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What is *the best* in-camera exposure for LR4-PV2012-develop capabilities?

Feb 21, 2012 9:30 AM

This is a question from an amateur to experienced photographers & LR-editors:

 

In my opinion the *best exposure* is

  1. the one that captures a maximum amount of data inside the digital negative (to give head-room for any editing whim I might develop in post-processing)
  2. and at the same time causes the least recurring manual effort to achieve the desired result (best no effort to reach the ballpark)

 

I know of three approaches:

(A) A contemporary camera considers the best exposure one from which you could immediately derive a standard JPG, so metering for this average "18% grey". Correct?

 

(B) A long time ago (technically spoken) there was an idea of deliberately underexposing to avoid blown-out highlights at all costs, since there was nothing considered recoverable and early digital cameras had a tendency to blow out highlights. Might have been valid for JPG-shooters only. Still a thread here suggests that this approach is still sometimes used, hence the need of much opening up blacks and shadows.

 

(C) More recently there is the idea of deliberately overexposing in order to get the histogram nicely filled in the lighter half, as this half contains so much more data than the darker half. Just not so much that the in-camera-histogram shows too much blinkies.

A compelling concept provided I can find defaults in LR4 to compensate for that to reach back into the ballpark.

 

(Then there are high-constrast images for which there might not be much choice, or just bracketing and see where you get with combination outside LR.)

 

So what are your considerations before you press the shutter button?

And has it changed / might it evolve in the light of PV2012's capabilities?

 

Would Eric maybe voice his opinion which approach he best strives to support, how PV2012 is geared? Is there a preferable side to err?

 

Thanks, Cornelia

 
Replies
  • Andrew Rodney
    1,388 posts
    Apr 16, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 21, 2012 1:53 PM   in reply to Cornelia-I

    JPEG or raw? Big difference.

     

    Start here (cause ETTR isn’t over exposure, it is exposure for ideal raw data capture):

     

    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/expose-right.shtml

    http://www.digitalphotopro.com/technique/camera-technique/exposing-for -raw.html

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 21, 2012 4:03 PM   in reply to Cornelia-I

    Cornelia-I wrote:

     

    (A) A contemporary camera considers the best exposure one from which you could immediately derive a standard JPG, so metering for this average "18% grey". Correct?

     

    (B) A long time ago (technically spoken) there was an idea of deliberately underexposing to avoid blown-out highlights at all costs, since there was nothing considered recoverable and early digital cameras had a tendency to blow out highlights. Might have been valid for JPG-shooters only. Still a thread here suggests that this approach is still sometimes used, hence the need of much opening up blacks and shadows.

     

    (C) More recently there is the idea of deliberately overexposing in order to get the histogram nicely filled in the lighter half, as this half contains so much more data than the darker half. Just not so much that the in-camera-histogram shows too much blinkies.

    A compelling concept provided I can find defaults in LR4 to compensate for that to reach back into the ballpark.

     

    LR4 has no influence on the ideal digital exposure.  White highlights (that are truly blown-out) will still be blown-out and devoid of detail in LR4.  No change there.  Very dark (near black) shadows will still show considerable noise and have less recoverable detail when brightened in LR4 than if they were exposed more brightly in-camera.

     

    Along the same lines, photographers that choose to under-expose their shot will get okay results from LR4... there will just more noise in photograph once they brighten areas in post.  Photographers that choose to expose-to-the-right will have much less noise at their desired brightness in post, with the caveat that in areas of color that were brightly exposed using ETTR, there may occasionally be wiley hue shifts to deal with.  Ultimately, things are the same with LR4b as they were with LR3.  They are also pretty much the same as things were for LR2, except that nicer noise reduction was introduced in LR3 that perhaps allowed us to under-expose a bit more than before, confident that we could remove some noise in post without hurting the detail of the photograph.

     

    LR4 will be a great editing tool... no doubt.  But it's not as if it will "change the game" of proper photographic technique.  It can only work with the data that the RAW file provides... and that hasn't changed much at all.  In general, there is nothing LR4 can do that couldn't be done in one way or another in Photoshop a couple years ago, so we aren't talking about some mystical alien technology in LR4 here.  It's just a newer, better rendition of LR that will make it easier/faster to get the best results.  Pretty much all the same old rules apply, though.

     
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  • Andrew Rodney
    1,388 posts
    Apr 16, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 21, 2012 5:31 PM   in reply to JG_Coleman

    JG_Coleman wrote:

     

    LR4 has no influence on the ideal digital exposure.  White highlights (that are truly blown-out) will still be blown-out and devoid of detail in LR4.  No change there.

    Well stated, totally agree.

     

    Where PV 2012 is beneficial is in normalizing the ETTR. Much smoother, lack of color shifting that was quite apparent in PV2003, better but not prefect in PV2010. PV2012 is really very well done.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 22, 2012 7:42 AM   in reply to Cornelia-I

    The best depends on what you are photographing, in the same way the best car depends on what you want to do with it.

     

    The best exposure is found from practice, plenty and more.

     

    However, start by

     

    • shooting evaluative or larger spot meter mode if your camera has it. Canon has evaluative that does some maths on the light and where you are focussing. Nikon will have something similar, as will everyone else
    • for a day to day photograph, use what the meter suggests.
      • If you have time, shoot bracketed exposures,, and when editing, look to see which looked the best, and remember the lighting, the subject and what you were shooting.
      • ie one stop over exposed and one stop under as well as the cameras observation.
      • For things like snow, shoot 2/3 stop over exposed otherwise the snow goes grey
        • For example if you are shooting as a subject in a bright sunny, consider over exposing by 1/2 a stop. I do this very often when shooting rachorses, light skies, dark bay horses etc. this was shot 1/3 over exposed and its been through lightroom.
      • for a dark situation, a photo where sunlight is filtering through a roof light into a market ( an amazing shot from a Souk in Turkey springs to mind, under expose by 1/2 to 2/3 of a stop. (my example was shot 2/3 stop under exposed)
        • For example If you are photographing something in shadow, dont let the camera take it "correctly" exposed, as the shadows will be too light, under expose it.

     

     

    And contrary to what many people will say, look at the shot on the screen in playback mode, if your camera shows a histogram and you've time to look at it, do that, if you are uncertain, shoot another shot, over or under exposed depending on the situation / shot / scenario

     

    If the shot on the screen looks a little bright, shoot it again 1/3, 1/2 or even 2/3 stop underexposed

    If the shot on the screen looks a little dark, shoot it again 1/3, 1/2 or even 2/3 stop overexposed

     

    Many who will read my "Use the screen" will correctly tell you its not accurate, but its a guide line and as you've asked, I'm suggesting.

    And so what if you did use your screen, and decided to shoot again, you've now got 2 similar frames at 2 different exposures - you've chosen to bracket. As you do this, look back at your results and your decisions whether to trust the meter, or shoot another exposure,  you are learning to decide when you need to over expose and under expose. You are learning your camera, your most valuable tool in taking the photos.

     

    I use the screen all the time - for reference, not always for exposure, but I do. I also know when I've got the shot, and can pack up and go home - unless its a sunset or landscape. But I have shot many 10,000's of photos, and experience often tells me when to trust the meter and when to over or under expose.

     

    Learn from what you are photographing, remember what you've shot, look back at your shots and the info in the meta data.

     

     

     

    And the bit about PV2012. If you've captured a well exposed image,Lightroom will make your life easier to edit out any imperfections, or lift shadows or rescue highlight details even better than PV2010 did. I've put a fair amount of images through LR4 beta and I'm very impressed with it.

     

    This image was taken at one of the best sprint races in Cape Town this year, I had about 20 other photographers running around getting in the way, the horse had just run a terriffic race and there was great excitement, so there was no opportunity to play with the exposure. The rider was not looking up enought as they walked in the sun, and as the horse went into the shade, the jockeys head came up. Dark horse, light shirts, deep shadows,bright blue skies. White marquees set up behind the incoming horses.

     

    Shot details

    Canon 5D2

    Canon F2.8 L 70-200 with 1.4 Expander on

    focal length 115 mm

    focussed and metered off the horses' head evaluative metering,

    exposed as meter said

    F4.5 1/1250 second ASA 160.

     

     

    This image needed a fair amount of playing with in LR4, I'd not have gotten anywhere near this from LR3.x. And even scaled up to 100% there is almost no discernable noise in the lifted shadows on the horses' chest.

    PV2012.jpg

    and the develop settings for the final image

    settings.png

     

    Enjoy

     

     

    hamish NIVEN Photography

     

    Message was edited by: hamish niven, Added the example image in the post and the LR4 settings

     
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