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Thread: Nikon Active D Lighting

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    Member Rob Morice's Avatar
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    Nikon Active D Lighting

    Sorry if this has been brought up before, but since I've just created an account I'm unable to do any searches. Hopefully after this post I'll have the Facility.

    A friend gave me a link to this site and highly recommends it and it's Users.

    I've had a Nikon D90 for a while now, moved from a Sony A200. The Sony produced to much noise for large prints. Especially when chasing for light. Most of my photos are Landscapes and I have
    a Epson Pro 3800 printer that I use to do upto A2 prints.

    I've just started revisiting the Active D Lighting option again. I originally looked at it early on and didn't like the overall affect on certain areas, I basically forgot about the feature. Now that am use to Capture NX2, I spent last night taking photos, one with it on (Auto) and on with it off. Overall I was quite impressed. It sort of removes the need to do a braket shot and try to get all the details in HDR software. (CS3 is not the tool for that I've learnt). It was starting to get dark but there was still light up in the sky.

    Anyway, I would be very interested to learn of other peoples views on this. On a side note, I mainly shoot in Manual Mode and I have read that this does limit the use of it a bit.

    Thanks in Advance
    Rob.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    I've used it 'sporadically' every now and then. It works quite well, but the overall gain is not as much as you may think it is.

    It works better on later model, or Fx sensor cameras than it does on Dx(but I have no info on it's ability on the D7000 yet), but the overall effect of Active D-Lighting is the same as you can get with D-Lighting via CaptureNX2.
    The main difference is that the camera does actively alter the exposure to help protect the highlights as much as it can, without being overly aggressive. That is, if you don't mind the highlights being blown out a little, and set the camera to 'just blow them out' if you use ADL, it may protect them more than you may have wanted.

    I've also used ADL in conjunction with the use of GNDs as well, and it can all work out quite well.

    The beauty of using ADL in camera and shooting NEF, and processing in CNX, is that you can turn off the ADL setting in CNX, to see what difference it makes, and how it compares with the use of D-Lighting instead.
    But remember that ADL may affect the exposure, even in manual mode.
    This is found in the Picture Control area of the Develop section(only for NEF images tho)

    I've done a bit of experimentation to see what it was that ADL actually does, and found that in a few cases, it can choose exposure settings not entirely the equal to simple non ADL Manual mode, and I never really tried hard to figure out if there was any pattern to it. Sometimes it did, and other times it shot(in ADL mode) as it would with ADL disabled. Exposure difference wasn't much, maybe 1/3rd to 1/2 stops or so, and it seemed to me that it was an attempt to protect the highlights.

    ADL is not really the same as shooting bracketed exposures as you would for a HDR type image, The purpose of ADL is to simply maximise the available dynamic range that the sensor is capable of capturing. Exposure bracketing for HDR usually involves a much higher dynamic range scene, not possible with a single unfiltered exposure.

    If that sounds like a negative outlook on ADL, it's not. It does do a job, and if the user is satisfied that the job is well done(by the camera), there is no reason not to utilise the feature.
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    Thanks for the reply, much appreciated.

    I've read were on some levels in ADL it reduces the Exposure lightly. At present I have my camera set up to do two bracket shots, one with ADL on and one with it off.
    I've taken some shots at dusk and once I get a chance I will run them through Capture NX2 and apply all the necessary tweaks and then I will post the results for people to think about.

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    Im not so sure it changes the exposure, I think it really flattens the contrast, increases the shadows and reduces the highlights, much like you could do in post processing

    I do use ADL all the time shooting sport in the middle of the day to make sure I can get some detail from faces under a hat etc
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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi View Post
    Im not so sure it changes the exposure, .....
    I remember the tests I did, but because I have so many files and folders on computer, finding them is made extremely difficult(because I hadn't keyworded them).

    But the exposure difference in one test I did(I just found them), was quite large in terms of shutter speed, but really only 1 stop. The scene had a vey large dynamic range to maintain, and in the non ADL shot, the exposure was 1/1250s, whereas in the ADL images, the shutter speed was 1/640s. All other camera settings were maintained to the same level, only ADL enabled, altered to various levels, or disabled. I used matrix metering too to allow the camera to make the most appropriate determination for exposure. Problem with that is that in all the ADL enabled images, the exposure was all over the place as well, I got a few images at 1/800s, I also got one at 1/1000s, but never the same shutter as the non ADL enabled image. Most shots were in the 1/640s range. Light levels were close enough to consistent too, while there was a very slight change in level, it wasn't 1 stop worth.

    But, as I also said, I did do a specific ADL testing set of images as well one day last year(where I deliberately placed he images into a specific folder to find easily) and the exposures were all the same, but the dynamic range wasn't as difficult, as in the images I just found now(and now keyworded for easier access to them in future!! )

    I remember in a discussion on another forum, there was talk of ADL altering the exposure settings, even if full manual mode was chosen(which I thought weird). I've never experienced this, never really tested for it, and I don't even know how to go about it(scientifically speaking). I think I know how to do a test to see if it's a problem or not, but in the end, I think ADL works better in a semi auto mode and with matrix metering anyhow.

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    Here are two shots taken the first is with out the ADL enabled and the other with it set on Auto. The third photo is the ADL one put though its paces in Capture NX2

    First One - Without ADL


    Second One - With ADL set to Auto


    Second One - With ADL set to Auto and fiddled with via Capture NX 2

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    Member donnnnnny's Avatar
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    there only seems a very slight difference, between no1 and no2, i dont use it on myD700 but may have a play with it, Sounds like it will be a bit of a fiddle then put it m=back in the box?????

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by donnnnnny View Post
    .... Sounds like it will be a bit of a fiddle then put it m=back in the box?????
    The D700, Active D-Lighting, or somethhing else?

    As for ADL, you can assign a new memory bank with it enabled and call the memory bank ADL(or something more appropriate!).

    I think, if I were to shoot in jpg mode(for whatever weird reason), I'd be inclined to use it on jpgs. Better to get a flat, even contrast curve, rather than to try to process back some tone, colour or detail back into lost shadows in a jpg image.
    it's relatively easy and generally higher quality to proces some contrast back into a jpg(if need be).

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    Member Briegman's Avatar
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    If you shoot NEF leave D-lighting off, better off fixing post production if you have to.

    When shooting JPEG adjust Pic Control to reflect D Lighting.

  10. #10
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    I notice that when I converted the two examples to JPG files it did end up making them look almost identical. When viewing the original NEF files there was a noticable difference.

    I think the thing I'll concentrate on will be what sort of Noise it introduces by limiting the Exposure a bit and then applying its curves in the NEF file.

    Thanks so far for all the comments
    Rob

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