How much DR is enough?

stevelee

FT-QL
Jul 6, 2017
1,462
407
Davidson, NC
3kramd5 said:
As does resolution across our FOV.
Yes, that, too. I don't know whether that is a limitation of the rods or the lower amount of data transmitted to the brain the farther you get from the fovea, or both. Maybe the structures don't bother with information that's not there.

In real life one can see all the spider webs in dark corners when looking at them, but not when looking at other things. I don't feel the need to bring them all out of the shadows in my photos.
 

Mt Spokane Photography

I post too Much on Here!!
Mar 25, 2011
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Occasionally I run into a really difficult backlight situation where more DR would help. I don't think any of my flashes could overcome the sun.

Even with shadows lifter and as much of the bright light as possible cropped away, the result is ugly.
 

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Aglet

EOR R
Feb 26, 2012
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having more DR with clean, noise-free files is always better if you're working in post.

it provides the ability to re-map contrast curves with much more flexibility in post to create whatever look you're after.

Still looks too flat when you're done?... You can fix that.
Don't forget "local contrast" is what eyes actually detect as detail and overall contrast is interpreted as "punchy"

If you don't like to work in post, your camera's built-in jpg converter, or your favorite raw processor's default contrast curve, can be adjusted to interpret the scene however you prefer.

choice is good. :)
 

stevelee

FT-QL
Jul 6, 2017
1,462
407
Davidson, NC
Mt Spokane Photography said:
Occasionally I run into a really difficult backlight situation where more DR would help. I don't think any of my flashes could overcome the sun.

Even with shadows lifter and as much of the bright light as possible cropped away, the result is ugly.
I don't imagine I would find that picture attractive or interesting, even if it had been shot with a Sony. It might help if I had any idea of the point of the picture (other than illustrating wide dynamic range).

For what it is, it looks OK to me. If the highlight recovery slider was all the way to the left, I might have done a bit of local correction in ACR. But then I don't see the point of having the washed out background to be anything but a washed out background, similar to my not caring to bring out all the spider webs from their dark corners in other pictures.
 

3kramd5

EOS 5D MK IV
Mar 2, 2012
3,084
405
Kit. said:
Aglet said:
Still looks too flat when you're done?... You can fix that.
The problem is that it looks unnatural. "Photoshopped".
Wide dynamic range doesn’t make something look unnatural. If it does, that’s due to the user who mapped it to the print/display, not because brights and darks were both captured.

Granted, it might look different from what decades of photography have accustomed us to expecting from cameras, but there is nothing unnatural about capturing more of a scene.
 

CanonFanBoy

Really O.K. Boomer
Jan 28, 2015
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Irving, Texas
When there is a case of wide DR, shouldn't we bracket the shots and then blend the frames in Photoshop? Isn't that the best way to HDR without getting that grotesque look?
 

Kit.

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Apr 25, 2011
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3kramd5 said:
Kit. said:
Aglet said:
Still looks too flat when you're done?... You can fix that.
The problem is that it looks unnatural. "Photoshopped".
Wide dynamic range doesn’t make something look unnatural. If it does, that’s due to the user who mapped it to the print/display, not because brights and darks were both captured.
"Wide dynamic range" doesn't make anything "look" at all.

However, when you map it to the output media, you have choice to either compress it to the tonal range of the media - and then it may look unnatural - or, hypothetically, choose a media with the tonal range matching the tonal range of your scene - and then the viewer may be dazzled with your highlights.

3kramd5 said:
Granted, it might look different from what decades of photography have accustomed us to expecting from cameras,
Not "decades", but more than a century, and not from "cameras", but from scenes. They taught us that good scenes need good lighting.
 

3kramd5

EOS 5D MK IV
Mar 2, 2012
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405
Kit. said:
"Wide dynamic range" doesn't make anything "look" at all.
Of course not, but you certainly know what was intended, right?

Kit. said:
However, when you map it to the output media, you have choice to either compress it to the tonal range of the media - and then it may look unnatural
It may, but that’s technique, not specifically because a wide range was recorded.


Kit. said:
Not "decades", but more than a century, and not from "cameras", but from scenes. They taught us that good scenes need good lighting.
Decades, yes; more than ten of them. And yes, a good scene needs good light. What has that to do with what a camera can record?

I mentioned cameras because we are conditioned to evaluating photographs taken with devices which can not record the entire range of tones in a scene. I can look at the wall by a window and see both foreground shadow detail and background highlight detail. I’m accustomed to seeing photographs in which either the former is black or the latter is white. That’s the long standing baseline. So if a camera comes along with a high enough well capacity to simultaneously retain detail from both and I know there was no deliberate lighting, my baseline assumption will be that it was manipulated, that I’m seeing something I should not be able to see in a photograph.

However if a the range in a photo looks unrealistic, it’s due to technique.
 

ahsanford

Particular Member
Aug 16, 2012
8,455
1,282
Bill, one can always use more DR, because sometimes compositing multiple shots is not practical, you can't always bring light to the party, or you can't wait for the light to fall within the limits of your histo.

Also, as an enthusiast, I don't have the luxury to:

  • Hang out at the money vista until the light is perfect -- I'm often shooting in tough mid-day light
  • Bring my tripod everywhere
  • Take a long time to set up and nail a shot -- sometimes my family or friends have other plans and they are motoring down a hiking trail or scenic walkabout and I need to keep up with them.

Which means I am stuck taking many shots on the fly, handheld (bye bye compositing multiple shots, ISO not necessarily on the low end), without all my landscape filters on me (no ND grads to save the day) and I do what I can.

See below for what I mean. That's my classic 'one-shot HDR' (admittedly this one's more overcooked for my taste) of trying to lock in a great view from Angel's Landing at Zion NP. The histo was painful, l clipped on the highlights (in-camera, with JPG) and just barely not clipping on the low end and I managed to squeeze more out of the RAW file. To be clear, I don't consider this a particularly good shot -- it's overly manipulated, and clearly so -- but I've made lemonade out of lemons here and it's a clearer memento of my hike than the original.

So, yes, I want as much DR as possible. Not enough to leave Canon for 1 more stop or something ::), but yeah -- more, would be better.

- A
 

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ahsanford

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Aug 16, 2012
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Mt Spokane Photography said:
Even with shadows lifter and as much of the bright light as possible cropped away, the result is ugly.
Yep. If you are rocking +80 shadows / -80 highlights in ACR, I knowingly tip my cap and say "You did what you had to do."

I am that guy once or twice a year myself.

- A
 

ahsanford

Particular Member
Aug 16, 2012
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1,282
3kramd5 said:
Kit. said:
The problem is that it looks unnatural. "Photoshopped".
Wide dynamic range doesn’t make something look unnatural. If it does, that’s due to the user who mapped it to the print/display, not because brights and darks were both captured.

Granted, it might look different from what decades of photography have accustomed us to expecting from cameras, but there is nothing unnatural about capturing more of a scene.
Ming Thein has a good read on this. It's super easy to overdo it.

https://blog.mingthein.com/2014/04/14/hdr-zone-system-dynamic-range/#more-8139

My prior 'how not to do it' example from Zion notwithstanding ::), I always encourage folks to season to taste when stretching files or tackling HDR, but season like someone with a really good palette -- restraint is key.

- A
 

3kramd5

EOS 5D MK IV
Mar 2, 2012
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405
ahsanford said:
3kramd5 said:
Kit. said:
The problem is that it looks unnatural. "Photoshopped".
Wide dynamic range doesn’t make something look unnatural. If it does, that’s due to the user who mapped it to the print/display, not because brights and darks were both captured.

Granted, it might look different from what decades of photography have accustomed us to expecting from cameras, but there is nothing unnatural about capturing more of a scene.
Ming Thein has a good read on this. It's super easy to overdo it.

https://blog.mingthein.com/2014/04/14/hdr-zone-system-dynamic-range/#more-8139

My prior 'how not to do it' example from Zion notwithstanding ::), I always encourage folks to season to taste when stretching files or tackling HDR, but season like someone with a really good palette -- restraint is key.

- A
His writeup is certainly more eloquent than my postings.
 

Orangutan

EOR R
Sep 25, 2010
2,140
3
ahsanford said:
Bill, one can always use more DR, because sometimes compositing multiple shots is not practical, you can't always bring light to the party, or you can't wait for it to fall within the limits of your histo.

Also, as an enthusiast, I don't have the luxury to:

  • Hang out at the money vista until the light is perfect -- I'm often shooting in tough mid-day light
  • Bring my tripod everywhere
  • Take a long time to set up and nail a shot -- sometimes my family or friends have other plans and they are motoring down a hiking trail or scenic walkabout and I need to keep up with them.
Which means I am stuck taking many shots on the fly, handheld (bye bye compositing multiple shots, ISO not necessarily on the low end), without all my landscape filters on me (no ND grads to save the day) and I do what I can.
I guess I'll take one of my hobby horses out of the stable for a ride now. Two of the active threads we have going now are mirrorless and DR, but those two have a relationship that's not often mentioned. The proponents of mirrorless often dwell on the fact that, absent a mirror box, you can shrink the body. But there's another option: instead of a mirror box, install a pellicle mirror that reflects, say, 1/1000 of incident light. Send that reflected moonbeam to a second sensor that's identical to the primary. Add a little firmware enhancement, and you now have instant, one-shot HDR with >20 stops of DR.
 

BillB

EOS 6D MK II
May 11, 2017
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629
ahsanford said:
Mt Spokane Photography said:
Even with shadows lifter and as much of the bright light as possible cropped away, the result is ugly.
Yep. If you are rocking +80 shadows / -80 highlights in ACR, I knowingly tip my cap and say "You did what you had to do."

I am that guy once or twice a year myself.

- A

Thanks. This is very instructive. The magic of more DR is that you have more left to work with when you lift the shadows. Not quite sure how it works. Magic.
 

ahsanford

Particular Member
Aug 16, 2012
8,455
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3kramd5 said:
His writeup is certainly more eloquent than my postings.
Apparently H'Blad were fans of his as well. They named him to Chief of Strategy, which is a bonkers nod to a working photographer. Good on him -- he's got a great eye and he's a decent gearhead of a writer at times:

https://blog.mingthein.com/2015/11/03/how-to-design-mirrorless-right/
(this came out prior to his appointment, prior to the X1D coming out, etc.)

- A
 

ahsanford

Particular Member
Aug 16, 2012
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Orangutan said:
But there's another option: instead of a mirror box, install a pellicle mirror that reflects, say, 1/1000 of incident light. Send that reflected moonbeam to a second sensor that's identical to the primary. Add a little firmware enhancement, and you now have instant, one-shot HDR with >20 stops of DR.
1/1000 the light typcally means 1000x the problems working with it. ;D

I hear you, but there's got to be a better way -- pellicles starve light from the primary sensor as the A99-II has shown (which implies it's stealing more light than you think).

Perhaps DPRAW manipulated to bring in two different ISO levels of input per pixel like ML did with dual ISO wouldn't interrupt the light path or punish your high ISO performance.

- A
 

3kramd5

EOS 5D MK IV
Mar 2, 2012
3,084
405
BillB said:
Thanks. This is very instructive. The magic of more DR is that you have more left to work with when you lift the shadows. Not quite sure how it works. Magic.
There are two ways to increase dynamic range:
[list type=decimal]
[*]Increase well capacity (i.e. have the sensor accept more light before clipping)
[*]Decrease noise
[/list]

By and large, the improvements we've seen in this space come from 2*. Of course by definition not much light it hitting the sensor from those areas, so they have a tendency to appear flat. If FWC were increased, those shadows could actually be exposed longer.


*Perhaps whatever was done with the D810 and D850 sensors have a bit of 1, as evidenced by the ISO 64 setting, which allows more focal plane exposure than 100; other cameras fake the settings less than 100.
 

Mikehit

EOS 5D MK IV
Jul 28, 2015
3,309
502
Wider DR is always better. But whether you need it is a different matter. I recall seeing a beach sunset shot of a wedding couple with the setting sun behind them and the photographer had brought up the shadows on the beach - and due to the limitations of the medium (and that is the real problem) it looked flat and....pants.


Reading this thread, my mind wandered off the main question, and the first was that until a sensor has a dynamic range of 20+ stops, the question is not so much 'how much dynamic range' as comparing (for example) Canon to Sony how many situations can I shoot with a Sony that would not be possible with a Canon, and as far as I can tell in things like sunsets, or shooting to the light, you need to bracket with both bodies.


Also, wider dynamic range is reached by dropping the noise floor on the sensor which then means I can use higher ISO for high shutter speed in ever-darker conditions (great for sport and wildlife) so I see a more useful spin-off.