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Birk Kromann

Nikon D800 14.4 stops of dynamic range?

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According to DxOMark the dynamic range of the Nikon D800 is a whopping 14.4 stops. I have no problem believing that it is not the same as the Alexa and that the Alexa's 14 stops are calculated differently.
It is interesting though that the Canon 5D Mark III only scores a mere 11.7 in the same test, making it almost a half stop less than the 6D (currently the best performing Canon DSLR in the dynamic range category) and 0.2 stops lower than the Mark II

Nikon D800:
http://www.dxomark.com/Cameras/Nikon/D800 

 

Canon 5D Mark III
http://www.dxomark.com/Cameras/Canon/EOS-5D-Mark-III

Does anybody else find this a bit peculiar? Especially since the 5D is the "go to" DSLR for filmmakers, heck I even own one my self.

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

Vahicle A has more horsepower at higher rpm on the dyno sheet than vehicle B, but when the two vehicles have a go on a race track, vehicle B wins the race with a clear margin. Peculiar, isn't it. How can that be?

 

Maybe there's more to photo- and cinematography than one single value on the dyno sheet of the Holy Temple of Pixelpeepers.

 

Just sayin'. 

Just a dumb, uneducated guess.

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I completely understand what you're saying.

 

But when you read this article:

http://www.studiodaily.com/2013/01/nikons-d800-gets-down-and-dirty-for-dexter/

 

It kind of makes you wonder if there is some truth behind it. Jeff Jur even says his colourists had a hard time telling the difference when they were grading them. 

Even seeing footage from both of them makes it very clear that they're is a difference.

 

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I think Nikon lobbied for the D800 to be used on Dexter so don't read too much into those claims. It's still a very cut down video feed from the sensor.

 

You can compress those 14 stops from the sensor into an 8bit codec with a flat picture profile, but then when you grade it you get major stepping, poor tonality and colour, the exact opposite of what 14 stops in a 10bit 4:4:4 codec would look like.

 

There's just not enough headroom in the codec to do it justice. That's why most flat profile stuff has odd colour, weird looking highlights, crappy low contrast, grey shadows which should be dark, etc.

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Why would I need to see Dexter? I know enough about the D800's image from first hand experience to know that it falls massively short of the Alexa.

 

Whatever they are doing in post, whatever they are doing in the cinematography and lighting, to cover up for the D800's inadequacies has nothing to do with the argument here.

 

Your argument Birk is that the sensor does 14.4 stops of dynamic range in stills. That's what DXO measures. Raw sensor data.

 

Line skipped compressed 8bit video is another matter.

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At iso 100 the d800 has great DR. But you won't get any of that in video, I tried to do several picture styles that resembel log styles but I never got the highlights to roll off well. Also keep in mind that the camera skips lines which sort of removes dynamic range = noisy shadows. The codec does the rest.

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I completely understand what you're saying.

 

But when you read this article:

http://www.studiodaily.com/2013/01/nikons-d800-gets-down-and-dirty-for-dexter/

 

It kind of makes you wonder if there is some truth behind it. Jeff Jur even says his colourists had a hard time telling the difference when they were grading them. 

Even seeing footage from both of them makes it very clear that they're is a difference.

 

Thanks for the interesting link, although I don't think it changes anything. In a way it sort of confirmed how the productions are being done these days. It's more about the practicalities than the spec sheets.

 

I believe you may be reading a bit too much into the details and DxO spec sheets, and fail to see the bigger picture. They aren't really saying that the D800 is superior in every way, they're saying it happened to fit into the Dexter imagery and mood nicely.

 

How these dSLR's and other "inexpensive" HDSLR-type cameras end up in production sets has more to do with practical things than some spec sheets, and they're kinda saying it in that article, too. They just happened to have the Nikon gear there, because some of the crew members were Nikon shooters, and after they managed to get the look they're after with a small and relatively inexpensive tool, of course they'll want to use it. Those productions have enough motive and resources to work around the shortcomings of any given camera they use.

 

So Eric Fletcher started using a Nikon D800 as a cheap crash cam first, then a hard angle mobile cam etc. in Dexter. Back in 2010 (or so) Gale Tattersall started using a Canon 5D in House alongside the Arri. First in one episode in the murky tight spot scenes, then more often in the next season. One of Johnnie Behiri's clips shot with a Sony NEX 5n was apparently good enough for the BBC, and if I'm not badly mistaken, some a99 footage has been deemed good enough for some high production value TV commercials, and so on. 

 

Does this mean those cameras mentioned are the best cameras around? As good as the Alexa in every possible way? I doubt that. It just means they happen to be capable of producing just the right (or usable) look for the production in question, with the fraction of the cost of the usual gear. And, they just happened to be available on the set already, as the filmmakers brought their existing photo gear along, and decided to give them a try.

 

Then, when they managed to get a nice enough look that suits the mood of the production out of them, the producers were of course delighted. A 5D3 or a D800 costs way less than an Arri, and you can put them in tight spots and even crash them without breaking your heart or the bank. For a given look the post production is also easier and cheaper. Of course they're happy with them, at least as B-gear. 

 

If either of those cameras were somehow superior for any scene and any production, they'd all be using the same camera, wouldn't they. But in reality, Gale and Vincent Laforet, for example, just happened to be Canon guys already, whereas mr. Fletcher is apparently a devoted (sponsored?) Nikon guy. Therefore the 5D was "perfect" for House, and the D800 was "perfect" for Dexter. 

 

So who cares about the dyno sheets, as long as the footage looks like the production team wanted, and the audience is not complaining. Sometimes that does not require the best gear you can get with money, or the ones with the highest DxO scores ever.

 

I also think that Andrew does have a valid point above. The D800 is first and foremost a stills camera, and the holy Bible of the Pixelpeepers is measuring the dynamic range in stills. What the camera does in video mode is another story.

 

But the bottom line is, all the DxO worshipping, fanboyism and the inevitable bickering that follows is pretty pointless. I'd say instead of arguing about the spec sheets with Anrdew, the case is good enough an excuse to do your own experiments with the D800 and whatever other camera you fancy.

Perhaps you'd come up with some compelling footage, too. That's the only thing that matters, isn't it. 

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The end results do matter more than specs but the D800 is old news guys!

 

Here we have some pointless stats on raw stills on a video forum, no real new info, no understanding of how the video quality truly rates on the D800 (below D5300 and 5D Mark III) and therefore I'm afraid it's time to close the thread to free up room in the EOSHD zoo for a better giraffe. Bye marius.

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