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Old Oct 7, 2009, 5:56 AM   #1
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Default A step up from the G10?

I shoot landscapes and available light interior/still life shots with a Canon G10. It's a good camera, but it has severe issues with highlight clipping (especially with skies) and low light performance is very poor. As such, I'm thinking about moving up to a DSLR of some sort.

My typical workflow for landscapes is to underexpose by 1 to 3 EV (using manual mode) and boost shadow/dark areas in Lightroom. This workflow preserves sky and ground details, but involves a lot of trial and error when shooting and results in grainy images due to the G10 sensor's high noise floor.

How far up the DSLR market do I need to go to get something noticeably better for this type of photography?

Conventional wisdom, of course, is that DSLRs are fundamentally better at highlight representation than P&S cameras. According to the (many) reviews I've read and the sample photos I've seen, however, the current crop of consumer DSLRs don't do much better at avoiding highlight clipping than the G10 does. Indeed, sample shots on DCResource suggest that the 5D is the lowest Canon able to handle highlights well.

Is the highlight performance of lower-end DSLRs really not much better than the G10 or would I see a marked improvement in performance from a DSLR in the T1i/5000D/K20D/GF1 class? If so, which cameras in the consumer end of the DSLR market do best at highlights?

TIA.
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Old Oct 7, 2009, 11:37 AM   #2
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From most Dynamic Range tests I've seen, models using newer Sony 12MP CMOS Sensors like the Nikon D5000 and D90 tend to have the best highlight range, given a properly exposed mid gray, in cameras with APS-C size sensors. If you move up to full frame, the highlight range is even greater with models using a Sony 24MP full frame sensor (Nikon D3x, Sony A850, Sony A900).

You may also want to take a look at the new Sony A500, which should start hitting dealer shelves in the U.S. within the next 2 weeks. This model uses a Sony 12MP APS-C size CMOS Sensor and also has a mode that takes two photos (exposing one for the shadows and the other for highlights) combining them in camera. It also aligns the two images in camera to compensate for minor framing differences, like the alignment feature you find in some HDR software (reducing the need for a tripod). Click on the link you'll see labeled "See how HDR Works" to see photos showing how it combines images.

http://www.sonystyle.com/webapp/wcs/...52921665970155

The recently announced Pentax K-x also appears to use a Sony 12MP CMOS Sensor (but, I don't know when it's due to start shipping).

Note that you could also combine multiple exposures to create a single High Dynamic Range image with software (and you could do that with your existing camera). Here's a recent thread discussing it (and it also discusses Exposure Bracketing modes available with some of the models available).

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/wh...-dslr-hdr.html
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Old Oct 7, 2009, 12:01 PM   #3
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1979-

I agree with JimC. The Auto HDR implementation in the Sony A-500 is currently the best in camera HDR. More dramatic results can be obtained by using a software implementation of HDR like PhotoMatrix. The Pentax K-20 camera (now difficult to find and running at arount $740.00) has auto bracketing system that takes 5 different exposures over a EV-3.0 to EV +3.0 range. The using a software application like PhotoMatrix those 5 photos can be combined into a single print ot photo while retaining full resolution and Dynamic Range. using the K-20 approach, the initial photo is best taken using a good tripod.

Have a great day.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Oct 7, 2009, 3:55 PM   #4
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I'm more interested in wide single shot dynamic range--backed by a metering system that doesn't habitually overexpose highlights--than true multi-shot HDR.

I've been using DCResource's 'purple fringing tunnel of doom' sample images as a guide to highlight performance. The lighting conditions are very similar to those in the kind of shooting I tend towards.

The D5000 sample shot is not particularly impressive and reveals no more detail in direct sunlight than the G10 sample.

What I'd like is something able to consistently meter high contrast shots without blowout, somewhat like this:

http://www.dcresource.com/sites/defa...y/P1000019.JPG
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Old Oct 7, 2009, 4:09 PM   #5
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Those photos (if you look at the review samples since those links don't work) were taken at totally different times of day (one in the morning, the other in late afternoon) from what I can see of the EXIF, with different exposures (for example, the ceiling in the G10 photos is not exposed as bright). If you had brighter shadows with it, more highlights would have been blown.

You can have dramatic lighting changes in a few seconds, much less between much greater periods, especially with photos taken at different times of day.

See the DR range tests for the D5000 at dpreview.com for one example of how good highlight range is with newer models using a Sony 12MP APS-C size sensor, when tested in controlled condtion with a properly exposed mid gray.

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/nikond5000/page18.asp

Tweaking settings in ACR, they were able to get 12.7 stops of Dynamic Range shooting raw:

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/nikond5000/page19.asp
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