Nikon D300 Auto Dynamic Range

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by Sanford, Feb 27, 2018.

  1. I hauling out my old Nikon D300 for a spin today after letting it sit for a few years. I've never used the ADR. Is this feature useful? What setting?
  2. steve_g|2

    steve_g|2 Posting to strangers is just a hobby of mine.

    You mean active D-lighting ?
  3. Indeed. The only sensible choice when shooting RAW and not using Nikon postprocessing software is OFF. Otherwise, adjust to taste.
  4. I leave it off. My understanding is that the only affect that it has on the contents of the raw file is that it deliberately underexposes, with a view to maintaining highlights. Have I got that the right way round? If I thought it consistently did E-TTR then I'd use it, but I don't believe it's that intelligent. Mostly the effect is on the JPEGs, but I normally prefer more manual control in my raw conversion utilities.
    SSepan likes this.
  5. When Nikon came out with this feature (D3, D300, I believe), there were lots of discussions about what the feature does and doesn't do (especially when shooting RAW). IIRC, then it was both, underexposing highlights and lifting shadows (and hence reducing overall contrast). Balancing Photo Exposures with Nikon's Active D-Lighting from Nikon

    Again, IIRC, then the RAW is not directly affected but if one judges exposure based on the JPEG with Active D-Lighting ON, then there is the potential for being misled: Nikon Active D-Lighting, Raw and Lightroom - DON'T!!
  6. What I'm vaguely remembering - which could be incorrect - is that the original d-lighting was introduced around the D40 generation, didn't modify the exposure at all, and just performed post-processing on the raw file. (I think I've seen the patent somewhere, but the technique is some form of regional tone mapping which resembles exposure fusion, IIRC.) Active D-lighting did the same thing, but modified the raw file on the assumption that you were going to perform this post-processing, which meant reducing the exposure a bit so that highlights which were clipped weren't pulled into the visible highlights.

    If that's so, the result on the raw file would be that it's underexposed a bit - as far as I know the raw file stays linear, and isn't tone mapped in any way. What I'm less clear on is whether the underexposure depends on the level of highlight found in the scene (as with ETTR) or whether it assumes a fixed amount of range compression and so underexposes by a fixed quantity. I believe Fujifilm did basically a fixed amount of range compression with dynamic range expansion on (say) the X100S, which is possibly underexposing by a couple of stops of ISO in order to expand the available highlights.

    But all of this tends to be quite proprietary, and I could be very confused.

    To be a little more helpful to Sanford (I wasn't responding, for once, because I don't have a D300):

    If you're shooting JPEGs out of the camera, go for it. I regularly adjust the dynamic range of my images in a similar way in post-processing, and since the typical real-world dynamic range is a lot higher than a typical display or print medium, it's probably useful. I may even have used this mode on the D700, although I don't think I've touched it since I got to the D800/D810. If you're shooting raw, all it'll probably do is offset the exposure a bit and then confuse your raw converter. ADL is more intelligent than simply adjusting global contrast, and it can be reasonably useful.

    The D300 (and D700, for that matter) can't match the dynamic range of a modern sensor, though. So if you're recovering the highlights, you're likely to gain some noise when the shadows are boosted back to a visible range - more so than would be the case with, say, a D7000 or one of the 24MP+ bodies. If you want to get around this, you need to bracket the exposure (and hope nothing moved). But in a scene with a lot of contrast, it's probably at least worth a try.
  7. I'll echo the others-if you shoot JPEGs it can make a difference.

    JPEGs in both my D300s and my D800 are my "just in case" files(stored on an SD card that rarely leaves the camera) and my main working files are the RAW files that go on a CF card.

    Since I process RAWs in Lightroom, it doesn't make a difference and I leave it off.

    With that said, I do OCCASIONALLY do JPEGs straight from the D300s, and on those occasions I've turned it on and like what I see.

    Ken Rockwell-a JPEG shooter-considers it the greatest thing since sliced bread and if you can read through his hyperbole has some good write-ups both on how to use it and some example photos to show the difference it makes. This is one of those few occasions where I'd suggest checking out what he has to say on it.
  8. Of course, Ken cranks the saturation so far that the channels are likely to max out anyway. :) Likewise, I have "just in case" JPEGs recorded to SD (where I can get them into a computer quickly) and raw on CF (bigger/faster), on my D810. It's unfortunate that the D810 doesn't allow "normal" D-lighting to be applied (although I suppose it would expect to run into the saturated highlight problem). This comes back to me feeling that Nikon should allow you to record an E-TTR raw file while still applying enough d-lighting tuning (including changing the effective ISO in post-processing) to try to recover a "normal" usable JPEG file.
  9. Thanks all, I had fun using that old classic today. Using a camera you haven't touched in years may not be the cure for "Gear Acquisition Syndrome" (GAS), but it can temporary curb the desire to buy something new.
  10. Over the past year, I've been buying just about every earlyish Nikon DSLR that comes through the local camera store. They usually want $50 or so for examples that look brand new.

    They're fun to play with if nothing else just to see how far things have come.

    BTW, it wasn't that long ago that a D300 was my main DSLR. I still consider it a capable camera. I've moved to a D800 for most things, and a D300s for DX purposes. I love my D2X also.
  11. It was a workhorse. With the 18-200mm zoom there wasn't it couldn't handle.
  12. I have one of those too :)

    It's a great walk-around combo. A lot of folks love to hate the 18-200, but honestly on a D300 I find it perfectly fine.

    Funny enough, going back to Ken Rockwell, he used to rave about his D200 and D40 paired with this lens. Now that I have all of the above, I see his point, although to me the only redeeming quality of the D40 is its ability to use non-AI lenses.

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