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.