“10 Stops Is Perfectly Good”(Provided You’re Confining Yourself to SDR Levels)


What cameras do you normally come across when you’re working in HDR? Is there any specific camera that’s worked really well for you? Are there cameras that are problematic? 

“I remember something that Bill B., the guy who put me in the business, he told me something when I asked him what camera I should buy and he looked at me and he goes, “If you’re thinking about the camera, you’re not thinking about the story. Start with the story and that’ll tell you what camera you need.” If you think about it and apply his advice to HDR, what’s most important is the story. And by arranging the scenes to kind of work into a dynamic range arc and then that arc has to maximize the audience reactions and If you’re doing that, you’re telling the story better. And so once you’ve established the arc of the story, and you’ve kind of worked out the kind of reactions that you’re after, how many stops do you need to get those reactions is the question. And then you can answer what camera can capture that range. And then you have to ask yourself how do we light for that? So, it’s not just about the individual camera, you just have to keep in mind when you’re choosing a camera system, you need to take into account the low light performance, also its bright luminance color fidelity. Not all cameras with big dynamic ranges capture saturated and accurate colors at high luminance values. They just don’t. […] I think people confuse HDR with brightness and they equate a small dynamic range of capture as unsuitable and I say, well, if it’s shot well and it’s shot with the intention of being kept in a smaller dynamic range, let’s say they’re not going to do a story that has anything brighter than one hundred nits, well, then ten stops is perfectly good. You don’t need to have fourteen stops.” 

Shane Mario Ruggieri, CSI

“The choice of the tiny color filters on the sensors—whether narrow spectrum or wide band—has a significant effect on the dynamic range and color saturation of the image captured. A wider-band filter leaves the sensor more sensitive to light, yielding a wider dynamic range and higher native ISO. But the color recorded by that wide- band filtered sensor is less true and less saturated.” – American Cinematographer Manual, 10th edition

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