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Subject: "Too much dynamic range?" Previous topic | Next topic
jameskuzman Registered since 14th May 2012Thu 05-Sep-13 08:23 PM
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"Too much dynamic range?"


Windermere, US
          

Hi all,

Fun facts first: Nikon D7000, Nikon 16-85 AFS lens (most of the time) or Nikon 35mm f/1.8 G (sometimes); cards set to RAW+JPG Fine Medium; aperture priority (normally), matrix metering (unless the situation calls for center or spot, but most of the time, matrix).

The issue: I have to bring the highlights WAY down (-75 to -100), bring overall exposure up (+1.00 to +2.00), and bring the shadows WAY up (+40 to +100) in nearly EVERY RAW file in LR. Contrasty scenes are worse of course but I've never managed an image that didn't require substantial correction.

In-camera JPG's with the Standard or Neutral profile sometimes need help, but most often do not. D-Lighting is set to Low or sometimes Medium.

Is this normal behavior in RAW files? I mean, I understand that dynamic range is a good thing but should I have to be reigning the extremes in this much on every image?

Thanks in advance for the input,

Jim

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Replies to this topic
Subject Author Message Date ID
Reply message RE: Too much dynamic range?
mklass Platinum Member
05th Sep 2013
1
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mudman2 Silver Member
06th Sep 2013
2
Reply message RE: Too much dynamic range?
jameskuzman
06th Sep 2013
3
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jameskuzman
06th Sep 2013
4
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rodlawton
06th Sep 2013
5
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jbloom Gold Member
06th Sep 2013
6
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RLDubbya Silver Member
06th Sep 2013
7
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aolander Silver Member
06th Sep 2013
8
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kuzzy Silver Member
06th Sep 2013
9
     Reply message RE: Too much dynamic range?
chesterdawg Silver Member
06th Sep 2013
10
     Reply message RE: Too much dynamic range?
km6xz Moderator
07th Sep 2013
11
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NikonJohn2
08th Sep 2013
12
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km6xz Moderator
08th Sep 2013
13
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jameskuzman
09th Sep 2013
14
Reply message RE: Too much dynamic range?
jameskuzman
10th Sep 2013
15
     Reply message RE: Too much dynamic range?
mklass Platinum Member
10th Sep 2013
16
     Reply message RE: Too much dynamic range?
km6xz Moderator
11th Sep 2013
17
     Reply message RE: Too much dynamic range?
jameskuzman
11th Sep 2013
18
     Reply message RE: Too much dynamic range?
jbloom Gold Member
11th Sep 2013
19

mklass Platinum Member As a semi-professional involved in all manner of photographic genres including portraiture, sports, commercial, and events coverage, Mick is always ready to help Nikonians by sharing his deep knowledge of photography and printing. Nikonian since 08th Dec 2006Thu 05-Sep-13 10:12 PM
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#1. "RE: Too much dynamic range?"
In response to Reply # 0


Tacoma, US
          

If you are using LR, the only camera RAW setting that it reads is White Balance. Turn off ADL and set the PC to Neutral. That will probably give you a better base image to work with and you won't be taken aback when you first see it in LR.

Do you accidentally have Exposure Compensation on, or exposure fine tuning enabled?

Mick
http://www.mickklassphoto.com
or
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mudman2 Silver Member Nikonian since 14th May 2009Fri 06-Sep-13 09:18 AM
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#2. "RE: Too much dynamic range?"
In response to Reply # 1


Jamison, US
          

Try Nikon NX2

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jameskuzman Registered since 14th May 2012Fri 06-Sep-13 02:34 PM
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#3. "RE: Too much dynamic range?"
In response to Reply # 1


Windermere, US
          

Hi Mick -

Thanks for the reply - will do. Re: exposure comp/fine tuning - not enabled, but good thought!

Jim

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jameskuzman Registered since 14th May 2012Fri 06-Sep-13 02:40 PM
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#4. "RE: Too much dynamic range?"
In response to Reply # 0


Windermere, US
          

Since LR only reads the WB info and none of the custom settings, I presume that what I'm seeing in the RAW file is the exposure exactly as the camera calculated it - no in-camera processing.

And I think that's what really concerns me - how can the camera be this far off in its exposure?

I try to get as close to correct as I can in the camera in all respects so that I don't have to rely upon post-processing to fix my mistakes. I *do* realize that post is a tool, just like any other available resource, but I've never been one to say "Eh, the exposure doesn't matter in the camera - I'll fix it later". Or white balance. Or composition.

I am consciously trying to avoid that and while I fully expect to have to do a bit of tweaking (that's why I'm shooting RAW, after all) I don't expect to have to correct the exposure to this extent.

Are my expectations out of whack? Or is this a standard result with a completely unprocessed file?

Jim

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rodlawton Registered since 21st Jun 2013Fri 06-Sep-13 02:59 PM
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#5. "RE: Too much dynamic range?"
In response to Reply # 4


GB
          

Some examples might help us work this out, Jim – Lightroom screenshots might be enough.

One of the issues with using a third-party RAW converter like Lightroom is that most of the camera settings are indeed ignored, and this includes Picture Controls.

Choosing Standard, Vivid, Monochrome or any other setting won't make any difference at all because this is applied by the camera to the RAW data after it's been captured (or, if you're shooting NEFs, it adds this information as metadata so that ViewNX 2 or Capture NX2 can replicate the settings). Lightroom just takes the RAW data and applies its own generic conversion profile, which is why what you get in Lightroom doesn't always match what the camera displays.

Using the ADL system might confuse things because this works in two parts: (a) the camera reduces the exposure (in theory) to capture bright highlights, then (b) bumps up the shadow detail as it processes the JPEG. Any RAW file will show the exposure reduction (which is a physical setting) but not the shadow enhancement (in-camera processing).

If your JPEGs are fine, it could be your software/RAW workflow that's the issue.

I hope this helps and doesn't just make things more complicated!

  

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jbloom Gold Member Awarded for the continuous and generous sharing of his high level expertise and his always encouraging comments in several forums. Nikonian since 15th Jul 2004Fri 06-Sep-13 03:05 PM
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#6. "RE: Too much dynamic range?"
In response to Reply # 4


Wethersfield, US
          

I think we would have to see examples of the unadjusted and adjusted images to give a better response. After all, the camera takes what it believes to be the best exposure, but you are the photographer; only you can decide what the "right" exposure is.

That said, I don't normally have to do adjustments that gross to the RAW files I process. The camera's exposure decisions are normally pretty good except in extreme cases.

-- Jon
Wethersfield, CT, USA
Connecticut High School Sports Photos

  

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RLDubbya Silver Member Nikonian since 24th Dec 2011Fri 06-Sep-13 03:48 PM
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#7. "RE: Too much dynamic range?"
In response to Reply # 0


US
          

I never have to tweak that much on D7000 RAW files in LR. I typically tend to spot meter, and expose to avoid blowing out any highlights. I don't know that I've used matrix metering; I've read that there's a lot of sophistimicated decisions being made by the camera in matrix mode. I never use ADL.

I guess you could start to eliminate possibilities. Shoot with spot metering. Shoot with matrix metering, but turn ADL off. Then spot metering and ADL off.

  

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aolander Silver Member Nikonian since 15th Sep 2006Fri 06-Sep-13 06:40 PM
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#8. "RE: Too much dynamic range?"
In response to Reply # 0
Fri 06-Sep-13 06:55 PM by aolander

Nevis, US
          

What Rod said about ADL is what I think is going on, also. ADL reduces exposure and adjusts the shadows. The only thing most RAW converters would "see" is the exposure reduction and the shadows are left as is. That would give you RAW images that need adjustment just as you are describing. Solution....turn off ADL or use a Nikon RAW converter.

Alan

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kuzzy Silver Member Nikonian since 12th Dec 2005Fri 06-Sep-13 08:37 PM
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#9. "RE: Too much dynamic range?"
In response to Reply # 8


Milford, US
          

Another voice on the need to shut off ADL unless you are using Nikon software to process your RAW files. When the D7000 first came out there was a similar thread complaining about pictures being poorly exposed in a similar fashion. He was using lightroom and ADL with Raw files. See solution in aolander's post.

Marc
There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.-Ansel Adams

http://500px.com/WhatISaw
http://kuzzy.smugmug.com

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chesterdawg Silver Member Nikonian since 04th Jul 2010Fri 06-Sep-13 09:37 PM
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#10. "RE: Too much dynamic range?"
In response to Reply # 9


Commerce, US
          

Lightroom works great for me

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km6xz Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, including Portraits and Urban Photography Nikonian since 22nd Jan 2009Sat 07-Sep-13 11:13 PM
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#11. "RE: Too much dynamic range?"
In response to Reply # 9


St Petersburg, RU
          

He is shooting RAW plus JPG so ADL will work very well preserving shadow detail and preventing high clipping of the JPGs.

Please post some files where RAW overexposure is a problem, there is not enough information to do anything but guess and confuse the issue.
Stan
St Petersburg Russia

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NikonJohn2 Registered since 23rd Jun 2013Sun 08-Sep-13 03:45 AM
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#12. "RE: Too much dynamic range?"
In response to Reply # 0


US
          

Try taking a normal picture (not too bright or dark}, adjust it and then save it as a preset. When you import the pictures you can apply the preset and it should put you in the ball park with only a little tweaking needed. You can even set up lightroom to apply the preset on all pictures on import if you wish.
It works for me.

  

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km6xz Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, including Portraits and Urban Photography Nikonian since 22nd Jan 2009Sun 08-Sep-13 06:36 AM
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#13. "RE: Too much dynamic range?"
In response to Reply # 12


St Petersburg, RU
          

It would be better to identify the problem and correct it than masking it by applying a radical preset. From the description, there is a camera exposure problem, probably due to settings.
Stan
St Petersburg Russia

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jameskuzman Registered since 14th May 2012Mon 09-Sep-13 06:51 PM
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#14. "RE: Too much dynamic range?"
In response to Reply # 0


Windermere, US
          

Thanks to everyone who has chimed in so far.

I'm attaching three sample images here. They are just screenshots mind you but should give you an idea of what I'm seeing in the NEF files. Also keep in mind that the corresponding JPG files out of the camera looked excellent.

The points on ADL influencing what I'm seeing on the RAW files in LR is really interesting. I'm going to download Capture NX2 and see if they look any different there, and do some experimentation with turning ADL off as well.

I actually like what ADL does for the JPG files (used in moderation) but they are there as convenience files. If I'm traveling and don't have the ability or time to post-process a file that I simply want to e-mail or upload to a blog, they're invaluable. But their value diminishes considerably if I have to work this hard on the NEF files when I get home.

Looking forward to any comments or insight now that we have something to look at (which I should have provided right off the bat - not doing so was a bit thoughtless on my account).

Jim










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Attachment #1, (jpg file)
Attachment #2, (jpg file)
Attachment #3, (jpg file)

  

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jameskuzman Registered since 14th May 2012Tue 10-Sep-13 08:43 PM
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#15. "RE: Too much dynamic range?"
In response to Reply # 14
Tue 10-Sep-13 08:48 PM by jameskuzman

Windermere, US
          

In doing a bit of independent research, I've learned a couple of things.

First, when Active D Lighting is used, that information is placed in the NEF file but not read by Lightroom. It IS read by Capture NX2.

Because of how Active D Lighting works, it reduces overall exposure and then applies some manner of correction to avoid blown highlights. Unfortunately, while the corrective process is NOT read by Lightroom, the main exposure information - which has been reduced- IS read. The result: Underexposed RAW files in LR.

It seems then the solutions are these: 1) Turn off Active D Lighting and get better RAW files in exchange for less in-camera JPG processing functionality; 2) Leave Active D Lighting turned on and use Capture NX2 (which I don't own); or 3) Continue to use Active D Lighting for the JPG files, keep using Lightroom, and tolerate under-exposed RAW files.

I don't like any of those options really, but 1) seems to make the most sense for me.

Second, there seems to be a sense that Matrix Metering tends to lean more toward preventing overexposure than underexposure. This makes sense I guess, since blown highlights are gone forever, but shadows can usually be recovered (though sometimes at the expense of increased noise). For the pictures I posted here, the second photo (monkey drinking water) and third photo (monkey - err, me - at the restaurant) would have been better served by center-weighted metering.

Rodlawton. Marc, Alan, Stan - I think you guys nailed this!

Jim

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mklass Platinum Member As a semi-professional involved in all manner of photographic genres including portraiture, sports, commercial, and events coverage, Mick is always ready to help Nikonians by sharing his deep knowledge of photography and printing. Nikonian since 08th Dec 2006Tue 10-Sep-13 11:45 PM
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#16. "RE: Too much dynamic range?"
In response to Reply # 15


Tacoma, US
          

Just to clarify Jim's note. When ADL is set to low, the base exposure adjustment is minimal and easily reversible with a small bit of exposure comp.

If you use one of the higher settings, the base exposure change is harder to reverse.

But, as he said, if your are not using CNX and shooting RAW, just leave ADL off.

Mick
http://www.mickklassphoto.com
or
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km6xz Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, including Portraits and Urban Photography Nikonian since 22nd Jan 2009Wed 11-Sep-13 06:19 AM
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#17. "RE: Too much dynamic range?"
In response to Reply # 15


St Petersburg, RU
          

Thank you for posting images(of images) that help explsin what you are seeing.
The first one is probably spot metered so the brighter cloth assumes the middle grey task in establishing the overall exposure. This one would have turned out well with Matrix metering.
2 and 3 are representing a completely different problem which is back lighting that is higher tone than the subject. Backlighting offers some challenges and rewards. The metering is probably different in these, since the meter read the strong backlight and exposed that in the higher tone ranges but left the subject in shadows in darker shadows. ADL dropped the exposure and added shadow gain in the JPG but LR only saw one part of that attempt to avoid blown highs while preserving detail in the shadows. If not using AD-L compliant software, expect mids and shadows to be underexposed by the degree that the high tones were reduced to preserve detail.
The advantage AD-L is seen only in JPG in LR. You can adjust the sliders to recover the mid tone proper exposure but it is not gaining anything having AD-L on at all except extra work at the computer

Try with AD-L off, and spot meter on your face and notice how it is well exposed but the background loses all or most detail in a sheet of pure white. Using Matrix will give bias to the FP on the subject for metering but considers the whole scene in it calculated final exposure values.
How to get both the bright background exposed well and you or the monkey exposed well? Try Matrix metering, and attach your flash or even the popup. An external SB600-910 if set to TTL BL will perform miracles in a backlight situation where the camera worries about overall exposure and the entirely separate metering system in the external flash calculates the power required to bring the subject up to the exposure level of the brighter background.

Try ViewNX or Capture NX2 before giving up on ADL, it would have saved a lot of post processing...ok, a little, post processing time. Otherwise, turn it off for RAW shooting. I sometimes use JPG in events were there are hundreds of shots to process, and I use AD-L in that case. If I am only doing a few shots with a high expectation of keepers like spending the day with landscape and shooting only 20 frame, I process fully in NX2. Another RAW converter I am testing is Photo Ninja which has some very impressive features but is slower than Adobe ACR.
Stan
St Petersburg Russia

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jameskuzman Registered since 14th May 2012Wed 11-Sep-13 01:56 PM
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#18. "RE: Too much dynamic range?"
In response to Reply # 17


Windermere, US
          

Thank you Mick, thank you Stan.

I think I really need to pay more attention to metering choices. My tendency is to stay in Matrix. Spot and center are there for good reasons but I don't think enough about using them.

This might be due to the fact that most of the time I'm shooting landscapes where Matrix works so well. I was on Matrix for all of the posted photos but as you point out, Stan, a bit of fill flash would have done the trick. Again, not the camera's fault, but a flaw in my approach.

I've downloaded ViewNX and will do some experimentation with ADL.

Another thing I might want to reconsider is the hard-line use of RAW for every occasion. Because of the tremendous benefits RAW shooting offers, it seems the obvious choice for anyone willing to spend some time in post to really get the best out of the data and make a compelling image.

But sometimes I'm not looking to create a "masterpiece" - I just want some well-composed, well-exposed photos to commemorate an occasion. For those shots, perhaps a large/fine JPG would be sufficient if not wholly more appropriate.

I know the limitations of JPG and I think I may be dismissing them unfairly instead of embracing them as a good (perhaps better) choice for some situations. The D7000 turns out some awfully nice JPG files after all...

Jim



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jbloom Gold Member Awarded for the continuous and generous sharing of his high level expertise and his always encouraging comments in several forums. Nikonian since 15th Jul 2004Wed 11-Sep-13 05:28 PM
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#19. "RE: Too much dynamic range?"
In response to Reply # 15


Wethersfield, US
          

>Because of how Active D Lighting works, it reduces overall
>exposure and then applies some manner of correction to avoid
>blown highlights. Unfortunately, while the corrective process
>is NOT read by Lightroom, the main exposure information -
>which has been reduced- IS read. The result: Underexposed RAW
>files in LR.

I don't necessarily agree with your conclusion that the RAW files must end up underexposed. The idea behind ADL is that you turn it on and choose an ADL setting appropriate to the high-contrast scene you are photographing. With ADL off, the "normal" metering is likely to result in blown highlights in cases where the scene has high contrast. That may or may not matter to you. If it does matter, it matters in RAW, too. (Highlights can be recovered somewhat in RAW, but only somewhat.) ADL causes the metering to be adjusted to as to lower the exposure to prevent blown highlights. In other words, it's an aid to achieving ETTR exposure.

Even though LR won't perform the shadow boost that Nikon expects when ADL is on, the fact that the exposure was reduced to keep the highlights from blowing out is a benefit. (You can easily boost the shadows in LR if you want, of course.)

Now, if you have ADL turned on when shooting scenes that don't have the kind of high contrast that causes blown highlights, yes, the result will likely be a lower exposure than desired. But that's a choice you make by setting the ADL level or ADL off.

I hardly ever use ADL when shooting RAW. Rather than have ADL reduce the exposure to avoid blown highlights, I just dial in some -EV. If I were processing my RAW files with Capture NX2, ADL would make sense. Since I'm not, it doesn't, for me. (But I do use it when shooting JPEG, if appropriate.)

-- Jon
Wethersfield, CT, USA
Connecticut High School Sports Photos

  

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