20 stop dynamic range - what digital system can match?

Started Oct 30, 2012 | Discussions thread
richardplondon
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Fair comparison?
In reply to Dentite, Nov 5, 2012

The question was, about what digital camera can produce a comparable image without any postprocessing... which presumably means, working with a straight-out-of-camera picture.

So we must compare it against a film approach which produces a finished image straight-out-of-camera and hands-free (without any careful and time-consuming chemical processing, selection of the right grade of printing paper, enlarger filtration etc). A Polaroid transfer print, in other words (grin). Not many stops of exposure range in that.

A digital capture requires processing just as a film latent image requires processing. An exposure is made to suit this later processing - if in order to get the desired result we need to underexpose a bit and THEN push, or overexpose and THEN pull, or whatever... then we can properly regard all that as within the overall technique. Whatever it takes.

The specific technique differs when we are talking about negative film, reversal film, in mono or colour, or various kinds of digital. And the same capture can be transformed and interpreted and presented in many different ways, using any of these mediums - except Polaroid.

If we are only going to artificially limit ourselves to digital processing that happens in the camera, and not in a computer, then this is to deliberately skew the comparison IMO and also to participate in a common myth that all digital processing outside the camera is in some way uniquely inauthentic... as if there were no such thing as "darkroom trickery". With digital some kinds of simpler processing CAN indeed happen in the camera (adjustably to a small degree) and that is a convenience - but definitely not the whole story.

RP

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