The Advantages of DR400 vs DR200 vs DR100 - High Contrast Scene

Started Sep 2, 2013 | Discussions
Trevor G
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The Advantages of DR400 vs DR200 vs DR100 - High Contrast Scene
Sep 2, 2013

Here are some comparison images showing the advantages of using DR400 at any time, or most of the time.

Fuji call this highlight headroom extension technique (among other things)  EXR processing, which is not to be confused with EXR sensors in the smaller Fuji cams. It exists in the X10 and the X20, F series EXR cameras and so on.  It is also used in the large, APS-C sensor X-Series cameras

In the X10, XS-1 and XF1 it is used in conjunction with the unique sensor pixel pairing EXR hardware system to give close to 2 to 3EV of highlight protection. In the X20 it is the sole means of getting extra highlight headroom.

In the previously mentioned EXR cameras EXR sensor pixel pairing works in M size and when ISO is less than DR.

In L size images only the EXR software processing is used - we know that because to invoke it you need to use at least ISO200 for DR200, and at least ISO400 for DR400.  In M size you can get DR400 at ISO100 because the EXR hardware solution is at work.

Background:

DR200 and DR400 come in handy by extending highlight headroom to reduce the chance of clipping or crushing highlights in JPEG, but it's especially valuable in RAW.

It's a bit of a party trick - you can get the same highlight results by under-exposing by 1 or 2 stops and then lifting the resulting image in PP by 2EV or so.  However, if you use DR200 or DR400 in-camera, the resulting JPEGs will have their lowlights lifted as  a bonus.

The main benefit of DR higher than 100 (which means straight off the sensor processing, no tricks) is seen when you have a high contrast scene, or one where scene elements would exceed 0EV.

Enough talk, here are examples.  This is a scene where highlights were 2EV above 0, or 2EV higher than where  the metering produced a fully exposed image according to the playback histogram in processing software.

Unfortunately, because Fuji won't give us a proper in-camera RGB histogram, you cannot use the on-board histogram to do anything other than give you a very rough guide as to where exposure should be.

First, DR400 RAW:

Next the matching ooc JPEG - notice how the highlights are close to being blown and lack contrast because of the compression which occurs at the top end during JPEG processing.  The lowlights have been lifted:

Next we see what happens with DR200:

If you look closely you will see that the clouds are just starting to clip in spots (bright white, loss of detail). Still, it's an amazing result for DR200 at 2EV higher than 0.

The ooc JPEG doesn't fare as well, but then again, it's not all that much worse than the DR400 effort.:

And finally, DR100.  The RAW is badly clipped (it might look better in Adobe, I'll try that later, but it still won't be good).

In this case if we had exposed at -1EV on the dial the DR100 image would have been quite OK, even though the histogram was suggesting that at +0.7EV it was not clipping:

I'm only showing the DR100 JPEG for consistency:

Note the cyan skies in each JPEG, showing that they were all clipping one channel at least.

Of course, if I had exposed at -1EV even the DR100 image would have been fine, but that's not the point.

Most times with high contrast scenes we don't really know where exposure will end up because of that lousy in-camera histogram.  Consequently, if you use DR400 you can be assured of not losing highlights on almost any shot you are likely to take.

Note: For best results on standard contrast scenes (no scene elements will expose higher than 0EV) use DR100 and ISO200.

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Trevor G
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Lightpath48
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Re: The Advantages of DR400 vs DR200 vs DR100 - High Contrast Scene
In reply to Trevor G, Sep 2, 2013

Just curious, Trevor: were these examples from an X20 or X10? Didn't see EXIF.

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Trevor G
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Re: The Advantages of DR400 vs DR200 vs DR100 - High Contrast Scene
In reply to Lightpath48, Sep 2, 2013

Lightpath48 wrote:

Just curious, Trevor: were these examples from an X20 or X10? Didn't see EXIF.

Oops - X-Trans.

However it's the same EXR processing used in all Fuji's current cameras in as far as it uses ISO amplification techniques and under-exposing to save highlight details, using DR200 and DR400.

I have posted similar images from the X10 using its unique EXR sensor pixel pairing routines, and the results are very similar except that, in M size, you can shoot DR400 at ISO100.

In L size and once ISO = DR or is higher in M size, the X10 and F cameras drop back to using EXR processing, just as shown here.

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CAcreeks
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Different example - whitewater!
In reply to Trevor G, Sep 2, 2013

As a kayaker, I like EXR for preserving details in whitewater photos. The film-like S curve in highlights is useful, leaving shadow contrast about where people like it. Here is a DR200 vs DR400 comparison. You should look at the so-called originals (1080 pixels high) to see the full effect.

Bathtub falls, N Fork Umpqua, Oregon (DR200)

Bathtub falls, N Fork Umpqua, Oregon (DR400)

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Lightpath48
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Re: DR400 is very good
In reply to CAcreeks, Sep 2, 2013

-0.33 EV also noted. I do that as well.

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Lightpath48
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Re: The Advantages of DR400 vs DR200 vs DR100 - High Contrast Scene
In reply to Trevor G, Sep 2, 2013

Trevor G wrote:

I have posted similar images from the X10 using its unique EXR sensor pixel pairing routines, and the results are very similar except that, in M size, you can shoot DR400 at ISO100.

Based on your findings on this subject posted last year, I have a C1 setting on the X10 for M size, raw + jpeg, ISO 100 DR 400.

C2 is L size, jpeg only, Velvia Film Simulation, ISO 200 DR 200 for overcast and duller outdoor subjects. (I'm basically a jpeg shooter with the X10, reserving raw files for in-camera editing when necessary)

P is my default for family activities: L size, jpeg only, Astia Film Simulation, ISO 400 DR 400, Face Detection on, Center Focus Point, OVF view only. (Fn Button set for raw if in a questionable lighting situation.) Forced Flash when popped up.

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Trevor G
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Re: The Advantages of DR400 vs DR200 vs DR100 - High Contrast Scene
In reply to Lightpath48, Sep 3, 2013

Lightpath48 wrote:

Trevor G wrote:

I have posted similar images from the X10 using its unique EXR sensor pixel pairing routines, and the results are very similar except that, in M size, you can shoot DR400 at ISO100.

Based on your findings on this subject posted last year, I have a C1 setting on the X10 for M size, raw + jpeg, ISO 100 DR 400.

Good. 

I'm glad you found that useful!

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CAcreeks
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more discussion in the Fuji X forum
In reply to Trevor G, Sep 3, 2013

Trevor G, last night I noticed that the similar thread you posted on the Fuji X forum was among the most popular on DPR!

Nice thing about the X-Trans is that it can raise ISO to achieve wider dynamic range without so much image degradation as with Bayer-pattern sensor.

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Sactojim
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Re: Different example - whitewater!
In reply to CAcreeks, Sep 3, 2013

Nice photo CA..wish I was there! I like the DR200..contrast looks a bit better.

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le_alain
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Re: more discussion in the Fuji X forum
In reply to CAcreeks, Sep 3, 2013

CAcreeks wrote:

Nice thing about the X-Trans is that it can raise ISO to achieve wider dynamic range without so much image degradation as with Bayer-pattern sensor.

Sorry i didn't see that at all

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CAcreeks
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Re: Different example - whitewater!
In reply to Sactojim, Sep 3, 2013

Sactojim wrote:

I like the DR200... contrast looks a bit better.

This this is one reason why EXR was not a great success in the marketplace.

Many people like clipped highlights.

I'd say a majority, perhaps a vast majority, like high shadow contrast even more.

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Trevor G
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Re: more discussion in the Fuji X forum
In reply to CAcreeks, Sep 3, 2013

CAcreeks wrote:

Trevor G, last night I noticed that the similar thread you posted on the Fuji X forum was among the most popular on DPR!

Surprised me too!  It has happend before...  Thanks. 

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Trevor G
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Re: Increased shadow contrast
In reply to CAcreeks, Sep 3, 2013

CAcreeks wrote:

Many people like clipped highlights.

I would say they probably don't notice or mind them until the flaw is pointed out.

I'd say a majority, perhaps a vast majority, like high shadow contrast even more.

That could be why Fuji changed the shadow part of the JPEG tone curve on the X100s, so that it clips to black 2EV earlier, which can make the JPEGs look "richer".

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Elyharbour
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Re: The Advantages of DR400 vs DR200 vs DR100 - High Contrast Scene
In reply to Trevor G, Sep 4, 2013

Trevor, I really don't understand what DR is doing. Having read this thread I tried some tests myself today. I used the DR bracketing option on my X20 and aperture priority mode.

First test was late afternoon sun on a cityscape. It was a bright scene with strong reflections off white buildings and car windscreens in the distance. Some local nearby shadow. I had ISO on Auto. The three bracketed shots set ISO at 100, 200 and 400, but then increased speed accordingly to give the same exposure. I saw little difference between the three, though there was some minor pulling back of the highlights on the LR histogram...barely perceptible though. Was there perhaps insufficient contrast? Is this how DR works (increasing ISO and compensatin with a faster exposure)?

The second test was indoors this evening with an electric light in frame. This time I set ISO at 100 rather than Auto. No increase of ISO occurred during the bracketing this time and the three shots came out with the same speed. The exposures and histograms looked more or less identical, though I could see some diminishing of the light brightness and the appearance of a "star" shape at DR400, so it was doing something to protect the highlights.

In neither case did I see any significant lifting of the shadows.

So this has left me completely confused. What is DR100, 200, 400 actually doing, and should I have seen more difference between the shots? Should it be used with Auto ISO or a fixed setting? Should I just leave DR on Auto as I can't seem to figure-out how to use it?

All the shots were JPEGS as the X20 wouldn't bracket when RAW+JPG was selected.

Thanks for your help on this...it's got me really puzzled.

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Trevor G
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Re: The Advantages of DR400 vs DR200 vs DR100 - High Contrast Scene
In reply to Elyharbour, Sep 5, 2013

Elyharbour wrote:

Trevor, I really don't understand what DR is doing. Having read this thread I tried some tests myself today. I used the DR bracketing option on my X20 and aperture priority mode.

You might have missed the important requirement that your scene must have a reasonable amount of image data which will expose above 0EV.

A better way to analyse might be to try this:

Set Auto ISO to 400

Set Auto DR

Aim your camera at what you think is a high contrast scene and see if ISO changes. As ISO changes to 200 you will probably also  get DR200.  As ISO changes to 400 you will probably also get DR400.  However, there is no guarantee of this

Here's an example - I started with Auto DR400 and Auto ISO400 and aimed as I have along the platform. Much to my surprise all shots from -2EV to +2EV were at DR400, which meant that the ISO was also boosted.

Here is DR400 at 0EV and 1/500s - all the following images are screenshot at the default RAW settings in Silkypix, without adjusting exposure:

Next I panned to the left to see how quickly ISO would drop to 200, at which point DR200 would appear.  Here is the result:

And finally, I panned further left until ISO dropped to 100, at which point I also got a DR100 shot:

I haven't used Auto DR before or Auto ISO very much, either.  This was just a test to see what would happen - I was impressed, because I thought shutter speed would have to drop to the changeover setting set in the Setup menu.  But it didn't.

Conclusion: Auto DR and Auto ISO400 worked well together on these shots.

Thanks for your help on this...it's got me really puzzled.

Without seeing some of your images it's hard to guess what might have happened.

BTW I have been trying to make this post for the last 6 hours or so, but worked has intervened.

<Edit> Please note that I messed up the labels on the images - they should say Auto ISO400 and Auto DR, but I incorrectly labelled them Auto DR400 (you cannot set the level in Auto) and just Auto ISO (should have said Auto ISO 400, which was the upper limit).

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Elyharbour
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Re: The Advantages of DR400 vs DR200 vs DR100 - High Contrast Scene
In reply to Trevor G, Sep 5, 2013

Thanks Trevor. I don't want to take too much more of your work time!!

My problem is (well I probably have many) that having no experience of Fuji cameras until the past week, I don't understand the fundamental principles of Fuji DR100/200/400. I know what's it's trying to achieve, but how is it doing it? Please feel free to point me to where this is all explained if you can.

Many thanks.

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Trevor G
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Re: The Advantages of DR400 vs DR200 vs DR100 - High Contrast Scene
In reply to Elyharbour, Sep 5, 2013

Elyharbour wrote:

Thanks Trevor. I don't want to take too much more of your work time!!

I can bill you. 

My problem is (well I probably have many) that having no experience of Fuji cameras until the past week, I don't understand the fundamental principles of Fuji DR100/200/400. I know what's it's trying to achieve, but how is it doing it? Please feel free to point me to where this is all explained if you can.

It's a bit of a party trick on non-EXR cameras, such as the X20 and the large, X-Series cameras.

At DR400 mode the camera under-exposes by 2EV and then brings up the image in JPEGs in-camera by ISO amplification techniques.  These lift the low to midrange tones, while the mid to highlights are adjusted down via a tone curve arrangement so that the extra 2EV of highlights are squeezed back down under 0EV.

I don't think I have shown what happens with JPEGs yet, but I will.

In RAW, it's as if you have 2EV or more of unclipped highlights to bring back down in a linear fashion (unlike the non-linear conmpression which occurs with the JPEGs).

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Elyharbour
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Re: The Advantages of DR400 vs DR200 vs DR100 - High Contrast Scene
In reply to Trevor G, Sep 5, 2013

OK think I've got it. Let me put it into my own words:

DR100 does nothing. DR200/400 drops the EV by -1/-2, then uses ISO signal amplification up to 400 to bring the shadows and mid-tones back up to 0EV, but not the highlights which it adjusts to keep under 0EV. This is at a sensor output level (not just JPEG processing) so is available in the RAW files as well.

How did I do? 5/10, 8/10, or 10/10 (surely not)

If broadly speaking I understand this now, then the downside of say DR400 on the smaller X20 sensor, would be higher shadow noise than if I'd used DR100 / ISO100? Maybe not a real life issue, but theoretically am I correct?

PS - please don't bill me in Oz dollars. Our poor unloved pounds don't go very far these days 

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Trevor G
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Re: The Advantages of DR400 vs DR200 vs DR100 - High Contrast Scene
In reply to Elyharbour, Sep 5, 2013

Elyharbour wrote:

OK think I've got it. Let me put it into my own words:

DR100 does nothing. DR200/400 drops the EV by -1/-2, then uses ISO signal amplification up to 400 to bring the shadows and mid-tones back up to 0EV, but not the highlights which it adjusts to keep under 0EV. This is at a sensor output level (not just JPEG processing) so is available in the RAW files as well.

How did I do? 5/10, 8/10, or 10/10 (surely not)

8 out of 10.

In the X20 the highlights are dropped only in the JPEG through software manipulation - it's not sensor output and it is not transferred to the RAW.

If broadly speaking I understand this now, then the downside of say DR400 on the smaller X20 sensor, would be higher shadow noise than if I'd used DR100 / ISO100? Maybe not a real life issue, but theoretically am I correct?

Actually, the shadow noise is the same when all the lowlights are at the same level.  To see them you need to lift them back up in each shot by about 2EV.  Since the DR400 is under-exposed by 2EV and then brought up by 2EV, its output level is exactly the same as the DR100 shot which is not under-exposed, and thus not lifted in-camera.

The only thing you notice is that the DR400 shot is slightly less saturated as the ISO rises.

PS - please don't bill me in Oz dollars. Our poor unloved pounds don't go very far these days 

Our $ has dropped so I need more more than ever... 

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BorisK1
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How can that be?
In reply to CAcreeks, Sep 5, 2013

Trevor G says that EXR produces DR200 and DR400 differently: DR200 shoots a sub/frame for highlights at a half exposure, while DR400 does it at 1/4 exposure. But both of your DR200 and DR400 pictures look to be developed from the same RAW file (otherwise, the foam in the water would've moved between frames). What gives?

Boris

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