Nikon Z9 Unsuitable for HDR

A reader over at CineD (where else? hehe) took offense when we said 11.5 stops of dynamic range was insufficient for professional use, writing:

Sorry to have to be the ones to break the news to you Barry, but 11.5 stops is woefully inadequate for HDR and additional stops of dynamic range are never irrelevant. Consumer televisions can’t even be certified HDR unless they’re able to display 13 stops. For comparison’s sake, film negatives are capable of 14 stops. Three stops less dynamic range than a film negative might be many things, but it is definitely not HDR; it’s even subpar when it comes to traditional 48-nit theatrical presentation. Digital cinema cameras, which have overtaken film cameras at most studios, capture footage in dynamic ranges that exceed current HDR display capabilities, and even filmed movies often eclipse those levels. You can’t just yank arbitrary numbers out of your pants pocket, which is why standards organizations like the UHD Alliance exist. The number of stops of dynamic range required is based on studies of the human eye’s static dynamic range, which is anywhere from 10,000:1 to 16,000:1. Not only is 11.5 stops at the very low end of that ballpark, compared to many cameras in 2022, it’s positively dismal – even by outdated SDR standards! Even those vehemently opposed to HDR concede that dynamic range is one of the key components of the cinematic look. You’re talking about HDR as a hobbyist, Barry, while our remark explicitly reads ‘for professional use’: a cinematographer doesn’t have the luxury of telling the director they can only shoot low contrast scenes because their camera can’t capture those extra few stops. Moreover, you’re confusing peak mastering brightness, which is a moving target, with the dynamic range of the camera, which is fixed and immutable. Lastly, a wretched 6 stops of latitude is also insufficient: it should be no less than 8 stops. You can then capture all the important information within that 8-stop range, from shadows to highlights, without any adjustment, allowing the subject to walk from shadow to sunlight and the picture will not fall apart.

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