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Dynamic range

By Jakob Jelling

Dealing with the digital cameras requires some intricate information regarding the intricate features of this fantastic device. Such a feature is known as the dynamic range of the digital camera. It can be assumed from commonly known fact that the darkest useable zone has 8 levels and the 12 bit A-to-D converter has a potential dynamic or exposure range of 9 zones whereas a 14-bit A-to-D has a potential range of 11 zones. These numbers are far in excess of the range ordinarily achieved with digital cameras. And these data or information that at this point may seem somewhat ambiguous would get their necessary illustrations in the subsequent paragraphs. It can now only be said that these are relevant information to the digital camera dynamic range.

In order to understand as well as gain some insight one can consider the simple imaging system of a digital camera and printer the combination that reproduces images with no editing or manipulation. The necessary RAW format conversions are applied exactly. The contrast of the print would be identical to the scene contrast, said in theory, but rarely produces finer prints because a print can only reproduce a tonal range of about 100:1-- 6.6 f-stops. In this case the system dynamic range would also be 6.6 f-stops. This can well be considered to understand the digital camera's potential dynamic range. However only discussing this does not make the analysis complete. Hence detailed discussion regarding some important points are given as follows.

Researching into the areas of the business it can be aptly stated that the digital camera manufacturers are faced with a classic swapping. It can be summed up as the contrast versus dynamic range. Most images look best with enhanced contrast, but if contrast is increased, dynamic range suffers. Decreasing contrast can increase dynamic range, but this essentially causes the images tend to look flat. Thus something requires to be done. Hence a single way around this is to pertain a curve, this way the contrast is reduced in the shadows and highlights, but increased in the important mid tone area, which is responsible for perceived contrast. And this essentially does not cause the problem to the dynamic range. Hence a solution is achieved.

The above discussion has detailed a lot of incipient yet relevant information regarding the digital camera dynamic range. And it can be hoped that the knowledge imparted can produce fruitful effects to the users or photographers who truly like to appreciate their digital cameras!

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