Photography News | Issue 32 | absolutephoto.com
Camera test 41
The D5’s native ISO range is 100 to 102,400 with expansion to the equivalent of ISO 50 and 3,276,800 (H5.0). The D5 is the first camera with this incredible ISO range. Out of curiosity I started with the expanded settings just to see what was actually possible from a shooting perspective. The remarkable thing at H5.0 is that you can run out of apertures and shutter speeds even in very low light. A scene needing a shutter speed of 4secs at ISO 100 is 1/8000sec at H5.0 – that’s 15 stops more. What is unsurprising is that the image quality at H5.0 is very poor. Just look at our test image with virtually no detail and just digital noise and a green colour cast. But then if you are in lighting that demands this level of ISO you’re probably grateful even for a smudgy image. Drop down the expansion range and it’s difficult not to be impressed with the D5’s ability. At H1.0 (ISO 204,800) and H2.0 (ISO 409,600) and there’s plenty of noise but there is detail too. If you have to get the shot come what may and the light is that bad, you’d be grateful for the D5’s high ISO skills. I processed ISO 51,200, 102,400, H1.0 and H2.0 Raws through Macphun’s Noiseless Performance: ISO
Pro and made A3 prints from the resulting files. You wouldn’t hang them on your wall, but they are still very impressive given the low lighting. Drop down the ISO scale further and obviously the image quality gets better all the time, so then it is a matter of deciding which ISO level is your limit when image quality is critical. If push came to shove, I wouldn’t get too stressed if the situation demanded I use ISO 12,800 or 25,600 because with some sympathetic processing the results are remarkable. Current DSLRs and CSCs, in the main, have very good ISO performance and shooting at ISO 1600 or higher, and getting exhibition-quality images is perfectly feasible. But the D5 has raised the bar even higher and it delivers high-quality images at ISOs that we could only fantasize about a few years ago. We haven’t even shown the D5 test shots at sub- ISO 1600 because there is so little difference between them. If you are studio-based shooting flash this aspect of performance has no interest, but then this camera is unlikely to be your cup of tea either. But if you do need to eke out very high qualitywhen the light levels drop, the D5 has enormous appeal.
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