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Author Topic: Would a simpler Live View histogram be better?  (Read 3095 times)
Isaac
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« on: November 05, 2011, 11:28:32 AM »
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"Being able to superimpose a histogram when shooting at eye level is a big win for serious workers." (Sony NEX-5n Field Review)

The Live View histogram on the Sony SLT-A55 seems much the same as on the pocket Sony W300, and I guess other Sony cameras (and I guess other DSLRs too).

Suddenly the idea has popped into my head that all that detail shown in the Live View histogram is mostly "noise" rather than "signal" - it seems to me that the histogram shows a lot of continually changing data rather than identifying and indicating key information.

I expect there's something really obvious I've missed but, in my very limited experience, all I really want to know from the Live View histogram is how badly the highlights are clipped and a quite general impression (before I take the photo) of how light or how dark. Is that the key information experienced photographers extract from a Live View histogram?

If that is the key information then I imagine simpler would be better - a smoothed moving average to give the general impression, and some easy-to-see indicator that plainly shows highlights are clipped (so I don't need to figure out if there's a small thin bar in the rightmost position of a continually changing histogram).
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NikoJorj
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« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2011, 03:29:28 PM »
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Some discussion about these things takes place here : http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=57654.0

In my book, the HL blinker is a bit more useful than the histogram (which is not very detailed), but you need both : trhe HL blinker to see what is blown, the histogram to see how much margin you got before clipping if nothing blinks (and how much of the image stands in the noisy shadows).
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Nicolas from Grenoble
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PeterAit
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« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2011, 03:36:16 PM »
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On a related topic, I think it would be useful if cameras offered an exposure mode that is based on highlight clipping. In this mode, you would get the most exposure possible without clipping any pixels. Variants could give the most exposure while permitting 1%, 2%, 4% etc. of pixels to be clipped.
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Peter
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NikoJorj
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« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2011, 08:24:55 AM »
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Yes, I didn't link to http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=33267 because these days I take this for granted, but may be I should have done.
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Nicolas from Grenoble
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Isaac
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« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2011, 12:33:40 PM »
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the HL blinker to see what is blown, the histogram to see how much margin you got before clipping if nothing blinks (and how much of the image stands in the noisy shadows).

I'm not sure that we're talking about the same thing ;-)

When I review an image that I've already taken then the HL blinker shows what is blown and the channel histograms give some impression of how much margin there was before clipping if nothing blinks.

But I was talking about the continuously updated Live View histogram shown before capture - which in the SLT-A35 (and I expect many other cameras) can be "superimposed" at eye level and ought to be "a big win for serious workers".

I don't think the continuously updated Live View histogram is anywhere near as useful as it should be (even for JPG, even for point&shoot snapshots) because most of that continuously changing data is unimportant "noise" - without an unmistakable indication that highlights will likely be lost.

Perhaps, once upon a time,  the Live View histogram we have now  was an effective way to demonstrate that a camera did indeed provide a live view updated many times per second - but these days that's the ordinary expectation. A flickering histogram no longer has marketing value.

So my concern at the moment isn't with lack of in-camera support for ETTR, my concern is lack of in-camera support for "prudent exposure". The less attention I need to waste trying to see whether there's a far right histogram bar - the more attention I have to use creatively. The LiveView histogram does provide real-time feedback - but it provides "noisy" data instead of a key indicator.

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NikoJorj
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« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2011, 03:29:21 PM »
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So my concern at the moment isn't with lack of in-camera support for ETTR, my concern is lack of in-camera support for "prudent exposure".
Both are the same, indeed Wink : ETTR is about clipping nothing (maximizing good signal), and at the same time diminishing noise by pushing up exposure, therefore maximizing S/N ratio.

But if you are more wary of clipping, then a clipping blinker on the live view, reflecting the raw channels that could be clipped by the current settings, is imho the best tool to avoid it.
And yes alas, the histogram is way less easy to read than an image-based indicator as the blinkers.
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Nicolas from Grenoble
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Isaac
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« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2011, 06:16:44 PM »
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a clipping blinker on the live view, reflecting the raw channels that could be clipped by the current settings

Let's check that I understand what you're saying ;-)

I think you're talking about an ideal feature which you wish a camera maker would add to their range of cameras - but none of them have yet?

I'm thinking about a feature which most of the camera makers already do provide for most of their range of cameras - badly. Does it matter to anyone that for a fraction of a second, the right-most luminosity histogram bar spiked from 5% to 23% and back to 3%? Or is the salient point that there would likely be blown highlights unless I change something - and that isn't indicated clearly?

(Perhaps showing where the highlights are blown would be even better, but all I'm asking for is a clear and obvious warning indicator - a better presentation of existing data.)
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NikoJorj
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« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2011, 02:36:02 AM »
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Yes, I think we do agree Grin .
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Nicolas from Grenoble
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