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Dynamic Range

Introduction

Roughly speaking, dynamic range is the range of brightness that can be recorded with fidelity without blowing the highlights to pure white or turning dark tones to pure black. Dynamic range can be measured, but as a practical matter what counts is usable dynamic range: dark tones that aren’t usable if they also contain defects like blotchy or pattern noise.

Medium format cameras tend to have a wonderful dynamic range of 12 stops or a bit more, fitting into their 16-bit image files. The D3x has no quoted dynamic range but it does offer 16-bit internal processing stored as 14-bit files. Further testing should establish usable dynamic range for the D3x. It is clear that ISO 50 on the D3x does not have the dynamic range of a medium format digital back at ISO 50. Photographers who must have maximal dynamic range will need to use medium format digital, or HDR multi-shot techniques.

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Since 2006, Diglloyd Advanced Photography is the authoritative review and reference for DSLRs and their lenses: Canon and Nikon primarily, but also Pentax and some medium format. Reviews of key DSLRs are included, but the primary focus is on lens performance. Also included is a wealth of technique and workflow approaches.

DAP includes thousands of pages of exclusive coverage and high resolution Retina-grade examples detailing Canon and Nikon DSLR bodies and their lenses, with in-depth analysis of sharpness and contrast, color, bokeh, vignetting, distortion, MTF, and flare, behavioral and practical usage.

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