I'm still trying to make a choice between these two cameras. The dynamic range is important thing to me.

Many people say that the first one has a wider dynamic range. Even DXO Labs shows 14.2 EVs of Sony in comparison with Canon's 11.9 EVs:


Unfortunately, I have no ability to test these two cameras at once to see how significant is the real difference between them. Therefore I wanted to kindly ask someone to make two identical shots, with the same position, the same lens, aperture, shutter speed and ISO (for example, ISO 100) and then to try to recover the highlights/shadows in some RAW converter (for example, Lightroom) in order to see what real abilities has each camera when we talk about the dynamic range.

Thank you in advance!

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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that asking someone to take some photos and upload them for you to decide which camera delvers the best result hardly qualifies as a question. That is better suited for a forum (which photo.SE is not). Perhaps you can rephrase it so it becomes a question? \$\endgroup\$
    – Hugo
    Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 8:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Hugo I understand that. However there's a question (not a request) in the title. If someone make such a test and show obvious results, this could be a correct answer to the question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 15:07
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ There is a question in the title, but if it is a "significant difference" can't be judged without much more information of the exact requirements you have. If an answer should encompass all possible applications of the two cameras the question is far too broad. \$\endgroup\$
    – Hugo
    Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 15:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ See also photo.stackexchange.com/q/48199/15871 \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Sep 13, 2014 at 18:58

3 Answers 3


Although it does not exactly answer your question, this article is really useful to understand what you can do when you have 2+ stops of additional DR available:

Nikon vs Canon Dynamic Range

It compares a Canon 6D (print DR according to DxOMark=12.1; the author selected this one because it is the Canon camera with higher DR) with a Nikon D800 (print DR according to DxOMark=14.4). The author first overexposes the shot +4EV and then he underexposes it -5EV. Finally, he compensates the over/under exposure in post and compares the result.

In the overexposure test, the 6D loses some color information. It is clear that the information in the RGB color channels is being clipped sooner.

In the underexposure test, it is amazing how the information recovered from the shadows from the D800 is so noiseless.

For me, this is a very good example of what you can do with 2+ stops of additional Dynamic Range. But, in real world situations, how often do you need to compensate overexposures of 4EV or underexposures of 5EV?

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ "What you can do with 2+ stops of additional Dynamic Range at base ISO". As is repeatedly pointed out in this discussion, the DR advantage of the Nikon/Sony sensors goes away at higher ISO. \$\endgroup\$
    – Philip Kendall
    Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 10:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, the OP wanted to understand how 11.9 stops of DR compare to 14.2 stops of DR. That only happens at ISO 100. And I believe that the article shows quite well the difference. I agree that after ISO 800 or so, the DR is similar. \$\endgroup\$
    – Super Coco
    Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 10:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually I want to know is it really that Sony A7 has a wider DR than Canon 5D M2? If we cannot fully trust DXO Labs, then how can we verify this? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 12:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ By the way, thank you very much for Nikon D800/Canon 6D dynamic range comparison. It would be great if someone can do such a test for Canon 5DM2/Sony A7. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 15:26

Any time you consider which of two cameras is better, you must qualify the questions and answers with better for what? The reason there are so many different cameras on the market, and even within the offerings of a particular manufacturer, is that there are many different users and uses for those cameras. What works best for one use case does not necessarily work best for all use cases!

Specifically, how significant the difference between two cameras in terms of their Dynamic Range capability is to you can only be answered in light of the use you intend for your camera.

For example, assume you are shooting fast action such as sports played at a world class level. You would need a camera that can capture images at fast shutter speeds, has high frame rates per second, and can sustain that frame rate for multiple shots without getting bogged down with writing the images to the memory card. You would also need an auto focus system that is highly configurable, extremely fast, accurate, and consistent from shot to shot. And you would most likely need to do that at least some, if not all, of the time while shooting in artificially lit sports arenas, so you would be shooting at relatively high ISO. The difference between 13.21 and 11.16 EVs of DR at ISO 100 is totally irrelevant when you are shooting at ISO 3200 where both cameras are almost equal at 9.06 and 9.09 EVs respectively (using the actually measured DxO "screen" scores rather than the mathematically calculated theoretical "print" scores).

On the other hand, if you are doing long exposure landscape photography of high contrast scenes the handling speed, frame rate, AF speed, etc. is equally immaterial and the 2 stops difference in Dynamic Range at ISO 100 might well be the most significant difference between the two cameras for you.

There are also many use cases that fall somewhere between these two extremes. For each one the significance of the difference in Dynamic Range between the two cameras would rise or fall in relation to other considerations.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Michael, of course, if I say that the dynamic range is important to me, it is not about shooting sports. Isn't that obvious? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 15:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not really. As asked your question gives no intended use case. Depending on intended usage DR could be the least important feature, the most important consideration, or somewhere along the scale in between the two extremes. Further, the way you asked the question indicates a lack of understanding about how this site operates so it might also be reasonable to assume a lack of understanding about how DR affects performance in different shooting scenarios. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 16:03
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ "The dynamic range is important thing to me." That is like saying, 'The $500-1,000 price difference is an important thing to me." You still haven't said how and why it is important. Will that much less money in your pocket mean 30 less minutes at the craps table the next time you go to Vegas or will it mean waiting another year to go to the dentist and get the cavities in your teeth fixed? \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 16:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you remember the question photo.stackexchange.com/questions/2627/… on this site? The OP was asking a certain question, without need to know how and why using RAW can be better. There's no need to say how and why it is important in this case too. Furthermore, to say how is very difficult when we talk about such things like dynamic range in real life. Why not to make some good examples instead of simply talking about it? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 9:24
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The RAW vs. jpeg demonstration can be accomplished with a single camera, or with all cameras from a single system. The 5DII vs. A7 demonstration requires that someone be invested in two totally disparate systems which narrows the pool of potential contributors significantly. It is quite possible that not a single active user here owns both of theses cameras. If it is that important to you, then perhaps you could rent both and do this for the rest of us? \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Sep 16, 2014 at 1:30

People say a lot of stupid things (anecdotal stories are not to rely on) and the DxOMark primary scores are quite useless and even the case scores may not necessarily be relevant to you so I wouldn't trust any of those sources alone.

I don't own these particular cameras, but even if i did a single shot from both cameras at arbitrary (but same) settings wouldn't help much. The dynamic range is of the sensor depends on it's ISO setting and this response will be different with two sensors. Also the ability to recover highlights/shadows in post depends in the software used. There are too many parameters that can vary and you wouldn't get much help from it.

I would strongly suggest that you go to a camera store that has both of them on display and borrow them for some real test done by you. Take the RAW files home and play with them as much as you'd like until you've decided what sensor you like the most. You will also get to try the controls, response and feel of the cameras. That will ensure that you're comparing the cameras in the field that is relevant for you.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ To summarise the link - the overall DxOMark scores aren't that reliable/useful but individual tests like dynamic range (as used by the OP) are more like for like comparisons. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 8:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JamesSnell That summary isn't entirely fair. For example the answers say "When it comes to DXO's other scores, such as low light and landscape and whatnot, take them with a hefty dose of salt." and another answer talking about the use case scores: "not necessarily a useful measurement for all applications". Also since the DR is ISO dependent the scores are not necessarily useful to Sunny Reborn Pony. \$\endgroup\$
    – Hugo
    Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 9:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Don't forget that the DxO Mark "print" scores for DR are not actually measured but rather theoretically calculated. See this answer and the links it contains. photo.stackexchange.com/a/47697/15871 \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Sep 13, 2014 at 18:55

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