Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Carl Weese: On Testing a New (Digital) Camera (K10D)

Carl Weese has posted part 2 of his Pentax K10D review at T.O.P. (read about part one here), and one of the things he loves about it is the increased tonal range he found in what he calls "the paper towel test," where he compares over-exposing and under-exposing shots of a white paper towel through up to 4 exposure stops. This isn't quite like a Stouffer scales test, it leans heavily on using RAW format and Adobe Camera RAW to adjust exposure in post-processing, but the results please Carl, and it's a good example of how to learn to use your metering options and ACR together.

Carl writes: "So, now I had numbers to confirm my sense that I was seeing a greater tonal range. Here’s the technique that this test lets you use. Let’s say you are making a picture of a meadow on an overcast day with interesting texture and pattern in the stormy sky, using this camera. The camera’s built in meter will almost surely overexpose the sky. If you set the right exposure for the meadow manually, you can bet the sky will burn out. So flip the meter to spot, meter the sky, and set it 2.7 stops over. We know that a –45 Exposure compensation in ACR will retain full detail, so this is the maxium exposure you can give the rest of the picture without losing the sky. If a histogram check shows the shadows are still clipped, go for that extra third of a stop that will call for even more rescue in ACR. Easy, as long as you’ve tested to find your camera’s limit at the top end."

Be sure to read his whole post to understand his methods. I'm loving Carl's reactions and tips for both the Pentax K10D and ACR. It must be really motivating, too, for new K10D users out there.

Link: On Testing a New (Digital) Camera, Steps A and B, Stouffer Photographic Scales

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