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The usability of Olympus' "cooked" HDR mode (JPG)

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by owczi, Sep 9, 2016.

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  1. owczi

    owczi nareteV 34-uM

    I was wondering what people's opinions were on the HDR mode present in the E-M1 and later models. I nearly always work with RAWs (although started exporting jpegs straight from the OI.Share app recently) - so I mostly don't care, but sometimes I need a 1+ exposure picture there and now and I don't have the time and gear with me to process it. No matter how hard I try, the built-in HDR functionality always produces dull, washed-out results. They are technically HDR, but the histograms are awfully flat - whereas to me they should just have the extremes nicely combined to look pleasant. They are not the spaced out crap HDR the web is flooded with, but they are terribly, terribly bland with low contrast - and frankly, the HDR output from my girlfriend's iPhone always looks better.

    Has anybody had positive experiences with OM-D in-camera HDR modes?
     
  2. Giiba

    Giiba Something to someone somewhere

    274
    Aug 19, 2016
    Burnaby, BC
    I feel the same as you, the results aren't worth the mode switch. Mediocre at best.

    Plus Oly knee-capped the HDR bracketing by forcing high speed frame rate, and preventing use of a shutter delay meaning I get mis-aligned shots even when using a tripod.

    You would think with clever use of the ibis you could handhold very nice HDR shots, like I can get nice focus stacks handheld (which seems technically harder....)
     
  3. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    I agree. I rarely use HDR merging and when I do I do it in PS or Hugin. The JPGs from the camera always look wrong. Generally speaking, you can push shadows 3-stop or so in a single raw and that's usually as good as merging anyhow without the challenges that merging brings.
     
  4. owczi

    owczi nareteV 34-uM

    Right. A few years ago I did a very decent night photo out of 9 or 10 exposures ("manual" bracketing, E-P2) and merged them in Paint Shop Pro, and it looked quite natural. Just makes me wonder about what Oly did - what's the point. They need a smarter algorithm or otherwise they might as well just drop the feature. Sometimes the results are OK-ish, but anytime I try it with a nature landscape, especially with lots of green foliage, it looks useless, and the only thing I want is to recover some highlights and bring some light into the picture. Oh well. I think part of the problem may be that both modes take too many frames and merge them all (I think). They should only reach as far as highlights and shadows go - just slightly below the maxima, not to bring the extremes to half the maximum brightness.
     
  5. Growltiger

    Growltiger Mu-43 Top Veteran

    644
    Mar 26, 2014
    UK
    I have had some excellent results using HDR 1. The output has needed a bit of post processing to make it perfect, but the feature means you start with an image that contains all the data, and even starting with a raw image doesn't give you the same spread of data from light to dark.
     
  6. Rick F

    Rick F Mu-43 Regular

    125
    Jul 5, 2015
    UK
    Rick
    I also struggle with HDR1. It lacks sparkle and resolution as mentioned previously. I also tried it last weekend in woodland with bland results. Maybe it'd be better for city, or night shots.
     
  7. DoofClenas

    DoofClenas Who needs a Mirror!

    943
    Nov 9, 2012
    Traverse City, MI
    Clint
    I'd rather control everything with my editing programs...the built in HDR looks terrible.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  8. Growltiger

    Growltiger Mu-43 Top Veteran

    644
    Mar 26, 2014
    UK
    OK, here then is an example of using HDR1 mode. This is a scene with such extreme dynamic range that processing a raw file still wasn't enough. Without HDR the houses and boats were all black with no detail and the sky was washed out. But with HDR1 mode you have the bright setting sun, and the dark detail of the boats. Thanks to HDR1 mode it was easy to take a handheld photo that captures it all. But I agree that you need to use it only when appropriate.

    0003%20BRIXHAM%20Harbour.JPG
     
    • Like Like x 7
    • Informative Informative x 1
  9. runner girl

    runner girl Mu-43 Regular

    192
    Nov 26, 2011
    I tested this tonight. I've never been a fan of the in-camera HDR on my EM5 MKII or EM10 MK2. I took a bunch of shots at around sunset. When processed, the HDR1 shots were better than the 5 exposures processed in LR CC HDR merge. I prefer the results when I export to 32 bit in HDR Soft but it is a slow and tedious process. In the case of my test tonight the 32 bit processing yielded only a slightly better result than the HDR1 - probably so slight that I'd be the only one to notice. I'm thinking I'll set a MySet for this to continue testing this vs the five exposure HDR.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Rick F

    Rick F Mu-43 Regular

    125
    Jul 5, 2015
    UK
    Rick
    I wonder if it's worth turning the IS off before using HDR1? The images never seem that sharp when I use it. I don't know if the programme switches it off when selecting HDR1. Might be worth a try.
     
  11. Growltiger

    Growltiger Mu-43 Top Veteran

    644
    Mar 26, 2014
    UK
    Mine are perfectly sharp, and I use IS. (See above)
    You mustn't have subject movement, so no wind in the trees.
    You need to hold the camera very steady to help it as much as you can with the alignment.
    Check your shutter speed is adequate, that was taken at 1/320. Remember you are taking 8 photos, so anything that changes in 8 times shutter speed will cause blur.
     
  12. Rick F

    Rick F Mu-43 Regular

    125
    Jul 5, 2015
    UK
    Rick
    Mine HDR's do usually involve lots of foliage so I happily agree there can be issues in that scenario.
     
  13. KBeezie

    KBeezie Mu-43 Top Veteran

    694
    Sep 15, 2012
    Grand Rapids, Mi
    Karl Blessing
    Same here, the results given are best for just general consumers.
    On higher end models, I would rather see that physical button used for something else, especially programmable to my choice.

    A feature like that can stay in a Scene Mode submenu. Like others have mentioned, I'm doing actual HDR in post from my multiple exposures and bracketing.

    Even using the free (sans photoshop cost) Nik Suite's HDR EFex Plugin on a single raw file would produce better results than being stuck with the in-camera jpeg.
     
  14. Growltiger

    Growltiger Mu-43 Top Veteran

    644
    Mar 26, 2014
    UK
    That just isn't so. The exposure range on a RAW file is less than the series of exposures in HDR1 mode. I tested exactly this using a single RAW file and I assure you was not possible to make the image I showed you above on this page in #8. It had a huge range from very dark shadow which looked almost black to the eye to the bright setting sun itself in the photo.

    I agree that one could get better technical results taking a number of images with different exposures and combining them using HDR processing on the computer. But then I would have needed to carry a tripod. And that is why this is a useful feature.

    A similar case is with Focus Stacking in the camera. Yes, Focus Bracketing using a computer can be better. But again you need a tripod and it is all more complicated and slow.
     
  15. Giiba

    Giiba Something to someone somewhere

    274
    Aug 19, 2016
    Burnaby, BC
    You have me curious to test this feature again. If Oly purposely avoids over-doing the HDR effect to let you adjust it in PP I'll be sold. I would rather add contrast and drama while processing than have the camera overcook as it does with the HDR2 mode.
     
  16. Growltiger

    Growltiger Mu-43 Top Veteran

    644
    Mar 26, 2014
    UK
    I agree. My image received some tweaking in PP to perfect it, but the important point for me of using HDR1 was to capture all the data so that I could show all elements of the image in a natural way.

    I have never found any circumstances where HDR2 is needed. The results always look dreadful to my eye. But then I don't like most people's HDR results anyway, they usually look horribly cooked and unnatural to me.
     
  17. mcasan

    mcasan Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 26, 2014
    Atlanta
    I use in camera HDR only to give me an idea of possibilities. When I am serious, I run the raw files into Aurora.
     
  18. KBeezie

    KBeezie Mu-43 Top Veteran

    694
    Sep 15, 2012
    Grand Rapids, Mi
    Karl Blessing
    You perhaps misunderstand me when you said "The exposure range on a RAW file", implies I only took one raw file, as opposed to taking 7+ exposures bracketed (As RAW), and then processing them in HDR Efex.

    I wasn't talking about HDR Toning a single Raw file.
     
  19. Growltiger

    Growltiger Mu-43 Top Veteran

    644
    Mar 26, 2014
    UK
    But you wrote "Even using the free (sans photoshop cost) Nik Suite's HDR EFex Plugin on a single raw file would produce better results than being stuck with the in-camera jpeg."

    I explained that is not so. The single HDR1 generated JPEG can contain much more information, across the full exposure range, than a single RAW file. I think my photo demonstrates that, and I also doubt you could possibly tell that wasn't made from a group of bracketed RAW files.

    Naturally I agree that if you exposure bracket with a lot of RAW files, using a tripod, then you have the potential to get even better results.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1