Any advice on ETTR with the X-H1?

Started Sep 30, 2018 | Discussions
Marie Meyer Regular Member • Posts: 480
Any advice on ETTR with the X-H1?

I have a new X-H1 and would like to do ETTR, for RAW files. As far as I can tell the camera doesn't have "zebras". It does have "Live View Highlight Warning", but I don't know if that is for the JPEG or the RAW image, and I also know what assumptions lie behind it.

I can get a histogram to appear in the EVF. (I prefer to shoot from the EVF and don't like to take my eye away from it for anything if I can help it.) However, (1) it is so small it is hard to see when the clipping starts, and (2) I suspect it is not very accurate. Huge changes in the exposure compensation dial seem to have little to no effect on it.

So: can anyone give me suggestions about how to do ETTR on this camera?

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rwbaron Forum Pro • Posts: 14,174
Re: Any advice on ETTR with the X-H1?
3

Hello Marie,

IMO ETTR is not an easy thing to do with any camera based on the fact that all the feedback the camera provides to us is based on an in-camera generated Jpeg. This includes the blinkies and the histogram so it's about getting a feel for how much you can push the histogram to the right or how severe the blinkies are in the EVF. I've found with my X-T2 and X-T20 (same sensors as the X-H1) that I don't need to worry about mild blinkies or stacking the histogram slightly up against the right border. In my experience I'd estimate there's about 1 full stop (maybe a bit more) of highlight headroom still recoverable in the raw file compared to the information the histogram and blinkies indicate.

The issue is also complicated by the fact that Fuji's metering is biased to protect highlights. I find many times when using pattern metering that the raw file has nearly 2 stops of highlight headroom that was left unused which is not ideal if you want the cleanest files in the mid-tones and shadows.

The good news is that Fuji's raw files are quite easy to work with in post and are quite clean in the shadows.

Sorry I couldn't be more definitive.

Bob

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OP Marie Meyer Regular Member • Posts: 480
Re: Any advice on ETTR with the X-H1?

Thanks. Are you saying that even if you weren't explicitly trying to do ETTR, you'd still set the exposure compensation dial to +1 to overcome Fuji's built-in (over)protection of the highlights?

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bfkimball
bfkimball Regular Member • Posts: 202
Re: Any advice on ETTR with the X-H1?
2

Marie Meyer wrote:

I have a new X-H1 and would like to do ETTR, for RAW files. As far as I can tell the camera doesn't have "zebras". It does have "Live View Highlight Warning", but I don't know if that is for the JPEG or the RAW image, and I also know what assumptions lie behind it.

I can get a histogram to appear in the EVF. (I prefer to shoot from the EVF and don't like to take my eye away from it for anything if I can help it.) However, (1) it is so small it is hard to see when the clipping starts, and (2) I suspect it is not very accurate. Huge changes in the exposure compensation dial seem to have little to no effect on it.

So: can anyone give me suggestions about how to do ETTR on this camera?

Both the live histogram and the live view highlight warnings are calculated from the EVF/LCD videofeed.  Unfortunately they do not accurately represent clipping in your raw file.  They give a "good enough" approximation of your JPG clipping, if and only if you haven't turned off "preview pic effect" or "preview exposure in manual mode."

Many fuji raw shooters shoot in ProNegStd with highlights -2 and shadows -2 in order to better approximate the lower contrast and higher dynamic range captured by the raw file, thus feeling like they can better trust these live displays.

I personally enjoy shooting in Astia with default highlights and shadows.  The colors are a lot more pleasing to my eye while I'm shooting.  I use the live view highlight warning and adjust my exposure compensation to eliminate the blinkies with the understanding that I can increase exposure usually by 2/3-1 stop above that point should I want to.

I find the live histogram to be too small to be useful.  I can't always see when I've got blown highlights using it.

OP Marie Meyer Regular Member • Posts: 480
Re: Any advice on ETTR with the X-H1?

Thanks - very practical tips.

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Rand 47 Contributing Member • Posts: 972
Re: Any advice on ETTR with the X-H1?
5

As with any new camera, some testing is in order.  One effective way to utilize the highlight overexposure warning (calibrated for jpeg) is to understand that in the raw file there’s still detail “up to a point.”  What I do is a series of tests to learn “how much blinking” I can tolerate w/o the highlights actually being clipped.  With my H-1 it is about 1.5 stops “above” no blinking.

But your post brings up a point that is a real sore spot with almost every professional photographer I know.  Why the heck do not the camera manufacturers provide a raw historgram and overexposure warnings based on the raw file and not a jpeg rendering?  They spend tons of money advertising “professional level” cameras yet provide strictly amateur exposure evaluation features?

Rand

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57even Forum Pro • Posts: 13,957
Re: Any advice on ETTR with the X-H1?

Rand 47 wrote:

As with any new camera, some testing is in order. One effective way to utilize the highlight overexposure warning (calibrated for jpeg) is to understand that in the raw file there’s still detail “up to a point.” What I do is a series of tests to learn “how much blinking” I can tolerate w/o the highlights actually being clipped. With my H-1 it is about 1.5 stops “above” no blinking.

But your post brings up a point that is a real sore spot with almost every professional photographer I know. Why the heck do not the camera manufacturers provide a raw historgram and overexposure warnings based on the raw file and not a jpeg rendering? They spend tons of money advertising “professional level” cameras yet provide strictly amateur exposure evaluation features?

Rand

I agree. If they can do it on smart phones....

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OP Marie Meyer Regular Member • Posts: 480
Re: Any advice on ETTR with the X-H1?

Thanks. Can you explain how you do your testing?

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rwbaron Forum Pro • Posts: 14,174
Re: Any advice on ETTR with the X-H1?

Marie Meyer wrote:

Thanks. Are you saying that even if you weren't explicitly trying to do ETTR, you'd still set the exposure compensation dial to +1 to overcome Fuji's built-in (over)protection of the highlights?

I do at times use the EC dial but typically don't leave it set to +1. I shoot more difficult scenes/subjects using manual exposure and then use the rear thumb dial to adjust up to +/-2/3rd's of a stop.

Bob

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rwbaron Forum Pro • Posts: 14,174
Re: Any advice on ETTR with the X-H1?
3

bfkimball wrote:

Marie Meyer wrote:

I have a new X-H1 and would like to do ETTR, for RAW files. As far as I can tell the camera doesn't have "zebras". It does have "Live View Highlight Warning", but I don't know if that is for the JPEG or the RAW image, and I also know what assumptions lie behind it.

I can get a histogram to appear in the EVF. (I prefer to shoot from the EVF and don't like to take my eye away from it for anything if I can help it.) However, (1) it is so small it is hard to see when the clipping starts, and (2) I suspect it is not very accurate. Huge changes in the exposure compensation dial seem to have little to no effect on it.

So: can anyone give me suggestions about how to do ETTR on this camera?

Both the live histogram and the live view highlight warnings are calculated from the EVF/LCD videofeed. Unfortunately they do not accurately represent clipping in your raw file. They give a "good enough" approximation of your JPG clipping, if and only if you haven't turned off "preview pic effect" or "preview exposure in manual mode."

Many fuji raw shooters shoot in ProNegStd with highlights -2 and shadows -2 in order to better approximate the lower contrast and higher dynamic range captured by the raw file, thus feeling like they can better trust these live displays.

I personally enjoy shooting in Astia with default highlights and shadows. The colors are a lot more pleasing to my eye while I'm shooting. I use the live view highlight warning and adjust my exposure compensation to eliminate the blinkies with the understanding that I can increase exposure usually by 2/3-1 stop above that point should I want to.

I find the live histogram to be too small to be useful. I can't always see when I've got blown highlights using it.

Good advice for strictly raw shooters (which I once was) but with Fuji I've come to appreciate the quality of the ooc Jpeg's so I've stopped using flat Jpeg settings. I shoot fine+raw and many times like the Jpeg so much I don't bother editing the raw file.

Bob

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OP Marie Meyer Regular Member • Posts: 480
Re: Any advice on ETTR with the X-H1?

Thanks. Is the camera deciding what parameter it is going to change to adjust the exposure, or do you have control over that?

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Ysarex
Ysarex Senior Member • Posts: 2,447
Re: Any advice on ETTR with the X-H1?
2

Marie Meyer wrote:

I have a new X-H1 and would like to do ETTR, for RAW files. As far as I can tell the camera doesn't have "zebras". It does have "Live View Highlight Warning", but I don't know if that is for the JPEG or the RAW image, and I also know what assumptions lie behind it.

I can get a histogram to appear in the EVF. (I prefer to shoot from the EVF and don't like to take my eye away from it for anything if I can help it.) However, (1) it is so small it is hard to see when the clipping starts, and (2) I suspect it is not very accurate. Huge changes in the exposure compensation dial seem to have little to no effect on it.

So: can anyone give me suggestions about how to do ETTR on this camera?

Sorry I don't have your camera, I'm shooting an XT-2 but the histogram that I can toggle in the EVF is quite large and easy to read and gives me both luminosity as well as RGB histograms. I have to believe that your camera which is newer than mine should be similarly equipped.

I just took a quick snapshot of the histogram display so you could verify that you can get something similar. To do that I photographed the rear LCD but I do get the exact same histogram display in the EVF.

bfkimbal correctly noted that the live-view histogram you see is derived from the EVF video feed and so you need to have preview pict effects on. If you review an already taken image on the LCD then the histogram will be derived from the camera JPEG.

In the snapshot you see you'll notice that my XT-2's view screen has a pretty pronounced green tint. That's because I keep the camera WB set to unity. Doing that goes a long way to making the histogram and blinkies in the camera more faithful to the raw data. My XT-2's blinkies (the flashing black in the highlights) is just about spot on coincident with raw file clipping. If I turn off the unity WB then the blinkies come on more than a full stop sooner. Here's some info on unity WB: http://www.dslrbodies.com/cameras/camera-faq/what-is-uniwb.html The downside of uniWB is that all my camera JPEGs are wastebasket fodder and it takes awhile to get used to looking at a green EVF -- but I typically nail exposure.

My experience with the XT-2: I like the speed and ease of using the camera's program shift mode to get my choice shutter speed f/stop combination and so I deal with exposure via the EC function. After testing and then regular use I now leave the EC on my camera default set to +1. There is almost no circumstance in which I would lower it below +1. My most common exposure setting is with the EC at +1.3 and my next most common exposure is with the EC at +1.7. I'd say +2 and +1 equally share the third most common slot. Since the XH-1 is also a Fuji camera I'm going to assume it's behavior is similar.

Essential to any effort to better control raw file exposure is the right analysis tool: RawDigger.

rwbaron Forum Pro • Posts: 14,174
Re: Any advice on ETTR with the X-H1?

Marie Meyer wrote:

Thanks. Is the camera deciding what parameter it is going to change to adjust the exposure, or do you have control over that?

In my experience when setting the aperture and shutter manually the rear thumb dial provides the adjustment via shutter speed. There may be a way to change this but I've not researched it. You can set the shutter speed dial to "T" and then have full control with the rear thumb dial over shutter speeds and you always have aperture control with lens ring.

Bob

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OP Marie Meyer Regular Member • Posts: 480
Re: Any advice on ETTR with the X-H1?

OK, reading up on UniWB. Very interesting.

Can you explain how you use RawDigger and what you learn from it.

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Ysarex
Ysarex Senior Member • Posts: 2,447
Re: Any advice on ETTR with the X-H1?

Marie Meyer wrote:

OK, reading up on UniWB. Very interesting.

Can you explain how you use RawDigger and what you learn from it.

RawDigger provides feedback verification. If your concern is raw file exposure then you have to have some way to verify raw file exposure -- RawDigger serves that function.

If you load a raw file into a typical raw converter like LR, C1, SilkyPix etc. they will not provide you with direct data about the state of your raw file exposure. There's nothing in LR that will verify that you have or have not clipped the green channel in the raw file for example.

OP Marie Meyer Regular Member • Posts: 480
Re: Any advice on ETTR with the X-H1?

Thanks! I'm fairly new to LR; I thought there was a notification triangle that popped up when highlights or shadows are clipped in the raw file. I will have to review my (mis)understanding of what I am seeing in the Develop Module>Basic panel.

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Ysarex
Ysarex Senior Member • Posts: 2,447
Re: Any advice on ETTR with the X-H1?

Marie Meyer wrote:

Thanks! I'm fairly new to LR; I thought there was a notification triangle that popped up when highlights or shadows are clipped in the raw file. I will have to review my (mis)understanding of what I am seeing in the Develop Module>Basic panel.

That's possible -- I've moved away from LR. I took it off my computers some years ago now and now see it at work less and less frequently so they may have added in that feature and I missed it. Still you can get something like this from any of the commercial raw processors:

I can't imagine living without that. RawDigger was a huge milestone in my transition from film to digital. When I shot film I was accustomed to asking the same question about my practice: How good is this exposure? Apart from empirical feedback it was always reassuring to take my negatives to a densitometer and get back some hard data about my exposure and processing. Started to switch to digital and one of my first questions was were's the equivalent of my film densitometer? When the early answer was there is none I got really anxious and upset and I stayed that way until RawDigger came along. With RawDigger I'm able to know what I'm doing.

OP Marie Meyer Regular Member • Posts: 480
Re: Any advice on ETTR with the X-H1?

So, in those three channels - is the evidence of clipping found by seeing that they run out the top, or out the sides?

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robert1955 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,456
Re: Any advice on ETTR with the X-H1?

Marie Meyer wrote:

Thanks! I'm fairly new to LR; I thought there was a notification triangle that popped up when highlights or shadows are clipped in the raw file. I will have to review my (mis)understanding of what I am seeing in the Develop Module>Basic panel.

In the top corners of the histogram are white triangles. The one on the left will show in blue 'too dark' areas, the one on the right in red 'too light' with current develop settings. You can click on them to show them permanently, or hover over them for a quick view.

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Ysarex
Ysarex Senior Member • Posts: 2,447
Re: Any advice on ETTR with the X-H1?
2

Marie Meyer wrote:

So, in those three channels - is the evidence of clipping found by seeing that they run out the top, or out the sides?

The bottom scale (X axis) of the graph shows actual values for raw data. Your camera like mine is equipped with a 14 bit ADC. So the maximum stored data value in a raw file is 2^14. Here's a new copy of that histogram and I've placed a magenta bar on the graph at the clipping threshold which is going to be right about 16000 (2^14).

Looking at the graph then you see the green channel just short of the clipping threshold -- a good raw file exposure. Taken with my XT-2 the EC for this shot was +1.7.

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