Can we have too much Dynamic Range?

Started 6 months ago | Discussions thread
Tom Axford
Senior MemberPosts: 1,436
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Lightroom gives a tone curve rather like film in its default setting
In reply to Lightpath48, 6 months ago

Lightpath48 wrote:

.... This makes me wonder whether the ever higher DR characteristics of digital sensors may one day bring them into the realm of color negative film tonal characteristics. I've been missing them over the past fifteen years, since leaving film and going digital.

Well, you can get this characteristic already. If you process a raw file in Lightroom 4 or 5, the default tone curve tails off the highlights just like film did. Approximately the top three stops of the recorded dynamic range (from the sensor) are compressed into one stop in the visible image.

I understand this was introduced by Adobe with their Process 2012 (introduced in that year, I presume). Earlier versions of Lightroom used a default tone curve with a sharper cutoff of the highlights.

So, if you process raw images through Lightroom 5, you automatically get this characteristic - much more reminiscent of the old days of film. Also, by compressing the top three stops into one, this means that the large dynamic range of modern cameras is used more effectively. Lightroom doesn't throw away any information from the highlights in the default setting, as far as I can see.

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