I must be going nuts.... I was using the D-Lighting setting in the software Capture NX2, where the option was use as shot, off, low, medium, high and extra. I can no longer find that menu palette, only the one that has the options of faster or best quality.
>I keep the Camera setting for D Lighting turned off. It >could be applied after the fact, but I never use it.
My experience is that if you leave Active D Lighting turned to one of the on settings (Low, Med, Hi) in camera, you have the option of changing the setting in post in CNX2 to one of the other on settings or off. Conversely, if you leave the in-camera ADL setting to off, you will not have the option to change the status of ADL in CNX2. Access to the ADL setting drop-down box is no longer available. So, the only way to have the choice of using ADL or not in your image (and I'm not saying that you should necessarily want that) in post is to leave the in-camera setting to one of the on settings.
Low is probably a good option, but it has some uncertainty. With Active D-Lighting, some scenes include an adjustment to the exposure - typically underexposing by a half stop or more compared to having the function turned off. While you can adjust exposure in post processing, the actual exposure of the RAW image remains whatever was captured. The post processing imact of Active D-Lighting can be adjusted in post processing - but not the difference in actual image exposure.
ADL is a good function - it's just that you need to be aware that there is a potential impact on exposure that cannot be reversed. It's the uncertainly that causes people to not use ADL unless they are in situation that require it.
I did some searching and it looks to me that the D3100 only has an ON or OFF choice for Active D-Lighting ADL in camera. Faced with just on/off for things like portraits/people I might be inclined to have it ON to protect blown highlights when shooting and perhaps off for other shooting situations. Either way off/on in camera, you can always adjust it in post-processing.
At ANPAT 10, Nikonians Academy head Mike Hagen said he has ADL on all the time. I don't recall what setting he said he uses. Also I did not hear his reason, not even sure he gave one.
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>I keep the Camera setting for D Lighting turned off. At a recent Nikon Pro Seminar Nikon made the point using D Lighting before taking the exposure is often better - because it reduces exposure prior to taking the photo to ensure maximum highlight detail is retained, and boosts the shadows in camera after taking the photo. Once highlight detail is lost, using D lighting for the first time in NX 2 cannot put back the lost highlight detail.
Photography is a bit like archery. A technically better camera, lens or arrow may not hit the target as often as it could if the photographer or archer does not practice enough.
<At a recent Nikon Pro Seminar Nikon made the point using D Lighting before taking the exposure is often better - because it reduces exposure prior to taking the photo to ensure maximum highlight detail is retained, and boosts the shadows in camera after taking the photo. Once highlight detail is lost, using D lighting for the first time in NX 2 cannot put back the lost highlight detail.>
That is the approach I use - but with limitations. I keep Active D Lighting off unless I am in a situation with high contrast that cannot be easily managed with exposure. In the high contrast situations, I use Active D-Lighting. In fact yeserday I used it set on High for about 100 images at a wedding.