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Author Topic: HDR and exposure/bracketing options  (Read 9789 times)
ymc226
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« on: September 28, 2012, 09:47:28 AM »
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With the D800 I can choose up to 9 exposures with various steps between brackets.  If memory and speed was not an issue, should I use all 9 exposures and what steps of bracketing?  I would be taking mostly higher contrast beach type scenes?  I was limited to 7 bracketed shots on the Leica M9P and liked the results but was wondering if 9 would add any improvement.
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walter.sk
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« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2012, 12:14:17 PM »
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In my experience I get the smoothest results when the shots are 1 or 1 1/3 stops apart, but I get quite good results up to 2 stops apart.  As far as how many shots you need in the bracket, you can do a test in one of two ways (at least).  Using spot metering measure the brightest part of the scene and the darkest part of the scene.  That will tell you the dynamic range of the scene, and you can then set the number of shots and the required distance between them.   A less elegant way is to shoot to get details in the shadows, another to get detail in the highlights, and count the stops between the two exposure; then, choose the number of shots you want and the distance between shots.

Another part of the technique would be to choose your best "normal" exposure, and if that requires exposure compensation, use that setting (with the compensation) as your middle exposure in the sequence.

Both the NIK HDR program and Photomatix are now quite adept at merging the images with as few artifacts as possible, so I can even get a sequence of 3 or 5 images to work well in most situations when I have to hand-hold a sequence.
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Paul2660
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« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2012, 12:22:43 PM »
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A couple of thoughts.

1.  Are you shooting raw or jpg.  If raw, you may hit the buffer on 9 brackets if you are shooting them in continuous mode.  I have not tried the D800 in continuous mode so I don't know where the wall is on the buffer.  

2.  You might be surprised at 3 frames or 5.  or 2  You can pull a lot of DR from one frame of a raw file of the D800.  Experiment with the Active D lighting, it does make a difference.   The HDR in camera only allow 2 brackets which at first surprised me but after working with the files from the D800 the DR is very amazing in just one file.  

3.  If I understand the D800 bracketing, the max exposure per bracket is 1 full stop, 9 set to 1 stop  should give you 4 down 1 center and 4 up.  That's a pretty big range.  

The D800 has opened up a totally different aspect for me since before I tended to always lead off with a exposure bracket series with Canon, knowing that I would not be able to pull up the shadows without considerable noise.  The D800 will allow at least 2 to 3 stops of movement in one raw file.  

Paul
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lfeagan
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« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2012, 12:27:23 PM »
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I have two thoughts on this from my experience.

First, at base ISO the D800 images have a lot more data in the highlights and shadows than my D700 (and most other cameras for that matter). On the day I received the camera I created a 12-shot stitched pano of an evening sky and a garden and unfortunately the sun had gone down enough that the garden was heavily in shadow but was up enough to make the sky quite bright. When looking at the initial results it looked like I had blown the highlights for most of the sky and sunk into the shadows in parts of the garden. I ended up doing +100 shadows and -100 highlights in LR and amazingly enough there was still enough info to come out with a wonderful print. I was shocked that +/- 100 didn't create something awful looking. The sky went from white to having clouds and the areas of the garden from black to having orange pumpkins.

Second, given the DR available with a single shot and the firmware only allowing up to +/- 1.0 for each step in the bracketing, the 9-bracket shot may strangely prove to be useful. If Nikon would un-gimp their firmware to allow +/- 2.0 you could go with a 5-shot bracketing, which should yield similar results (visually the same). I did +/- 2.0 bracketed shots years ago when shooting Canon. I am surprised and annoyed that Nikon still hasn't implemented this super-simple feature. As a programmer, I would guess they did something goofy like allocating 3-bits to the storage of the exposure offset, which would allow 8 steps + 1 bit for if you are using 1/2 or 1/3 EV per step. I know, this sounds very messy and odd. Years ago I dealt with data formats like the signals that come in raw from GPS satellites. After that you start to have some funny ideas about what people were thinking when they design things. Some engineers are obsessed with saving a single bit and work themselves into a corner.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2012, 12:38:36 PM by lfeagan » Logged

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ymc226
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« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2012, 12:44:42 PM »
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Thanks for all that replied.  I shot RAW and always convert to monochrome.  As I understand it, HDR from the D800 is JPEG and restricted to 2 shots.  The D800 buffer capacity should be able to handle more than 9 at a time; I believe up to 15 before slowing down. 

I'm going to Nantucket next week and have a few spots in mind and will try the 9 shot with +/-1 exposure steps.  If the dynamic range of the subject is not too wide (Paul, based on your suggestion, I probably will dig out my Pentax digital spotmeter), would decreasing to 2/3  or 1/2 stop increments (keeping the 9 total shots) improve tonality or any other aspect of the HDR result?
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2012, 05:06:26 PM »
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A couple of further points:
The D800 has the highest recorded dynamic range of any camera commercially available - period.
You may find out that substantially less bracketed images are required to produce a stunning result.

Your fastest exposure should be an appropriate ETTR exposure.
Subsequently one exposes slower and slower to expose for the shadows.
I would experiment with the gaps between brackets - try a 1 stop gap and then 2 stops with another bracket.
The D800 has broken so many 'rules of thumb' - who knows what the rules really are for HDR imaging using this body.

Regards

Tony Jay
« Last Edit: September 28, 2012, 06:16:02 PM by Tony Jay » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2012, 06:59:26 PM »
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Whether you use all 9 shots in a bracket will depend on the scene.  You may be able to use just 7 or 5 or 3.  As others have said, the brightness range of the D800 sensor will put a whole different spin on what's possible in terms of single shot and what's needed for multi-shot techniques.  The one thing to keep in mind; however, is that you can never have too many images in a bracketed sequence (no rule says you have to use all you capture), but you can have too few and that will lead to very sub-optimal results in an HDR merge.
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2012, 10:14:34 PM »
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As I understand it, HDR from the D800 is JPEG and restricted to 2 shots. 

maybe , if your camera is doing the tone mapping process internally. I'm not a fan of that.

If you use Lightroom a good place to start is the Enfuse plug-in for Lightroom. It is available here: http://www.photographers-toolbox.com/products/lrenfuse.php
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« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2012, 11:58:38 PM »
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If you use Lightroom a good place to start is the Enfuse plug-in for Lightroom. It is available here: http://www.photographers-toolbox.com/products/lrenfuse.php

I think Enfuse is great and use it a lot, but unless Timothy has upgraded it, you won't get 32-bit output.

Mike.
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deejjjaaaa
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« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2012, 12:57:40 AM »
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With the D800 I can choose up to 9 exposures with various steps between brackets.  If memory and speed was not an issue, should I use all 9 exposures and what steps of bracketing?  I would be taking mostly higher contrast beach type scenes?  I was limited to 7 bracketed shots on the Leica M9P and liked the results but was wondering if 9 would add any improvement.

Fuji was using sensors that were essentially taking 2 exposures (at once) to achieve high DR... so why do you need 9 exposures where Fuji was able to live w/ 2 exposures and you have a sensor that beats any set of Fuji's sensels (2 sets of sensels that were combined) by a good margin ?
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allegretto
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« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2012, 05:16:11 AM »
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The D800 has the highest recorded dynamic range of any camera commercially available - period.


Tony Jay

Compared to the D4 only at ASA 100, about equal @ 200 and after that the D4 is actually deeper per sensorgen.info
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2012, 05:21:02 AM »
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Compared to the D4 only at ASA 100, about equal @ 200 and after that the D4 is actually deeper per sensorgen.info

That's true but with HDR one shoots at base ISO.

Regards

Tony Jay
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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2012, 06:42:28 AM »
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That's true but with HDR one shoots at base ISO.

Hi Tony,

Indeed, it's often overlooked by a lot of people. Shooting HDRs is about optimizing the Signal/Noise ratio (SNR), and the best way is to collect as many photons as possible for all relevant levels of subject brightness. Shooting at the native ISO level is a first step towards that goal, shooting the darker areas of the scene with longer exposures is the next.

Cheers,
Bart
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2012, 07:16:18 AM »
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Hi Tony,

Indeed, it's often overlooked by a lot of people. Shooting HDRs is about optimizing the Signal/Noise ratio (SNR), and the best way is to collect as many photons as possible for all relevant levels of subject brightness. Shooting at the native ISO level is a first step towards that goal, shooting the darker areas of the scene with longer exposures is the next.

Cheers,
Bart

Yes.
HDR shooting is actually not that difficult - provided one already has a grasp of the fundamentals.
Small things like shooting at base ISO, shooting the fastest image as an appropriate ETTR and then bracketing slower exposures from there to bring out the shadows.
One or two stop brackets - I have got excellent results with either.

IMHO using a tripod with cable release and live view is crucial for optimal results.

Regards

Tony Jay
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Guillermo Luijk
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« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2012, 01:00:16 PM »
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Your D800's sensor is today's highest DR sensor in the market.
  • IMO you should first understand what HDR means, which is NOT a synonymous of doing several exposures.
  • Then I would try to find out which scenes really need more than one shot with your D800. If one shot is enough to capture the entire DR from the highlights to the shadows with an acceptable presence of noise, you are wasting your time, resources and money spent in that fantastic camera in doing several shots. You never shoot more than once when doing a portrait because you don't need it, the same applies here.
  • If you really find you need extra shots to cover the entire DR of the scene, I would never shoot less than 2EV apart, it's again a waste of time and resources, and a bad way to understand and optimise your digital camera's usage. Shooting 3 times with a D800 2EV apart should suffice 99% real world scenes (that adds 4 extra stops of DR to your camera's effective base DR: 12+4 = 16 stops, this is simply huge and in fact tricky to handle in postprocessing).

Regards
« Last Edit: September 30, 2012, 01:06:43 PM by Guillermo Luijk » Logged

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« Reply #15 on: September 30, 2012, 02:18:06 PM »
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Your D800's sensor is today's highest DR sensor in the market.
  • IMO you should first understand what HDR means, which is NOT a synonymous of doing several exposures.
  • Then I would try to find out which scenes really need more than one shot with your D800. If one shot is enough to capture the entire DR from the highlights to the shadows with an acceptable presence of noise, you are wasting your time, resources and money spent in that fantastic camera in doing several shots. You never shoot more than once when doing a portrait because you don't need it, the same applies here.
  • If you really find you need extra shots to cover the entire DR of the scene, I would never shoot less than 2EV apart, it's again a waste of time and resources, and a bad way to understand and optimise your digital camera's usage. Shooting 3 times with a D800 2EV apart should suffice 99% real world scenes (that adds 4 extra stops of DR to your camera's effective base DR: 12+4 = 16 stops, this is simply huge and in fact tricky to handle in postprocessing).

Regards


Except that the D800, like other higher end Nikon bodies is restricted to 1 stop gaps using in camera AEB.  Going to 2 stops requires (a) touching the camera, which is not recommended, or (b) using an accessory remote release like Promote Control (maybe there are others on the market, I'm not sure).

As far as what cameras have the best dynamic range and how much, the D600 appears to be very much the equal of the D800 and better in some cases, particularly if the 'Screen' or raw sensor data is looked at rather than the downsampled 'Print' data on the DxO site.  Like most 'non-professional' bodies the D600 AEB is even more hobbled in that it allows only up to 3 frames but can go to 2 stop increments; which, given the drange of the sensor, may be all that are needed in most cases.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2012, 02:28:33 PM by BobFisher » Logged
Guillermo Luijk
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« Reply #16 on: September 30, 2012, 02:28:21 PM »
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Shame on Nikon. With such a high DR sensor I would even prefer Canon's rudimentary {3 shots, up to 3EV apart} bracketing.
12+6=18 stops!!!
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allegretto
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« Reply #17 on: September 30, 2012, 05:31:54 PM »
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Thanks Tony, I didn't know that since I don't really do HDR. I was last deeply involved when it was emulsion, so some modern techniques are new to me coming back.

I was just commenting on the sensor, not the technique but that will help me if I think I need HDR.
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #18 on: September 30, 2012, 06:08:44 PM »
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Shame on Nikon. With such a high DR sensor I would even prefer Canon's rudimentary {3 shots, up to 3EV apart} bracketing.
12+6=18 stops!!!

I take the camera's controls right out of the picture by using a remote control (Promote Control) and doing whatever I need to.
Currently this is much less of an issue with my current body (5D III) that is fairly accomodating with image bracketing.

BTW the Promote Control is also very useful in doing focus stacking.

Regards

Tony Jay
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RFPhotography
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« Reply #19 on: September 30, 2012, 06:19:10 PM »
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I take the camera's controls right out of the picture by using a remote control (Promote Control) and doing whatever I need to.
Currently this is much less of an issue with my current body (5D III) that is fairly accomodating with image bracketing.

BTW the Promote Control is also very useful in doing focus stacking.

Regards

Tony Jay

It's also north of $300, a luxury not everyone can afford.  Focus stacking is, currently, only an option with Canon cameras (I expect they'll get there with Nikon at some point as they did with bulb ramping)
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