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

Best camera for Nikon glass? – how about a Canon?

Ok, I wanted to get a camera that works well for manual focus, it’ll mainly be used with some old Nikon glass and whatever oddities that I might construct (usually M42 mount).

First thought was to use either a Fuji S3 or S5, I already have an S5 with a KatzEye focusing screen that’s an absolute pleasure to use, not to mention of course the dynamic range that it delivers, but in this case the one lens that I really do want to make more use of is the rather wonderful Nikon 28mm f2.8 AI-s and I would really like to enjoy all of the 28mm that is can deliver so the crop sized sensor in the Fuji’s wasn’t going to satisfy. Obvious answer would be a Nikon D700 but used prices on these are in the region of £900 (so £1000 with the focusing screen), at this point I felt a little envy towards the Canon folk with their Ee-S focusing screen.

I was surprised to find how little a used 5D can be purchased for, this seems to be partly due to the fact that you need to send them into Canon to find out the shutter count, c’mon people, these things have a burst rate that’s hardly worth referring to it as a feature, they were never that big in the heavy use fields of photography so as long as the outer body is in generally good condition (look for rubbed off paint on the buttons as signs of wear) then you can be pretty sure that there’s a good amount of life left in it. I got mine for £350 (including 3 months warranty) from a local camera shop and paid another £30 for the Ee-S screen, a couple of cheap Nikon and M42 to Canon adapters from ebay and for less than £400 I’ve got a damn fine full frame camera that’s ideal for manual focus work

Yeah, I know I need to rely on stop-down metering but that’s hardly a deal breaker

Canon 5D Mk1, Nikon 28mm f2.8 Ai-S, B+W Polariser