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FJ Winters
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HDR function in Panasonic LX7

Feb 7, 2013 10:49 PM

Tags: #hdr #panasonic_lx7

I use a Panasonic LX7 with in camera HDR. When I import RAW files into Lightroom 4.3 the HDR effect is removed in the process. Is there a way to avoid this? Thanks for any help you can give!

 
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    Feb 8, 2013 2:46 AM   in reply to FJ Winters

    Isn't it true that the LX7 can work the HDR-wonder only in jpgs? I thought I'd have yet to find a camera that produces RAWs from their in-camera panos or HDRs.

     
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    Feb 8, 2013 3:51 AM   in reply to FJ Winters

    A raw file is the data captured by the sensor, no more, no less.

     

    HDR is several exposures overlaid, so by definition a processed (no longer raw) file.

     

    I suppose it's possible to blend several exposures into one file conforming to the camera's raw format, but it's sort of against the whole spirit of shooting raw, because it would have to introduce fixed, non-reversible parameters. IOW, no longer raw.

     
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    Feb 8, 2013 7:02 AM   in reply to FJ Winters

    Would you mind posting an example file?  Upload to www.dropbox.com creating a user if necessary, and include the public download link in a message, here.

     
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    Feb 11, 2013 6:16 AM   in reply to FJ Winters

    What your camera is calling HDR is really just a single-shoot underexpose-and-digitally-boost-the-shadows mode that other cameras might call highlight tone priority or auto dynamic lighting. 

     

    True HDR, in my mind, is the combination of multiple exposures in a seamless fashion, which the newest cameras can also do, although any motion between the multiple exposures can lead to ghosting. 

     

    The trouble with single-shot "HDR" is that there is often significant shadow noise, which the true HDR does not have as much trouble with since the shadows come from an exposure where they were already bright enough and don't need digital brightening.

     

    Using EXIFTool I am able to see that your RW2 file has metadata indicating Contrast Mode: High Dynamic, so is flagged for Panasonic's software to process differently.

     

    EXIFTool can also extract the camera-embedded preview (I used EXIFtool GUI for this) which has the camera's HDR-treatment applied, and from what I see there is significant color noise splotching in the darker portions of the image, especially the wood of the foreground building:

    P1000914_0_Preview.jpg

    For comparison, here is what you're seeing when importing the raw data into Lightroom -- I have used the Camera-Raw plug-in which has the same tone adjustments as LR:

    P1000914_1_RawZeroAdj.jpg

    However, if you start with the raw data, it is possible to improve on what the camera has done, both in regard to better noise-reduction as well as better sky definition and a smoother transition to the sun.  You might make different toning choices than I did, but the point is that you can make different choices than what the camera does:

    P1000914_4_MostAdjustments.jpg

     

    Adobe has no way to "know" what Panasonic is doing for the LX7 HDR mode, so they don't try.  What opening raw files in Adobe products does allow is freedom to go beyond what the camera has done for its JPG.

     

    This is always the choice:  accepting the camera's treatment from a JPG, using a camera-manufacturer-supplied raw converter that may understand the camera-specific settings but usually with a slow and clumsy user-interface, or do your own thing with the raw data using a third-party raw convertor such as Adobe's.

     
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    Feb 14, 2013 1:28 PM   in reply to FJ Winters

    (BTW -- I don't really care is an imge is "true" hdr I care about how it looks period -- Shadow/highlight in PS can often create an image of very high dynamic range -- not HDR but a good image anyway. What I don't like is over worked HDR images full of weird halos and shadows where they don't belong.)

    If you want to process from a single Raw file, this is as much of an art as a science; and whether you judge you've succeeded or failed, is highly personal.

     

    However, if you are prepared to work with multiple exposures, I'll recommend an "exposure fusion" method rather than the more common HDR method of "tone-mapping", in order to combine these images into one. I use the IMO excellent package "LR/Enfuse" directly from inside Lightroom.

     

    Some attention to alignment - although hand-held is possible with care, with the software compensating for differences betwen frames, stably supported shooting is better - and you may find you can bracket JPGs quite happily rather than using Raw (bracket speed is usually much faster in JPG, which is better for movement in the scene). The process takes the good shadow detail from the overexposed shot, and the good highlight detail from the underexposed shot. and the good midtones from the in-between shots, and "fuses" these in a very natural way. Then you can intensify the contrast to pictorial taste, working from very clean image data which makes the sensor performance of the camera "look" much better than it truly is.

     
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