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Rumors => EOS Bodies => Topic started by: jrista on March 12, 2013, 06:15:36 PM

Title: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: jrista on March 12, 2013, 06:15:36 PM
I just came across some articles written by ctein at The Online Photographer. He brought to light a term that I think would be very useful when it comes to discussing dynamic range of modern cameras. Frequently, the debate arises about what DXOMark's Print DR statistic means, usually in conjunction with the D800's whopping and hard-to-swallow rating of 14.4 stops. Some people have come up with the term "Photographic Dynamic Range" to refer to the thing most photographers think of when they hear "dynamic range", but the meaning of PDR is not super clear all the time. I think ctein's explanation in the two articles below is an excellent one, and I like the differentiation the term "Exposure Range" allows relative to "Dynamic Range". I think Exposure Range (apparently an existing term used in the film days) appropriately and accurately describes what most photographers think of when they hear "dynamic range". Dynamic Range, the way DXO describes it, is quite appropriately called Dynamic Range as it has to do with the "signal", not necessarily the usable range of tones in an "image", nor the characteristics or quality of the noise that may affect the exposure range of the image.

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2012/09/dynamic-range-is-not-exposure-range-part-i.html (http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2012/09/dynamic-range-is-not-exposure-range-part-i.html)
http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2012/09/dynamic-range-is-not-exposure-range-part-ii.html (http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2012/09/dynamic-range-is-not-exposure-range-part-ii.html)

Ctein also puts forward the notion that as many pixels comprise an image, it is theoretically possible for the exposure range to be higher than the dynamic range. He explains it in the second article. Interesting concepts. I am not sure how well it applies with RAW and raw editors these days...the expandibility of exposure range via dithering (which is effectively what Part II covers) is theoretically possible, but in my experience noise in the lower tonal range of a RAW image tends to have too high of a standard deviation to be effective as a medium for dithering. I've never used a top-end camera like the 1D X, however...perhaps its superior noise characteristics would.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: ChilledXpress on March 12, 2013, 07:26:41 PM
Jeez... the topic that won't die. Sick of DR and the endless discussion.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: bdunbar79 on March 12, 2013, 07:30:48 PM
Jeez... the topic that won't die. Sick of DR and the endless discussion.

Ok.  So don't read it?
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: bchernicoff on March 12, 2013, 09:04:45 PM
I've never been to this guy's blog before. It's very interesting. I wish it was better indexed.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: elflord on March 12, 2013, 09:13:28 PM
This strikes me as a rather pointless (and ultimately futile) attempt to argue against using the commonly understood term ("dynamic range") for the quantity that really matters (saturation to noise floor).

He's not even correct -- DxO's usage is correct (the term "dynamic range" is quite often used both in digital photography and other domains to mean "saturation point to noise floor").

I don't really see the point of trying to diminish the importance of the dynamic range as measured by DxO by assigning to it a term that no-one is familiar with (aside from "advocating" for a particular brand whose sensors have weak dynamic range, that is)
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: bchernicoff on March 12, 2013, 09:18:31 PM
I don't really see the point of trying to diminish the importance of the dynamic range as measured by DxO by assigning to it a term that no-one is familiar with (aside from "advocating" for a particular brand whose sensors have weak dynamic range, that is)

He says he's using a D800, so I doubt that is his intention.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: jrista on March 12, 2013, 09:23:15 PM
Jeez... the topic that won't die. Sick of DR and the endless discussion.

Alrighty then, read something else.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: jrista on March 12, 2013, 09:24:06 PM
I've never been to this guy's blog before. It's very interesting. I wish it was better indexed.

Ctein is a bit of an odd duck at times, and I've never really cared for his photography (rather bland)...but he is a smart cookie. I like a lot of his articles.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: jrista on March 12, 2013, 09:24:38 PM
This strikes me as a rather pointless (and ultimately futile) attempt to argue against using the commonly understood term ("dynamic range") for the quantity that really matters (saturation to noise floor).

He's not even correct -- DxO's usage is correct (the term "dynamic range" is quite often used both in digital photography and other domains to mean "saturation point to noise floor").

I don't really see the point of trying to diminish the importance of the dynamic range as measured by DxO by assigning to it a term that no-one is familiar with (aside from "advocating" for a particular brand whose sensors have weak dynamic range, that is)

Your missing the point. But, then again, you always have, so there isn't any surprise there.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: elflord on March 12, 2013, 09:46:45 PM
Your missing the point.
Maybe it's because he doesn't have one.

He seems to be insisting that everyone use "dynamic range" to mean what he wants it to mean (which happens to be a useless definition as far as photography is concerned) as opposed to the useful (and correct) definition that DxO use.

What is the point of assigning as useless definition to the term "dynamic range" ? Or is there some deep significance to his definition of DR that I'm missing ?

Quote
But, then again, you always have, so there isn't any surprise there.

Well, if you have any deep insight into this, please do share it with us. Simply asserting that you are more insightful (but aren't able to share your insights) might make you feel better, but it is not terribly persuasive.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: RGomezPhotos on March 13, 2013, 03:26:28 AM
Jeez... the topic that won't die. Sick of DR and the endless discussion.

Ok.  So don't read it?

And he's only posted 135 times..  Oh yeah, that's an old-timer...  (sarcasm)
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: sanj on March 13, 2013, 05:09:39 AM
Educational! Thanks for posting.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: 3kramd5 on March 13, 2013, 08:56:37 AM
"Dynamic range is the range of signal that a sensor can record" is an odd duck. Introducing sensors with different capabilities doesn't change the luminance DR of the room in which I'm sitting. Introducing microphones with different capabilities doesn't change the acoustic DR of my guitar.

From a sensor's perspective, sure: DR is the range of signal it can record.

I'm not a sensor (even if maybe my eyes and ears and nerves are).

It seems to me the most appropriate use for the term from a photographer's perspective is the widest range of useful brightness values I can expect to reproduce with my cameras. I don't care about ideal sensors in the real world, and it serves me little purpose to introduce one term to use in the ideal and a different term to use in the actual.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: TWI by Dustin Abbott on March 13, 2013, 09:30:29 AM
I for one am very thankful for the advances in dynamic range in the current crop of bodies.  I find that the transition from primarily using a 5dMKII to a new 6D has been striking in the ability to gather more detail, particularly from the shadow areas.  I find that my use of HDR (which I have used in the past, particularly to expand dynamic range) is drastically reduced now as I find that I can frequently pull the detail I need out of a single RAW exposure.

I find the greatest expansion has been in the shadow area - I still see room for advancement in the highlights.  A slightly underexposed image is easier to recover than an overexposed one.

I haven't used a D800, but it is the first recent Nikon product that made me wish that I wasn't so invested in Canon architecture.  I have seen some pretty special images made with it.  That being said, it has been my observation that Nikons frequently look better on paper than they execute in practice.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: RLPhoto on March 13, 2013, 11:51:33 AM
DR is over-rated.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: jrista on March 13, 2013, 12:13:24 PM
DR is over-rated.

Why would you say that? It's thanks to what is still GOOD DR that you were able to recover that sky! :P It's not the best of the best right now, but one of my points all along is that Canon sensors don't have "bad" DR either. 

Having good dynamic range, or I guess Exposure Range as Ctein would call it, is what allowed you to do what you did with that photo.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: RLPhoto on March 13, 2013, 12:21:51 PM
DR is over-rated.

Why would you say that? It's thanks to what is still GOOD DR that you were able to recover that sky! :P It's not the best of the best right now, but one of my points all along is that Canon sensors don't have "bad" DR either. 

Having good dynamic range, or I guess Exposure Range as Ctein would call it, is what allowed you to do what you did with that photo.

I know, but it's still overrated. I did this on a supposed "outdated" sensor tech from a camera everyone loves to bash for DR. Heck, with alittle more time I could do this same shot on a d30.  :P

The quest for DR has been around and argued for decades. I just believe it's an issue of technique rather than technology.

Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: 3kramd5 on March 13, 2013, 12:42:05 PM
I know, but it's still overrated. I did this on a supposed "outdated" sensor tech from a camera everyone loves to bash for DR. Heck, with alittle more time I could do this same shot on a d30.  :P

... provided the scene doesn't exceed the capabilities of the D30.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: jrista on March 13, 2013, 12:50:53 PM
DR is over-rated.

Why would you say that? It's thanks to what is still GOOD DR that you were able to recover that sky! :P It's not the best of the best right now, but one of my points all along is that Canon sensors don't have "bad" DR either. 

Having good dynamic range, or I guess Exposure Range as Ctein would call it, is what allowed you to do what you did with that photo.

I know, but it's still overrated. I did this on a supposed "outdated" sensor tech from a camera everyone loves to bash for DR. Heck, with alittle more time I could do this same shot on a d30.  :P

The quest for DR has been around and argued for decades. I just believe it's an issue of technique rather than technology.

I would say it is an issue of both. I mean, there is no question that the D800 and D600 have better DR and Exposure Range than the 5D III. They would perform just as well as your 5D III did in WORSE situations than that, where the 5D III would eventually fail due to the high read noise. Technique can help you maximize the potential of what you have, but better technology combined with great technique can do even better still. That's not really the point though.

The point I keep trying to make, which I think you will appreciate, is that the 5D III DOES HAVE GOOD DR! I totally agree that people fuss too much over the 5D III's DR, and a lot of people make it sound as though it is a horrid, nasty piece of crap...when it clearly is not. (I mean, go back to the generation of cameras before the 5D II, and all too frequently they couldn't do any better than 6-7 stops, maybe 9 at the most, with only the absolute top of the line cameras offering 10-11 stops.)

I've tried to make other points as well, but I won't bring those up as it'll probably start a huge war, and I don't really want that.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: RLPhoto on March 13, 2013, 01:01:15 PM
I know, but it's still overrated. I did this on a supposed "outdated" sensor tech from a camera everyone loves to bash for DR. Heck, with alittle more time I could do this same shot on a d30.  :P

... provided the scene doesn't exceed the capabilities of the D30.

No, provided that I understand how to get as many stops of DR I need.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: 3kramd5 on March 13, 2013, 01:58:01 PM
I know, but it's still overrated. I did this on a supposed "outdated" sensor tech from a camera everyone loves to bash for DR. Heck, with alittle more time I could do this same shot on a d30.  :P

... provided the scene doesn't exceed the capabilities of the D30.

No, provided that I understand how to get as many stops of DR I need.

If you're stacking exposures, sure. But in the case where that's impractical (e.g. motion), you're stuck with the capabilities of your equipment, which is limited on one end by the camera.

If sufficiently equipped, you can compress the dynamic range of the scene using filters (ND over bright areas, for example). But one can't always carry an entire supply room around, and at some point it comes down to the equipment you have with you.

If it indeed doesn't matter, would you willingly exchange your camera for one with, say, 3 stops of capability, all else being equal?

For me, quasi-modern cameras (e.g. my 5D2) generally have enough. But if for whatever reason I wanted to expose someone's face indoors with the lights out facing away from an open window, and simultaneously expose someone's face standing outside that window under direct sunlight, I couldn't do it without significantly altering the lighting conditions (flexibility I may have in a studio, but not in the field).

More common may be "overpower the sun" portraiture. If you don't have a powerful flash, the DR of a camera is vastly insufficient. Expand that to a wider set of subjects than a single portrait.

Having more headroom in the camera is a good thing.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: Rienzphotoz on March 13, 2013, 02:44:38 PM
Educational! Thanks for posting.
+1
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: RLPhoto on March 13, 2013, 04:44:17 PM
I know, but it's still overrated. I did this on a supposed "outdated" sensor tech from a camera everyone loves to bash for DR. Heck, with alittle more time I could do this same shot on a d30.  :P

... provided the scene doesn't exceed the capabilities of the D30.

No, provided that I understand how to get as many stops of DR I need.

If you're stacking exposures, sure. But in the case where that's impractical (e.g. motion), you're stuck with the capabilities of your equipment, which is limited on one end by the camera.

If sufficiently equipped, you can compress the dynamic range of the scene using filters (ND over bright areas, for example). But one can't always carry an entire supply room around, and at some point it comes down to the equipment you have with you.

If it indeed doesn't matter, would you willingly exchange your camera for one with, say, 3 stops of capability, all else being equal?

For me, quasi-modern cameras (e.g. my 5D2) generally have enough. But if for whatever reason I wanted to expose someone's face indoors with the lights out facing away from an open window, and simultaneously expose someone's face standing outside that window under direct sunlight, I couldn't do it without significantly altering the lighting conditions (flexibility I may have in a studio, but not in the field).

More common may be "overpower the sun" portraiture. If you don't have a powerful flash, the DR of a camera is vastly insufficient. Expand that to a wider set of subjects than a single portrait.

Having more headroom in the camera is a good thing.

I don't believe your understanding what I'm stating. It's not about DR, its about being at the right place at the right time.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: 3kramd5 on March 13, 2013, 05:37:28 PM
I don't believe your understanding what I'm stating. It's not about DR, its about being at the right place at the right time.

Being at the right place at the right time is all well and good for pro landscape photographers (or even hobbyists with ample time). But that's not most people. It's not so good for people who photograph things which don't coincide with the solar cycle, or for people who can't get out of the house before dawn or return after dusk.

Suppose someone gets home from his once-in-a-lifetime trip to... Banff for example. He downloads his pictures and is instantly disappointed at the block of white at the upper 1/3 of all his landscape frames, or at the big shadow between the trees where he knows a bear was playing with her cubs.

Technological advancements are welcome. They aren't the end-all-be-all, certainly, but they're welcome nonetheless (and not just for the lay user).
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: RLPhoto on March 13, 2013, 06:11:40 PM
I don't believe your understanding what I'm stating. It's not about DR, its about being at the right place at the right time.

Being at the right place at the right time is all well and good for pro landscape photographers (or even hobbyists with ample time). But that's not most people. It's not so good for people who photograph things which don't coincide with the solar cycle, or for people who can't get out of the house before dawn or return after dusk.

Suppose someone gets home from his once-in-a-lifetime trip to... Banff for example. He downloads his pictures and is instantly disappointed at the block of white at the upper 1/3 of all his landscape frames, or at the big shadow between the trees where he knows a bear was playing with her cubs.

Technological advancements are welcome. They aren't the end-all-be-all, certainly, but they're welcome nonetheless (and not just for the lay user).

I never said tech advancements aren't welcome. I stated that technique will improve DR more than any sensor will. Understanding this you can determine how much DR is needed.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: agierke on March 13, 2013, 06:55:06 PM
Quote
I never said tech advancements aren't welcome. I stated that technique will improve DR more than any sensor will. Understanding this you can determine how much DR is needed.

ugh...thank you for stating this. this entirely sums up my feelings towards the dynamic range discussion. i get the feeling that many (not all...dont jump on me) people argue for greater dynamic range so that they dont have to worry about problem solving "photographic" problems anymore. as if greater dynamic range would free them up to shoot in any kind of light (including the absolute worst nightmare impossible situation you can think of) and the camera would be able to turn it into something resembling a good photo in good light. forget finding better light, forget planning a shot out for optimal conditions, forget lighting....ie forget technique altogether.

i'm not against tech advancements either...but it seems as though some want to forgo 150+ years worth of technique so they can get the greatest shot ever in a single frame...anytime...anywhere...any conditions.


i'm with you RLPhoto.....
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: 3kramd5 on March 13, 2013, 07:06:20 PM
I stated that technique will improve DR more than any sensor will.

What techniques are you referring to to improve DR? Genuinely curious, not being pointlessly argumentative.

Are you talking about post processing like your Before/After? Making brights darker and darks lighter compresses DR and improves the image, yes. There are other ways to limit the DR requirement. You can choose to shoot when the scene doesn't greatly exceed camera capabilities. You can choose to limit the scene DR as viewed through the lens with filters, or by artificially lighting the shadows.

If you don't have those options, and if the scene you photographed clips white and black, what do you do?
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: V8Beast on March 13, 2013, 07:44:23 PM
If you don't have those options, and if the scene you photographed clips white and black, what do you do?

Concede defeat and try again when......

Quote
You can choose to shoot when the scene doesn't greatly exceed camera capabilities. You can choose to limit the scene DR as viewed through the lens with filters, or by artificially lighting the shadows.

If you're shooting with natural light, and you don't have the means/skill/will power to manipulate that light with modifiers, filters, diffusers, flash, etc., then you just have to accept that there are certain situations where you simply can't get the shot you want to get. That's just he way it goes, homie :)

More DR is always welcome, but unless you shoot landscapes and have little control over where and when you shoot those landscapes, I can't think of many situations where a photographer has no means of stacking the odds in their camera's favor.
 
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: RLPhoto on March 13, 2013, 07:52:32 PM
I stated that technique will improve DR more than any sensor will.

What techniques are you referring to to improve DR? Genuinely curious, not being pointlessly argumentative.

Are you talking about post processing like your Before/After? Making brights darker and darks lighter compresses DR and improves the image, yes. There are other ways to limit the DR requirement. You can choose to shoot when the scene doesn't greatly exceed camera capabilities. You can choose to limit the scene DR as viewed through the lens with filters, or by artificially lighting the shadows.

If you don't have those options, and if the scene you photographed clips white and black, what do you do?

Those are a few methods. I knew you'd get it sooner or later.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: 3kramd5 on March 13, 2013, 08:25:53 PM
I stated that technique will improve DR more than any sensor will.

What techniques are you referring to to improve DR? Genuinely curious, not being pointlessly argumentative.

Are you talking about post processing like your Before/After? Making brights darker and darks lighter compresses DR and improves the image, yes. There are other ways to limit the DR requirement. You can choose to shoot when the scene doesn't greatly exceed camera capabilities. You can choose to limit the scene DR as viewed through the lens with filters, or by artificially lighting the shadows.

If you don't have those options, and if the scene you photographed clips white and black, what do you do?

Those are a few methods. I knew you'd get it sooner or later.

You stated technique will improve DR; those are a few methods which reduce it.

I understand working within capabilities. The best camera in the world is the one you have with you and all that. But is not this forum fundamentally about future technology, not working around the limitations of current technology?

Should I expect [CR2] about canon's next great camera which will audibly instruct you to take 60 a second exposure whilst waving your hand in front of the lens like you're burning in the darkroom?
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: Jeff on March 13, 2013, 08:37:25 PM

If you don't have those options, and if the scene you photographed clips white and black, what do you do?

You can overexpose the negative to expose for the shadows and then either shorten the amount of time the negative is in the developer N-1 N-2 or you could transfer the negatives to a water bath during the development stage to allow the highlighted areas longer time to develop.

sorry couldn't resist
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: psolberg on March 13, 2013, 09:09:28 PM
thanks for the read. interesting. however having shot canon extensively for years and having switched to the D800 for about a year now, we can debate all the stops and number etc and DXO scores; but the fact remains that in my own personal experience NOTHING touches the D800 with a canon brand in terms of overall image quality, dynamic range as perceived by my prior experience with canon. Let's not even get about the low noise in shadow areas at base ISO which the sony/Nikon sensor delivers in a way that makes even the 1DX and 5DmKIII feel like cameras that are a generation behind where they should in this area. this has been documented extensively by now. Canon simply can't perform at low ISO in the shadows if you're really going to push that DR. And I do push it, to my dismay when shooting with a canon sensor, all I get is levels of noise and banding that are ridiculous.

I will re-evaluate my gear when the 5Dmk4 and D900 get released. until then, I an only trust my eyes and I just can't see myself shooting with anything but the D800 for nothing gives me the confidence that I will recover all the detail with the least artifacts like that camera does.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: sanj on March 13, 2013, 10:36:29 PM
thanks for the read. interesting. however having shot canon extensively for years and having switched to the D800 for about a year now, we can debate all the stops and number etc and DXO scores; but the fact remains that in my own personal experience NOTHING touches the D800 with a canon brand in terms of overall image quality, dynamic range as perceived by my prior experience with canon. Let's not even get about the low noise in shadow areas at base ISO which the sony/Nikon sensor delivers in a way that makes even the 1DX and 5DmKIII feel like cameras that are a generation behind where they should in this area. this has been documented extensively by now. Canon simply can't perform at low ISO in the shadows if you're really going to push that DR. And I do push it, to my dismay when shooting with a canon sensor, all I get is levels of noise and banding that are ridiculous.

I will re-evaluate my gear when the 5Dmk4 and D900 get released. until then, I an only trust my eyes and I just can't see myself shooting with anything but the D800 for nothing gives me the confidence that I will recover all the detail with the least artifacts like that camera does.

I have met many people in real life and on internet who feel exactly like you.... :(
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: RLPhoto on March 13, 2013, 10:42:38 PM
I stated that technique will improve DR more than any sensor will.

What techniques are you referring to to improve DR? Genuinely curious, not being pointlessly argumentative.

Are you talking about post processing like your Before/After? Making brights darker and darks lighter compresses DR and improves the image, yes. There are other ways to limit the DR requirement. You can choose to shoot when the scene doesn't greatly exceed camera capabilities. You can choose to limit the scene DR as viewed through the lens with filters, or by artificially lighting the shadows.

If you don't have those options, and if the scene you photographed clips white and black, what do you do?

Those are a few methods. I knew you'd get it sooner or later.

You stated technique will improve DR; those are a few methods which reduce it.

I understand working within capabilities. The best camera in the world is the one you have with you and all that. But is not this forum fundamentally about future technology, not working around the limitations of current technology?

Should I expect [CR2] about canon's next great camera which will audibly instruct you to take 60 a second exposure whilst waving your hand in front of the lens like you're burning in the darkroom?

However you want to put it. If you plan to wait around for future tech improvements to go out and shoot, you'll be waiting quite a while.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: 3kramd5 on March 13, 2013, 11:19:57 PM
If you plan to wait around for future tech improvements to go out and shoot, you'll be waiting quite a while.

lol, okay.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: bdunbar79 on March 13, 2013, 11:20:25 PM
thanks for the read. interesting. however having shot canon extensively for years and having switched to the D800 for about a year now, we can debate all the stops and number etc and DXO scores; but the fact remains that in my own personal experience NOTHING touches the D800 with a canon brand in terms of overall image quality, dynamic range as perceived by my prior experience with canon. Let's not even get about the low noise in shadow areas at base ISO which the sony/Nikon sensor delivers in a way that makes even the 1DX and 5DmKIII feel like cameras that are a generation behind where they should in this area. this has been documented extensively by now. Canon simply can't perform at low ISO in the shadows if you're really going to push that DR. And I do push it, to my dismay when shooting with a canon sensor, all I get is levels of noise and banding that are ridiculous.

I will re-evaluate my gear when the 5Dmk4 and D900 get released. until then, I an only trust my eyes and I just can't see myself shooting with anything but the D800 for nothing gives me the confidence that I will recover all the detail with the least artifacts like that camera does.

Canon WINS at the high ISO realm/sports realm.  Hands down.  Nikon wins at low ISO.  Apparently there is better DR in Nikon sensors at low ISO.  This is not reflected in sales, however.  So really, nobody cares.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: V8Beast on March 14, 2013, 12:24:25 AM

I will re-evaluate my gear when the 5Dmk4 and D900 get released. until then, I an only trust my eyes and I just can't see myself shooting with anything but the D800 for nothing gives me the confidence that I will recover all the detail with the least artifacts like that camera does.

So I take it that you're still hanging around a Canon forum waiting for rumors on the 5D4? Talk about being proactive ;D
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: jrista on March 14, 2013, 01:17:03 AM
thanks for the read. interesting. however having shot canon extensively for years and having switched to the D800 for about a year now, we can debate all the stops and number etc and DXO scores; but the fact remains that in my own personal experience NOTHING touches the D800 with a canon brand in terms of overall image quality, dynamic range as perceived by my prior experience with canon. Let's not even get about the low noise in shadow areas at base ISO which the sony/Nikon sensor delivers in a way that makes even the 1DX and 5DmKIII feel like cameras that are a generation behind where they should in this area. this has been documented extensively by now. Canon simply can't perform at low ISO in the shadows if you're really going to push that DR. And I do push it, to my dismay when shooting with a canon sensor, all I get is levels of noise and banding that are ridiculous.

I will re-evaluate my gear when the 5Dmk4 and D900 get released. until then, I an only trust my eyes and I just can't see myself shooting with anything but the D800 for nothing gives me the confidence that I will recover all the detail with the least artifacts like that camera does.

Agreed, D800 and D600 DR is amazing. The DR from current Canon cameras is nothing to shake a stick at, either, though. Keep in mind, go back five or six years, and most cameras couldn't break the 8-9 stop barrier for dynamic range. The fact that pretty much every Canon camera from the last 4-5 years is in the 11-12 stop range means they offer great dynamic range. The computer screens of most people are 8 bit, so you can only really see eight stops of DR on them anyway. Some people are lucky enough to have a 10 bit screen, and an even fewer lucky ducks have a 14-16 bit screen with a hardware LUT and hardware dithering that can almost display the 11-14 stop photos modern cameras are capable of on screen in all their full glory.

Another thing to consider is that print is still limited to maybe 7 stops at most on the best of the best paper with the highest L* and deepest dMax. More often, especially with fine art papers, you get 5 stops.

The benefit of more DR is shadow pushing or highlight recovery (usually shadow pushing) in post. In that respect, at low ISO, the D800 is certainly king, and offers two extra stops over anything from Canon. Just don't let that make you think the 5D III or any other Canon camera "sucks" though...12 stops of DR is still amazing, and will take you very far, and is more than sufficient in the vast majority of cases.  There are limited sitiations where extreme DR is necessary...landscapes is one. If you have the option of night sky photography at low ISO, that could be another (i.e. extremely long exposures on a guided tracking mount could look phenomenal at ISO 200). "Mistakes" are of course another area where having super-clean shadows is a great time to have tons of extra DR. In most other situations, I'd say the desire to have good contrast overpowers the benefits of dynamic range. Increased contrast is kind of at odds with increased dynamic range...you either attenuate the contrast curve (and lose DR in the final image), or flatten the contrast curve (and gain DR, up to what your camera offers, in the final image).
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: J.R. on March 14, 2013, 01:37:12 AM
Interesting discussion. One does wonder though what would happen if Canon came close to Nikon's DR in low ISO at the cost of losing a stop or two in High ISO.

Now who would want that camera?
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: jrista on March 14, 2013, 01:46:18 AM
Interesting discussion. One does wonder though what would happen if Canon came close to Nikon's DR in low ISO at the cost of losing a stop or two in High ISO.

Now who would want that camera?

Why at the cost of losing a stop or two High ISO? The two are achieved via different means. I don't think the mechanisms by which Canon could improve Low ISO performance would by necessity eliminate the gains they have made at High ISO. The best of both worlds could be had if Canon can figure out how to reduce their read noise.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: Aglet on March 14, 2013, 04:00:59 AM
Interesting discussion. One does wonder though what would happen if Canon came close to Nikon's DR in low ISO at the cost of losing a stop or two in High ISO.

Now who would want that camera?

I might.
I still prefer Canon's user interface and controls to Nikons, and only slightly over Pentax, but not enough to switch back until such an improved Canon camera is a reality.
And, for the sake of correctness, I'm not even asking for more DR, I'd like to see no FPN in new Canon sensors.  The 6D comes very close to being acceptable.  Hopefully a 7D2 will be similarly or more improved.  But, right now..
When it comes to low USO DR and lack of FPN, SoNikon cleans up on both of those metrics.

As for some of the other arguments, when it comes to difficult lighting situations, the camera with the superior sensor system is going to provide a lot more latitude and better IQ potential than the more limited one.  I don't care how good one's technique is, better tools allow that same person to expand their envelope of capabilities.
The same ones who are presently crowing how their technique is all it takes to make up for an inferior sensor system are likely going to be crowing even louder when/if they ever get their hands on a better performing camera.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: Rav on March 14, 2013, 04:08:16 AM
The computer screens of most people are 8 bit, so you can only really see eight stops of DR on them anyway.
No.
The bit depth of a panel has no correlation with its DR. Note how there are 6bit panels with contrast of 1:800 and more. The bit depth only places bounds on the upper possible SNR in the signal chain, setting a quantization noise floor.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: Rienzphotoz on March 14, 2013, 04:44:09 AM
thanks for the read. interesting. however having shot canon extensively for years and having switched to the D800 for about a year now, we can debate all the stops and number etc and DXO scores; but the fact remains that in my own personal experience NOTHING touches the D800 with a canon brand in terms of overall image quality, dynamic range as perceived by my prior experience with canon. Let's not even get about the low noise in shadow areas at base ISO which the sony/Nikon sensor delivers in a way that makes even the 1DX and 5DmKIII feel like cameras that are a generation behind where they should in this area. this has been documented extensively by now. Canon simply can't perform at low ISO in the shadows if you're really going to push that DR. And I do push it, to my dismay when shooting with a canon sensor, all I get is levels of noise and banding that are ridiculous.

I will re-evaluate my gear when the 5Dmk4 and D900 get released. until then, I an only trust my eyes and I just can't see myself shooting with anything but the D800 for nothing gives me the confidence that I will recover all the detail with the least artifacts like that camera does.

I have met many people in real life and on internet who feel exactly like you.... :(
Ha ha ha ... Good one
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: Rienzphotoz on March 14, 2013, 04:51:57 AM
thanks for the read. interesting. however having shot canon extensively for years and having switched to the D800 for about a year now, we can debate all the stops and number etc and DXO scores; but the fact remains that in my own personal experience NOTHING touches the D800 with a canon brand in terms of overall image quality, dynamic range as perceived by my prior experience with canon. Let's not even get about the low noise in shadow areas at base ISO which the sony/Nikon sensor delivers in a way that makes even the 1DX and 5DmKIII feel like cameras that are a generation behind where they should in this area. this has been documented extensively by now. Canon simply can't perform at low ISO in the shadows if you're really going to push that DR. And I do push it, to my dismay when shooting with a canon sensor, all I get is levels of noise and banding that are ridiculous.

I will re-evaluate my gear when the 5Dmk4 and D900 get released. until then, I an only trust my eyes and I just can't see myself shooting with anything but the D800 for nothing gives me the confidence that I will recover all the detail with the least artifacts like that camera does.
The word photography means "drawing with light" not drawing with darkness ::) ... if I start to make my purchase decisions based on "noise in shadow areas", "dxO" etc than I probably need to worry more about my skill than some "nose in shadow areas" ::)
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: Rienzphotoz on March 14, 2013, 05:05:44 AM

I will re-evaluate my gear when the 5Dmk4 and D900 get released. until then, I an only trust my eyes and I just can't see myself shooting with anything but the D800 for nothing gives me the confidence that I will recover all the detail with the least artifacts like that camera does.

So I take it that you're still hanging around a Canon forum waiting for rumors on the 5D4? Talk about being proactive ;D
Nice reply ... LOL
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: SiliconVoid on March 14, 2013, 07:26:39 AM
I have to agree with many that this is getting old, but not because it doesn't matter, not because there is no difference between the terms, and not because Nikon does or does not have greater DR at the expense of unnecessary grain, but because there are people out there arguing from the point of view that being able to remove shadows from an image that had shadows is what everyone in photography is concerned about… When I look at a scene it is the very existence of shadows, high contrast, etc that made me want to capture the shot - I have absolutely no intentions of sitting down at the computer and bringing the shadows up so they are any different than what I saw and what made me want to take the picture to begin with.

The real difference between the two bodies most frequently referred to in this thread (5DmkIII/D800) is the irrelevant rating from DxO vs field use. This is because DxO evaluates and scores the image data before it is processed by each manufacturers noise reduction, demosaicing algorithms, and color/tone balancing. It is image data that the user of the camera does not have access to - therefore is not transferable to the field. There are examples shown by other supposedly in-depth equipment review services that the D800 really only has maybe one stop over the 5DmkIII and that is at the shadow range, and no higher in highlights (where it really counts the majority of the time). So unless you literally intend to overexpose shadows in all your shots, you gain nothing except digital resolution for cropping - maybe - as long as you stay under ~400 ISO..

What I find interesting in regard to raking DR versus exposure leeway and arguing who makes the better compact body full frame camera (maybe because I am not the sort to get rid of my shadows) is a lot of testing shown online. Evaluation being done where a specific scene is shot with both cameras and then over exposed beyond usability just to show what detail and noise might exists in some previously shadowed parts of the image.

I find this interesting for two reasons. First, is what possible use that has in any way when the image itself is not even usable at +3EV - and secondly, because in every one of those two image comparisons the 5DmkIII is already showing more detail in the shadows (before) they started playing with exposure. I mean if the 5DmkIII is already able to show more detail in an area the D800 shows black, then you would not have to overexpose the 5DmkIII image as much because you can already see into the shadows. To accurately evaluate that 'test' you would have first bring up the exposure of the D800 to match what is already visible in the 5DmkIII, then bump both up some arbitrary amount - that would end up being say 3 stop for the 5DmkIII and a total of say 4.5 stops for the D800 - at which point the D800 noise would look identical… So before/without any editing, the 5DmkIII looks to show more information in the shadows whether it provides one extra stop of shadow exposure or not.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: Rienzphotoz on March 14, 2013, 07:31:55 AM
The real difference between the two bodies most frequently referred to in this thread (5DmkIII/D800) is the irrelevant rating from DxO vs field use. This is because DxO evaluates and scores the image data before it is processed by each manufacturers noise reduction, demosaicing algorithms, and color/tone balancing. It is image data that the user of the camera does not have access to - therefore is not transferable to the field. There are examples shown by other supposedly in-depth equipment review services that the D800 really only has maybe one stop over the 5DmkIII and that is at the shadow range, and no higher in highlights (where it really counts the majority of the time). So unless you literally intend to overexpose shadows in all your shots, you gain nothing except digital resolution for cropping - maybe - as long as you stay under ~400 ISO..
+1
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: SiliconVoid on March 14, 2013, 08:32:26 AM
(hjulenissen)
The grain I referred to is what Nikon is doing in their latest bodies. (Just an aggravation jab as I was hoping to upgrade my D700 with video.. heh) However even Nikon knows that with current tech you cannot add more mp and higher ISO without introducing more noise. Not saying it won't happen as tech advances, but it is the reality atm. Nikons approach is to pull out color noise, desaturate it, redigitize it, and redistribute it as 'grain' which they have spent the past few years trying to convince everyone is ok because it gives that 'film' look.. One of the first evolutions of digital was the absence of grain (at one ISO setting or another) to reintroduce it again to cover high gain noise is not a move forward I care to see. Does not matter whether you agree (no offense) it is what they are doing.
*Well they have been doing it for a while actually, just showing up more now with their higher mp bodies*

I did not assert the focus on shadow recovery as a claim, but you don't have to spend but 5-seconds online anywhere to see how many people focus on little else, especially if they are a Nikon user or hate Canon for some reason and making it the bases of comparison in superiority.

I agree with you regarding 'magic' in your images, my reference was to shadow exposure - not color.

Not sure what anthropomorphic qualities you read into my comment, but the sensor does indeed 'know' what the manufacturer wants it to be sensitive to. Canon has traditionally focused on protecting highlights, as did the industry in general for years, and Nikon on shadows.. For some reason today all the rage is about shadow recovery.. /shrug

Just used cropping as the most relevant example, that again 5-seconds online, you can see what most are using all those mp for..

As for DxO, I am sorry but you are completely wrong. DxO clearly states how their testing is done, at what stage the data is derived, and emphasizes that as the reason their data analysis is empirical - which it is, technically, because they are testing the hardware itself not how the manufacturer implements the hardware. The consumer however gets the manufacturers flavor of the data..
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: J.R. on March 14, 2013, 08:35:03 AM
Interesting discussion. One does wonder though what would happen if Canon came close to Nikon's DR in low ISO at the cost of losing a stop or two in High ISO.

Now who would want that camera?

Why at the cost of losing a stop or two High ISO? The two are achieved via different means. I don't think the mechanisms by which Canon could improve Low ISO performance would by necessity eliminate the gains they have made at High ISO. The best of both worlds could be had if Canon can figure out how to reduce their read noise.

Thanks ... I'm not too savvy with the tech of how this is possible - only just started learning so I'm just reading any stuff which is available on these matters as and when I have time.

Anyhow, my basic issue with DR complainers is that if somehow Canon offered a sensor much alike the Nikon - high DR at low ISO and poor High ISO performance - how many takers would they have? Would the people who are grumbling now be pleased then, losing the High ISO performance?

That's the essential difference between Canon and Nikon sensors and personally, I'd choose High ISO performance any day over Nikon's DR, which, I may hasten to add, I'd love to have in my Canon cameras ;)
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: Rienzphotoz on March 14, 2013, 08:43:20 AM
That's the essential difference between Canon and Nikon sensors and personally, I'd choose High ISO performance any day over Nikon's DR, which, I may hasten to add, I'd love to have in my Canon cameras ;)
+1
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: 3kramd5 on March 14, 2013, 09:04:52 AM
I have absolutely no intentions of sitting down at the computer and bringing the shadows up so they are any different than what I saw and what made me want to take the picture to begin with.

I don't think that's really part of the discussion.

More like showing detail which you did see but which is occluded either by shadows or by blown highlights in a digital image.

For example, I betcha that when the photographer looked up, he didn't see that blotch of white.
(http://daystarvisions.com/Docs/Tuts/Blown/Blown_clouds_example_full.jpg)

And I similarly expect that the photographer here could see cobblestones at the bottom left.
(http://keemra.smugmug.com/photos/447767564_abrq9-L.jpg)

Granted, in the second case, the clipped shadows look good, but is what she saw? I doubt it.

What would be great is if cameras and media could match the DR of human vision, and clipping black or white was a creative choice, not a technological necessity.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: Aglet on March 14, 2013, 12:27:39 PM
When printing or adapting for electronic display, it’s the shadow areas that get lifted, moreso than the highlites getting lowered, that compresses the DR of the image to fit the output medium.
Therefore, having clean shadow performance from the camera and sensor system can be quite important, especially when presenting on large prints or displays.  If you like to portray most of those darker shades as indistinguishable, which I see many do, and i often find distasteful, that’s your choice.
I prefer to have a system that gives me more options in post.
And I’ll define CLEAN once again:  the absence of fixed pattern noise is what’s more important than overall DR. Random noise, that looks like film-grain, does not create obvious distractions for the viewer.  Plaid-like patterns and strong vertical striping surely does.
If these points are important to you, choose your gear and-or limit your post-processing accordingly.
If not, don’t try to convince others, who may not share your viewpoint, that technical advantages like more DR and no FPN are irrelevant and it’s only the shooter’s skill that matters.  If that were true, why would anyone upgrade to better gear, especially the pro’s? We could all continue to compensate, and limit ourselves to fit the constraints of the gear we have, and we’d all be so happy with it.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: drphilgandini on March 14, 2013, 03:36:56 PM
...
What would be great is if cameras and media could match the DR of human vision, and clipping black or white was a creative choice, not a technological necessity.
I don't know the neuroscience of human vision, but my experience tells me that the brain does a lot of processing to create a virtual dynamic range much greater than what the eye is capable of seeing. For example, in the photo of the alley, the cobblestones in the sunlight are much brighter than those in the shadows. Possibly by 7 or 8 EV, I don't know. When a human focuses on the stones in the light, it sees detail, but does not simultaneously see detail in the shadows, as the eye is not focused there. When the eye moves to focus on the shadow, the human adjusts to see detail there, but again, not simultaneously focusing on the highlighted stones. The brain processes these local contrast elements of the scene with detail. When looking at the scene as a whole, the brain now combines the global scene with the details of the highlights and shadows and creates a clear "picture" in the viewer's mind. But this is not a print, or anything equivalent to a print. Or even a scene in a movie or video. It's some image in a person's mind. I've concluded that it can't actually be recreated in the physical world via print or video. I also believe that the reason some people like HDR images is because they try to reproduce the "wider DR" we see in our minds, with both highlight detail and shadow detail.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: jrista on March 14, 2013, 04:40:22 PM
Interesting discussion. One does wonder though what would happen if Canon came close to Nikon's DR in low ISO at the cost of losing a stop or two in High ISO.

Now who would want that camera?

Why at the cost of losing a stop or two High ISO? The two are achieved via different means. I don't think the mechanisms by which Canon could improve Low ISO performance would by necessity eliminate the gains they have made at High ISO. The best of both worlds could be had if Canon can figure out how to reduce their read noise.

Thanks ... I'm not too savvy with the tech of how this is possible - only just started learning so I'm just reading any stuff which is available on these matters as and when I have time.

Anyhow, my basic issue with DR complainers is that if somehow Canon offered a sensor much alike the Nikon - high DR at low ISO and poor High ISO performance - how many takers would they have? Would the people who are grumbling now be pleased then, losing the High ISO performance?

That's the essential difference between Canon and Nikon sensors and personally, I'd choose High ISO performance any day over Nikon's DR, which, I may hasten to add, I'd love to have in my Canon cameras ;)

I think your overestimating what "poor high ISO performance" means in the context of any current Nikon camera. They are maybe 1/3rd to 1/2 of a stop worse than the 5D III. DR and noise at high ISO is ultimately limited by physics, and the design of a sensor can only have a relatively small impact (unless someone figures out a way to preserve a significantly greater percentage of the light entering the lens and reaching the sensor...in which case we might see a fairly substantial boost to high ISO noise for that particular brand.) The difference between Nikon and Canon is noticeable, but, it is still better than past-generation Nikon cameras. Nikon cameras don't really have "poor" high ISO performance. They are simply at a slight disadvantage relative to Canon. Again, either way, low ISO DR on Canon or high ISO on Nikon...both brands make excellent camera.

As for the rest of your post...personally, I too would take better high ISO performance...even if it is only a third to half a stop better. That is because I shoot at high ISO most of the time. I do, however, also take photos of landscapes, in which case ISO 100 is king and better DR is the most important thing. I am not one to push around shadows by four stops...I think that makes a photo look terrible. I would, however, like to be able to push my shadows around as much as I need without having to bother worrying about banding noise, or have to deal with running my RAWs through a tool like Topaz DeNoise 5 to get rid of any banding that exists in the shadows. I can recover a LOT of DR in my Canon images these days with a tool like Topaz DeNoise (at least a stop, if not two with some careful and meticulous tweaking), but...its extra work. It takes extra time, and isn't quite as good as a better sensor that doesn't have banding noise in the first place.

That said...clean, random noise in the shadows (i.e. once you have removed banding) can, as Ctein's article states, actually help improve "DR", or what he calls Exposure Range. Adding a little bit of noise back into shadows when you have to apply heavy debanding can actually help restore detail and extract even a little bit more dynamic range. (That was really the point I wanted to make by posting the articles, guess I should have known it would create a monster DR debate.)
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: 3kramd5 on March 14, 2013, 05:01:52 PM
...
What would be great is if cameras and media could match the DR of human vision, and clipping black or white was a creative choice, not a technological necessity.
I don't know the neuroscience of human vision, but my experience tells me that the brain does a lot of processing to create a virtual dynamic range much greater than what the eye is capable of seeing. For example, in the photo of the alley, the cobblestones in the sunlight are much brighter than those in the shadows. Possibly by 7 or 8 EV, I don't know. When a human focuses on the stones in the light, it sees detail, but does not simultaneously see detail in the shadows, as the eye is not focused there. When the eye moves to focus on the shadow, the human adjusts to see detail there, but again, not simultaneously focusing on the highlighted stones. The brain processes these local contrast elements of the scene with detail. When looking at the scene as a whole, the brain now combines the global scene with the details of the highlights and shadows and creates a clear "picture" in the viewer's mind. But this is not a print, or anything equivalent to a print. Or even a scene in a movie or video. It's some image in a person's mind. I've concluded that it can't actually be recreated in the physical world via print or video. I also believe that the reason some people like HDR images is because they try to reproduce the "wider DR" we see in our minds, with both highlight detail and shadow detail.

Is my brain doing some sort of sampling? Maybe. But whatever the mechanisms at play, I see what I see. We may never get there with imaging technology, but it's a worthy goal.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: jrista on March 14, 2013, 08:31:10 PM
...
What would be great is if cameras and media could match the DR of human vision, and clipping black or white was a creative choice, not a technological necessity.
I don't know the neuroscience of human vision, but my experience tells me that the brain does a lot of processing to create a virtual dynamic range much greater than what the eye is capable of seeing. For example, in the photo of the alley, the cobblestones in the sunlight are much brighter than those in the shadows. Possibly by 7 or 8 EV, I don't know. When a human focuses on the stones in the light, it sees detail, but does not simultaneously see detail in the shadows, as the eye is not focused there. When the eye moves to focus on the shadow, the human adjusts to see detail there, but again, not simultaneously focusing on the highlighted stones. The brain processes these local contrast elements of the scene with detail. When looking at the scene as a whole, the brain now combines the global scene with the details of the highlights and shadows and creates a clear "picture" in the viewer's mind. But this is not a print, or anything equivalent to a print. Or even a scene in a movie or video. It's some image in a person's mind. I've concluded that it can't actually be recreated in the physical world via print or video. I also believe that the reason some people like HDR images is because they try to reproduce the "wider DR" we see in our minds, with both highlight detail and shadow detail.

Is my brain doing some sort of sampling? Maybe. But whatever the mechanisms at play, I see what I see. We may never get there with imaging technology, but it's a worthy goal.

Because of how the eye/brain vision center processes, we can see up to as much as 25 stops. The brain is effectively a superresolution processor for the central 2° foveal spot (the highest concentration of rods and cones in the retina, namely green and red cones). The eye has a refresh rate of about 500 frames per second, and the brain processes that information on sort of a rolling buffer....the oldest "frames" bear the least weight, and the newest "frames" bear the most. That gives us a very high resolution, saturated, crisp view of the world around us. The outer region of our retina factors in at a less important "weight" for primary daylight vision, however it is important for motion sensing and low-light vision.

From a technological standpoint, we are getting fairly close to 25 stops in digial sensors. Red recently demonstrated a 20-stop 4k cinema sensor. That is actually a pretty amazing feat. The eye manages 25 stops or so thanks to what would effectively be HDR processing by the brain. For a CIS to achieve 20 stops without any HDR or superresolution is very interesting, and technically "better" than the eye in that it can do that for every frame.
Title: Re: Dynamic Range vs. Exposure Range, and why the difference matters
Post by: J.R. on March 14, 2013, 10:53:18 PM

I do, however, also take photos of landscapes, in which case ISO 100 is king and better DR is the most important thing. I am not one to push around shadows by four stops...I think that makes a photo look terrible. I would, however, like to be able to push my shadows around as much as I need without having to bother worrying about banding noise, or have to deal with running my RAWs through a tool like Topaz DeNoise 5 to get rid of any banding that exists in the shadows. I can recover a LOT of DR in my Canon images these days with a tool like Topaz DeNoise (at least a stop, if not two with some careful and meticulous tweaking), but...its extra work. It takes extra time, and isn't quite as good as a better sensor that doesn't have banding noise in the first place.

That said...clean, random noise in the shadows (i.e. once you have removed banding) can, as Ctein's article states, actually help improve "DR", or what he calls Exposure Range. Adding a little bit of noise back into shadows when you have to apply heavy debanding can actually help restore detail and extract even a little bit more dynamic range. (That was really the point I wanted to make by posting the articles, guess I should have known it would create a monster DR debate.)

Agree ... If I were shooting primarily landscapes, I would choose the D800 over the Canon offerings.

BTW, i dont agree that this is a "monster DR debate". on the contrary, this is the most reasonable DR debate I've seen on this forum for a long time.

Thanks for posting the link!