Exercise 8: YOUR CAMERA’S DYNAMIC RANGE
Earlier two exercises covered 2 topics, which represent opposite ends of the tonal scale. In other words, they denote the tonal range of any camera. I have used my camera in many different light conditions and have dealt with the dynamic range on the practical basis. This exercise is to find out the number of f-stops between the brightest highlight and the darkest shadow. While doing this, we need to ensure that it does not show, highlight clipping and noise. This will help me to find the camera’s dynamic range. To do this, I had to find a scene with a distinctly high dynamic range. It is recommended to have the following conditions for this exercise.
- Bright sunlight
- At least one brightly reflecting surface
- An area of deep shadow with a dark surface
This exercise has taken me a long time to finish as weather conditions were not at all in my favour. It was raining in Singapore and could not find sunshine for almost 2 weeks.
Nevertheless when the sun came out I set up the required white card at the scene. Set the ISO at the lowest, selected the metering mode to “spot”. I took some test shots to ensure that there were no highlight clippings on the white card. I do not have a spot meter, so I relied on the camera’s metering system. I took the shot also made a sketch to note down the readings.
After capturing the image, I measured different areas (by zooming in) with varying brightness and shadows for the meter readings. Meter reading is explained below. In other words the dynamic range was 10 f-stops. I would recommend “DP review” for detailed read on this topic.
After checking dynamic range through the camera, I have imported the images in Lightroom, zoomed in the dark area. This revealed that there was noise in the dark areas. I had to adjust the fill light slider to get some details of the darker areas.
It is a known fact that sunlight is not a constant source of light; hence spot meter reading might not be accurate. If the exercise is to be repeated in a different kind of lighting the readings might differ. These reading are quite coherent with DP review. But I would be quite interested in knowing, if there are some other readings available on this.