How to Expand Dynamic Range

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X-T1 giveaway contest ends very soon (March 14th 2014 at 2PM NY-time). hurry up and join it here.

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by Rico Pfirstinger

It appears like two thirds of our X-PERT CORNER readers wanted to know more about dynamic range (DR) expansion. So here we go! Does the following scenario sound familiar? You take a picture of a landscape that looks wonderfully beautiful to the naked eye, only to find out later that the blue sky no longer looks blue and the fascinating cloud formations are just white blobs. The reason for this and similar disappointments is that the scene captured in the image has a larger dynamic range than your camera.

Every camera sensor is capable of capturing only a certain range of luminance—that is, a limited range between the brightest and the darkest parts of an image. The X-Pro1/X-E1’s range covers about 9.5 f-stops or exposure values. In other words, there are 9.5 EV between the minimum amount of light required for the sensor to depict something more than black pixels and the maximum quantity of light beyond which the sensor registers white pixels. This is the dynamic range of the camera. Within this range, the X-Pro1 or X-E1 can depict levels of brightness between pure black and pure white.

“Hardware” solutions

Unfortunately the world doesn’t abide by these limits, and many subjects exhibit a larger dynamic range than the camera is capable of capturing. We see these limitations, for example, in backlit situations and when people are standing in the shadow of an entrance. Professional photographers (and film directors) reduce the dynamic range of their subjects by using additional light. That’s why you’ll see an entire arsenal of floodlights and reflectors on large film sets even on bright days.

Only the luckiest photographers have the luxury of elaborate lighting equipment. Most of us have to make do with natural lighting, which often produces contrast in our subjects that exceeds a range of 9.5 EV. When you try to photograph these subjects with your X-Pro1, your images will either have blown-out white areas or blocked-up shadows, regardless of the combination of aperture and shutter speed you use. They may even have both! Contrasts that the human eye (or more accurately, the human brain) seems to process without any trouble pose near-impossible challenges for even the best cameras.

Then again, even a setup with studio lighting can involve plenty of dynamic range, that’s why I shot the following SOOC (= straight out of camera w/o further post-processing) JPEG in February 2012 in Warsaw using the DR Auto function of my pre-production X-Pro1. The camera chose DR400% and preserved the highlights of the skin (which was illuminated by daylight coming through a train window on the right). Click on the image for a high-res version:

DSCF2502

But let’s get back to hardware: You can also use a graduated neutral density (ND) filter to decrease the dynamic range of a scene, typically a landscape. The top half of such a filter is dark and the bottom half is clear. The dark area is placed over a scene’s high-intensity region, such as the sky. Though this doesn’t increase the fixed dynamic range available in the sensor, it stretches usable dynamic range in practice.

Or you could use a camera with an EXR sensor, like the X10 or the X-S1. Then again, interest in getting to know more about EXR appears to be lackluster, as the number of votes for an “EXR Special” of this column is still ranking below 1000. Maybe this will change over the weekend? Here’s the poll, again:

Do you agree with the position of Fuji about IBIS?

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The following SOOC JPEGs from my X10 were taken in South Africa and show how EXR cameras can handle subjects with plenty of DR (click on the images for high-res versions):

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X100s and X20 hands on… and available in April?

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PREORDER

X100S: AmazonUS / Adorama / B&H

X20: AmazonUS: silver and black version / B&H: silver versionblack version / Adorama: silver versionblack version

Europe: UK: Wexphotographic X100s for £1099 / X20 silver and black for £599

Want to see how fast the new AF is? We captured the short video above during a brief hands-on time we had with the camera. It doesn’t show an in-depth test or much variety in subject matter, but should offer a taste of what “world’s fastest AF” looks like in the flesh.” (click here for the petapixel article)

The X100’s charming design and intuitive control scheme are essentially unchanged in the X100S, and Fuji seems to have addressed the original’s glaring performance weaknesses. It’s even taking steps to improve the already-strong image quality.” From the conclusions of digitalcamerainfo.com.

dpreview X20 and X100s hands-on review at the CES here.

Considering the specs I mentioned earlier, plus the Intelligent Hybrid AF System, full HD 1080 video at 60fps, RAW capture, built-in film filters, and more, this camera is a quality investment for photographers looking for a capable all-in-one camera to complement their DSLR kit.” (click here for thedigitalstory article)

Here is Ken Rockwell’s introduction to the X100s. “This Fuji is a masterpiece, and much better made than a $3,000 DSLR , for a fraction of the price. If you’re thinking about it, just get an X100S. I did.

SteveHuff shot this video at the CES. It’s a presentation of the focus methods on the X100s. At the end of the video the Fuji employee says that the X100s will be available in April! As I already posted, Petapixel said “end of March“.

Do you agree with the position of Fuji about IBIS?

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FujiGuys appeal to Adobe and Apple + 14mm test shots

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I need your help to push adobe and apple to support X-Trans Raw file. They have the required docs to properly support it.

This is the short messages on twitter written by the Fuji guys. So what can we do? Write your own short appeal in the comments. Let’s collect them and send them all to Adobe and Apple!

P.S.: And Rico Pfirstinger posted a 13 test shots with the new 14mm f/2.8 on flickr. Click here to see them all in high-res.
14mm

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DigiDirectTV X-E1 video review

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The X100s and the X20 are the hot cameras of the moment. And with all the new features inside these cameras, the X-E1 seems already to be old (I hope that a firmware update will bring focus peaking also to the X-E1 / X-PRO1). But just click on the review section at Fujirumors, and read the X-E1 reviews: “the closest thing to perfection”, “for everyone who celebrates photography” and of course the great riflessifotografici review (translated version)… we are talking of an amazing camera.

So, just take a look at this 10 minute enthusiastic review at DigiDirectTV. How the speak without taking breath and put as much information as possible in 10 minutes! :-)

Now, if he convinced you to purchase the X-E1, check the in stock status here.

AmazonUS: X-E1 kit BLACK / X-E1 kit SILVER / X-E1 body only BLACK / X-E1 body only SILVER

Adorama: X-E1 kit BLACK / X-E1 kit SILVER / X-E1 body only BLACK / X-E1 body only SILVER

B&H: X-E1 kit BLACK / X-E1 kit SILVER / X-E1 body only BLACK / X-E1 body only SILVER

EbayUS: X-E1 kits (via slidoo)

Wexphotographic: X-E1 body only BLACK / X-E1 body only SILVER

Jessops: X-E1 kit SILVER

Amazon GER: X-E1 body only BLACK / X-E1 body only SILVER

Fujinon XF18-55mm in stock status check

 Amazon US / Adorama / B&H / ebayUS via slidoo)

PREORDER

X100S: AmazonUS / Adorama / B&H

X20: AmazonUS: silver and black version / B&H: silver versionblack version / Adorama: silver versionblack version

Europe: UK: Wexphotographic X100s for £1099 / X20 silver and black for £599

Do you agree with the position of Fuji about IBIS?

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FujiRumors should....

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X10 vs X20 image comparison?

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X10 vs X20

 (click here to see the whole image)

That’s a terrific improvement! Look at the image comparison between X10 and X20 posted on thenewcamera here (from the Fuji catalogue). Now low-pass filter, new sensor and incredible fast autofocus. The results seem to be great. Let’s wait for the first accurate reviews of the X20… but it’s all just a simulation!

Some Fujirumors readers were wondering if this comparison is real… the images are identical! But “see the bottom of the page [of the catalogue or Fujfilm X20 page]. Like always, on the feature pages it says: *Sample photos are simulated images.” (thanks MJr). So here is the “simulated” comparison. Hey Fuji, what about a real comparison? Maybe we have to wait for the first reviews to see some.

simulated comparison

PREORDER

X100S: AmazonUS / Adorama / B&H

X20: AmazonUS: silver and black version / B&H: silver versionblack version / Adorama: silver versionblack version

Europe: UK: Wexphotographic X100s for £1099 / X20 silver and black for £599

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FujiRumors should....

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Do you agree with the position of Fuji about IBIS?

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