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Under-exposing?

Discussion in 'Photography & Video' started by UnexpectedError, Jun 21, 2020.

  1. UnexpectedError

    UnexpectedError Member

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    Ok so this is more like a back to basics thing than a 'my camera isn't working' thing.

    I'm using a Canon RP and I've come back from a few days out now with almost all shots underexposed by a third. It's bright, this is the beach, it's not really surprising. But yet, I am kind of surprised because my old 550D seemed to pretty well nail exposure in these kind of conditions. If a 10 year old consumer camera can figure out I'm at the beach, why can't the RP?

    So it got me thinking have I maybe set something in the camera and forgotten about it? I mean I can just dial in the exposure compensation but I just want to figure it out and know it's necessary.

    Liiiike, maybe I should try exposure priority mode?

    Lastly, when I started out, from memory it was expose to the right. As in, over expose the shot a bit (without blowing the highlights) and that would give you more flexibility in post. Is that still the same now? I've heard varying things, some people saying sensors don't cope as well with the highlights, but I'm not sure any of it holds true for current day sensors. Thoughts?
     
  2. Deftone2k

    Deftone2k In the Darkroom

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    What mode are you shooting in? Do you have exposure/metering tied into your focus point perhaps?

    Generally these days you under expose to retain highlight detail so you can pump exposure/shadows a bit and have a well rounded image. Canon I find holds better detail in the highlights and gets a bit muddy in the shadows so I always tried to shoot pretty much bang on middle where as for many like Nikon you can greatly under expose and push many stops in post.

    Sony I usually shoot a little under and bump the shadows a bit.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    UnexpectedError

    UnexpectedError Member

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    I was using aperture priority in the last round but honestly it seems to happen even in manual (if the meter is in the middle, it can still be a bit under)...obviously a lot more subjective there and I can't know for sure but I guess the point is I think the camera is genuinely reading the scene 'wrong'. I find pushing the shadows never gives great results (I've always shot Canon) so always try to keep it in the middle or to the right for that reason. I had no idea Nikon and others were so different, why is that? I'm sure there's a trade off somewhere in IQ.

    Also I said exposure priority mode haha...I don't think that's a thing, I think I mean highlight tone priority.
     
  4. Athiril

    Athiril Member

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    A third? You mean a third of a stop?
     
  5. Deftone2k

    Deftone2k In the Darkroom

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    It's because they have sensors with much more dynamic range. Canon holds the detail better in the highlights to bring that down and have a dynamic scene where as Nikon D750 you can push an image up to 5 stops and it looks pretty good still. Not really any trade off, some would say the look/feel of the image isnt as nice as the Canon's but that is very subjective.

    So what are you basing the images being a 1/3 of a stop under on? Your screen preview based on what you remember? Histogram? In camera previews as you are shooting?

    From what I know that is just how highlight tone priority works? You should be seeing it on your previews as you shoot though. Never used it (and not on Canon anymore) so cant test it for you.

    https://www.dpmag.com/how-to/tip-of-the-week/using-highlight-tone-priority/
     
  6. lonewolf1983

    lonewolf1983 Member

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    key thing is what metering mode were you using?
    This is what the camera uses to decide on the exposure to set (point, zone, full scene etc)
    Also being mirrorless you should be seeing the exposure as you shoot... usually easy to tell if you're way off.

    As far as sensors it depends what you're using, nikon/sony tend to be better off exposing to the left then bringing up in post.
     
  7. Dark Orange

    Dark Orange Member

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    This is the likely issue - spot, average, centre-weighted average etc. I usually find centre-weighted average works best for me.

    As for desired exposures, many people claim that "Exposing to the left" is the best way to go, on the assumption that it is easier to get details from shadows than from hilights. Personally, I say just expose correctly in the first place.
     
  8. mareke

    mareke Member

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    I use a program called ACDSee to adjust the exposure of photos to what I want. I've had two digital cameras an expensive Olympus camera & a cheap Sony unit & photos using both have tended to look underexposed.

    https://www.acdsee.com/en/index/
     
  9. OP
    OP
    UnexpectedError

    UnexpectedError Member

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    Thanks DO. Exposure is set to evaluative, which I think is just the Canon 'auto' equivalent (as in it looks at the whole scene and makes a call). Happy to be corrected though as I'm likely wrong haha.

    Shooting manual and auto I got the best results when the meter showed over exposed by 2/3 stops. Again at the beach, but in winter sun so not exactly burning out my eyeballs. The histogram looks about right, in that the hump is slightly to the right and all within the limits. Leaving it to just do what it wants leaves the hump in the left and the upper 1/3 to 1/4 with nothing much to show (in the graph).
     
  10. mtma

    mtma Member

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    If there is actually bits and pieces in the right hand side, the automatic algorithm it uses to expose is probably balancing out removing those bits of information as it has no idea whether they're important or not, hence overall underexposing.

    It doesn't decide whether it is actually important or not unless it actually has target detection algorithms activated.

    Probably an exercise to try is to take a picture as it does, then go into post and expose it to your liking (without touching anything else), then turn on overexposure zebras to see what went off the scale. If you take the photos the the exposure pumped at the time of taking the photo, that will be what happens. It should also be obvious if you have overexposure evaluation turned on in the live review.

    There's nothing fundamentally wrong with pumping the exposure offset manually in the camera, it's just another tool available for use - but pumping the exposure without understanding what compromise you've made - if any - would be an oversight.
     
  11. Xang

    Xang Member

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    You can adjust a camera's baseline exposure in the settings.

    How has this thread gone so long already :wired:
     
  12. CeeAyeEee

    CeeAyeEee Member

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    seems like a troll. exposure is relative so OP just increase your display monitor brightness by 1/3 stop.
    But seriously who trusts the camera to internally process the photo? I let it capture the raw without too much clipping. that's all. I dont use the built in jpeg conversion (except that is how a histogram is metered)
    There used to be a rule of thumb when reading any meter 'The Degree of Accuracy is half a unit each side of the unit of measure'
    So somehow reading less than half a stop of accuracy on your histogram is just using your artistic licence?
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2020
  13. theSeekerr

    theSeekerr Member

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    What on earth are you on about? The "half a unit" stuff is to do with marked scales on gauges....it's not really applicable to something like the histogram of a digital image where you know that the results would remain valid if you drew in a more granularly marked scale. If you have a histogram where one stop of exposure is drawn as 16 column graphs each a few pixels wide, it's totally fair to read that chart down to the 1/16th of a stop even if the scale is only marked out at full stops.
     

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