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Thread: Exposure lattitude in digital?

  1. #1
    Jerome
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    Default Exposure lattitude in digital?

    We've all probably heard about exposure lattitudes in films. For eg, in slides, if one is off by even +/- 1/2 stop, it makes a difference in exposure.

    What about digital? What is the limit of under and over exposure that it can be pushed to before some effects (noise, etc??) take place?

    In my shooting so far, I've underexposed quite a handful of shots unintentionally like 1 stop or so but with Photoshop, I find the images are easily brought to life again the moment I adjust the levels. Does it mean getting the exposure right is not so critical as in shooting with slides?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Exposure lattitude in digital?

    Originally posted by Jerome
    We've all probably heard about exposure lattitudes in films. For eg, in slides, if one is off by even +/- 1/2 stop, it makes a difference in exposure.

    What about digital? What is the limit of under and over exposure that it can be pushed to before some effects (noise, etc??) take place?

    In my shooting so far, I've underexposed quite a handful of shots unintentionally like 1 stop or so but with Photoshop, I find the images are easily brought to life again the moment I adjust the levels. Does it mean getting the exposure right is not so critical as in shooting with slides?
    Contrast range of digital is about the same as slides, i.e. about 5 stops from the darkest to the brightest. Exposure latitude on the underexposure side for digital is impressive. This is especially true for the higher end digital SLRs. As you found out, you can still bring up the details post-exposure. But like slides, digital cannot tolerate overexposure, where the details will be burned out.

    Therefore, when shooting digital, it's good to expose for highlights, just like when shooting slides.

    Regards
    CK

  3. #3
    ClubSNAP Admin Darren's Avatar
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    ckiang is right about the latitude and inability of digital to handle overexposure.

    Speaking for the Nikon D1-series, the RAW (NEF) files can be adjusted +/- 2-stops, so this gives a very versatile way of handling images. Usually, I will underexpose by -1/3rd or -1/2-stop and bring it up again using Nikon Capture software.

    Also by using "blended exposures" you are able to exceed the 5-stop limitation by generating multiple versions from the NEF files - one specifically catered for the midtones/shadows and one for the hilites - and merging them in Photoshop.

    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/blended_exposures.htm

    The example above uses two shots taken at different exposure settings, but can apply the same thinking and methodology to digital RAW files.

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