Exposure latitude

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Exposure latitude is the extent to which a light-sensitive material can be overexposed or underexposed and still achieve an acceptable result. This measure is used for digital and analogue processes, i.e. optical microlithography or photography. In the first case this value statistically describes the response of a photoresist to radiation and defines the process window where the photolithographic process can vary within (e.g. how well it compensates for spatial non-uniformities of the illumination). In the latter artistic case the measurement of exposure latitude is, by definition dependent on both personal aesthetics and artistic intentions, somewhat subjective. However, the relative differences between mediums are generally agreed upon: reversal film tends to have very little latitude, color negative film has considerably more, and digital sensors slot between the two.

It is not to be confused with dynamic range, the range of light intensities a medium can capture simultaneously. A recording medium with greater dynamic range will be able to record more details in the dark and light areas of a picture. Latitude depends on dynamic range. If the same scene can be recorded using less than the full brightness range available to the medium, the exposure can be shifted along the range without losing information in the shadows or highlights. Greater exposure latitude allows one to compensate for errors in exposure while retaining quality.

Professional critique of digital cine cameras often centers on the extent to which their dynamic range, and exposure latitude by extension, falls short of that of negative film.

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