There’s been a lot of buzz about the D7000’s outstanding dynamic range at base ISO (100). This buzz includes claims that it bests the full frame D700 at its base ISO (200). To see how these claims would work out in a practical shot, let’s look at the following little vignette, a challenging exposure where we have to decide between preserving highlight detail in the lamp shade against preserving some amount of detail in the deep shadows around it.
On this first set of exposures, we opt to compromise to keep most of the shadow detail, while losing some detail in the highlights.
|D700, ISO200, f/8, 1/4 sec
||D7000, ISO100, f/8, 1/2 sec
But what if we purposefully select an exposure with two stops two less light? We have now preserved most of the lamp shade detail, but in doing so lose quite a bit of shadow detail, as shown in the first pair of images that follow.
|D700, ISO200, f/8, 1/15 sec
||D7000, ISO100, f/8, 1/8 sec
However, with shadow protection in ViewNX2 (or an alternative shadow pull technique), we can bring out shadow detail to get the following.
|D700, ISO200, f/8, 1/15 sec with shadow protection=65
||D7000, ISO100, f/8, 1/8 sec with shadow protection=65
This is not ideal. Neither corrected image is perfect, but it appears the D7000’s output retains the best colors, while the D700 is already falling apart. You may also want to access the full size images to also review the amount of noise the shadow detail pull brings out.
Can we take this one stop further, with more preservation of the highlights at the expense of the shadows? Here’s the uncorrected set of images.
|D700, ISO200, f/8, 1/30 sec
||D7000, ISO100, f/8, 1/15 sec
And here is the corrected pair of images after applying maximum shadow protection.
|D700, ISO200, f/8, 1/30 sec with shadow protection=100
||D7000, ISO100, f/8, 1/15 sec with shadow protection=100
I’ll let you decide whether these results are acceptable, but on the face of it, it does appear that the D7000 holds an edge in the shadows at base ISO.