OMD EM-1's HDR feature

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by jamespetts, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    803
    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    After my previous adventures in the land of HDR with an E-P3, which were not entirely successful (the non-HDR versions always looked better), I have had another go at HDR, this time with the E-M1 and its much easier built-in HDR feature.

    I took some photographs in my local park at sunset, and these seem to have come out fairly well (although I missed the best place to be for the best part of the sunset, as I forgot to take into account that buildings would effectively bring the sunset forwards by, in this case, about ten minutes):

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    Ruskin Park at sunset by James E. Petts, on Flickr

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    Sunset view from Ruskin Park by James E. Petts, on Flickr


    Sunset view from Ruskin Park by James E. Petts, on Flickr

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    Ruskin Park at sunset by James E. Petts, on Flickr

    What I particularly like about the EM-1's HDR feature is that it combines the multiple exposures into a RAW file, which means that I can easily edit the result in Lightroom (whereas, with the E-P3, I either had to combine the RAW files in a third party application that, amongst other things, did not apply the lens profile corrections, or alternatively process each input image in Lightroom into a JPEG or TIFF then process those together in the third party application). The results seem pleasing, with good shadow detail and much lower shadow noise than when increasing brightness in the shadows with a single exposure RAW file, and there is good detail in the highlights, too. The effect of combining them in Lightroom in this way is a much more natural look than something like the Mantiuk06 algorithm.

    One unfortunate side effect of HDR, however, is that it is necessary to mount the camera on a tripod, which greatly increases the weight and bulk of the arrangement (my tripod is quite tall and sturdy, but really rather heavy, despite being made of aluminium). I thought of taking a small Gorillapod, which might have worked well for some of the lower angle photographs, but perhaps not so well for photographs such as this one:

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    The Shard at dusk by James E. Petts, on Flickr

    I also tried balancing the exposure with off-camera flash for a foreground object (using the FL-600R), but with less success:

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    Ruskin Park at sunset by James E. Petts, on Flickr

    (There has been some considerable compensation in Lightroom for the very brightly lit log in the foreground compared to the background here). Also, it seems not to be possible to use flash with HDR, which is a pity (it could, of course, be done manually). Oddly, the flash either made the front part of the log very bright indeed or had almost no effect at all (but did fire). I did not have time to fine tune this more as I did not want to miss the sunset.

    I should be interested in others' views on how useful that they have found the EM-1's built in HDR feature and the situations in which it has proved useful, and also any tips for processing the resulting images in Lightroom.