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hepcat

Exposure compensation-ETTR on the M9/M9P?

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I've been shooting away fat dumb and happy all these years letting the in camera metering on my DSLRs read and translate the exposure, either using auto functions or manual just like I did for years with film. Recently, I've read about ETTR (Expose To The Right) for digital and find the advice makes sense logically. I've run into some conflicting advice here and from other sources, and since this is a little outside my wheelhouse I thought I'd ask for a little M9-specific advice on the subject.

 

As some of you may know toward the end of 2012 I returned to Leica with the M8 and now have both M8 and M9P bodies. As I'm continuing to get more and more familiar with the nuances of the M9P particularly. In my quest to use the M9 more effectively, I've read exhaustively about ETTR in digital and the recommendation in that camp seems generally to be to dial in about +2/3 exposure compensation as a starting point and then use manual for more if necessary.

 

Then, in going through many of the reviews and suggestions specifically with the M9, I find that many users set their exposure compensation at -1/3 stop as their normal starting point for deep color saturation.

 

So... hence my confusion. I've experimented a little with both and see some value in pulling the histogram to the left in test images I've done ETTR.

 

So, my question is specifically about the M9 sensor and the way it responds. Is ETTR a better way to shoot with the M9, or does it not really make much difference, or should I be underexposing by that 1/3 stop? When folks talk about that 1/3 stop underexposure to deepen the colors, are they doing that for .jpgs rather than raw?

 

I'm sure I'll be getting some conflicting opinions here, but that's ok... I'm really curious to find out how others of you handle this specifically with the M9/M9P and what has been successful for you. Thanks!

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Yes, thanks. I'd read that thread, and your contributions to it, the articles it refers to in the early posts, and a number of others as well on the subject. I found it interesting that particular thread ran for over a year apparently without a definitive consensus. One camp says it makes sense to use ETTR, and the other says a normal distribution histogram works fine and even allows for underexposure.

 

I suppose I should mention that I am not one of those who minds blown highlights at all... as a matter of fact, it's a technique I use frequently.

 

I understand the theory behind both methods, but I guess my question remains... does ETTR actually retain a significant enough amount of data in the files that it's worth the effort to shoot that way? I'm not so much concerned about theory, but among those who have tried and compared both methods, as a practical matter does ETTR clearly produce raw images that hold significantly more detail for the M9 or not? If it's only a marginal improvement, then I probably won't bother and I can resort to my old, comfortable tried-and-true ways of shooting. If it does make a big difference, then I'll learn to adjust my shooting style... but I'd like to be able to learn vicariously what works better rather than having to reinvent the wheel for myself on this one, and from what I've read is there a consensus or does the jury still seem to be out?

 

Thanks again!

Edited by hepcat

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I understand the theory behind both methods, but I guess my question remains... does ETTR actually retain a significant enough amount of data in the files that it's worth the effort to shoot that way? I'm not so much concerned about theory, but among those who have tried and compared both methods, as a practical matter does ETTR clearly produce raw images that hold significantly more detail for the M9 or not? If it's only a marginal improvement, then I probably won't bother and I can resort to my old, comfortable tried-and-true ways of shooting. If it does make a big difference, then I'll learn to adjust my shooting style... but I'd like to be able to learn vicariously what works better rather than having to reinvent the wheel for myself on this one, and from what I've read is there a consensus or does the jury still seem to be out?

I've tried ETTR and centred histogram shooting over the years and concluded that its a trade off. If you object to noise in the shadows then use ETTR. If you dislike (usually minor) colour shifts shoot with a centred histogram. FWIW I still use both methods depending on subject matter and final usage. IMHO there is no correct answer and both methods work if used intelligently. If you are happy with the system you already use then so be it, learning a new system probably isn't going to change your images dramatically.

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I reread that thread we were referred to up to post #100 or so again.

 

One comment made there very much disturbed me. That was to push the histogram all the way to the right edge. Problem is by doing this there is a chance your histogram might have some additional data that is off the right side of the histogram that you do not see. This is especially true when using the RGB histogram. I no longer squeeze every last bit all the way to the edge, but find nudging in that direction suits me well.

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I've tried ETTR and centred histogram shooting over the years and concluded that its a trade off. If you object to noise in the shadows then use ETTR. If you dislike (usually minor) colour shifts shoot with a centred histogram. FWIW I still use both methods depending on subject matter and final usage. IMHO there is no correct answer and both methods work if used intelligently. If you are happy with the system you already use then so be it, learning a new system probably isn't going to change your images dramatically.

 

Thanks Paul, and I really appreciate all of the replies. After wading through all that information and doing the little bit of experimenting I've done, your comment confirms what my experience seems to be. There are folks who are adamant about there position on both sides of the issue, and my experience seems to tell me that shooting for a normal distribution seems to work nicely, so I was afraid that I was just plain missing something.

 

Again, thanks.

 

Roger

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Guest Duane Pandorf

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First of all I don't use Exposure Compensation per se. If I'm taking a photo where the scene is not changing rapidly I will take a shot, check the shutter speed along with the histogram and if required manually set the shutter to compensate.

 

I have my histogram setup to show clipping to ensure I'm not losing any data. I don't know if I ETTR but if you don't want noise in the shadows you're going to have to keep more of the data to the right.

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I also have read the ETTR debates and when all is said and done I end up with my general rule to treat digital sensors like transparency film. That is, it is almost always better not to blow highlights as shadows are easier to recover. I say almost always because there is no photo exposure rule -this one or ETTR - that applies 100 % of the time. That includes the famous zone system, which makes my head hurt.

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