One of the new things on the new Leica M10 is an improved dynamic range. What I mean by the term dynamic range is how a system, be it film or digital, records light. Specifically, how well it can differentiate between things that are really bright and really dark and can it still record detail in both the bright areas and the dark areas simultaneously.

Oftentimes, you can sidestep this by doing a multi-shot HDR sequence. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. It does this by taking multiple exposures at different settings then combining the shots so that the overexposed shots record shadow detail and the underexposed shots record the highlight detail. But when things are moving this isn’t a technique that can easily be applied (if at all).

But, with a good enough camera, you can do it in one shot. The M10 certainly seems to be good enough.

Here’s a shot I took yesterday:

Other than cropping, this is as it came out of the camera. This is almost a binary shot; there are blacks and whites, but not so much in the middle.

This isn’t how a human sees the same scene. Our eyes are marvelous things that have a very high dynamic range.

So I pulled this shot (shot in raw of course) into Lightroom and dragged around a few sliders.

Suddenly, the shot is roughly how I remembered it. The camera recorded enough detail in the “black” to pull everything out of there that I would have wanted. There’s enough latitude to go even further:

While this is no longer the image I want, the lady in the picture can clearly be seen with a red skirt and a purple top. The image at these locations were easily 6-8 stops underexposed (which is why they were black originally). There’s some noise there, but if I was trying to give the impression that a nuke went off in Puget Sound, I think I could have claimed to have succeeded — and recorded some detail.

Hell, take a look at the no parking sign. On the original shot, it was simply black, with the curves bumped up a lot you can see it for what it is.

I’m impressed with this. A lot.