Friday, August 2, 2013

Using HDR/DRO on the Sony DSC-RX100M2

This is intended to be a quick introduction to what the HDR (High Dynamic Range) / DRO (Dynamic Range Optimization) feature does for you on the Sony DSC-RX100M2.  It is also a tip on one thing that it does "to you" instead of "for you."  Here are two shots taken of a scene that demonstrates both the benefit from in-camera dynamic range processing, and a common pitfall.

Click on the image to see full size.
Where the dynamic range settings help is to balance the overall exposure in a scene with both extremely dark areas and extremely bright areas.  The camera takes multiple exposures in quick sequence to capture details in dark areas by over-exposing a frame, capture details in bright areas by under-exposing a frame, and capture a baseline for color, white balance, etc. from a frame taken at the "proper" metered exposure.  Examine the enlarged areas in the first row beneath the two full photos to see the improvement when DRO is enabled.

One area where the high dynamic range feature can degrade a photo is in areas of the scene where the subject actually should have higher contrast.  In the second row, the shadows that add texture detail amongst the leaves of the iceplant nearly disappear into a solid green blob after the dynamic range has been "improved."

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