An online book of Common Sense Photography, by Rhett Stuart

What is Dynamic Range?


The Dynamic Range is the range of light that can be seen or recorded, and the subtle shades within these ranges.

Dynamic Range in photography is the ability to discern the difference between many shades of lightness and darkness. Dynamic Range is far superior in the human eye then digital SLR cameras. Also, our pupil changes in size to help discern details in bright or dark areas. An example of this is taking a picture during a bright sunny day with some things in the shadows. You can see the details in the shadows, and the details in the sun.

The digital camera can’t see both bright and shady details at the same time as well as your eye. The camera doesn’t have as good of a dynamic range. Sometimes you have to pick what you want to show up; the dark or the light area. The alternative is to do some creative photo editing later in Photoshop®! For more info, see the section on exposure and portraits.