What's Better? A little overexposed or a little underexposed?

Started Oct 19, 2012 | Discussions thread
graybalanced Veteran Member • Posts: 5,789
Re: What's Better? A little overexposed or a little underexposed?

Spiranthes wrote:

My tendency is to keep the one that is slightly underexposed since the colors are more saturated and they appear to stand up better to post-shooting processing (Photoshop!). But is that really the case or am I deluding myself?

The Expose to the Right methodology referred to above prefers slight overexposure in that when you raise shadows in post, you bring up noise and potentially make it more visible. (Although this is less of a problem with the latest cameras and their dynamic range.) This means underexposed images technically hold up less well to post processing. When you lower an overexposed image in post, you push noise down, into the less visible darkness. According to ETTR, as long as you are not blowing out anything, it is not "overexposed."

Also, people panic too soon upon seeing the blinkies. Most camera back LCDs are showing the image as if it was an sRGB or Adobe RGB JPEG preview. In the actual raw file, areas just poking into the blinkies are probably not clipping at all in the full-range raw file itself.

Whether any of this seems useful to your work is up to you, but for those reasons I prefer a lighter (though not overexposed/clipped) exposure to a darker one.

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