MeganV: Awesome article, DPR. Thanks!
I'd like to hear more about how to actually *do* ETTR, with examples for different kinds of scenes / subjects. This article explains the concept straightforwardly, but in practice it feels more complicated.
Example(s): let's say I'm photographing a portrait semi-contre-jour, or just photographing a landscape with big sky--these seem like two pretty common photographic scenarios. In both cases, if I expose until highlights clip, my subject (the person in my portrait or the ground fixtures in my landscape) is going to be still *deep* in the shadow region of my histogram--and adjusting that in post will, of course, amplify the shot noise accompanying that area.
What I'm getting at, here, is that it seems like the old adage, "expose for your subject" might still be true with ETTR thinking--in other words, "ETTR for your subject."
So . . . yeah: some real-world commentary on ETTR in action, as you guys practice it, would be an awesome add to this article!
Problem with ND-graduals is that the gradual line is always straight, while the horizon is only in 50% of the photo's world wide (and in 10% of mine)... which does not mean they are useless in digital, because the darker area does not have to be perfectly aligned (and is gradual, of course). Well, as always: ND-filters, gradual ones, polarizing ones, HDR-technique... they still apply in digital ages (yes, HDR was invented by Gustave Le Gray in 1850!)
Tonio Loewald: It seems to me that "shoot to the right" was more useful in the film era — film has ludicrous (almost infinite) over-exposure latitude (it's not practical to recover it without some kind of high tech enlarger, but I read somewhere it's in the neighborhood of 22-stops). These days, certainly at lower ISOs, it's often advisable to somewhat under-expose lest you accidentally blow out small highlights that aren't apparent in your histogram.
@Tonio Loewald: you are right, there is a lot of bull* in the comments to ETTR. The histogram and the over-exposure warning are sometimes inaccurate or inadequate. But: learning to read the display you have with you at the moment and comparing the readout to what your monitor says when you get home, is a lesson you should never skip!Spend time learning when your camera display is still right (or wrong) and more important: using your camera's metering system and how accurate it is in telling you when your image will be overexposed, is rewarding. Especially the spot-meter, that is.
Indeed 'negative' film could endure a few stops of overexposure, but doing so with positive film, would have the same result as overexposing your sensor these days!To prove the similarity or equality (to myself) between positive film and my DSLR's sensor, I examined my slides with dark shadows and found these also have more graininess in those areas.And don't think of slides as miracles: 22 stops is huge, even for the best slides. Not even human eye can capture that much information (slides can do 5-6 EV and the highest range belongs to the best developed best black-and-white negative films which cover about 13-14 EV, not even comparable to the Nikon D800 (14.4EV). If you would like the resolution of the Nikon, you would have to use a heavy Medium Format with an expensive lens and do not compare those to the modern medium format sensors... times have changed. In my opinion, the digital sensors have clearly won over film, but that's the technical quality of course!
Ron Poelman: ETTR ?Well trolled, DPR.Since when is noise the primary reason for selecting exposure level ?Aesthetic considerations have nothing to do with exposure, right ?Just get the noise right and it's a masterpiece every time. Bizarre.
Very right, mister Rishi Sanyal! In high contrast situations you have a huge difference between the highlights and the shadows... I hoped we all know that, but:at the same time, mister SmilerGrogan, if you underexpose your image, your shadows may not have any information at all, just because the exposure was too short to capture any light coming from those areas. That was with film, that is with sensors.If I expose TTR, then I give myself more freedom of experimenting with the resulting image, what I think is photographing, not taking pictures.
riman: I do believe this is a true statement of what is happening as I have seen a huge amount of noise in underexposed shots at very low ISO
So can you just go to the answer section in the back of the book and tell us,,,if we want less noise in our shots should we shoot raw and add an additional F stop of exposure..half stop or what? or is this something we should do only in low light situations?
@riman: overexposing a sensor is never a good idea, just as it was! What is gone, is gone!The trick to have as less noise as possible with your sensor, is to expose as bright as possible without clipping (overexposing) important parts in your image. Therefore you can use the histogram, but very useful is the overexposure warning of your DSLR: check for blinking parts and correct the settings by 1/3 (if possible and necessary). You will guess this method only applies when not shooting action or candid photo's!I still might warn that setting your goal to the technical perfect photo, might ruin the pleasure of looking at a moment in time that will never ever return...
riman: I just tested this idea and it seems to work...Here are two shots both at 11,000 ISO one was overexposed two f stops and the other underexposed by two...and it really makes a difference!
I have done the test a few years ago with the Olympus XZ-1 (RAW) by applying the same exposure at ISO 100 as required to ISO 800 and compared the images while the ISO 100 shot was heavily tweaked and that one showed a much more acceptable image than the one at ISO 800.
Wiscflank: I like the explanation of shot noise. Very interesting. However, the connection to the sensor size rather than the pixels size is not obvious. Everything holds together, but the conclusion. Smaller sensors are noisier, but if we agree on the fact that the pixels are independent from one another, meaning the light received by one photocell does no impact its neighbors, the logical conclusion is to state that the size of the pixels is important, not the size of the whole sensor.
I might be wrong about this, but cameras like the Nikon D800 with pixels the size of those found in the Olympus E-3, have less noise because the total number of pixels is larger and thus it captures more photons and the amount of random pixels is larger. If you would only use 1/4th of the sensor, than you 're right, but in the comparison to the rain an buckets, you just place more smaller buckets, so your chance to capture more raindrops is bigger. On the other hand, the sensor of the Nikon D700 has larger (the largest) pixels, comparable to wider buckets and has a very low noise ratio because even so the chance to capture light is bigger.
mediasorcerer: My personal feeling is, that with some sensors,[the better quality ones] the noise can actually be pleasant and an artistic asset rather than a detraction depending on how why and where its used.
This really is a great article and just the sort of interesting and useful information many photographers may want and need, although im just some stranger, and already aware of the paradoxical iq juggling act between iso s/p and ap/, im going to politely insist you pat yourselves on the back for taking the time to explain and bring this concept to the readers attention.I hope you produce more like it.
I fully agree and think that sometimes the argument for selling cameras with lower noise is comparable to the megapixel-race.I still shoot a lot with the Olympus E-3 for the reason that it's noise at ISO 1600 (in b/w) has a similar effect as the good old Tri-X had: very contrasty, sharp black lines and an apparent but not distracting noise over the image. I love it. (as much as I dislike color-noise, but that's where the Nikon D700 and the likes come in action).
BikeSalon: Great photo! Do you recommend this camera to beginners?
If you never had a SLR / DSLR before, join a group to get to know as much as possible, because this machine deserves that. No playtoy this one. If you DID own a DSLR before, get yourself a lens that is worthy of this camera. I would say something like the 24-70 f/2.8, not some kitlens.
"Despite the incredibly high quality of the Photoshopping in this story, "... the OM G.Zuiko looks very odd in the picture - but that could be a hint to the fish of course... (lol)
John Motts: Irrespective of brand, I actually believe that the days of the DSLR as a mainstream concept are beginning to look numbered.
M1963: Trollmeister yabokkie says Olympus learned to make lenses in 2007. I'm sure he knows a lot about Olympus' history. Now I'll have to go tell my OM lenses they suck. They won't take it easily, especially the 50mm-f/1.4, but if yabokkie says so they'd better accept it.
Yep, Troll or not, that's your opinion.But everybody who claims Olympus is a newcomer in lens-manufacturing OR not of any importance in this branch, should not be taken seriously. I happen to have a 50/1.4 and a 24/2.8 from a time when we wrote 19xx and still use them. No lens can beat the 50 mm - surely no Canon of that price!
Swarbs: I owned the Olympus E-300 and E-3 and a number of lenses, flash unit, ect. The store where I purchased all of my equipment, Henry's, the major photographic retailer in Canada, stopped carrying any Olympus supplies, such as batteries or anything else. I felt betrayed by Olympus, so I brought back all of my equipment and traded them in for Canon (7D).This is a shame as I really liked Olympus, but due to their lack of interest in the DSLR formate, I didn't want to wait till I couldn't have parts replaced or upgrade the equipment when new technologies are developed. I can't understand why a company would throw it's customers under a truck like that!
Well, it's people who sell such fantastic equipment because they think a Canon or Nikon will make them better photographers, who make me happy:I bought an E-3 (with only 6000 shots done) and a 14-54, plus a 50-200 for the price of a body... thanks!This equipment gives me not only joy, to me it is a dream... go for it, you megapixel-junks. I love the quality and speed of this gear - even if it is 'out of date', it still delivers (who makes wallsized posters, You?)
SheikYerbouti: Excellent camera! Still, looks-wise I find the original OM and cameras like the 35 RC way more attractive than today's retro-styled designs. With the exception of Fuji's X100 there seems to be nothing that comes even close to 60s/70s/80s gems from Contax, Fuji, Nikon, Rollei etc. But, since I like to think of myself as a sane, sober, secular, rational and enlightened person, I accept that form should never come before function. Image quality, responsiveness, handling, reliability and longevity are far more important criteria than mere looks, and the OM-D seems to shine in all of these disciplines. So, a big thumbs-up for the OM-D!
Now, if I could only get rid of that still small voice telling me, how much better things were, when I first went out with my brand-new Nikon FM, when I had a b/w lab in the cellar and all that ... I'm getting old, it seems :-)
I remember holding my Yashica TL-Electro X for the first time. Yashinon 50mm F/1.7 on it... Still the pictures look great indeed, but that was 1976. What my E-420 does is better.
Ed Gaillard: Couple of questions:
Does AEL/AFL remain locked until you hit the button again, or does it unlock if you press the play button, or (worse yet) does it unlock when an exposure is made?
Does the single-shot autofocus have the usual CDAF failure mode of grabbing the background instead of a smallish subject like a bird? (And then "sticking" to the background when you try to refocus.)
I gather from the AEL/AFL mode table that you can't assign AFL to one button and AEL to a different one?
When using AF on insects, birds ect. you can override with manual while focused, use manual focus instead or 'refocus' on the bird using manual and then AF again. The camera recognises that the focus is closer (works with macro too) and does not anymore focus to infinity. Done that for years now... using a very small focuspoint indeed.
djec: "'5-axis' image stabilization system"?!
ffs i hope the rest of the science behind the camera is slightly more intelligent.
axis 1: left to right movements (vertical axis)axis 2: up and down movements (horizontal axis)axis 3: circular movements over the vertical axisaxis 4: circular movements over the horizontal axisaxis 5: circular movements (around the lens-axis)... it also works when filming in HD... no need for a SteadyCam, no extra weight to carry.
Jokica: Canon, wake up!
Just Ed: Stunningly beautiful camera design, very sexy. Too bad it seems to need work in the focus and stability arena. Still, those are problems that hopefully can be corrected by Oly. Still, I keep my D90 for now....
I'm not sure you have had a E-M5 in your hands...And I'm very sure that the E-M5 beats the D90 in many ways.
Deleted-pending: WOW it looks like a computer from the 80's !!! :)
@FTH: you mean the Tandy TRS-series?
Joesiv: Seems strange why would someone spending 10's if not 100's of thousands of dollars on a camera (from what I gather these are priced in the market of arri and such) for a camera body just to put consumer grade lens' on it? Seems strange. C-mount, PL-mount, even EOS seem more in relavant.
While I welcome them to the fold, it just seems odd.
Oh well, hopefully panasonic's new x series lens' offer something worthy of thier cameras.
@Joesiv: I cannot agree to your comment as this is all about the camera, based on a micro 4/3 system. As many know, you can - now these days - mount a wide variety of lenses to that system, not only the 'focus-by-wire' lenses in the consumer-category.The Zuiko's in the pro-series focus mechanically and so do the C-mount lenses of loads of manufacturers (cfr the fabulous Schneider-Kreuznach jewels).