Digital Camera recommendations?

I think this may have been discussed, but I can't find the threads...
Does anyone have camera recommendations for creating HDR Probes?

Something that has manual override, shutter / aperture priority for
bracketing
Auto bracketing?
Anyone guessing on when digital cameras will be taking native HDR picures?
Don't think I can wait that long

My budget is $500

Thanks,
Rob Fitzsimmons

Hi Rob,

I have create a couple of HDR probes lately and I can tell you what settings I have used.

First of all, the sequence of photos that you have to take must be perfectly alighned.
The only way that works for me to do that, is to place the camera on a tripod and take photos remotely (that is connect the camera with a computer and use remotly capturing pressing a key on the keyboard - camera's software should have the appropriate software for that - but good cameras usually do have)

I don't think so, auto bracketing is a good idea. Most cameras can take about 3 (or 5) photos with Auto Bracketing but you need more in order to create an HDR Probe (about10-15 photos)

In order to take the photos set aperture at a fix value and change only exposure time in order to change the overall exposure.
You also have to set your camera at no flash.

You should take a sequence of photos (about 10-15) with different exposure times, changing 1 f-stop each time, starting with bigger exposure.
Before begin to take your photos, take one photo using auto-focus in order camera focus on the mirrored ball. Then set manual-focus and don't change focusing (that is in order to have all photos with same "focus value")

If you planning ton use hdrgen for generating HDR probe, I recommned you to disable alignment algorithm. At least in my case, when alignment was enable hdrgen gave worst results.

I hope it helps,
Regards,
Despina

···

----- Original Message ----- From: "Fitzsimmons, Rob" <Rob.Fitzsimmons@Summit.Fiserv.com>
To: <Radiance-general@radiance-online.org>
Sent: Wednesday, March 09, 2005 3:53 AM
Subject: [Radiance-general] Digital Camera recommendations?

I think this may have been discussed, but I can't find the threads...
Does anyone have camera recommendations for creating HDR Probes?

Something that has manual override, shutter / aperture priority for
bracketing
Auto bracketing?
Anyone guessing on when digital cameras will be taking native HDR picures?
Don't think I can wait that long

My budget is $500

Thanks,
Rob Fitzsimmons

_______________________________________________
Radiance-general mailing list
Radiance-general@radiance-online.org
http://www.radiance-online.org/mailman/listinfo/radiance-general

Great tips! I would also add that in addition to a remote camera trigger (computer or camera-specific remote) you typically can also use the timer function on cameras so equipped. My camera, a Canon 300D ("Digital Rebel"), shoots 3 auto bracketed exposures from a single timer triggered event. This way you can change your exposure via the shutter speed, set the AEB to +/-1 and then hit the shutter release, run out of the mirror ball environment and the camera will shoot all three AEB images. This is particularly useful for settings where lugging a laptop may be a pain, and it also allows you to get out of the scene.

Also, i usually shoot overlapping exposures throughout the sequence and then compare the exposures that have identical settings to make sure that the light conditions were not changing significantly while shooting the mirror ball. Otherwise, the recorded exposure and the actual exposure may differ - although I don't really know how significant this effect may be. Obviously this would be more for natural light sources like the sun behind clouds, etc. I usually shoot about 7 or 8 exposures worth of info and use HDRShop or Photosphere to make the images. Tripod is a must and white balance setting would probably also be helpful so it does not change while shooting.

Have fun - I'm sure there are already several compact point and shoot type digital cameras out there that are already better than my digital SLR - for what it's worth, I have seen price drops on the 300D that are coming close to your ball park for a camera, if you are entertaining the notion of a digital SLR - I would highly recommend this camera to amateur digital camera users. Good luck!

kirk

···

On Mar 9, 2005, at 9:23 AM, Despina Michael wrote:

Hi Rob,

I have create a couple of HDR probes lately and I can tell you what settings I have used.

First of all, the sequence of photos that you have to take must be perfectly alighned.
The only way that works for me to do that, is to place the camera on a tripod and take photos remotely (that is connect the camera with a computer and use remotly capturing pressing a key on the keyboard - camera's software should have the appropriate software for that - but good cameras usually do have)

I don't think so, auto bracketing is a good idea. Most cameras can take about 3 (or 5) photos with Auto Bracketing but you need more in order to create an HDR Probe (about10-15 photos)

In order to take the photos set aperture at a fix value and change only exposure time in order to change the overall exposure.
You also have to set your camera at no flash.

You should take a sequence of photos (about 10-15) with different exposure times, changing 1 f-stop each time, starting with bigger exposure.
Before begin to take your photos, take one photo using auto-focus in order camera focus on the mirrored ball. Then set manual-focus and don't change focusing (that is in order to have all photos with same "focus value")

If you planning ton use hdrgen for generating HDR probe, I recommned you to disable alignment algorithm. At least in my case, when alignment was enable hdrgen gave worst results.

I hope it helps,
Regards,
Despina

Hi Rob,

There is no perfect camera for capturing HDR sequences. The main things you need to be able to control are the white balance, ASA, aperture and speed, and an autobracketing mode that can cover +/-2 f-stops or more is ideal.

The thing you want to avoid is a camera that does weird processing on the images, and this is often difficult to determine until you get it. I believe the Olympus C series and the Canon G series are pretty safe in the price range you're after. I've owned an Olympus C-3030, C-3040, and C-4040. I'm sticking with the last one, as the newer in the C line add megapixels and features but nothing I'm interested in. Generally, the more megapixels you have in a small camera, the more noise you're going to see. The current race to 10 MPixels in a consumer-grade camera is lunacy in my opinion. Who wants to blow up an image to 20x30 inches? Even if you do blow up an image to that size once every year or so, you're paying for the privilege with image files that are 3-5 times larger than you would need otherwise. (End rant.)

My main problem with the C-4040, which you can't even get anymore, is purple fringing caused by the lens at the edges of high contrast, wide-angle shots. It also has a very occassional knack of painting white, blown-out areas blue. This must have been an ill-considered feature some Olympus engineer came up with it for making washed-out skies look more natural, and it sometimes backfires. I've only had a few images this happened to in the thousands and thousands I've shot, but another fellow with the same camera (but different firmware) has seen it more often with his.

-Greg

···

From: "Fitzsimmons, Rob" <Rob.Fitzsimmons@Summit.Fiserv.com>
Date: March 8, 2005 5:53:48 PM PST

I think this may have been discussed, but I can't find the threads...
Does anyone have camera recommendations for creating HDR Probes?

Something that has manual override, shutter / aperture priority for
bracketing
Auto bracketing?
Anyone guessing on when digital cameras will be taking native HDR picures?
Don't think I can wait that long

My budget is $500

Thanks,
Rob Fitzsimmons

Also don't forget to turn off auto white balance! The QuickStart guide that comes in the archive for Greg's Photosphere includes a really good primer on getting started with shooting hdr sequences.

Rob, I have an Olympus C4040Z, which I picked up on eBay a couple months ago and love it-- (Greg's post came in as I typed this up, he says everything else that needs to be said...)

···

On Mar 9, 2005, at 11:45 AM, Kirk Thibault wrote:

Great tips! I would also add that in addition to a remote camera trigger (computer or camera-specific remote) you typically can also use the timer function on cameras so equipped. My camera, a Canon 300D ("Digital Rebel"), shoots 3 auto bracketed exposures from a single timer triggered event. This way you can change your exposure via the shutter speed, set the AEB to +/-1 and then hit the shutter release, run out of the mirror ball environment and the camera will shoot all three AEB images. This is particularly useful for settings where lugging a laptop may be a pain, and it also allows you to get out of the scene.

=================
    Rob Guglielmetti
www.rumblestrip.org

Hello,
After the previous camera questions in early January I did some checking to find out just what my Nikon 990 could do as well as other camera options.
By using the manual setting on the 990, and a remote release for steadiness, it is possible to take 14 bracketed photographs in 1 EV step increments from 1/1000 to 8 seconds. The technique is to set the camera to manual exposure and use the “command dial” to step through the shutter speeds alternating with firing the camera with the remote release.
An alternative is to use the built-in auto bracketing feature and exposure compensation to take two series of 5 bracketed photos in 1/3 EV steps, one where compensation is set to +2 EV and one where compensation is set to -2 EV. This produces a smaller overall range and in smaller steps.
The 990 is designed for interchangeable lenses, one of which is a fisheye with an angular view of 183°. I assume that this would provide the same information as the mirror ball, but I’ve not read up nor tried that technique.

···

_____________________
A company called Harbortronics makes a device, a Digisnap, that can control the 990, as well as many other cameras. I exchanged several messages with Mark Roberts to find out if the Digisnap could provide auto bracket control beyond +or- one frame and specifically if it could do so while varying the shutter speed only.

“It is 'possible' to add that capability to the firmware, but frankly without a lot of incentive, it's not going to happen.”

Mark Roberts
Chief Engineer
Harbortronics LLC
(253) 858-7769 (Phone)
(253) 858-9517 (Fax)
Mark@Harbortronics.com
www.Harbortronics.com

This would mean hacking the firmware of the camera, something I’m reluctant to experiment with.
I’ve not tried this device. A friend who has says its clunky, but works.
Harbortronics makes a wide variety of camera controllers for an array of different actions.
_____________________
I also checked with a Nikon Technical Representative, Scott Frier, at the recent MacWorld show in San Francisco. The Nikon D2H and D2X can auto bracket up to 9 frames at up to 1 EV steps. That’s one in the middle and 4 over exposed and 4 under exposed. I also asked about how the data is stored, since Greg (thank you) had mentioned that the new cameras are incorporating their own, as opposed to Photosphere, image processing to adjust the over and under exposed areas of a picture. It seems that if the image is stored in raw format that there are no software exposure adjustments in the file. The file is broken into two parts: one folder contains the 0 and 1 data, the other contains a set of instructions to be applied to the aforementioned.

The D2H and D2X are professional cameras in every sense of the word. The good news is, thanks to the D2H now being superseded by the D2X, it only costs $2000.00. I didn’t ask about the D2X. If someone already has Nikon lenses, this might be a path to HDRI photography.

Maybe there is someone who can rewrite the Digisnap or the camera firmware??

By the way Greg, Scott was very intrigued with what Photosphere does. He may be getting in contact with you.

Paul LaBerge
_________________________________________________________________________________________

On Mar 9, 2005, at 8:50 AM, Greg Ward wrote:

Hi Rob,

There is no perfect camera for capturing HDR sequences. The main things you need to be able to control are the white balance, ASA, aperture and speed, and an autobracketing mode that can cover +/-2 f-stops or more is ideal.

The thing you want to avoid is a camera that does weird processing on the images, and this is often difficult to determine until you get it. I believe the Olympus C series and the Canon G series are pretty safe in the price range you're after. I've owned an Olympus C-3030, C-3040, and C-4040. I'm sticking with the last one, as the newer in the C line add megapixels and features but nothing I'm interested in. Generally, the more megapixels you have in a small camera, the more noise you're going to see. The current race to 10 MPixels in a consumer-grade camera is lunacy in my opinion. Who wants to blow up an image to 20x30 inches? Even if you do blow up an image to that size once every year or so, you're paying for the privilege with image files that are 3-5 times larger than you would need otherwise. (End rant.)

My main problem with the C-4040, which you can't even get anymore, is purple fringing caused by the lens at the edges of high contrast, wide-angle shots. It also has a very occassional knack of painting white, blown-out areas blue. This must have been an ill-considered feature some Olympus engineer came up with it for making washed-out skies look more natural, and it sometimes backfires. I've only had a few images this happened to in the thousands and thousands I've shot, but another fellow with the same camera (but different firmware) has seen it more often with his.

-Greg

Thanks, Paul, for that wealth of information.

I just wanted to add a note on the RAW image files -- most of the time, the native converters lose the exposure information on their way to an (uncorrected) JPEG or TIFF image for Photosphere, so I don't recommend RAW unless you know your camera is screwing with your JPEG's. Photoshop CS actually does a decent job converting RAW files, saving the exposure info in the Exif header, and it handles most varieties of RAW. Each RAW format is maker- and model-specific, which causes real problems for long-term support and archiving -- another reason to avoid this format. RAW files also tend to be large, and their advantages for reduced noise and exposure latitude are widely exaggerated. Since multiple images are averaged together to make an HDR, noise tends to get smoothed out, anyway, and JPEG artifacts disappear as well.

That said, I encourage you to do your own experiments, but weigh the cost in your time using RAW against the actual benefit you get from them. I've done my own, and I've found the benefit to be negligible next to the effort required.

-Greg

P.S. I should have included the Nikon 900 series in my list of recommended cameras -- most people who have used them for HDR capture have had good experiences from all I've heard.

···

From: Paul LaBerge <plaberge@labergedaylight.com>
Date: March 9, 2005 10:41:50 AM PST

Hello,
After the previous camera questions in early January I did some checking to find out just what my Nikon 990 could do as well as other camera options.
...

Hello. I would also recommend Nikon 5400. I have used both Nikon 990 and 5400 with a fisheye lens (FC-E8 and FC-E9, respectively). I have got consistent results with both cameras.

Thanks,
Mehlika

Greg Ward wrote:

···

P.S. I should have included the Nikon 900 series in my list of recommended cameras -- most people who have used them for HDR capture have had good experiences from all I've heard.

From: Paul LaBerge <plaberge@labergedaylight.com>
Date: March 9, 2005 10:41:50 AM PST

Hello,
After the previous camera questions in early January I did some checking to find out just what my Nikon 990 could do as well as other camera options.
...

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Radiance-general mailing list
Radiance-general@radiance-online.org
http://www.radiance-online.org/mailman/listinfo/radiance-general

Thanks to everyone for your input!

Rob F