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Fujifilm Dynamic Range Priority vs Dynamic Range

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What’s the difference between Fuji’s Dynamic Range Priority and Dynamic Range?

There’s been some confusion about the differences between Dynamic Range Priority vs Dynamic Range in Fujifilm X cameras. They have similar names – which is where the confusion is coming from – but they’re not the same thing.

They’re settings that alter how a Fujifilm JPEG is processed in-camera. And they also show RAW-only photographers how they might be able to recover dynamic range in post-processing.

fuji dynamic range priority

What is Fuji’s Dynamic Range?

Fujifilm has a Dynamic Range setting, like many other digital cameras, that help preserve details in bright highlight areas.

Digital cameras can’t see the wide range of tones, from dark to bright, that our eyes can, and so these settings are an attempt to get it closer to how we see.

Really bright areas, where your eyes may see details, may come out pure white in the photo. The Dynamic Range setting “underexposes” only these bright areas so that instead of pure white, you can see some of those details that would otherwise be lost. Darker shadow areas are unaffected by this underexposure.

How does Dynamic Range work?

Well, that’s an entire post in itself, and you can read how the Dynamic Range setting works here if you want to get further into the details.


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In one sentence, Dynamic Range uses ISO to “underexpose” the photo and then increases the exposure of only the shadow areas.

The four Dynamic Range settings:

  • DR100: Dynamic Range adjustment is off.
  • DR200: Dynamic Range reduces the highlight exposure one stop.
  • DR400: Dynamic Range reduces the highlight exposure two stops.
  • AUTO: The camera assesses the scene and selects either DR100 or DR200 (no 400).
dynamic range off
No Dynamic Range settings applied
Dynamic Range 400
Dynamic Range 400 applied to recover the sky

What is Fuji’s Dynamic Range Priority?

Think of Dynamic Range Priority (D RANGE PRIORITY in the menu) as a “package” setting. Its goal is the same as Dynamic Range, but it combines both the Dynamic Range setting and the Highlight/Shadow Tone setting to do it.

So Dynamic Range is one setting that does one thing. Highlight & Shadow Tone is another setting that does another thing. Dynamic Range Priority doesn’t do anything new; it just combines the functions of Dynamic Range and Highlight/Shadow Tone to further reduce contrast.

There’s no indication of the specific curves used in Dynamic Range Priority – it all happens behind the scenes.

The four D RANGE PRIORITY settings:

  • Off: No Dynamic Range or Highlight/Shadow adjustments are made.
  • Weak: Moderate compensation. Requires a minimum ISO of 320 (newer cameras) or 400 (older cameras).
  • Strong: Extra compensation. Requires a minimum ISO of 640 (newer cameras) or 800 (older cameras).
  • Auto: The camera will choose between Off, Weak, or Strong, based on the scene.

When Dynamic Range Priority is in Weak, Strong, or Auto, the Dynamic Range and Highlight/Shadow Tone settings are disabled since Dynamic Range Priority controls both of those.

dynamic range priority menu
When D RANGE PRIORITY is set to WEAK, STRONG, or AUTO, it takes over the DYNAMIC RANGE and HIGHLIGHT/SHADOW TONE settings. Those are “grayed out” and show DR-P in control.

The first image is a high-contrast scene with no Dynamic Range or Priority settings applied. See the captions for settings in subsequent images.

No dynamic range priority
Provia film simulation, no Dynamic Range Priority applied.
Dynamic Range Priority Weak
Dynamic Range Priority Weak, Provia simulation.
Dynamic Range Priority Strong
Dynamic Range Priority Strong, Provia simulation

The main differences between Dynamic Range Priority and Dynamic Range

The big takeaway for understanding the difference between Dynamic Range Priority and Dynamic Range is the “package” concept.

“Dynamic Range Priority” includes “Dynamic Range.” The regular “Dynamic Range” setting sometimes isn’t enough for really high-contrast scenes; “Dynamic Range Priority” can further increase dynamic range by outputting a much flatter image.

Think of Dynamic Range Priority as a boosted Dynamic Range setting.


Which cameras have Dynamic Range Priority?

Dynamic Range Priority was first introduced in the X-H1. It’s now included in newer Fujifilm cameras like the X-T3, X-T30, X-Pro3, X100V, and X-T4.

So while all Fujifilm X cameras have Dynamic Range, if you want to get a “Dynamic Range Priority” look with other cameras, you’ll have to manually control Highlight & Shadow Tones.


When should you use Dynamic Range Priority and Dynamic Range?

Dynamic Range and Dynamic Range Priority with RAW & JPEG

First off, as I mentioned in the beginning, these settings permanently alter the JPEG file. But the reduction in contrast in the JPEG file will give you a little more latitude when processing the JPEG (which should still only be done cautiously since those files can’t take a lot).

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Whichever “Dynamic Range” setting is used within Dynamic Range Priority will also alter the RAW file. The other tone curve settings won’t be applied to the RAW file but the Dynamic Range processing occurs before the RAW file is saved.

Dynamic Range Priority vs Dynamic Range situationally

Like everything, it’s a matter of personal taste.

Some photographers like really flat, low-contrast photos. And some photographers prefer that look to be able to add contrast back to a JPEG file. In that case, Dynamic Range Priority may be something you prefer.

If you don’t like flat, low-contrast photos, you may want to avoid Dynamic Range Priority altogether and only use Dynamic Range at times.

But there are times when both types of photographers encounter really high-contrast scenes, with really bright brights and really dark darks. Dynamic Range Priority might be a good solution for everyone.

Affected by film simulations and custom settings

DRP Weak, Provia
Dynamic Range Priority Weak, Provia
DRP Weak, PNH
Dynamic Range Priority Weak, Pro Neg Hi

Fujifilm’s film simulations will also alter how Dynamic Range Priority is rendered. Some simulations, like Pro Neg Hi, already have a high-contrast curve. Provia has a curve with a lower contrast.

So when Dynamic Range Priority is applied, the images will look different from both simulations. Experiment with these to see which looks you prefer the most.

If you’re in a custom setting where you’ve programmed a Dynamic Range setting and Highlight/Shadow Tone settings, enabling Dynamic Range Priority will disable these.

Tom Gibson

Wednesday 23rd of December 2020

Thinking about your D-Range priority vs D-Range article. I am thinking about hiking, walking around town or a pond etc. I am a M shooter and always have been as I like to control all elements….but I can change to get a fast shot….Usually for walk about I am in A priority w DR 100

So I am trying D-Range Priority Auto. I find that I still need to adjust ISO to capture the full range of light when using Auto ISO with an F4 lens. Correct

Too which one lens do you take w your when hiking and then backpacking as they would be different.

John Peltier

Monday 28th of December 2020

Yeah you just need to make sure your ISO is high enough in order to give you the full range of D-Range Priority for AUTO mode. I love my 16-55mm lens and usually always take that with me, however, if I'm expecting any kind of wildlife I'll take my 18-135mm lens to have a better telephoto capability in one single lens.

Bartjan

Tuesday 18th of August 2020

Thanks for the clear explanation. I appreciate it.

Mrhelichopper

Tuesday 21st of July 2020

Thanks for a really great explanation, excellent post and really appreciated.

I find the stronger settings do result in a flatter image than I like, it would be nice to limit the auto setting so that it cannot use the stronger settings.

Tom Gibson

Monday 23rd of December 2019

Thanks for the info and comments. Not sure when to use this as never use .jpg. Also noticed on import to LR that the highlights were still over exposed, not like the .jpg in-camera preview which were underexposed or not over exposed...I will stick w Manual exposure mode and if need be shoot an HDR or a combo of DR/HDR.

Thanks for the excellent posts

Tom Gibson

Saturday 21st of December 2019

What I noticed is how very Flat (I think as you said) the RAW images are at Strong and 400 vs off and adjusting for highlights manually or EC using Provia Std. I never shoot .jpg as I want maximum latitude for adjusting/editing. When bringing into LR and adjustingand flatness can be fixed. But pure .jpg way too flat. Thanks for the article and I will stay with manual or EC adjustment vs DR.

John Peltier

Sunday 22nd of December 2019

Yeah I haven't really found a situation where Strong and 400 work...at least for a realistic look.