what is defined as a well exposed photo?


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Jun 13, 2003
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#1
i was looking thru some of the same pics of some cameras i wanted to buy but i am not sure whether some pics are considered badly taken
as in am i asking too much or asking for the impossible when i look at sample pics.
example, when i looked at a panazonic fz10's sample pic, i feel that some areas are not sharp not not vivid enuf.

so when do u consider a pic as sharp or vivid in colours etc?

it's difficult for me to explain. maybe some can rephrase it ?
 

clive

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#2
i dunno anything about digicams...but a way to get an idea of sharpness/vividness/DOF/contrast/etc is to shoot soem slide film n then view them wif a loupe, over a lighttable :)

and actually for sample pics..we will never know what was used to shoot it ;p
 

tert

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#3
Hi. Firstly, i believe that there is no such thing as a properly exposed picture. A picture represents how the photographer perceives the scene in question and what the message the photographer tries to rely through his pictures.

The common tool used to evaluate an exposure is the histogram. You may like to check out this tutorial on the Histogram.

I suppose you are looking to buy a digital camera and looking for reviews, tests and user opinions. You would probably be aware of the usual sites like www.dpreview.com, www.imaging-resource.com, www.luminous-landscape.com where you can get information on the above. Its rather daunting as there are a lot of information you can get on the web. And i believe its not possible to make an entirely informed decision (there are just too many factors that can be used for comparison between cameras like Chormatic Aberration, resolution, sharpness etc) before you sink your hard-earned cash into a camera. It is probably the case that you buy a camera to start you off, start taking photos and slowly learning more about the pictures you produce and the cameras you use to achieve them.

Read about the cameras that you're interested in on CS or the other sites above and post anything questions that you may have.

Hope i did at least answer your question in part...

Best
 

Ah Pao

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#4
If I don't get you wrong, I feel that the parameters you've mentioned are pretty subjective. For example, some people feel that pics from Canon digicams are too saturated in color, while others like it that way. Some feel it's too soft, but others like it that way.

A camera should produce pics that do not have blown-out highlights, and yet able to produce details in the shadows.
 

Newman

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#5
tert said:
Hi. Firstly, i believe that there is no such thing as a properly exposed picture. A picture represents how the photographer perceives the scene in question and what the message the photographer tries to rely through his pictures.
Pardon me, but I think you've got to pick up a book on exposure control then. Try checking out Jim Zuckerman's books.
 

togu

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#6
Blah, as long as you feel comfortable with the pictures, and ideally someone telling you that they feel comfortable with your pictures, that's well exposed.


:devil:
 

Zerstorer

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#7
Newman said:
Pardon me, but I think you've got to pick up a book on exposure control then. Try checking out Jim Zuckerman's books.
Perhaps you would like to define what is a well-exposed photo then?

I tend to agree with what tert has said. A well exposed photo is one that serves its purpose aesthetically and thats it.
 

Newman

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#8
Exposure of a shot is more of a technical issue rather than a compositional one. Yes, I'd agree an aesthetically pleasing picture is more important but it can be well exposed also.
 

Zerstorer

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But how would you define a "well exposed" image then? One that maximizes the dynamic range of the medium? Having neither clipped highlights or dark shadows? In high contrast scenes that would not be possible.

What was the definition taught in Jim Zuckerman's books may I ask?
 

Newman

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#10
togu said:
Blah, as long as you feel comfortable with the pictures, and ideally someone telling you that they feel comfortable with your pictures, that's well exposed.
Zerstorer said:
Perhaps you would like to define what is a well-exposed photo then?
Perhaps you guys would also like to tell me why is there such a thing as exposure bracketing then?
 

Zerstorer

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#11
Newman said:
Perhaps you guys would also like to tell me why is there such a thing as exposure bracketing then?
Exposure bracketing is just a form of insurance, such that when you finally evaluate the shots, you can choose the one with the best looking result. It is used, when one is UNSURE of which exposure settings to use.

If there was a definitive way to calculate the "correct" exposure at the time of taking the shutter, bracketing would not have been needed then.
 

Newman

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#12
Zerstorer said:
Exposure bracketing is just a form of insurance, such that when you finally evaluate the shots, you can choose the one with the best looking result. It is used, when one is UNSURE of which exposure settings to use.

If there was a definitive way to calculate the "correct" exposure at the time of taking the shutter, bracketing would not have been needed then.
Yes, there are many ways to get a correctly exposed picture such as using a lightmeter, ND filters, fill-in flash, etc. I didn't said it had to be a perfect exposure. Tert said there wasn't such a thing as properly exposed picture which is not true. Yes, there are extreme situations where it's difficult to get a proper exposure. *sian*
 

Newman

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#13
Zerstorer said:
If there was a definitive way to calculate the "correct" exposure at the time of taking the shutter, bracketing would not have been needed then.
FYI, I don't use bracketing. I learn how to use my cam's meter to get the correct exposure using some of the simple guidelines in Jim's books and many others also I might add.
 

Zerstorer

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Newman said:
FYI, I don't use bracketing. I learn how to use my cam's meter to get the correct exposure using some of the simple guidelines in Jim's books and many others also I might add.
Funny, why did you bring up the point about exposure bracketing then? I don't get what you were trying to prove with "Perhaps you guys would also like to tell me why is there such a thing as exposure bracketing then?"

Yes, there are many ways to get a correctly exposed picture such as using a lightmeter, ND filters, fill-in flash, etc. I didn't said it had to be a perfect exposure. Tert said there wasn't such a thing as properly exposed picture which is not true. Yes, there are extreme situations where it's difficult to get a proper exposure. *sian*
Tert may have not phrased it properly, but the gist of his sentence was that there is no strict and hard definition on what constitutes a correct exposure. It all depends on the creative intent of the shot. As with what togu and I feel, a correctly exposed shot is what you intended it to be.

I'm just surprised that you seemed to have a strict definition available at hand.

Anyway here's some useful reading:
http://www.jafaphotography.com/achiving_correct_exposure.htm

In any case, what acetylcholine was referring to was not so much about exposure than tone, colour, contrast and sharpness settings in digicams.
 

Newman

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#15
Zerstorer said:
Funny, why did you bring up the point about exposure bracketing then? I don't get what you were trying to prove with "Perhaps you guys would also like to tell me why is there such a thing as exposure bracketing then?"
Some use EB as "an issurance" to get the right exposure. Or probably in your definition, the definition that they want.

Zerstorer said:
Tert may have not phrased it properly, but the gist of his sentence was that there is no strict and hard definition on what constitutes a correct exposure. It all depends on the creative intent of the shot. As with what togu and I feel, a correctly exposed shot is what you intended it to be.

I'm just surprised that you seemed to have a strict definition available at hand.

Anyway here's some useful reading:
http://www.jafaphotography.com/achiving_correct_exposure.htm

In any case, what acetylcholine was referring to was not so much about exposure than tone, colour, contrast and sharpness settings in digicams.
Well, Tert may not haved phrased it correctly but I'm not saying there's a fixed definition for it. There's always a window of acceptable exposure for most people in which they would deem a shot as well exposed.
Here's also some useful reading:
ttp://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/understanding-series/understandexposure.shtml
 

StreetShooter

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#16
This is an interesting thread and I have benefited from the exchange. Quite a few things I have read about have finally clicked together. This is what I have learnt:

1. A technically well-exposed shot would have both shadow details and highlight details intact. An underexposed shot would lose the shadow details and an overexposed shot would have blown-out highlights. An ideal exposure would be somewhere in between, as far as possible.

2. However, this is not always possible in the case of a high contrast scene (eg bright sunlight and dark shadows in the same scene) because of limits in the dynamic range of any media. When they say film has a better dynamic range than digital, this is what they mean: you are able to better capture a high contrast scene with film rather than digital, which will either blow out the highlights or lose the shadow detail or both.

3. What tert was saying is simply that a photographer may choose to deliberately overexpose or underexpose to achieve high-key or low-key effects respectively, and from the point of view of an artistically-inclined photographer, there is no such thing as "proper" exposure.

As for poor acetylcholine, it's hard to tell image quality from a small jpeg. What you need are 100% crops, and even then you need a practised eye to discern what's good and bad. My advice is simply to take the word of the reviewer (Phil Askey of dpreview.com is pretty unbiased, in my opinion - but then I like Canon, too) ;) .
 

StreetShooter

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#17
Incidentally, the best way to get around the limited dynamic range of digital is simply to take 2 shots of the same high-contrast scene, metering first for the highlights, then for the shadows, and merging them into one picture via a mask.
 

tert

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#19
My apologies for the mis-articulation. The meaning of my statement was what as Streets had illustrated.

That was the reason why i chose to say that the histogram is a "tool to evaluate whether a picture is properly exposed; as opposed to saying that the histogram can be used to "determine" whether a proper exposure has been achieved.

:)
 

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