How well do sensors see detail in shadow compared to our eyes?

Started Jul 12, 2014 | Questions thread
Henry Falkner
Henry Falkner Forum Pro • Posts: 14,105
Re: How well do sensors see detail in shadow compared to our eyes?

jackdan wrote:

In recovering detail in shadows while processing a raw image or even a JPEG I always wonder at what point the result matches what the eye saw. I know I could try to determine an answer empirically, but that would not truly answer the question.

The best I can do personally is to compare what I can see on the scene and what I get out of the video in the same scene on my Olympus SH-1, which has a 1/2.3" BSI CMOS sensor and optimum in-camera processing.

In the video at the link below I could see detail in the dark that I was unable to recover in post-production. In AVS Video Converter I increased Gamma to 10 to reproduce the perceived general brightness. But I had to increase Contrast to 3, to bury in the black the noise that appeared with the Gamma increase -

This example implies that my 72 year-old eyes and brain processing are still more sensitive than my particular camera at the particular setting it chose. The full resolution still taken during the video showed ISO 1600. I ditched it because I also took a 2 second exposure at base ISO 125, which was dramatically superior and matched the perceived scene.

Let us assume that my brain is updating its perception 30 times a second (I can actually still see individual pictures in videos of fast moving objects). This rough estimate implies that my eyes and brain are 60 times more sensitive than my camera (Olympus SH-1).

More up-market cameras with larger sensors (and video processing that takes advantage of those superior sensors) may do better.

On other posts - if you claim that film was more sensitive than your eyes, you need to tell us what film you are referring to. The 400 ASA colour negative film I last used in about 2002 was noisier and had less resolution than my Olympus 1.9 MB 3x zoom D-490 pocket camera I then used. Just ask yourself - why don't astro-photographers still use film?


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