Dynamic Range -- what it is, what it's good for, and how much you 'need'

Started Oct 17, 2011 | Discussions thread
OP Great Bustard Forum Pro • Posts: 40,675
Re: Dynamic Range

JLTaylor wrote:

In this image does detail in the shadows really add that much to the image?

Yes, it does, if detail in the shadows is important.

The noise is annoying, but I would hit the shadows pretty hard with noise reduction.

Noise reduction necessarily reduces detail.

I copied the second example and in about 30 seconds changed it from this:

to this:

The Canon has less resolution, but it's in the shadows (shadowy: vague, mysterious or secretive, illusory or imaginary). I don't think more detail would add to the overall image.

NR merely turned noise to mush, in this particular case.

This is an example from the lowly E-3

Out of camera:

Quick lift of shadows and noise reduction:

Indeed. When looking inside the trailor on the larger size pic, the effects of the pushing are painfully obvious.

DR and extreme ISO has become synonymous with IQ on this forum. I think of them both as extending the envelope where the camera is usable.

That's exactly right -- greater DR, less noise, and more detail all "extend the envelope where the camera is usable".

Typically it is not what I am interested in shooting, and often there are workarounds. Not that I wouldn't want more DR, but I think the current Panasonic sensors have excellent image quality in the conditions I try to shoot in.


I would like my car to have more horsepower, and faster acceleration can certainly be useful, but I wouldn't give up 5 mpg all the time to get it. I would like more DR and it can certainly be useful in some situations, but I wouldn't give up lens quality in all my shots to get it (or the extra bulk/weight of some systems).

There are always tradeoffs.

Absolutely. No single measure of a camera defines a system. By the same token, simply because one's system of choice is lacking compared to another system in one respect or another is not reason to say that this or that is unimportant. It may well be unimportant to you, and it may be that the other advantages of your system outweigh that advantage of the other system.

But we first need to make an honest assessment of the capabilities of the systems, and then choose the system that best represents our specific, and personal, needs. And, in all seriousness, for some that choice is a cell phone, for others that choice is large format film.

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