Gordon Laing wrote:
Hi ChiSoxFan, welcome to the Cameralabs forum!
I tested the A700 with the D-Range Optimiser set to its default Standard setting, so there's lots of examples of DRO in the review. All the images in the results pages and all the Gallery examples were taken with this setting. I also included examples with several different DRO settings in the Features pages.
I also try and take the same - or at least very similar - images across the Galleries, so you can compare how the A700 with DRO compares to, say, the Canon 40D.
I'd be interested to hear what you and everyone else thinks about them. Do you think the Sony images with DRO look significantly better than rival cameras without?
From the examples I took, I wouldn't say it offered a benefit over the competition that was worth mentioning in the verdict, but of course it depends on what subjects you point it at, so others may give it a higher rating.
I was however impressed by the way you could apply a wide range of DRO settings to RAW files using Sony's software...
Thanks Gordon, good to be here. What I have found is that the Standard setting for DRO is very very minimal enhancement although it does make a small difference bringing out shadow detail in high contrast subjects. DRO+ works a bit better and the higher level of Advanced modes is much more significant. I definitely believe this is a large competitive advantage for the Sony cams, especially when it comes to out of camera jpegs. Extra bonus is the inclusion of DRO in RAW now but that wasn't a huge selling point for me. I would bet if you took the same high contrast landscape image between an A700 and 40D, shot the A700 in all DRO settings and compared the shadow detail and overall dynamic range of the images, the A700 would show a noticeable advantage.
This does need to be used somewhat cautiously though in low light, high ISO situations. If you use a high level of DRO when shooting ISO 1600 and it bumps up the shadowy areas, they will be noisier than a typical ISO 1600 image out of this camera because it's essentially bumping it to 3200, 6400, or even higher ISO in that shadow area. That's where DRO bracketing comes in though of course.
I did read the portion of the review where you compared the crop between the 4 DRO options but don't think that was the type of image or crop where the benefits of DRO would, or even could be shown. Imagine a typical shot a person would take with a bright sky and some nice trees in the foreground with lots of shadows. The camera can either expose for the blue sky or for the trees & shadows and blow the sky out. If you took that image with DRO+ or level 3-5, you could expose for the sky at low ISO and let the DRO pull out the shadow detail in/under the trees. These are common shots that can be very difficult, especially for amateur types and are made MUCH better with DRO right in the camera. If you took that scene and compared the A700 to a competitor that's where you'll see the difference. Not on a small 100% crop like on the scene in the review. The selectivity of the DRO options with bringing out only shadow detail is a great alternative to doing HDR photography which can turn out unrealistic or many times very annoying to process afterwards.
I really think this DRO is a huge selling point for the camera and should be treated as such on any review site, especially one that I respect a lot like yours. Even if it ends up as a huge Con in the results I think it is a big enough of a deal to NEED to be mentioned as a pro or a con as the competition doesn't do it. The A700 got nicked for not having live view, but didn't get lauded for including a wireless remote or DRO.
Again, I love the site and reviews. Just a little constructive criticism.