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Outback Photo Handbook: HDR and Tonemapping

Requests for improved AEB Bracketing in modern DSLRs

essay by Uwe Steinmueller

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04/05/2009 Initial Article


A few years ago creating HDR images was only done by a very few photographers. Today many photographers at various levels create HDR photos.

  • The Flickr HDR group has 40K members and shows 260K images

Still the support for AEB (auto exposure bracketing) is not even close to what we need.

Here are our requests:

  • Support of all features in all cameras: entry to pro. This is a matter of firmware and not really a camera feature that needs special design for your cameras. E.g. the nice Nikon D60 has no AEB support at all.
  • Number of shots in AEB: At least 9 but unlimited would be nice. E.g. the semi pro Canon 5D Mark II allows only 3 shots
  • EV increments: At least up to 2EV (some would even like to see 3EV). Panasonic G1 has only max 2/3 EV and even top Nikon and Olympus cameras allow only 1EV increments.
  • Max exposure time: More than the old historic 30 secs. If you do AEB in dark places 30 secs are often too short (think of 9 exposures at 2EV steps). If the camera gets too noisy at longer exposure times this should be specified by the manufacturer.
  • Mirror lockup, live view and AEB should be orthogonal: E.g. Nikon allows only one or the other feature. With some cameras the mirror even goes up between shots if you use live view.
  • Allow automatic delay between mirror up and taking the shot: Olympus has a nice feature called "Anti Shock" (not image stabilization). You can set the camera to burst mode and AEB. Here is what happens:
    • For each shot the mirror goes up, then the camera rests for the time set in Anti Shock and the picture is taken. This allows the camera to settle on the tripod and avoids bad shake. This way the whole sequence is taken automatically and still shake due to mirror and shutter slap is avoided.

We don't see any good reason why not all DSLRs should support these minimal features.

Thanks to Ron Pepper to get this discussion started.



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