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To DRO or not to DRO?

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Post Options Post Options   Quote awa54 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: To DRO or not to DRO?
    Posted: 05 July 2018 at 05:38
First, does someone know for *certain* if DRO has an affect on RAW files in the a900?

It seems from to my eye, that it doesn't, but my RAW editor may still be applying some sort of levels adjustment which normalizes the images in relation to each other, that I'm missing when I compare images.

Second, what are your feelings, technically, artistically and just as a matter of personal preference on using Sony's Dynamic Range Optimizer? Do you like the lightly tone mapped JPEGs it produces, or do you prefer the less forgiving high contrast verity of an un-tampered with RAW?

I've used DRO advanced set to level 2 on both of my Sony bodies (a700 and a900) and liked the rendering, which to my eye is a bit like good print film, but I'm re-examining that after having DRO over-reduce contrast on images made with some vintage lenses.
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pegelli View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pegelli Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 July 2018 at 07:09
As far as I know DRO has no effect on the raw files. I compared DRO +5 with DRO 0 (on my A850) in several (non Sony) raw converters and could detect no difference at all.

Using it is purely a matter of taste, I hardly use it and mostly work from raw where you can get similar effects when needed (allthough never exactly the same)
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Post Options Post Options   Quote addy landzaat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 July 2018 at 07:13
DRO should have no effect on RAWs - why do you think it does? This is a reliable source stating "DRO is only applied to JPEG files however RAW files are tagged for similar processing by Sony's IDC software." (this is about the A6000, but there is no reason to assume the A900 is different).

I never use DRO. Looking at the comparison pictures I saw in reviews I always preferred the non-DRO'ed picture. Used it a few times, but I didn't see any merit in using DRO - especially as I use RAW for important pictures.

Your assumption that DRO produces lightly tone mapped JPEGs while RAWs less forgiving high contrast pictures is wrong. You can get similar pictures with RAWs - the beauty of RAW is that you have more room to adjust - both towards more and less contrast.
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awa54 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote awa54 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 July 2018 at 13:42
Originally posted by addy landzaat addy landzaat wrote:

DRO should have no effect on RAWs - why do you think it does? This is a reliable source stating "DRO is only applied to JPEG files however RAW files are tagged for similar processing by Sony's IDC software." (this is about the A6000, but there is no reason to assume the A900 is different).

I never use DRO. Looking at the comparison pictures I saw in reviews I always preferred the non-DRO'ed picture. Used it a few times, but I didn't see any merit in using DRO - especially as I use RAW for important pictures.

Your assumption that DRO produces lightly tone mapped JPEGs while RAWs less forgiving high contrast pictures is wrong. You can get similar pictures with RAWs - the beauty of RAW is that you have more room to adjust - both towards more and less contrast.


The reason I ask about DRO affecting RAW files is that the early Sony cameras were notorious for applying NR to RAW files and since I hadn't researched the subject in depth, I was looking for confirmation of my observation that DRO *doesn't* seem to affect RAW files.

Also, I don't *feel* that DRO tone maps JPEG files, that is essentially what Sony claims it does... And *unprocessed* RAW files, like film negatives provide a more exacting rendering of the light that reached the sensor (verity) and *without* further processing that RAW file will almost certainly show higher contrast than a DRO processed JPEG.

I'm well aware that both JPEGs and RAW files can be further processed, with RAW files offering more data to work from and thus better chances to recreate the image characteristics your eyes saw at the time of capture, or the effects you wish to apply to the image.

The in-camera JPEG engine essentially offers a less versatile version of what gets done in "post", but if an in-camera effect produces the look you want consistently, then it saves time in PP, allowing an image to be web or email ready in a compact, universally viewable JPEG file without further ado.

If there is a PP method that you find to outperform DRO in allowing a broader tonal range to be viewed in a JPEG file, please feel free to share your preferred process!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pegelli Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 July 2018 at 14:57
Originally posted by awa54 awa54 wrote:


If there is a PP method that you find to outperform DRO in allowing a broader tonal range to be viewed in a JPEG file, please feel free to share your preferred process!
It's not a question of "better or worse", for me it's a question of flexibility. Once the jpg is created in camera a lot of information is lost, so if your DRO setting didn't provide the look you want you've got less to work with then when starting from the raw file.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote sybersitizen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 July 2018 at 16:20
DRO is a nice feature for customizing JPEG output. I personally have it enabled most of the time on all my Sonys at Level 2 or 3. At other times I turn it off, depending on what I'm shooting.

The original implementations of DRO (licensed from Apical) reportedly did have an effect on RAWs by very slightly changing the initial exposure. The current implementation is most likely something completely different.
 



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addy landzaat View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote addy landzaat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 July 2018 at 17:46
Maybe you misread my reply All I was saying is that with RAWs you can get the DRO effect if you want to (I do not), but not the other way round. The wrong thing in my reply was not the tone mapping, but the RAW part - the reason you shoot RAW is the flexibility it offers.

Re. Syber's remark - it makes sense the camera takes the DRO effect into account
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Post Options Post Options   Quote awa54 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 July 2018 at 21:22
sorry Addy, it's so easy to misunderstand the intent of purely textual communication... ;)

I guess the real problem is that I'm lazy and my past experience using DRO had given results that were very much in accord with what I hoped to see from the captures I made, so I wasn't really needing to go back to the RAW files (which I have always saved concurrently) unless there was a very bad exposure, or exceptionally challenging light.

I also grew up on film (lots of slide) and have an affinity for images that are "right" straight out of camera, so while "post" isn't a dirty word for me, I do strive for images that are *close* without being manipulated... also with human memory being imperfect, going back to an image at a later date and attempting to mentally reconstruct the look as seen with my eye at the time of capture can be a challenge (or more likely a failure).

I realize that any captured image, no matter what process is a filtered approximation of reality, so really it's just a matter of what filter characteristics I'm willing to live with...

But as I said, I like the look of minor tone mapping or contrast reduction that allows dark tones to be differentiated without blowing out highlights and still gives good mid-tone fidelity... DRO had helped me get there in the past, but I need other solutions now, since DRO falls on its face in certain situations.

I guess it's time to really dig in and master a RAW editor of some sort, as well as the discipline to edit the images in a consistent enough way to give them continuity with each other, rather than using my cameras JPEG engine as a crutch.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote beautiophile Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 July 2018 at 04:03
Originally posted by sybersitizen sybersitizen wrote:


The original implementations of DRO (licensed from Apical) reportedly did have an effect on RAWs by very slightly changing the initial exposure. The current implementation is most likely something completely different.

IMO, this affection can only occur in auto-exposure modes (any thing other than M). The exposure is calculated to give a pleased JPG, so that an algorithm of JPG engine (e.g. DRO) may change the shooting parameters.

With film bodies, there are no clues of film types and film curves, the best way for auto-exposure is to grey-out everything. (assuming Ev compensation = 0).

In digital, the camera makers more involve to the process line. They decide the characteristics of the sensor, codex of the raw file and JPG conversion (both in-body and computer software). So that auto-exposure may bias to a kind of (final) JPG that they consider best result.

What I had read is that Sony dSLRs underexpose a little bit to avoid washed-out and unrecoverable white pixels. And I also see many of my friends using sony for portrait prefer to set Ev Comp. +0.3 stop but they don't do that while shooting with canon bodies.

Edited by beautiophile - 06 July 2018 at 04:15
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Miranda F View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Miranda F Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 July 2018 at 15:36
SOme thoughts.
First, I agree with Syber and with awa54. I also grew up on film. I don't use RAW at all and use limited PP. I like to see on jpegs something like what I see with my eye, but there are several more or less obvious aspects to this!

1. the eye has a logarithmic intensity response which is quite different from what the camera records. And (given the limited intensity range achievable in most display formats), if you want the displayed image to look what you saw at the time, you will often nmeed some non-linear curve applied somwehre, even if you don;t want to let the camera do that.

2. In-camera jpegs tupically enhance contrast to give punchy pics in poor light but don't show the detail in shadows that we see. DRO corrects that, but it needs manual control according to both the lighting and the intended image; against-the-light pics may need DRO 5 but silhouetes will need it off. I normally use DRO auto but use DRO3 quite a lot. If in doubt, I use DRO for jpegs (which reduces the luma nd chroma noise level in dark areas in the jpeg) and keep the option to pull the tone curve down in PP to darken the shadows if I want (works much better than the opposite).

3. The A900 processes the light curve differently from many more recent cameras (certainly the A58), and has lots of different adjustments. In some modes it can push the average down (presumably in raw too) to create headroom for bright bits. Don't know whether later FF cameras do that. Certainly, the A58 jpegs have much less headroom than the A900 jpegs for similar settigns (insofar as I could get the settings similar). Indeed, I often need some -EV just to stop the whites saturating on the A58.

4. It is a mistake to say that the camera does nothing in jpegs that you can't do easily in raw afterward. DRO makes different decisions for different parts of the picture. Simply pulling the tone curve around on raws afterward does not do the same thing.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pegelli Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 July 2018 at 18:35
Originally posted by Miranda F Miranda F wrote:


4. It is a mistake to say that the camera does nothing in jpegs that you can't do easily in raw afterward. DRO makes different decisions for different parts of the picture. Simply pulling the tone curve around on raws afterward does not do the same thing.
Raw converters do that too, for instance in Lightroom you can change the tone curve, but the highlights, shadows, black and white sliders in the basic panel don't apply a tone curve, but change pixel values based on their "environment" (like DRO does)
The fact you can't exactly match the DRO result is because a different algorithm is used, but the principle is the same.
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