Noise and ETTR

Started 10 months ago | Questions
Ido S
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Re: Noise and ETTR
In reply to roperc3, 10 months ago

One thing I forgot to mention in my previous post: what version of Lightroom are you using?

To get the best Raw conversion, use at least Lightroom 4. And in the Develop module, under Camera Calibration, make sure that the process version is 2012.

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Anders W
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Re: Noise and ETTR
In reply to cmpatti, 10 months ago

cmpatti wrote:

Anders W wrote:

In addition to the link to the article you already got from GeorgianBay1939, you might want to have a look at this recipe for exposure with the E-M5 specifically:

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/51169217

I have a question about the procedure outlined in this post. It calls for setting the largest aperture and the slowest shutter speed that will get the image and then pushing the histogram to the right by raising ISO. It's been my impression that achieving ETTR by increasing ISO doesn't accomplish any meaningful noise reduction because the ISO increase offsets the benefits of ETTR. Therefore, I've thought that ETTR is only really useful in low contrast, well-lighted situations where you can increase exposure at base ISO by reducing shutter speed without blowing out highlights. Since those situations aren't all that common, and since noise isn't usually a major concern in those situations, I haven't really taken the trouble to incorporate ETTR in my metering routine. Instead, my practice has been "shoot at the lowest ISO at which you can get the shutter speed you need" (since I'm generally shooting aperture priority).

So my question: is there any testing available that shows that raising ISO to achieve ETTR reduces noise? In other words, that ISO 200, f/4, 1/100 (with highlights a stop from the right) will produce more noise than ISO 400, f/4, 1/100? This would be useful to know.

Yes, testing that demonstrates this has been done by me as well as others. The reason that ISO 400 is better than ISO 200, if we keep exposure the same and provided that we don't clip the highlights, is that the read noise of the sensor (as measured in electrons) is lower at ISO 400 than at ISO 200. This will make for less noise in the shadows. In the highlights, the noise level will be roughly the same regardless of which of the two ISOs you use (though still marginally better at 400).

How the read noise varies across ISOs can indirectly be assessed by looking at the DR curve in the DxOMark sensor tests. If the read noise (as measured in electrons) remains constant when you double the ISO, the expected loss in DR is one EV. If it is less than that, the read noise falls a bit.

As to the details for the E-M5 specifically, including intermediate ISOs, see here:

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/41988325

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cmpatti
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Re: Noise and ETTR
In reply to Anders W, 10 months ago

Anders W wrote:

cmpatti wrote:

Anders W wrote:

In addition to the link to the article you already got from GeorgianBay1939, you might want to have a look at this recipe for exposure with the E-M5 specifically:

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/51169217

I have a question about the procedure outlined in this post. It calls for setting the largest aperture and the slowest shutter speed that will get the image and then pushing the histogram to the right by raising ISO. It's been my impression that achieving ETTR by increasing ISO doesn't accomplish any meaningful noise reduction because the ISO increase offsets the benefits of ETTR. Therefore, I've thought that ETTR is only really useful in low contrast, well-lighted situations where you can increase exposure at base ISO by reducing shutter speed without blowing out highlights. Since those situations aren't all that common, and since noise isn't usually a major concern in those situations, I haven't really taken the trouble to incorporate ETTR in my metering routine. Instead, my practice has been "shoot at the lowest ISO at which you can get the shutter speed you need" (since I'm generally shooting aperture priority).

So my question: is there any testing available that shows that raising ISO to achieve ETTR reduces noise? In other words, that ISO 200, f/4, 1/100 (with highlights a stop from the right) will produce more noise than ISO 400, f/4, 1/100? This would be useful to know.

Yes, testing that demonstrates this has been done by me as well as others. The reason that ISO 400 is better than ISO 200, if we keep exposure the same and provided that we don't clip the highlights, is that the read noise of the sensor (as measured in electrons) is lower at ISO 400 than at ISO 200. This will make for less noise in the shadows. In the highlights, the noise level will be roughly the same regardless of which of the two ISOs you use (though still marginally better at 400).

How the read noise varies across ISOs can indirectly be assessed by looking at the DR curve in the DxOMark sensor tests. If the read noise (as measured in electrons) remains constant when you double the ISO, the expected loss in DR is one EV. If it is less than that, the read noise falls a bit.

As to the details for the E-M5 specifically, including intermediate ISOs, see here:

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/41988325

Interesting thread. Thanks for pointing it out. In trying to find a practical bottom line, I focused on the following statement from one of your comments down-thread:

As far as the E-M5 is concerned, the results indicate that going from ISO 200 to 400 improves read-noise performance considerably but that ISO 250 and 320 as well as any ISO above 400 improves it only marginally, and that there is no further improvement at all beyond ISO 3200.

So I might amend my technique ("shoot at the lowest ISO that you can get the shutter speed you need") as follows: If you're at ISO 200 and can go to ISO 400 at the same aperture and shutter speed settings without blowing the highlights, do it. Otherwise don't sweat it.  Sound reasonable?

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LincolnB
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Re: Noise and ETTR
In reply to smithling, 10 months ago

smithling wrote:

Anders W wrote:

smithling wrote:

Don't bother with ETTR unless you have an extremely tricky scene to contend with.

Other people have provided you good responses about what ETTR is, and what the benefits are. But ETTR was established when the dynamic range of digital camera sensors were terrible. It's still a valid technique, but today, the noise amount between pushing shadows in post, and ETTR and then pulling them down, is negligible. The sensors today are really good. Professionals don't bother, and most photographers (artists) I know don't bother either because the difference is simply not noticeable in prints.

IMHO, in general, it is a waste of time. Try it out, and then ask yourself honestly if the trouble is worth the time and mental effort.

Once you have figured out how to do it, it doesn't take any extra time or mental effort at all. And I would think there are many experienced and technically skilled photographers here

Where? At the dpreview.com forums? No problem. There's a vast, vast photographic world outside of this forum.

that would disagree with your assessment (as I certainly do) of whether it is worth learning how to do it.

Never did I say that it was a waste of time to learn ETTR. Please note that I said, "try it out." Sorry for the miscommunication.

Sensors have become better than they were, yes, but if you learn how to use them right, the results will be better still. Why wouldn't you want to take advantage of that fact?

With respect Anders, "use them right" and "better results" are merely subjective. Here's an opinion from another real professional that disagrees with you.

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2011/10/expose-to-the-right-is-a-bunch-of-bull.html

Based on my prints and output, ETTR is simply way overrated.

That photographer is using ETTR, regardless of whether he likes to admit it or not. The procedure for ETTR is to expose as far the right as possible without blowing the highlights. What he's discovered is that for night shots it's not possible to push the exposure very far to the right, that's all. It's still pushed as far to the right as possible, which is not very far when you're photographing light sources.
ETTR + HDR:

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Anders W
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Re: Noise and ETTR
In reply to smithling, 10 months ago

smithling wrote:

Anders W wrote:

smithling wrote:

Don't bother with ETTR unless you have an extremely tricky scene to contend with.

Other people have provided you good responses about what ETTR is, and what the benefits are. But ETTR was established when the dynamic range of digital camera sensors were terrible. It's still a valid technique, but today, the noise amount between pushing shadows in post, and ETTR and then pulling them down, is negligible. The sensors today are really good. Professionals don't bother, and most photographers (artists) I know don't bother either because the difference is simply not noticeable in prints.

IMHO, in general, it is a waste of time. Try it out, and then ask yourself honestly if the trouble is worth the time and mental effort.

Once you have figured out how to do it, it doesn't take any extra time or mental effort at all. And I would think there are many experienced and technically skilled photographers here

Where? At the dpreview.com forums? No problem. There's a vast, vast photographic world outside of this forum.

No doubt. So what?

that would disagree with your assessment (as I certainly do) of whether it is worth learning how to do it.

Never did I say that it was a waste of time to learn ETTR. Please note that I said, "try it out." Sorry for the miscommunication.

What I meant by learning is learning it sufficiently well that it doesn't take any extra time to do it.

Sensors have become better than they were, yes, but if you learn how to use them right, the results will be better still. Why wouldn't you want to take advantage of that fact?

With respect Anders, "use them right" and "better results" are merely subjective.

No they are not. The SNR will be measurably better if you ETTR than if you don't in the scenario you describe in the post to which I replied.

Here's an opinion from another real professional that disagrees with you.

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2011/10/expose-to-the-right-is-a-bunch-of-bull.html

When I evaluate people's claims, I try to do it, as far as possible, based on how they can back it up rather on who they are. Ctein makes three elementary mistakes here.

First, he argues that the ETTR criterion is generally difficult to apply. How difficult it is depends on what tools you have available. With the "live-view blinkies" (highlight/shadow warnings) available on the particular camera we are talking about in this thread (and other Oly MFT bodies), it's usually very easy to get it right.

Second, to illustrate his claim that ETTR is a bad criterion, he uses a sample image that is exposed beyond the right rather than some distance away from the right (as he argues is the right choice).

Third, what he illustrates is that shadow pushing can be useful (who has claimed that it isn't) rather than that ETTR is a poor criterion.

In short, all this article demonstrates is that Ctein doesn't know how to ETTR correctly, and therefore finds it dangerous. It's not the first time I see him show that he doesn't know what he is talking about.

Based on my prints and output, ETTR is simply way overrated.

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Anders W
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Re: Noise and ETTR
In reply to cmpatti, 10 months ago

cmpatti wrote:

Anders W wrote:

cmpatti wrote:

Anders W wrote:

In addition to the link to the article you already got from GeorgianBay1939, you might want to have a look at this recipe for exposure with the E-M5 specifically:

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/51169217

I have a question about the procedure outlined in this post. It calls for setting the largest aperture and the slowest shutter speed that will get the image and then pushing the histogram to the right by raising ISO. It's been my impression that achieving ETTR by increasing ISO doesn't accomplish any meaningful noise reduction because the ISO increase offsets the benefits of ETTR. Therefore, I've thought that ETTR is only really useful in low contrast, well-lighted situations where you can increase exposure at base ISO by reducing shutter speed without blowing out highlights. Since those situations aren't all that common, and since noise isn't usually a major concern in those situations, I haven't really taken the trouble to incorporate ETTR in my metering routine. Instead, my practice has been "shoot at the lowest ISO at which you can get the shutter speed you need" (since I'm generally shooting aperture priority).

So my question: is there any testing available that shows that raising ISO to achieve ETTR reduces noise? In other words, that ISO 200, f/4, 1/100 (with highlights a stop from the right) will produce more noise than ISO 400, f/4, 1/100? This would be useful to know.

Yes, testing that demonstrates this has been done by me as well as others. The reason that ISO 400 is better than ISO 200, if we keep exposure the same and provided that we don't clip the highlights, is that the read noise of the sensor (as measured in electrons) is lower at ISO 400 than at ISO 200. This will make for less noise in the shadows. In the highlights, the noise level will be roughly the same regardless of which of the two ISOs you use (though still marginally better at 400).

How the read noise varies across ISOs can indirectly be assessed by looking at the DR curve in the DxOMark sensor tests. If the read noise (as measured in electrons) remains constant when you double the ISO, the expected loss in DR is one EV. If it is less than that, the read noise falls a bit.

As to the details for the E-M5 specifically, including intermediate ISOs, see here:

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/41988325

Interesting thread. Thanks for pointing it out. In trying to find a practical bottom line, I focused on the following statement from one of your comments down-thread:

As far as the E-M5 is concerned, the results indicate that going from ISO 200 to 400 improves read-noise performance considerably but that ISO 250 and 320 as well as any ISO above 400 improves it only marginally, and that there is no further improvement at all beyond ISO 3200.

So I might amend my technique ("shoot at the lowest ISO that you can get the shutter speed you need") as follows: If you're at ISO 200 and can go to ISO 400 at the same aperture and shutter speed settings without blowing the highlights, do it. Otherwise don't sweat it. Sound reasonable?

Yes, pretty much. As I said, there is some additional gains to be made in terms of read-noise by going beyond 400. But the difference between 200 and 400 is the only major one.

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jkrumm
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Re: Noise and ETTR
In reply to Anders W, 10 months ago

I'm not so great at getting to natural looking results with normal HDR, but what I was getting at was that Photoshop seems to start from a natural look and I have to push the image all over the place to give it more of an hdr look (increasing shadows way, way up, for instance, then cranking on clarity).

Of course enfuse/enblend is a couple dollars and works very well for both aligning and blending. I think one of the main advantages of Photoshop is better "ghost" control. But I've also had sunsets with photoshop that just did not turn out right in the highlights. Hard to find perfect for all situations.

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Anders W
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Re: Noise and ETTR
In reply to jkrumm, 10 months ago

jkrumm wrote:

I'm not so great at getting to natural looking results with normal HDR, but what I was getting at was that Photoshop seems to start from a natural look and I have to push the image all over the place to give it more of an hdr look (increasing shadows way, way up, for instance, then cranking on clarity).

That's good to hear. I don't use Photoshop much myself (except occasionally with a very old version, 2.0, of Photoshop Elements), but I have understood that this is an area where the program is quite capable these days.

Of course enfuse/enblend is a couple dollars and works very well for both aligning and blending. I think one of the main advantages of Photoshop is better "ghost" control. But I've also had sunsets with photoshop that just did not turn out right in the highlights. Hard to find perfect for all situations.

The only control you have over ghosting with LR/Enfuse is that you can turn the "hard-mask" option on to have the program use only a distinct input image for a certain part of the scene.

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Bob Tullis
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Re: Noise and ETTR
In reply to LincolnB, 10 months ago

LincolnB wrote:

Based on my prints and output, ETTR is simply way overrated.

That photographer is using ETTR, regardless of whether he likes to admit it or not. The procedure for ETTR is to expose as far the right as possible without blowing the highlights. What he's discovered is that for night shots it's not possible to push the exposure very far to the right, that's all. It's still pushed as far to the right as possible, which is not very far when you're photographing light sources.

I was thinking the same thing. For a challenging DR exposing a bright as possible w/o blowing highlights ETTR is the way it's done with a single exposure, wittingly or not. Though, for a mid to bright thick fog with low contrast it wouldn't hurt to over expose (w/o clipping) for optimal S/N, but it wouldn't be necessary to ETTER (expose to the extreme right).

It's best to 'debate' such practices with photographic examples, to insure all parties are referencing the same type of scenes with contrary positions. Otherwise. . .

ETTR + HDR:

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smithling
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Re: Noise and ETTR
In reply to Bob Tullis, 10 months ago

Bob Tullis wrote:

It's best to 'debate' such practices with photographic examples, to insure all parties are referencing the same type of scenes with contrary positions. Otherwise. . .

Yup. There are certainly scenes where ETTR can yield better SNR. However, because of the ETTR drum banging, we have (as I have seen) folks with a modern camera running around in the day time making a fuss about ETTR. Silly!

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smithling
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Re: Noise and ETTR
In reply to Anders W, 10 months ago

Anders W wrote:

smithling wrote:

Anders W wrote:

smithling wrote:

Don't bother with ETTR unless you have an extremely tricky scene to contend with.

Other people have provided you good responses about what ETTR is, and what the benefits are. But ETTR was established when the dynamic range of digital camera sensors were terrible. It's still a valid technique, but today, the noise amount between pushing shadows in post, and ETTR and then pulling them down, is negligible. The sensors today are really good. Professionals don't bother, and most photographers (artists) I know don't bother either because the difference is simply not noticeable in prints.

IMHO, in general, it is a waste of time. Try it out, and then ask yourself honestly if the trouble is worth the time and mental effort.

Once you have figured out how to do it, it doesn't take any extra time or mental effort at all. And I would think there are many experienced and technically skilled photographers here

Where? At the dpreview.com forums? No problem. There's a vast, vast photographic world outside of this forum.

No doubt. So what?

You stated that you and others here in this forum disagree. So what? Outside of the realm of dpreview.com forums there are photographers who get by handsomely without ETTR.

that would disagree with your assessment (as I certainly do) of whether it is worth learning how to do it.

Never did I say that it was a waste of time to learn ETTR. Please note that I said, "try it out." Sorry for the miscommunication.

What I meant by learning is learning it sufficiently well that it doesn't take any extra time to do it.

How long does it take to learn it sufficiently well that it doesn't take any extra time? What does the ETTR workflow look like when one becomes adept at using it sufficiently well?

Sensors have become better than they were, yes, but if you learn how to use them right, the results will be better still. Why wouldn't you want to take advantage of that fact?

With respect Anders, "use them right" and "better results" are merely subjective.

No they are not. The SNR will be measurably better if you ETTR than if you don't in the scenario you describe in the post to which I replied.

Measurably better? Maybe. Noticeably better? Sometimes. It depends on the scenario. Do you have an example where the image was noticeable improved by ETTR? The other images you provided somewhere else in this thread are HDR.

Here's an opinion from another real professional that disagrees with you.

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2011/10/expose-to-the-right-is-a-bunch-of-bull.html

When I evaluate people's claims, I try to do it, as far as possible, based on how they can back it up rather on who they are. Ctein makes three elementary mistakes here.

First, he argues that the ETTR criterion is generally difficult to apply. How difficult it is depends on what tools you have available. With the "live-view blinkies" (highlight/shadow warnings) available on the particular camera we are talking about in this thread (and other Oly MFT bodies), it's usually very easy to get it right.

Second, to illustrate his claim that ETTR is a bad criterion, he uses a sample image that is exposed beyond the right rather than some distance away from the right (as he argues is the right choice).

Third, what he illustrates is that shadow pushing can be useful (who has claimed that it isn't) rather than that ETTR is a poor criterion.

In short, all this article demonstrates is that Ctein doesn't know how to ETTR correctly, and therefore finds it dangerous. It's not the first time I see him show that he doesn't know what he is talking about.

Agreed on all points. A bad counter-opinion to reference.

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Bob Tullis
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Re: Noise and ETTR
In reply to smithling, 10 months ago

smithling wrote:

Bob Tullis wrote:

It's best to 'debate' such practices with photographic examples, to insure all parties are referencing the same type of scenes with contrary positions. Otherwise. . .

Yup. There are certainly scenes where ETTR can yield better SNR. However, because of the ETTR drum banging, we have (as I have seen) folks with a modern camera running around in the day time making a fuss about ETTR. Silly!

I don't disagree much with that.    But in another sense even at ISO 200 on a bright day one can get blue sky noise.  I haven't done determined tests, but if I can up the exposure 1 stop more w/o blowing highlights in the daytime, I'll do that when in a RAW only mode.   Even if only for a little theoretical comfort [g].  It can't hurt.

The practice is sound, but really understanding it is key (like anything).   And if one understands it becomes apparent when (& why) one can relax and throw ETTR to the wind.   I like to think of it as shooting for the visual result with JPG, shooting for the sensor's S/N for RAW if/when it matters, in short.

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Anders W
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Re: Noise and ETTR
In reply to smithling, 10 months ago

smithling wrote:

Anders W wrote:

smithling wrote:

Anders W wrote:

smithling wrote:

Don't bother with ETTR unless you have an extremely tricky scene to contend with.

Other people have provided you good responses about what ETTR is, and what the benefits are. But ETTR was established when the dynamic range of digital camera sensors were terrible. It's still a valid technique, but today, the noise amount between pushing shadows in post, and ETTR and then pulling them down, is negligible. The sensors today are really good. Professionals don't bother, and most photographers (artists) I know don't bother either because the difference is simply not noticeable in prints.

IMHO, in general, it is a waste of time. Try it out, and then ask yourself honestly if the trouble is worth the time and mental effort.

Once you have figured out how to do it, it doesn't take any extra time or mental effort at all. And I would think there are many experienced and technically skilled photographers here

Where? At the dpreview.com forums? No problem. There's a vast, vast photographic world outside of this forum.

No doubt. So what?

You stated that you and others here in this forum disagree. So what? Outside of the realm of dpreview.com forums there are photographers who get by handsomely without ETTR.

I don't doubt that there are photographers who get by "handsomely" without ETTR. The point is that they would get along even better with ETTR.

that would disagree with your assessment (as I certainly do) of whether it is worth learning how to do it.

Never did I say that it was a waste of time to learn ETTR. Please note that I said, "try it out." Sorry for the miscommunication.

What I meant by learning is learning it sufficiently well that it doesn't take any extra time to do it.

How long does it take to learn it sufficiently well that it doesn't take any extra time?

With an Oly body, it should take very little time to learn to do it for ordinary scenarios.

What does the ETTR workflow look like when one becomes adept at using it sufficiently well?

Assuming we know that the light level is sufficiently high to get the shot as we want it at base ISO, just set the f-stop you deem preferable and adjust the shutter speed until the live-view blinkies just appear on the brightest highlights you care to preserve.

If base ISO turns out to be insufficient to reach that point given the light level, f-stop requirements and shutter-speed requirements, instead increase the ISO until the live view blinkies just appear.

On the E-M5 it makes sense to increase the ISO only up to 3200 at most. Beyond that point, it doesn't make sense to do it any more since the ISOs beyond 3200 are digitally scaled and thus not associated with any reduction in read noise.

Sensors have become better than they were, yes, but if you learn how to use them right, the results will be better still. Why wouldn't you want to take advantage of that fact?

With respect Anders, "use them right" and "better results" are merely subjective.

No they are not. The SNR will be measurably better if you ETTR than if you don't in the scenario you describe in the post to which I replied.

Measurably better? Maybe. Noticeably better? Sometimes. It depends on the scenario. Do you have an example where the image was noticeable improved by ETTR? The other images you provided somewhere else in this thread are HDR.

Sure. Here is one which would have been noticeably worse in either the highlights or the shadows if I hadn't ETTRed.

Before PP

After PP

Here's an opinion from another real professional that disagrees with you.

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2011/10/expose-to-the-right-is-a-bunch-of-bull.html

When I evaluate people's claims, I try to do it, as far as possible, based on how they can back it up rather on who they are. Ctein makes three elementary mistakes here.

First, he argues that the ETTR criterion is generally difficult to apply. How difficult it is depends on what tools you have available. With the "live-view blinkies" (highlight/shadow warnings) available on the particular camera we are talking about in this thread (and other Oly MFT bodies), it's usually very easy to get it right.

Second, to illustrate his claim that ETTR is a bad criterion, he uses a sample image that is exposed beyond the right rather than some distance away from the right (as he argues is the right choice).

Third, what he illustrates is that shadow pushing can be useful (who has claimed that it isn't) rather than that ETTR is a poor criterion.

In short, all this article demonstrates is that Ctein doesn't know how to ETTR correctly, and therefore finds it dangerous. It's not the first time I see him show that he doesn't know what he is talking about.

Agreed on all points. A bad counter-opinion to reference.

OK. Good that you too think it's bad.

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Stevil
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Ctein's no dummy
In reply to smithling, 10 months ago

smithling wrote:

Here's an opinion from another real professional that disagrees with you.

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2011/10/expose-to-the-right-is-a-bunch-of-bull.html

I'm not sure Ctein really disagrees. His article is filled with enough qualifiers to make it clear that he's deliberately overstating his case. In effect, he's saying "if you don't understand ETTR well enough to pick this article apart, you will probably do more harm than good by using it." Why would he do this? Well, for one, a good polemic boosts the Ctein "brand" better than a boring technical article. : )

I could summarize Ctein's article this way:

"1. Clipping highlights is BAAAAD.

2. If you use ETTR, you're gonna clip highlights.

3. ETTR is BAAAAD.

4. If you own a high-end camera made in the last year or two, you may not benefit greatly from ETTR much of the time anyway. (Whoops, did I imply there could be a benefit?)"

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cmpatti
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Re: Noise and ETTR
In reply to Anders W, 10 months ago

Here's an opinion from another real professional that disagrees with you.

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2011/10/expose-to-the-right-is-a-bunch-of-bull.html

When I evaluate people's claims, I try to do it, as far as possible, based on how they can back it up rather on who they are. Ctein makes three elementary mistakes here.

First, he argues that the ETTR criterion is generally difficult to apply. How difficult it is depends on what tools you have available. With the "live-view blinkies" (highlight/shadow warnings) available on the particular camera we are talking about in this thread (and other Oly MFT bodies), it's usually very easy to get it right.

Second, to illustrate his claim that ETTR is a bad criterion, he uses a sample image that is exposed beyond the right rather than some distance away from the right (as he argues is the right choice).

Third, what he illustrates is that shadow pushing can be useful (who has claimed that it isn't) rather than that ETTR is a poor criterion.

In short, all this article demonstrates is that Ctein doesn't know how to ETTR correctly, and therefore finds it dangerous. It's not the first time I see him show that he doesn't know what he is talking about.

Based on my prints and output, ETTR is simply way overrated.

Well, in fairness to Ctein, who was writing in 2011, his point--particularly clear if you read his response to comments--was that as a recommended standard practice ETTR was a bad idea because (1) most people wouldn't be able to do it correctly and would end up blowing highlights, and (2) blown highlights are a bigger, less remediable problem than shadow noise. He states, for example:

No one, including me, ever said the THEORY of ETTR was wrong. The practice, with current equipment, is what fails (see comment above to Pieter et.al.). A useful rule of thumb is about practice, not theory.

He specifically allowed for the possibility that improvements in equipment might change that situation:

Well, no, the in-camera and in-computer tools for avoiding blown highlights actually are inadequate to the problem. Currently. Quite possibly, even probably, in another eight years my advice will be as bad as ETTR (which dates from 2003) is now. But right now, highlight problems are hard to avoid if you follow ETTR.

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Anders W
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Re: Noise and ETTR
In reply to cmpatti, 10 months ago

cmpatti wrote:

Here's an opinion from another real professional that disagrees with you.

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2011/10/expose-to-the-right-is-a-bunch-of-bull.html

When I evaluate people's claims, I try to do it, as far as possible, based on how they can back it up rather on who they are. Ctein makes three elementary mistakes here.

First, he argues that the ETTR criterion is generally difficult to apply. How difficult it is depends on what tools you have available. With the "live-view blinkies" (highlight/shadow warnings) available on the particular camera we are talking about in this thread (and other Oly MFT bodies), it's usually very easy to get it right.

Second, to illustrate his claim that ETTR is a bad criterion, he uses a sample image that is exposed beyond the right rather than some distance away from the right (as he argues is the right choice).

Third, what he illustrates is that shadow pushing can be useful (who has claimed that it isn't) rather than that ETTR is a poor criterion.

In short, all this article demonstrates is that Ctein doesn't know how to ETTR correctly, and therefore finds it dangerous. It's not the first time I see him show that he doesn't know what he is talking about.

Based on my prints and output, ETTR is simply way overrated.

Well, in fairness to Ctein, who was writing in 2011, his point--particularly clear if you read his response to comments--was that as a recommended standard practice ETTR was a bad idea because (1) most people wouldn't be able to do it correctly and would end up blowing highlights, and (2) blown highlights are a bigger, less remediable problem than shadow noise. He states, for example:

Well, first good tools for successfully ETTRing and doing it quickly was available already when Ctein wrote this (live-view histogram, live highlight warnings). Second, it was certainly possible to do it right even without these tools, just a bit more time-consuming.

I bought my first digital camera (Pentax K100D) in 2007 and started ETTRing right away. The technique I used back then (and still use as a back-up strategy now) was to spot meter on the highlights and then dial in a certain amount of positive exposure compensation based on that reading. How much depends on how the meter is calibrated relative to the clipping point of the sensor. I don't remember exactly what figure I used to apply with the Pentax, but it was somewhere between 2 and 3. On the E-M5, it is 3.3 EV (at the normal ISOs, not ISO LOW). This works well if the highlights are large enough to be properly isolated by the spot of the spot meter. If they are scattered and can't be properly isolated by the meter, you have to reduce the EC you dial in, and a certain amount of trial and error may be required to get it right. In the end, you have the ex-post histogram and ex-post highlight warnings to check whether you nailed it or not.

No one, including me, ever said the THEORY of ETTR was wrong. The practice, with current equipment, is what fails (see comment above to Pieter et.al.). A useful rule of thumb is about practice, not theory.

He specifically allowed for the possibility that improvements in equipment might change that situation:

Well, no, the in-camera and in-computer tools for avoiding blown highlights actually are inadequate to the problem. Currently. Quite possibly, even probably, in another eight years my advice will be as bad as ETTR (which dates from 2003) is now. But right now, highlight problems are hard to avoid if you follow ETTR.

There have certainly been such improvements over time, but the better tools we now have access to were available already when Ctein wrote his article. And it was certainly possible to successfully ETTR without those tools too. It was just a little more time-consuming.

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