In camera HDR in the Oly em1 mark2...

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by Mark Clark, Jul 16, 2017.

  1. Mark Clark

    Mark Clark Mu-43 Rookie

    10
    Jul 16, 2017
    as compared to bracketing exposures and processing them in Photomatix or Photoshop. What are the advantages and disadvantages between the 3 methods. Also, is ghosting an issue with in camera HDR with the em1 Mark2. Thanks
     
  2. Linden

    Linden Mu-43 Regular

    55
    May 1, 2017
    Knox, TN
    There's just a lot more options and you have much more control over the look of the final image when doing HDR manually on the computer vs in-camera. In camera is much quicker and easier, you're just limited to the look of whatever HDR1 or HDR2 produces. I've never done an in-camera HDR on the EM1.2, but I wasn't happy with in-camera HDR on my Canon cameras. That's why I invested in Photomatix and I'm happy with what I've been able to produce using it.
     
  3. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Personally I never use jpegs so the in-camera HDR modes aren't really helpful to me. Moreover, I actually find single shot HDR (push/pull shadows and highlights) usually produces a better result than merging multiple shots in PP anyhow. This is especially true of Hi Res shots, although it works fine on regular shots too. This is a regular ORF with -100 highlights and +100 shadows (amongst a few other things):

    35914414896_a56a2b92f3_b.
    The House Beyond the Quay
    by Paul Kaye, on Flickr
     
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  4. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2014
    Maryland
    Loren
    The thing with HDR is that if you use it when you don't have to (i.e., you are not shooting a scene that will clip your highlights, so you can still draw out your shadows and highlights in post), then you are going to get a low contrast, washed out look. Unless you are intentionally going for that or want to tone map, you're misusing the tool; so of course you aren't going to like the results as much as a properly exposed, properly edited single RAW file. If you want a realistic photo, only turn to HDR when the dynamic range is so high that a regular shot can't give you the look you want even after editing. One caveat to this, the noise control of an HDR bracketed image can be better than an edited single shot, so it might still be warranted if the dynamic range is pushing the boundaries, but still within camera limits.

    When doing HDR, just how large the step increments you want to dial in and how many frames you want to take and merge does have an important impact on the output. In that sense, the various HDR options (not talking the in-camera HDR 1 and 2 modes yet) are only some presets that are there for your convenience. Of course, especially when shooting RAW you can fix a lot in post to get it right, so these presets are usually enough. Exposure bracketing gives you the full control, so that while you will still need to merge in post, the result will require the least destructive editing.

    As for the two in-camera modes, that trade off of quality for convenience is even greater -- too much in my opinion. You only now have two HDR presets to choose from, JPEG only, so the likelihood that these are what the scene requires is less, and there is less flexibility to rectify it in post. Then there is the in-camera processor, which has no options and no tone mapping. The quality is okay (not sure I'd say it's as good as what Lightroom, Photomatix Pro or Aurora HDR would do), but you lose the insurance and creative flexibility of RAW. It's like anything JPEG... I've seen some images taken with them look spot-on, but most of the time I would prefer the results if I did it manually. But, if you want a quick and easy shot you can download on the spot, the HDR 1 and 2 modes will do the trick.

    I sometimes shoot HDR (RAW) when I don't have to, knowing I might delete the extra images, just because I like having the extra exposures as options.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
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  5. Mark Clark

    Mark Clark Mu-43 Rookie

    10
    Jul 16, 2017
    Thanks for the responses.
     
  6. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    I totally agree. I've experimented with HDR quite a bit to try and get cleaner shadows. In the end, I've always ended up preferring the look from a heavy push and pull with a single RAW exposure. Some noise in the shadows is much preferable to the inevitable ghosts that I see in fine details from HDR.

    To be fair though, the subject has a lot to do with it. The landscapes near me are all about forests and foliage, so even on a tripod there will always be movement in the leaves that will cause ghosting with multi-exposure HDR.

    If you're shooting distant rocks, mountains, or buildings, you won't have that problem.
     
  7. Growltiger

    Growltiger Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 26, 2014
    UK
    I have found the built-in HDR1 very useful sometimes. In extreme light conditions, with very bright to very dark, the data just isn't there even in the raw file to achieve a good result, no matter how it is processed. Here is an example. This is the result of heavy processing of a raw image taken directly into the setting sun. Before the heavy processing the houses were completely dark.

    0003%20BRIXHAM%20Harbour%20no%20HDR.

    Now below see the improvement using HDR1. One can make out the shape of the sun, and there is lots of detail in the houses. This was so easy to do, a quick handheld shot as the sun was setting.

    0003%20BRIXHAM%20Harbour.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
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  8. Mark Clark

    Mark Clark Mu-43 Rookie

    10
    Jul 16, 2017
    Question: the output from the Oly em1 mark2 is a JPEG HDR and the Raw files that the camera used to produce that JPEG HDR.
     
  9. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2014
    Maryland
    Loren
    What is your question?
     
  10. Growltiger

    Growltiger Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 26, 2014
    UK
    The answer you may be looking for is that if the camera is set to JPG+RAW then you will get one ORF file which is normal, not HDR, and you will get one JPG file, which has been processed from making four exposures. You don't get the four raw files.

    So you lose nothing by trying HDR1 instead of taking a single normal photo, you still have a single ORF to work with if you don't like the HDR1 result.
     
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  11. Greg Lehey

    Greg Lehey New to Mu-43

    9
    May 12, 2017
    Dereel
    Greg Lehey
    You lose the ability to create a useful HDR image, for which you need more than one raw image.
     
  12. Greg Lehey

    Greg Lehey New to Mu-43

    9
    May 12, 2017
    Dereel
    Greg Lehey
    Just seen this thread. I looked at the in-camera HDR facility when the E-M1 Mark I came out, and I found it completely useless. I still do. I wrote it up at the time at Greg's diary--December 2013

    Summary: in-camera HDR sometimes gives better results than no HDR at all. Compared to post-processing, it's useless. My understanding is that it's just not possible to create good HDR in-camera in a timely manner: it takes time.

    One thing that puzzles me: the in-camera HDR takes 4 shots. HDR bracketing takes 3, 5 or 7 images, but not 4. Why?
     
  13. Linden

    Linden Mu-43 Regular

    55
    May 1, 2017
    Knox, TN
    I thought that was interesting as well. Usually with HDR you'd have one "normal" exposure and then over/underexpose to bring back those details, which would always result in an odd number of images. Why the camera uses 4 and how it distributes them, I have no idea.
     
  14. Greg Lehey

    Greg Lehey New to Mu-43

    9
    May 12, 2017
    Dereel
    Greg Lehey
    This is a common misunderstanding. You don't need a "normal" exposure, and if you did, it wouldn't be in the middle of the range. Take a look at the series of 5 that I showed in my diary entry: the most overexposed one is barely recognizable. "Normal" photos try to get as much shadow detail as possible, so they're not in the middle of the range when you're taking HDR: they're pretty much to the right (remember the adage “expose to the right”?). And all an HDR row does is extend the shadow detail.

    A typical sensor has a dynamic range of about 12 EV, so you don't need more than 1 shot about every 6 EV (though I'm not sure how modern software would handle that). I've found that I can get good results on most scenes with 3 shots taken in 3 EV steps, offset by +1.7 EV: -1.3 EV (underexposed), +1.7 EV, +4.7 EV.

    In extreme cases I might need 4 shots, so in that case I might take -2 EV (to be on the safe side, and because I can), +1 EV, +4 EV, +7 EV and +10 EV (because I must).
     
  15. Growltiger

    Growltiger Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 26, 2014
    UK
    What I wrote was "So you lose nothing by trying HDR1 instead of taking a single normal photo, you still have a single ORF to work with if you don't like the HDR1 result."
    So I don't see how your reply makes sense. And why wasn't my photo useful?

    I fully accept that using the full HDR capabilities, allowing HDR in post processing, will always allow more flexibility. But the question was whether the internal HDR processing was any use. And yes, it can be useful.

    Are you using a tripod for your HDR sequences? Like many people I don't carry one.

    Using HDR1 in the camera allows you simply to handhold and take a picture, just like you were taking a single picture. All the exposures happen very quickly and the camera does the alignment of the images as part of the processing.
     
  16. Greg Lehey

    Greg Lehey New to Mu-43

    9
    May 12, 2017
    Dereel
    Greg Lehey
    OK, now I understand. Yes, of course you can create an in-camera HDR image as well as a non-HDR raw image. But I was thinking that maybe you wanted a useful HDR image.

    Your photo is nicely composed, and it's one of the few I've seen where the in-camera HDR was really better than the non-HDR version. But with HDR bracketing you would have got a much better image.

    Normally I use a tripod, but that's just because it gives better results. I've taken plenty of HDRs without, and I can't recall where it has been a problem. The issue is just how long it takes to take the images, and in fact it's faster to take a 3 image bracket than a 4 image bracket.

    Yes, this applies whether you're processing in-camera or post-processing. But if you're going to do it, I'd recommend HDR2, which produces marginally better results.
     
  17. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2014
    Maryland
    Loren
    A few points:

    I'm not sure I understand your point that you don't need a normal exposure to go along with brighter and darker exposures. You are assuming exposing to the right, which is not something cameras do on their own. Camera metering finds the middle grey exposure for the spot or area (depending on metering mode) you are pointing at. Most modes average that out to varying degrees with the surroundings, but prioritizes the metered area. Of course you are going to want to have some of your image exposed correctly in camera - preferably the main parts of the image. I can't see how exposing to the right is even necessary with HDR. You are already getting the brighter shadows with your higher exposure. As you pointed out, you are just wasting your higher exposure(s) when you use ETTR and HDR.

    HDR 2 does not necessarily provide better results than HDR 1. It is only a more aggressive step increment between exposures, while HDR 1 is a very mild level. If the dynamic range is only slightly greater than what the camera can produce, use HDR 1. If it is more extreme, use HDR 2.

    Personally, I don't think a tripod is all that necessary with most HDR (in camera or otherwise) because of IBIS and because editing software has become very good at aligning hand-held images. If the exposures are particularly long, however, a tripod is a good idea.
     
  18. Greg Lehey

    Greg Lehey New to Mu-43

    9
    May 12, 2017
    Dereel
    Greg Lehey
    OK, it seems that my use of “expose to the right” is out of date. It seems to have morphed since the beginning of the digital age. Let's drop that term. What I meant was: normal automatic exposure tries to expose as much as possible without burning out the highlights. As long as the highlights are preserved, less exposure doesn't really help, because there's nothing brighter to catch. In extreme situations automatic exposure can burn out a little, so to be on the safe side, I expose 1.7 EV to 2 EV less for the least exposed image.

    On the other hand, the whole principle of HDR imaging is based on the fact that the dynamic range of the camera sensor is less than the dynamic range you want to capture. The shadows are washed out. So you want images with more exposure to bring light into the darkness. That means more exposure than the “normal” exposure, sometimes much more exposure. Look again at the first series of 5 exposures at Greg's diary--December 2013, which start with a “normal” exposure.

    My point is that both HDR1 and HDR2 are as good as useless. HDR2 is simply slightly less useless than HDR1. See another example at Greg's diary--October 2015

    Yes, you're probably right. Most of my HDR shots are taken as part of a panorama, and there you do need a tripod, not to avoid camera shake, but to avoid parallax.
     
  19. Growltiger

    Growltiger Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 26, 2014
    UK
    I don't know why you keep repeating that HDR1 is as good as useless when I have clearly shown you above that it isn't.

    You correctly say that taking bracketed exposures and post processing them on a computer allows more flexibility and is the best way to do it. But this doesn't mean that for many people using HDR1 won't give them a good result, very very easily.

    Your attitude seems rather like saying that no one should ever take JPG photos because they can be more assured of better results by taking raw and processing them afterwards.
     
  20. Greg Lehey

    Greg Lehey New to Mu-43

    9
    May 12, 2017
    Dereel
    Greg Lehey
    You've shown one example, and I'm sure that other techniques would have produced far superior results. I have other examples where they seem to be even worse than without, this time under controlled conditions: Greg's diary--May 2017

    Maybe in-camera HDR just doesn't like me, but I have never had a better result with it. And why risk it? In the case of the photo you mention above, you could have taken a 3 shot bracket and got better results. If the camera were to save the component images, like the E-M1s do for focus stacking, it might be a good compromise, but currently if you take HDR1 or HDR2, you lose the opportunity to do anything better.

    Yes, agreed. JPEGs are only useful if the camera can't do anything else. How many photos do you take and publish out of the camera with no processing at all? So what is the advantage of taking JPEGs?