D7000 Active D Lighting and RAW?

Started Jun 27, 2013 | Discussions
digitalsafari Forum Member • Posts: 75
D7000 Active D Lighting and RAW?

Been searching for an answer about shooting RAW with Active D Lighting on D7000.

Does it just reduce exposure to protect highlights?

Is there any curve applied to the RAW?

With non Nikon RAW software does the shot just look underexposed initially, which can be easily corrected for using Lightroom, DXO etc?

Thanks,

J

autre_pensee
autre_pensee Regular Member • Posts: 212
Re: D7000 Active D Lighting and RAW?

Great question, I'd love to know the answer to that myself!

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Mako2011
MOD Mako2011 Forum Pro • Posts: 27,719
ADL
2

digitalsafari wrote:

Been searching for an answer about shooting RAW with Active D Lighting on D7000.

Does it just reduce exposure to protect highlights?

Is there any curve applied to the RAW?

With non Nikon RAW software does the shot just look underexposed initially, which can be easily corrected for using Lightroom, DXO etc?

Thanks,

J

Current Gen ADL overrides your set brightness and contrast settings. In settings higher than "low", it also affects the actual exposure by adjusting aperture/shutter speed/ISO either alone or in combination depending on the exposure mode set. In manual exposure mode (no auto ISO) it only affects the meter and not the actual aperture/shutter speed/ISO....but will still affect the brightness, contrast, and tone curves. CaptureNX2 can reverse this in manual exposure mode with the raw file. Note though if shooting in other than full manual and ADL set to higher than "low"....the effects on actual exposure can not be un-done, even with the RAW file.

It's possible to "add" a similar treatment with tone mapping and selective brightness/contrast control but it's not really the same exact thing as taken by the camera. If you shoot raw, only ViewNX2/CapturNX2 can apply the tone mapping accurately. For that reason, if you use third party RAW conversion it's suggested to turn ADL off because the actual underexposure may not be optimal for 3rd party conversion programs and simply result in an underexposed picture that will require complicated steps to process as intended by ADL.

It's designed to work with matrix metering and there is no way of knowing if it was actually active as it's dynamic and scene dependent. So if you have ADL set to "normal" (as an example) and the scene is very straight forward with no major highlights or shadows (small dynamic range)...ADL may not even be noticed and your normal brightness and contrast settings get applied.

I often have ADL set to "normal" and shoot RAW only. The DR of the scene determines if I change that. Shooting multiple HDR exposures is also another place where ADL seems to have a very positive affect on the final product. I do not recommend using ADL with flash (especially with the pop-up) at base ISO. In that specific situation I get some strange results, at times, regards color and tones.

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winparkman Veteran Member • Posts: 4,638
Re: ADL
2

I don't like the camera's minuscule brain over-riding my camera settings.  I prefer Lightroom over the Nikon software.  I never use ADL because I manage to get what I need out of the shadows when post processing in Lightroom.

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OK, not so purely a hobby.

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Mako2011
MOD Mako2011 Forum Pro • Posts: 27,719
yes
1

winparkman wrote:

I prefer Lightroom over the Nikon software. I never use ADL because I manage to get what I need out of the shadows when post processing in Lightroom.

Yes, in that case, it is essential that you set ADL to "off".

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LJohnK2
LJohnK2 Contributing Member • Posts: 659
Re: D7000 Active D Lighting and RAW?

As best as I can relate Active D-Lighting seems to be analogous in Lightroom to a combination of the Exposure slider applied globally and the Clarity slider applied selectively as with a brush.

....I use both Lightroom & Capture NX2....when shootiing people most of the time I am more easily pleased with the later but I can get pretty close and in some cases better with Lightroom.

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OP digitalsafari Forum Member • Posts: 75
Re: D7000 Active D Lighting and RAW?

Thanks for clarifying.

So to sum up, Active D Lighting (ADL) RAWs when processed in DXO or Lightroom are affected by:

Suboptimal interpretation of exposure during RAW conversion that appears to be underexposure as only Nikon software can use the ADL metadata.

ADL applies selective area adjustments in shadows to the RAW, like masks in Photoshop, control points in NIK or secondaries in video color correction, this means a global adjustments in PP can't undo ADL.

So if using Lightroom, Photoshop, DXO for RAW then ADL should be off, if you have shot with ADL better to develop RAW in View/Capture NX2 then export for further PP.

Can ADL see more than linear 14bits from the sensor when shooting?

If not then does a 14bit lossless .NEF contain the same raw dynamic range information as an ADL shot?

J

LJohnK2
LJohnK2 Contributing Member • Posts: 659
Re: D7000 Active D Lighting and RAW?

digitalsafari wrote:

Thanks for clarifying.

So to sum up, Active D Lighting (ADL) RAWs when processed in DXO or Lightroom are affected by:

Suboptimal interpretation of exposure during RAW conversion that appears to be underexposure as only Nikon software can use the ADL metadata.

ADL applies selective area adjustments in shadows to the RAW, like masks in Photoshop, control points in NIK or secondaries in video color correction, this means a global adjustments in PP can't undo ADL.

So if using Lightroom, Photoshop, DXO for RAW then ADL should be off, if you have shot with ADL better to develop RAW in View/Capture NX2 then export for further PP.

Can ADL see more than linear 14bits from the sensor when shooting?

If not then does a 14bit lossless .NEF contain the same raw dynamic range information as an ADL shot?

J

...well I think it depends on what you are after.....if you are trying to protect highlights than ADL on would seem to preserve them.....some users seem to believe that ADL on when using flash or a shot with less DR will result in noisier shadows.

Personally, if you are within a couple of stops with a D5100/D7000....I just don't see the penalty in most cases with ADL set to Auto.

I don't believe ADL contains more DR, rather it puts the DR elsewhere on the scale of the sensor's capabilities, which with the latest generation of sensors seems to be quite forgiving.

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jonikon Veteran Member • Posts: 7,353
Re: D7000 Active D Lighting and RAW?
2

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Here are some examples of two shots in RAW mode and processed using ViewNX2, which retains the ADL changes to the RAW file with tone balancing and normalizing the image. One with ADL set to OFF and one with ADL set to  Extra High. Note the change in exposure with ADL set to Extra High. (check EXIF). The third shot is the  RAW file with ADL set to high and processed in Lightroom 3, which does not preserve ADL settings or normalize the image.

No ADL RAW file processed in ViewNX2.

ADL set to Extra High. RAW processed with ViewNX2.

ADL set to Extra High. RAW processed with LR3 as it looks upon import with no tone adjustments made .

I have found that using ADL set to Extra High in high contrast scenes gives me immediate and better results than I can get fiddling with tone curves, etc in Lightroom. Others may poo-pooh ADL, or get upset about it "changing exposure", but I trust Nikon knows the sensors characteristics better than I, and ADL works brilliantly with the high DR of the D7000, IMO. With other Nikon cameras with less DR, not so much.

-Jon

OP digitalsafari Forum Member • Posts: 75
Re: D7000 Active D Lighting and RAW?

Jon,

Have you tried adjusting the Lightroom version to match the ViewNX2 version?

J

Jack Hogan Veteran Member • Posts: 7,853
ADL - Auto Metering Done Right
2

What is 'proper' Exposure, when your camera can capture 14 stops of DR, but the typical output medium can only display 6-8?

ADL is a way to squeeze an image with a high dynamic range (i.e. data that would spill off both ends of the histogram) so that it will better fit within the chosen color space (histogram). In other words it reduces the dynamic range of your image, so that you may retain more visible detail in both shadows and highlights, while at the same time compressing information and reducing image contrast.  The overall result is generally a better looking perceived image.

Because of the compression in information and contrast, it is imho best to use it only when the effect you are trying to achieve calls for it: if you shoot Jpeg or NEF+Jpeg, you set exposure by looking at the in-camera histogram and the data does not indicate clipped shadows, there is no particular reason to leave ADL on permanently. It is simply another tool like those available in Picture Controls to set the camera up properly for the particular scene that you are trying to shoot.

For those who own Exmor-sensored cameras, shoot NEF+Jpeg, like a certain level of automatism, like to fine tune most keepers in PP and also like to keep the +Jpeg as an OOC record (or possibly to share/view/print instantly after the shoot as-is) there is a strong case for setting up the camera with Matrix metering and ADL Auto and forgetting that it is even there.

With this setup the camera decides if the dynamic range of the image calls for ADL or not based on data provided by the Matrix meter and -if necessary- may reduce (or increase, hear hear) exposure by up to 1EV to make the data better fit into the Raw data. You are still in control if you use the in-camera histogram to ETTR, but your shadow end is 'protected'.

I should add that if you use this strategy and you post process the NEF, imho it is easier not to turn ADL off in CNX2, because that will most likely result in an overexposed, non-shadow-protected image that you will then need to correct yourself, adding to your work without, in my experience, any perceivable additional benefits.

Additional information on ADL in this informative Leon Goodman link.

Cheers,
Jack

PS Most of this comes from previous posts

Jack Hogan Veteran Member • Posts: 7,853
D7000 Active D Lighting and RAW? Bonus

digitalsafari wrote:

ADL applies selective area adjustments in shadows to the RAW, like masks in Photoshop, control points in NIK or secondaries in video color correction, this means a global adjustments in PP can't undo ADL.

ADL applies adaptive tone mapping, much like the D-lighting adjustment in CNX2

Can ADL see more than linear 14bits from the sensor when shooting?

The sensor, amplifiers and ADC are the same, so the DR recorded is always the same, aotbe. However, if by DR you mean 'desirable scene DR recorded' then the answer is yes it can: if matrix metering correctly decided that scene highlights would be recorded at too low Raw values )say a scene with lots of snow) and therefore increased exposure accordingly. Conversely it may also have increased desirable scene DR if it correctly reduced exposure to fit highlights that would have otherwise been lost, a more frequent occurrence.

does a 14bit lossless .NEF contain the same raw dynamic range information as an ADL shot?

Yes, but it's different DR, preferably 'better' DR.

Imho ADL+Matrix is simply the latest, state-of-the-art automatic metering mode. It works brilliantly if you understand how and when to use it to your advantage.  It works very well in Manual Metering mode as well: it does nothing to exposure, but processes your OOC image for a more pleasing result.

Jack

Leonard Shepherd
Leonard Shepherd Forum Pro • Posts: 22,488
Re: D7000 Active D Lighting and RAW?

Not mentioned yet is software like Lightroom does not record the general ADL effect which Nikon software reads (and can change) unless the ADL process reduces the overall exposure.

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Leonard Shepherd
Many problems turn out to be a lack of intimate knowledge of complex modern camera equipment.

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jonikon Veteran Member • Posts: 7,353
Re: D7000 Active D Lighting and RAW?

digitalsafari wrote:

Jon,

Have you tried adjusting the Lightroom version to match the ViewNX2 version?

J

Yes I have tried, using tone curve adjustments, shadow recovery, etc, and I can come close, but IMO, the image tonal quality that I get using ADL and ViewNX2 is superior, and requires no work.

-Jon
n

OP digitalsafari Forum Member • Posts: 75
Re: D7000 Active D Lighting and RAW?

jonikon wrote:

Yes I have tried, using tone curve adjustments, shadow recovery, etc, and I can come close, but IMO, the image tonal quality that I get using ADL and ViewNX2 is superior, and requires no work.

-Jon
n

Thanks Jon

timoteotresgatos Regular Member • Posts: 117
Re: D7000 Active D Lighting and RAW?

I just did some shooting in the mountains (they still had snow on the top). These were high contrast situations and I shot RAW+JPEG the whole trip. After playing with Active D-Lighting, it appears to me that it brings up the shadows but has little affect on the highlights - at least that was my experience when exposing to keep the highlights in the mountains. If I set Active D-Lighting to "High", it brought up the shadows more than if I had it set to Normal or Low.

My raw files almost always came out noticeably darker than my JPG files.

In Lightroom, it does not appear to add any D-Lighting processing to the RAW file. It appears to just show you the RAW file straight out of the camera and lets you adjust the RAW file to suit you.

Funko New Member • Posts: 2
Re: D7000 Active D Lighting and RAW?

jonikon wrote:

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Here are some examples of two shots in RAW mode and processed using ViewNX2, which retains the ADL changes to the RAW file with tone balancing and normalizing the image. One with ADL set to OFF and one with ADL set to Extra High. Note the change in exposure with ADL set to Extra High. (check EXIF). The third shot is the RAW file with ADL set to high and processed in Lightroom 3, which does not preserve ADL settings or normalize the image.

No ADL RAW file processed in ViewNX2.

ADL set to Extra High. RAW processed with ViewNX2.

ADL set to Extra High. RAW processed with LR3 as it looks upon import with no tone adjustments made .

I have found that using ADL set to Extra High in high contrast scenes gives me immediate and better results than I can get fiddling with tone curves, etc in Lightroom. Others may poo-pooh ADL, or get upset about it "changing exposure", but I trust Nikon knows the sensors characteristics better than I, and ADL works brilliantly with the high DR of the D7000, IMO. With other Nikon cameras with less DR, not so much.

-Jon

Hi, I'd like to see another picture:  No ADL, RAW file processed with LR. I think you can achieve almost same effect in LR with ADL off, just manipuliting highlights and whites.
I support de idea that ADL ON = Nikon Software. ADL Off, welcome to third party editors.

Best Regards.

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