Multiple retinal mechanisms preserve visual sensitivity as the properties of the light inputs change. Rapid gain controls match the effective signaling range of retinal neurons to the local image statistics. Such gain controls trade an increased sensitivity for some aspects of the inputs for a decreased sensitivity to others. Rapid, local gain control comes at another cost: noise in the signal controlling gain (e.g. from the photoreceptors) will cause gain itself to vary even when the statistics of the light input are constant. Recent advances in identifying retinal pathways and the sites and mechanisms of mean and contrast adaptation have begun to clarify the tradeoffs associated with different gain control locations and how these tradeoffs differ for rod and cone vision.