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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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