Best dynamic range

DXo Labs just published a tool, DXo Mark, to compare the actual quality of image from different dSLR cameras. They compare

  • color depth
  • dynamic range
  • low light ISO

One of the most interesting or surprising part is the Top 20 of Dynamic range: Would you have named the most successful brand here?

Camera Dynamic range
FujiFilm Finepix S5 Pro 13.5 ev
FujiFilm Finepix S3 Pro 13.5 ev
Nikon D90 12.5 ev
Sony Alpha 900 12.3 ev
Nikon D3 12.2 ev
Nikon D700 12.2 ev
Nikon D300 12 ev
Canon EOS 1Ds mk III 12 ev
Canon EOS 1D mk III 11.7 ev
Pentax K10D 11.6 ev
Sony Alpha 350 11.5 ev
Nikon D200 11.5 ev
Nikon D40x 11.5 ev
Canon EOS 50D 11.4 ev
Konica Minolta DYNAX 5D 11.4 ev
Nikon D60 11.4 ev
Canon EOS 1DS mk II 11.3 ev
Leica M8 11.3 ev
Canon EOS 40D 11.3 ev
Sony Alpha 100 11.2 ev

The superiority of the Super CCD with its uncommon color pixel arrangement is obvious here. At the same time, it is quite obvious that the most recent cameras (e.g. Nikon D90, Sony Alpha 900, Nikon D700) have the advantage of better technology to the point that you’d hesitate to buy a second-hand camera (except the pro cameras of last generation like the Nikon D3 or the Canon EOS 1Ds mk III, or the still green and impressive Nikon D300).

The color depth analysis is less discriminant. And it seems that there is less obvious winner. All Full Frame sensors have an obvious advantage but did you expect to find the Samsung GX20 right in the middle of the expensive cameras?

Now, if you want to go low light, another part of the DXo Mark comes to support you. And it is quite obvious that the Full Frame sensors are the way to go: Except the Canon EOS 1Ds series, you have to buy one of the 35mm Full Frame (FX) cameras (Nikon D700, Nikon D3, Sony Alpha 900, or even the old but still powerful Canon EOS 5D).

It is quite clear that some cameras are missing. I would like to see the Sony Alpha 700 (obviously the Sony sensor technology is quite good) and many will be expecting eagerly the results from the newest Canon EOS 5D Mk II (it should come somewhere at the high-end of the DXo Mark).

However, I am quite impressed by the apparent supremacy of Nikon in the quality race over Sony and -even more- Canon. The red Japanese brand obviously needs to fight for quality in the next generation of its amateur and enthusiast dSLR cameras.