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Loss of highlights

slipe (Steve's Digicam, Panasonic forum, 16 June 2004)...

Welcome to the world of little sensors and limited dynamic range. Most people shoot for the highlight detail and bring up the rest of the image in an image editor. Blown highlights are just gone, but you can bring up the shadows easily if they are just a little underexposed. If you really have to pull the shadows out of the weeds you often need noise reduction, but you can still get them.

Learn to shoot with the histogram. It takes a while to understand what it is telling you. You can do just about as well with the spot meter if you sort of bracket around the highlight area you want. Some people make a guess and just reduce the EV, but that is a poor approach without the histogram.

If you aren't into image editing consider a decent image editor. The digital darkroom is clean and efficient.
BobsterLobster (Steve's Digicam, Panasonic forum, 16 June 2004)...

35mm keeps a lot of highlight detail that digital just doesn't reach. This is something you have to get used to when using any digital camera. Some things you can try:

1. Reduce the contrast settings of your camera. Then adjust the contrast in Photoshop {or another image manipulation program}, while keeping your extreme highlights and shadows.

2. Expose for highlights, and boost shadows...

3. Use graduated density filters if you want to keep detail in your skies.

4. Use a tripod, and take 2 bracketed shots. Merge them using Photoshop {or another image manipulation program} later.
See also section [*] (exposure value compensation).

Michael Shpuntov (Yahoo!, Panasonic forum 8 January 2005)...

No camera will be able to cover exposure range on bright sunny day, which might be 7-8 EV (exposure values). Most digital cameras have exposure range 4-5 (FZ10 about 4.5) EV. So, whatever you set camera, you will get or blown highlights, or too dark shadows. The major advise is to avoid shooting in this bright sunny days. Many pros shoot mostly during so called sweet hours (1-2 after sunrise and 1-2 before sunset), when lighting less harsh. There is another way dealing with this, but it's only works on static objects and you need tripod. You take two shots one exposed for highlight one for shadows and then later combine them in {Photoshop} effectively increasing exposure range to 7-8 EV. Too hard to do in my opinion :-).

Two things can potentially help a little:

* Shoot with side lighting ( 45-135 degrees) to the direction to the sun from camera and avoid shooting when sun right behind you.

* Expose to highlights. This way shadows will be still dark, but highlights details are not blown. It's good, since if they are blown, you can't restore them in postprocessing. On the other hand digital cameras are extremely good in capturing details in shadows, so even if you think they are too dark, using Shadow Highlights tool in {Photoshop, or another program like Photomatix} you can restore most details in shadows.

next up previous index Link to 'photography' page
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David Fong 2009-09-04