Overexposing V Underexposing

Started Feb 10, 2013 | Discussions
tiberiousgracchus
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Overexposing V Underexposing
Feb 10, 2013

I took a few shots the other day where I had accidentally overexposed shots. Looking at them I believed they were totally lost. Luckily recently I decided to shoot RAW and see how it works out. I was amazed at the details I could get back from the few shots I took. Very Impressed. Underexposing on the other hand gives way to banding. Even with Skies blown out to correctly expose for the foreground im still able to grab detils back in LR. Oh and loving RAW

The before and after shots below:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tiberiousgracchus/8442560670/in/photostream

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tiberiousgracchus/8441506547/in/photostream/

...with DR @400

baobob
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Re: Overexposing V Underexposing
In reply to tiberiousgracchus, Feb 10, 2013

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exposing_to_the_right

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

These are 2 ref that explain why and how you can avoid noise in shadows

That said the Fuji X's produce very little noise anyway

So nowadays this applies for the few shots where deep shadows are important

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bigpigbig
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Re: Overexposing V Underexposing
In reply to baobob, Feb 10, 2013

baobob wrote:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exposing_to_the_right

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

These are 2 ref that explain why and how you can avoid noise in shadows

That said the Fuji X's produce very little noise anyway

So nowadays this applies for the few shots where deep shadows are important

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Good judgment comes from experience
Experience comes from bad judgment

I think it is always a good idea when possible to expose to the right (very important not to clip highlights). There is much more data to the right and when adjusting tones you'll have much more flexibility.

Say, for example, your shot has 5 stops of dynamic range. Say also, the tones are evenly distributed (though this is not necessary, just easier to picture). Even if you want your midtones to be at neutral grey, you are better off shooting it 1 stop over exposed (manual exposure or exposure compensation) and adjusting in post. This will move you highlights from +2.5 to +3.5 but not clip them. You will then have much more data across the entire range with which to make adjustments (think curves adjustments or levels adjustments).

I have experimented quite a bit with this and in certain circumstances it is astounding and in others it hardly makes a difference.

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tiberiousgracchus
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Re: Overexposing V Underexposing
In reply to baobob, Feb 10, 2013

baobob wrote:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exposing_to_the_right

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

These are 2 ref that explain why and how you can avoid noise in shadows

That said the Fuji X's produce very little noise anyway

So nowadays this applies for the few shots where deep shadows are important

-- hide signature --

Good judgment comes from experience
Experience comes from bad judgment

TVM for the info baobob.

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Christof21
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Re: Overexposing V Underexposing
In reply to baobob, Feb 10, 2013

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exposing_to_the_right

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

These are 2 ref that explain why and how you can avoid noise in shadows

That said the Fuji X's produce very little noise anyway

So nowadays this applies for the few shots where deep shadows are important

-- hide signature --

Good judgment comes from experience
Experience comes from bad judgment

You mean that it is not a good idea to use dr@200 or 400, it would be better in fact to have the opposite function in the camera (overexpose and correct it) !
I don't know what to think...

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bigpigbig
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Re: Overexposing V Underexposing
In reply to Christof21, Feb 10, 2013

Christof21 wrote:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exposing_to_the_right

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

These are 2 ref that explain why and how you can avoid noise in shadows

That said the Fuji X's produce very little noise anyway

So nowadays this applies for the few shots where deep shadows are important

-- hide signature --

Good judgment comes from experience
Experience comes from bad judgment

You mean that it is not a good idea to use dr@200 or 400, it would be better in fact to have the opposite function in the camera (overexpose and correct it) !
I don't know what to think...

I am not sure what DR200 or DR400 does, but as long as you are not blowing highlights, you should try to shoot as bright as you can.

That is the expose-to-the-right theory.

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Christof21
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Re: Overexposing V Underexposing
In reply to bigpigbig, Feb 10, 2013

Christof21 wrote:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exposing_to_the_right

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

These are 2 ref that explain why and how you can avoid noise in shadows

That said the Fuji X's produce very little noise anyway

So nowadays this applies for the few shots where deep shadows are important

-- hide signature --

Good judgment comes from experience
Experience comes from bad judgment

You mean that it is not a good idea to use dr@200 or 400, it would be better in fact to have the opposite function in the camera (overexpose and correct it) !
I don't know what to think...

I am not sure what DR200 or DR400 does, but as long as you are not blowing highlights, you should try to shoot as bright as you can.

That is the expose-to-the-right theory.

it just makes the opposite, under-expose 1 or 2 stops and correct it as utomatically. It preserves the highlights.
Mayber I under-estimate the importance of the sky in a picture but I prefer to preserve shadows and have less noise.
The article is vert interesting !

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tiberiousgracchus
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Re: Overexposing V Underexposing
In reply to Christof21, Feb 10, 2013

Christof21 wrote:

Christof21 wrote:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exposing_to_the_right

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

These are 2 ref that explain why and how you can avoid noise in shadows

That said the Fuji X's produce very little noise anyway

So nowadays this applies for the few shots where deep shadows are important

-- hide signature --

Good judgment comes from experience
Experience comes from bad judgment

You mean that it is not a good idea to use dr@200 or 400, it would be better in fact to have the opposite function in the camera (overexpose and correct it) !
I don't know what to think...

I am not sure what DR200 or DR400 does, but as long as you are not blowing highlights, you should try to shoot as bright as you can.

That is the expose-to-the-right theory.

it just makes the opposite, under-expose 1 or 2 stops and correct it as utomatically. It preserves the highlights.
Mayber I under-estimate the importance of the sky in a picture but I prefer to preserve shadows and have less noise.
The article is vert interesting !

I believe(d) in the exposure to right theory. however after seeing what the camera is capable of im no longer afraid of overexposing. The links in the original post is and exaggerated example but it goes to show that blown out highlights does not neccessarily mean loss of detail. With my Canon blown highlight meant you could not retrieve the info but with the X100 its still possible.

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belcanto
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Re: Overexposing V Underexposing
In reply to baobob, Feb 10, 2013

Really interesting. I've been reading about ettr for a while but thanks to this link realised what it is. The question now is, How do you do it?? The histogram in the camera only shows the EVF's light. There is no high-clipping funktion. There isn't even a choice to choose where to meter. So again. How do you do it?

Kjell

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Mark Weston
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Expose to the Right vs DR Auto, DR200, DR400
In reply to tiberiousgracchus, Feb 10, 2013

With my X100, I shot DR100 and raw. I am waiting for my X100S to play with the Fuji parameters again, but this topic confuses me. It really seems like the Fuji DR settings are doing the opposite of expose to the right by underexposing and lifting the shadows instead of exposing to the right and bringing the highlights back. If I am understanding this correctly, I will likely stick with DR100 and use the histogram. Anyone have any extensive experience comparing the results of DR400 vs DR100 and exposing to the right? Does Auto DR only do this in high contrast scenes where the highlights really are pushed to the right even when underexposing the entire scene? If yes, maybe it is worth giving Auto DR a try. Unfortunately, it looks like Auto DR does not work in Manual mode when I want to lock shutter speed and aperture down for control of motion and depth of field.

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djpearlman
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Re: Expose to the Right vs DR Auto, DR200, DR400
In reply to Mark Weston, Feb 10, 2013

DR 200 and 400 expose to the left to make sure (over-sure) not to clip highlights in jpegs, where they can not be recovered. Less of a worry shooting raw because there is more highlight headroom there.  But still, as with slide film in the old days, digital file shadows can usually be recovered to some extent while truly burned out highlights can not. I used to love overexposing tri-x, but don't do that with digital.

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Trevor G
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Re: Expose to the Right vs DR Auto, DR200, DR400
In reply to djpearlman, Feb 10, 2013

djpearlman wrote:

DR 200 and 400 expose to the left to make sure (over-sure) not to clip highlights in jpegs, where they can not be recovered.

That's not really correct.

The exposure is the same - it's as far to the right as your light metering, luminance-only histogram and EV compensation skills allow.

The difference is that overall it is under-exposed in-camera by 1 or 2EV to allow extra highlight detail on high contrast scenes, and then has the shadows lifted in-camera by 1 or 2EV, depending on which DR setting you use.

Less of a worry shooting raw because there is more highlight headroom there. But still, as with slide film in the old days, digital file shadows can usually be recovered to some extent while truly burned out highlights can not. I used to love overexposing tri-x, but don't do that with digital.

And it would be much easier to get better results if our Fujis had proper RGB histograms.

I am surprised there is such little support for my request for the feature:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3379160

I show some graphic examples of the problem and solution.

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Trevor G
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baobob
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Re: Overexposing V Underexposing
In reply to Christof21, Feb 10, 2013

Sorry I get ^partly misunderstood

The ETTR method applies for RAW shooting

In my X100 and XP1 experience with around 10000 shots in JPEG DR 200 and 400 are very valuable tools for OOC JPEG with the settings for highlights and shadows set to -1 or -2

I mainly use the ETTR RAW method with my 5D2 that can be prone to produce noise in deep underexpose shadows

These methods are here, just try what is relevant in your type of photography

With the X series I don't use so often RAW even if I ALWAYS record RAW with JPEG "just in case"

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baobob
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Re: Overexposing V Underexposing
In reply to belcanto, Feb 10, 2013

If you read M Reichmann, he explains that you just push on the left the histogram in the RAW editor

I tried it with my 5D2 for very deep shadows, it works well

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baobob
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Re: Expose to the Right vs DR Auto, DR200, DR400
In reply to Mark Weston, Feb 10, 2013

I have a cross experience DR 200 / 400 in JPEG X100 XP1 and ETTR with the 5D2 in RAW

IMO I think for real fine adjustment ETTR in RAW plus careful PP in the RAW editor could be more powerfull

That said according to DPR review of XP1 page DR, DR400 plus tricking shadows and highlights leads to about 13 EV especially in highlights it's rather spectacular even if you get sometimes a flat picture than could need some quick improvements

So I have not yet any experience of RAW ETTR with the Fujis

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Mark Weston
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Thank you for your insights
In reply to Mark Weston, Feb 10, 2013

I am looking forward to getting my hands on the X100S and playing with these settings more.

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Trevor G
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Re: Expose to the Right - not possible without a proper RGB histogram
In reply to baobob, Feb 10, 2013

baobob wrote:

So I have not yet any experience of RAW ETTR with the Fujis

None of us do.

It's not possible to ETTR with any modern Fuji because of the lack of a proper RGB histogram.

You can't do anything regarding exposure with just a luminance histogram, as we have, because we cannot see when a chroma channel is peaking and crushing, or clipping. That will frequently happen before luminance clipping shows on our puny, in-cam histograms.

I've devoted a thread to the topic currently but here is some detail anyway:

Left histogram overlay shows the Luminance channel only, just like the in-cam histogram. Right overlay is a full RGB + L histogram from Silkypix of the same scene.

The in-cam histogram is very deceptive because it only shows Luminance (brightness) information. It can only give an approximate idea of real exposure.

In the very common case shown above, if we use the in-cam histogram it looks as if the scene is under-exposed by about 1EV, but in reality, the R channel is already crushing image detail, as shown by the Silkypix histogram on the right.

Here is the RAW - here is a good reason to shoot RAW, because you can usually claw reasonably over-exposed highlights back from RAW, but not always.

Once again the Fuji Luminance-only histogram is upper left - full RGB+ histogram is on the right, courtesy of Silkypix

properly exposed, it is easy to pick up the extra detail in this, the same image, processed from RAW.

Note for Adobe users: Adobe's Highlight recovery tool allows you to get back much of the crushing you get in over-exposed JPEGs. Silkypix does not. Silkypix does a great job ith RAW.

Important note: The in-cam RGB histogram normally consists of 4 images, one above the other, showing each channel, R G B & L, at once.

I like the Pentax iteration:

But you might prefer the Panasonic version:

Whatever one we get, we need it soon, because this is the upshot of not having one.

You might think that, if the colour is crushed, we could just convert to B&W and not lose anything except the colour.

Wrong...here is the crushed JPEG with all colour turned off:

The JPEG still loses highlight detail from chroma channel clipping or crushing, even with colour turned off

Even just the R chroma channel crushing is reflected back into the Luminance channel, and we get a loss of detail in the highlight areas. Compare with the extra highlight detail in the RAW version below:

The average output of this RAW image has been set to match the JPEG as much as possible

Of course, if you know your histograms, by looking at the L histogram we can see this crushing of the chroma channel causing 2 spikes in the L channel, here reproduced (otherwise check the top image again):

The two spikes on the right side show that chroma channel crushing has been reflected back into the L channel, even though it was nowhere near over-exposure itself.

The matching RAW, after processing, shows none of that problem:

Histogram from RAW output is in great shape, because the chroma crushing was undone in processing and did not affect the L channel.

Please Fuji, may we have a proper RGB Histogram in-camera, like everyone else?

If you agree, would you mind dropping in to this thread and saying something, please?

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3379160

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baobob
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Re: Expose to the Right - not possible without a proper RGB histogram
In reply to Trevor G, Feb 11, 2013

Thx Trevor for this state of the art (?) of fuji's histogram (or lack of)

That said  with my EOS 5D2 in live view you do not get any histogram at all in preview

And it's only in review that you do get 3 channels histogram

Which means that for proper ETTR you have to do some trials

Not glorious as well....

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nixda
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Re: Overexposing V Underexposing
In reply to tiberiousgracchus, Feb 12, 2013

tiberiousgracchus wrote:

Christof21 wrote:

Christof21 wrote:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exposing_to_the_right

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

These are 2 ref that explain why and how you can avoid noise in shadows

That said the Fuji X's produce very little noise anyway

So nowadays this applies for the few shots where deep shadows are important

-- hide signature --

Good judgment comes from experience
Experience comes from bad judgment

You mean that it is not a good idea to use dr@200 or 400, it would be better in fact to have the opposite function in the camera (overexpose and correct it) !
I don't know what to think...

I am not sure what DR200 or DR400 does, but as long as you are not blowing highlights, you should try to shoot as bright as you can.

That is the expose-to-the-right theory.

it just makes the opposite, under-expose 1 or 2 stops and correct it as utomatically. It preserves the highlights.
Mayber I under-estimate the importance of the sky in a picture but I prefer to preserve shadows and have less noise.
The article is vert interesting !

I believe(d) in the exposure to right theory. however after seeing what the camera is capable of im no longer afraid of overexposing. The links in the original post is and exaggerated example but it goes to show that blown out highlights does not neccessarily mean loss of detail. With my Canon blown highlight meant you could not retrieve the info but with the X100 its still possible.

Two things to say here:

1. whether one has to underexpose to do ETTR or overexpose to do ETTR is irrelevant as the end result is still ETTR.

2. 'Recovering blown highlights' is a misnomer. If highlights can be recovered, then they weren't blown. At least not in all channels. Highlights can be 'recovered' from raw data relative to the JPEG version when the conversion to JPEG was done suboptimally and clipped them. If the engine did the JPEG conversion 'correctly', i.e., if it had preserved the highlights, one would not need to recover anything. So, the ability to recover highlights in a piece of software is simply a capability to utilize the portion of the raw data that's been tossed out when converting to JPEG. If you can't recover highlights from your Canon raw files, relative to the JPEG versions, the JPEG engine did a much better job. IMO, that's a hallmark of a good engine. Being able to recover, say, 4 stops of highlights is a hallmark of a suboptimal engine.

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nixda
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Re: Overexposing V Underexposing
In reply to belcanto, Feb 12, 2013

belcanto wrote:

Really interesting. I've been reading about ettr for a while but thanks to this link realised what it is. The question now is, How do you do it?? The histogram in the camera only shows the EVF's light. There is no high-clipping funktion. There isn't even a choice to choose where to meter. So again. How do you do it?

You can't. At least not easily.

Best would be to a raw histogram. That would show any sensels that are truly clipped. AFAIK, no camera displays a raw histogram. Neither does any mainstream software.

So, the only way really is to learn the behavior of your camera at various JPG settings, e.g., figure out through a series of test shots what the 'headroom' is when all in-camera processing parameters are set to their least-biased values. Then adjust exposure accordingly, and don't worry if it shows some blinkies in the camera, because you know the data are there in raw. If still worried, you can always bracket around the chosen exposure, but make sure the bracketing doesn't change ISO, which the X-E1, for example, does at certain settings.

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