How do I determine the exposure range of my camera?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by ladshead, Nov 12, 2009.

  1. ladshead

    ladshead TPF Noob!

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    I have recently purchased the new Canon EOS 7D, as I attempt to teach myself the basics of metering a scene correctly.

    To do so I have often heard that you need to know the exposure range of your camera.

    Is there a practical method, procedure or excercise that I can do to determine the exposure range of my camera?
     
  2. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Do you mean the dynamic range of your image sensor? (about 12 stops)

    The total exposure range of your camera is enormous in comparison.



    The exposure range is controlled by 3 factors:
    • Shutter speed
    • Lens aperture
    • ISO
    Shutter speed alone can vary from many minutes to 1/8000th of a second.
     
  3. ladshead

    ladshead TPF Noob!

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    Yes! Dynamic Range. I think I was using the wrong terminology. 12 stops, OK, many thanks. Is this a standard that applies to a particular type of censor or censor size?
     
  4. ANDS!

    ANDS! No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    It's not really something you'll even thinking about, and I can't think of an advertising campaign from a manufacturer that focuses on this (there might be some out there but it's just not something worth paying attention to). Of course the range of a P&S is going to be less than that of a dSLR, and as technology improves we may see some real breakthroughs in this area.
     
  5. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Not really.

    The spread from Nikon's entry level D40 ($400) to the top-of-the-line D3X ($8000) is only 3.7 stops of dynamic range.

    The spread in Canon's line, from the XS to the 1Ds MkIII is only about 1 stop. Canons 1Ds MkIII is only 1 stop better, dynamic range wise than Nikon's most basic entry level D40.

    All of my info comes from www.dxomark.com an independent testing lab.
     
  6. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Ultimately though the exact number is somewhat irrelevant. Some dynamic range is eaten during normal post processing and conversion from linear sensor data to what we see. In addition there are all sort of tricks employed in post processing (highlight recovery) to gain the perception of additional dynamic range, along with the fact there are many techniques such as layering several photos, using a ND Gradient filter, or even HDR photography that will make the dynamic range limitations of your camera seem meaningless.

    What is important is that you understand the base result you get when you go outside and take a picture, and what you can do in post production or using some fancy techniques to make a bad situation better. The easiest way is to go outside and take photos. You eventually get a feel for the camera.
     

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