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12-10-2014, 10:34 AM   #1
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Should Pentaxians use ETTR?

Reading the short article about lighting on mixed lighting, ETTR was mentioned in the comments. ETTR means Exposed to the Right. Which means intentionally overexposing the image to lower overall image noise.

Digital Exposure Techniques

The thing is, do Pentaxian really have to do this? Sure if you have a narrow dynamic range shot that you can move the entire histogram 2-3 stops, ETTR will help lower the noise, but honestly with high dynamic range and low noise floor of ISO 80 on the K5 and ISO 100 on the K-3 series camera, I see very little noise even in the shadows after some very minor noise reduction.

I think ETTR really only works with high shadow noise sensors in cameras with smaller or older sensor technology. I find in high dynamic range images (not HDR but images that have both strong highlights and shadows), I would rather preserve highlights since those clip and can not be recovered much past 1/2 to 1 stop, while low iso shadows can be recovered up to 4 stops with some noise reduction. If you really feel noise is a problem in large areas like skies or a large shadow area, you could do a blended exposures or HDR.

12-10-2014, 10:51 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by y0chang Quote
Which means intentionally overexposing the image
Well, no it doesn't. It means getting as much light information as possible on the sensor *without* overexposing the image. Overexposure is when your highlights clip.

In most scenes, there is a range of exposures than can be considered to be 'correct'. If you shoot landscapes and like to see detail in the shadows, you'll typically give more exposure than called for by the camera's meter.

My approach is to shoot RAW and expose for adequate shadow detail without compromising the highlights. And that almost always means giving more than the camera meter's recommended exposure. But it is not 'over exposing'.

[you've caught me in a pedantic mood today ]
12-10-2014, 11:05 AM   #3
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This is something that has always confused me (I am usually confused, anyway ! ).

This here: Digital Exposure Techniques seems to explain rather simply the process with good visual help.
It does, however, warn that clipping is still quite possible when using an ETTR technique.

So, if you "push" the histogram to the right, won't it be quite possible that you will end up with clipped highlights?

I find it pretty hard to do ETTR and avoid clipping ... is there a certain/sure way to do this?
(without using HDR).
Image averaging?

Now, that is all fine and dandy when doing landscapes and such but what if you shoot wildlife "on the move" ?

Last edited by jpzk; 12-10-2014 at 11:06 AM. Reason: spelling
12-10-2014, 11:09 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by johnyates Quote
Well, no it doesn't. It means getting as much light information as possible on the sensor *without* overexposing the image. Overexposure is when your highlights clip.

In most scenes, there is a range of exposures than can be considered to be 'correct'. If you shoot landscapes and like to see detail in the shadows, you'll typically give more exposure than called for by the camera's meter.

My approach is to shoot RAW and expose for adequate shadow detail without compromising the highlights. And that almost always means giving more than the camera meter's recommended exposure. But it is not 'over exposing'.

[you've caught me in a pedantic mood today ]
yes overexposure was a poor choice of words, intentionally adding positive exposure compensation is what I mean.

12-10-2014, 11:16 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by jpzk Quote
So, if you "push" the histogram to the right, won't it be quite possible that you will end up with clipped highlights?
Absolutely. If you push far enough.

ETTR is *not* recommended in all cases. It's only going to work when the dynamic range of the scene is less than the dynamic range of the sensor.
12-10-2014, 11:41 AM   #6
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IMHO the answer is firm no. ETTR is primarily being pushed by Canon users and for good reason: Canon sensors suck in the shadows compared to Sony sensors (OTOH, Canon sensors are awesome in the highlights). This is why DxO penalizes them on their (admittedly biased) DxOmark scoring. Pentax uses Sony sensors (as does Nikon and of course Sony) and Sony sensors excel in the shadows. My extensive and on-going experience with Nikon cameras (D200, D300s, D700, D7000, D7100, D800) only emphasizes the point: it is a general best-practice with pro Nikon shooters to dial in -.3 or -.7 exposure compensation to prevent clipping in the highlights. Or in other words, pretty much ALL Nikon shooters that I know tend to underexpose a little. So just continue to shoot "normally" with your Pentax. If you need to push your underexposed images, then DxO Optics Pro PRIME processing cannot be beat.

YMMV

Michael
12-10-2014, 11:41 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by johnyates Quote
Absolutely. If you push far enough.

ETTR is *not* recommended in all cases. It's only going to work when the dynamic range of the scene is less than the dynamic range of the sensor.
That would make sense.
Thanks !
12-10-2014, 11:48 AM   #8
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This is one area of application for this ETTR method: How I Photograph the Milky Way in the Light-Polluted Skies of Singapore

12-10-2014, 12:31 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by LFLee Quote
This is one area of application for this ETTR method: How I Photograph the Milky Way in the Light-Polluted Skies of Singapore
That is a good tutorial, thanks for the link.
12-10-2014, 02:22 PM   #10
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I expose to the left and to the right as necessary to capture the highlights and/or shadows I'm looking for. Live View is a great tool, especially on something like Q that has limited dynamic range, for telling you how the exposure setting is working out based on what the meter thinks it ought to be. I shoot in Av mode with exposure compensation but I might as well shoot in full manual at that point.
12-10-2014, 04:12 PM   #11
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I think ETTR was important (perhaps is) when shooting JPGs or with poorer sensors. In those cases, it's generally better to reduce exposure than increase it.

However, one has to keep in mind the implications of ETTR. That usually means you have to increase exposure. If you can do it via aperture and shutter speed, you may be ok. But, if ETTR means increasing ISO, I don't think you are doing yourself any good doing it. Raising the ISO and the reducing the exposure would possibly leave you with the same amount of noise (the primary reason it's used) as if you'd just expose for what you want.

As it is, I find that with our Pentax dSLRs, as long as I don't have to increase exposure in PP, I have no need for ETTR.
12-11-2014, 08:22 AM   #12
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If you're shooting landscapes, there's really not reason not to use ETTR, even with the extra DR headroom as opposed to Canon and m43. You'll still end up recording more and better data, which will give you more to work with in post.

In any sort of shooting that requires use of automatic exposure (i.e., all the non-manual settings), ETTR is simply not possible.
12-11-2014, 08:44 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by northcoastgreg Quote
If you're shooting landscapes, there's really not reason not to use ETTR, even with the extra DR headroom as opposed to Canon and m43. You'll still end up recording more and better data, which will give you more to work with in post.
I agree. As with film photography, the more data captured, the more you have to work with later and the better your tonality in the shadows will be. Using ETTR routinely is something I have yet to factor into my digital process, though it would be easy enough to do.


Steve
12-18-2014, 01:55 AM   #14
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I see ETTR as a method of getting the most out of a sensor, any sensor. The more you expose, the higher the signal to noise ratio is. Until significant areas will clip, naturally. But I think proper use of it demands a good method of showing what in the picture is clipping at either end of the scale. And I don't think that at least my K-5 has good enough a system as compared to, say, the Olympus E-M5.
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