I am about to order a d7100 ( now have a d80) and am reading the manual. I have question about the different ways to increase dynamic range. One way is to use d lighting our active d lighting. The other is to use the HDR mode. It looks like the latter way doesn't allow shooting in RAW. Are there other differences? Does anyone have a preference? Thanks Stephen.
#1. "RE: Increasing dynamic range" In response to Reply # 0 Tue 23-Apr-13 07:29 PM by Omaha
"Active-D" and "HDR" both use in-camera post-processing gymnastics to manipulate the final output file. By definition, the output will never be a raw file...since raw files (ie, NEF) are, well, raw.
The logic behind Active-D is to step down the exposure a stop or two so that highlights are not blown out, and then digitally increase the brightness of the shadow and dark areas of the image to compensate.
The logic behind HDR is to take a series of images, varying the exposure by a stop or two each time, and then digitally stack them in such a manner that the best-exposed section of each image is what makes it into the final output.
As to preferences, I find HDR images to be boring and cartoonish. They remind me of images where someone has discovered some new Photoshop filter (ie "posterize" or some such thing) and thinks using that transformation makes every shot into a work of art.
Active-D works really well and results in very good, natural looking images. Personally, I prefer to shoot raw, which allows me to directly control the shadow recovery process in Photoshop.
No matter how one sets the camera, the sensor is the sensor and the exposure value is the exposure value. The raw sensor data is not effected by any of this.
Edit: BTW, you are in for a real treat. The native sensor performance of the D7100 has like 2.5 stops more dynamic range than your D80. Even without any processing, you are taking a huge step up.
#2. "RE: Increasing dynamic range" In response to Reply # 0
El Sobrante, US
As Omaha noted, the in-camera HDR and D-lighting effects are baked into the jpgs. However, you can bracket a series of RAW images and run them thru any of several HDR processors in post processing to get a huge dynamic range. This will work only on subjects/scenes that do not have motion in them.
#3. "RE: Increasing dynamic range" In response to Reply # 2 Tue 23-Apr-13 07:51 PM by Seragone
Thanks both of you. So, would you bracket using exposure? Also, how effectinve is focusing on the bright portion using ae lock? In the past I did the latter with some success but it seems I maybe would do better by reducing the focus area to spot? If so, should I save these settings under U? Does capture nx do hd processing? So many questions! Thanks. S
#4. "RE: Increasing dynamic range" In response to Reply # 3
I'm lazy, and tend to only take shots that are rather deliberately composed...meaning I'm rarely in a situation where I am taking "action" shots. As a result, I generally tend to a "poke and hope" approach: I take the shot, then look at the histogram. If I blew out the highlights, I'll adjust and try again. That way I don't have to worry about any guesswork regarding how the in-camera metering is going to read a scene.
If I were to go after some HDR stuff (which I wouldn't, but that goes back to my personal tastes), I'd use the camera's automatic bracketing capability. Get it set, set your baseline exposure, snap-snap-snap! You've got your three images.
I don't know if Capture NX does HDR merging. There are all kinds of software packages out there that will do that, though. You can probably download free trial versions of any number of them to test out to see how you like them.
#5. "RE: Increasing dynamic range" In response to Reply # 3
Capture NX does not do HDR. However, if you use d-lighting and shoot RAW you can turn off, or adjust the strength of, d-lighting in Capture NX so it is not completely "cooked" into the file. It only gets "cooked" in if you shoot a jpeg or if you shoot RAW and use a different Raw converter.
Marc There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.-Ansel Adams
#7. "RE: Increasing dynamic range" In response to Reply # 6
That's not HDR, at least as the term is commonly used. The technique you propose is still limited by the absolute dynamic range of the sensor. True HDR means expanding the dynamic range way, way beyond what the sensor can handle in a single exposure.
#8. "RE: Increasing dynamic range" In response to Reply # 0
I went from a D80 to a D800, you’re going to see such a difference you’re not going to believe it with your new D7100. But there are times your camera just can’t capture all that light and is out of your cameras range. I always shoot in raw and change to a TIFF if I have to process in some software that can’t use a raw file. Here is two websites for you to read that will help you out. Read both of these and you will have a better understanding.
#9. "RE: Increasing dynamic range" In response to Reply # 8
Thanks Bill and all, I loved the D80 and thought I would never give it up but the 7100 just looked so much better to me. The best part of the change is learning so much there is to learn about photography--and the techniques to capture "reality". I am really rejuvenated! Thanks again. Stephen
#10. "RE: Increasing dynamic range" In response to Reply # 9
I don't know where you live, but I would HIGHLY recommend looking for the Nikonians workshop for mastering the D7100 (http://bit.ly/15HM7uZ) in your area. I took the D7000 workshop with Steve Simon, and it was worth every penny. What I learned and was able to practice in one day saved me hours of reading manuals. Steve is a superior photographer and a masterful instructor.
#12. "RE: Increasing dynamic range" In response to Reply # 0
I just returned from a NAPP meeting in Orlando. It was about Lightroom and photoshop. One method you might try on the new camera (i just got my own D7100 today) is set the bracketing to five images and have them two stops apart. Open the images in Lightroom 4. Then merge to HDR in photoshop CS6. Do NOTHING in photoshop. Save back to Lightroom and proceed to make all contrast and density changes in Lightroom. You will find you have a lot of control in Lightroom. It is not the normal HDR grungy look, you control your contrast. I am not into HDR but this gives you great control over an indoor shot with a bright window.
#13. "RE: Increasing dynamic range" In response to Reply # 0
St Petersburg, RU
There might be some confusion over similar sounding features in the posts. There is Active D-Lighting and D-Lighting. D-Lighting is a post post capture adjustment feature for JPGs for in-camera adjustments to images. Active D-Lighting is a pre-exposure system of shadow protection in wide dynamic range scenes. Active D Lighting has a few components, it works on all types of images (raw or JPG) and adjusts exposure a bit downward to prevent high tone clipping and then assigns a exposure curve to the file that increases mid tones to prevent shadow detail loss. It is best used with Matrix metering. If used with JPG files, the adjustments to to curves occurs in-camera when it renders the raw data. If the capture is RAW, the highlight exposure adjustment is part of the raw data but the tone curves are embedded in the file so rendering with post processing software that can read the instructions, the curves are applied to the raw data when rendering so the results are images with a wider DR than if shot without ADL. Currently, the only software in post processing that can take advantage of the RAW ADL information is Nikon's ViewNX2 and CaptureNX2. Adobe products can't read the embedded information so results will not be as expected. Only the overall exposure reduction will be seen in Lightroom or Photoshop.
If used properly and post processed with Capture NX2, it is very effective but much less useful using the more popular Lightroom. Stan St Petersburg Russia
#14. "RE: Increasing dynamic range" In response to Reply # 1
Active D lighting will bake the results into the JPG, but if you are shooting RAW, the results are completely reversible if you use ADL-Low. When using one of the other ADL settings, there are some changes to the abse exposure that are not entirely reversible simply by turning ADL off in CNX. You would need to make some other exposure adjustments to correct for those.
The beauty of using ADL-Low is that it preserves the ability to adjust or turn off ADL in CNX without any penalty except the time it takes to do it. If you do not use ADL in camera, then it is not even an adjustment option in CNX (it doesn't appear in the Edit list).
Many people don't like ADL (I think because they think it takes away control of the image, or it's cheating), but I generally prefer ADL-Low because to me the images look more constrasty and and have more pop. I leave it on by default and adjust it in CNX as desired.
If course, if you are not using CNX, turn ADL off or be sure you want the changes made at settings other than LOW. Other image editors don't read ADL and only look at the base image date.
#16. "RE: Increasing dynamic range" In response to Reply # 13
So, given the last two responses, wouldn't a good approach be to shoot in Raw with active d lighting on and pp in Capture NX? Then, if doing multiple exposures, use Photoshop to integrate images? I hate the thought of buying more software than needed. Stephen
#17. "RE: Increasing dynamic range" In response to Reply # 13
Stan, I reread your comments and got confused. I thought you were saying throughout most of what you wrote that ADL and CaptureNX2 (or ViewNX2) were better in that they worked together to increase DR. But your last sentence seemed to say the opposite? S
#18. "RE: Increasing dynamic range" In response to Reply # 17
St Petersburg, RU
The last sentence suggested that ADL is more effective if you use Nikon software than if you used other brands such as Adobe Lightroom that is so popular. The reason being the full performance of the ADL in RAW is realized by the combination of highlight protecting exposure adjustment prior to capture, and the embedded tone curve that Nikon software can read and apply to rendering the RAW data. This latter feature is what enhances the shadow detail recovery in wide DR scenes, a feature not read or used by Adobe products.
The single most useful software, if we take a vote or poll would surely be Lightroom because it is polished, reliable, fast and easy. Photoshop is more flexible but much harder to master with its infinite options and add-ins. Right in the middle between those two programs is Capture NX2 which has more editing capability than Lightroom and less than Photoshop. I use all three, but I prefer the way Capture NX2 renders RAW files best. Adobe is not far behind in initial rendering. It is not a large difference but the RAW file opens on my screen looking close to the way the settings of the camera intended for JPG with NX2 and to get to the same level of refinement with Adobe takes more steps. If I could have only one program it would be Photoshop because of its flexibility and power to do things nothing else can. If you are processing a large number of files, Lightroom is faster than either of the other two. If processing only a few and you want to get the most out of a smaller number of files, and not need layers, NX2 is pretty darn good in how it creates the best images with the fewest steps.