Dark side for the beginners/Canon's DR

Started Oct 12, 2012 | Discussions thread
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aftab
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Dark side for the beginners/Canon's DR
Oct 12, 2012

This post is not for seasoned Canon DSLR users or even for seasoned photographers. This is for those who have ventured into Canon DSLR world recently and are confused by all those talks about poor Canon DR. Trolls are not welcome.

Before the new generation of cameras hit the shelves almost nobody thought Canon needed higher DR. Why? Simply because Canon users were happy with their cameras' dynamic range and in difficult situations they used proper technique. Many in this forum (mostly trolls) hate the expression 'proper technique', according to them it is an excuse used by Canon fanboys. It is not. There is no substitute for proper technique no matter what the situation is.

In all the talks about shadow lifting capabilities we often forget that Canon cameras have excellent highlight headroom, more than we tend to think. So, proper technique in high DR situations would be to use this capability.

So, what you need to do?

Use RAW.

Use manual exposure. Expose for the brightest part of the scene and then 'overexpose' by +1 EV. That way your shadow would need one less stop of lifting.

Some real world examples.

All originals are JPEGs (Faithful). RAW images processed in LR4 and/or CS5. 5DIII and Canon 24-70/2.8II.

The first example is the commonest scenario for landscape photographers, sun is behind the subject, as a result the subject is dark.

Exposed for the brightest part of the clouds by +1 EV.

Extreme shadow lifting (my personal preference would be less lifting).

Same rock, different angle. Exposure as before.

Another scenario would be that the subject is in bright light and the background is dark. Let's say in this example we wanted to show the garden as well as the tool shed, as they seem interesting. Here, the white roof of the car and the tin roof of the shed were the brightest areas. Again, +1 EV used.

My preference would be less shadow lifting.

But there can be situations where the ambient light is lower than the examples shown above. Still, the same principle should work. One thing to remember here is that if the sky doesn't contain white clouds or other very bright areas, you can overexpose sky by 1.5 or even by 2 EV.

In this example the sun was about to set behind this artsy public area. Here the sky is overexposed by 1.5 EV.

Of course, there would be situations where the 'proper technique' would fail. Those situations would be very rare. In those situations HDR would be great.

To summerize

1. Shoot RAW

2. Expose for highlight by +1 EV. Sometimes up to +2 EV. Take multiple exposures using increasing EV for the brightest area, so that you can use the best.

3. Use HDR in extremely difficult DR situations.

4. Cheat occasionally if needed. Clone out small problem spots. Very easy to do with clouds and some other subjects.

Welcome to the Canon world. It is not the dark side.

Disclaimer: Canon cameras have excellent dynamic range. But in DR Land, the more the merrier. So, we all would be happy if Canon improves DR in its sensors.

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