Dynamic Range & The HS20

Fuji HS20 & Dynamic Range.

I don’t often use the DR mode when using the HS20 primarily because I shoot either manual mode or HR (high resolution mode). However there are the odd occasions when the increased sensitivity and Dr are a welcome boost to gaining a good image.
As many of you will know shooting sunrises early in the morning before the Sun is actually up can be difficult.
The trick is trying to maintain some foreground detail while not losing the essence of what you are looking at.
That was precisely the situation a few days ago when greeted with one of the nicest mornings so far this summer. Low overnight temperatures had caused low level fog in the valley below us, while the cloud in the early morning sky was showing very delicate greys and pinks.
I have previously tried very similar shots with the HS10, but was never really able to get the foreground to remain anything other than dark.
I set the camera to Dynamic Range Priority (DR) mode, with Auto ISO set at 400 and Auto Dr also set. I had decided to let the camera do the thinking and see what it would do. The only override I used was a little +/- Ev as required.
Below is some of the results.

Taken on January 28, 2011 at 6.12am NZDT
Exif data
Exposure 0.009 sec (1/110)
Aperture f/4.5
Focal Length 25.9 mm
ISO Speed 400
Exposure Bias -1.33 EV
Exposure Program Program AE
Metering Mode Spot
Exposure Mode Auto
Sharpness Hard
Quality FINE
Sharpness Hard
White Balance Daylight
Color Mode Chrome
Blur Warning Blur Warning
Focus Warning Good
Exposure Warning Good
Dynamic Range Setting Manual
Development Dynamic Range 200

The first image is from the HS10 and is used here just by way of comparison. As you can see to get good light balance Spot metering coupled with negative Ev was employed to get proper exposure of the horizon and sky. This meant that the foreground simply became blacked out, with no apparent detail, necessitating cropping of the image.

Taken on February 17, 2012 at 7.21am NZDT

Exif data
Camera Fujifilm FinePix HS20EXR
Exposure 0.002 sec (1/500)
Aperture f/5.0
Focal Length 14.3 mm
ISO Speed 100
Exposure Bias 0 EV
Exposure Program Program AE
Metering Mode Average
Exposure Mode Auto
White Balance Auto
Quality FINE
White Balance Auto
Contrast Normal
Focus Mode Auto
EXRMode DR (Dynamic Range priority)
Blur Warning None
Focus Warning Good
Exposure Warning Good
Dynamic Range Standard
Film Mode F2/Fujichrome
Dynamic Range Setting Auto (100-400%)

The second image while taken later in the morning was also taken a month later than the HS10 image. Ambient light levels were similar although not identical in conditions. What is important here is that with Auto ISO set to 400, the HS20 selected ISO 100 and then balanced the DR of the image accordingly. It can also be seen from the Exif data that Ev 0.0+/- was used. The image when viewed on the LCD appeared well lit and balanced, requiring only a small adjust of levels in PP work.

Again in the third image even though the direction is directed away from the major light source the same settings were applied by the camera. The metering in these images was “Averaged” and seem to be quite accurate giving a good balance between light and dark areas with detail retention. There are several other images which can be viewed here.

All in all I’m reasonably pleased with the outcome of these images. The images themselves don’t truly display just how dark it was in the foreground areas as the increased ISO and Dr did a good job of bringing out the shadow detail.
In conclusion, is the DR mode useful? In short yes, shooting images such as these can do with all the DR they can get and the HS20 does a very good job of this.



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