Dynamic range most important sensor property

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We review various properties of cameras, which together with the photographer and the lens determine the image quality. The quality of all modern cameras is good. The differences in image quality between cameras—if we're talking about cameras with a micro-43, APS-C/DX or full-frame/FX sensor—are in many cases small, but certainly under extreme circumstances visible.

In the total score for image quality of cameras, the various properties are weighted to come to a final score. Because we were curious about which camera properties you all think are the most important, we asked you about it.

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SensorIQ

We got nearly 400 responses. That's not as many as the responses that we get when we ask questions about lenses, but it still gives a nice overview. The results did not surprise us:

  • Dynamic range, with nearly half of the votes, is clearly in first place. The dynamic range of a camera determines to what degree you have unusably overexposed and/or underexposed parts in the photo (assuming that you have good light). Our reviews show clear differences between the various camera branks when it comes to dynamic range. Sometimes, a camera with a micro-43 or APS-C sensor performs just as well as a camera with a full-frame sensor from another brand. Therefore, it did not surprise us that you all find this an important quality. In particular, Nikon, Sony and Fujifilm sensors score highly on this aspect.
  • Noise received a bit less than a quarter of the votes and came in at second place. At low ISO settings, the differences between cameras, partly thanks to the fantastic performance that camera brands have achieved in suppressing noice, are very small. From the noise, you will not soon see whether an A3 print is made from a micro-43 camera or a camera with a full-frame sensor. But at higher ISO values, or if you turn off the noise suppression in RAW files, then you do see significant differences. And it won't surprise anyone that the (particularly Nikon and Sony) cameras with a full-frame sensor score the best for the absence of noise in our reviews.
  • Resolution and color reproduction share last place for you all. As far as color is concerned, that's understandable: the differences in color between cameras from different brands are very small if you take the shots under strictly the same lighting conditions, such as in our test set-up. The auto-white balance and the different image styles that you can choose on a camera have a larger influence. In addition, many photographers choose to change color, contrast and sharpness afterwards by editing their photos.

That resolution scored so low does not appear to be surprising. With a 16-megapixel camera, you can make a sharp A3 print. And who does that so often that it’s an important point for him or her? On the other hand, the resolution determines the sharpness of your shots, and it appears that for some photographers, that can never be high enough. Therefore, resolution is more heavily weighted in our final scores for image quality than you all would do.

Ivo Freriks
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.

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