Why Exposing to the Right (ETTR) is BAD!

Started Mar 30, 2013 | Discussions thread
zodiacfml Contributing Member • Posts: 544
Re: that is not ETTL.

Phil_L wrote:


Thanks. Luckily, I brought a camera today with me and the first image I took is a good example and shows what I thought of ETTL.  I have a Sigma Camera, though I can process the RAW file in Lightroom I preferred the Sigma's RAW editor in this example because of the simplicity of the histogram.

This is what exposure and histogram would look according to the camera's chosen exposure.  As you would see, the scene has little dynamic range versus the camera. Theoretically, the exposure is perfect according to the histogram.  Yet, it is underexposed to my eye and ETTL can do better for this scene.

Knowledgeable of ETTL and my little camera has a small inset of the histogram in the LCD, I adjusted the exposure compensation to +1 stop. But, as I just saw this appear in the editor, I learned that there is still more compensation available. It is difficult to judge the in-camera histogram because it is small. I guess, I need more practice.  Maybe, this scene has little DR than I expected.

If I did better, this is what ETTL should look like.  This warning highlight can still be recovered since it is only overexposed for only 0.3 stop.  This would have been a +1.9 exposure compensation.

I adjusted the RAW fileby just adding saturation and turning exposure down a bit and see if I would be satisfied with it.

I was not satisfied since the actual scene is very bright and quite warm because the sun is already low.  I adjust white balance a little and turned up the highlight setting to make it shine or brighter. Now, the sky on the right is already blown but the Ferris Wheel looked better because it now has blown highlights on minor parts to make it appear brighter.

In summary, ETTL in low contrast/DR scenes could not only be great for minimizing noise but also might give the correct exposure.  Yet, ETTL is not applicable to many scenes. Reflective surface is a pain to work with. Take your typical flower images, they'are always blown out and hard to recover the details and solid color if you exposed for the overall scene.  On this instance, you would expose for the highlights and not ETTL.

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