Wed 27-Aug-14 02:35 PM | edited Wed 27-Aug-14 02:36 PM by David Bueker
I'm new to a Nikon camera (just bought the 5200), and it seems like there is overlap in terms of what the two features accomplish. Pros/cons for both, guidance on when to use which one is really appreciated.
I mostly shoot outdoor landscape (mountain scenery) and wildlife.
Active D lighting helps when you have a larger dynamic range as it will tend to give a tad more exposure for the darker areas. In side an old church where there us sun coming into the windows but the church interior is still not brightly lit.
It is an automatic setting and is only used in JPG mode. With raw shooting you don't need it (it won't work) because a raw file can be manually adjusted to a far greater range than a jpg file can. HDR does two JPG exposures and combines them inside the camera. HDR will handle more range better than active D light though Active D light is perhaps more common.
When you get in situations with bright and dark in the scene try both, then try it again with exposure compensation. Lots of options as well as shooting in manual mode.
I had a D5200 and can tell you it shoots fantastic and if you venture into raw mode. You'll find it is amazing what you can do with Adobe Expressions or Lightroom!
The catch with ADL is that when shooting raw, the files require Nikon software for processing at all ADL settings above the lowest one. Third party software does not know how to complete the processing, so the images will look underexposed.
---------+---------+---------+---------+---------+ Joseph K Seattle, WA, USA
Consider bracketing in the field to assure you have recorded the full dynamic range and then use something like Photomatix or Photoshop to do the HDR. You will still need to work on the file in Lightroom and Photoshop but you will have the highest amount of flexibility this way. I do almost all my work this way. In fact I bought a Promote Control a year ago to make bracketing automatic and it is permanently attached to my camera. Yes always shoot in raw.
Given my limited experiecne with the camera, as well as the fact that I am totally new to RAW and post-processing (I just bought Lightroom), I will just try the gamut (HDR in JPEG, Active D and various exposures in RAW), fill up a bunch of cards (I have a 64G, 32G and 16G for a 2 week trip), and then have fun learning what I can do with the various images over the long winter in New England.