The Fujifilm cameras like the X-T serie (the X-T10, X-T20, X-T1, X-T2) and the X-PRO2 have the concept of the Dynamic Range. (BTW, I’m not sure about the X-E1 and the X-E2, since I haven’t had any of these cameras).

  • All photo sensors including those on smartphones and tablets have some dynamic range to capture both the highlights and the shadows.
  • The Dynamic Range goes from a low of 8EV to a high of 14EV.
  • Both Nikon and Canon allows for extending the dynamic range with Nikon’s Active D-Lighting and Canon’s Auto Lighting Optimizer.
  • Fujifilm takes it a step further than Canon or Nikon with DR100, DR200 and DR400 and AutoDR.

What do the DR modes actually do?

Contrarily to popular belief the Dynamic Range setting’s job is not to raise the ISO. But, sometimes the Dynamic Range needs to change the ISO to do its job.

  • If the Dynamic Range is set to DR100, the camera does not do any extra processing. Whatever the metering says, is what will be recorded.
  • If the Dynamic Range is set to DR200.
  • Read both the highlights and the shadows separately. What is the range? Is this more than the sensor’s capable of recording?
  • No then do nothing
  • Yes
    • Makes sure that the ISO is at least set to ISO 400
    • Meter from the highlight and raise somewhat some of the shadows and the mid-tones
  • If the Dynamic Range is set to DR400.
  • Read both the highlights and the shadows separately. What is the range? Is this more than the sensor’s capable of recording?
  • No then do nothing
  • Yes
    • Makes sure that the ISO is at least set to ISO 800
    • Meter from the highlight and raise as much as possible some of the shadows and the mid-tones

The Dynamic Range settings’ job is to protect the highlight from being over-exposed. It does its job in 2 steps:

  1. By under-exposing the shadows and the mid-tones by 2/3 of a stop to two stops if the contrast in the image is more than 8EV
  2. During the processing of the image, the CPU brightens the shadows and the mid-tones while ignoring the highlights.

Does the DR mode affects only the JPEGs?

  • No, The Dynamic Range affects the exposure of the shadows and the mid-tones, so it’s always applied to the RAW files and then processed according to the JPEG files when created by the camera.
  • The Dynamic Range is also a flag in the RAW file: “0x1402 DynamicRangeSetting” of the “MakerNotes” section of the RAW file.

With my RAW processor the images are always dark

  • Some raw processors know about the Dynamic Range flag and process it accordingly, like Sylpix.
  • Some raw processor ignore the Dynamic Range flag and do nothing about it. Then the raw image looks dark in the mid-tone and the shadows but looks good in the highlights. Then it’s to the person to raise the shadows and the mid-tones “to taste”.

What is AutoDR

AutoDR allows the camera to decide what to do:

  • Nothing » set the dynamic range to DR100
  • Some processing » set the dynamic range to DR200
  • Full processing » set the dynamic range to DR200

The camera decides on which setting to use based on the contrast between the shadows and the highlights.