I’ve been shooting with the Nikon D4s this week and wanted to see how its dynamic range holds up against the D800/D810. To do a quick test, I pointed the camera towards a high contrast scene that included dark forest, clearing fog and the bright sun.
To process the image, I opened up the shadows and brought down the highlights in the Lightroom 5 develop module. Next I added a bit of clarity and vibrance to restore the contrast and color in the scene. My final step in Lightroom 5 was to fix the leaning trees using the Lens Correction panel. Finally, I sent the image out to Nik Color Efex Pro 4 to add a little bit of a polarization effect for the clouds.
Overall, I’m very pleased with the D4s dynamic range. I was able to pull out a lot of detail from a single 14-bit NEF (RAW) file. However, as you can see above, the image isn’t perfect. There’s some CA (chromatic aberration) and some muddiness in the shadows. That said, considering the luminance values of the shadows were extremely low to begin with (i.e. 3% to 9%), I’m happy with the result.
DXO Mark rates the Nikon D4s dynamic range at 13.3 EV (DXO Mark D4s Test) compared to the D810 at 14.8 EV. 13.3 stops of dynamic range is still excellent and I wouldn’t be afraid to use the D4s for professional photographs in high contrast situations.
Here’s the before/after so you can see for yourself how much data is recoverable in a Nikon D4s RAW file.