To ETTR or not to ETTR...?

Started 3 months ago | Discussions thread
Adielle Senior Member • Posts: 1,638
Re: ETTR rules

TN Args wrote:

Adielle wrote:

XRF wrote:

Adielle wrote:

TN Args wrote:

Adielle wrote:

Clipping / squeezing highlights is the worst thing to do in MFT as far as I've seen. True for GX8, E-M1 and G6, so I'd expect it to be similar in other models. Far better to be careful and slightly underexpose than to overexpose.

ETTR is the art of NOT clipping or squeezing desired highlights. Once you understand it, that's obvious.

Level 1 ETTR: JPEG histogram.

Level 2 ETTR: raw histogram. Once you learn to do this, best IQ in terms of noise and colour is attained.


When people say "expose to the right" I understand it as having a bias towards possibility of overexposing than towards underexposing, and I believe that's what is actually meant. I don't support this bias at all, and I'm saying that it's far better to have a bias towards underexposing, because any obvious loss of quality is much less likely in that situation.

ETTR is maximizing the exposure without clipping any highlights, and setting brightness in post. Technically, reducing exposure to avoid clipping can be considered ETTR if you intend to bring brightness back up in post.

Any mirrorless camera (I don't know about all DSLRs) already aims to do exactly that, by default, when the exposure knob is centered: maximize the exposure without clipping highlights. That's obviously not always the desired setting, because sometimes some highlights lower the average exposure too much, and sometimes you actually want to lower the average exposure and retain highlights better, and sometimes it's actually not enough exposure for whatever reason, so the exposure compensation option is provided (as well as various auto exposure settings). I don't see "ETTR" as having anything to do with "maximizing exposure without clipping" but as having a personal bias towards maximizing the average amount of highlights (getting a histogram with lots of highlight content) in any situation (manually).

You evidently don't understand it. That's why I explained it for you. It has nothing to do with personal bias.

A couple of useful tutorials, 1, 2.


No, I understand it perfectly, it has everything to do with personal bias. The bias has nothing to do with objective decisions. From that tutorial, "opportunity of biasing the exposure toward the brighter tones" - like I said, this is all about attempting to get as far as possible with biasing exposure "to the right". Obviously, people usually want to do that without clipping things too much, and it's always a matter of trying to get a good balance, but when people say that rather than trying to get a good balance in general, they're "exposing to the right" it means to me that they're obsessed with trying to maximize the exposure and they risk clipping or degrading the quality of highlights more than someone who simply practices sensible exposure based on the conditions and requirements of the shot.

By the way, obviously, in many situations, if you're totally obsessed with "exposing to the right", you're never gonna get the shot, because the shutter speed required for it is way too low. The writer of that tutorial (#1) seems completely oblivious to the fact that even in rather bright surroundings, in many cases "ETTR" would mean unacceptably low shutter speed. It's all a matter of balance and it is in fact all about personal biases. An auto "ETTR bias mode" may be a nice thing to add to cameras, but it's absolutely not a proper replacement for the normal auto exposure modes.

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