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D800: Who needs HDR?

Started Apr 16, 2012 | Discussions thread
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D800: Who needs HDR?
Apr 16, 2012

First off, I'm not an "HDR photographer", but I continue to notice how well the D800 performs, especially when it comes to recovering detail in an otherwise blah photo, where an exposure compromise had to be made in the face of excessive contrast.

I use LR4 primarily to edit RAW files. I took the following photo of a fairly high contrast scene. Just a quick, hand-held grab shot while walking to an event. The exposure was chosen to keep as much of the cloud detail while not horribly underexposing the subject either... only somewhat:

I didn't move sliders all too much, so I could have "cooked" this even more, or less. But it's really remarkable how much you can do to these raw files in terms of saving highlights and shadows from extinction and then further bringing out the midtones that otherwise get sort of compressed out as a result. (To me, this power is especially easy to achieve with LR4 compared to LR3. The sliders and their effects seem to not only make more sense, but also preserve image quality considerably better, even when pushed.)

To me, this looks like a file I could have gotten out of 3 or 5 exposures and a dedicated HDR program. A single, plain old RAW file seems even more useful than the built-in HDR function... which I haven't found too impressive. So I'm not even sure why I'd ever use that.

Any thoughts?

Nikon D800
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