GH2 blown highlights

Started Jun 3, 2012 | Discussions
Elizabeth Klisiewicz
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GH2 blown highlights
Jun 3, 2012

I have only been shooting with this camera for a few days, but it seems to have a tendency to overexpose and blow highlights, even when I have stopped it down enough (f5.6-f7 range).

Are there any special settings people recommend? I am sure I can get much better output from this camera. It's just a matter of learning its many controls.
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jalywol
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Re: GH2 blown highlights
In reply to Elizabeth Klisiewicz, Jun 3, 2012

Elizabeth Klisiewicz wrote:

I have only been shooting with this camera for a few days, but it seems to have a tendency to overexpose and blow highlights, even when I have stopped it down enough (f5.6-f7 range).

Are there any special settings people recommend? I am sure I can get much better output from this camera. It's just a matter of learning its many controls.

Some more information would be helpful....perhaps post a photo with EXIF intact?

What metering are you using? Spot, center weighted, multi? If you use spot, do you set the exposure with a half press first?

What lens(es) are you using? Legacy lenses can be a bit tricky, if you are using them....

I usually use spot or center weighted, and expose for the brighter areas of the scene. If you expose for the darker areas, the highlights are more likely to get blown....If you use multimetering, you may do better in some cases.

I have my camera set up with the AE/AF lock button on the back to just lock exposure, so when I know there is a difficult lighting situation I usually select an area of the scene that is a bit lighter, then half press shutter to meter, hit the AE lock button, then refocus and recompose. This keeps the camera from changing the AE settings as I move the lens around during composition, and helps in difficult metering situations.

There are, I am sure, other tips, but this is what helps me the most.

-J

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Louis_Dobson
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Re: GH2 blown highlights
In reply to Elizabeth Klisiewicz, Jun 3, 2012
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Isabel Cutler
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Are you watching the histogram and the highlight blinkies?
In reply to Elizabeth Klisiewicz, Jun 3, 2012

I like to use minus exposure compensation until the is a small flat spot on the right side of the histogram.

I also consider the overall dynamic range of my image - it's entirely possible that the sky will be blown out if my subject is properly exposed. In some cases the blown area is something I can crop off, so I make my exposure compensation accordingly.

Isabel
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Elizabeth Klisiewicz
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Re: Are you watching the histogram and the highlight blinkies?
In reply to Isabel Cutler, Jun 3, 2012

Yes, I have a histogram and it's white. Since I haven't dug deep into the menus yet, it is possible I have to turn on the blinking highlight setting. It might be off by default.
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Elizabeth Klisiewicz
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Re: GH2 blown highlights
In reply to Elizabeth Klisiewicz, Jun 3, 2012

Was shooting today in A mode with the 14-140, ISO 400 or 800 (in shade), and approximate aperture of f5.6. Histogram was turned ON and was white and had a good distribution across the curve. Always shoot in RAW. I use PS6 and just bought LR4, but I am a bit lost in that application. I know some people are really familiar with all its settings, but I mainly do very simple corrections to exposure, then unsharp mask and save under another name.

All these photos I took today seemed pushed too far to the right, at least visually. Please realize that the sample photo here has been uncorrected and is not representative of my usual work.

I either use center weighted or spot metering.

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ManuelVilardeMacedo
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Re: GH2 blown highlights
In reply to Elizabeth Klisiewicz, Jun 3, 2012

There's not much you can do about it before shooting, as this problem seems to be inherent to the sensor format. The Olympus m4/3 cameras behave like that too. However, clipped highlights can be satisfactorily corrected in post-production if you use Lightroom 4 or - even better - DxO Optics Pro 7.

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Elizabeth Klisiewicz
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Re: GH2 blown highlights
In reply to ManuelVilardeMacedo, Jun 3, 2012

How expensive is DxO? Haven't checked pricing or capabilities.

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Elizabeth Klisiewicz
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Re: GH2 blown highlights
In reply to Elizabeth Klisiewicz, Jun 3, 2012

Here is a similar photo after post production. There was enough headroom in the RAW file to bring back details:

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nikclick
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Re: GH2 blown highlights
In reply to Elizabeth Klisiewicz, Jun 3, 2012

Elizabeth Klisiewicz wrote:

I have only been shooting with this camera for a few days, but it seems to have a tendency to overexpose and blow highlights, even when I have stopped it down enough (f5.6-f7 range).

Aperture has no bearing on sensor dynamic range. You need to use exposure compensation if you think the highlights are going to be blown.

Your example doesn't seem to have blown highlights, but does look overexposed.

I will routinely back off exposure one or two clicks for more dynamic subjects, preferring to loose shadow than blow highlights.

Also, your photo seems to be in quite harsh midday sun. Maybe choose a better time, use a polarizer, or try other tricks to soften things a bit.

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vincent filomena
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Re: GH2 blown highlights
In reply to Elizabeth Klisiewicz, Jun 3, 2012

Excellent: You ain't got no problems anymore !

Vjim

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gollywop
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Elizabeth:
In reply to ManuelVilardeMacedo, Jun 3, 2012

ManuelVilardeMacedo wrote:

There's not much you can do about it before shooting, as this problem seems to be inherent to the sensor format. The Olympus m4/3 cameras behave like that too. However, clipped highlights can be satisfactorily corrected in post-production if you use Lightroom 4 or - even better - DxO Optics Pro 7.

Do not listen to the above post. It is total misinformation. You can do everything about it before shooting; there is no such problem "inherent" in the m4/3 format; and truly clipped highlights cannot be satisfactorily corrected by any software. Partially clipped highlights (those not clipped in all channels) can be dealt quite well by a number of raw processors including LR and ACR.

Those who advised you to use Exposure Compensation are correct. Learn to use your blinkies and make sure your dial down EC until they disappear. You may learn you want to go even one notch lower.

However, you should realize that, such as one can tell from the image you first posted above, the shot is not really overexposed: there are very few blown pixels. I would want to see the raw file to be sure, but it is really not bad. Yes, it is too bright, but can be corrected quite properly in LR (or ACR) by bringing down the Exposure until you've gotten to a proper level. Many images properly exposed to the right (ETTR) appear too bright when they are first brought into LR or ACR.

Keep up the good work; you're doing fine.

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DavidF
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Re: GH2 blown highlights
In reply to Elizabeth Klisiewicz, Jun 3, 2012

On the G3, there is a button on the back that lets you lock the exposure. (I assume there is a similar function on your camera as well.)

When shooting scenes with a wide exposure range, I will compose and focus, then move the camera towards a brighter area (In A mode, the shutter speed will change as the auto exposure resets). I look for an exposure that hopefully gives me some details in the midtones and maybe shadows, without the highlights blowing out. I then set the exposure lock, recompose (sometimes refocus) and take my shot. Sometimes I'll have to retake the image if it is too dark or bright.

Remember to turn this feature off for other shots/exposure.

Best, David.

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dko22
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Re: GH2 blown highlights
In reply to Louis_Dobson, Jun 3, 2012

exactly

Louis_Dobson wrote:

Underexpose a bit, shoot RAW, and use LR4.
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Louis_Dobson
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Re: GH2 blown highlights
In reply to ManuelVilardeMacedo, Jun 3, 2012

Now I know why I come in here - it's for comedy posts like this

ManuelVilardeMacedo wrote:

There's not much you can do about it before shooting, as this problem seems to be inherent to the sensor format. The Olympus m4/3 cameras behave like that too. However, clipped highlights can be satisfactorily corrected in post-production if you use Lightroom 4 or - even better - DxO Optics Pro 7.

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Leo
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Re: GH2 blown highlights
In reply to Elizabeth Klisiewicz, Jun 4, 2012

What a difference!Big difference!

I do not overexposed images often may be because photograph only RAW, select proper exposure metering and using compensation. The GH2 histogram related to JPG, however the GH2 advantage that the set ISO reflected on the histogram (JPG) and actual ISO (RAW) are equal. That is a long stand Panasonic design rule. I was photographing before with Olympus different E-XXX DSLRs. Each one of these had in-camera ISO almost 1EV less then the set ISO. The histogram use was just guessing.
The histogram is a nice guideline.
Leo

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Leo
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Re: GH2 blown highlights
In reply to ManuelVilardeMacedo, Jun 4, 2012

ManuelVilardeMacedo wrote:

There's not much you can do about it before shooting, as this problem seems to be inherent to the sensor format. The Olympus m4/3 cameras behave like that too. However, clipped highlights can be satisfactorily corrected in post-production if you use Lightroom 4 or - even better - DxO Optics Pro 7.

Manuel,

If the highlights are clipped they are clipped (gone).If they can be corrected then they are not clipped. I thing I understand what you are saying, however you need to be careful when explaining or there are too much room for assumption.
Leo

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Leo
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Re: GH2 blown highlights
In reply to Louis_Dobson, Jun 4, 2012

Louis_Dobson wrote:
Now I know why I come in here - it's for comedy posts like this

ManuelVilardeMacedo wrote:

There's not much you can do about it before shooting, as this problem seems to be inherent to the sensor format. The Olympus m4/3 cameras behave like that too. However, clipped highlights can be satisfactorily corrected in post-production if you use Lightroom 4 or - even better - DxO Optics Pro 7.

Louis,
I am here most of the time and not that often at the Nikon forum....more fun
Leo

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panos_m
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Re: GH2 blown highlights
In reply to ManuelVilardeMacedo, Jun 4, 2012

?ManuelVilardeMacedo wrote:

There's not much you can do about it before shooting, as this problem seems to be inherent to the sensor format. The Olympus m4/3 cameras behave like that too.

Manuel,

Blown highlights is always a user error/decision with every digital camera. I currently shoot with Panasonic GF1 and Nikon D3 and I can assure you that the render highlights the same.

However, clipped highlights can be satisfactorily corrected in post-production if you use Lightroom 4 or - even better - DxO Optics Pro 7.

What highlight recovery in these programs does is to try to reconstruct/invent missing color channel information from the existing unclipped channels. Sometimes they do it very well but IMO it is better not to clip any color channel in the shooting stage if the highlights are important.
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Detail Man
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Re: GH2 blown highlights - Part 1
In reply to Elizabeth Klisiewicz, Jun 4, 2012

Elizabeth Klisiewicz wrote:

I have only been shooting with this camera for a few days, but it seems to have a tendency to overexpose and blow highlights, even when I have stopped it down enough (f5.6-f7 range).

I either use center weighted or spot metering.

Are there any special settings people recommend? I am sure I can get much better output from this camera. It's just a matter of learning its many controls.

Note: My information here relates to RAW format recording - which is what I have used my GH2 for, not much experimenting with JPG recording. I just use JPGs for reviewing/sorting purposes .

... I have a histogram and it's white. Since I haven't dug deep into the menus yet, it is possible I have to turn on the blinking highlight setting. It might be off by default.

Yes, The Blinking Highlight indicator (in review/playback modes only) needs to be enabled by going to HIGHLIGHTs in the CUSTOM SETUP menu, and setting it to "ON".

While one reads (here and there) that the GH2 "loves to underexpose", and "cannot be made to overexpose", I found that allowing the "dots" on the Live Histogram to light-up all the way to the right-most edge indeed can/will result in saturated RAW-channels ("clipping") in some cases. I would recommend keeping the "bulk" of the lit-up "dots" to less than a 100% full-scale reading.

The X-axis (the horizontal axis) of the GH2 Live Histogram display is logarithmic (it is in EV, also called "stops"). The scaling is approximately 20% per EV. If 100% did not allow clipping, I would recommend a maximum reading of 90% (-0.5 EV). However, since 100% does result in "clipping", I would recommend something more (such as 80% full-scale reading). I would not use less than that

In cases where the image-frame contains sky areas, water or other reflective surfaces, or even first-reflection direct-sunlight, you may well see a thin column of lit-up "dots" on the histogram at 100% reading, nevertheless. Know that this represents "clipping" - but may sometimes be a necessary practical compromise. What matters is where in the image-frame the "clipping" occurs (which the Blinking Highlights indicator will help to show when in review or playback modes).

Since you are already someone who uses Aperture Priority, and using negative-valued manual Exposure Compensation will increase Shutter Speed in order to reduce exposure, consider using the GH2's very useful CONSTANT PREVIEW functionality (also enabled in the CUSTOM SETUP menu). It is only available when in Manual shooting mode. Consider Manual mode ! CONSTANT PREVIEW is the only (easy, non laborious/irritating) way to have the LCD/EVF and Live Histogram reflect the actual F-Number and Shutter Speed. The Live Histogram is only a guess otherwise ...

So, the idea would be to use Manual shooting mode, set your F-Number (the lowest value possible to acheive the DOF that you want) just like in Aperture Priority shooting mode, and also set the lowest Shutter Speed that you are comfortable shooting with (when shooting handheld without tripod or mono-pod, etc.).

Then, use the ISO Gain selection menu (assigned to the Up-Arrow of the 4-way controller buttons) in order to accomplish the same thing as using manual Exposure Compensation (when in Aperture, Shutter, or Program shooting modes).

In order to "fine-tune" your Live Histogram reading, increase (or decrease) the Shutter Speed control. Once you have set the closest appropriate ISO Gain, this Manual shooting mode approach is really not much different than adjusting manual Exposure Compensation in Aperture Priority shooting mode. And, the Live Histogram that the user sees will be truly believable . Worth doing !

Note: If you set EXPO. SETTINGS (in the CUSTOM SETUP menu) to SWITCH BY PRESSING THE LVF/LCD BUTTON, then the LVF/LCD Button (located at the upper left corner of the back side of the camera) will toggle the Control-Wheel between adjusting F-Number and Shutter Speed - which allows for very handy adjustments of both parameters (F-Number and Shutter Speed) when in Manual shooting mode (all without ever once needing to press on the Control-Wheel and deal with hunting around in the menus) . Very handy !

That shot was at ISO=400 (where ISO=200, or even base ISO=160 likely would have worked).

Your 14-140mm lens was at 140mm. This reduces the DOF by huge amounts (the square of the increase in Focal Length from 14mm, a factor of no less than 100 times thinner DOF). Thus, perhaps you are setting the F-Number higher than it needs to be at F=8.0 ?

The Shutter Speed is 1000 (Shutter Time = 1/1000 Second), indicating that you easily could have reduced the ISO Gain to base ISO=160. Use the lowest possible ISO Gain.

Looking at the Histogram of this JPG in an image-editor (PSP X4), the Red JPG color-channel is somewhat clipped, alright, but the Green and Blus channels are not clipped. Reducing the "Brightness" control in an image-editor in post-processinbg, or the "Exposure (Comp/Bias)" in a RAW Processor will deal with that. Better to "underexpose" more in processing than to "underexpose" too much when recording the shot.

Here is a similar photo after post production. There was enough headroom in the RAW file to bring back details:

As long as there is not too much RAW-channel clipping occurring, a RAW processor "Exposure" adjustment downward in processing is the best way to scale yout final image's overall "brightness".

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