Before the Coffee

DSLR Cameras for HDR

One of the essential features that a camera must have for HDR photography is exposure compensation. At a minimum, the camera should allow you to manually change the exposure settings with relative ease. This will allow a camera mounted on a tripod to shoot HDR images. Trying to handhold and shoot HDR using exposure compensation is pretty much impossible because you have to fumble through the dials. That’s where Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) comes in. AEB is ESSENTIAL for handheld shooting as it allows you to fire off the entire HDR image set by pressing the shutter release for each image. No fumbling needed, just preset the camera, compose the image and press for each release of the shutter.

Another great feature to use with AEB is Continuous Shooting mode. With Continuous Shooting activated the camera will shoot all the frames continuously while HOLDING the shutter release down. This allows for steadier handholding and because of the rapid fire, helps reduce ghosting. Don’t get carried away about spending more money on a camera for HDR just for the high frames per second. Not worth it.

Today’s DSLRs have AEB but some don’t cover enough dynamic range. At a minimum the camera in AEB mode should capture a range of at least 4EV (see column 5). That means at least a +2EV and a –2EV image is created in the exposure set. Canon, some of the Nikon’s, Pentax, and the Fuji S3 Pro are able to shoot this sequence by taking 3 images at 2EV spacing. The high-end Nikon’s and Fuji S5 Pro, require 5 images at 1EV spacing but still capture the same dynamic range. A camera with 3 frames @ 1EV spacing isn’t going to allow enough dynamic range in AEB mode. If you have one of these camera’s, all is not lost, just use a tripod and dial in the exposure each time.

Some DSLRs allow you to choose the order of bracketing, for example, Meter/Under/Over. What’s the best? The best order of bracketing is Meter/Under/Over. The Under and Over exposed images are essential to HDR and when shot in succession with little time gap, can reduce ghosting. Just omit the Metered exposure and merge-to-HDR the Under and Over images. If they were shot in continuous shooting mode, all the better.

HANDHELD TECHNIQUE

Even if your HDR software can align images, when handheld shooting  good techniques are still needed. When shooting handheld concentrate on being steady. Look through the viewfinder and use one of the etch marks in the viewer and lock it on a feature in the scene. Press the shutter release on hold steady for all the shots.

Before you pay the full price, my Photomatix tutorial has a discount coupon for the program.

Camera Recording Format AEB Frames & Range AEB Max Spacing Maximum EV range in AEB mode Exposure compen-
sation (dialed-in)
Maximum Frames per second
Canon
EOS-1D Mark IV
JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames up to 3EV spacing, Can change to 2, 5 or 7 frames
5 frames@2EV: (-4, -2, 0, +2 +4)ev
7 frames@2EV: (-6, -4, -2, 0, +2, +4, +6)ev
Meter/Under/Over
Under/Meter/Over
3 EV spacing

1 or 2EV spacing is sufficient for HDR

18 EV

Note: The tick marks of the entire EV range are displayed in the rear LCD panel.

+/- 3 stops 10 fps
Canon
EOS-1DS Mark III
JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames up to 3EV spacing, Can change to 2, 5 or 7 frames
5 frames @ 2EV: (-4, -2, 0, +2 +4)ev
7 frames @ 2EV: (-6, -4, -2, 0, +2, +4, +6)ev
Meter/Under/Over
Under/Meter/Over
3 EV spacing

1 or 2EV spacing is sufficient for HDR

18 EV

Note: The tick marks are indicated up to +/-3EV in the top display only, however all frames are taken, no rear display.

+/- 3 stops 5 fps
Canon
EOS-1D Mark III
JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames up to 3EV spacing, Can change to 2, 5 or 7 frames
5 frames @ 2EV: (-4, -2, 0, +2 +4)ev
7 frames @ 2EV: (-6, -4, -2, 0, +2, +4, +6)ev
Meter/Under/Over
Under/Meter/Over
3 EV spacing

1 or 2EV spacing is sufficient for HDR

18 EV

Note: The tick marks are indicated up to +/-3EV in the top display only, however all frames are taken, no rear display.

+/- 3 stops 10 fps
Canon
EOS-1Ds Mark II
JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames up to 3EV spacing, Can change to 2, 5 or 7 frames but REQUIRES tether to computer, personal functions
5 frames @ 2EV: (-4, -2, 0, +2 +4)ev
7 frames @ 2EV: (-6, -4, -2, 0, +2, +4, +6)ev
Meter/Under/Over
Under/Meter/Over
3 EV spacing

1 or 2EV spacing is sufficient for HDR

18 EV

Note: The tick marks are indicated up to +/-3EV in the top display only, however all frames are taken, no rear display.

+/- 3 stops 4 fps
Canon

EOS-1D Mark II N

JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames up to 3EV spacing, Can change to 2, 5 or 7 frames but REQUIRES tether to computer, personal functions
5 frames @ 2EV: (-4, -2, 0, +2 +4)ev
7 frames @ 2EV: (-6, -4, -2, 0, +2, +4, +6)ev
Meter/Under/Over
Under/Meter/Over
3 EV spacing

1 or 2EV spacing is sufficient for HDR

18 EV

Note: The tick marks are indicated up to +/-3EV in the top display only, however all frames are taken, no rear display.

+/- 3 stops 8.5 fps
Canon

EOS 7D

JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames up to 3EV spacing
Meter/Under/Over
Under/Meter/Over
3 EV spacing 6 EV +/-5 stops 8 fps
Canon

EOS 5D Mark II

JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames up to 2EV spacing
Meter/Under/Over
Under/Meter/Over
2 EV spacing 4 EV +/-2 stops 3.9 fps
Canon

EOS 5D

JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames up to 2EV spacing
Meter/Under/Over
Under/Meter/Over
2 EV spacing 4 EV +/-2 stops 3 fps
Canon

EOS 50D

JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames up to 2EV spacing
Meter/Under/Over
Under/Meter/Over
3 EV spacing 4 EV +/-5 stops 6.3 fps
Canon

EOS 40D

JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames up to 2EV spacing
Meter/Under/Over
Under/Meter/Over
2 EV spacing 4 EV +/-2 stops 6.5 fps
Canon

EOS 30D

JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames up to 2EV spacing
Meter/Under/Over
Under/Meter/Over
2 EV spacing 4 EV +/-2 stops 5 fps
Canon

EOS Rebel T2i

JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames up to 2EV spacing
Meter/Under/Over
2 EV spacing 4 EV +/-5 stops – only displays +/-2 stops 3.7 fps
Canon

EOS Rebel T1i

JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames up to 2EV spacing
Meter/Under/Over
2 EV spacing 4 EV +/-2 stops 3.4 fps
Canon

EOS Rebel XSi

JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames up to 2EV spacing
Meter/Under/Over
2 EV spacing 4 EV +/-2 stops 3.5 fps
Canon

EOS Rebel XS

JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames up to 2EV spacing
Meter/Under/Over
2 EV spacing 4 EV +/-2 stops 3 fps
Canon

Digital Rebel Xti

JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames up to 2EV spacing
Meter/Under/Over
2 EV spacing 4 EV +/-2 stops 3 fps
Canon

Digital Rebel XT

JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames up to 2EV spacing
Meter/Under/Over
2 EV spacing 4 EV +/-2 stops 3 fps
Canon

PowerShot G7

JPEG 3 frames up to 2EV spacing
Meter/Under/Over
2 EV spacing 4 EV +/- 2stops 2 fps
Canon

PowerShot S3 IS

JPEG 3 frames @ 2EV spacing Meter/Under/Over 2 EV spacing 4 EV +/- 2stops 2 fps
Canon

PowerShot TX1

JPEG No AEB No AEB No AEB +/-2 stops 2 fps
Nikon
D3, D3s, D3x
JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames (-1, 0, +1) EV
5 frames (-2, -1, 0 +1, +2)EV
7 frames (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3)EV
9 frames (-4, -3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3, +4)EV
Can change order from
Meter/Under/Over
Under/Meter/Over
1 EV spacing 8 EV +/-5 stops 4-7 fps

depends on format chosen, FX, DX, 5:4

Nikon
D700
JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames (-1, 0, +1) EV
5 frames (-2, -1, 0 +1, +2)EV
7 frames (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3)EV
9 frames (-4, -3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3, +4)EV
Can change order from
Meter/Under/Over
Under/Meter/Over
1 EV spacing 8 EV +/-5 stops 4-5 fps

depends on format chosen, FX or DX

Nikon
D300
JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames (-1, 0, +1) EV
5 frames (-2, -1, 0 +1, +2)EV
7 frames (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3)EV
9 frames (-4, -3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3, +4)EV
Can change order from
Meter/Under/Over
Under/Meter/Over
1 EV spacing 8 EV +/-5 stops 6 fps

8fps w/ battery pack

D300S=7fps

Nikon D2X JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames (-1, 0, +1) EV
5 frames (-2, -1, 0 +1, +2)EV
7 frames (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3)EV
9 frames (-4, -3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3, +4)EV
Can change order from
Meter/Under/Over
Under/Meter/Over
1 EV spacing 8 EV +/-5 stops 8 fps
Nikon D2Xs JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames (-1, 0, +1) EV
5 frames (-2, -1, 0 +1, +2)EV
7 frames (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3)EV
9 frames (-4, -3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3, +4)EV
Can change order from
Meter/Under/Over
Under/Meter/Over
1 EV spacing 8 EV +/-5 stops 8 fps
Nikon D2Hs JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames (-1, 0, +1) EV
5 frames (-2, -1, 0 +1, +2)EV
7 frames (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3)EV
9 frames (-4, -3, -2, -1, 0,+1, +2, +3, +4)EV
Can change order from
Meter/Under/Over
Under/Meter/Over
1 EV spacing 8 EV +/-5 stops 8 fps
Nikon D200 JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames (-1, 0, +1) EV
5 frames (-2, -1, 0 +1, +2)EV
7 frames (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3)EV
9 frames (-4, -3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3, +4)EV
Meter/Under/Over
Under/Meter/Over
1 EV spacing 8 EV +/-5 stops 5 fps
Nikon
D90
JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames @ 1.0EV spacing
Nikon, Why would you do this?
3 frames (-1, 0, +1) EV
Can change order from
Meter/Under/Over
Under/Meter/Over
1 EV spacing 3 EV +/-5 stops 4.5 fps
Nikon

D5000

JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames @ 2.0EV spacing
Meter/under/over
Under/meter/over
2 EV spacing 4 EV +/-5 stops 4 fps
Nikon

D3000

JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG No AEB No AEB No AEB +/-5 stops 3 fps
Nikon D80 JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames @ 2.0EV spacing
Meter/under/over
Under/meter/over
2 EV spacing 4 EV +/-5 stops 3 fps
Nikon D70s JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames @ 2.0EV spacing Meter/Under/Over 2 EV spacing 4 EV +/-5 stops 3 fps
Nikon D50 JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames @ 2.0EV spacing Meter/Under/Over 2 EV spacing 4 EV +/-5 stops
Nikon D40 JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG No AEB No AEB No AEB +/-5 stops 3 fps
Pentax K-7 JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 5 frames @ 2.0EV spacing
Meter/Under/Over
Under/Meter/Over
2 EV spacing 8 EV +/-5 EV stops 5.2 fps
Pentax K-X JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames @ 3.0EV spacing
Meter/Under/Over
Under/Meter/Over
3 EV spacing 6 EV +/-3 EV stops 4.7 fps
Pentax K10D JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 5 frames @ 2.0EV spacing
Meter/Under/Over
Under/Meter/Over
2 EV spacing 8 EV +/-3 EV stops 3 fps
Pentax K100D JPEG and RAW 3 frames 2.0EV
Meter/Under/Over
Under/Meter/Over
2 EV spacing 4 EV +/-2EV stops 3 fps
Pentax K110D JPEG and RAW 3 frames 2.0EV
Meter/Under/Over
Under/Meter/Over
2 EV spacing 4 EV +/-2EV stops 3 fps
Fuji Fine Pix HS10 JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames (-1, 0, +1) EV
Meter/Under/Over
Under/Meter/Over
1 EV spacing 3 EV +/-2 stops 7 fps
Fuji Fine Pix S5 Pro JPEG and RAW 3 frames (-1, 0, +1) EV
5 frames (-2, -1, 0 +1, +2)EV
7 frames (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3)EV
9 frames (-4, -3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3, +4)EV
Meter/Under/Over
Under/Meter/Over
1 EV spacing 8 EV +/-5 stops 3 fps
Fuji FinePix S3 Pro JPEG and RAW 3 frames @ 2EV spacing 2 EV spacing 4 EV +/-3EV stops 2.5 fps
Fuji FinePix S9600 JPEG and RAW 3 frames @ 1EV spacing
Meter/Over/Under
1 EV spacing 2 EV +/-2EV stops 1.5 fps
Fuji Fine Pix S9000/S9500 JPEG and RAW 3 frames @ 1EV spacing
Meter/Over/Under
1 EV spacing 2 EV +/-2EV stops
Fuji FinePix S6000fd/6500fd JPEG and RAW 3 frames @ 1EV spacing
Meter/Over/Under
1 EV spacing 2 EV +/-2EV stops 2.2 fps
Olympus E-3 JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames @ 1EV spacing
5 frames @ 1EV spacing
1 EV spacing 4 EV +/-5EV stops 5 fps
Olympus E-620 JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames @ 1EV spacing 1 EV spacing 4 EV +/-5EV stops 4 fps
Olympus E-30 JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames @ 1EV spacing
5 frames @ 1EV spacing
1 EV spacing 4 EV +/-5EV stops 5 fps
Olympus E-1 JPEG and RAW 3 frames @ 1EV spacing
5 frames @ 1EV spacing
1 EV spacing 4 EV +/-5EV stops 3 fps
Olympus E-330 JPEG and RAW 3 frames @ 1EV spacing 1 EV spacing 2 EV +/-5EV stops 3 fps
Olympus E-500 JPEG and RAW 3 frames @ 1EV spacing 1 EV spacing 2 EV +/-5EV stops 2.5 fps
Olympus E-410 JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames @ 1EV spacing 1 EV spacing 2 EV +/-5EV stops 3 fps
Olympus E-510 JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames @ 1EV spacing 1 EV spacing 2 EV +/-5EV stops 3 fps
Sony A900 JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames @ .7 EV spacing
5 frames @ .7 EV spacing
.7 EV spacing 2.8 EV ? 5 fps
Sony A850 JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames @ .7 EV spacing
5 frames @ .7 EV spacing
.7 EV spacing 2.8 EV ? 5 fps
Sony A100H JPEG and RAW, RAW+JPEG 3 frames @ .7EVspacing .7 EV spacing 1.4 EV +/-2EV stops 3 fps

Copyright 2010 Ferrell McCollough

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13 Comments »

  1. Ferrell,

    Excellent presentation at the SSCCon Thursday. You got me really interested in the HDR process, and your tutorials on your web site are excellent. I look forward to doing some of my own soon.

    You mention that CS3 will also do HDR but have not said much on your website about it. Is the process similar to what you show for Photomatrix? Will it do as good a job with HDR as Photomatix?

    Thanks again.

    Don Becker
    http://www.donbeckerphoto.com (currently switching servers so may not be available or completed)
    http://www.ballet-photography.com

    Comment by Don Becker — May 14, 2007 @ 5:47 pm

  2. Ferrell,

    Nice presentation. Nice pictures from down under.

    Comment by Bill Conway — July 25, 2007 @ 12:01 am

  3. very helpful list. I’m new to DSLR and definitley want one w/ AEB. What about the Nikon D40x?

    Comment by erik west — September 6, 2007 @ 3:41 pm

  4. Nice blog! The following tip:

    “What’s the best? The best order of bracketing is Meter/Under/Over. The Under and Over exposed images are essential to HDR and when shot in succession with little time gap, can reduce ghosting.”

    is simply GOLDEN! I’ve read many tutorials on HDR and none made such a simple point about exposure order so clear… I always used to shoot under/meter/over just so sorting thumbnails made sense but not any more!

    Thanks for the great tutorials!

    Comment by oktyabr — November 13, 2007 @ 2:38 pm

  5. HDR looks very very fun. I’ve always wanted to create pictures that capture most of what we see, but thought it just wasn’t possible. I stumbled on this site and WOW!, I’m looking forward to creating my own HDR images. I’m new to the DSLR game and, as it turns out, I bought the only DSLR listed above that does not have AEB! I like the D40, but had I known this, I would have saved up for the D80. I can still get the LDRs I need, but it’ll just be a little more difficult.

    I don’t think the D40x has AEB either. Same camera, just more pixels.

    Comment by scott — April 28, 2008 @ 6:48 pm

  6. The Canon EOS-1D Mark II N can also be set for 5 or 7 shots. At 3 EV spacing this will give you a 18 EV AEB range just like the Mark III.

    Comment by Avernar — July 4, 2008 @ 2:24 am

  7. Amazing information! And even more amazing photos.
    Have you heard anything about the Canon EOS 5D Mark II when it comes to creating HDR images

    Comment by EOS? — December 14, 2008 @ 4:43 pm

  8. I currently use the 5D MK II (as well as the 1D MK II N) and it works great for HDR, same as the original 5D – AEB, 2EV spacing, selection of meter/under/over or under/meter/over

    Comment by Jim Caldwell — May 7, 2009 @ 11:43 am

  9. Good compare information for DSLR Camera.
    Thank you for article.

    Comment by Digital SLR Camera reviews — June 30, 2009 @ 1:03 pm

  10. Konica Minolta 7d Dynax ?!
    Btw: great pictures !

    Comment by Eef Berkers — December 11, 2009 @ 5:28 pm

  11. […] DSLR Cameras for HDR " Before the Coffee […]

    Pingback by links for 2010-06-16 | Mastermesh's Delicious Links — June 16, 2010 @ 8:33 pm

  12. Great presentation. A really useful decision aid. I am surprised the Nikon D90 only brackets 1 stop each side of meter – seems primitive for such a sophisticated camera.

    Comment by William — August 12, 2010 @ 5:48 am

  13. […] place to start.  I could easily do a 50 page thesis on cameras for HDR, but in this case, I think google knows best.  I will keep it as short as possible […]

    Pingback by HDRI Basics – Part II:The Tools — September 9, 2010 @ 4:24 am


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