A quest for the ultimate, beautiful, meaningful picture

Dynamic Range

Did I say somewhere that there is no magic in ever larger numbers of pixels? I just bought myself a new camera, a Sony A700, with 12M pixels, double the number of my old & true KonicaMinolta 7D. And the first picture that I printed is amazingly sharp, even at A3-size! (A little example will be added in due course–it’s in the next entry.)

But the real puzzle with this new camera is the DRO, the ‘dynamic range optimizer’. It’s supposed to give more detail in dark areas of pictures, before they are compressed in-camera to JPEGs. A nice test is given by one Gamin, with a range of pictures using different settings. If I understand things well, what it does is changing the tonal curve that you encounter in your Gimp, Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture or what have you: it makes the shadows and darks lighter. It can’t add to the total range of tones, can it? If that is true, it can’t be of any importance to the RAW photographer, right? Then why does Sony add a dynamic range thingy in its RAW conversion software for the PC? If there is anyone out there who can explain the logic to me, please do!

Until then I uninstalled the Sony converter, because it has a hopelessly cluttered set of panels to make adjustments to the RAW picture, which then is saved as a TIFF file. I like Lightroom’s ‘virtual’ changes much better (as well as it’s clear screen layout, once you’ve changed the funny panel end marks to simple boxes), storing all my adaptations and post-processing, but always giving access to the original RAW file until I decide to export the file in the format I wish.

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