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05-22-2017, 03:43 PM   #1
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K 3 II: How expose for highlights?

Hello!

I use a Pentax K 3 II and like it a lot!

But compared to earlier cameras (K 10, K 20, K 5) I have more problems to expose so that the sky is not burnt out. Exposure setting - 0,7 used to work well. But not so with the K 3 II, especially with wide-angle lenses. Center-weighted or full-frame metering does not seem to make much difference.

Of course I can point the camera more upwards and use AE lock. But perhaps there is a setting somewhere in the system I missed. Can the camera be set to avoid large burnt-out highlight areas?

05-22-2017, 05:15 PM   #2
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I am sure that others will be able to give you a much more technical answer of the features and bells and whistles of the camera, but here is what I do. I use center point focus and metering and manual mode for just about everything. Just move the camera gently around the scene that you want to capture while noting the exposure bar in your viewfinder. When you find the high spots (the over exposed areas) you can adjust the camera aperture, shutter speed, etc and then reframe and shoot. I generally try to under expose by a few bars for the most part but it's trial and error.

I also religiously use 'the blinkies'. If you don't use those you should start. It's an amazing feature. Basically what it does it anything over exposed will blink red on the playback of the display. Instant feedback. It's awesome.
05-22-2017, 06:24 PM   #3
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Yes, I thought that too, but there are work arounds. It mostly is a problem, obviously, with dark forgrounds and bright skies. Eg, brown rocks and a sunny day. But this is to be expected. The K3 is actually awesome for dynamic range, but you wouldn't know it if you're shooting jpegs in bright mode... If shooting RAW, then you get much more exposure latitude and you will be amazed how much more gets recorded in your images than you would guess from the jpegs.

A few tricks:
There is the highlight correction mode (press info button) that you can turn on, which helps by about 1ev range. It does limits your ISO range to 200 and above, which isn't a problem with the K3's image quality.

The other thing to consider is that you can safely underexpose by much more than 1ev and merrily recover the shadows without any penalty.

I have also found to shoot in 'Natural' image mode(?) is a good starting point for retaining good dynamic range for processing my RAWs (I use Pentax DCU). Some might not like the lack of punch to the images, but the reduced contrast retains more detail, and you can always increase any sharpness or contrast to suit the image.

Assuming you shot RAW, the other thing is to underexpose (as above) and then play with the dodging slider in PDCU's exposure tab. You can recover huge amounts of shadow detail whilst avoiding overexposing using this slider. Don't overdo it though. Can make photos look too HDR, which isn't always desired.

Something else to consider if shooting in bright conditions is to use a circular polariser. Basically, if it's so bright and glare-y that you need sunglasses to see, a polariser will help tame things.

The last thing, is that it seems that different lenses behave differently with regards exposure. I find the 18-135 easy to overexpose and a "bit boring looking" at 18mm, whilst the 15ltd, for example, produces rich colours every time.
05-22-2017, 06:48 PM   #4
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Trial and error works force, along with the histogram on the playback display. You can also set up one step bracketing on oneoofyour User settings.

05-22-2017, 08:46 PM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mans Hagberg Quote

Of course I can point the camera more upwards and use AE lock.
Yes, Mans. Take over the exposure. Do spot metering, don't let your photography be ruled by a phone or camera's algorithms.
05-23-2017, 10:27 AM   #6
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Thank you all for all these good answers!

I use RAW and some of the methods described. When in no hurry I get the exposure I want, but sometimes there is not that time.

The "blinkies" is the feature that started me wondering. The camera does register burned out skies. If it can be made to adjust the exposure so that no large areas are burned out it would solve my "problem".
05-23-2017, 10:56 AM   #7
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Another thing I do as a force of habit is fiddle with my camera even when I'm not shooting. As conditions and lighting changes I will frame up and adjust for mock shots as I go. This can be done pretty frequently depending on the situation.
05-23-2017, 11:22 AM - 1 Like   #8
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Take a spot meter reading from the brightest area where you want to retain detail. Open up two and a half stops.

You'll want to do some testing on how much you can open up. But what you want to do is to 'pin' your exposure to the maximum possible to retain highlight detail.

05-23-2017, 04:40 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mans Hagberg Quote
The camera does register burned out skies. If it can be made to adjust the exposure so that no large areas are burned out it would solve my "problem".
*You're* the photographer, MH.

Adjust it how you like.

The camera is usually caring about lighting the subject to 18 percent, you're often interested in retaining the colour and details in the sky ... take over and go Full Manual, I reckon.
05-25-2017, 03:15 PM   #10
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In the settings I combined focus point with the metering point. For example I am using the central point to focus. Shooting in Av mode I point my camera at the sky or the brightest object and use exposure lock feature. Then I focus where necessary without altering the exposure value. Of course if the dynamic range of the scene is extremely high, you may end up with blown out shadows (even when shooting raw), but they are easier to "mask" than the blown out highlights. In fact, blown out highlights are almost impossible to fix, especially when it comes to sky and clouds.

K-3 II and Sigma 18-35 F1.8



Dropbox - IMGP3827.DNG - original raw file.

I was standing in the arch and camera refused to take the exposure reading from the sky, the way I wanted it to, so the highlights ended up being partially blown out. I could have switched to manual, taking the automatic exposure values as a base, but I was too lazy,

Developed in SilkyPix DS Pro 7, final touches made in DxO Pro 10. Neither DxO or SilkyPix on their own were able to produce a pleasing result on their own, so I decided to combine them.

[Edit] I was shooting in Live View. I find it easier to evaluate the exposure that way. Besides, for me lcd is more comfortable to choose the point to base metering on.
05-26-2017, 12:20 AM   #11
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Hi Stagnant! I compared your RAW file with the result, really informative and a fine picture with a lot of atmosphere!

But is there no way to make the camera expose for highlights? After all you (and the others) show ways to work around the camera´s limitations, not make it expose for the sky.

Obviously I made a mistake in naming the thread title. It should read "How make the camera expose for highlights".
05-26-2017, 02:03 AM   #12
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@Mans Hagberg, I not aware of any method that would allow to set up camera to automatically prioritize highlights, when metering. Based on my experience with K-20D, K-01 and K-3, I suspect that it simply does not exist.
05-27-2017, 12:00 PM   #13
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Hi again! I got another tip: Hit "Info" button. The second choice to the right says "Highlight correction".

I altered the setting from "off" to "on". That gave some effect in the RAW files when i tested for blown out highlights.

I guess that the camera does not analyse the scene or look for "red blink", but just uses a different sensitivity curve.
05-27-2017, 02:22 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mans Hagberg Quote
Hi again! I got another tip: Hit "Info" button. The second choice to the right says "Highlight correction".

I altered the setting from "off" to "on". That gave some effect in the RAW files when i tested for blown out highlights.

I guess that the camera does not analyse the scene or look for "red blink", but just uses a different sensitivity curve.
I highly doubt, that highlight correction option affects RAW files. But, SilkyPix seems to recognize the fact, that this option was turned on and automatically applies certain amount of highlight compression, which can be adjusted manually in the Highlight Controller tab. As a matter of fact, SP is quite bad, when it comes to overexposed images.
05-27-2017, 02:34 PM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mans Hagberg Quote
But is there no way to make the camera expose for highlights? After all you (and the others) show ways to work around the camera´s limitations, not make it expose for the sky.

Obviously I made a mistake in naming the thread title. It should read "How make the camera expose for highlights".
You won't make the camera do that. I don't know of any camera that is programmed as such.

This is actually a very complex subject but in the end you have to learn your gear and how it works. For example I would read the manual and learn each of the different metering modes. Learn how each behaves.

The biggest thing though is a more broad topic of lighting itself. The term 'chasing light' is a real thing. It all depends on how and what you are after. I don't know what kind of images you want but I will talk more in depth about myself and stuff I look for. I had to learn to see the light. Literally. Where it was coming from (direction), what it was hitting, what color that object was, what was the background, and many many other things. I actually have a book that is solely on this specific subject. It will take years and years to master.

Anyway you have direct light and then you have reflected light. By direct light that could be light that is more unobstructed to your lens. Say for example the bright sky. That is not really reflecting off of anything.

Then you have reflected light. This is light that say bounces down and hits a wall and then reflects off the wall to your lens. Light bounces off of things in different ways depending on what they are and what color the object is. Dark colors, light colors, all reflect light differently. You might not think of that wall as 'reflected light' but it is reflected light. Light colored objects and especially shiny objects can and do reflect light much more intensely. Even things like leaves on a tree can bounce light almost directly to your lens, so what you could have in that situation would be 'shiny spots'--or small (or large) areas of your frame that are way overexposed even though the rest looks ok.

When you start mixing direct light with say reflected light all in the same frame then things can get complicated. You need to know what direction the light is coming from in relation to your subject. Is it high, low, side, front, back? If it's in back you have a opportunity (or probability) for a silhouette.

You also need to look for things like filtered light. For example if a big rain storm comes through and there are a lot of clouds. The sun's brightness is there still, it is just being filtered and softened by clouds and in some cases different spectrums of light are filtered out leaving you with unique opportunities. Say for example like 30 min before dark if you pay attention there is the 'blue hour' where light is filtered and appears totally different.

If you are taking photos of people and the sun is directly over head their eyes can become shadows. How does all this get filled in so you don't lose the detail of the subject?

Again I just list a few things here---there are literally books written on this subject.

I mention all this because I think you are thinking too one track minded. You need to take all these other factors into account when talking about this subject. I mention this because if you take a much more broad approach first off your photography will improve greatly and in the process of understanding the principles of how light operates (and how your camera records it) you will answer your own questions along that path.

If you go around trying to eliminate the skill and observation needed to get all this right-- odds are you will resort to blaming (or trying to blame) your equipment. Trust me, that blaming process happens all the time. Long story short though is if you can get the whole light concept right you will jump leaps and bounds and at the same time realize that a lot of the time it's user error. What your eyeball sees and what your camera can or can't record are two different things a lot of the time.

A few years ago I did an interview for the forum with a friend of mine. I encourage you to read it and pay attention to the photos. Even if you shoot photos with a point and shoot if the light is right you can come out with better shots than the most expensive of cameras.

Take a look and try to glean relevant ideas from the interview.

Sean Davey Exclusive Interview - Photography | PentaxForums.com

Again the skill is yours to develop. It's not simply a mode you can dial into on the camera.
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