Panasonic G9: Disappointment with Highlight/Shadow and i.Dynamic functions

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Edward Morris New Member • Posts: 6
Panasonic G9: Disappointment with Highlight/Shadow and i.Dynamic functions
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I generally love my Panasonic G9, but I did some testing of the Highlight/Shadow and i.Dynamic functions today and have to say I'm disappointed.

What I had ASSUMED these functions would do is allow me to shoot JPEGs in high-dynamic-range situations without blowing out the highlights so much. Obviously, there's significantly more headroom for recovering blown highlight details in the raw camera data than there is in the JPEG that the camera normally produces. (In fact, to my mind that is the biggest reason to shoot RAW instead of JPEG.) So in theory, when Highlights are cranked down to -5, or when i.Dynamic is set to high, the in-camera JPEG engine should be able to make use of this extra headroom and recover the highlights in the process of doing its internal JPEG conversion. In other words, the compression of the dynamic range specified by these settings should happen to the raw camera data BEFORE it is converted to JPEG, and in this way the blown highlights would be recovered practically as well as you could do it yourself via post-processing on a RAW file.

Sadly, this does not seem to be how it actually works. Taking the same picture with various Highlight/Shadow and i.Dynamic settings (and holding all other settings the same), I observed that setting the Highlights to -5 does indeed darken the non-blown-out highlight areas, but it has little or no effect at all in the blown-out highlight areas, even in situations where the RAW file would still have plenty of room to recover them. So in other words, the compression of the dynamic range seems to happen after the conversion to JPEG, not before. And as for i.Dynamic, that doesn't even seem to darken the highlights at all if I hold the exposure constant, but only lifts the shadows. (Though it does seem to bias the auto exposure control to try to underexpose the whole image a bit, presumably since it knows it's going to lift the shadows, and that obviously does have the effect of not blowing the highlights out quite so much if you let it underexpose like this.)

Unless I'm missing something, then, I guess the bottom line is that for the most part you still have to shoot RAW instead of JPEG if you want to recover blown highlights, even though you would think careful use of the i.Dynamic and Highlight/Shadow functions should obviate the need for this, if Panasonic had implemented them more usefully. I'd be curious to hear if anyone else has tried testing this and can confirm my observations, however.

 Edward Morris's gear list:Edward Morris's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm F4 ASPH Panasonic Leica 100-400mm F4.0-6.3 ASPH Panasonic 14-140mm F3.5-5.6 II
Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
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