To ETTR or not to ETTR...?

Started 3 months ago | Discussions thread
gary0319 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,949
Re: Definition of ETTR

Adielle wrote:

Tom Axford wrote:

There seems to be some uncertainty/disagreement on the meaning of ETTR.

I find this article to be useful.

The relevant quote from that article is:

... ETTR sets exposure so that the brightest significant values just reach to the right-hand edge of the histogram (sensor saturation), and this frequently results in an image that initially appears too bright or too dark – it being assumed that the desired image brightness will be obtained later on either through processing the raw file in a raw converter or post-processing the JPEG in an image editor....

I have emphasised the word "significant" because it is important. ETTR doesn't necessarily mean than nothing in the image is clipped. What it does mean is that, in the photographer's judgement, anything that has been clipped (i.e. blown out or overexposed) is not important to the image and can be sacrificed to obtain a better quality image of the things that matter.

It is indeed the most important word, and what you wrote is accurate. "ETTR" is just a bias towards maximizing highlight and high mid-tone content, and more willingness to sacrifice details in the high frequency spectrum rather than the low frequency spectrum. In MFT cameras, highlight clipping and "squeezing" is a much more severe problem than lack of detail in dark / shadow content, even when there is no post pushing and pulling done, but especially when there is. Shadow detail retention is especially good in MFT cameras, and It's much better to err "to the left" than "to the right". I would follow that regardless of format,

Not sure which MFT cameras you are speaking of, but with my Olympus Sony sensor based cameras I find just the opposite. I have no problem often exposing to the right until that first red bar appears on the histogram.  Not for the normal scene, but in situations with extreme light differences, like sunlight streaming through a canopy in a forest, it works well for me. I think the Olympus histogram may be just a tad biased to prevent blow outs.

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