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Thread: Dynamic range

  1. #1
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    Dynamic range

    Every magazine review makes a point about the E series dynamic range, or lack thereof. I'm not seeing this as an issue. I'm just curious: is anyone seeing blown highlights and weak shadow detail as a problem?

  2. #2
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    Yes, I frequently wish for more dynamic range on the white end. That is my largest complaint from the IQ department. I have many times taken pictures of white waterfowl, and had a choice between seriously underexposing the background (thus losing nice reflections and leaves), or completely blowing out the birds, and losing all the feather detail. It is particularly irritating if they are far enough away as to be part of the scenery instead of the subject. I have a picture with two swans, and you can't tell which is which, it's just a white shape with two heads, the picture is otherwise beautifully exposed. I also wish my skies would tend more toward the blue than the white side at times. And quite a few other instances where I wish for more.

    I shoot exposure bracketing enough to know the camera doesn't have far to go. Just 1 stop extra toward the white would take care of 50% of my problems, particularly with blue skies.

    Of course, if they doubled the dynamic range, that would be cool too I would be quite happy with, say, 3 stops on the dark end and 4 on the bright end.
    Last edited by raven15; 08-23-2008 at 03:42 AM.

  3. #3
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    The highs & lows...

    Interesting comment Ken...

    Most of the reviews of the E-520 that I've read have said something along the lines of "It boasts a greater dynamic range than the E-510 and that's something we can confirm. Many of our test shots showed how the E-520 can really hang onto those highlights while still bringing out plenty of shadow detail."

    I guess highlight clipping is one of those difficult things to quantify, and everyone's gonna have a differing degree of what's "acceptable" or not? I agree that DR seems to be one of the major IQ issues that camera manufacturers seem to be ignoring; I'm assuming it's because of the R&D costs of better sensors (which ultimately limit DR).

    Cheers

  4. #4
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    I don't find it to be much of an issue but it may well be my shooting style and training and my software. I tend to like inky shadows. There's a fine line where a shot can be too perfect, too technically correct and dull as hell. I've done thousands of those shots. Very boring, very "me too". I know my setup well enough to make it work. Then again, the dynamic range means not a heck of a lot for printing. Anything too light or dark will tend to be a problem anyway.

  5. #5
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    One thing I wonder about is altitude. I generally live and shoot at a fairly high altitude, pretty much never below 4,500 feet, and just as likely to be over 8,000 feet. I think this makes for harsher lighting, with less atmosphere to dull the sun.

    Training... yes, but I tend to make a whole lot of shots of contrasty subjects varying the exposure on each, and have found that frequently I still can't get it right.


    True, I don't usually print. It is true clipped highlights on small objects such as glass, leaves, etc. wouldn't be noticeable. However, I think white skies and entire birds are easier to spot.

  6. #6
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    A shibboleth...

    "Dynamic range" is much ado about nothing.
    Moreover, DR is a "digital" term, bearing little weight in the overall practice of the craft.

    Photography demands competent operators and proper equipment and the knowledge to properly expose a scene or venue.

    Improper use of the viewfinder by neophytes (how many new shooters ever check the four corners before they shoot?), overly aggressive use of ISO, not knowng the limitations of their gear leads to DR blowouts.

    So few of today's shooters use filters** for example, thinking they can do every thing to "fix"*** their work in post-processing.
    **The properly used filter for example, will absolutely control most DR blowouts. You don't use filters at your tedious, post-processing peril.
    ***The very idea we cannot shoot digital without doing at least some post-processing should alert many to the need to use pre-production tools like filters, camera supports, lens shades-etc.
    Last edited by Razr; 08-25-2008 at 10:40 PM.
    EOS 1-D, EOS 1Ds, EOS 1n, EOS T2i D-SLR, EOS 1n (HS), EOS A2E(2), Olympus E-3 DSLR, E30 & E-510 DSLRs, Olympus digital FL50 flash, Canon F1 (old) + four interchangeable finders, EOS 28-70 f2.8 "L", EOS 70-200 f2.8 & f4 "Ls", EOS 430EZll digital flash, EOS 540EZ analog flash

  7. #7
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    So, is there any way to correctly expose this swan without making the grass look like twilight, or bringing up noise? If there is, I''d like to know.

    In my estimation the lawn is currently underexposed around 1 stop. Post processing might work, but this bird is completely blown, I'd be underexposing the lawn around 3-4 stops to get it right. At that point noise would be visible on the lawn if I brought up the exposure. Granted ISO was 400, so there'd definitely be noise, but in my experience even ISO 100 would suffer serious noise in dark areas brought up three stops. Assume the lawn is ok being underexposed 1 stop, like it currently is, so really only 2-3 stops are necessary to get an acceptable swan

    Settings:
    E-410 with 14-54mm lens
    ISO: 400
    Aperture: f/3.5
    Shutter: 1/1250 s (I know at that point I could have easily used ISO 100, but I didn't so that's how it is)
    JPEG shot in natural mode with contrast and sharpness both -2, saturation +1

    If this is a case where you answer "don't take pictures of swans on a sunny morning" then I say, I am quite familiar with my gear and how to use it, but I want 1 extra stop on the white end.

    But, if you know how to fix this as-is, I'd be very happy to know.
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  8. #8
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    I am actually not very concerned with this issue, don't let me seem to be blowing it out of proportion. However, since he asked if anyone had a problem with dynamic range in their shooting, I have to say yes; here is my example. It is not a problem in about 90% of my shots, and is only critical in under 5%. It may be my high altitude is a contributor, I just learned than film photographers shooting at altitude sometimes "pull" (or push?) their shots in the dark room when working at higher altitudes. Of course, my tendency is to push my gear in every direction, so if you ask about any given thing chances are I have experienced it. In fact, just by opening the box I usually violate the recommended operating environment on all of my electronic gear, and I only press its limits further from there.

    It is true extra dynamic range is not required to get good pictures, but in my experience it is required to get good shots of certain things. Which can be invaluable if it is not practical to replicate the situation. Just like people who say you don't need more than a 50mm lens to get good photographs. Those people are definitely not wildlife photographers, and clearly don't shoot a variety of other subjects either. It all depends on what you want in your frame.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by raven15 View Post
    So, is there any way to correctly expose this swan without making the grass look like twilight, or bringing up noise? If there is, I''d like to know.
    The easiest way was to spot meter the Swan and let the rest of the shot go where it would: at least you'd have the Swan.
    The lack of contrast in the venue was also working against you:
    medium going on low contrast, which didn't help.

    In my estimation the lawn is currently underexposed around 1 stop.
    Stop "guesstimating" and trust your gear. Spot metering would have made your need to "guesstimate" moot.

    If this is a case where you answer "don't take pictures of swans on a sunny morning" then I say, I am quite familiar with my gear and how to use it, but I want 1 extra stop on the white end.
    You would be and are dead wrong. You were shooting in a low contrast venue, the bird the only well-lit subject.
    Again, spot metering the Swan would have more correctly exposed the shot.

    But, if you know how to fix this as-is, I'd be very happy to know.
    The Swan is overexposed and thus all details were and are unrecoverable.
    As already noted, there are times when spot-metering is demanded and that was one.
    EOS 1-D, EOS 1Ds, EOS 1n, EOS T2i D-SLR, EOS 1n (HS), EOS A2E(2), Olympus E-3 DSLR, E30 & E-510 DSLRs, Olympus digital FL50 flash, Canon F1 (old) + four interchangeable finders, EOS 28-70 f2.8 "L", EOS 70-200 f2.8 & f4 "Ls", EOS 430EZll digital flash, EOS 540EZ analog flash

  10. #10
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    Anybody who whines about dynamic range never had to make a living shooting color transparency film.

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