Test EM1.3 (and EM1x) HHHR - DR improvement

pdk42

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I do a lot of landscape and find myself often running out of shadow lifting capability (i.e. before noise becomes an issue). I often resort to shooting a 5-shot, 5-stop bracket and stacking later in LR (I always shoot raw). This works pretty well, but it consumes a chunk of storage and takes time to stack on the PC.

I knew that HHHR could perhaps provide an alternative since it works by additive stacking of multiple images and this definitely reduces noise/improves SNR. In fact, you can do HHHR yourself without a EM1.3 simply by firing a burst of images at the same exposure and then using Photoshop or similar to do a "mean" stacking. But this takes even longer than HDR stacking so it's not something that's sensible for regular use.

So, I thought that getting a mk iii would be perhaps be worth it for HHHR. To prove it to myself, I did some playing with HHHR test images I found on the web and this persuaded me that the technique would offer me something worthwhile. I'm not in the least interested in the extra resolution - just the DR. To add weight to my thoughts, Bill Claff's excellent photons to photos site provides this nice DR comparison chart:

image_9367.png
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At nearing 12-stops, it's pretty much in line with FF cameras. So, I bought the mk iii.

To test out the HHHR myself, I took the shot below. Exposure is deliberately set so as to avoid burning out the sky. According to the meter, it was -3EV. It's a bit of a torture test given just high the DR was (cloud strongly backlit by the sun and the foreground in deep shadow):

49866747608_4ecfc7f39f_o.jpg
EM370001-3_5184_ooc
by Paul Kaye, on Flickr


I then pushed shadows 100%, then added +2.2 EV to the bottom part of the image. Excuse the very crude masking - it's just to show the principle. First shot is the HHHR version. Second shot is the std res version (.ORI file):

1. HHHR res file, pushed 100% shadows and +2.2EV on the bottom of the image
49867283886_bc34cd7996_o.jpg
EM370001-3_5184
by Paul Kaye, on Flickr

1. Standard res file, pushed 100% shadows and +2.2EV on the bottom of the image
49867594827_b6b552e6d7_o.jpg
EM370001L-2_5184
by Paul Kaye, on Flickr

So, already a big difference. in terms of colour and clarity. I've uploaded these as full-size shots so if you want to look at them full-size, just download them - but note that I've down-resed the HHHR version to the same size as the standard res one - I'm after HHHR not for the extra resolution, but for the improvement to S/N ratio.



I then shot a 5-shot HDR sequence (-2, -1, 0, +1, +2) with the meter reading -1.5EV - in other words to allow the -2 EV shot to be comfortably not over-exposed. I shot 5 raw files and stacked in LR. Here's the result:

49867593897_91f25fa190_o.jpg
EM370002-2-HDR_5184
by Paul Kaye, on Flickr

This is certainly better than the HHHR version, but OTOH, it's slower to capture so foliage can get ugly in a breeze, it chews up a lot more storage, and needs quite a bit of post-processing to build. Also, the scene here is pretty extreme, so I think in many cases, the HHHR shot will be a sensible compromise.


The crops below show the noise off the various shots:

1) HHHR shot.
HHHR.png
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2) Sts Res shot:
Std.png
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3) HDR shot:
HDR.png
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So - HHHR does definitely deliver better shadow noise and therefore better DR. For something that's been pushed over 2 stops in PP, plus 100% shadow fill, it's actually pretty impressive. I think it'll make a real difference to tricky landscape shots - but it's not as effective as a HDR bracket.

So, it's a win then? Well, it's certainly a useful tool, but you do need to balance these negatives:

- I tried it today on a windy day and foliage movement renders the technique pretty useless - the blurring is way beyond acceptable. OTOH, it's less ugly than a HDR stack.
- The time it takes to do the stack is about 15-20s. That doesn't sound much, but it definitely breaks the flow.
- Sharpening of the raw is tricky. I think I'm there now, and it's just a preset in LR, but even so...

Overall, I'm glad I have it, but I'm not convinced it's a feature that's worth the upgrade cost alone.
 
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stevedo

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I tried to click through to the photos on Flickr but they seem to be private.

1589238934581.png
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pdk42

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I tried to click through to the photos on Flickr but they seem to be private.
Ah, yes. I guess it will be. Actually, you don't need to click through to see the images in full res since I uploaded them full-sized anyhow. If you want to view them full-sized locally, then right click and save them to your PC.
 

retiredfromlife

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Pretty impressive to me. I think I would use the HHHR just for convenience.
Wonder how or if it would work for macro or just close up photography
 

comment23

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junkyardsparkle

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Actually, you don't need to click through to see the images in full res since I uploaded them full-sized anyhow. If you want to view them full-sized locally, then right click and save them to your PC.
The forum software resizes everything to 1600px on the long side, regardless of the size uploaded, so that won't work. :)
 

MichailK

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a minus point for me into getting the e-m5iii - damn, Oly! They should have added a co-processor/accelerometer option in the optional grip option just for that! It would still be much smaller and not that ”pro” to steal em1iii sales and no, I am not getting in the em1iii size whatever the price
 
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pdk42

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  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
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a minus point for me into getting the e-m5iii - damn, Oly! They should have added a co-processor/accelerometer option in the optional grip option just for that! It would still be much smaller and not that ”pro” to steal em1iii sales and no, I am not getting in the em1iii size whatever the price
Well, you pays your money... :)

I do like the E-M5 line size though. The E-M1 line is still acceptable to me though.
 

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