Anybody here using base-ISO exclusively or predominantly?

Started Feb 13, 2014 | Discussions thread
OP nixda Veteran Member • Posts: 5,515
Re: interesting question

dmaclau wrote:

Good points. Digital sensors have gotten better and better and will continue to do so. The accepted digital equivalent to grain is noise. Like grain, by itself noise is neutral...neither adding to or subtracting from artistic intent. In color film the choices were negative film, which never could be processed consistently or slide film which had a crazy overexposure fall off. Digital gives us a quick review of our images but has an even crazier falloff to overexposure. That's the warning in my mind to ETTR. The concept of ETTR isn't to take care with exposure and adjust appropriately, rather it's to Always overexpose and somehow things will be better. Rubbish!

Over time digital sensors and processors got better and better and better. Even assuming that noise is the enemy of good photography (it isn't) we can see that today's cameras give remarkably clean results at unheard of ISO's. This makes ETTR even less of a good idea.

Finally, most cameras today have an "ETTR Trial button." Also known as bracketing. Bracket your shots, have a look, process each carefully, have another look. I've done this repeatedly. Lo and behold I've found exactly zero instances where I thought ETTR was a good idea. Nor have I had any examples from others that changed my mind.

A few things to say:

1. No need for strong words to dismiss a technique that clearly has its merits

2. ETTR is not about always over-exposing. Far from it. ETTR is about placing important highlights under the saturation level. Often enough, ETTR is actually under-exposing.

3. Sensors are getting better. But as good as they may get at some point, they won't be able to reduce shot noise. The only thing that helps is increasing exposure. Shot noise nowadays is the predominant noise source, so increasing the exposure should actually be the norm.

4. People seem to like DR modes. Likewise, one could establish a function in a camera, call it 'N-Lighting' whereby the camera would automatically increase the exposure to the maximum without blowing highlights, then adjust the brightness afterwards to match the scene brightness, without the user really knowing about it. I don't think anyone would complain too much about something like this. Most don't complain about DR expansion modes, and they do similar things.

5. Maximizing exposure is fundamentally a sound technique for reducing shot noise. It won't give noticeably better results in every case, just like any other photographic technique, but it has its place. I think most people are turned off by the additional steps involved and then try to dismiss it wholesale.

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