Highlight and Shadow adjustment

John Simpson

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I was at the UK's biggest photo exhibition yesterday and at the Olympus stand queried how to deal with a very high dynamic range scene with an em1.2. Naturally the first answer was HDR, whether in-camera or in post. However the recommended was to adjust the graph (from the SCP) ..... something in the SCP I've yet to even look at since buying the camera.

It seems to be (another) obvious choice but I can't really get my head around how this works in a RAW file, if indeed it actually does and is only of help if we're dealing with jpg output.

Has anyone any thoughts/used thisfeature. The camera manual isn't terribly helpful, nor is Mr Google.

Regards
 

NigelD

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I don't shoot Olympus but I guess the answer for me would be common to all cameras. I would bracket either 3 or 5 exposures dependant upon the dynamic range and then blend them in Photoshop.
 

PakkyT

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Assuming you are talking about the "Highlight&Shadow Control", I am not sure how it is accessed on the E-M1.2, but on my E-M1.1 it is accessed through the multi-function button. I don't think it is accessed through the SCP, but I could be mistaken there.

This is where you adjust the shadows on the rear dial and the highlights on the front dial. I believe the E-M1.2 might add a third adjustment (midtones or something) on top of highlights and shadows). I shoot raw but on bright days where there is a lot of bright spots and hard shadows I will turn this on and crank up the shadows and crank down the highlights. I don't fuss over it too much since shooting raw allows me to change my mind later once I see the photo on the computer.

Anyway, to the best of my knowledge this adjustment only effects the JPG and not the raw file, although the settings are retained in the RAW file and will usually be auto applied when opening the raw in an application that supports all the EXIF data.
 
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John Simpson

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Thanks for the view PakkyT. Yes, that's the one and in the em1.2 it is available in the SCP. I had told the Olympus guy that my workflow was RAW -> CaptureOne Pro and the implication from him was that this is something 'special' to Olys It was only when I was thinking about it on the train back that I thought 'hang on'. I may need to put this to the C1 guys to see if it can use the exif data or not (I suspect not).
 

Mack

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Mine is generally set at +3 Shadow, -2 Mids, and +2 Highlights. I lift the shadows as I prefer to see some detail in the blacks and not going into the mud. Sometimes the highlights are hidden in shade too so I apply the +2 Highlight lift too. The -2 Mids pulls the overall exposure back to within normal.

I came around to that by using a ColorChecker Passport and arriving at those numbers with it in sunlight and checking the white and black squares RGB values against what x-rite says they should be. Using Olympus Viewer 3, or their newer Workspace, you can put the mouse pointer over the RAW image ColorChecker's image and read the values to see if they match and then move the three curve numbers to where they do match the x-rite values. Bit of trial and error.

You can see the overall exposure curve in the Sekonic Data Transfer using their better light meters and their calibration chart too. Olympus has a long toe that messes up the shadow detail and even more in prints so the +3 Shadows is pretty much a standard for me.
 

John Simpson

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Hello Mac. Thx for that but can you say what you feel is the difference/benefit of that over setting blacks and adjusting curves etc etc in whichever ones choice of raw processor?
 

ToxicTabasco

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It all depends on the scene or how much dynamic range needs to be captured. And, what format you're shooting.

For example, there is no HDR mode for video. Thus, the use of the "highlights/shadows" tone curve, as well as iDynamic will be more important than photo style. The Olympus has similar dynamic range features.

For JPG you can use bracket exposure or HDR as well as the above dynamic range settings, and get good results.

For raw files, on the newer Lumix cameras use the JPG preview image as a baseline. And with WB and dynamic range being variable, that changes depending on the scene's dynamic range.

Thus, IME it's always best to use bracket exposure for photo, and set dynamic range setting as best as possible for video and JPG. Also, every camera is different. Newer cameras have good dynamic range, and bracket exposure of the most extreme sunsets can be done with 2 stops (3 shots) vs 4 stops (5 shots). And a lot has to do with the editing software and how you process.

Also, because cameras are different between models and years, it takes some trial and error to know how far you can push dynamic range adjustments before it starts to degrade the quality. Like any camera the adjustments have their limits. And because they interact with each feature, it can be a difficult balancing act.

Anyway, that's my take on the dynamic range settings, and how I use them. Hope it helps.
 

Giiba

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Hello Mac. Thx for that but can you say what you feel is the difference/benefit of that over setting blacks and adjusting curves etc etc in whichever ones choice of raw processor?
Highlights/Midtones/Shadows is just a simpler version of the curves tools in most any raw editing program. It allows greater freedom for in camera raw processing, or more flexibility for jpeg shooting. If you shoot raw the typical raw editor tools are more powerful.

Adjusting H/M/S should change the metering and may help determine things like highlights clipping better, though I've never tried it for that.
 

Mack

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Highlights/Midtones/Shadows is just a simpler version of the curves tools in most any raw editing program. It allows greater freedom for in camera raw processing, or more flexibility for jpeg shooting. If you shoot raw the typical raw editor tools are more powerful.

Adjusting H/M/S should change the metering though and may help determine things like highlights clipping better, though I've never tried it for that.
Oddly, the camera's metering will stay the same even if you do some +/- 7 setting in the E1.2. What shows on the viewfinder does change with the H/M/S settings, but the camera's metering stays put.

I generally rely on my Sekonic incident as well as their color meter and meter the scene given I've calibrated them to the camera's curve with the Sekonic exposure data software. A test shot may tell me if I need to apply some +/- to the camera from what the meter's are showing. Yesterday I was from -1 to +1 in camera from the meter given the ambient and fill flash. I don't fully trust the Olympus metering - yet.

My workflow is that I usually cull through the RAW images in Viewer 3 first as it automatically opens when I shove a SD card into the computer. I click on the RAW part in Viewer 3 to use as a viewer as it scrolls faster than doing the JPG+RAW part within it. I can use it's mouse pointer to determine if I've buried or blown something.

Given that is where my initial viewing and selection is made, and how Olympus presents the RAW and its JPG image while in the RAW section, then I'll move it off and use DxO Photolab 2. So the processing software is secondary for me based on what the Viewer 3 is showing me first. Otherwise it takes forever to play around in editing pulling up detail, looking at blown highlights, etc. with a RAW file. For me, if the JPG out of the RAW looks good - if that's how Olympus does it - I feel I can do a lot more in the RAW file than trying to pull out a questionable image and spending time trying to manipulate it into something worthwhile.

I can't comment on C1 as I had the trial but it doesn't fully support m43 so I didn't bite on the purchase. DxO Photolab 2 now has the ability to make a profile off the ColorChecker Passport E-M1 II image and incorporate it into their software much as does Lightroom. Waiting for June when it supposedly will support the E-M1X too.

I'll add the following image that hows the light cyan line where I've applied my +3 -2, and +2 settings (Olympus E-M1 Mark II Curve) over the stock curve of the Pen-F, E-M1.2, and E-M1X. The lift in the shadows is what I want the most given I run 6 printers and profiles and I hate losing detail there. Pretty much shows the dynamic range of the sensor as well as the nulling of the exposure metering around the midpoint with all the curves (The -2 part.).

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 
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John Simpson

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Many thanks for all your replies, much appreciated. Obviously we all have our workflows for various scenarios which we've developed over time and 'if it works for you' then it's the right solution for you.

However, my question was .... does the in-camera HMS tone curve adjustment get burned into the RAW file - probably unlikely except in exif - but if so how can that be used in a RAW processor - or not as the case may be?

PS, CaptureOne Pro fully supports Olympus Em1 and Pen F except in capture ..... but combining C1 with Oly Capture gives a fully featured rock solid capture solution.
 
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Mack

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....

However, my question was .... does the in-camera HMS tone curve adjustment get burned into the RAW file - probably unlikely except in exif - but if so how can that be used in a RAW processor - or not as the case may be?

PS, CaptureOne Pro fully supports Olympus Em1 and Pen F except in capture ..... but combining C1 with Oly Capture gives a fully featured rock solid capture solution.
The H/M/S curves are in the RAW/ORF file.

You can pull an ORF file into exiftool and see what is in the RAW file. I pulled one into it and it has the H/M/S values buried in the RAW file which appears to be my +3,-2,+2 settings below. Those same ones also show up in the Olympus software as well. Don't know about C1 or Lightroom reading those values though, but they are there as well as the AF Target area which Olympus does not show in their software that they should since Nikon shows it in theirs.

All these RAW softwares seem to operate differently though, and some show things like WB to be 1,000 Kelvin different from others which I find really annoying. Since the WB is buried in the RAW as well, I'd expect to to see the exact same thing in software, but I often don't. Super annoying for me with fashion and colors, so most I can hope for is the ColorChecker and writing a profile off it in the given light.

Fwiw, my ORF RAW shows this: Tone Level: Highlights; 3; -7; 7; Shadows; 3; -7; 7; Midtones; -2; -7; 7; 0; 0; 0; 0; 0; 0; 0; 0; 0; 0; 0; 0; 0; 0; 0; 0

Most you can do is open the RAW in whatever you want and see how it compares to what you are looking for. There's a lot of other info in the RAW files that might be proprietary too. Shading Compensation may be one of them too. Output a RAW to a TIFF with the Olympus software, then do the same with C1 and see how it compares. If different, then you'll know.

Yeah, I saw that combo thing of using C1 and Capture, but it is a Hodge-podge mess of extra hardware/software/apps to carry around in the field so I took a pass on it. I might look at it when it implements like with the FF guys, or if I was fully studio-based which I'm not. Olympus is sort of odd in their remote operation and keeping controls on camera without a mess of wires and sundry hardware. I already got enough junk to deal with, especially with 5-6 strobes outdoors. :confused:
 
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