|One of my pet hates regarding photography is
the proliferation of misleading hype. Unfortunately this is also
prevalent in the IT industry as well, so it should be of no surprise that
digital cameras are the subject of some wild claims by manufacturers and
resellers. The claims that annoy me the most relate to the dynamic range of
digital cameras and how this compares to film.
Different sources will
state the dynamic range of film anywhere between 5 to 8 EV This is
complete crap!! In a controlled studio situation, photographers
work on the assumption that slide film has a dynamic range around 10 EV
Negative film is known to have a greater dynamic range than slide film.
How else could a film manufacturer claim that a film could be exposed at a
wide range of ISO settings and still produce a good result?
But even film manufacturers are well known for their hype. Film
speeds, for example, are calculated under carefully controlled conditions
that do not necessarily produce a reasonable approximation of reality. The
only real lesson in all of this is believe no one. The only way to be sure
of something is to test it yourself.
This section describes a number of simple tests that can be used to
determine the dynamic range of your imaging setup without requiring fancy
equipment or specialised software. My example will be based on 35mm
colour negative film (Fuji Reala) and a Nikon Coolscan LS2000.