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Thread: HDR and bracketing

  1. #1
    Curly's Avatar
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    HDR and bracketing

    I bought my first ever DSLR in June, a Nikon D3100. I wish I had known then what I have learnt in these last few months. It seems the D3100 is missing a popular feature amongst HDR enthusiasts which is that of Auto Exposure Bracketing. So hear are my questions which I hope someone can shed some light on.

    1) Is taking 3-5 images and adjusting the EV from -2, -1, 0, +1, +2 the best way to achieve my range of exposures?

    2) Is there a remote that anyone knows of that can do this? My reason for asking is that even tho my camera is placed firmly on a tripod, every time I need to adjust the EV for the next image there is inevitably an amount of movement. This is resulting in some if not all of my exposures not aligning correctly in the post processing phase and causing some 'ghosting'.

    3) should I just use filters more and stop being lazy with HDR?

  2. #2

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    Re: HDR and bracketing

    1) That is the standard way of getting the base images for HDR as far as I know. Some cameras allow you to set an EV interval and the camera takes care of the expositions, but afaik only the higher level models allow series of more than 3 expositions and intervals of 2 EV or more (e.g. my Sony A-330 allows only 3 with a max. interval of +/- .7 EV, so not all that useful).

    2) Such a remote would have to be able to change the exposition settings on your camera. Not sure if such a beast exists for any camera, let alone yours. (not talking about interval timers and long expositions in bulb mode here!). I know there is a firmware for Canon cameras that allows all kinds of non-standard tricks, but that one won't help you.
    But, a solid tripod and careful handling should avoid movement between images (and there are possibilities to align images in post production)

    3) the only filter that would help (in some specific situations, where you have a straight line separation between the very bright and very dark areas) is a graded neutral density filter. Filters won't help when you have e.g. a window that you want to get correctly exposed.

  3. #3
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: HDR and bracketing

    I've never had a problem bracketing these types of shots manually when shooting from a tripod with my D90. Shoot in manual mode, use a cable release and adjust the shutter speed in 1 or 2 EV increments. If you are getting movement, your tripod is not rigid enough and /or technique need some tuning.

    These two shots were done this way (I believe these shots had either 7 or 9 individual exposures) with processing using Oloneo Photo Engine:

    HDR and bracketing

    HDR and bracketing

    I'm not quite sure what filters are going to do for you. What do you have in mind?

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    Re: HDR and bracketing

    As well as adjusting the shutter speed for different exposures, does that camera have exposure compensation adjustment? It's the same thing but with some cameras, like my Canons, this is easier to adjust without risking any camera disturbance.

    Some software has an Auto Alignment option, which is the first stage of any HDR, so this plus editing with layers and masks can give the same result.

    As a total alternative, where there are risks of subject, or camera, movement I frequently shoot Raw then do two Raw conversions with different 'exposure' settings then combine them with layers and masks.

    This isn't true HDR but can be effective if there isn't too much variation in tone.

    You may find my thread about various HDR editing methods useful Auto HDR compared with manual HDR editing
    Last edited by Geoff F; 26th November 2012 at 08:29 PM. Reason: link added

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    Curly's Avatar
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    Re: HDR and bracketing

    Thank you everyone, I'm beginning to think it's my heavy handed ness that causing the movement problem. Or a cheap tripod (which it is)

  7. #7
    Curly's Avatar
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    Re: HDR and bracketing

    Thanks Russell, that's a good article. I don't know why nikon left the AEB function off the D3100. It seems to be on all if the other entry level DSLR's

  8. #8

    Re: HDR and bracketing

    I have a D2x and a D70s. Both of these cameras can be set up to burst a group of shots while automatically changing the EV. I can hand-hold when shooting (I am not rock steady). Then using Photomatix to process the shots I can get half-way decent HDR output.
    See: http://www.flickr.com/photos/20487500@N00/
    -mike

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    Re: HDR and bracketing

    Yes, most cameras have it, but personally I find it of rather limited use, as it's often restricted to less than a stop each way. Useful in border line situations to get a single well exposed image, but it's not enough for any kind of HDR capture. As it seems to be a firmware function, there's no real reason to limit it to such a small range, but well...

  10. #10

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    Re: HDR and bracketing

    In Russell's link note the final point in #5 "Use the self-timer" There can be a 2 second delay between the time you press the shutter button to when the actual shutter release occurs and your hand will no longer be on the camera.

    In Manual Mode cameras let you choose which option to change, f/stop, shutter speed or Exposure compensation values. Plus the effect of the exposure changes can be seen in the LCD before you take the shot. With your Nikon you might have to hold down the exposure +/- button as you change values to see the actual changes in the LCD. This feature lets you see how dark you need to expose the sky to let the colors show. The bracketing feature is convenient, but not a necessity for HDR success.

    Work fast if you HDR attempt includes the moon. That sphere moves quickly!

    Article about your investment in a tripod:

    http://bythom.com/support.htm

  11. #11

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    Re: HDR and bracketing

    You may speed up handling substantially if you take only two frames for the HDR, with a maximum of 6 full stops difference. To do this, you need one highlight shot and one that is overexposed in order to dig out the shadows. As you are doing HDR, the highlight shot should render good tones in bright areas, which often calls for one stop under ETTR. When chimping the image with highlight warning, nothing should blink, but the histogram should almost reach the right border.

    Two images with 6 stops exposure difference will give you 14 to 16 stops of dynamic range, which is mostly overkill. Intermediate exposures add nothing of value.

  12. #12
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    Re: HDR and bracketing

    Quote Originally Posted by revi View Post
    Yes, most cameras have it, but personally I find it of rather limited use, as it's often restricted to less than a stop each way. Useful in border line situations to get a single well exposed image, but it's not enough for any kind of HDR capture. As it seems to be a firmware function, there's no real reason to limit it to such a small range, but well...
    Canon can provide a three shot burst with a +or- of two stops ev in 1/3 stop increments. It can also combine exposure compensation with the three AEB shots. I can shoot a three shot burst and then adjust the exposure compensation for another three shot burst giving me at least a five shot range.

    Some of the Canon full frame cameras have five shot burst capabilities. I wish that my 7D had this, I also wish it had ISO 25 capability and autofocus capability at f/8 so I could use my 1.4x TC with my 400mm f/5.6L lens and retain A/F.

    However, these days it is video and mage-million IO capability that sells cameras...

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    Re: HDR and bracketing

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    Some of the Canon full frame cameras have five shot burst capabilities.
    2, 3, 5, or 7 on 1D series

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