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Making sense of dynamic range
While I understand the general meaning of dynamic range with respect to digital cameras, I'm finding it a little difficult to make comparisons because there doesn't seem to be an agreed upon way of expressing the values involved. To pick a few examples at random, a recent review indicated the Canon 40D has a dynamic range of "9.1 EV", while another review of the Fuji Finepix s100fs says it has a dynamic range of "400%". Others I've seen claimed dynamic ranges of "45:1" or "11 stops". It would make comparing cameras a lot easier if everyone expressed it the same way. Can anyone point me to a webpage that explains how to convert between EV, stops, % and ratios when it comes to dynamic range?..

Comments (12)

Dynamic range is general is a ratio between a minimum and a maximum. In audio, decibels are used. In photography, DR is usually expressed in f stops because that measure is more directly applicable, but its still a ratio between the least amount of light that will generate a usable sensor reading and the most amount of light that will generate a usable reading at the same instant..

See this page for more:http://www.dpreview.com/...rn/?/Glossary/Digital_Imaging/dynamic_range_01.htm.

EV is equivalent to stops so you can use the two terms interchangeably when referring to dynamic range..

You can see what EV really is here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exposure_value.

I don't read many reviews so I haven't see photographic dynamic range indicated as a percentage or actual ratio. However, I would guess that they should mean the same thing..

For 45:1 I'd guess that you should start with 1 and double until you get near 45....

1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32...that's 5 stops plus whatever part of a stop is needed to get to 45, so I'd guess it's around 5 1/3 stops (typical P&S DR.).

400% doesn't make any sense to me as a dynamic range so maybe someone else can tackle it...

Comment #1

Using graystars example, 400% would be roughly 9 1/2 stops if you start at one and keep doubling.Rationally I have no hope, irrationally I believe in miracles.Joni Mitchell..

Comment #2

Can you demonstrate the math that show 400% equals 9 1/2 stops?..

Comment #3

400% sounds like marketing fluff. 400% of the regular DR of the camera, which isn't an absolute because the DR was never given. Its processing, probably just using a lower contrast curve to cause less clipping..

Fuji does hold the lead with the S5, it has the best DR you can get with digital. Print (negative) film is even better...

Comment #4

BA baracus wrote:.

Fuji does hold the lead with the S5, it has the best DR you can getwith digital..

Right. That's why wedding photographers love it...they can capture all the tones of a black tux and white wedding dress at the same time. It's also great for skin tones. Good camera...

Comment #5

1....2.....4.....8....16.....32.....64....128....256....(400)....512....Rationally I have no hope, irrationally I believe in miracles.Joni Mitchell..

Comment #6

Rsn48 wrote:.

1....2.....4.....8....16.....32.....64....128....256....(400)....512.....

But its a percentage...it's a portion of a whole. In the case of 400% it's 4 times whatever is being referred to. 400% of 1 is 4. The only ratio would be 4:1, which would be 2 stops. I think we need to back to the drawing board on this one...

Comment #7

Thanks for the info. I've been looking around on my own as well and I think I've got it figured out now, with the exception of the the 400% rating. But, as someone here pointed out, that's probably just marketing-speak rather than a real measurement of something..

EV turns out to be what I used to know as f stops. And as the first reply pointed out, stops are simply powers of two so converting to a ratio is as easy as raising 2 to the power of the stop/EV value. So using numbers I pulled from some reviews on this site I can now convert between all three types..

Canon 30D: DR = 8.4 EV = 8.4 stops = (2 ^ 8.4) = 338:1Canon 40D: DR = 9.1 EV = 9.1 stops = (2 ^ 9.1) = 549:1.

Fuji SuperCCD cameras apparently have a DR of 10 EV (1024:1) and in the extended DR mode of cameras like the Fuji S3 or S100fs, 11 EV (2048:1)..

One site I saw said film has a DR of about 11 EV as well..

I suppose you could reason that 2048:1 is about 400% (2 stops) better than 549:1, so maybe that's where the marketing people came up with the percentage?.

The reason I've been pondering this is that I'm currently using a Fuji S6000fd and considering an upgrade to a Canon DSLR. Prior to my Fuji, I shot film on a Canon T90 that I've had forever. When I made the initial switch to digital, the Fuji was one of the few inexpensive digital cameras I could find that produced images I liked. I think I understand why now that I'm putting some of these DR numbers together..

I've been thinking about buying a Canon 30D because they're inexpensive. But looking at the 30D pages on flickr, I kept thinking the images lacked color and contrast. I'm still not certain - maybe it's just my imagination, but given how small the dynamic range of the 30D is, I suppose that could be what I'm seeing, The images on the flickr 40d page seem much closer to what I'd like to achieve. They seem to have a wider range of contrast and color. Anyway, maybe I'm better off going with the 40D as it's DR is less of a drop from what I'm used to with film and my cheap Fuji...

Comment #8

400% is used as a menu setting in the Fuji S5 to indicate dynamic range. You can increase the DR in the JPG files (if I remeber rightly) at the expense of file size and speed. I don't think that Fuji do anything useful like explaining exactly what 400% gives you in terms of extra f-stops. I send to shoot RAW with the S5 anyway to maximise the full DR..

Pixcellence Wedding Photographyhttp://www.pixcellence.co.uk..

Comment #9

Michael Probert wrote:.

400% is used as a menu setting in the Fuji S5 to indicate dynamicrange. You can increase the DR in the JPG files (if I remeberrightly) at the expense of file size and speed. I don't think thatFuji do anything useful like explaining exactly what 400% gives youin terms of extra f-stops. I send to shoot RAW with the S5 anyway tomaximise the full DR..

Looking at Phil's review of the S5 (page 18) it would appear that 400% is intended to mean 2 additional f stops and the camera does indeed achieve this..

Chris R..

Comment #10

Chris R-UK wrote:.

Michael Probert wrote:.

400% is used as a menu setting in the Fuji S5 to indicate dynamicrange. You can increase the DR in the JPG files (if I remeberrightly) at the expense of file size and speed. I don't think thatFuji do anything useful like explaining exactly what 400% gives youin terms of extra f-stops. I send to shoot RAW with the S5 anyway tomaximise the full DR..

Looking at Phil's review of the S5 (page 18) it would appear that400% is intended to mean 2 additional f stops and the camera doesindeed achieve this..

Chris R.

That would make sense, doubling to 200% and double again to 400%Pixcellence Wedding Photographyhttp://www.pixcellence.co.uk..

Comment #11

Or, perhaps the "%" should have been left out of the "400%" altogether. I see dumb errors like this all the time in other fields...

Comment #12

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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