​What is Dynamic Range in Cameras?

Posted by Mike Thomas on 1st Jul 2021

​What is Dynamic Range in Cameras?

In simple terms it’s the difference between the lightest and darkest things the camera can see. The darkest being where you are unable to discern any detail in the blacks, also know as the black level. The lightest being where the camera photo sites are over loaded to the point they can not tell any difference if any additional light sources hit it. This is the cameras white level. 

Dynamic range in cameras is referred to in stops. One stop is a halving of the amount of light. So if you have a camera with a Dynamic Range of 14 stops and you take the white level as one, the camera will register a light source of 1/16384 or 0.000061 of that. Manufacturers use the optimum settings to achieve the maximum Dynamic Range value when describing a camera, so in different settings the Dynamic Range will change. 

Sony FX6 Has 15+ Stops Of Dynamic Range

To achieve full dynamic range recordings, you will have to record in Log. It is important to remember though, if the image you are trying to capture is limited in Dynamic Range, you can only capture that limited range. If the image has only 6 stops of Dynamic Range and doesn’t go into the blacks, or vice versa you’re better off not recording in Log so all the recording data can be used; rather than a small percentage of a Log recording that’s looking for another 9 stops that just aren’t there. If the image does go into the blacks and has a smaller Dynamic Range compared to the large Dynamic Range of the sensor, you have “Latitude” to over expose the image and pull it back down in post giving more detail in the darker section of the image. Over exposing rather than adding gain allows you to achieve more detail in the blacks without adding noise. 

NOTE: Latitude is often confused with Dynamic Range. Latitude is the amount you can under or over expose an image within the cameras Dynamic Range.

Current Dynamic Ranges 

See the Sony FX9 for amazing Dynamic Range and many other features. Find out more today.

Sony FX9