How to test/use EXR - Dynamic Range mode (Highly recommended)

Started Nov 2, 2011 | Discussions
Trevor G
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How to test/use EXR - Dynamic Range mode (Highly recommended)
Nov 2, 2011

For those who don't realise Fuji cameras with EXR sensors potentially have a very good ability to reduce over-exposure and blown highlights by using the Dynamic Range mode.

This mode will not do anything if you don't expose to the right of the histogram, and actually have some part of the scene over-exposed. The average sunlit scene does not need anything special to get some parts over-exposed!

To test this out for yourself:

1) Choose a scene which has bright highlights with some visible detail. Use a tripod if possible.

An overcast sky is not really suitable, but a cloudy one with plenty of blue sky and grey to white clouds visible could be, as part of the scene. If you shoot flowers or foliage, make sure you have sunlight on the subject. Don't directly shoot an artificial light source because it does not have the sort of detail you want to see, or that will be useful to evaluate EXR - DR mode.

2) Take a normal exposure. Set the camera to RAW+JPG.

3) Increase exposure by 0.5 EV and then 1.0 EV to see what results afterwards as EXR - DR kicks in.

4) Now set the camera to EXR - DR mode and repeat the three exposures of the same scene, at normal, +0.5 EV and +1.0 EV.

Download to computer or view in your camera's LCD.

In dpreview's test of the F80 EXR they remarked that they chose to always shoot in EXR - DR mode because of the benefits.

In a subsequent post I will explain (for those who don't know) how to easily check the outcome, by using Silkypix or similar image processing/editing software.

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Ralph McKenzie
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Re: How to test/use EXR - Dynamic Range mode (Highly recommended)
In reply to Trevor G, Nov 2, 2011

The DR in the EXR Fuji's is a handy tool, but it shouldnt necessarily be thought of as a cure for blown highlights, but rather as an additional tool for difficult shots. Using the DR range also has its own short comings. Most noticebly the lack of adjustment that you have as a user, primarily the reduced ISO range and image size.

I wouldnt recommend solely shooting in Dr mode as it could limit what the photographer is trying to achieve. I think it would be fairer to say that the Dr mode is one in a very good range of tools that are available to the user.

The first image below is Dr400% and Auto ISO400 (DR Mode) shooting sunward. As you can see the camera handled the conditions well.

In the second image I used Manual Mode @16mp, non EXR mode. Again the camera has done very well, the difference being that I choose the settings rather than the camera. The dynamic range of both these images is very steep but depending upon the settings either mode can work.

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Trevor G
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Re: How to test/use EXR - Dynamic Range mode (Highly recommended)
In reply to Ralph McKenzie, Nov 3, 2011

Ralph McKenzie wrote:

The first image below is Dr400% and Auto ISO400 (DR Mode) shooting sunward. As you can see the camera handled the conditions well.

Great images, but they don't demonstrate EXR - DR mode at all.

To do that we need to see the same image without DR, beside the one with it on.

Thanks anyway.

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Trevor G
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edu T has done it - 3EV of headroom in EXR RAW!
In reply to Trevor G, Nov 3, 2011

Thanks to edu T who read my suggestions above but tried +3EV instead of my +1EV suggestion on his F550. He used EXR mode at 400%.

What a result...and you can see his initial post and findings in this thread:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1012&message=39750525

I'll present his results slightly differently here, because while he has done an excellent job with producing the images, they needed a slightly different adjustment to view correctly.

Here they are, complete with histogram and explanation:

Number 1 is his original shot which he over-exposed by 3.0EV. I have brought the blackpoint down to 0 instead of 70, to show this is a typical, high contrast scene with blown highlights.

Number 2 is the same image reduced by 2.8EV, with the blackpoint reset at 55, to produce a histogram that closely matches an image he took at the same time with no over-exposure.

Number 3 is the 0EV exposure he took as a check, referred to in the explanation for image 2.

That's an amazing result. I can get around 3EV out of my S5 Pro, but only about 2EV out of my Nikon D700. Most other cameras are somewhat less than that!

For instance, the average µ4/3 camera, such as a panasonic G1, has about 0.5EV headroom.

You EXR sensor owners, and they now include the X10, probably don't realise what a brilliant system Fuji has given you. Be impressed.l

NB I'm sure someone will question the lack of EXIF information - I have to take screenshots in order to show the histogram, so I will also post the matching, original, exif-included images, probably in another thread that highlights this amazing feat.

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NIK11
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Re: edu T has done it - 3EV of headroom in EXR RAW!
In reply to Trevor G, Nov 3, 2011

Trevor G wrote:

Thanks to edu T who read my suggestions above but tried +3EV instead of my +1EV suggestion on his F550. He used EXR mode at 400%.

What a result...and you can see his initial post and findings in this thread:

Whilst I'm a fan of EXR DR mode I am aware that some other manufacturers have largely caught up with DR(apparent)| enhancement via different methods.

Thanks for the sample. 3-stops extra DR sounds like a dramatic result, indeed it is, but the difference between the last 2 pics(DR100 0.0EV vs DR400 +1EV) is visually much less dramatic than one might expect. Sure, a bit more detail in the sky, but it doesn't make that much difference to this particualr scene. Maybe the laws of diminishing returns at work and perhaps a different scene would be more impressive.

Nick

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Trevor G
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Re: edu T has done it - 3EV of headroom in EXR RAW!
In reply to NIK11, Nov 3, 2011

NIK11 wrote:

Thanks for the sample. 3-stops extra DR sounds like a dramatic result, indeed it is, but the difference between the last 2 pics(DR100 0.0EV vs DR400 +1EV) is visually much less dramatic than one might expect.

I think you missed the point.

Without EXR - DR selected, that over-exposed image would have never been recoverable. A JPEG has about 0.3EV of headroom. A standard small sensor Fuji RAW has no more than about 0.5EV of headroom, if that, from what I have seen.

Not only does EXR - DR mode give you an advantage with wildly (or even slightly)over-exposed images, it will also reveal detail on leaves and flowers, for instance, which is often clipped. Just have a look at some of the clipped-highlight X10 images posted.

Or shooting against a backlit scene or a front lit one with bright highlights - EXR - DR will allow you to pull detail out of those places that other cameras will miss.

We now need more folk to try, and with some high contrast scenes. Anyone else??

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NIK11
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Re: edu T has done it - 3EV of headroom in EXR RAW!
In reply to Trevor G, Nov 3, 2011

Trevor G wrote:

NIK11 wrote:

Thanks for the sample. 3-stops extra DR sounds like a dramatic result, indeed it is, but the difference between the last 2 pics(DR100 0.0EV vs DR400 +1EV) is visually much less dramatic than one might expect.

I think you missed the point.

Have I missed something? Maybe you missed my point - essentially that the gain of 3 stops in this particular example did not have a dramatic impact upon a correctly exposed pic without DR enhancement(which I assume is the last pic you showed).

Without EXR - DR selected, that over-exposed image would have never been recoverable. A JPEG has about 0.3EV of headroom. A standard small sensor Fuji RAW has no more than about 0.5EV of headroom, if that, from what I have seen.

Not only does EXR - DR mode give you an advantage with wildly (or even slightly)over-exposed images, it will also reveal detail on leaves and flowers, for instance, which is often clipped. Just have a look at some of the clipped-highlight X10 images posted.

Or shooting against a backlit scene or a front lit one with bright highlights - EXR - DR will allow you to pull detail out of those places that other cameras will miss.

Yes thanks for the info, I have owned an EXR cam and the DR potential was the main reason for buying it. I did investigate thoroughly and compared it later to Canon's S95 I-contrast - found little DR difference in practice.

We now need more folk to try, and with some high contrast scenes. Anyone else??

Quite agree. Personally I would love to see how EXR stacks up against Canon's latest I-contrast on the new S100 which also raises highlight retention by 2 stops, but also raises ISO.

Nick

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edu T
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Re: edu T has done it - 3EV of headroom in EXR RAW!
In reply to NIK11, Nov 3, 2011

NIK11 wrote:

(..) 3-stops extra DR sounds like a dramatic result, indeed it is, but the difference between the last 2 pics(DR100 0.0EV vs DR400 +1EV) is visually much less dramatic than one might expect. (...)

Hum, err... I believe that's exactly what the OP tried: "Number 2 is the same image [processed] to produce a histogram that closely matches an image [number 3, 0EV] with no over-exposure." And he succeeded!

NIK11 wrote:

(...) I did investigate [an EXR cam] thoroughly and compared it later to Canon's S95 I-contrast - found little DR difference in practice. (...)

May I guess why? Because you’re an accomplished enough of a photographer to instinctively try to best fit the DR of the scene into the DR of the camera in the first place, so little remains to be untangled by any camera's own DR devices. Only a hunch, but serious!

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NIK11
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Re: edu T has done it - 3EV of headroom in EXR RAW!
In reply to edu T, Nov 3, 2011

edu T wrote:

NIK11 wrote:

(..) 3-stops extra DR sounds like a dramatic result, indeed it is, but the difference between the last 2 pics(DR100 0.0EV vs DR400 +1EV) is visually much less dramatic than one might expect. (...)

Hum, err... I believe that's exactly what the OP tried: "Number 2 is the same image [processed] to produce a histogram that closely matches an image [number 3, 0EV] with no over-exposure." And he succeeded!

Hum, err... fair cop guv, smack on hand, didn't read the OP carefully enough. Apologies to Trevor.

NIK11 wrote> > (...) I did investigate [an EXR cam] thoroughly and compared it later to Canon's S95 I-contrast - found little DR difference in practice. (...)

May I guess why? Because you’re an accomplished enough of a photographer to instinctively try to best fit the DR of the scene into the DR of the camera in the first place, so little remains to be untangled by any camera's own DR devices. Only a hunch, but serious!

That's a generous sentiment given my above mis-read! Am I on the Fuji forum or have I got that wrong as well?

As someone who views and prints at normal sizes, DR is more important to me than pixel level resolution, so I set about comparing F70 DR400 @5mp against the S95 I-contrast(jpeg only) also at DR400 and found each set of results a pretty close match - sorry pics long gone - and preferred the decision making of Canon's 'auto DR' setting which I select in high contrast scenario's. I am unable to improve on the jpeg DR results by using RAW.

I mention this only to inform others that Fuji are not the only ones who have made progress on DR issues, which takes nothing away from Fuji's EXR achievement.

Thanks,

Nick

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Daniel Lauring
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Re: How to test/use EXR - Dynamic Range mode (Highly recommended)
In reply to Trevor G, Nov 3, 2011

This goes to the heart of what is weird and messed up about Fuji's controls. If this is so great why should I have to turn it on? Does it always include SN features or mode? If it only works in 6Mp mode does it turn on automatically when you choose that setting? What does DR mode do differently for 12Mp vs. 6Mp?

Trevor G wrote:

2) Take a normal exposure. Set the camera to RAW+JPG.

3) Increase exposure by 0.5 EV and then 1.0 EV to see what results afterwards as EXR - DR kicks in.

4) Now set the camera to EXR - DR mode and repeat the three exposures of the same scene, at normal, +0.5 EV and +1.0 EV.

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NIK11
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Re: How to test/use EXR - Dynamic Range mode (Highly recommended)
In reply to Daniel Lauring, Nov 3, 2011

Daniel Lauring wrote:

This goes to the heart of what is weird and messed up about Fuji's controls. If this is so great why should I have to turn it on? Does it always include SN features or mode? If it only works in 6Mp mode does it turn on automatically when you choose that setting? What does DR mode do differently for 12Mp vs. 6Mp?

Maybe I can help.

6MP(M) setting ensures pixel binning which allows either SN or DR enhancement up to DR400 - 2 stops improvement at almost any ISO you wish. If you want more than 2 stops then the ISO will rise.

In 12mp setting all increases in DR are accompanied by a rise in ISO.

EXR is the most complicated set-up ever. But if you stick with it you will eventually learn to ignore 90% and stick with the 10% you like.

Hope that helps,

Nick

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Billx08
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Re: How to test/use EXR - Dynamic Range mode (Highly recommended)
In reply to Daniel Lauring, Nov 3, 2011

Daniel Lauring wrote:

2) Take a normal exposure. Set the camera to RAW+JPG.

3) Increase exposure by 0.5 EV and then 1.0 EV to see what results afterwards as EXR - DR kicks in.

4) Now set the camera to EXR - DR mode and repeat the three exposures of the same scene, at normal, +0.5 EV and +1.0 EV.

This goes to the heart of what is weird and messed up about Fuji's controls. If this is so great why should I have to turn it on?

Because Fuji wisely made it optional. The best photos usually have captured the widest range of tonalities, and once you have them, you can adjust them to your heart's content in a photo editor if you're so inclined. But if you use a DR setting in flat lighting that has a very narrow dynamic range, the scene's entire tonality range will not use the entire range that the camera is capable of capturing. So when you pull this image into your editor, you can expand the DR, but that will result in many gaps, tonalities that don't exist in the DR expanded photo that would have been available if a lower DR setting had been used. More gaps/fewer tonalities results in a greater possibility of introducing posterization in your edited images, so the idea is to use only the DR that you need. Too high a DR and the images look flat, so you wouldn't want to leave it permanently set as high as possible.

What does DR mode do differently for 12Mp vs. 6Mp?

In 6mp mode you get to use the EXR's sensor, letting the hardware give you greater DR that's real . The increased DR that you get in 12mp mode is done by the camera using the same software techniques that your photo editor on the computer uses. It changes the tone curves, so it can make the really dark areas in shadows a little brighter, but that also lets you see the noise that the darkness masked. Real hardware DR allows you to increase the exposure without blowing highlights, and the increased exposure also   brightens the dark shadow areas, but instead of doing it with amplification, it does it by capturing more light, so the darkest areas are brighter, but the background noise isn't amplified, so it doesn't intrude.

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NIK11
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Re: How to test/use EXR - Dynamic Range mode (Highly recommended)
In reply to Billx08, Nov 3, 2011

Billx08 wrote:

Daniel Lauring wrote:

2) Take a normal exposure. Set the camera to RAW+JPG.

3) Increase exposure by 0.5 EV and then 1.0 EV to see what results afterwards as EXR - DR kicks in.

4) Now set the camera to EXR - DR mode and repeat the three exposures of the same scene, at normal, +0.5 EV and +1.0 EV.

This goes to the heart of what is weird and messed up about Fuji's controls. If this is so great why should I have to turn it on?

Because Fuji wisely made it optional. The best photos usually have captured the widest range of tonalities, and once you have them, you can adjust them to your heart's content in a photo editor if you're so inclined. But if you use a DR setting in flat lighting that has a very narrow dynamic range, the scene's entire tonality range will not use the entire range that the camera is capable of capturing. So when you pull this image into your editor, you can expand the DR, but that will result in many gaps, tonalities that don't exist in the DR expanded photo that would have been available if a lower DR setting had been used. More gaps/fewer tonalities results in a greater possibility of introducing posterization in your edited images, so the idea is to use only the DR that you need. Too high a DR and the images look flat, so you wouldn't want to leave it permanently set as high as possible.

What does DR mode do differently for 12Mp vs. 6Mp?

In 6mp mode you get to use the EXR's sensor, letting the hardware give you greater DR that's real . The increased DR that you get in 12mp mode is done by the camera using the same software techniques that your photo editor on the computer uses.

That's not my understanding of how 12mp works.

I'm happy to be wrong, but if it only adjust tones curves why does the ISO rise with each step increase in DR? My understanding is that in 12mp mode it is using the same technique as F100, that is, it selectively increases sensitivity in darks areas whilst preserving highlights - in other words variable ISO, as used by other manufacturers. Different parts of the frame have different exposure values - not the same as adjusting in PP with a uniform exposure across the frame.

Nick

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Daniel Lauring
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Re: How to test/use EXR - Dynamic Range mode (Highly recommended)
In reply to NIK11, Nov 3, 2011

That isn't actually possible based on the way a CMOS sensor is designed unless it is physically built into the sensor with different read speeds for different arrays like Fuji's EXR. You basically need two different arrays tied together that you can read at different speeds. Standard bayer arrays don't have that capability.

As I understand it, from reading other manufacturers DR settings, all they do is set a artificial higher ISO which exposes the highlights a little less, protecting them from blowout. Then the dark areas are boosted in processing with a tone curve. It is exactly how it is done if you were to do it on your computer but with no muss, no fuss. This actually yields no extra dynamic range compared to the operator properly exposing the scene in the first place.

With Fuji's system, one array is read out faster, not allowing it to blow out. Combining the two yields a true higher dynamic range because one array measures more in the dark areas and the other measures less in the light areas. The tradeoff is you lose resolution.

NIK11 wrote:

I'm happy to be wrong, but if it only adjust tones curves why does the ISO rise with each step increase in DR? My understanding is that in 12mp mode it is using the same technique as F100, that is, it selectively increases sensitivity in darks areas whilst preserving highlights - in other words variable ISO, as used by other manufacturers. Different parts of the frame have different exposure values - not the same as adjusting in PP with a uniform exposure across the frame.

Nick

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Ralph McKenzie
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Re: How to test/use EXR - Dynamic Range mode (Highly recommended)
In reply to NIK11, Nov 3, 2011

This comparison is fataly flawed. Not only have you not shot any images yourself, you say that you have adjusted the originators images because you think they are wrong.
You are wrong.

After reading the quoted link you provided, it turns out the the originator of these images himself never shot individual images but "Tinkered" with the one he did shoot to fake a result.

On top of this you present an image that has virtually no dynamic range at all. Clearly both of you have little understanding of EXR cameras. That is why I added to images for you to look at.

From Fujis own website " DR powered by EXR overcomes highlight "washout" and shadow "blackout" to reveal a smooth natural tonal quality." explains how it works.
http://finepix.com/exr_cmos/en/about-exr/
I see precious little shadow or dark area in the supplied images.

Then of course it wasnt mentioned that these images were RAW or Jpeg. Nor was there consideration given to the fact the not all EXR cameras have +3 to -3EV, some only have 2Ev.

Add to this that 95% of all camera owners are most likely to shoot Jpeg only just compounds the inaccuracies. At least when I do side by side comparison I take the photos and post them on the blog so people can follow the process.

Frankly your assertions while no doubt well intentioned lack credibility in this case.

It would be better to show your own images, shot with your own EXR camera (assuming you own one) and then do a step by step comparison.

Love dat Fuji
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Ralph McKenzie
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Re: How to test/use EXR - Dynamic Range mode (Highly recommended)
In reply to Daniel Lauring, Nov 3, 2011

Daniel Lauring wrote:

.

As I understand it, from reading other manufacturers DR settings, all they do is set a artificial higher ISO which exposes the highlights a little less, protecting them from blowout. Then the dark areas are boosted in processing with a tone curve. It is exactly how it is done if you were to do it on your computer but with no muss, no fuss. This actually yields no extra dynamic range compared to the operator properly exposing the scene in the first place.

NIK11 wrote:

Quite right , thats why I showed the two images above. One using DR and the other properly exposed using manual.

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NIK11
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Re: How to test/use EXR - Dynamic Range mode (Highly recommended)
In reply to Ralph McKenzie, Nov 3, 2011

Ralph McKenzie wrote:

This comparison is fataly flawed. Not only have you not shot any images yourself, you say that you have adjusted the originators images because you think they are wrong.
You are wrong.

After reading the quoted link you provided, it turns out the the originator of these images himself never shot individual images but "Tinkered" with the one he did shoot to fake a result.

On top of this you present an image that has virtually no dynamic range at all. Clearly both of you have little understanding of EXR cameras. That is why I added to images for you to look at.

From Fujis own website " DR powered by EXR overcomes highlight "washout" and shadow "blackout" to reveal a smooth natural tonal quality." explains how it works.
http://finepix.com/exr_cmos/en/about-exr/
I see precious little shadow or dark area in the supplied images.

Then of course it wasnt mentioned that these images were RAW or Jpeg. Nor was there consideration given to the fact the not all EXR cameras have +3 to -3EV, some only have 2Ev.

Add to this that 95% of all camera owners are most likely to shoot Jpeg only just compounds the inaccuracies. At least when I do side by side comparison I take the photos and post them on the blog so people can follow the process.

Frankly your assertions while no doubt well intentioned lack credibility in this case.

It would be better to show your own images, shot with your own EXR camera (assuming you own one) and then do a step by step comparison.

Who are you responding to?

Nick

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NIK11
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Re: How to test/use EXR - Dynamic Range mode (Highly recommended)
In reply to Daniel Lauring, Nov 3, 2011

Daniel Lauring wrote:

That isn't actually possible based on the way a CMOS sensor is designed unless it is physically built into the sensor with different read speeds for different arrays like Fuji's EXR. You basically need two different arrays tied together that you can read at different speeds. Standard bayer arrays don't have that capability.

I know nothing about sensor construction.

As I understand it, from reading other manufacturers DR settings, all they do is set a artificial higher ISO which exposes the highlights a little less, protecting them from blowout.

How does that work? Raising ISO increases sensitivity, yes?

Nick

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edu T
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Re: How to test/use EXR - Dynamic Range mode (Highly recommended)
In reply to Ralph McKenzie, Nov 3, 2011

Ralph McKenzie wrote:

This comparison is fataly flawed. Not only have you not shot any images yourself, you say that you have adjusted the originators images because you think they are wrong.
You are wrong.

After reading the quoted link you provided, it turns out the the originator of these images himself never shot individual images but "Tinkered" with the one he did shoot to fake a result.

I beg to differ. The images were shot precisely as their EXIF tags tell. I tinkered with the camera to get a 3EV OE'd image while in exr-DR (used autobracketing on top of +2EV EC). Not with the image.

On top of this you present an image that has virtually no dynamic range at all. Clearly both of you have little understanding of EXR cameras. That is why I added to images for you to look at.

From Fujis own website " DR powered by EXR overcomes highlight "washout" and shadow "blackout" to reveal a smooth natural tonal quality." explains how it works.
http://finepix.com/exr_cmos/en/about-exr/
I see precious little shadow or dark area in the supplied images.

It can be readily seen that the sun is low at right and roughly perpendicular to the camera. It obviously follows that every left side of every building is in shadow (albeit veritably detailed).

Then of course it wasnt mentioned that these images were RAW or Jpeg.

The raw files are available in http://minus.com/mX8OkdY2m#1l , as duly referred to in the "quoted link" ( http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1012&message=39750525 ).

Nor was there consideration given to the fact the not all EXR cameras have +3 to -3EV, some only have 2Ev.

More exactly, NONE has ±3EV. Now mine... I tinkered with!

Add to this that 95% of all camera owners are most likely to shoot Jpeg only just compounds the inaccuracies. At least when I do side by side comparison I take the photos and post them on the blog so people can follow the process.

Frankly your assertions while no doubt well intentioned lack credibility in this case.

It would be better to show your own images, shot with your own EXR camera (assuming you own one) and then do a step by step comparison.

Love dat Fuji
http://akiwiretrospective.blogspot.com/
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Cordially,
--The Originator.

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Ralph McKenzie
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Re: How to test/use EXR - Dynamic Range mode (Highly recommended)
In reply to edu T, Nov 3, 2011

Are you saying you did take more images?
If so why didn't you show them instead of PP'ing the one image?

See heres the thing. By adjusting the one image you have completely failed to take into account the amount of ambient light on the scene. It changes as you know literally from shot to shot. You need to factor these sorts of criteria into what you are doing, as it can drastically change light levels, and ultimately the DR range of the image.
However according to your statement in the other thread

edu T wrote:

Disclaimer: I haven't upload (nor shoot) any "standard" overexposed images for comparison, because I deemed much more convenient to simply push the first image 1, 2 and 3 stops in PP. (A lazy man's reasoning, of course.)
--edu tanaka

Totally disregarding any change in the environment whilst shooting these images really goes to the credibility of the test.

I can appreciate what your are trying to demonstrate but "short cutting " the procedure isn't going to help people when they come to decision making time before pushing the shutter button.
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