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Thread started 02 Apr 2014 (Wednesday) 13:22
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How to measure DR?

 
Aressem
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Apr 02, 2014 13:22 |  #1

I often hear people say that their camera has 12 or 14 stops of dynamic range. How is this measured and can I do the same with my camera and/or images?


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jmarshphoto
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Apr 02, 2014 13:41 |  #2

Just go to dxomark.com if you're curious about your camera's DR.


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yogestee
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Apr 03, 2014 10:20 as a reply to jmarshphoto's post |  #3

When I was studying commercial photography in the 1980s, dynamic range was called brightness range. Brightness range was determined by subtracting the lowest Exposure Value (EV) from the highest Exposure Value. Most of these measurements were done using a densitometer directly on the negative or transparency. Sometimes these reading were taken directly from the subject using a reflective exposure metre.

We would measure the shadows which held some detail, then measure the highlights which held some detail. Most meters had a EV scale. We would subtract the shadow measurement from the highlight measurement to give us a brightness range in stops.

Example - Your highlights give a meter reading of 500th at f/16, an EV of 17.
Your shadows give a reading of 60th at f/4, an EV of 10.

17EV - 10EV = 7 stops.

I only pulled these figures out of my head and are possibly unattainable.

During practical exams, we would have to shoot a table top still life using 4x5. In the layout, it always specified the brightness range of the negative. Bloody difficult. I could get a brightness range of six stops out of sheet 320 ISO Tri-X with very careful exposure metering and developing.

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GregDunn
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Apr 03, 2014 13:58 |  #4

And people whinge today about not having a camera with 16 stops of DR. How ever did we take photos with film at all? :D


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David ­ Arbogast
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Apr 03, 2014 14:33 |  #5

GregDunn wrote in post #16807274external link
And people whinge today about not having a camera with 16 stops of DR. How ever did we take photos with film at all? :D

I could be wrong, but I think the only thing that makes people whinge about DR is when they perceive that other camera systems have superior DR than theirs. For instance, I don't imagine there are many - if any - Nikon users complaining right now about not having enough DR. Canon users complain simply because the sensors in their cameras do not have as much DR as Nikon (or Sony) sensors do.

Competition is awesome: it breeds advancement. But it has a downside too: it breeds whinging. I'm guilty. ;)


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GregDunn
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Apr 03, 2014 15:42 |  #6

David Arbogast wrote in post #16807365external link
I could be wrong, but I think the only thing that makes people whinge about DR is when they perceive that other camera systems have superior DR than theirs.

And that's fair; all else equal, who wouldn't want a better tool? But I often question how many people can actually make use of the better DR they are demanding. If you're using an LCD monitor, you have maybe 10 stops of EV range; if you're printing on paper, less than that. Our task is to keep in mind the ultimate disposition of each picture and capture an image which will work in that context. If it means throwing away shadow detail or letting the highlights blow out so the essential part of the image is preserved, that's part of being a smart photographer - and always has been.

I'm sure we'd all love to capture 20 EV and delay the decision till later, but how well we deal with the restrictions imposed on us determines how our work is perceived by the audience.


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kfreels
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Apr 03, 2014 17:06 |  #7

GregDunn wrote in post #16807541external link
And that's fair; all else equal, who wouldn't want a better tool? But I often question how many people can actually make use of the better DR they are demanding. If you're using an LCD monitor, you have maybe 10 stops of EV range; if you're printing on paper, less than that. Our task is to keep in mind the ultimate disposition of each picture and capture an image which will work in that context. If it means throwing away shadow detail or letting the highlights blow out so the essential part of the image is preserved, that's part of being a smart photographer - and always has been.

I'm sure we'd all love to capture 20 EV and delay the decision till later, but how well we deal with the restrictions imposed on us determines how our work is perceived by the audience.

I remember one of the things to consider when choosing film being the "latitude". Some films like Kodak Pro 100 were really nice in this area but then throw in a roll of kodachrome and you had maybe 1/2 stop in each direction to work with. This is something that I really do like about digital. We certainly have more room to work in now. I'm not so concerned about the total DR of what we have now but I do wish things didn't clip so easily.

When it comes to the limitations of the screens and printers, I think what really matters is the scene you are shooting and the contrast level of the scene. As long as you can capture the detail in the scene, you can control the levels in post to make sure the detail is visible on the screen. Where the DR issue becomes a problem is when detail is lost on the high and low end because the scene is high contrast and then you don't have any data to work with in those areas in post.

So yeah, I would definitely like some additional DR just to be able to capture more data. But after doing this as long as I have, I'm certainly not going to sit around and gripe about where things are now.


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pwm2
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Apr 03, 2014 17:34 |  #8

David Arbogast wrote in post #16807365external link
I could be wrong, but I think the only thing that makes people whinge about DR is when they perceive that other camera systems have superior DR than theirs. For instance, I don't imagine there are many - if any - Nikon users complaining right now about not having enough DR. Canon users complain simply because the sensors in their cameras do not have as much DR as Nikon (or Sony) sensors do.

Competition is awesome: it breeds advancement. But it has a downside too: it breeds whinging. I'm guilty. ;)

This was probably the first (at least real serious) thread on POTN about 5D2 banding.
http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthre​ad.php?t=750731

A large number of people were very upset, claiming one or more of:
1) No camera can exist that can manage more than 7-9 stops.
2) Anyone who needs more than 7 stops is doing something wrong.
3) If banding shows up, then the photographer is bad.
4) Why would anyone need more than 7 stops?
5) Take a hike if you don't like it.
6) The photos in the original post should have been taken with a flash (wow...)
7) You can always adapt the scene until you get a lighting situation where the scene doesn't need more than 7 stops.
8) Don't shoot in strong sunlight (even if the subject you shoot, like a sports game, can't be moved to another time)
9) Get a couple of good flashes, and there are no issues anymore.
10) Just bracket (oops - the subject is moving...)

People tends to be very short-sighted. They instantly jump to a conclusion. At that time, the 5D2 - and other Canon models - had to be defended at all costs. Now, we have a significant number of people who can't understand how any Canon camera can ever be used to take photos with since they are now the worst of the worst of the worst.


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Ruggo
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Apr 03, 2014 18:27 |  #9

GregDunn wrote in post #16807541external link
And that's fair; all else equal, who wouldn't want a better tool? But I often question how many people can actually make use of the better DR they are demanding. If you're using an LCD monitor, you have maybe 10 stops of EV range; if you're printing on paper, less than that. Our task is to keep in mind the ultimate disposition of each picture and capture an image which will work in that context. If it means throwing away shadow detail or letting the highlights blow out so the essential part of the image is preserved, that's part of being a smart photographer - and always has been.

I'm sure we'd all love to capture 20 EV and delay the decision till later, but how well we deal with the restrictions imposed on us determines how our work is perceived by the audience.

You sir are a wordsmith. However, like all things, especially on the internet, opinion beats rhetoric.




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GregDunn
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Apr 03, 2014 20:31 |  #10

Ruggo wrote in post #16807909external link
You sir are a wordsmith. However, like all things, especially on the internet, opinion beats rhetoric.

I used to be a technical writer and try to be as clear as possible. ;) But as you say, there are a lot of people who feel that their opinion rules other peoples' situations. Photography is always about compromise, and my needs are certainly different from others.

kfreels wrote in post #16807755external link
I remember one of the things to consider when choosing film being the "latitude". Some films like Kodak Pro 100 were really nice in this area but then throw in a roll of kodachrome and you had maybe 1/2 stop in each direction to work with. This is something that I really do like about digital. We certainly have more room to work in now. I'm not so concerned about the total DR of what we have now but I do wish things didn't clip so easily.

Yeah, in some respects a sensor that saturated more gently would be an improvement over what we have, in spite of it possibly being less linear. But I'm sure as sensor tech evolves this will eventually be addressed somehow. We're on the verge of some exciting new capabilities even now.

pwm2 wrote in post #16807801external link
People tend to be very short-sighted. They instantly jump to a conclusion. At that time, the 5D2 - and other Canon models - had to be defended at all costs. Now, we have a significant number of people who can't understand how any Canon camera can ever be used to take photos with since they are now the worst of the worst of the worst.

Spot on. Having worked with the varying needs of Pan-X, Tri-X, Kodachrome, Ektachrome and the negative films back when exposure automation was just a fancy new gadget, I revel in the freedom and power of the digital camera. But it does seem to have spawned a new generation of photographers who have never learned to cope with the constant restrictions imposed by the art, and who firmly believe that the camera should be able to capture their vision perfectly, automatically. Ansel Adams would be pretty disappointed.


Canon 1Dx | 5D3 | 7D2 | 6D | 70-200L f/2.8IS | 70-200L f/4 | 24-70L f/2.8 | 24-105L f/4IS | 100-400L f/4.5-5.6IS | 17-55 f/2.8IS | 50 f/1.8 | 28-105 f/3.5-4.5 | 4x Godox AD360

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How to measure DR?
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