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Sony A7R II: Assessing Dynamic Range on a Scene that Exceeds the Camera’s Ability

Sony A7R II

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Out in the field in the real world, image quality attributes such as dynamic range and shadow noise can outweigh other considerations like resolution. Dynamic range in this context means avoiding blown highlights and yet offering the ability to raise very dark areas to lighter values without undue noise.

A camera that offers both high resolution and wide dynamic range is a huge winner for the shooting envelope. In this regard, the Nikon D810 has reigned supreme with its fabulous 36MP sensor, and highlights that just don’t want to blow out (if reasonable care is taken and often if no care is taken!). The Canon 5DS raised the bar on resolution to 50MP, but falls well short on dynamic range; its noise level makes it difficult to lighten shadows and still apply desired sharpening.

The Sony A7R II splits the megapixel gap, offering 42 megapixels, right in the middle between the 36MP Nikon D810 and the 50MP Canon 5DS R. So if it offers most of the dynamic range of the Nikon D810 and something as good or better than the Canon 5DS R, that makes it a contender.

Sony A7R II: Dynamic Range Assessment at ISO 50 (Garage)

This thorough analysis includes entire-frame images up to 24 megapixels and two large crops showing RGB, grayscale and the separate red and green and blue color channels.

Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) adjustments are also shown. The adjustments shown are precisely the kind of adjustments your author uses frequently for difficult dynamic range images. Thus these settings are eminently practical for evaluating image quality from the camera.

Adjusted image
f8 @ 1.0 sec, ISO 50; 2015-08-08 19:28:16
Sony A7R II + Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA

[low-res image for bot]
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