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Dealing with a limited dynamic range?

Discussion in 'Creative Corner' started by hmpws, Jun 4, 2010.

  1. hmpws

    hmpws Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 24, 2010
    Auckland, New Zealand
    This is sort of related to the show "shadow and light" thread. How do you retain the details with the (more limited) dynamic range of a m4/3 camera?

    One solution that came to mind is multi-bracket HDR (in a non-HDR looking way)?
    • Like Like x 1
  2. photoSmart42

    photoSmart42 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 12, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    I deal with it by recognizing the limitations of the camera, and adjusting my composure accordingly. If there's too much dynamic range, I either change my metering to clip the portions of the range I'm not interested in, or I change the composition to reduce the dynamic range of the scene itself as viewed by the camera. There's also software you can use in PP to help deal with limited DR, although you can't really extract all the data lost in blown highlights or clipped dark areas.
  3. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    my first response would be are you actually seeing this lack of dynamic range?.. or is it just something you read in a review somewhere. Having shot with all sorts of cameras I have never actually stopped shooting and wished i had more dynamic range. I dont find that my canon 5D mk2 shows more dynamic range than my e-p1 - but then again I am not looking for it - its not important to me

    • Like Like x 1
  4. JoeG

    JoeG Mu-43 Regular

    I've seen clipped highlights from my G1. One quick but imperfect answer is to attach a polarizing filter. It cuts glare and deepens colors, not just the sky but foliage.

    I'm planning to try narrow-band HDR one day, but, like you, I want a natural, less lurid effect.

    David Clapp, who runs a really useful site and sometimes shoots mu-43, explains a method he calls exposure blending that combines Photoshop layers and brushes to integrate them.

    Exposure Blending Basics

    Sounds worth trying.
    • Like Like x 2
  5. Brian S

    Brian S Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 11, 2009
    Use lower contrast lenses. The Canon 35/2.8 in LTM is a good example of a lower-contrast lens that reduces image clipping in digital cameras.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. hmpws

    hmpws Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 24, 2010
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Thanks for the replies! I read up on dynamic range (in imaging terms) before I made this thread. I guess it is in part a physical limitation related to the sensor size (compared to say a FF 5D).

    I think clipping is noticeable in harsh lighting conditions. I will probably give exposure blending a try. Either way, m4/3 still produces nice images (in good hands haha).
  7. Boyzo

    Boyzo Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 3, 2010
    I think Kevins answer is a good one.

    Beyond adjusting for highlights (within reason) and other than HDR (clumsy) (you cant have subject movement) even tree branches and it requires a tripod, hardly spontaneous.

    You cant do more, when I shot with my FZ30 or LX3 I did get excellent shots in contrasty situations and this is a SMALL sensor camera.

    The 43 sensor is really quite big, so just shoot with it ignore the so called negatives.

    The human eye has a huge range and also adapts .. tough for a camera to come close.

    I compose and allow shadows to loose detail so minimize the area of same, you can also allow shadows to be black and be acceptable, don't see m43 as a limitation.
  8. Bokeh Diem

    Bokeh Diem Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 14, 2010
    I am shooting more in B&W. It tends to avoid the issue altogether.

    Bokeh D
  9. adam

    adam Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 21, 2010
    I do a lot of night cityscape shots, so limited dynamic range is a constant problem for me. I used to do a lot of HDR, but I find that it often creates unrealistic-looking effects...Photoshop has gotten closer and closer to the Photomatix look with every new version. My current technique is similar to the Exposure Blending tutorial JoeG linked to. I haven't had time to do too much with it since I switched to mFT, but I'm hoping to post a few examples here soon now that my wedding is over.
  10. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    I run into the limited dynamic range all the time. IE, highlights are blown and shadows are underexposed. For me, its much better than the pinhead sensor type cameras. For me, I find it easier to expose for proper highlights while leaving shadow areas dark and adjust in PP as best I can. Doing AE bracketing does help and stacking, but this for me is just too much time in PP. It also depends on whats important in the shot, too. If the highlights being overexposed aren't a problem, expose for the shadows. If the highlights are of interest, under expose the shadows.

    The E-P1 has a view using the INFO button to show what is overexposed and what is underexposed with blinking red/blue areas.
  11. Grant

    Grant Mu-43 Veteran

    Right off the bat I want to say I don’t see much more of a problem with dynamic range of my µ4/3 over my other cameras. My dSLR is slightly better when it comes to dynamic range over they GF1 I suspect it is not the size of the chip but the fact that my Nikon is recording at 14 bit and my Panasonic is recoding at 12 bit. Bt better I am splitting hairs and if dynamic range is going to be a problem for one camera it will be for the other as well. So how to I handle dynamic range? First I try to get rid of it while I shoot such as using fill flash, reflectors and even choosing the time of day I shoot. If this can’t be done I expose to get the most detail in the zone that is the most important to me and then I double process the “Negative” (exposure blending). If the dynamic range is even to strong for this treatment, such as the inside and outside of a building, I do resort to multiple exposures and HDR. I think the bottom line is there is no “one right way” to handle wide dynamic range as it is much to complex of a problem for an easy solution.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    According to the tests at DP review the Canon 5D2 has a DR of 8.4 stops and the EP-1 has a DR of 9.1 stops. So there is in fact very little diference in dynamic range in the sensors. The 5D2 sensor may be larger but it also has far more pixels and pixel size is the main contributor to DR, apart from natural improvements as technology moves forward. There will be a difference in colour range due to bit depth differences and you may see some clipping on the Pen's due to this. There is also the improvement in noise control on the larger sensor from the Canon (and Nikons as well).

    If you want to maximise DR without doing HDR shooting you can (1). Shoot RAW. This will give you a little headway on an Olympus and a noticable amount on a Panasonic over jpeg and (2). Shoot at 200 ISO as you loose nearly a stop of DR at 100 (200 is the native sensitivity of the sensor).

  13. pdh

    pdh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 6, 2010
    I found this thread on another forum (even though it's ostensibly regarding Canon) incredibly helpful in understanding exposure and dynamic range, as I did this book
    • Like Like x 1
  14. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Gordon, one thing I'd like to note about the Pen, at least in my experience, is that one has to be careful at shooting at ISO 200. I've some tests, and while in extremely contrasty scenes the ISO 200 shows a better picture, it does show more shadow noise than ISO 100. I've found myself as of late, with the summer sun, shooting at ISO 100 and underexposing and bringing the shadows up in PP. The shadow noise doesn't seem to be as great as when shooting at ISO 200. I also think that ISO 100 deals with blown out areas better. DPR does not show the DR scale at ISO 100, but my feeling is that even though the DR is smaller, it is shifted slightly more to white.

  15. PeterB666

    PeterB666 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 14, 2010
    Tura Beach, Australia
    I tend to do a lot of stuff that has extreme dynamic range such as shooting towards the sun just after sunrise. I have found that blending bracketed exposures generally gives the best results but sometimes a subtle HDR is the way to go.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. Gwendal

    Gwendal Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 6, 2010
    Also, you can try fiddling with the Gradation and Shadow Adjustment options (not much personal experience, only discovered it today...)
  17. hmpws

    hmpws Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 24, 2010
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Hmm, a little bit confused here. How do they measure the DR? If the E-P1 has DR of 9.1 stops, isn't that greater than the 5D2's 8.4?
  18. Camerafrog

    Camerafrog Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 12, 2010
    I was surprised to read that E-P1 has nearly equal DR as 5DII. I have the old 5D and it seems to have clearly more DR than the Pens'. Lack of DR is a constant problem for me, since I'm not ready to out in any extra work to avoid it (like bracketing etc.). I can live with some clipped highlights, but not the crushed shadows. Even if I allow some clipped highlights and put contrast at the lowest setting the shadows are still too dark. I don't know what to do now.
  19. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    DxOMark rates the DR of E-P1 RAW at 10.3 Ev and Canon 5D II RAW at 11.9 Ev at their respective base ISOs. Having compared my own test results for many cameras to DxOmark results, I've come to trust DxOmark results.
    • Like Like x 2
  20. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    I'm sure not getting nearly 12 stops from my 5D2. There's got to be some discrepency between maximum measurable data and real world results, somewhere in there. My best guess would be that I get about 8 stops with the 5D2 on a good day.

    From my non-scientific tests, I'd agree that the EP-1 has slightly less DR than my 5D2. But in reality it's easily dealt with in the situations I work in. The pertanent point here is that I only refer to my situation. I understand that others can have vastly different needs to me and that your normal shooting conditions can be different to mine. I also never make judgements from on screen images. My only concern is if I can see the difference in print and here I see only a "little" difference in the pen files up to 400ISO and then the gap grows rather quickly.

    While I find that I do need some more DR occasionally, I'm often able to do a bracketed processing in LR and get a bit more from the file than I could from processing a single image sample. I'll create a virtual copy and by using two exposure settings hav an image with extended shadows and one with perfect highlights. These are then combined in Photoshop. I can get a stop or two doing this over what I can get out of LR on it own.

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