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12-21-2013, 01:53 PM   #1
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In-Cam HDR Processing Speed (K-r)

I have been shooting with the K-r for a couple of years now and am mostly happy with it... however:

I rely heavily on the in-camera HDR feature, which in my case disables the camera for 10-15 seconds (!) for processing each frame. I only shoot hand-held, and the processing lag forces me to re-compose each time (in order to take multiple 'identical' frames for redundancy), or else to try holding still for the duration of processing - an irritating handicap in either case.

My 'technique' deserves a good deal of criticism, but I have been fairly successful in getting what I want out of it, apart from this lag issue. I could certainly switch to bracketing + software HDR, but then I can't accurately preview my results in-camera.

Processing is quite fast with simple settings, i.e. burst shooting of simple JPEGs does not cause much lag, however certain filters (distortion & fringing correction, etc) do lag noticeably (more than a second or two) as well.

I am inclined to scapegoat the garden-variety SDHC card I am using - a 32GB Transcend Class 10 (~18Mb/s write). I have the notion that the lag is affected mainly by the low speed of the card, and perhaps (?) also by its large capacity. I'm inclined to splurge on something like a Sandisk Extreme Pro 8GB (~95Mb/s). It would be a waste, however, if the lag turned out to be a limitation of the K-r itself, which I am unaware of.

If anyone has dealt with similar issues, and particularly if they have resolved them with an SD card upgrade, I would be very grateful to hear about it.

Thanks in advance,
K-rock

12-21-2013, 02:04 PM - 1 Like   #2
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I don't think its the card. The cameras of that generation were known to be slow when it comes to processing things like CA and distortion correction, and in-camera HDR is slow, too. The writing is not a problem, because an in-camera HDR jpeg is not much bigger than a regular jpeg.
But! A faster card might still help you out, shave off a second or two. The other thing is, a good card can still be useful in your next camera, so its not a total waste, even if in your case, the K-r is the bottleneck.

So.. faster card will make a difference, but not a big difference, because your main problem is the processing speed, not the write speed. And the processing is slow. More modern cameras (like the K-50) are faster in that regard.

Maybe try a tripod and wireless trigger. Its surprising how much sharper and clearer photos look with a good tripod (but I also have shaky hands, maybe yours are steadier). A new card probably won't hurt, and the one you mention are highly regarded. Or a new camera. There are great deals on used K-30 and even new K-50 - you might get one for under $500. And it will have better sensor+WR.
12-21-2013, 03:21 PM   #3
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Thanks very much for the helpful comments, Na Horuk.

What you're saying makes perfect sense - the fact that I can shoot a burst of JPEGs with no lag shows that the SD card is performing well. I think I was ignoring the obvious because I wanted there to be an easy fix. Moreover, considering that HDR processing is a pretty demanding task, I guess I can't reasonably expect the on-board chip on a budget camera to compute it very quickly.

You're also right to point out that a fast SD card is a decent investment in its own right, but since I won't see a major improvement with this one issue, it's not urgent. I am probably better off learning to use exposure bracketing & software HDR, and perhaps getting a tripod as you suggest. For the time being, I think it's my technique that needs upgrading, and thankfully that's mostly free

Thanks again,
K-rock
12-21-2013, 04:44 PM - 1 Like   #4
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I just got to warn you, bracketing and then using software is pretty annoying, at least it was to me. You need to get good software, then you need three photos. And if shot raw, you probably have to transform them into tiff. Then the software will make another tiff file, which will be huge, and probably won't look very good. And the photos must be aligned - you better hope there was no wind or moving subjects! Then you need to post process it and tone map it, to make it look halfway decent. In the end, its a long process and takes a lot of hard drive space. This is why I very rarely do HDR, and usually I just do it in-camera. Especially for night time landscapes with the SCN mode Night time HDR. It gives me surprisingly good results. I usually carry a tripod with me, though, or at least place the camera on a soft hat on top of a bench or something. And if at all possible, I use the 2 sec timer, so there are even fewer vibrations.
Of course, I understand that someone who sells his HDR photos would spend all the time and buy all the required software. For me, its not worth it - shooting raw or in-camera HDR is good enough. Two minutes to set up the shot and wait for the processing sounds better to me than two minutes to set up the shot and then another 2 hours at home to make it look good.

12-26-2013, 02:10 PM   #5
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Thanks for another dose of helpful input, Na Horuk.
QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
Two minutes to set up the shot and wait for the processing sounds better to me than two minutes to set up the shot and then another 2 hours at home to make it look good.

I should have been more specific; in fact I am very much of the same mindset you expressed above - staring at my monitor for hours on end does not fit comfortably into my idea of hobby photography. As you said, that sort of attention is best reserved for photos bound for an actual 'client' of some sort. With that in mind, my interest in software HDR is as a back-up plan for time-sensitive shoots when the in-cam HDR lag is a problem (e.g. I am standing outside on a winter night, or trying to shoot something transient like a sunset, etc) - otherwise, I am quite satisfied with the balance of quality and convenience that in-cam HDR provides, and have no intention of abandoning it altogether. Besides, exposure bracketing is useful in its own right, e.g. I can just use the best-exposed frame and scrap the rest. Also, I haven't used the SCN Night-time HDR feature - I will make a note of it.

The HDR software I've tried offers auto-alignment, thankfully - otherwise it would be hopeless, since, as I said, I am confined to hand-held shooting for the time being.

The 2-sec timer is also helpful, though for some reason I seem to get better hand-held results without it... hard to explain but it's somehow easier to press the shutter release at the moment when I am holding steady, as opposed to trying to be steady when the timer triggers it for me... it might make more sense by analogy with a sniper rifle - I don't think a 2-sec timer would be desirable there Of course, all of this applies only if you're actually holding the camera, etc.

Thanks yet again.
12-26-2013, 08:47 PM   #6
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My K-30 requires some processing time to stack the HDR shots too. There's definitely some lag. It's not just your model. I only use this function for slow deliberate shots so I'm ok with it.
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