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attached you will find two photos I have taken, exposure manually. I have taken these with a Sony RX-100 and as you can see the sky is overexposed while the landscape is exposed "alright". I was wondering if I am doing something wrong with the exposure or if the dynamic range of the Sony RX-100 (or better the chip) is just not good enough to capture a cloudy sky (the sun was behind the clouds, no direct sunlight).

Any help would be appreciated.

http://s2.postimg.org/igb2br57d/DSC01826.jpg

http://s2.postimg.org/g928a3ajd/DSC01837.jpg

  • Were you using in-camera HDR? – inkista Oct 17 '14 at 1:54
  • @inkista nope, manually exposed, highest quality, JPG – Christoph Oct 17 '14 at 1:54
  • It's not that the dynamic range of the RX-100 is that limited - it isn't. But the dynamic range of the default gamma correction/light curve the camera uses to output JPEGs is that limited. Find a way to shoot RAW and you will be able to capture more dynamic range than letting the camera make the decisions re: RAW conversion. – Michael C Oct 17 '14 at 23:48
  • This is why GND filters exist. – dpollitt Oct 18 '14 at 3:44
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No, you're not doing something wrong, and yes, this is a dynamic range issue. It's very common no matter the camera, and typically becomes more common the smaller the sensor format. The RX-100 is actually better than most P&S cameras in this regard.

In a situation like this, if you're shooting JPEG, and not RAW, you may want to use the RX-100's HDR mode. In this mode, the camera will take three shots: one "underexposed", one "correctly" exposed, and one "overexposed" and then combine them into a single JPEG that will (hopefully) have everything exposed well. The camera does need to be kept as still as possible for the three shots. You can also tweak how wide a dymamic range to cover in the image (from 1EV to 6EV).

  • thanks. I did not know that the RX100 has a HDR modus... – Christoph Oct 17 '14 at 22:48
  • You can also try the DRO mode, which automatically produces JPEG similar to what you would achieve by shooting RAW and recovering some underexposed/overexposred regions. The advantage is that it happens automatically so you don't have to bother with RAW editing, and the disadvantage is that it happens automatically, so you can't influence the process :-) – szulat Oct 18 '14 at 16:02
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The term you're looking for is dynamic range, which is the difference between the brightest and darkest areas.

If this was shot in RAW I would be surprised if you couldn't pull the highlights back and recover the detail in the clouds, but if this was a JPEG then it's simply a case of the camera not being capable of knowing which bright areas to darken and which bright areas to leave alone. Cameras tend to make decisions that affect the whole frame, not just parts of it, which is your job once you get the files on the computer.

  • I took it in JPG and as written I exposed manually. I select a few photos and normally edit them. I have a hard time getting these right - probably because its JPG and not RAW. Buuut the RAW files are sooo big. And my computer cant process them properly... – Christoph Oct 17 '14 at 1:54
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    RAW files can capture a wider range of information than can be displayed in a JPEG file. If you capture in RAW then you can specify later that certain highlight information should be made darker. Depending on the camera model you may have this option in the form of picture styles, but I think it'd be hard to setup and use effectively. Shoot in RAW (buy a new computer if you have to?) :) – tenmiles Oct 17 '14 at 2:08
  • With my Canon Eos 350D i always shot in RAW cause the files had a reasonable size and could be processed by my computer. Since I have the RX100 these times are over :D No space on my harddrive and my computer wont play along. We see what happens. I may just settle with an overexposed sky, or just go on hikes when there are no clouds ;) – Christoph Oct 17 '14 at 2:21
  • I've seen 2TB hard drives go for about $80 these days and that would last you a long time. If it's the case of SD card, those are also pretty cheap these days; $15 would probably get you a 32GB card which should get you over 1000 pictures. I don't know what computer you're using, but it'd have to be pretty old and probably needing replaced anyway (Adobe just announced that PS will work on chromebooks which are some of the cheapest/weakest computers around). – tenmiles Oct 17 '14 at 2:29
  • Yep, I know that harddrives are getting cheaper. In the case of the D card I'd rather spend more and get a faster one, especially taking photos in RAW... Its not that old, MacBook2007 with 4GB RAM and 500GB harddrive. Up to now it purred like a cat, no matter what I asked of it :) I guess its a question of priority. – Christoph Oct 17 '14 at 2:32
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attached you will find two photos I have taken, exposure manually

Not just dynamic range, but mostly how it is used and how it is exploited. Such shots need to be exposed correctly, and camera settings need to be low contrast, low saturation and no sharpening; most of the cases lowest possible ISO too (in case of Sony, 1 stop over the lowest ISO because of the limitations of the analogue-to-digital converter, it plugs shadows at the lowest ISO setting but with a little of ISO boost it does its job). The exposure needs to be such that you are 1/3 EV below overexposure warning to give some room for image postprocessing (unless you are recording raw, where you can go 1/3 to 1/2 EV over the warning, depending on the camera). Bracketing the exposure and using a tripod helps a lot. Next, exploiting the dynamic range in Photoshop, Photoline, GIMP,...

To use the dynamic range better, you can put a magenta filter (CC40M) on the lens.

I never tried built-in HDR modes, but they are worth a try if you are not going to use raw mode.

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