Photography News Issue 32

Photography News | Issue 32 |

Camera test 43

Performance: autofocus

The D5’s system is first class as you would expect – fast, responsive and accurate. It’s sensitive too with the central AF point working down to -4EV and all other points down to -3EV. With -3EV equating to 8secs at f/1 at ISO 100, this is very sensitive and (roughly) in the order of a moon-lit scene. I did some night shooting with the D5 when testing its ISO performance and AF down to EV2 (equivalent to 16secs at f/8, ISO 100) was still working accurately so long as the AF point had some detail to lock onto. More relevant to the typical prospective D5 user, the camera also showed itself very capable with the various action/fast-moving subject situations we pitted it against – traffic, fairground rides, rugby, cycling and trains. In the example below, shot using a modest Nikon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 set to 300mm we got 22 frames shot at 12fps – all sharp – of a passing Grand Central train on the East Coast main line doing around 80mph. Themetered manual exposure was 1/1500sec at f/5.6 at ISO 400 and focusing system was set to 25-point dynamic servo AF. The enlargement from the last shot of this sequence of the engine’s number below shows how well the D5’s AF systemmanaged to track focus on this non-stop train.

ISO 51,200 No High ISO NR applied

ISO 51,200 LowHigh ISO NR

ISO 51,200 Normal High ISO NR

ISO 51,200 High High ISO NR

Performance: noise reduction

Shoot JPEGs at high ISO levels and the D5 has a selection of high ISO noise-reduction settings to minimise the grain effect produced. In this twilight scene, shot using a Nikon 24-120mm f/4, even ISO 12,800 needed an exposure of 1/10sec at f/8 so you can appreciate it was pretty dark. I took sets of shots at ISO 12,800, 25,600, 51,200 and 102,400 using no, low, normal and high noise-reduction settings. The images here are at ISO 51,200 and are straight out of the camera with no further noise reduction in software. Choosing the best noise reduction setting to use is often a balancing act and you have to get to the point where noise is reduced effectively but where detail isn’t overly affected. Too much noise reduction can also give strangely smooth shots that simply don’t look natural. On the D5, I’d be happy with the normal or high settings. The high setting on some models can be overly aggressive but on the D5 it’s impressive because noise is significantly reduced and fine detail is still visible.

A blow-up from the last shot

Left The Thames Barrier from the north of the river shooting into the light with an exposure of 1/250sec at f/11 and ISO 200. Above Shot with a 14-24mm f/2.8 at 24mm and 1/350sec at f/16 and ISO 200.

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