Why the dynamic range within a scene is less for human eye? Also, what's the HDR contrast ratio for human eye to perceive?

  • Do you have a source for the statement? I get what they mean, but it could easily be taken out of context [or could be fully explained by the context].
    – Tetsujin
    Nov 20, 2021 at 10:42
  • No source as such. The doubt was asked to me by someone. If possible can you explain as per the context you got from the statement.
    – C.R.
    Nov 20, 2021 at 10:48
  • It's to do with the iris - small in bright daylight, large in a dark room - but I can't put any numbers around that to make it into an answer.
    – Tetsujin
    Nov 20, 2021 at 10:51

2 Answers 2


I presume the reason for this is that a human eye can adjust exposure from scene to scene, but within a scene, the exposure is fixed.

The same is true for cameras, by the way.

For example, a f/4-22 aperture, 1/8000 - 30 seconds exposure time, ISO 100-102400 camera+lens combination, has about 33 stops more dynamic range between scenes than it has within a single scene. So if the dynamic range of the camera within a scene is 13 stops, between scenes it's 33+13 = 46 stops.


The DR of the human eye is estimated to be approx 12 stops with a fixed iris opening (i.e. chemically dilated).

It is estimated to approximately double with the variable iris opening, which occurs near instantaneously as you scan a scene. I think this is about the maximum you would need to account for with an HDR image. Easy enough using a reasonably current DSLR w/ ~12 stops DR (base ISO), bracketed +/- 2 images, w/ a 3EV exposure step.

That is for daylight viewing. If you add in the ability of the eye to dark adapt, and the increased contrast of light points in a dark scene, the DR capability of the eye is even higher; exceeding 24 stops (low light/star viewing).

  • "Approximately double" meaning 13 stops? or 24?
    – Zeus
    Nov 22, 2021 at 0:50
  • @Zeus, 24 stops; some say 21. Nov 22, 2021 at 13:59

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