye wash, it is simply underexposing and correcting it in raw processing.

    Gabor
    Hi Gabor,

    I was talking about the crop in post #5. In the D3 shot, it's most visible in the shaded areas of the driveway under and to the right of the color chart. The series that I uploaded didn't include the -3 shot since I had to fit the most relevant shots into a 100MB zip file due to the mediafire limitation. Also thank you confirming my thoughts on the other thread.

    Greg

  28. #28
    Panopeeper
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    Re: D3 vs D300 Dynamic Range

    Greg,

    that is only in the 1/2000sec shot, which is close to 5 EV from the right. The banding areas are in the 10th stop and below, where true black clipping (zero pixel values) is dominating. The funny colored pixels mark are those with value zero, and see the pixel stats on the selection: red average is 6 (this is the 11th stop), green 11, blue 8. This range is out of anything worth of dealing with. The D3 seems to have a DR of about 9 EV, not 11 (the 0 EV is excellent!).



    Gabor

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    Re: D3 vs D300 Dynamic Range

    Thanks Gabor.

    Greg

  30. #30
    Panopeeper
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    Re: D3 vs D300 Dynamic Range

    Welcome Greg. Btw, you can do the same, Rawnalyze is free: http://www.cryptobola.com/PhotoBola/Rawnalyze.htm

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