Fuji HS10…Conquering the Highlights

Fuji HS10…Conquering the Highlights

One of the ongoing complaints I continually hear, is the the HS10 has difficulty with blowing out highlights. The constant criticism that I hear is that there isn’t enough dynamic range with this camera, consequently highlight details are continually lost. My answer to that is “Rubbish !!

I have said this on many occasions in the past, with the HS10 you must learn to shoot it to match the conditions. Shooting auto or even Pmode will not always suffice to get good results. The HS10 is a thinking photographers’ camera, not a point and click camera.

Nikon d3000 comparison shot.

The following series was shot at 9.30 am at the main beach at Mt Maunganui, for comparison I have added the same type of shot from “Emily Rose’s ” feature. Her image is taken using the Nikon D3000 with standard kit lens. As you can see the photo has a large range of highlights, from water to cloud etc. Dynamic range is well controlled. Here is a link to a very good description of how dynamic range works.

The scene I was presented with was one that I knew was going to require a bit of a change to my usual “P” mode settings. The question was what exactly would I need to change. I took a couple of shots just to see what the camera would do in standard “P” mode. As I expected it blew the highlights out and looked badly overexposed. The EV was set at -33EV which is my standard setting. I dropped to -67 Ev for the next couple of shots. This told me I was on the right track, however it was not until I dropped to -1.00Ev that I got what I wanted.

ISO 200 @f8
Exp Bias -1.00 EV

Date Mar 31, 2011 2:36:30 AM
Width 1600
Height 895
File Size 90075
Model FinePix HS10 HS11
ISO 200
Exposure 1/3300 sec
Aperture 8.0
Focal Length 4mm
Flash Used false
White Balance 0

ISO 200@f8
Exp Bias -0.67 EV

Date Mar 31, 2011 2:34:57 AM
File Size86697
Model FinePix HS10 HS11
Exposure1/3000 sec
Aperture 8.0
Focal Length 5mm
Flash Used false
White Balance 0

In the second image I was able to raise the Ev a little as the amount of light and direction allowed for a decrease in the Ev setting. While the two images appear very similar, when you view a histogram of them they present a very different set of curves. It is evident that the dynamic range can change drastically by a few degrees from shot to shot. Not only is the camera having to adapt to these changes, so must the photographer. The adjustment from -1.00 to -0.67 Ev may not seem great, however the difference in end result can be that you fail to get a good  image, and end up with a over exposure which is very hard to post process, if indeed its even possible.
Can the HS10 handle this sort of dynamic range without clipping highlights. Most definitely, although you really do need to ensure you use the correct settings.
In comparison to the Nikon image, as is usual for the HS10 shot in chrome (film simulation) setting the color is somewhat saturated in the blue part of the spectrum. Although not necessarily to everyones taste, I happen to like the more saturated color from the Fuji cameras.
When taking these images I had removed my lenshood but had retained the Skylight 1-A filter as protection from dust and sea spray. This appears to have added a little to the lens flares and starring of the sun image, both are effects that I quite like. Below are a few more from the day I took the above images. All Exif is embedded and you can see some of the originals before and after  I processed them in Photoscape.
The last image gives a clearer idea of what the day and light was like. Directly out to sea and inline with the ships was a low lying band of sea haze, which can be seen in the wide angle shots as a light brownish haze just above sea level. This haze is more evident in the telephoto shots as we lose the blue of the sky as the zoom is applied. As an added point of interest there was a great deal of image shimmer observable. Whether this was from air currents further out to sea or heat shimmer was not readily clear. Perhaps a bit of both may be the answer.

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