Nikon D800E vs Canon 5D vs Fuji S5 Dynamic range (highlight recovery) test

I do love my D800E and I’ve been hearing a bit lately about it’s exceptional dynamic range, well it’s certainly an exceptional camera but I can’t say I’ve noticed anything anymore exceptional in regards to dynamic range when compared to other Nikon (D3, D3X). So, I thought the best thing to do was to put it to the test (specifically for highlight recovery) and see how it compares the the king of dynamic range (the Fuji S5) and also, for the fun of it, the Canon 5D

The tests were done by taking a purposely overexposed images of the same scene (nothing exciting, just the view from the front of the studio) and seeing what can be pulled back out of the white

Cameras and lenses used:

Canon 5D with Nikon 50mm f1.8 AI-S

Nikon D800e with Nikon 50mm f1.4 AF-D

Fuji S5 with Nikon 35mm F2 AF-D (to compensate for crop factor)

All shots were taken at the same time, on a tripod, with the cameras set to 1/30 sec, f8, ISO 100. Below are the (overexposed) results from each camera


Canon 5D as shot:



Nikon D800E as shot:



Fuji S5 as shot:



As you can see there’s not a lot of difference between all three images, they all look awful, to see how much could be recovered they were processed in Adobe Camera Raw, setting Exposure to -4.0 stops, Recovery to 100% and Fill Light to 100%, here’s the results:

Canon 5D (ACR e-4.0,r100,fl100):



Nikon D800E  (ACR e-4.0,r100,fl100):



Not much to choose between the Nikon and Canon, although the Fuji…

Fuji S5  (ACR e-4.0,r100,fl100):


…ends up looking a bit of a mess with that much ‘rescue’ as there is so much info that can be recovered from the highlights, a more modest set of adjustments (exposure -3.0 stops, no recovery, fill light at 50%) can provide something a bit more sensible

Fuji S5  (ACR e-3.0,r0,fl50):


There we have it, when it comes to ‘exceptional’ dynamic range then we should be referring to the Fujifilm S5 Pro (or the S3 – same sensor), still love the D800E though, just wont be putting my S5 on ebay for the foreseeable future

Colour or Black and White?

Following an attempted murder of my good self whereby I was dragged out of my cozy studio and once loaded up with approx. 30kg of gear made to walk up the hill of doom, ok, in reality we were checking out potential locations for upcoming courses and my good friend John, being the outdoor type, has a better understanding of these things.

Anyway, we ended up at our second location and put the cameras to further use and here’s an image that I got, usually the choice of to process in colour or black and white is clear (and certainly in this case I was using an ND filter that I was aware suffers from colour issues so monochrome was in my mind) but here the image works both ways, so I guess the preference for Colour or Black and White is purely subjective

Click on the images for larger versions:

Nikon D3X vs Fujifilm S5 Pro Dynamic Range (well, highlight recovery test)

As some of you fine folk out there may well be aware, I’ve always been a great fan of my Fuji S5, so much so that I bought a second one (and an S3 just because I’ve always thought they look damn fine). Anyway, after recently adding the most awesome Nikon D3X to my arsenal, a reorganisation of my camera bag was in order, along with facing the prospect of living without the S5 being in there as the D700 takes it’s place as the back-up body.

Having taken the D3X out on Sunday for a bit of a test run, one of the main things that I was interested in was how well it handled highlight recovery, first impressions is that it’s pretty much in the same ballpark as the D700 (and other regular CMOS sensor based cameras). This means only one thing, a (less than) scientific test is required!

The S5 has a 35mm f2 and the D3X has a 50mm f1.4, the sun was setting (not the greatest sunset but there was some clouds and colour in the sky). Both cameras were set to ISO 100, f5.6 at 1/10 second to create a overexposed image

D3X image as shot:

S5 image as shot:

So, not a lot of difference, yes the images were taken at the same time, no the guy doesn’t appear in the S5 shot – in reality there was 5 seconds difference as only when I was taking the shots that I realised I had reset the self-timer on the S5 to just 5 seconds, ok maybe they were not taken at exactly the same time but are we really going to quibble over 5 seconds?

Now to the recovery, I’m not doing anything interesting and not bothered too much about making the image too pretty at this time, I just want to see what’s there in that big lump of white that was the sky.

Using Adobe Camera Raw with exposure set to -4.00, recovery at 100% and fill light at 100% the expedition into the highlights commenced, and the results? – see for yourselves:

D3X (ACR e:-4.00/r:100%/f:100%)

S5 (ACR e:-4.00/r:100%/f:100%)

Interesting but not really unexpected findings, the Fuji S5 (and S3) remains to be the ruler of the kingdom of dynamic range, my only problem now is how to carry three bodies in my bag.