SX50 Mini-Review Take "2A" - Continued Discussion of DRC

Started Nov 20, 2012 | Discussions thread
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VisionLight Veteran Member • Posts: 5,737
SX50 Mini-Review Take "2A" - Continued Discussion of DRC

All of the SX50 images used as examples in Take 2 of my mini-review series had both auto highlight and auto shadow turned on in Dynamic Range Control (DRC). The features worked very well in the examples taken with contrasty sunlight shining towards the lens. They also gave more detail to the images in which the over shoulder light was not at all harsh. In the discussion, Dale pointed out that even though these effects can help many pictures, one shouldn't use it all the time.  Many times you just want higher contrast and less detail that segregates the subject and adds a feeling of sharpness. Very true. In addition, others have been telling me about their confusion on when to use these features.

So with my remaining quota for this months image downloads (though I think I can fit one more), I took two more images today as examples of DRC's use.

The first one I call "Walking Giants Out For A Stroll." As I was driving my car, I saw this image that I thought had possibilities, so I pulled over to the side of the road. I was intrigued by the graphic qualities of the silhouetted stantions and wires, sitting atop a rock based grassy hill against the partly cloudy bright noon sky. Turns out the rock base bordered a flood plain, so my shoes and pants got a little wet. But what we do for our art.

In order to get the composition I liked, the camera had to go right down to the wet grass, LCD extended and turned up. Even those of us who prefer the EVF know when to shut up and use the right tool. But the sun was so bright coming into the lens that the stantions were being blown away, the wires invisible, and the grass and rocks black. If this was how the LCD reacted, I could imagine the sensor not being that happy either. So it was time to set DRC to both auto highlight and auto shadow control. Here's the result:

"Walking Giants Out For A Stroll"  -  24mm directly into the mid-day sun with DRC.

This image would have been just one black and white silhouette (and some may have liked it that way) without DRC. Note that it is best viewed in a room with subdued light to see the texture in the lower section. There was a little post to bring up the highlights on the stone wall and then rebalance the levels a bit, but the camera did most of the work. So this is a case when DRC especially comes in handy.

The second example is called "Fall Fading Into Winter" and was taken when I got home. Here the dying blooms against the still colorful fall palette provided their own contrast on nature. And it raised a question of whether to use DRC or not. Looking through the viewfinder, the dying flowers showed very little detail with burned out highlights. Decreasing the exposure a bit helped, but started darkening everything else too much to be pleasing. Appeared to me that the best case was to turn on auto highlight control. But at the same time, the faded brown leaves along the bottom and right hand corner had already started to go black. I was going to keep it this way, but on second thought felt it may be too harsh in the overall subtle palette. So I turned on auto shadow control to preserve the brown hues and detail. Here's the result:

"Fall Fading Into Winter"  -  About 200mm with DRC

I like the color palette and the way the luminance levels separate the fore and backgrounds. Others may have chosen not to use shadow control for higher contrast from darker leaves and stems, thus giving more separation. Even others may have not used highlight control taking the dying blooms farther to the right, adding even more contrast and separation.

Although I think the first example shows a clear indication of the usefullnes of DRC, the second example may be a toss-up for some and worth some discussion here. Either way, people will get a better idea of when to use it, and also when to stay away, either based on needs dictated by the lighting, or just for artistic license.

Your opinions and your examples are certainly welcome.

For those who missed them and may be interested, here are the links to my first two mini-reviews of the SX50. Take One is here:

And Take Two is here:


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