To ETTR or not to ETTR...?

Started 3 months ago | Discussions thread
knickerhawk Veteran Member • Posts: 6,238
Re: ETTR is an esthetic decision

TomFid wrote:

Jeepit wrote:

TomFid wrote:

Jeepit wrote:

FingerPainter wrote:

Jeepit wrote:

N disrespect intended...but I'm still a bit befuddled on how, when ( I understand thew 'why') to implement ETTR.

When doing so will reduce noisiness without causing other unwanted effects

makes sense thank you...'causing unwanted effects?'

I think this depends a lot on your shooting style. If you're shooting jpeg for nice results SOOC, forget about it. You might investigate the HDR features instead.

If you're shooting raw

I do

and postprocessing, then you can consider the following:

Is the subject contrasty, with deep shadows you care about?

- If no, ETTR probably isn't worth bothering with.

- If yes, try to get the histogram as far to the right as possible,

(isn’t this considered ETTR?)


or try to bring up the exposure as much as possible without triggering blinkies. Either way, there's generally still a fair amount of highlight headroom in the raw file, because the histogram is based on the jpeg rendering. Still, pay attention to whether there are specular highlights you need to worry about.

There's really no substitute for simply doing some testing on your own.

Realistically, I don't worry about this nearly as much as I used to. When I encounter a contrasty scene, and care enough to bother, and nothing is moving, I just bracket and merge to HDR in lightroom later.

So bracketing and merging in LR later... is the end result a superior image than if you did ETTR?

Generally I'd say yes, but mainly if you want to tone map to bring out the full dynamic range. If the scene doesn't require that, then there's no real advantage. However, at least you have a bracketed set of exposures to work with, so if you screwed up the central exposure, one of the others will be better.

thanks for aiding in this learning process

I'm learning too. See for example knickerhawks refinement of my comments just above.

I also just reminded myself of a limitation I don't often think about. When you ETTR, you have to adjust the exposure, i.e. the amount of light hitting the sensor. Just cranking up the ISO doesn't accomplish anything, though it does move the histogram to the right.

It depends on the specific camera and the specific ISO settings, but under some circumstances there is a small lowered read noise benefit to increasing ISO (albeit at the expense of lowered DR). I refer to this strategy of increasing ISO as "pseudo ETTR." You can see some test shots I did here (refer to my earlier posts in that thread for more background).

Here's how that happened. I went outside to shoot an example - the mountains across the valley in evening light, much brighter than the surrounding area. I squeezed off a couple shots, first at the metered exposure, then +1EV and +1.7 (which is what it took to pin the histogram to the right). What I didn't notice is that I was in A mode, and the light was pretty low, so the first shot (0EV) was 1/20th, f7.1 at ISO 200 (gotta love IBIS). The last shot (+1.7) was also 1/20th, f7.1, but ISO 640. So, there was zero benefit - both shots received identical light; they just look different because one cranked up the gain. If you adjust the levels in LR to look the same, they're hard to tell apart.

I'll try again later.

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