Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Exposing for RAW?

There is an interesting article in 2007 November issue of Digital Photo Pro magazine (which I frequently enjoy) about exposing for RAW. It brings up an unknown to many (including myself) issue of using camera LCD preview and histogram as means of correcting exposure WHILE shooting RAW. What's the problem, one might ask?

Assuming the author is correct (as I have no way of checking that out, but have no reason to believe otherwise), the histogram and LCD preview on ALL digital cameras are based on processed JPEG file, EVEN if you only shoot RAW. This means that one is looking at a (vastly) different data that RAW records. In extreme cases, your RAW will horribly disappoint later on. You may get to thinking: what did I do wrong? everything looked great on the histogram?

One: keep above in mind in such situations

Two: try to adjust your camera JPEG settings to see if you can get preview match RAW more closely (useless if you shoot JPEG also and unlikely to give you exact match)

Three: learn correct exposure techniques so you rely on the technique rather than the preview/histogram

The mentioned article (titled: Exposing for RAW by Andrew Rodney) is about a so called ETTR technique, that's Expose To The Right, or expose for highlights and develop for such. Film shooters may remember the EFSDFH (expose for shadows develop for highlights), which in most cases gave us the most printable negative. However, the bottom line is only one:

expose to ensure detail where it counts most, yet don't lose the highlights (unless this is your wish, of course)

I can't copy the whole article here (obviously), but I do recommend reading it. It might just fix some of your shooting techniques. The whole article is available HERE. You can even print it.

Digital Photo Pro is a bimonthly magazine targeting the digital photographer. It is (in my opinion) a high quality publication, although somewhat uneven issue to issue. It goes at newsstand for $5.99 and can be subscribed to for much less.

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