Active D-Lighting on D810

Started 3 months ago | Discussions thread
ericbowles Senior Member • Posts: 1,599
Re: Active D-Lighting on D810

Active D-Lighting has two components - an exposure adjustment and a tone curve adjustment that brightens shadows and protects highlights.  The exposure adjustment is as follows:

  • Low = 0.0
  • Normal = -0.3
  • High = -0.7
  • Very high = -1.0

This is a real change in exposure.  If you put your camera on a tripod with constant light and framing, you can see the exposure settings change.

The Tone Curve adjustment is more subtle.  It's baked into the JPEG, TIFF or video files.  With RAW, it depends on the software.  With Nikon software the tone curve is applied.  With Lightroom and most non-Nikon programs, the tone curve was ignored leaving you with an underexposed file.  More recently, in some Nikon cameras (mirrorless only as far as I know) if you apply Camera Settings in Lightroom or ACR, there is a tone curve adjustment applied.

In some Nikon programs - Capture NX2 and NX Studio - you can change the tone curve setting during post processing.  So if you had it set for ADL Low, you could change the tone curve to ADL Very High in post if you want.  The look is different because the exposure adjustment would also need to be made in post.  But if ADL was turned Off in the camera, you can't adjust it in post.

This actually has some advantage in the shadows.  If you select ADL Low, you are capturing a normal exposure and a small tone curve adjustment in post.  If you change ADL in NX Studio to ADL High, it increases the strength of the tone curve and brightens shadows.  If you also change the by -0.7 stops in post, the actual file data still contains the shadow data of the normal exposure, so you are not increasing noise the way you would by decreasing exposure in the camera.

So bottom line - you can use ADL Low with no adverse impact on your exposure and it retains some flexibility for editing in NX Studio.

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