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What Dynamic Range settings are JPG shooters using?

Discussion in 'General X Camera Forum' started by runswithsizzers, Mar 13, 2018.

  1. runswithsizzers

    runswithsizzers Premium Member

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    I have owned my first Fuji (XE2) for not quite a year now, and so far, I have been shooting RAW almost exclusively. But now I'm ready to try Fuji JPGs, and I'm looking for resources to help me puzzle out the many camera settings that affect in-camera JPGs. I believe I understand most of the parameters well enough to get started - except for one.

    What's the deal with the Dynamic Range settings?

    When I first got the camera I investigated Fuji's Dynamic Range just enough to decide that for a RAW-only shooting leaving it off (DR-100%) seemed like a reasonable option. But for a JPG-only-shooter, the answer is less clear. What I've read about Fuji's DR settings so far has helped, but I'm not quite "there" yet.

    Rico Pfirstinger says <Please login or register to view links> "For photographers who don’t process their RAW files manually and instead want their camera to produce finished JPEGs, the DR function is essential."

    What do experienced Fuji JPG shooters use for DR settings? Is "DR-Auto" good enough, or are situations when either DR-200% or DR-400% should be specified? Do you "set it and forget it" - or do you decide on a scene-by-scene basis whether you want DR on or off ?

    Obviously, I'll need to do some testing tomorrow (if we get some sunlight).
     
  2. Madhav Bodas

    Madhav Bodas Premium Member

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    Very briefly, DR setting is helpful in situations where you have high dynamic range in the scene you are shooting. DR100 is normal, while 200 and 400 are the options you can choose if you need it. But when you use DR200, you need at least ISO400 and for DR400, you need at least ISO800.

    Technically, when you use DR options, the electronics does not apply the gain associated with the chosen ISO (but a stop or two below as per DR setting) and creates a file with EXIF noting the DR used. The processing engine identifies the DR in EXIF and applies a pre-defined tone curve for that DR to develop the JPEG, so as to help preserve the highlights and enhance the mid tones and shadows.

    For RAW, you can process the file as per your requirement since controls are in your hand.
     
  3. runswithsizzers

    runswithsizzers Premium Member

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    Thank you.

    I believe I understand what it does and how it works. My question is more about how JPG shooters are actually using it. That is, are most people just setting it to "DR-Auto" and letting the camera decide when to use it? Or is it necessary to make a decision for every shot and turn it on when you think you need it, and back off again if you don't?
     
  4. FORUM USER

    FORUM USER Premium Member

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    I use both. Sometime I use autoDR which only ever selects DR100 or DR200. Or I explicitly select the DR setting I want which will then include the DR400 option. It's very much a case of what I want to do rather than rules or bothering what anyone else does.
     
  5. FrankBB

    FrankBB Premium Member

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    I only shoot JPG. I tend to generally like a higher contrast scene, so I leave DR set at 100, and use the Q menu to quickly change it if I see something that I think warrants 200 or 400. That said, lately I've been shooting a lot of my color shots with Highlights at -1 in order to help preserve highlights at bit; and I'm not opposed to using negative EC as well.
     
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  6. audiman90

    audiman90 Premium Member

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    I use all my settings at zero. This gives perfectly acceptable results for 90% of the time. Occasionally, if I need to raise shadows, most post production programs will do this adequately.
    Fuji jpeg engine is far superior to Light Room and it's ilk, for sharpening and noise.
     
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  7. Brian1940

    Brian1940 Premium Member

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    Exactly what my flying instructor said moments before the crash.
     
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  8. Jan Hordijk

    Jan Hordijk Premium Member

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    In my opinion, DR200 is comparable to the operation of a stop more and DR400 with two stops more.
     
  9. Tilphot

    Tilphot Premium Member

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    I'm a JPEG-RAW shooter in the sense that I like to use the JPEG, but have the RAW as a backup in case I messed-up my settings or the dynamic range is not to my liking. After some testing with the different options, I settled for DR 200 as my default, finding that it does a better job in preserving the highlights and slightly raising the shadows (while still preserving good contrast) than any of the shadow/highlight settings do. For me, and this is highly subjective (but you asked for it), this is a good starting point for most of my "photography by walking-around". For the occasional portrait shoot or challenging landscape photography I might choose differently, depending on the scene and the look I'm after. Not to forget, there's always the RAW file.:)
     
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  10. Anymouse02

    Anymouse02 Premium Member

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    Did you survive?
     
  11. Brian1940

    Brian1940 Premium Member

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    Did you survive?


    Well if I didn't Leeds ain't Heaven.
     
  12. runswithsizzers

    runswithsizzers Premium Member

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    In the future I may very well go back to JPG + RAW, but for my present experiment, the plan is to shoot JPGs, only. Several reasons: I want to see if JPG-only is "doable" for me; that is just how often am I going to say 'Dang, I wish I had the RAW!'? If it's 1%, I can live with JPGs; if it's 20%, not. Also, shooting JPG-only eliminates the fallback attitude, 'Close enough, I can fix it later in RAW.' I briefly shot both for a while, and I never did come up with a good strategy for dealing with the duplicate files, so if I can get by without them, life would be good.

    You bring up another issue - the effects of Highlight Tone / Shadow Tone corrections are added to the DR adjustments, right? Are you saying you would not normally choose both? More than half of my JPGs will be walking around in outdoor sun and shadows lighting, and when shooting raw, I almost always bring down the highlights some in Lightroom. Previous experiments with in-camera Highlight and Shadow controls set at -2 didn't look quite right to me - a bit too flat.

    Sun is out today so I hope to try out some settings.

    Thanks for your advice.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
  13. runswithsizzers

    runswithsizzers Premium Member

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    Are you saying you sometimes use DR *and* Highlights at -1? Or do you mean you find Highlights at -1 to be adequate without DR?
     
  14. Doug Pardee

    Doug Pardee Premium Member

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    Let's be clear: the DR setting doesn't increase dynamic range, any more than Daylight Saving Time increases the number of hours of daylight in a day.

    The DR setting allows you to shift the dynamic range so that highlight detail is preserved at the expense of shadow detail (noise). In my experience, for most photos highlights are just highlights, and detail isn't particularly relevant in them. Shadow detail usually is more interesting. When that's the case, use DR100.

    DR200 (and rarely DR400) can be useful when photographing white objects where you want to retain detail. If you're working a wedding, you probably don't want the bride's dress to be a blown-out highlight. If you're a birder snapping a snowy egret, you probably don't want the feathers to be a blown-out highlight. Polar bears would be another subject, or white horses or dogs or cats (oh no, not another cat picture!). White tablecloths. Snow. Whatever. If your subject is white, definitely consider using DR200 (DR400 is probably overkill, but that's got to be your call).

    DR-Auto gives you a limited Expose-to-the-Right system. It uses DR100 if the highlights aren't going to be blown out, and automatically switches to DR200 if they are. (Some Fuji models can even go to DR400 in DR-Auto). But there are drawbacks:
    • If you set a fixed ISO, you can't set ISO 200. But if you set ISO 400, you're always penalizing yourself that stop of shadow detail even when DR100 is being used. With DR-Auto, I recommend using auto-ISO with minimum ISO of 200 and a minimum shutter speed slow enough that it won't raise ISO when you aren't expecting it. That way the camera will be at DR100/ISO 200 for normal scenes, and will automatically switch to DR200/ISO 400 if highlight detail is endangered.
    • You'll lose the EVF/LCD display of the shutter speed and/or aperture calculated by the AE system until you lock exposure. Some people find this very irritating. The selected ISO and DR won't be shown until you lock exposure, either, but that's always the case with auto-ISO and DR-Auto.
    • Sometimes DR-Auto will select DR200 because of specular highlights, like sun glinting off a a car, or something. In that case you're losing a stop of shadow DR but the extra stop of highlight DR is worthless. As always, when you turn decisions over to the camera, sometimes it'll guess wrong.
    • If you're capturing Raw files (either straight Raw or Raw+JPEG), some will be at DR100 and some at DR200. Depending on the Raw software you use, you might find the DR200 Raws to be a stop underexposed. If so, batch processing the Raws probably will be a problem. If your Raw software understands DR200, this isn't an issue.
     
  15. runswithsizzers

    runswithsizzers Premium Member

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    Thanks for the excellent explanation! I believe I understand how Fuji's DR is *supposed* to work - just trying to see if / how people are actually using it. And your reply was helpful.

    After it warms up a bit, I'm going to do some outdoor sun-and-shadow tests. I just discovered I can shoot 'bracketed' DR with my XE2. Sounds perfect for testing, but I'm not sure how that will work with Auto ISO and Auto DR. Does shooting DR Brackets force Auto ISO to DR-required minimum ISO? Guess I should turn the "Auto" settings off for testing with DR Bracketing just to keep it simple.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
  16. runswithsizzers

    runswithsizzers Premium Member

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    I am curious to know how often you feel the need to resort to the RAW file? Would you say: 'almost never' - 'occasionally' - 'about half' or 'frequently' ?
     
  17. Tilphot

    Tilphot Premium Member

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    These are tough questions ... :confused:

    I think I could be really happy with the JPEG in about 99%, IF I didn't know I could rely on the RAWs as a backup. Dynamic range isn't the main concern here, I also like RAW for the greater flexibility to fix white balance (usually Auto works fine for me, but not always), and of course, the possibility to use different film simulations. My standard JPEG settings are Provia with NR-2, DR 200 and Sharpness +1 (the sharpening algorithm in camera is far superior to what I can accomplish in Lightroom) – this is giving me a very clean, neutral reference file, which is often not so easy to match from the RAW (and my Lightroom skills aren't that bad). However, there are some images that I like better in Astia or Classic Chrome, so like I said, I always shoot JPEG+RAW.

    My strategy for dealing with the duplicate files is that I always start by copying only the JPEGs to a folder on my hard drive, then import them into Lightroom and start culling. In that process I also flag my favorites as picks. Only these favorites I import as RAW files. Sometimes I don't touch them at all, because I like the JPEG (give or take a little bit of tweaking), sometimes I end up deleting the JPEG, because only the RAW can give me what I want ...

    Let us know how your DR experiments from today turned out!
     
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  18. runswithsizzers

    runswithsizzers Premium Member

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    Just downloaded 100 JPG test shots to iMac, a combination of bracketed Film Sims and DR brackets, plus a few with Highlight / Shadow adjustments. I haven't studied them yet.

    RE: film sims - Bracketed Film Sims are easy to shoot. One exposure, 3 JPGs @ 4-7MB each (16MP XE2). All three files are 35-65% of the size of ONE RAF! But it's only 3 sims, and, unlike RAW, you have to decide which 3 film sims you want up front.

    The DR brackets are more demanding because the camera actually makes 3 exposures, just like exposure brackets for HDR. Either me or the subject usually moves between the first and the last shot, which would be disastrous for HDR, but not a problem for TESTing DR. Bracketing DR would be more of a problem for general shooting in situations requiring the shot to be made at the 'decisive moment'.

    RE: White balance. Coming from Pentax, where I often struggled with White balance, Fuji seems vastly superior to me. I almost always make make some color adjustments to my Fuji images, but my adjustment are minor, and "to taste" rather than heroic efforts to correct unwanted / unnatural color. But that was shooting RAW; we will see how it goes for Fuji JPGs.

    Tilphot, your JPG / RAW strategy sounds good to me. I usually assign Keywords and write Captions for all items Imported into Lightroom. I guess it would be easy enough to select both the RAF and the JPG, and write metadata for both at the same time.

    Thanks for the tips on your settings and workflow - that helps.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2018
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  19. AdrianG

    AdrianG Premium Member

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    That's not correct. The DR200 and DR400 settings expand the DR of the resulting OOC JPEG compared to DR100.

    It does the opposite. You expose for the shadows and use DR200/400 to retain detail in the bright parts of the image, at the expense of some additional noise in the mid tones. If you think the difference between 200ASA and 800ASA matters for your photography, shooting JPEG probably isn't the way to go.

    DR200/400 are most useful to keep your skyes from burning away or reduce harsh shadows in people's faces etc, if wedding photography doesn't happen to be your thing.
    If you shoot JPEG, you need to forget your trannies/RAW rules. Shooting JPEG is a bit like shooting negs, though not as simple because JPEGS will blow lights, while negs basically won't. Auto DR tries to find a compromise between preserving upper mids and lights vs noise while you expose to the mid-left. It usually does that very reliably.
     
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  20. Tilphot

    Tilphot Premium Member

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    Thank you for this – I also felt like Doug Pardee's explanations were a more accurate description of what the +/- shadow/highlight-settings do. A higher dynamic range setting, in my experimental findings, leads to far more pleasing results in the way that it usually achieves a very nice balance of shadow and highlight detail. At DR 200, in most situations, the JPEG is closer to what my brain constructs from looking at the scene than the DR 100 JPEG is.
     

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