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07-19-2013, 01:06 AM   #1
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High Dynamic Range settings

Hi pentaxians,

I am quite excited with my K-30. I am going over the manual and the amounts of settings/customization is amazing and overwhelming (however, i feel I am starting to get a grip of the basic concepts)

I wanted to ask the forum:

What are your high dynamic range settings in your K-30 ? For highlight and shadow?
I know this might be a matter of personal taste. However, I wanted to know if there is an absolute winner (or close to one) in terms of which to chose. As of now, I have both in auto, but I guess there might be pros/cons of this vs another setting.

Thanks!!!

07-19-2013, 01:25 AM   #2
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The highlight correction option ON is worth using for jpgs to save quite a bit of blowout but you'll lose ISO 100 and gain a little noise. It won't benefit RAWs though.
07-19-2013, 04:56 AM   #3
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Wait, high dynamic range is not the same as highlight and shadow correction.
HDR is a setting on the mode dial or in the INFO menu. It is only available for jpegs and it basically means the camera takes three photos quickly (with different exposures) and then merges them into a single photo (which should have a high dynamic range). HDR has a couple settings. The ones above 1 are usually very weird.
Highlight correction is different. It takes photo at an ISO lower than your selection and then brings up the dark parts of the photo to make them brighter, but it prevents highlights from clipping (being completely, glaring white). Highlight correction does in fact affect raw files.
Shadow correction is different, it only brightens the dark parts, but it doesn't use ISO tricks. I think this one only affects jpegs.
You can also try making HDR photos by shooting raw files, and bracketing with three different exposures. Then you use PC software to merge them. This will probably give you much better results than the in-camera HDR. Keep in mind that HDR via bracketing is not suitable for moving subjects, even if its just a windy landscape.

Edit: Personally, I usually have HDR turned to OFF. Highlight correction to OFF, because I shoot raw any post process photos myself anyway. If I were to shoot jpeg and noticed that the bright parts were blown out (clipping), then I would turn it on. Shadow correction I usually have OFF, but might turn it on in some cases, like on overcast days.
If you shoot raw (dng files), you dont really need any of these, because you process the photos yourself. If you shoot jpeg, they might be useful. Keep in mind though, that things like CA correction, distortion correction, shadow correction will make the camera take longer to process the photo. If you need speed, turn all of these things off.
07-19-2013, 05:20 AM   #4
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One note to add -- If you shoot RAW only, there's no benefit to Highlight Protection (as well as Shadow enhancement). All it does is underexpose a RAW image by one stop (by cutting ISO in half) which you can do yourself if you think the situation warrants. If you later decide to create JPEGs on your computer, you do the same thing the camera would do to make them... increase Exposure by +1 and turn on the software's highlight protection. Should be about the same result as the camera would produce.

07-19-2013, 11:28 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
high dynamic range is not the same as highlight and shadow correction.
I just referred to these as HDR because they are under "dynamic range" settings in Camera settings page 2.

But thanks both for your comment on post processing files being the same results as in camera highlight/shadow correction. However, if i remember correctly, in the manual said that the camera would lower sensitivity firts and then use exposure comp second. It would be the same but i guess I would have to manually underexpose the image and then use EV in the software. I should be learning how to do that soon

Anyway, is this correct?
07-19-2013, 11:29 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by IchabodCrane Quote
One note to add -- If you shoot RAW only, there's no benefit to Highlight Protection (as well as Shadow enhancement). All it does is underexpose a RAW image by one stop (by cutting ISO in half) which you can do yourself if you think the situation warrants. If you later decide to create JPEGs on your computer, you do the same thing the camera would do to make them... increase Exposure by +1 and turn on the software's highlight protection. Should be about the same result as the camera would produce.
This is a popular notion that is repeated extensively, and depending on how it is taken can be misleading. In RAW, highlight protection does apply a very good roll-off curve; shadow correction apparently has no impact on RAW shoots.

I do a lot of RAW processing in Lightroom and Capture One (not much lately for the latter), and I can tell you that the idea of underexposing at ISO 100 (or any other setting) and then applying the proper adjustments in post is not worth the hassle, and you almost certainly won't do it as well as the camera does it automatically. Then there is the high potential for not remembering to underexpose in the first place - or not being aware that the scene needs it.

A lot of folks have read what is posted at forums for other brands and concluded that Pentax probably implements highlight restore just as poorly - when in fact it does a great job of it.

As for the K-30 (or K-01), I strongly recommend "auto" for highlight, and no correction for shadow when shooting RAW - the camera will perform at its best in these settings. My best guess is if you are mostly a JPG shooter, auto for both highlight and shadow probably works best - but I rarely shoot JPG so haven't tested it.
07-19-2013, 11:34 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by ScooterMaxi Jim Quote
This is a popular notion that is repeated extensively, and depending on how it is taken can be misleading. In RAW, highlight protection does apply a very good roll-off curve; shadow correction apparently has no impact on RAW shoots.

I do a lot of RAW processing in Lightroom and Capture One (not much lately for the latter), and I can tell you that the idea of underexposing at ISO 100 (or any other setting) and then applying the proper adjustments in post is not worth the hassle, and you almost certainly won't do it as well as the camera does it automatically. Then there is the high potential for not remembering to underexpose in the first place - or not being aware that the scene needs it.

A lot of folks have read what is posted at forums for other brands and concluded that Pentax probably implements highlight restore just as poorly - when in fact it does a great job of it.

As for the K-30 (or K-01), I strongly recommend "auto" for highlight, and no correction for shadow when shooting RAW - the camera will perform at its best in these settings. My best guess is if you are mostly a JPG shooter, auto for both highlight and shadow probably works best - but I rarely shoot JPG so haven't tested it.
it seems I had the concept right then!
So i will just leave the settings you have mentioned and see how it goes for me.
Thanks
07-19-2013, 11:38 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by ScooterMaxi Jim Quote
This is a popular notion that is repeated extensively, and depending on how it is taken can be misleading. In RAW, highlight protection does apply a very good roll-off curve; shadow correction apparently has no impact on RAW shoots.

I do a lot of RAW processing in Lightroom and Capture One (not much lately for the latter), and I can tell you that the idea of underexposing at ISO 100 (or any other setting) and then applying the proper adjustments in post is not worth the hassle, and you almost certainly won't do it as well as the camera does it automatically. Then there is the high potential for not remembering to underexpose in the first place - or not being aware that the scene needs it.

A lot of folks have read what is posted at forums for other brands and concluded that Pentax probably implements highlight restore just as poorly - when in fact it does a great job of it.

As for the K-30 (or K-01), I strongly recommend "auto" for highlight, and no correction for shadow when shooting RAW - the camera will perform at its best in these settings. My best guess is if you are mostly a JPG shooter, auto for both highlight and shadow probably works best - but I rarely shoot JPG so haven't tested it.
The actual RAW images coming out of the camera are underexposed by one stop. Some image processors, notably Pentax's, will recognize the Highlight Protection tag and automatically adjust exposure up by one stop. Some don't (such as Aperture, not sure about Lightroom) and they show up exactly one stop darker than the OOC JPEGs. The RAW image wasn't altered by the camera after capture.

07-21-2013, 10:45 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by IchabodCrane Quote
The actual RAW images coming out of the camera are underexposed by one stop. Some image processors, notably Pentax's, will recognize the Highlight Protection tag and automatically adjust exposure up by one stop. Some don't (such as Aperture, not sure about Lightroom) and they show up exactly one stop darker than the OOC JPEGs. The RAW image wasn't altered by the camera after capture.
Although technically accurate, a lot more is going on than what is described here regarding the instructions to properly handle the file and how the highlights get rolled; i.e. some of the file gets boosted and some does not which results in much better dynamic range. Any decent conversion software will accept the instructions and give you a better starting point that guards against exposure blow out. (Aperture is not a serious photo conversion software, frankly - so it cuts some corners.) Of course, LR accepts the information and makes the adjustments.

RAW is RAW - so what? If you don't have a proper converter, then I see where you might be confused about the utility of the function. Those who use the function often (using fully functional software) find it helpful and much easier when you are dealing with a big shoot. Again, there is no down side to using it with proper software - especially given the fact that noise issues between the 100 and 200 ISO settings on modern sensors are a non-issue in the practical world.

Last edited by ScooterMaxi Jim; 07-21-2013 at 11:01 AM.
07-21-2013, 01:11 PM   #10
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Not to get off-subject, but I think it is related. I've never been sure what the "base-ISO" (unamplified) is for my Pentax K30 and Kx, but now I think I may have the answer based on this discussion - iso100; and if you set HC to ON, then the min. is 200, but you're still shooting at the base of 100 and the camera is selectively amplifying darker areas but not lighter ones then? I know that 100 is the lowest setting, but was never sure if 200 was really the base ISO, and 100 was just a "virtual ISO", but this seems to suggest that 100 is indeed the base ISO. Also, I always wondered why you can set shadow correction when you develop a RAW to a JPEG, but NOT highlight-correction, but that would make sense if indeed the camera applies HC some to the RAW file, but that SC is not applied until a JPEG is rendered.
07-21-2013, 07:21 PM   #11
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I wouldn't get too worried about the "base" or "native" resolution of a sensor. Back in the days of the 6mp CCDs, the lowest setting was 200 ISO and few people worried about that relatively high setting. Pretty clearly, 200 ISO yielded the best results. As sensors evolved and RAW images were increasingly post-processed in-camera (yes, all the major brands do that), it became far more difficult to know what was the true "base" or "native" resolution. Pretty clearly, the Sony sensor design for the various 16 mp units employed by Pentax perform best at near 200 ISO. This is confirmed by the fact that dynamic range is clearly superior to 100 ISO - as indicated in all the tests performed in the comparisons. Yes, at 100 ISO you get very slightly less noise because you are essentially running current at slightly below designed capacity - essentially a lower amplification. So, in instances when dynamic range is not critical, you would want to utilize the lower than optimum current level to get the cleanest results - not worrying about running into the abrupt loss of image at the high end. Under the stress of needing greatest dynamic range, you want the setting that will provide the widest performance (because you can't restore data that doesn't exist - i.e. blown highlights).

The reason why so many people are fans of the early CCD 6 mp sensors is that the highlight roll-off was so lovely, natural and forgiving - which wasn't that difficult to do by recognizing the limits of the sensor and avoiding what amounts to under-clocking (lower than optimal current flow).

Bottom line, it isn't possible to determine a native resolution because several opposing factors are at play to determine best performance. Those who say the lowest setting is always the best - or native - are basing the claim on noise without regard to dynamic range or the poor performance near maximum light capacity. Modern sensors are designed to provide a wide range of good performance. It isn't practical to say that they will behave best at one particular setting in all situations.
07-22-2013, 05:54 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by ScooterMaxi Jim Quote
Although technically accurate, a lot more is going on than what is described here regarding the instructions to properly handle the file and how the highlights get rolled; i.e. some of the file gets boosted and some does not which results in much better dynamic range. Any decent conversion software will accept the instructions and give you a better starting point that guards against exposure blow out. (Aperture is not a serious photo conversion software, frankly - so it cuts some corners.) Of course, LR accepts the information and makes the adjustments.

RAW is RAW - so what? If you don't have a proper converter, then I see where you might be confused about the utility of the function. Those who use the function often (using fully functional software) find it helpful and much easier when you are dealing with a big shoot. Again, there is no down side to using it with proper software - especially given the fact that noise issues between the 100 and 200 ISO settings on modern sensors are a non-issue in the practical world.
I think we're saying the same thing: The adjustment to RAW files when Highlight Protection is turned on is performed in post-processing, not in the camera. Whether it's done via recognition of the metadata tag or done by the user, the result can be the same. And, technically, there's no relevant adjustment available in Lightroom (whether automatic or not) that isn't available in Aperture -- that I know of.

I think this addresses the other poster's question of whether Highlight Protection is any magic trick by the camera. No, it's not. Just shooting one stop underexposed by cutting the ISO in half. The "magic" is in the post-processing.
07-22-2013, 07:21 AM   #13
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We'll have to agree to disagree. I have tested Highlight Restore on and off in Lightroom starting with the K20D - and many expert tests have shown that a curve (as an instruction) is applied with the function turned on. If you simply underexpose then bring it up in your converter you will have the same sharp loss of highlight until you apply your own curve - a lot of work for no apparent reason other than to say, "I have the unaltered RAW image here and I want to do all the work myself." I work on several hundred images at a time on my shoots, and I need to work efficiently.

Fact is, all modern sensors get the RAW image manipulated by the camera at time of capture - even images at the lowest settings but most particularly at higher ISOs. The need for this became obvious when pixel sizes got smaller and per-pixel noise increased. Pentax has been called out for "smoothing," but every brand does it extensively. My old Canon 5D did it far more extensively than any of the Pentax bodies, but somehow that never got noticed by DXOmark and other reviewers. Sensors for dSLRs have only improved marginally due to limits to the CMOS technology, but in-camera manipulation has evolved in recent years - hence the perceived improvement at high ISOs.
07-22-2013, 08:10 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by ScooterMaxi Jim Quote
We'll have to agree to disagree. I have tested Highlight Restore on and off in Lightroom starting with the K20D - and many expert tests have shown that a curve (as an instruction) is applied with the function turned on. If you simply underexpose then bring it up in your converter you will have the same sharp loss of highlight until you apply your own curve - a lot of work for no apparent reason other than to say, "I have the unaltered RAW image here and I want to do all the work myself." I work on several hundred images at a time on my shoots, and I need to work efficiently.

Fact is, all modern sensors get the RAW image manipulated by the camera at time of capture - even images at the lowest settings but most particularly at higher ISOs. The need for this became obvious when pixel sizes got smaller and per-pixel noise increased. Pentax has been called out for "smoothing," but every brand does it extensively. My old Canon 5D did it far more extensively than any of the Pentax bodies, but somehow that never got noticed by DXOmark and other reviewers. Sensors for dSLRs have only improved marginally due to limits to the CMOS technology, but in-camera manipulation has evolved in recent years - hence the perceived improvement at high ISOs.
Yes, I can certainly understand your situation if you're working on several hundred images at a time. For me, it's no big deal to add Highlight Protection to an underexposed RAW in post-processing. When/if Apple fixes that metadata tag "bug" (a common complaint by many Canon shooters using Canon's identical implementation of highlight protection) then the software will automatically handle it without me moving the HP slider.

Regardless, it's impossible the post-capture manipulation is being done in-camera otherwise there's no way the RAW image could be showing up exactly one stop underexposed compared to the in-camera processed JPEG. I think this was the nature of the OP's question. If I'm wrong on this point, please help me out. I'm all ears (or eyes)!
07-22-2013, 09:25 AM   #15
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Now I think we are in common understanding. Quite possibly, converters also are not applying the curve instructions in the same way.
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