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08-02-2011, 05:32 AM   #1
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K5 and Dynamic Range

Hello all - I bought a k5 because it felt awesome in my hand, for the weather sealing features, and for the pentax primes.

Now I learn that the K5 has unparalleled dynamic range! What does that mean? How do I take advantage of it? I've done some reading online that dynamic range means ability to capture a wider range of colors/tones or something but I'm not really sure how to apply that understanding to my photography. Are there settings/post processing things I need to do to take full advantage of the dynamic range abilities of the camera?

08-02-2011, 06:50 AM - 1 Like   #2
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As you say, dynamic range refers to the range of light where details can be rendered in your photo. Below the range all is solid black, above the range all is uniformly white (what people refer to as "burned out").

If you look at a snapshot from a compact camera on a sunny day, particularly one that is not directly back lit, you will see that either the shadow details are blackened out or the highlights are burned to an even white.

So, with your k5 you can capture details across a broader range of light, giving you better photos in difficult lighting conditions or shooting high-contrast motives. (People like to use weddings as an example, because the bride is usually dressed in white and the groom in dark clothes).

You ask how to get the full potential out of the increased dynamic range. I would say by shooting in raw format - it allows you to recover details from wrongly exposed shots with creater success.

I hope that was helpful! Congratulations on your k5 - I hope I can afford one soon.
08-02-2011, 06:59 AM - 1 Like   #3
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There are two settings to considder:
  • Base iso setting is iso 80 wich gives the most DR.
  • Dynamic Range expension set on and use iso 160 as lowest setting.

But also the quality of your lens in use will give you the maximum out of your sensor (or just not that).

Here is a picture (taken at iso 100) that gives you about the max that there is. From black to whit all tones are in it.

08-02-2011, 10:14 AM - 1 Like   #4
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Do some reading on the Zone System and in particular, the Exposure part of it.

Zone System - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

When you learn to use the meter based on what the scene you are looking at is, you'll be able to maximize the DR of the K5.

Just like any other camera, the K5 will make a best guess exposure but as fine as it is, it still cannot read minds nor can it tell the difference between Black and White. So Sometimes, you have to tell it. The better armed you are with information, the more you'll be able to beat the camera into submission.

Welcome to the Club!



08-02-2011, 01:05 PM - 1 Like   #5
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1. Shoot in raw - saving to JPEG has already discarded image information, thus limiting post-processing flexibility.

2. The extra DR can not be used directly with current output devices (displays & printers) as their DR is much smaller. Where the extra DR comes in handy is when you boost the dark areas in post processing e.g. a group where some of the people in a brightly-lit image are in shadow, backlight or otherwise poorly lit. In these circumstances the dark areas are less likely to end up looking noisy.

Also the nature of the noise is important. Fine grained random luminance (B&W) noise is less objectionable (more "film-like" grain) than coarse or blotchy coloured noise. Pattern noise (harmonically-related electronic noise/junk/hash contamination, particularly likely to occur in a CMOS sensor), causes regular horizontal and/or vertical bands in the noise, and is objectionable in very small amounts, greatly reducing the potential to boost shadows. This Sony CMOS sensor is very good in having clean, low-level noise.

There is an argument that 13-14 stops DR is unattainable in the real world. Lens flare and internal camera & lens reflections are claimed to limit real world DR performance to 8-10 stops. See:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1036&message=21939993




Dan.

Last edited by dosdan; 08-02-2011 at 03:18 PM.
08-02-2011, 04:24 PM   #6
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Cool - thanks for the tips - regarding raw, I actually always shoot in raw and I rarely develop anything. I was reading on the Luminous Landscape that when you shoot in raw you should actually over expose by at least 2/3 ev as the sensor on the camera is better at capturing "information" in the highlights range. Then, when you "develop" you can reduce the exposure.

Is this true? What do you all think? Also, as I mentioned, I always shoot in RAW, I use lightroom 3 to manage and occasionally edit. What is the deal with RAW development? Are there presets that people like to always use? When people refer to raw development do they just mean adjusting the white balance and the exposure?
08-02-2011, 04:49 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by dmort Quote
I was reading on the Luminous Landscape that when you shoot in raw you should actually over expose by at least 2/3 ev as the sensor on the camera is better at capturing "information" in the highlights range. Then, when you "develop" you can reduce the exposure.
With the K-5 there is no pressing need to expose this way. The sensor tolerates moderate underexposure very well. When you over-exposure at least 1 colour channel will probably be blown. It may not be very visible, and raw processing can use the other 2 channels to approximate the correct colour and/or luminousity, but it's better not to need to do it at all.

If the scene lighting is difficult i.e. sunset, with this sensor it's much better to use -0.5EV to -1 EVcomp, to ensure the highlights are not blown at all.

Dan.

Last edited by dosdan; 08-02-2011 at 07:11 PM.
08-02-2011, 05:46 PM   #8
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In RAW you expose so as to not clip anything in the scene that you care about. You may not care about the sparkles on the water but you most definitely care about the white wedding dress. When shooting in RAW if you are trying to get all the DR the photo may look a little to bright (trying to keep as much of the dark parts as you can) or to dark (trying to keep the highlights). You are assuming that you will have to do some PP to get it right but when you take the photo you are just trying to get all the information. In PP you are going to have to use a control to get the photo to look correct to you. You may even have to use a curve to make it look like you want as the DR can be so big that it will not look normal. After that it may look a little flat so you may have to up the contrast. I no that sounds contradictory but the camera is not capturing reality just information, so you have to make it look like you like. The blinking highlight/dark indicator can help you know what you need to change to get all the information.


Here is an example of how this may save you. I was asked by a old friend at the very last minute (that day) to take some photos at his daughters wedding. For the ceremony it was with the sun setting behind them on the beach. To try and make the best of this I used a technique called flash fill. I put the camera in manual and set it to expose to the background. This would make the people to dark. I then used a flash to add light to the people to balance it all out. Unfortunately one or two times the flash did not have time to charge up so it did not go off. Using the DR of the camera I was able to save the photos.

The first photo is straight from the camera when the flash fired. Because I shoot RAW all the time the camera settings are very flat so I would still PP this a little to get it looking better.

The second photo the flash did not fire.


The third is after I recovered the under exposure for the people. It would have looked better with the flash but still usable.


DAZ

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08-02-2011, 05:53 PM   #9
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Hey Daz, thanks - I'm actually familiar with fill flash and other techniques... the k5 is not my first dslr. I've spent most of my time with the camera thinking about composition and the software side of things has always been secondary, which I think is probably appropriate.

These days I'm trying to balance the artistic side of photography with the techie side. I want to make sure I'm getting the most from my camera while not loosing sight of basic composition and attention to light. Hence, my interest in dynamic range, a term I actually had never heard until I got the k5.
08-02-2011, 06:01 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by dmort Quote
I'm actually familiar with fill flash and other techniques....
I was trying to explain how I screwed up so you would know why I had to use the DR. The examples were intended to show what could be corrected.


Sorry if I did not get that across.


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08-02-2011, 06:06 PM   #11
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Hey - no worries! I appreciate the help. I guess the real question i have to answer for myself is "why do I bother shooting in raw if I don't develop/edit that often..." which is really a different thread...
08-02-2011, 06:27 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by dmort Quote
I guess the real question i have to answer for myself is "why do I bother shooting in raw if I don't develop/edit that often..." which is really a different thread...
Unfortunately the only way to know if you will like using RAW and PP is to learn (by doing it) but if you don't like it you will have spent all that time learning a technique you don't want to use. There are some kinds of photos (like night photos) that are better and easier in RAW but if you are not into those kind of photos then it is no loss to you. In the end it is just a tool like DOF or perspective distortion that you can use or not. But if you feel constrained by DR you will need to start with RAW to see if that is what you need.


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08-03-2011, 12:08 AM   #13
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[tuto] The joy to use a wide dynamic camera ! La dynamique des images dans la joie ! (part. 1) | La Belle Lumière
08-03-2011, 06:09 AM   #14
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Hi

Here is another way to explain it.

Say you have a scene such as a bright sunny day with a blue sky and some beautiful white fluffy clouds on one hand and on the other a building which casts very deep shadows over some object that you find interesting and wish to capture in your shot.

You have a problem. How do you expose this scene. If you expose correctly for the very bright white clouds so you see all the interesting shading within so they really look as you see them with your eyes the limited dynamic range of your camera will then severely under expose the shadow areas.

On the other hand if you expose correctly so you see all the nice details in the shadows, the clouds will be blown/washed out and they will appear as very bright flat blobs in the sky.

At the current level of technology the dynamic range to correctly render both high and low areas in my example above is just not possible. You can achieve this through trickery by using a " graduated neutral density filter" or "HD exposure" where you re-assemble one over, one under and one middle exposed photo back into one, but the camera sensor alone can't handle this.

A camera which is said to have high dynamic range will be able to handle this task a bit better, but in the end even a cam with very good dynamic range will be overtaxed.

It is generally accepted that in the case above it is better to purposely under expose which will retain good details in the clouds (or in other words expose correctly for the clouds) but will make the shadow details too dark as a consequence.

But here is the good thing. When shooting in RAW (and high bit rate) there is enough information still available in the dark areas (even though you can't readily see it) to coax some of the details back out. (Particularly with the good Sony sensor of the K-5). The saying usually goes you can recover details better from dark under exposure than from burned out over exposures where they are permanently lost.

Strictly speaking the high dynamic range is not something you apply in a camera as such but rather it is a measure of the quality of the sensor and the way it can handle light and dark.

Hope this throws some light on the matter. (Pun intended)

Greetings
08-03-2011, 07:36 AM   #15
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While the camera is capable of 14 EV, most monitors and printers are not capable of reproducing it. Very few laptops can display that wide of a range. The advantages come when you need to push or pull an image to get correct exposure.
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