HDR mode vs raw corrections

Started Mar 5, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Steve West
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HDR mode vs raw corrections
Mar 5, 2013

Recently, I've been photographing scenes that contain both heavy shadow and bright light in both 6EV HDR and RAW modes (like a house where the sides are lit strongly by sunlight but the porch area is in heavy shadow. In both cases, a fair amount of PP is required to get an image I'm pleased with. In almost all cases, shadow correction combined with some dodging of bright areas in the raw images produce a better photograph that contains the virtues of the HDR image without the animated flat look.

I'm puzzled by this since I had always thought that you could expand a RAW image by +/- 1EV or so, but I'm finding (at least on the A99) that RAW image corrections seems closer to +/- 2 or 3 EV.  At least that seems to be what it needs to compete with the 6EV HDR image.

The exception to this finding is photographing something that is mostly in shadow (like the inside of a rock cavern) that contains an area of bright sky. The sky simply gets blown out unrecoverably in the raw image but looks good in the HDR image.

But for the majority of images, PPing the raw produces excellent results that I prefer over the HDR image.  It's particularly hard to convince myself that the RAW image is going to look as good  as it does when I review the image on camera. The EVF shadow dynamic range is very poor.

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