G1X/SX50: dynamic range question
G1X/SX50: dynamic range question
Jun 13, 2014
Just got back from Alaska and was blessed with perfect weather for taking pictures of Denali (aka Mt. McKinley).
Question -- using both a G1X and an SX50, both seemed to struggle with the dynamic range when taking a picture including both the white, icy mountains and dark trees.
I played with both DR and Shadow Correction and they seemed to help, but in hindsight, what advice do you have for dealing with this kind of dynamic range?
Having just completed a documentary series with the SX50 in mostly terrible high contrast light (you can find it here ), I highly recommend using raw for your captures. What also helps is to use the spot meter to pick a point that gives the best combination of details in the shadows AND details in the highlights. This will rarely give the best overall picture initially but gives you a lot more leeway to correct both shadows and highlights independently in post. I try to get the best results in DPP first with the 12 bit raw file, convert it to a 16 bit TIFF file and work on the details further in Photoshop CS.
I do actually like the way the SX50 handles JPEGs using the Highlight and Shadow features, but they're still not as strong as a properly exposed raw conversion. Though getting the best overall balanced exposure using the spot meter in JPEG can also help a great deal with these features. One thing you can try for really tough light is to take two exposures. The first would be with the camera set to raw+JPEG using the technique above. In this case the Highlight and Shadow controls are not available for the JPEG file. Then take the second exposure in JPEG only mode with the Highlight and Shadow controls turned on. Meter in the same fashion for both takes. Look for the difference in results in the three files and see which one you can get the best final results from. To make this easy, I have my raw+JPEG settings locked on my C1 . On my TV, I have Highlight control locked on Auto. When I want to get the three different files, it's quick and easy just by turning the mode dial (and adding the Shadow control to the TV when necessary).
I hope this helps.
I don't know G1X, but SX50 has an HDR setting; but when shooting like this you don't have RAW or Superfine. CHDK can however provide Superfine for every setting.
I prefer to shoot raw and edit with DPP the highlights and shadows, but I'm just a hobbyist. Probably other forum colleagues will give you a better advice.
That is a tough shot. It seems exposing for the bright mountains and trying to recover the shadow detail through post processing would be the only solution. But what do I know.
This one turned out pretty good, methinks. I'm fairly certain I used max Shadow Correction and Dynamic Range. Also, I pointed the camera first higher in the sky and pressed the shutter release half way, setting the exposure based on the brighter sky/mountain, since the mountain is more important than the trees.
In this one the Shadow Correction did a pretty good job with the trees.
That last one from the G1X was almost certainly at the max zoom. To compare here's a nice one from the SX50 which let me get a little closer.
I got a G1X a couple, of months back and it does struggle with dynamic range. As suggested, it is best to shoot RAW, expose so your highlights aren't blown out, and then bring up the shadows in post-processing.
My Samsung EX1 doesn't struggle with the same type of shot.
Personally I'd shoot RAW, use -1/3 stop exposure compensation, and still use exposure bracketing (3 shots) if it was proving a challenge.
this is also a case where a polarizing filter might get you an even more stunning shot.
Some favourite pics:
Alan: Nice pic, and you were lucky to see Denali. I was there two years ago and got lucky as well, probably close to the same spot you were (on the shore of the river there in Talkeetna?). Nice pics, congratulations! And Alaska's incredible isn't it? We're definitely headed back several more times!